All of SeventhNadir's Comments + Replies

IQ Scores Fail to Predict Academic Performance in Children With Autism

Thanks for taking the time to math that out :) I have seen a few psychiatrists in the past 5 years and unfortunately medication wasn't an option. I do think I'm performing better with age however!

The mechanics of my recent productivity

What are the prerequisites math domains someone should be proficient in if they were interested in making this career? I'm a long way off currently (just started learning calculus) and some kind of reference point would be very helpful! Congratulations by the way.

1So8res8yCheck out the MIRI course list [].
A rationalist's guide to psychoactive drugs

You've skipped over nicotine. While I've never smoked and could not recommend it (for many reasons) I do use nicotine patches for increased focus and productivity. Nicotine carries a lot of negative associations because of their link to cigarettes but a lot of the dangers of cigarette smoking are actually related to things other than the nicotine itself. The chemicals in a cigarette are quite toxic and cigarette smoke is harmful to the lungs. The fact that cigarettes co-administer MAOI's and have a powerful behavioural trigger that reinforces addiction mak... (read more)

5gwern10yFurther reading: []
Optimal Employment

As a West Australian I think that there are certain expenses you're overlooking. You'd need access to a car, there are no buses or trains to many of the towns (sometimes the larger mining companies do organise buses or chartered flights). Internet will be slow painfully slow and prohibitively expensive, where $200 worth of hardware and $40 a month (on a one year plan) gets you a whopping 1GB of quota. Food is very expensive, alcohol even more so if you're into that sort of thing. Living in the outback can be very unpleasant depending on where you go.

My ro... (read more)

On Lottery Tickets

LotteryWest runs the West Australian lottery and the fraction they donate to charity is enourmous, so that's a generalisation that does not necessarily hold true everywhere.

On Lottery Tickets

I did see it, I would have linked it in the opening sentence but I couldn't seem to make it happen with the tags.

2RobinZ11yI believe top-level posts use HTML - link text [*url*] is the syntax to use.
-1Vladimir_Nesov11yYou should endeavor to overcome this difficulty.
IQ Scores Fail to Predict Academic Performance in Children With Autism

And I also suspect that it may apply to subgroups of people with Attention Deficit Disorder

It seems the case, the study that comes to mind is Executive Function Impairments in High IQ Adults With ADHD by Brown, Reichel & Quinlan. People with ADHD were much more likely to have Working Memory Index and Processing Speed Index (WMI & PSI) scores two standard deviations below their Verbal Comprehension Index or Perceptual Organisational Index (VCI & POI). As a side note, VCI is considered the best indicator of premorbid IQ.

I've actually been mean... (read more)

0somnicule7yMy Bayes' is not very strong, so forgive me. This is about as naive as it gets. Prior for adult ADHD is about 4%. For working memory: 2SD difference given ADHD is 35%, and for the rest of the population it's 2.4%. I'll use LWM to represent a significantly lower working memory. This suggests an overall population of 3.7% having a 2SD difference, since 4% x 35% + 96% x 2.4% = 3.7% So P(ADHD | LWM) = 35% x 4% / 3.7% = 37.8% For processing speed: 2SD difference given ADHD is 44.9%, and for the rest of the population it's 8.7%. I'll use LPS to represent a significantly lower processing speed This suggests and overall population of 10.1% having a 2SD difference, since 44.9% x 4% + 8.7% x 96% = 10.1% so P(ADHD | LPS) = 44.9% x 4% / 10.1% = 17.8% -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Each of those increase the odds of ADHD significantly above the population baseline, and if you're experiencing ADHD symptoms in conjunction with results like that, it's probably worth seeing a psychiatrist.
Cartoon which I think will appeal to LW

Nice find. Some people claim that it is impossible to know the mind of god, but people clearly have ideas about what it should look like, otherwise how would they recognise it? I always imagine what would happen if "god" did exist and actually came down to Earth to introduce itself. Would the organised religions accept him? What if it started contradicting their scripture and undermining their power?

4[anonymous]11yChristianity, at least, has a contingency plan for this built right into scripture.
Study shows existence of psychic powers.

That's true, statistical significance isn't the most sophisticated statistic. My rule of thumb is looking at the p and d values.

