All of rule_and_line's Comments + Replies

2014 Survey Results

Ah! That sounds like a great one!

So, folks like Chris Ferguson are presumably doing both activities (judging how much evidence as well as accurately translating brain estimates to numerical estimates).

But if I go find a consistently successful poker player who does not translate brain estimates to numerical estimates, then I could see how that person does on calibration exercises. That sounds like a fun experiment. Now I just need to get the grant money ...

Sidenote, but how would I narrow down to the successful poker players who don't translate brain es... (read more)

Rationality Quotes January 2015

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning —

  • The Great Gatsby

I always liked Fitzgerald's portrayal of what Something to Protect feels like.

Happy New Year's resolutions, all.

2014 Survey Results

I'm having difficulty replacing your quotation with its referent. Could you describe an activity I could do that would demonstrate that I was judging how much evidence I have on a given issue?

0Username7yMake money playing poker, maybe?
Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum

Hey, that's me! I also didn't think we had other LWers down here. PM sent, let's meet up after the holidays.

"incomparable" outcomes--multiple utility functions?

I thought of the idea that maybe the human decision maker has multiple utility functions that when you try to combine them into one function some parts of the original functions don't necessarily translate well... sounds like the "shards of desire" are actually a bunch of different utility functions.

I hereby request a research-filled thread of what to do when you feel like you're in this situation, which I believe has been called "welfare economics" in the literature.

Is arguing worth it? If so, when and when not? Also, how do I become less arrogant?

It sounds like you're measuring your success by the impact you have on the person you are directly communicating with.

What happens if you measure success by your impact on the rest of your audience?

Rationality Quotes November 2014

Interesting position! I can't speak for James, but I want to engage with this. Let's pretend, for the scope of this thread, that I made the statement about the proper role of skepticism.

I'm happy to endorse your wording. I agree it's more precise to talk about "claims" than "things" in this context.

Quick communication check. When you say "increased" you're implying at least two distinct levels of skepticism. From your assertion, I gather that difficult-to-measure claims like "there exist good leaders, people who ca... (read more)

4Lumifer7yWell, I'm actually treating scepticism as a continuous variable, let's say defined on non-negative real numbers for simplicity, where 0 means "I Believe!" and some sufficiently high number means "You're lying". "It's raining outside" "This thing weights five pounds" "Free-falling objects start to accelerate by about 9.8 m/s/s"
Rationality Quotes November 2014

[S]kepticism should be directed at things that are actually untrue rather than things that are difficult to measure.

-- Bill James, American baseball writer and statistician.

5DuncanF7yThat strikes me as really ... odd. To whom is the advice addressed? If something is actually untrue, and one has determined it to be untrue, then the task of being skeptical about it is finished. I could probably find a loophole in the preceding statement, but it couldn't possibly be what Bill James was referring to. As for directing skepticism at [claims depending upon] things that are difficult to measure, well that seems like one step away from directing skepticism at claims depending on little evidence. Which is surely what we want to do. Again, there's a loophole, but clearly not something Bill James was trying to point out.

Scepticism is directed not at things, but at claims. And claims about things difficult to measure should face increased scepticism.

Is this paper formally modeling human (ir)rational decision making worth understanding?

Thank you. Heuristics like these are, I think, the meta-skill I'm trying to learn at the same time.

Crossing the History-Lessons Threshold

Thanks for sharing your experience!

In case you or any other LWers would find these interesting, here are some resources I've enjoyed:

I personally ... (read more)

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Done! Wish I had had a scanner handy going in, I'm curious about the digit ratio.

0Elund7yI think it should be fine to just hold a ruler up to your finger. The only potential problem might be that the highest tip of your finger wouldn't actually touch the ruler, but if you don't want to estimate by sight you can hold another flat surface perpendicular to it to see where that touches the ruler. I get consistent measurements this way.
Rationality Quotes August 2014

I'm curious about this "liquid water is wet" statement. Obviously I agree, but for the sake of argument, could you taboo "is" and tell me the statement again? I'm trying to understand how your algorithm feels from the inside.

If you're curious how to quantify fractions of statements, you might enjoy this puzzle I heard once. Suppose you're an ecological researcher and you need to know the number of fish in a large lake. How would you get a handle on that number?

