All of ScottL's Comments + Replies

Actually, if you read further the above is described as taming the problem, which is bad, and is not solving it.

Taming a wicked problem is a very natural and common way of coping with it. Instead of dealing with the full wickedness of the problem, people simplify it in various ways to make it more manageable and solvable

While it may seem appealing in the short run, attempting to tame a wicked problem will always fail in the long run. The problem will simply reassert itself, perhaps in a different guise, as if nothing had been done; or worse, the tame so

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Quotes from post and this:

It took me a while to realise what a wicked problem was. It is evil. It's a challenge.

"Wicked" in this context means resistance to resolution, rather than evil.

I looked to cooking. No two ingredients are the same. Even if you are cooking a thing for the 100th time, the factors of the day, the humidity, temperature, it's going to be different.

This doesn’t sound like a wicked problem to me. I think a more “wicked” problem would be something like... (read more)

this document agrees with my hypothesis about how to solve wicked problems. it says:

For rationality related concepts, see this page

Thanks, I've seen that before but it didn't come to mind now. It covers a lot of the "rationality" part, though not so much of "understanding the world" in a broader sense (esp. economy, sociology, politics etc.)

Yet how is a lichen 'more than the sum of fungus and alga'?

I don't know anything about lichen, but the below is what I assume "more than the sum of" in this context means:

"The symbiosis between the mycobiont and the photobiont creates an organism that is more than the sum of its parts, in other words, a lichen is an emergent property. Lets take a step back to examine this statement. On the one hand, neither the photobiont nor the mycobiont can withstand intense UV radiation, dessication, or extreme temperatures. But on the other hand,

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So that means that the complex of f&a acquires different properties, occurs in different conditions, and might - might - have an overall wider 'ecological amplitude'. Which is plausible, but hardly ever proven (I don't recall any direct comparison of rates of reproduction, dissemination, biomass allocation or any other objective measure of population success, not 'body type success', but I have not looked into it.) This is apples vs. non-apples.

My wish is to create rationalist communities which are emotionally healthy, capable of action, and successful in life. […] Similarly how the Sequences are not about "how to think rationally during a meetup", but how to think rationally in general.

Is your wish actually to create rationalist communities which are emotionally healthy, capable of action, and successful in life so that you can become these things?

That people often try to avoid an extreme by running into the opposite extreme […] and it will be necessary not only to navigate them p

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Good insight. Yeah, it's so that I can become these things permanently. People usually do what people around them do. Trying to do something that no one around you does is possible but exhausting, like swimming against the current. On the other hand, doing what people around you do is easy and literally instinctive. Many people report that their choices of environment are either (a) rational people suffering from akrasia and mildly neurotic, or (b) emotionally healthy and highly active people who often believe obviously stupid ideas, but because of lucky compartmentalization it doesn't ruin their lives. Sometimes they perceive this as a false dilemma: should I try to become more rational, but akratic and neurotic; or should I throw rationality away and become a happy and healthy human? To me it seems obvious that a third way is possible, but it would be much easier when surrounded by a group of humans who do the same. I mean, to me this is obvious: after a LW meetup, I become much more reasonable and active, but only for a few days, then it wears off. Maybe I am more sensitive to my surroundings than an average person (I do have some evidence for this), but I believe that this effect is universal or close to universal; it's just a question of degree. Humans are a social species, peer pressure and cultural learning exist. I interpret this as "the beginners are doing it wrong". Yeah, I get it now. We all suffer from all (major) cognitive biases, only to a different degree, but each of us only has a subset of the emotional problems. Yeah, it seems so.

I have an idea about a sequence I would love to see, but only if it is written well (because it would be very easy and tempting!!! to make it wrong in various ways): Starting with scientifically describing human emotions, social behavior, and sexual behavior.

This seems way too broad. If it was done right, I don’t think it would end up being a single sequence.

How much have you looked into this already and do have any more concrete ideas on where you would want the sequence to go?

Progressing to social skills.

