All of Sarunas's Comments + Replies

Any time you find yourself being tempted to be loyal to an idea, it turns out that what you should actually be loyal to is whatever underlying feature of human psychology makes the idea look like a good idea; that way, you'll find it easier to fucking update when it turns out that the implementation of your favorite idea isn't as fun as you expected!

I agree that this is a step in the right direction, but I want to elaborate why I think this is hard.

It is my impression that many utopians stay loyal to their chosen tactics that are supposed to closen the... (read more)

From doing this internet propaganda in the early years of the internet, I learned how to do propaganda. You don't appeal to emotion, or to reason, or anything. You just SHOUT. And REPEAT, and explain the position, and let the reader defend it for himself.

In the end, most readers agree with you (if you are right), but they will come up to you, much as you did, and say "While you are right, I see that, you are doing yourself a disservice by being so emotional--- you aren't persuasive...."

But I persuaded this reader! The fact is, I am persuasive, a

... (read more)
Yeah, if you want to be heard, it certainly helps to be a loudmouth. You can do it in different ways though. Eliezer's trick of being infuriatingly certain works as well or better than Ron's rudeness. On the other hand, I feel that being a loudmouth can sometimes hurt your ability to do interesting intellectual work. For that purpose Wei's communication style is the best I know, and I've adopted it wholeheartedly.
But you aren't "gone for good". You will have your own tribe of believers who will still support you. Before they had been called "fuckwits" they might have deserted you when the evidence didn't go your way. But they're not going to desert you now, not when doing so would be tantamount to admitting that they were fuckwits all along.

When we are talking about science, social science, history or other similar disciplines the disparity may arise from the fact most introductory texts present the main ideas which are already well understood and well articulated, whereas the actual researchers spend the vast majority of their time on poorly understood edge cases of those ideas (it is almost tautological to say that the harder and less understood part of your work takes up more time since the well understood ideas are often called such because they no longer require a lot of time and effort).

A clunky solution: right click on "context" in your inbox, select "copy link location", paste it into your browser's address bar, trim the URL and press enter. At least that's what I do.

Different subjects do seem to require different thinking style, but, at least for me, they are often quite hard to describe in words. If one has an inclination for one style of thinking, can this inclination manifest in seemingly unrelated areas thus leading to unexpected correlations? This blog posts presents an interesting anecdote.

And true for me! Thank you! I have the feeling that 'I've been talking in prose my whole life':) Although, since we grow our own comb, and the grains can be quite uneven, I confess I sometimes start in the middle.

I have taken the survey.

I remember reading SEP on Feminist Epistemology where I got the impression that it models the world in somewhat different way. Of course, this is probably one of those cases where epistemology is tailored to suit political ideas (and they themselves most likely wouldn't disagree) but much less vice versa.

When I (or, I suppose, most LWers) think about how knowledge about the world is obtained the central example is an empirical testing of hypotheses, i.e. situation when I have more than one map of a territory and I have to choose one of them. An archetypal ... (read more)

Seems like the essential difference is whether you believe that as the maps improve, they will converge. A "LW-charitable" reading of the feminist version would be that although the maps should converge in theory, they will not converge in practice because humans are imperfect -- the mapmaker is not able to reduce the biases in their map below certain level. In other words, that there is some level of irrationality that humans are unable to overcome today, and the specific direction of this irrationality depends on their "tribe". So different tribes will forever have different maps, regardless of how much they try. Then again, to avoid "motte and bailey", even if there is the level of irrationality that humans are unable to overcome today even if they try, the question is whether the differences between maps are at this level, or whether people use this as a fully general excuse to put anything they like on their maps. Yet another question would be who exactly are the "tribes" (the clusters of people that create maps with similar biases). Feminism (at least the version I see online) seems to define the clusters by gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. But maybe the important axes are different; maybe e.g. having high IQ, or studying STEM, or being a conservative, or something completely different and unexpected actually has greater influence on map-making. Which is difficult to talk about, because there is always the fully general excuse that if someone doesn't have the map they should have, well, they have "internalized" something (a map of the group they don't belong to was forced on them, but naturally they should have a different map).

I think that one very important difference between status games and things that might remind people of status game is how long they are expected to stay in people's memory.

