All of raptortech97's Comments + Replies

Counterfactual Mugging

Ok so there's a good chance I'm just being an idiot here, but I feel like a multiple worlds kind of interpretation serves well here. If, as you say, "the coin is deterministic, [and] in the overwhelming measure of the MWI worlds it gives the same outcome," then I don't believe the coin is fair. And if the coin isn't fair, then of course I'm not giving Omega any money. If, on the other hand, the coin is fair, and so I have reason to believe that in roughly half of the worlds the coin landed on the other side and Omega posed the opposite question, then by giving Omega the $100 I'm giving the me in those other worlds $1000 and I'm perfectly happy to do that.

Nash Equilibria and Schelling Points

So if all pirates implement TDT, what happens?

Infinite Certainty

Hrmm... I'm still taking high school geometry, so "infinite set of axioms" doesn't really make sense yet. I'll try to re-read that thread once I've started college-level math.

Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

Are you suggesting that we apply a punishment to any theory that sounds wise? Or that we apply a punishment only for those that also satisfy (a)?

0pnrjulius10yIt may make sense to apply some penalty to the logodds of "profound ideas", to compensate for the bias. Likewise, maybe we should assume that beautiful people are stupid to compensate for the halo effect---though that one is a bit trickier, because IQ actually is correlated with attractiveness, just not as strongly as people tend to assume.
0DSimon10yWell, ideally we ignore b and focus only on a. B only matters in the context of being a more virulent meme.
Infinite Certainty

I intended the claim posed here about tests and priors. It is posed as
p(A|X) = [p(X|A)p(A)]/[p(X|A)p(A) + p(X|~A)*p(~A)]

But does it make sense for that to be wrong? It is a theorem, unlike the statement 2+2=4. Maybe some sort of way to show that the axioms and definitions that are used to prove Baye's Theorem are inconsistent, which is a pretty clear kind of proof. I'm not sure anymore that what I said has meaning. Well, thanks for the help.

5pnrjulius10yUh, 2+2=4 is most definitely a theorem. A very simple and obvious theorem, yes. But a theorem.
1hairyfigment10yFor Godel-Bayes issues, you can start with the responses to my post on the subject [http://lesswrong.com/lw/58o/g%C3%B6del_and_bayes_quick_question/]. (I've since learned and remembered more about Godel.) We should have the ability to talk about subjective uncertainty in, at the very least, particular proofs and probabilities. I don't know that we can. But I like the following argument, which I recall seeing here somewhere: If there exists a perfect probability calculation based on a set of background information, it must take this uncertainty into account. Therefore, applying this uncertainty again to the answer would mean double-counting the evidence, which is strictly verboten. We therefore cannot use this line of reasoning to produce a contradiction. Barring other arguments, we can assume the uncertainty equals a really small fraction.
The Crackpot Offer

I don't remember ever coming up with a false disproof in math, though I did manage to "solve" perpetual motion machines. I did successfully prove a trivial result in solving quadratic equations in modular arithmetic.

Infinite Certainty

Eliezer, what could convince you that Baye's Theorem itself was wrong? Can you properly adjust your beliefs to account for evidence if that adjustment is systematically wrong?

0hairyfigment10yFirst we'd have to attach a meaning to the claim, yes? I've seen evidence for various claims about Bayes' Theorem, including but probably not limited to 'Any workable extension of logic to deal with uncertainty will approximate Bayes,' and 'Bayes works better in practice than frequentist methods'. Decide which claim you want to talk about and you'll know what evidence against it would look like. (Halpern more or less argues against the first one, but I'm looking at his article and so far he just seems to be pointing out Jaynes' most commonsensical requirements.)
Belief in Self-Deception

I benefit from believing people are nicer than they actually are.

I empathize with her here. I believe that it is in my advantage to act towards people the way I would act if they were nicer than they actually are. I'll try to parse that out. Let's say Alice is talking to Bob. Cindy, at a different time, also talks to Bob. Bob is a jerk; we assume he is not nice.