I think there are two main problems wit... (read more)

Yeah, properly done, this would be a lot of text. My wish is to create rationalist communities which are emotionally healthy, capable of action, and successful in life. So the content of the book would be "all knowledge that is important for wannabe rationalists to become this kind of community". But I suspect that it would be a lot of material; not just to give people the necessary skills, but also to combat existing myths. By emotionally healthy I mean that the group wouldn't fall apart immediately because of some inconsequential squabble, but also wouldn't become some kind of a cult. That the people inside the group would be happy and would achieve their personal dreams, and the people outside of the group would be mostly positively impressed. That the group as a whole and its individuals would be rational, but not suffering from akrasia. When you look at the existing Sequences, you see that Eliezer not only spends a lot of time arguing against supernatural stuff, but he also needs to turn around and argue against the overenthusiastic "fans of evolution", and explain that actually evolution is stupid, it can lead to extinction, and the group selectionism mostly doesn't work. I expect that the similar kind of hedging both ways would also be necessary for this topic. That people often try to avoid an extreme by running into the opposite extreme -- "if I agree with everything, it means I am a sheep; therefore I will disagree with everything" or "acting without thinking is stupid; therefore I will always think and never act" or "people often disregard their own reason because they want to fit in the group; therefore I need to be abrasive and cynical about everything" -- and it will be necessary not only to navigate them properly, but also make them notice when someone else promotes an extreme form of behavior. I agree that the palette of the most frequent social/emotional mistakes is probably wider that the palette of the most frequent cognitive errors. But peopl

I'm exploring the following hypothesis : sometimes, you have to give up constructive actions for the sake of focus.

I would try to make the hypothesis a bit more concrete. Something like: flow, immersion and engagement are all important factors in productivity. An implication of this is: (your hypothesis here). You should of course look at the literature and explain what flow, engagement etc. is and how it relates to productivity.

If you want this to be interesting, then you should probably also try to find some implications that people normally don't th... (read more)

This from here seems pretty accurate for Usenet:

Binary groups being a great big cost sink would be the main thing.

The store and forward protocol required quite some disk space at the time.

The network relied on "control" messages to create/delete groups automatically (as opposed to manual subscription), which due to the lack of authentication/encryption in the protocol, were very easy to spoof. A gpg-signing mechanism was later put into place, so that nodes peering with each other could establish a chain of trust by themselves. This was pretty

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Not just about how it's displayed/styled. People want control over what kinds of comments get attached to their writing. I think this is the key driver of the move from open systems to closed: control. The web has succeeded because it clearly defines ownership of a site, and the owner can limit content however they like.

As far as I see it, there are 2 basic classes of solutions.

The first type of solution is something like reddit or Facebook's newsfeed which involves two concepts: linkposts which are links to or cross posts of outside content and normal posts which are hosted by the site itself. Making use of RSS or ATOM can automate the link posts.

The second type of solution is something like the Blogger API with extended functionality to allow you to access any content that has been posted using the API. Other things it would include would be, for example, the ability th... (read more)

Is this a good summary of your argument?

NNTP was a great solution to a lot of the problems caused by mailing lists. The main ones being:

  • content duplication - mailing lists are bad because everyone gets their own copy of each article.
  • reduced content accessibility - mailing lists suck because you miss out on great articles if they were sent before you were part of the mailing list.

We are facing similar problems now. A lot of people have their own sites where they host their own content. We either miss out on great content if we don't trawl through a to... (read more)

The solution to reading all that content is RSS. The solution to, basically, cross-linking comments haven't been devised yet, I think. So, that's Reddit with more freedom to set up custom CSS for subreddits? Or there are deeper differences?
This is similar to my proposal.

I think of identity as if it were a kind of 'thought groove' or as if it was similar to trampling a path in snow that others will naturally tend to follow. By this I mean that it tends to cause some types of thoughts to be activated and others to be attenuated. The stronger your identity the stronger this effect.

What we perceive, is largely a product of what we have been primed and conditioned to perceive. Our perception is shaped by our previous experiences and beliefs for it is filled with assumptions and predictions. Gaps which must be filled by drawin... (read more)

Perhaps, 'laws' would have been a better word than 'rules'.

I was thinking of it more in terms of complexity. When things are looked at in isolation, it is much easier to see how the simple laws apply. But as things get more complex, we also need to figure out how the different systems interact and influence each other. This makes the simple laws harder to discern.

Simple systems have few components and their behavior is in all respects fully understandable and predictable. An example would be a solid ball falling under the action of gravity through

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I think that it would probably be a good idea to differentiate: ‘simple explanations’ and 'explanations that are based on simple rules'. See Fake Simplicity for a description of simple explanations. An example would be attributing all of the causality to some other entity, e.g. god. Explanations that are based on simple rules can sometimes also be easy to understand, but the way in which they are reached is rarely simple. They are grounded in extensive research and evidence.