For example, I play pub quizzes and often I am the person who is responsible for the answer sheet. Due to strict time limits, discussion must be as quick as possible, therefore in many situations I (or another person who is responsible for the answer sheet) have to reject an idea a person has came up with based on vague heuristic arguments and usually there is no time for long and elabo... (read more)

The pub quiz you play has clearly defined status. You lead it. As such there's not the uncertainty about status that exists in a lot of other social interactions.
Yes, this is an important aspect. I think what people usually keep in mind are not the specific mistakes, but status and alliances. In the "nerd culture", the individual mistakes are quickly forgotten... however, if someone makes mistakes exceptionally often, or makes a really idiotic mistake and then insists on it, they may gain a long-term reputation of an idiot (which means low status). But even then, if a well-known idiot makes a correct statement, people are likely to accept this specific statement as correct. In the "social culture", it's all about alliances and power. Those change slowly, therefore the reactions to your statements change slowly, regardless of the statements. If you make a mistake and people laugh at you because you are low-status and it is safe to kick you, next time if you make a correct statement, someone may still make fun of you. (But when a high-status person later makes essentially the same statement, people will accept it as a deep wisdom. And they will insist that it is totally not the same thing that you said.) It's not important what was said, but who said it. Quick changes only come when people change alliances, or suddenly gain or lose power; but that happens rarely.

I am really not a sociologist, so someone correct me if I what I'll say is totally wrong, but it seems to me that there are at least two quite distinct types of religion (and a continuum of possibilities in-between), the first one consisting of those religions where "religion" religion (gods, clergy, etc.) is almost one and the same thing as something like civil religion of a community (for example, if you found out that a tribe adds various religious chants to their local "judical process" which otherwise is very similar to a Western j... (read more)

I have read somewhere that all else being equal dialogues attract people's attention better than monologues, at least on television. Perhaps in some cases some ideas (including old sequence posts, especially more controversial ones) could be presented as Socratic dialogues, o perhaps, if a post is being written collaboratively by more than one person, one could write a position and the others (or two) could ask inquisitive questions or try to find holes in his or her argument. You would think that having comments already covers that, and in a sense it is ... (read more)

Assuming this trend exists (I haven't noticed it) I think that in addition to that we also have a fact that reaching higher hanging fruit requires better tools.

Checking "Enable Anti-Kibitzer" in Preferences already does that.

The option has an annotation that it only works in Firefox. I just checked and it works for me in Chrome.
Thank you! has to recalculate her values of crazy and unbelievable

If lack of progress is what causes negative emotions, then it seems to me that another possible reason why startup founders might have mood swings is that they usually build one startup at a time. Therefore, if you are not making any progress, you are not making any progress at all. John Conway advises that mathematicians should work at several problems at once in order to avoid such mood swings:

Work at several problems at a time. If you only work on one problem and get stuck, you might get depressed. It is nice to have an easier back-up problem. The bac

... (read more)
See also: structured procrastination [].

In an ideal (although not very realistic) scenario LW could have a karma denominated prediction market. However, that would require a lot of work to implement.

It seems to me that one reason why some people behave irrationally is that they start implicitly thinking about themselves in terms of a particular identity, particular archetype. If people of that archetype tend to be bad at a X and one is also bad at X, one might not feel the irresistable urge to fix it, even though intellectually one might agree that it would be better if they fixed it.

In a university setting, at least at the beginning, two such archetypes are "hard working (but not necessarily talented) student" and "talented, but lazy s... (read more)

You can start copy/pasting interesting things to LessWrong discussion even if they are not from Eliezer's Facebook page. For example, LessWrong could have "Best of" threads (similar to Reddit's "Best of" subreddit) where people could post the most interesting threads or comments they have found elsewhere (this is different from "Rationality Quotes" threads).

I remember reading the idea expressed in this quote in an old LW post, older than Haidt's book which was published in 2012, and it is probably older than that.

In any case, I think that this is a very good quote, because it highlights a bias that seems to be more prevalent than perhaps any other cognitive bias discussed here and motivates attempts to find better ways to reason and argue. If LessWrong had an introduction whose intention was to motivate why we need better thinking tools, this idea could be presented very early, maybe even in a second or third paragraph.

I think psychologist Tom Gilovich is the original source of the "Can I?" vs. "Must I?" description of motivated reasoning. He wrote about it in his 1991 book How We Know What Isn't So.

For desired conclusions, we ask ourselves, "Can I believe this?", but for unpalatable conclusions we ask, "Must I believe this?

Correctness is essential, but another highly desirable property of a mathematical proof is its insightfulness, that is, whether they contain interesting and novel ideas that can later be reused in others' work (often they are regarded as more important than a theorem itself). These others are humans and they desire, let's call it, "human-style" insights. Perhaps if we had AIs that "desired" "computer-style" insights, some people (and AIs) would write their papers to provide them and investigate problems that are most likely to... (read more)

Automated theorem proving is a different problem entirely and it's obviously not ready yet to take the place of human mathematicians. I'm not in disagreement with you here. However there's no conflict between being 'insightful' and 'intuitive' and being computer-verifiable. In the ideal case you would have a language for expressing mathematics that mapped well to human intuition. I can't think of any reason this couldn't be done. But that's not even necessary -- you could simply write human-understandable versions of your proofs along with machine-verifiable versions, both proving the same statements.