  • Alice honestly expects that Bob is nicer than he actually is, and accordingly she is nice to Bob.
  • Cindy honestly expects that Bob is exactly as nice as he actually is, and accordingly she is
... (read more)
1hannahelisabeth9yI think when you parse this out you realize that there are a lot of other factors at play here, it's not just a "belief in belief" thing. Treating someone nicely has an influence on how they subsequently treat you and others. So it's not so much that you're believing someone is nice when they're not, it's that you're believing that they do not have a fixed property state of "niceness", that it is variable dependent on conditions, which you can then manipulate to promote niceness, for the benefit of yourself and others. None of this is belief in belief. When you look closer you see that you are comparing two different things: how nice Bob has been in the past and how nice Bob will be in the present/future, dependent on what type of environment he is in, and you are thus modifying your behavior on the assumption that your contribution to the environment can make it such that Bob will be nice, or at least nicer. And there is evidence to support this assumption, so it's not irrational to expect Bob to be(come) nice when treat him nicely accordingly. It's just misleading to phrase it as "I benefit from believing perople are nicer than they are," because what you mean by the first "are" (will be) is not the same as what you mean by the second "are" (have been).
Dark Side Epistemology

Wait a second - the scientific method? How? It may not be the most efficient way to get the truth, and it may not take into account Baye's theorem that could speed it up, but I don't see how the scientific method is epistemologically (is that a word?) wrong.

0thomblake10yToo late - it's been 3 and a half years. "epistemologically " is a word, but it's hard to tell when to instead say "epistemically".
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84

Do not have the audience be part of the group being tested. Pull in confederates off the street, and tell them about the test. Do not allow subjects to see each other's testing. Let's say now that the current subject is Alex. Alex prefers vanilla ice cream to chocolate ice cream. Now go through the anti-conformity training.

After the training, hold a break (still with just Alex and the confederates). Offer ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, and, say, mango. Have most (maybe about 80%) of the confederates go for the chocolate, 10% for the vanilla, and 10% for ... (read more)

Disguised Queries

What reason do atheists have?

Maybe because they have decided that a specific moral philosophy would be most useful?

Variable Question Fallacies

Have you stopped beating your wife?

I'd just like to point out that there is a definite answer to this. If a person has never started beating his or her wife, then they cannot stop and the answer must be no. Is there a flaw in this reasoning? Or am I not using the common definitions?

Martin told Bob the building was on his left.

Here, too, I see a definite answer. The word "left" is possessed by the word "his." In the English language, the pronoun "his" (and similarly "him," "her," "it," etc.)... (read more)

0InfernalHazelnut5yLate to the party here, but: Any English speaker who hasn't been brainwashed with prescriptivist poppycock will tell you that the sentence has two possible readings: one where 'his' refers to Martin, and one where it refers to Bob. In natural language, linear order or closeness tends to matter a lot less than you might think. (This is why many linguistic analyses represent sentences as hierarchical tree structures, and argue that the behavior of some word is predicted by its position in the tree.) We can even see effects on the resolution of pronoun reference that apply across sentence boundaries: Martin punched Bob in the face. He fell. Martin punched Bob in the face. He was very angry. There's a preference to interpret 'he' as Bob in the first case and Martin in the second (it's not absolutely impossible to interpret them the other way around, but there's a preference), and it comes not from syntax (we've kept that pretty constant) but from what we might nebulously call "the structure of the discourse". It's extremely hard to predict what the preferred interpretation will be in any given case. However, I think that the example could have been better constructed for a different reason. There are actually two phenomena at work in the sentence: the deictic quality of the word 'left', and the problem of pronoun reference. The point could have been made with reference to either one individually. So it's not a very consequential confound, but it's worth separating the two effects nonetheless. "Martin told Bob the building was on the left" still suffers from the problem that we don't know whose left is meant (Martin's, Bob's, the speaker's, maybe the addressee's?). In this case, I can't see any way of determining a definite answer, even one based on some word-counting bullshit. There would still be ambiguity if we got rid of 'left' but kept the pronouns in: Martin told Bob that the building was to the north of him. ('North' differs from 'left' in that it is def
4Desrtopa10yIt's technically accurate, but it fails to provide useful information [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MathematiciansAnswer?from=Main.ptitle3zaap0y7ym6o] . The question isn't impossible to answer on its own terms, it just turns a simple negative into non-Gricean communication.
1thomblake10yMaybe where your from. In English where I'm at, Jim will use 'him' to refer to Bob if he wants. An answer of 'no' to that question would normally be interpreted "I am still beating my wife". Descriptivism FTW.
Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

What would you have had these biologists use instead? Would you prefer they had no model? It seems clear to me, though I may be wrong, that these scientists had a model (elan vital), and when later evidence came along (modern biology?), they discarded it in favor of a different model. Would you have them instead have picked a different model in the first place? Or have no model at all?

2pnrjulius10yHaving no model can be good, if it inspires you to search for a good model. Far worse to think you have a model when you actually don't.
1DSimon10yWell, if by "no model" you mean something like the contemporary folk model of biology ("Blood is what keeps you alive, we're not quite sure how though, but in general try not to lose your blood"), then elan vital is definitely worse, in that it (a) adds no new information but (b) sounds wiser, and therefore harder to unseat.