Simple explanations can be dangerous because they are easy to believe. They are:

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For the Feynman quote, I don't think Feynman was a programmer! And Chaos was late in his life. Incomprehensibly complex behaviour from simple rules is not surprising to me.
Yes, I think that's all really solid. I'm definitely going for a 'simple explanation' rather than 'an explanation based on simple rules'. It hasn't even occurred to me that I can describe what's going on mathematically. And one should be very careful indeed of such ideas, especially if they have human consequences. Which is why I mentioned people who were probably trying to do their best to make the world a better place, who would probably have not been too pleased with how their ideas turned out. But I keep thinking about atomism. Democritus worked it out thousands of years ago, from simple observations: 'By convention there is colour, by convention there is sweetness, in reality, only atoms and the void'. The essence of the truth. What Feynman called the one fact that he would like to communicate to an ignorant civilization. And yet it took two thousand years to prove. And the answer was found by looking carefully into a cup of tea (poetically speaking!). I do wonder whether the Greeks would have worked it out, if they'd had a real go instead of just believing their a priori assumptions. There are many such examples. In my particular case (which I am not claiming is anything like as important, even if it is bang right!): I think so, but everyone seems to think it's absurd That's what I'm claiming. We should take it seriously and have a look! A great danger. Luckily I've suggested a simple experiment that would refute the whole idea beyond doubt.

I tend to view depression as an evolved adaptation and a certain state which it is natural for humans to move into in certain situations. I think that it can be helpful to recognize that dysphoria, sadness and grief are all natural reactions. It is ok to be sad. Although, like with all conditions if it becomes chronic or persists for an overly long time then you should probably get some help to deal with it. See here for more information.

For general advice for dealing with grief, see this article and apply whatever you think is applicable or would be helpf... (read more)

The moon. This is either really important or completely meaningless, I don't know because I'm not there yet.

I prefer the concept of Fingerspitzengefühl (finger tips feeling) which basically means having an intuitive grasp of a situation and being able to zero in on the accurate region of the problem without wasteful consideration of a large range of unfruitful, alternative diagnoses and solutions. The mechanism behind this is probably similar to how we learn physical patterns.

Expert piano player’s movements largely happen automatically or intuitively. ... (read more)

If anyone is interested in twin studies or trait heritability, they should look at this site.

this is essentially why John Boyd preferred presentations over manuals when running his reform movement in the US military.

It's strange that you mention John Boyd because, to be honest, I was thinking of him when I decided to post the material. I don’t believe that John’s preference for presentations over documentation was a good one. In general, I oppose obscurity and restriction of information although there are times that I don’t, e.g. when it’s from a lack of resources or an extremely short material turnover rate etc. In regards, to John Boyd’s stuf... (read more)

I will now explain some practical techniques that I would give someone in your position. It looks like you have already implemented some of them. FYI I haven’t provided much background on any of the techniques, so if you want any more information on any of the mentioned techniques check out my post on the CFAR material as well.

Value Awareness

  • Reframe the situation to find hidden values. You can do this, for example, by asking: “If I was already at the public school would the choice to switch to the private school be just as hard”. If there is a differenc
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This is so thorough! Thank you so much! I think my desire to transfer does spike when I feel lonely... a useful piece of information. :)

I will describe this first in an abstract way and then in a child comment I will describe some practical techniques that I think might help.

When facing a tough choice, it is important that you are as strong as possible in the following areas:

  • Value awareness, i.e. that you have a full understanding of all the things that would impact your choice. People tend to neglect or not include certain things in their deliberations like being scared of change, for example, because either they don’t think about them or they don’t want to admit that they matter. You d
... (read more)
I will now explain some practical techniques that I would give someone in your position. It looks like you have already implemented some of them. FYI I haven’t provided much background on any of the techniques, so if you want any more information on any of the mentioned techniques check out my post on the CFAR material as well. Value Awareness * Reframe the situation to find hidden values. You can do this, for example, by asking: “If I was already at the public school would the choice to switch to the private school be just as hard”. If there is a difference, then analysing why can often reveal hidden values. * Use goal factoring to find hidden values. This entails finding some alternate set of actions through which you could get what you want cheaper and then analysing why you don’t choose to go with the cheaper option. For example, boarding at the school would resolve move of the problems you have, e.g. travelling and not having enough social time with the other students. I don’t know if this is an option, but if it is and you don’t want to do it then the reason for this should be in your considered valuations. * Find out which aspects of the choice are cruxes. You can do this by creating a list of the valuable or aversive things related to the two choices and then eliminating one of them at a time to see if the choice you would make is significantly altered. If it is, then you have found a crux. * Reference class hopping. Try and think about if your choice ever wavers. That is, if there are moments when you really want to change schools. If this happens, then it indicates that there may be some large underlying issue that is prompting the desired change. An example might be that your desire to change schools spikes when you are feeling excluded, like you are not part of the clique or like you can’t connect deeply with anyone at the school. A large underlying issue, in my opinion, indicates a problem that you should at least try to resolve before making any