My intuition is that this is one of those cases where given t "evaluation on the left side of t" and "evaluation on the right side of t" give different results. It seems to me that at any given time decision is made about future actions (and not the past), thus "evaluation on the left side of t" seems to be more important and it is the one that makes me reluctant to play this game. It seems to me that using "evaluation on the right side of t" (in cases where they differ) might give some strange results, e.g. murder... (read more)

It is relatively easy to understand the situation when one person owes money to another person, having borrowed it before. It is also not much more difficult to understand the situation when one person owes another person a compensation for damages after being ordered by court to pay it. Somewhat more vague is a situation when there is no court involved, but the second person expects the first one to pay for damages (e.g. breaking a window), because it is customary to do so. All these situations involve one person owing a concrete thing, and the meaning of... (read more)

Even if there were problems that were solved by such collective action, you should not create plans that rely on things like that happening (by definition, you cannot create a spontaneous action). Your plans should not rely on the problem having to solve itself. Edit: unless the type of spontaneous collective action you need is known to happen often or the problem you want to solve is of the type that are known to often solve themselves.

Actions of the crowd during the fall of the Berlin Wall seems to be an example of an event that fits the description, as ... (read more)

An interesting property of that example is that each individual was taking an action, attempting to escape to the west, that would benefit him personally. This is different from typical examples of "collective action" that have mass prisoners' dilemma/free rider problems.

Similarly, I often remind myself that, as a general rule, I should avoid using third person imperative mood in my thinking and speech.

So far only one person (Randaly) has replied. Does any native speaker want to volunteer? Edit: two people (Randaly and Normal_Anomaly)

I think it is important to answer why people go to LessWrong and whether it is perceived to be primarily a place where you go to improve one's rationality that happens to be an internet forum, or an internet forum where you can read interesting things, such as rationality (I think that experiencing an intellectual journey is somewhere in between, but probably closer to the latter). Because there are a lot of large forums where you can read a lot of interesting things - for example, r/askscience and r/askhistorians have hundreds of thousands subscribers an... (read more)

The signal-to-noise ratio there tends to be poor.

This link is often useful for obtaining paywalled papers.

Am I correct to paraphrase you this way: maximizing EX and maximizing P(X > a) are two different problems.

Good point. It's worth noting that you can use Markov's inequality ['s_inequality] to relate the two.
What are the meanings of these symbols "EX", "P(X>a)"?
Yeah, that's one part of it. Another part is that some irrational beliefs can be beneficial even on average, though of course you need to choose such beliefs carefully. Believing that the world makes sense, in the context of doing research, might be one such example. I don't know if there are others. Eliezer's view of Bayesianism ("yay, I've found the eternal laws of reasoning!") might be related here.

I don't know the exact context of this particular quote, but George Pólya wrote a few books about how to become a better problem solver (at least in mathematics). In that context the quote is very reasonable.

Octopuses are solitary animals, whereas most working animals are social. Which leads to another interesting question - is it possible to breed octopuses to become social animals?

Dunno - it worked with house cats, which are far more social than their wild ancestors, although not as social as lions. (Wild cats will not share territory with others, even when food is plentiful. Feral cats will live in feral cat colonies around food sources.)

It is better to solve one problem five different ways, than to solve five problems one way

George Pólya, or at least attributed to him, as I am unable to find the exact source, despite its being widely quoted in texts related to mathematics education or problem solving in general.

It might be from Pólya's book How to Solve It. I skimmed my copy and could not find this or anything similar. A search on Google Books [] also was unsuccessful for this exact quote any some variations I tried. I must admit I have not read the book in full, but when I do I'll post back here with what I found.
The first is certainly good for teaching math, but in general they both have advantages and disadvantages. It's good to have a lot of methods for solving problems, but it's also important to have general methods that can each solve many problems.
If you create a novel way of solving problems, you should spend some time solving lots of previously unsolved problems with it, rather than trying something new every time. Only start looking for new solutions after exhausting the low-hanging fruit.
Not sure that generalises outside of math. Is it really better to solve one problem really, really thoroughly, than to have a good-enough fix for five? Depends on the problems, perhaps - but without knowing anything else, I'd rather solve five than one.

