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Stupid Questions, December 2015

It gets very interesting if there actually are no stocks to buy back in the market. For details on how it gets interesting google "short squeeze".

Other than that exceptional situation it's not that asymmetrical:

-Typically you have to post some collateral for shorting and there will be a well-understood maximum loss before your broker buys back the stock and seizes your collateral to cover that loss. So short (haha) of a short squeeze there actually is a maximum loss in short selling.

-You can take similar risks on the long side by buying stocks on credit ("on margin" in financial slang) with collateral, which the bank will use to close your position if the stock drops too far. So basically long risks also can be made as big as your borrowing ability.

Rationality Reading Group: Fake Beliefs (p43-77)

Let me be a bit trollish so as to establish an actual counter-position (though I actually believe everything I say):

This is where the sequences first turn dumb.

For low-hanging fruit, we first see modern mythology misinterpreted as actual history. In reality, phlogiston was a useful theory at the time, which was rationally arrived at and rationally discarded when evidence turned against it (With some attempst at "adding epicycles", but no more than other scientific theories) . And the NOMA thing was made up by Gould when he misunderstood actual religious claims, i.e. it is mostly a straw-man.

On a higher level of abstraction, the whole approach of this sequence is discussing other peoples alleged rationalizations. This is almost always a terrible idea. For comparison, other examples would include Marxist talk about false consciousness, Christian allegations that atheists are angry at God or want a license to sin or the Randian portrayal of irrational death-loving leachers. [Aware of meta-irony following:] Arguments of this type almost always serve to feed the ingroup's sense of security, safely portraying the most scary kinds of irrationality as a purely outgroup thing. And that is the most simple sufficient causal explanation of this entire sequence.

Change Contexts to Improve Arguments

You're treating looking for week points in your and the interlocutors belief as basically the same thing. That's almost the opposite of the truth, because there's a trade-off between those two things. If you're totally focused on the second thing, the first one is psychologically near impossible.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

This was based on a math error, it actually is a prisoners dilemma.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I threw a D30, came up with 20 and cooperated.

Point being that cooperation in a prisoners dilemma sense means choosing the strategy that would maximize my expected payout if everyone chose it, and in this game that is not equivalent to cooperating with probability 1. If it was supposed to measure strategies, the question would have been better if it asked us for a cooperating probability and then Yvain would have had to draw the numbers for us.

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I'm a bit out of my depth here. I understood an "ordered group" as a group with an order on its elements. That clearly can be finite. If it's more than that the question would be why we should assume whatever further axioms characterize it.

Two points:

  1. I don't know the Holder theorem, but if it actually depends on the lattice being a group, that includes an extra assumption of the existence of a neutral element and inverse elements. The neutral element would have to be a life of exactly zero value, so that killing that person off wouldn't matter at all, either positively or negatively. The inverse elements would mean that for every happy live you can imagine an exactly opposite unhappy live, so that killing off both leaves the world exactly as good as before.

  2. Proving this might be hard for infinite cases, but it would be trivial for finite generating groups. Most Less Wrong utilitarians would believe there are only finitely many brain states (otherwise simulations are impossible!) and utility is a function of brain states. That would mean only finitely many utility levels and then the result is obvious. The mathematically interesting part is that it still works if we go infinite on some things but not on others, but that's not relevant to the general Less Wrong belief system.

(Also, here I'm discussing the details of utilitarian systems arguendo, but I'm sticking with the general claim that all of them are mathematically inconsistent or horrible under Arrow's theorem.)

Open Thread, October 20 - 26, 2013

I think it's just elliptic rather than fallacious.

Paul Graham basically argues for artistic quality as something people have a natural instinct to recognize. The sexual attractiveness of bodies might be a more obvious example of this kind of thing. If you ask 100 people to rank pictures another 100 people of the opposite sex by hotness, the ranks will correlate very highly even if the rankers don't get to communicate. So there is something they are all picking up on, but it isn't a single property. (Symmetry might come closest but not really close, i.e. it explains more than any other factor but not most of the phenomenon.)

Paul Graham basically thinks artistic quality works the same way. Then taste is talent at picking up on it. For in-metaphor comparison, perhaps a professional photographer has an intuitive appreciation of how a tired woman would look awake, can adjust for halo effects, etc., so he has a less confounded appreciation of the actual beauty factor than I do. Likewise someone with good taste would be less confounded about artistic quality than someone with bad taste.

That's his basic argument for taste being a thing and it doesn't need a precise definition, in fact it would suggest giving a precise definition is probably AI-complete.

Now the contempt thing is not a definition, it is a suggested heuristic for identifying confounders. To look at my metaphor again, if I wanted to learn about beauty-confounders, tricks people use to make people they have no respect for think woman are hotter than they are (in other words porn methods) would be a good place to start.

This really isn't about the thing (beuty/artistic quality) per se, more about the delta between the thing and the average person's perception of it. And that actually is quite dependent on how much respect the artist/"artist" has for his audience.

Open Thread, September 30 - October 6, 2013

I think another thing to remember here is sampling bias. The actual conversion/deconversion probably mostly is the end point of a lengthy intellectual process. People far along that process probably aren't very representative of people not going through it and it would be much more interesting what gets the process started.

To add some more anecdata, my reaction to that style of argumentation was almost diametrically opposed. I suspect this is fairly common on both sides of the divide, but not being convinced by some specific argument just isn't such a catchy story, so you would hear it less.

Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013

But if you missed Twelfth Night, Candlemas would be a Schelling point for rescheduling, because it's the other "Christmas now definitely over" holiday.

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