Study shows existence of psychic powers.

That critique doesn't really work for t-tests though does it? Sure, as n increases so does your chance that the finding is statistically significant, but it also reduces the chance of the data being a fluke. If you flip a fair coin a million times holding a banana in your left hand and it comes up heads 55% of the time... there's some explaining to do. Even if the explanation is that it wasn't a fair coin.

4CarlShulman11yFailures to set up or follow proper experimental procedures (giving hints, not fully random presentation, etc) or otherwise introducing a slight biasing effect will show an effect which is puny. With low n, this won't be statistically significant, but with high n it will appear very statistically significant.
Goertzel on Psi in H+ Magazine

I'm in no position to analyse it either, but if psi exists and can be selected for by evolution, doesn't this imply that an AI (or even just a brute force algorithm on the right track) can optimise for it too?

So that's something to consider if there turns out to be anything substantial behind all this.

2Risto_Saarelma11yWould seem to follow, if it's the case that PSI exists and PSI is a physical phenomenon. Goertzel's got something on this. [] Depending on exactly what kind of interaction of physics and computing would be going on, the algorithm might need to search through different physical configurations of its sensors or substrate. I'm reminded of this [] experimental result, where a circuit evolution process that was supposed to make an oscillator component came up instead with a circuit that couldn't produce anything by itself, but did act as a radio receiver that could pick up a suitable oscillating signal from a nearby computer.
Why should you vote?

I think one of the arguments declaring that voting is rational is a bit suspect.

But here's the good news. If your vote is decisive, it will make a difference for 300 million people!

In the rather unlikely event that your vote decisive, this is true enough (for US voters anyway). The error he makes though is the assumption that your decisive vote will always create a positive change. If you're going to take the credit for the right decisive vote, you have to take the blame for the wrong decisive vote.

Some people might go on to argue that it's the voters ... (read more)

Voting is not rational (usually.)

It's annoying sure, but what other strategies are available to them? Voting is anonymous process after all. They've succeeded in getting you all the way to the polling booth which is a start. If the voters can't even be bothered to fill out a simple form, that suggests to me deeper problems.

Not that I'm one to talk, I vote for Optimus Prime.

Voting is not rational (usually.)

for instance, not voting is illegal in Australia, and incurs a fine.

I'm being pedantic but it's more accurate to say that "Not marking your attendance off on the electoral roll incurs a fine". There is no penalty for then taking your ballot and submitting it blank.

Transhumanism and assisted suicide

Situations where continuing medical interventions are effectively only prolonging the suffering of the individual and family members. Cryonics as an alternative is very interesting, but I haven't given the topic much thought.

Transhumanism and assisted suicide

Ah, so it's a non-optimal solution that just so happens to be the best of the crappy options available. Thanks.

5Manfred11yWell, being "the best of the crappy options available" is what makes something optimal :P
Transhumanism and assisted suicide

Possibly, but consent in this context is a bit tricky.

A depressed person may actively want to die but we generally don't consider a person in this state as capable of consenting to anything.

If that same person had depression AND a fatal illness that will cause them suffer for another joyless 20 years, do we consider them capable?

Your suggestion is a really good rule of thumb but I'm just wondering if there is more to the story

5Kingreaper11yAh; I suspect the explanation for this second part is: You do not consider a person capable of consent if they are depressed because of a temporary and curable imbalance in the brain/mind system (ie they are mentally ill*) You do consider a person capable of consent if they are depressed because their life really is shit, and it's going to stay that way (ie. a rational cost-benefit analysis would tell them "yeah, actually, you are better off dead") *edit: ie. they are non-consensually incapable of rationality
I clearly don't understand karma

That does seem like the best way to reset your karma. It does feel like a total negative karma should reset to zero after enough time passes.

Upvoted in the interest of saving you the trouble of making a new account. You're now at 0 total karma.

HELP: Do I have a chance at becoming intelligent?

It should excite you even more then, to know that part of what is on here is a model explaining why this site excites you so much!

I don't know why I'm so excited for you, but I am. It can be easy to feel intimidated by people and comments are sometimes on the blunt side, but if your goal is self improvement people will really respect that (I will at least!)