Of course, this assumes that "probability 0" entails "impossible". I don't think it does. The probability of picking a rational number may be 0, but it doesn't seem impossible.

Given uncountable sample space, P(A)=0 does not necessarily imply that A is impossible. A is impossible iff the intersection of A and sample space is empty.

Intuitively speaking, one could say that P(A)=0 means that A resembles "a miracle" in a sense that if we perform n independent experiments, we still cannot increase the probability that A will hap... (read more)

Done. Should I also add a link to the Slovak translation of the book?

The translation is irrelevant for 99.9% readers, so I guess no.

Am I correct to rephrase your idea as "People should develop a habit to apply reductio ad absurdum and, to some extent, absurdity heuristic more often"?

1Adam Zerner8y
No. I think it applies to more than absurd ideas.
Thanks for the sci-hub link. So awesome!
Thank you for sending this article and link. I truly appreciate it Sarunas. Xia

PMed all of them. Does anyone else also want to volunteer?

So far only one person (Randaly) has replied. Does any native speaker want to volunteer? Edit: two people (Randaly and Normal_Anomaly)

META. LessWrong Welcome threads have changed very little since late 2011. Should something be updated?

At the end of "SEQUENCES:" paragraph you could add: They are also available in a book form [].
What about the list of users who offered to provide English assistance? If this is a useful service to members it may be worth revisiting as most of the listed members seem to be inactive (at least from looking at post/comment history): Randaly has returned to posting recently, but shokwave hasn't posted in more than a year, Barry Cotter and Normal_Anomaly's last posts were in April.

This link shows you all new posts in both Main and Discussion, by title and vote count and so on, and is my preferred landing page for LW. I don't think there are any obvious links to it, and this thread seems like a fine place to do so.

There's a way to see all new posts, in both main and discussion, that should be highlighted. (I'll grab the link later if someone doesn't beat me to it.)

A nitpick. This is a paraphrase of the original quote which can be found in The Portrait of Mr. W. H., page 29. The original quote is:

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

Law (especially private law) seems to be a better example of a domain where words themselves are very important, because it can hardly be any other way. For example, whether or not something qualifies as a breach of contract is important by itself.

There is a difference between one-off events and events that fall into a certain pattern and narrative. The latter are often remembered as being an example of events that fall into that narrative. In my impression Kennedy's assassination, despite all conspiracy theories surrounding it, is rarely thought of as being a part of a bigger narrative.

What conclusions have you arrived at? Do you think some statements mentioned are incorrect or do you think that something else (e.g. role of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi himself and other people within Iran itself, or ideology of Iranian Revolution and role of people like Ali Shariati, or role of contemporary events in neighbouring countries or something else entirely) should be more emphasized?

What exactly is the question here? In the comments above I was mostly pushing against the leftist view of geopolitics which sets up the US as Evil Mutants intent on oppressing the rest of the world (in the Middle East together with their lapdog / puppet Israel), while anyone opposed to the US is a victim with legitimate grievances and if they have the "Death to America" attitude it is justified.

In addition to that, perhaps it is because they are much more likely to perform a ritual of praying to the god, whereas rituals of fending of the devil seem to be rare. Thus the latter becomes a vague and remote figure, easy to forget and disbelieve.

Money is not the only thing you can be hungry for, e.g. you can be hungry for fame. Or you can be motivated by thrill of having the call in your life. Some books are described as page-turners or even unputdownable, and I think if one's life has a "well-written" story, then being the main protagonist of that story might make having a dream and following it at least as interesting as those books. For smaller goals, perhaps feeling that your family has a certain stature that you have to maintain would be enough.

One thing that helps motivation is the... (read more)

Kissinger was not rushing to end our conversation that morning, and I had one more message to give him. “Henry, there’s something I would like to tell you, for what it’s worth, something I wish I had been told years ago. You’ve been a consultant for a long time, and you’ve dealt a great deal with top secret information. But you’re about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret.

“I’ve had a number of these myself, and I’ve known other people who have just acquired them, and I have a pret

... (read more)
Dammit. This quote makes me feel even more of a pawn in the grand scheme of things.

P(A or B) = P(A) + P(B) - P(A and B)

Interesting. Number sequences consist of objects that are all of the same type, they are all on the same level of abstraction. What if you asked him to remember not only numbers themselves, but also things that are on a different level of abstraction, e.g. the structure in which they are arranged? For example, if you made him memorize a tree, you could ask him to traverse it in some order.

Or perhaps you could say a short number sequence that has some non-obvious hidden pattern and ask him to discover that pattern and tell you the next number in the sequence.

Excellent ideas!
Load More