An aspiring rationalist who picked a lousy time to move to Boston for the social scene, I came for the fanfic and stayed for the principle of charity. This lead to me growing interested in another sort of effective charity, x-risk, and in meeting people who were weird in ways I find familiar and comfortable. If you're ever Boston area and there isn't a pandemic on, feel free to say hi.

I'd like to read things about turning rationality into money and/or power as well as things about introducing people to rationality. I commit to reading and commenting on the first ten examples of either that are brought to my attention.


Meetup in a box

Wiki Contributions


The quick hack I'd use if I didn't want people to be able to easily guess wrong with high certainty would be to use True/False or multiple choice questions. That said, I don't currently think of this as a big problem?

There are two scores; Calibration and Correct Answers. If someone has remarkably good calibration and almost no correct answers, then they're probably deliberately guessing outlandish answers and being sure that they're wrong. That's not worth bragging rights, it's the equivalent of running to the side of the obstacles on an obstacle course. Someone who's correctly 20% confident on most of the questions can get a lower Brier but six Correct Answer points, or an excellent Brier and zero Correct Answer points, and the former is (to me) more impressive. If you are actually totally clueless, then "[wrong answer] with probability epsilon" is actually the right response. 

"I notice that I don't actually know this" is (in my opinion) a useful skill to pick up, if you can avoid also picking up "I should pretend that I know nothing." Still, the option to make it multiple choice exists, and there might be a better scoring rule. (I deliberately avoided making some kind of combined score, because I didn't want less obvious strategic exchange rates between correct answers and calibration.)

The Megameetup is located about two miles north of the PATH Hoboken station, near New York Ave and 10th st. Exact address is going out by email to people who registered.

In the past some people have gone back to the Megameetup after Solstice, and the address was announced at Solstice. The space we're in counts people past midnight as extra guests, so if that's where the afterparty wants to be then it'll need to be shorter.

Feedback and comments are valued on this one even more than usual. This is the least boxed of the meetup writeups I've done so far, and the one where I feel I've added the least.

I wrote this with the assumption that there's an existing meetup with an existing organizer. (See the first paragraph in Notes.) If that's the case, then the existing organizer can run this event the same way they'd usually run any others. In Boston we usually post events to a facebook group, so I'd announce this to the group as "Hey, I'm running an event at this time and place, the event is titled Oops Its Time To Overthrow The Organizer Day, drinks and snacks will be provided." The Usurpers know about it because The Establishment invites them and explains the goal.

I don't think I'd run it during an ACX Everywhere meetup; you'll have people who aren't particularly involved in the community and just came for some conversation. Maybe run it as the second or third event after the ACX meetup?

That said, I'm not going to stop you from running the experiment, and if you do I'd be curious to know how it goes. . .

. . . You know, I hadn't considered that people would assume this should be done today, on the day I posted it. I totally should have. I've been humming along writing meetups-in-boxes assuming local organizers would run them on their own local schedules, basically planning for this to be evergreen content. Obviously in hindsight this one would look different if you just saw it on the front page.

Why is right now a bad time to do it? Seems ideal to me. Neither of the Solstice are close, ACX everywhere and EAGx are about to flood most communities. I think it's the perfect time to give existing organizers a couple weeks off.

What's something you want?

This meetup is in a few days and while I'll be bringing a deck of things one might value, it's easy for me to add more. So, if you comment below with something you want, and it's not something already in the deck, I'll add it and shuffle it in.

The more varied perspectives on what we want, the more interesting the tradeoffs are!

Possible addition to the Online Platforms section: email lists. I know Boston has one, NYC has one. Finding them might be tricky if you aren't already on them and there aren't any previous organizers in your city, but if someone is going down a list making sure to announce it everywhere email lists are another place to announce at.

Thank you for writing this up!

Nope, you are not correct. If anything the timer is the troll, badgering you and getting in your head and leading to sub-optimal decisions.

The working title was Time Pressure, and one might say its current alliterative name is a joke in poor taste.

(Explaining the joke + spoilers for anyone unfamiliar with HPMoR: Time Pressure was the title of a chapter where the main character has to think fast to keep a friend of his from being eaten by a troll, the kind with green skin and a big club. The panic of a ticking clock leads to missing some ideas he only thinks of later.)

Can you expand on what you mean by comparable? Certainly the version with one slow turn every twenty-five fast turns tends to give you a slow turn on a random choice, not an important turn.

Thank you for teaching me the phrase byo-yomi today! I want to start by saying I'd be delighted to hear people try variations on troll timers and report back how that worked. My confidence here is closer to "how to spice a recipe" than "how to do a math problem."

The very first iteration of troll timers gave people one time-out a game, where time-outs lasted as long as you wanted. The problem I encountered was one side almost always used their time-out by the fourth turn right as the first non-obvious choice came up, and they only took a long enough time-out to make their decisions for that turn. The eventual fix to that resulted in the current version: fast turns long enough to get used to making moves that quickly, slow turns that presented you with all this extra time you might as well use productively. In hindsight, I never thought to reintroduce control of time tokens or time-outs once people had the concept down. I'll give that a try in the future, and if you beat me to it let me know how that worked!

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