For what it's worth,I started with the sequences and went from there.

Willpower: not a limited resource?

How do they know it's not the persons idiosyncratic "availability of willpower" after a demanding task that shapes idiosyncratic beliefs about willpower?

I wondered that too. But they covered that objection in the paper. Study #2. They manipulated people's beliefs about willpower by administering a "push poll", and then tested willpower depletion.

Picking your battles

On reflection, you're right. I wasn't aware that the prior investment fallacy existed and I was certainly committing it. Thank you for pointing it out, I'm going to have a look at it in more detail to avoid falling into the same trap in the future.

I think I was a little irked at Daniel Burfoot's comment and those feelings bled through into how I interpreted your post. I feel a bit silly now.

4Relsqui11yNo worries, it happens. :) Glad I could help.
Picking your battles

Your reasoning is correct IF AND ONLY IF the degree is not valuable. The degree however is clearly valuable since it will increase my employment options. If you believe that degree is not valuable, I'll ask that you give your line of reasoning.

Apparently some people here look down on a psychology degree. I don't blame you, the curriculum doesn't do the subject matter justice. The condescending attitude is something you might want to examine though.

6Relsqui11yWhat Sniffnoy said. I don't have any opinion at all about your degree--I just started one myself, and being new to the thread didn't know what yours was in. I was just trying to point out that you were committing the prior investment fallacy in a more polite way than saying "you're committing the prior investment fallacy." The point was not "the degree is useless, bail," it was "don't factor what you've already spent into your calculation about what to do next, just include what you may or may not spend in the future." Is there a way I could have phrased that which would have made it more clear to you that the comment wasn't personal?
2Sniffnoy11yHuh? It looked like Relsqui just pointed out a pretty straightforward instance of the sunk-cost fallacy. How close you are to completion is relevant, how far you are from the start is not.
Picking your battles

If you're 80% of the way through a degree in a field that you care about, I see two options, continue or stop. If I stop, I've wasted time, effort and considerable amounts of money. If I continue, I have to put up with my lecturers unpolished set of beliefs.

Continuing the degree is a perfectly rational course of action. Even assuming that my degree was complete bollocks, there is a market for lemons.

6Relsqui11yNo. If the degree is not valuable, you've wasted time, effort, and considerable amounts of money, and that's true regardless of whether you continue from the present point or not. Your prior investment doesn't actually have a logical bearing on the best course of action after the investment has already been made.
Picking your battles

Well keep in mind the golden rule of game theory, players payoffs = players payoffs, not the values you assign them.

So students as a whole go to university to get a degree. As this is a core unit that must be completed, gibberish or not, a rational university student will aim to pass the unit. The lecturer (I've no idea what his payoffs are) makes a career out of advancing his own gibberish viewpoint, so he's also rational. Clearly, while I see a clear failing of the university system, all players are achieving their goals. All players are rational in the game theoretic sense.

2Emile11yBut the student in uncertain of the value of the degree, especially since that value is function of how others evaluate the quality of the education. You could consider that the gibberish is evidence that the degree might be of low value, or only of value for careers where spouting gibberish is considered a desirable trait. One of those careers is teaching cultural psychology, but obviously not all students of cultural psychology can become teachers of cultural psychology, which is why some people call higher education a pyramid scheme. It's also possible that some companies value the ability to unthinkingly accept gibberish as a valuable loyalty signal. It does seem quite likely that loyalty is valued more often than critical thinking.
Picking your battles

Well it is a problem I face a lot, so I'd like to find the best solution.

Picking your battles

My impression of their open mindedness is that it really is an individual thing. Some people agree with me because they want to please people (which isn't what I'm after),

Some people disagree with me and hit me with a confident "but that's just your opinion" (which drives me absolutely insane, what can you even do here?)

Some people listen to my arguments, think about them (this is what I'm after), then come to some sort of conclusion.