They are mentioned on the wiki FAQ page which has some other useful links as well. If you want to go over all the LW concepts and topics, then you might find this page that I wrote a while ago to be useful. It provides a list of concise definitions for most of the LW concepts.

Where could I find a large corpus of people having real conversations, preferably followed over a long term?

This seems pretty good.

I was wondering a, if people tend to fall into some category more than others b, if there are more such categories c, if overemphasis on one behavior is a significant factor of mine, (and presumably others') social skill deficit

It's probably not that useful to think about this in terms of categories. It would be better to think about what makes a conversation great and to find out what is missing when you end up 'just ch... (read more)

Thanks. I appreciate your input. I have updated the post and I think that should have fixed the issues you have described.

You are probably right. I would assume that I can also get the post information from this: . A graph with this much data probably wouldn't be useful as it would be too busy. I will look into writing something else to get this data into a usable format.

Edit: Your link only has the main comments, not the discussion ones. I'm not sure what to get all the comment information from.

maybe 3 months worth; for the past 3 years? 12 graphs in total; showing the trend...? I figured that with the zoom it would be able to be use-able. but separate graphs work too.

I'd recommend adding the year to the timestamp, instead of making me read it off the x-axis.


I also did the cumulative chart. I will think about allowing the user to set the dates that are shown on the cumulative chart. It would start with the first comment/post and end with the last, but it would allow you to change the start or end dates if you want.

I combined the above suggestions. While it is scraping the data, it now also has a table showing the last scraped elements posted date, the number of items scraped and the scraped score. This is split into two rows one for comments and one for posts.

Is this purely client-side?

Yes. I hosted it in Github Pages because it's free. The down side is that it only serves static content.. I might be able to use something like firebase, but I don't really want to. I will see how easy it is to create a link that allows you to download the data to a csv file.

I don't think so. See Vaniver's comment which describes what the site is doing. I don't know the process, but maybe you can submit a DB request to the trike apps team for this data.

script should be able to be run on without much modification...

CFAR has all of this material readily available likely in a much more comprehensive and accurate format.

My assumption was that they don't have this because of time and effort constraints as well as other priorities.

I highly value CFAR as an organisation. I want them to be highly funded and want as many people to attend their workshops as possible. It would upset me to learn that someone had read my compilation and not attended a workshop thinking they had gotten most of the value they could.

The CFAR team are valuable because they are practitioners,... (read more)

7[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien8y
"trying to learn this material by yourself is probably a bad idea." I'd say probably a difficult idea, rather than a bad one. Risky, including uncanny valley and disheartening. But that's literally what the generators of CFAR content did, and others can, too.

Point 1 (It's hard to learn) - I agree. I have added a warning at the top of the post which should help with this problem Point 2 (corruption) - I don't think this post can be in anyway be a substitute for the workshops, but I think it can still have value as a base or glossary. It is definitely doesn't provide a kind of framework or common thread of understanding which I think you seem to be saying is very important. Point 3 (idea inoculation) - isn't this problem (Having seen crappy, distorted versions of the CFAR curriculum) resolved if you check the p... (read more)

9[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien8y
I don't think I have the authority (moral, social, or other) to be the guy who's like, "Hey, please take this down" or "Hey, leave it up!" I will—when I have spare cycles—read through what you've written, and offer some specific thoughts, but I'll probably offer them privately, rather than turning this whole thread into a "zeroing in" on our current curriculum. I just don't know, y'know? I fully respect and endorse the Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff combo punch that caused you to want your summary to exist and be public—more people putting in that sort of effort seems strictly better. I just wanted to put in two cents (or several dollars, I guess) to steelman my understanding of CFAR's position before the discussion got framed in some other way.