4soreff7yOne of the parts of "liquid water is wet" is that a droplet of it will spread out on many common surfaces - salt, paper, cotton, etc. Yes, it is a bit tricky to unpack what is meant by"wet" - perhaps some other properties, like not withstanding shear are also folded in - but I don't think that it is just a tautology, with "wet" being defined as the set of properties that liquid water has. Re the catch/count/mark/release/recapture/count puzzle - the degree to which that is feasible depends on how well one can do (reasonably) unbiased sampling. I'm skeptical that that will work well with the set of testable statements that one is automatically certain of.
Rationality Quotes August 2014

After describing

blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.

David Foster Wallace continues

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as

... (read more)
5soreff7yThere is a very large amount of stuff that one is automatically certain of that is correct, though trivial, data like "liquid water is wet". I'm not sure how one would even practically quantify an analysis of what fraction of the statements one is certain of are or are not true. Even if one could efficiently test them, how would one list them (in the current state of science - tracing a full human neural network (and then converting its beliefs into a list of testable statements) is beyond our current capabilities).
Rationality Quotes August 2014

There is a real joy in doing mathematics, in learning ways of thinking that explain and organize and simplify. One can feel this joy discovering new mathematics, rediscovering old mathematics, learning a way of thinking from a person or text, or finding a new way to explain or to view an old mathematical structure.

This inner motivation might lead us to think that we do mathematics solely for its own sake. That’s not true: the social setting is extremely important. We are inspired by other people, we seek appreciation by other people, and we like to help

... (read more)
Rationality Quotes August 2014

Could you give this some more context? My reaction was to downvote.

The word "only" gives me vibes like "language exerts a trivial or insignificant influence on our consciousness". I don't know any of Kroetz's plays, but given that he is a playwright I feel like I'm getting the wrong vibe.

1Qwake7yMy interpretation of the quote was not that language exerts a trivial influence on our consciousness but that language is an imperfect form of communication.
AI risk, new executive summary

I'm only familiar with open source tools, but git will do this with "git diff --word-diff FILE1 FILE2" and Emacs diff has the "ediff-toggle-autorefine" command. IMO you still need to insert line breaks before they become useful.

GNU has wdiff though I've never used it: (update: the git command above seems to do the same thing)

I'm still looking for an online diff tool that makes the word-level differences obvious. That would be ideal here (my web skills are too weak to make it happen this month).

AI risk, new executive summary

Is there a convenient place to see just what changed from the old to the new?

Online diff tools aren't usefully handling the paragraphs when I copy-paste, and my solution of download -> insert line breaks -> run through my favorite diff program is probably inconvenient for most.

0itaibn08yThinking about this, it seems like there should exist some version of diff which points out differences on the word level rather than the line level. That would be useful for text documents which only have line breaks in between paragraphs. Given how easy I expect it to be to program such a thing almost certainly does exist, but I don't know where to find it.
Rationality Quotes April 2014

This is the most forceful version I've seen (assumed it had been posted before, discovered it probably hasn't, won't start a new thread since it's too similar):

But by definition, there can’t be any particular feeling associated with simply being wrong. Indeed, the whole reason it’s possible to be wrong is that, while it is happening, you are oblivious to it. When you are simply going about your business in a state you will later decide was delusional, you have no idea of it whatsoever. You are like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, after he has

... (read more)
2gwern8ySchulz hasn't been quoted here before, but you might've seen my use of that quote on [] to which I will add a quote of Wittgenstein making the same quote but much more compressed and concisely:
AI risk, executive summary

I'm more an outsider than a regular participant here on LW, but I have been boning up on rhetoric for work. I'm thrown by this in a lot of ways.

I notice that I'm confused.

Good for private rationality, bad for public rhetoric? What does your diagram of the argument's structure look like?

As for me, I want this as the most important conclusion in the summary.

But in fact most goals are dangerous when an AI becomes powerful

I don't get that, because the evidence for this statement comes after it and later on it is restated in a diluted form.

goals that s

... (read more)
1Stuart_Armstrong8yCheers! One of the issues is one of tone - I put it more respectable/dull than I would have normally, because the field is already "far out" and I didn't want to play to that image. I'll consider your points (and luke's list) when doing the rewrite.
Rationality Quotes November 2013

To what nugget of rationality does this point?