I moved the main posts into a separate chart.. It should be less confusing now.

Pressing enter with the box focused didn't start the scraping. I had to click 'go'.


I'd put main and discussion upvotes on the same scale. (So the 'main' y-axis is just 10 times the 'discussion/comment' y-axis.) Right now they don't even have zero in the same place, which is really weird. Maybe also make the scale nonlinear.

I moved main into a separate graph. This should fix the issues.

It's hard to click-and-drag over the whole width or height of the chart.

I could change it so that you can only zoom in on the yaxis like it is here.

I'm not

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Yep, this is an improvement, thanks. I'd probably change the styling slightly, but I'm not sure exactly how. Right now the three Oh, and I'd recommend adding the year to the timestamp, instead of making me read it off the x-axis. Re timeseries: for cumulative, I mean the y-axis is "total karma accumulated on all things posted by date X", so essentially the integral of the existing graph. I guess it might look similar to the thing you posted, but (at least for me, and for others who mostly post neutral/positive things) it would only rarely go down. The 30-day one would be "total karma accumulated on all things posted in the thirty days preceding X".

I don't know Ruby, but I think that your code doesn't work properly. It will count the karma score for every comment on the comments page. This includes the comment that you are replying to. I believe that you should have checked the author name somewhere before you added to the karma HashMap.

I'm pretty sure when I wrote that four years ago we didn't have the previous comment for context on the user page. I agree with you that I wouldn't expect it to work now.

If there is not, then I can create something on github pages that should do this. It should be fairly simple to do and would just involve scraping the data in the[specifiedUser]/comments/ pages. I think this is the only way to do it. Let me know what you want and I will look into it. I could probably also include your posts karma and allow you to check how your karma score changes over time.

I want something that mimics or implements the existing program. Why reinvent this wheel? If it already does not feature, %positive will be an interesting feature. A very interesting extension would be to see how %karma and karma correlates with written content. For anyone machinelearning afficionados who wants to experiment with these ideas, I volunteer an unrestricted (for either/or commercial or noncommercial) use of my comments and posts. If you are interested in using my LessWrong account as a training data set, feel free to use my reddit account (/r/fruitheart) for outgroup comparison.

The book sounds good. I think ultimately there are two things that are important here: the first is teaching her about botany and the second is to instill and build on her drive to want to learn the material or more broadly a problem solving/curious mindset. In my opinion, the second one is more important.

Two pieces of advice:

  • Forget about the structure. Just think about setting up an environment that will let her explore, play and teach herself. The book is a good start. Maybe, a plant for her room would be a good idea.
  • Explore with her. The best thing
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It looks to me like it's possible to resist grief, at least to some extent. I think people do it all the time. And I think it's an error to do so.

It is only an error if it continues on too long. Avoidance in most circumstances is a natural and innate part of the process of dealing with grief.

Avoidance is sometimes an adaptive strategy in coping with adversity and sometimes maladaptive. In the case of bereavement, experiential avoidance usually plays a role in facilitating the healing process. The emotional pain associated with new information that a l

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"Stages" was probably never the right word in the first place: they're more like strategies we use to avoid acknowledging unpleasant truths, and therefore have no required order or progression between them.

This sounds awesome and it looks like it is helping you to become less wrong. I have a couple questions. In summary, the idea that it is implemented with word documents sounds cumbersome to me. I wonder if there is a better way to do it:

  • have you looked into any apps that could do what you are doing with a collection of word documents? If you have, then what is different about your system than the other existing apps.
  • What would a perfect app implementation be of your Value management system?
  • have you done much research to create this system because it
... (read more)
I quite agree that it is cumbersome; the initial editing of the process isn't even finished to my satisfaction. To tell the truth, my initial intuition when I started this project was that the apps present struck me as auxiliary sorts of systems. But I didn't bother looking around for larger software. For shame : / To answer the bullets: * As of today, yes. Nothing I've come across can supplant the whole framework, though. After searching "Life management apps", "Goal management apps", checking CFARs homepage, and the Power Tools listed here, these are some things that may see integration (not all apps); Evernote, MyLifeOrganized, Org-mode, Nozbe, Irunurun, TakeOnIt. I'm not sure how to encapsulate the difference between my system and apps. Perhaps it is just larger? There are reflective elements, and mechanics for dissolving assumptions to double check if an intuition can carry through to action, for example. * I don't think it would be a single app, and it would require a couple to be able to talk to each other. I suspect it would be heavily reliant upon the user, but now we are getting in over my current understanding of what such a system may look like. I have idly wondered if the concept could be embedded into software, however. I have no knowledge of programming. * I have not done formal and controlled construction of the concepts behind my system. It is based off of intuition; however, I have read the content on this site, and I suspect once I start an overview of where all my knowledge comes from it will crystallize into something that may be transferable for other's use. This is not where I had planned on going, and early on I was already noticing many inferences I had packed into formulating mechanics. There is a little note somewhere that suggests I should make my system informative enough that you could step into it from any level of education. Daydreams for later. The prompts are basically coherence, priority, time, effort, action, reward, routi

I think this is a good point. Despair, which I see as perceived hopelessness, originates in an individual and so it depends on how that individual perceives the situation. Perception is not like receiving a reflection of the world in the mind. It is like meshing together the neural activity from percepts with the existing neural activity ongoing in the brain. The result is that it is context dependent. It is affected by priming and emotions, for example.

I think the advice in this post, essentially embrace despair, isn't probably that helpful. What do you ... (read more)

Melancholia, mania and severe depression might be a bit different, but with normal episodes I think the upswing is when you are solving problems without issues. The turning point at the top is when you come across a complex problem which matters to you and that you are unable to solve. The downswing and slide into depression is your body’s way of moving into a kind of analytical mode. Like fever is induced to fight infection, depression is induced to fight despair. I think that despair is separate to the depression. It is the perceived lack of control over... (read more)

I don't see why you should shutdown the rest of the site to do this. What's the benefit of not having a discussion section or restricting the total number of posts? The problem as I see it has nothing to do with the total number of posts, but with the fact that there are not many high quality posts. In regards to your second point, couldn't you just do something similar with the existing promoted section. It should be fairly easy to set up an email address for people to submit potential promoted worthy posts and a group of reviewers who will review, select and post one article a week.

I predict pushback -- LW won't like that idea one little bit :-)

That claim seems totally fine to me. Inaccurate maps can still be useful, sometimes even more useful than more accurate maps as they can be simpler to use and easier to create. I wrote about that here.

Incorrect maps can also sometimes be useful. Examples of this are adaptive biases like the sexual over perception bias in men. From a truth-maximization perspective young men who assume that all women want them are showing severe social-cognitive inaccuracies, judgment biases, and probably na... (read more)

There’s a version of you that is good at moving forward—that has the energy to pour seventy hours a week into your current best guesses, stretching the parts of your model that are correct as far as they can go. And there’s a version of you that is good at dealing with the darker side of reality—that is actually willing to consider the possibility that it’s all garbage, instead of just paying lip service to the idea.

Interesting idea, but it looks like you are talking solely about the rising and falling sections here. I personally think that the most pe... (read more)

3[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien8y
The sense that I've gotten (from my own experience, from anecdotes about startup founders, and from some of Anna's examples) is that there's not much distinction between "falling" and "trough," or between "rising" and "peak." We're looking at a phenomenon of RAPID, LARGE swings, such that you're basically at one place one day, and in a completely different one the next (not that the shifts happen daily—just that they're abrupt). In other words, the way we chose to describe it might make it seem like there's a larger distinction, there, but I think what you're labeling "peaks" and "troughs" are actually the same places we were trying to talk about.

I rewrote that section, but I meant it like the upper-level properties of a system (where people drive, for example, are determined by its lower level properties (roads).

I rewrote that section.

FYI I am not going to be doing this because:

  1. Wikipedia has a list.
  2. I don't think the time spent trying to create one sentence descriptions would help me to understand the terms better. They would help me memorize them, but that isn't my goal.
In my experience trying to focus on the essence of a concept does help with understanding it better. But if Wikipedia already has a good list I will use that.

I would recommend that you change the formatting to be the following: ' list item', '* sublist item', '==header item==' and '===subheader item==='.

Will do it when I have the time, or someone who is interested can do so in the meantime.