That behaviourally people treat free very differently from even $1, and that effective policymaking requires removing even trivial-seeming barriers to desired actions.

Rationality Quotes November 2013

The idea that a self-imposed external constraint on action can actually enhance our freedom by releasing us from predictable and undesirable internal constraints is not an obvious one. It is hard to be Ulysses.

-- Reid Hastie & Robyn Dawes (Rational Choice in an Uncertain World)

The "Ulysses" reference is to the famous Ulysses pact in the Odyssey.

Aliveness in Training

While I don't read scientific literature that much, I do make formal predictions pretty often. Typically any time I notice something I'm interested in that will be easy to check in the future.

Will I get to bed on time today? Will I be early for the meeting tomorrow? Etc.

I second the anecdotal evidence that this is a "live" exercise. Sidenote: it took me way too long to realize I needed to write all my predictions down. I spent a few weeks thinking I was completely excellent at predicting things.

Rationality Quotes October 2013

I endorse (with the possibly-expected caveat about Wilson score ranking).

Unfortunately, I can't (don't know how to?) hack the LW backend. Is that something I can look into?

0Vaniver8yThis [] and this [] are the primary resources I am aware of, as well as the Google Code [] page. I recommend contacting someone personally involved for more as well as poking around on your own (the source is here [], for example).
Rationality Quotes October 2013

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

-- Oliver Cromwell

Previously posted two years ago. I'm curious if some things bear repeating. Is there any accepted timeframe for duplicates?

1Risto_Saarelma8yDoes this idiom make sense to native English speakers?
2RichardKennaway8yI'm not keen on this one. It has a sensible reading [] as an injunction to keep the support of one's prior wide, and if that is what one is reminded of by the maxim, that is fine. But too often I see in everyday discourse people saying "you've made your mind up!" as a criticism. The argument becomes a bodyguard [] to support a belief that has no other support. Some Wikipedia scholarship [] indicates that the real situation behind the quote is unpromising for a clear moral about rationality. Cromwell made this appeal on the occasion of the Scots proclaiming Charles II their king instead of accepting Cromwell's rule. Being rebuffed, he conquered them, and it appears from this biography, p184ff [] that he would have had an easier job of it had he not taken the time to first invite their surrender. On the other hand, the Scots handcapped themselves by too strict an attention to the religious correctness of their generals and soldiers, at the expense of numbers in the field, and might even have benefitted from the lesser fervour that Cromwell suggested to them.
7Vaniver8yCurrently, no. It seems worthwhile to keep old quotes visible, but I suspect that would be better accomplished by automatically generating a database of rationality quotes from these threads (like DanielVarga's best of collections []), and then displaying a random one on each LW page with frequency related to the number of upvotes they received, say. I don't think that duplicating quotes in quote threads is a good idea, because this focuses effort on finding new quotes and material to incorporate into a growing body of knowledge rather than rehashing previously found knowledge.
Rationality Quotes August 2013

That's an interesting prediction. Have you tried it? Can you predict what you'd do after filling the notebook?

In my imagination, I'd probably wind up in one of two states:

  • Feeling tricked and asking myself "What was the point of that?"
  • Feeling accomplished and waiting for the next instruction.
1Bugmaster8yI have never tried it myself in a structured setting, such as a classroom; but I do sometimes notice things, and then ask myself, "What is going on here ? Why does this thing behave in the way that it does ?". Sometimes I think about it for a while, figure out what sounds like a good answer, then go on with my day. Sometimes I shrug and forget about it. Sometimes -- very rarely -- I'm interested enough to launch a more thorough investigation. I imagine that if I set myself an actual goal to "observe" stuff, I'd notice a lot more stuff, and spend much more time on investigating it. You say that, in such a situation, you could end up "feeling tricked", but this assumes that the teacher who told you to "observe" is being dishonest: he's not interested in your observations, he's just interested in pushing his favorite philosophy onto you. This may or may not be the case with Karl Popper, but observations are valuable (and, IMO, fun) regardless.