I think of it more like a particular lens from which to view problems, i.e. it is an alternative to reductionism. But, perhaps it's most useful aspect is that it allows the development of techniques which can be used to simulate complex systems. Ludwig von Bertalanff described the set of theories that together comprise the framework of systems thought in the following passage:

Now we are looking for another basic outlook on the world -- the world as organization. Such a conception -- if it can be substantiated -- would indeed change the basic categories u

... (read more)

I don’t think this: “All possible subgroups of elements also have the first two properties” is the same as “All possible subgroups of elements can themselves be considered systems and so must have the first two properties”, which it looks like you are reading it as. This means that rule 2: “Each element is affected by at least one other element in the system” says that the subgroup of elements you have selected can be affected by an element that is in the system, but not in the subgroup of elements you have selected.

For example, imagine that the corners in... (read more)

Oh! So the subgroups are being considered as elements rather than as systems, and condition 3 is actually saying that every set of elements (other than the whole system, I assume) is affected by something outside itself? (Equivalently, however you partition the elements into two partitions there are influences flowing both ways across the boundary.) You're right: that's a much more sensible definition, and I retract my claim that Ackoff's definition shows bad thinking. I maintain, however, that it shows bad writing -- though perhaps in context it's less ambiguous. That last quotation, though. At first glance it nicely demonstrates that he has "your" reading in mind rather than "mine"; good for him. But look more closely at the last sentence. "No subset of elements is unrelated to any other subset". In particular, take two singleton subsets; his condition implies once again that every element is "related to" every other. So maybe I have to accuse him of fuzzy thinking again after all :-).

I am reading Korzybski's Science and Sanity

FYI eliezer recommended language in thought and action over Science and Sanity.

So... maybe we should update our language to represent correctly our current scientific knowledge? And maybe that would remove a few unconscious obstacles, and thus make us all a bit more rational? (Don't ask me how to do that specifically. I haven't finished reading the book yet.)

The whorfian hypothesis states that our perception of reality is determined by our thought processes, which are influenced by the language we use. In... (read more)

Thanks, I already forgot that debate. Now it makes much more sense after I've seen the book! Re: whorfian hypothesis -- I guess the important thing when debating the impact of language on perception is to be specific about which parts of the language impact which parts of perception. For example, if the language instead of one word for "blue" uses two different words for "light blue" and "dark blue", it may make the people perceive things about colors differently (i.e. where a person from one culture would insist that two objects have 'the same color', a person from another culture would insist they have 'two different colors'), but ultimately the effect is limited to thinking about colors in some part of color spectrum. But this specific mapping of language differences to perception differences is usually ignored, and people just give a few language differences, often trivial, and then claim that any change of perception can happen.

I think we should get rid of "main" and "promoted" .

Do you think that “main” is a bad idea or that we should get rid of “main” because it hasn’t had much content for a while?

I personally like the concept of “main” because from a site mechanics point of view with its (10x) karma it indicates that less wrong promotes and prioritizes longer, multi-post and referenced material, which is the type of material I am more interested in.

I like the concept of "main" for exactly the same reasons. However, it seems like most people who would post longer, more-referenced material are no longer contributing here. Indeed, even detailed discussion posts are now rare; most content now seems to be in open threads. This dwindling content can be seen most clearly in the "Top Contributors, 30 Days" display. At the time I write this there are only seven posters with > 100 karma in the past 30 days, and it only takes 58 to appear on the list of 15. Perhaps the question should not be whether the content of LW should be reorganised, but whether LW is fulfilling its desired purpose any longer. As nearly all the core people who worked the hardest to use this site to promote rationality are no longer contributing here, I wonder if this goal is still being achieved by LW itself. Is it still worth reading? Still worth commenting here?

What do people think of the “When should I post in Discussion, and when should I post in Main?” section in the FAQ?

I find myself looking less and less in Main because I don’t see much content in there besides the meetup posts. I have a suggestion which might improve this and that is to update the FAQ so that it encourages reposting highly voted content in discussion into Main. This would have couple of benefits:

  • It would allow the potential main articles to go through a process of vetting. It would be suggested that only highly voted (15 karma or more, ma
... (read more)

I think we should get rid of "main" and "promoted" .

Right now there's four tiers: open thread, discussion, main, and main promoted.

at least once a week I see a comment that says "this should be in main," "this shouldn't be in main", "this should be in the open thread," or "this shouldn't be in the open thread, it should be it's own post".

I think the two tier system of open thread/discussion would suffice, and the upvote downvote mechanism could take care of the rest.

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