I suppose its the second group of people that really frustrate me and make me want to not bother. I say that the i... (read more)

1JoshuaZ11yIf someone tries the just an opinion gambit ask them if it is just an opinion whether gravity exists. (Ok, so I'm advocating hitting one cached thought with another cached thought. It works surprisingly often.)
0Aurini11yRemember Cached Thoughts: people might dismiss your arguments at the time by saying "That's just your opinion, LOL!" Just don't finish off by leaving a bad taste in their mouth ("Oh yeah? Well it's also my opinion that you have a questionable genetic lineage, wherein your conception inolved a freelance contract on the part of your mother, which required her to bring a second set of underpants!") Let them off with a "Fair enough, dude," or similar platitude. Six months later your ideas will have percolated through their (evidently) thick skull, and you're likely to stumble upon them voicing your very argument to someone else, and thinking that they invented it. I've experienced this many a time.
2Vladimir_Nesov11yYou could try pointing out that it's an opinion about the subject, which isn't related to an opinion about your opinion about the subject, with only the latter being brought up by that argument. The relevant skill is focusing on a specific topic and not lumping everything in a single connotational soup. I believe it's important to have a clear understanding of specific reasons why even the most abysmal errors are not correct arguments.
Picking your battles

Considering the amount of time and effort I regularly waste procrastinating, my time doesn't seem to be worth that much. I think there is a very strong chance that if I speak out, other people might too. The well was poisoned early on in the unit where it was declared that "racist people generally have problems with this unit", now most people feel that they'll be vilified if they disagree with any of the coursework. I kind of agree with that assessment too.

Would I enjoy picking the fight? Yes, but I'm also working to change that fact about mysel... (read more)

3sixes_and_sevens11yDoes it have value as an experiment?
Swords and Armor: A Game Theory Thought Experiment

16 possible combination's of Weapon/Armor available, 256 possible combination's of Weapons/Armor between two players.

Only factor in deciding a winner between players is the player with the higher DPS, the margin between the two players is irrelevant.

So you work out the winner in each of the 256 match-ups (16 mirror matches will be stalemates). Armed with the knowledge of what-beats-what, it's just a matter of knowing the distribution what combo's other players went and selecting the best armor/sword combo for that population.

Do these steps seem right?

I'd actually kind of like to work this out, but there has to be a better way to work out the 256 combo's than doing it all by hand. Any suggestions?

7wnoise11yThis is one reason why knowing a little bit of programming is worthwhile, even if you don't intend to use it as a career. (Several full tables have been posted, BTW).
Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality

Fair point. There are too many hidden variables already without me explicitly adding more. If Newcomb's problem is to maximise money recieved (with no regard for what it seen as reasonable), the "Why ain't you rich argument seems like a fairly compelling one doesn't it? Winning the money is all that matters.

I just realised that all I've really done is paraphrase the original post. Curse you source monitoring error!

Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality

From what I understand, to be a "Rational Agent" in game theory means someone who maximises their utility function (and not the one you ascribe to them). To say Omega is rewarding irrational agents isn't necessarily fair, since payoffs aren't always about the money. Lottery tickets are a good example this.

What if my utility function says the worst outcome is living the rest of my life with regrets that I didn't one box? Then I can one box and still be a completely rational agent.

5Nornagest11yLottery tickets exploit a completely different failure of rationality, that being our difficulties with small probabilities and big numbers, and our problems dealing with scale more generally. (ETA: The fantasies commonly cited in the context of lotteries' "true value" are a symptom of this failure.) It's not hard to come up with a game-theoretic agent that maximizes its payoffs against that kind of math. Second-guessing other agents' models is considerably harder. I haven't given much thought to this particular problem for a while, but my impression is that Newcomb exposes an exploit in simpler decision theories that's related to that kind of recursive modeling: naively, if you trust Omega's judgment of your psychology, you pick the one-box option, and if you don't, you pick up both boxes. Omega's track record gives us an excellent reason to trust its judgment from a probabilistic perspective, but it's trickier to come up with an algorithm that stabilizes on that solution without immediately trying to outdo itself.

You're complicating the problem too much by bringing in issues like regret. Assume for sake of argument that Newcomb's problem is to maximize the amount of money you receive. Don't think about extraneous utility issues.

Bloggingheads: Robert Wright and Eliezer Yudkowsky

Maybe Wright's friends thought he did great under fire?

I wish I could have watched it without knowing who either person was, rather than just not knowing who Wright was. That would be interesting

Bloggingheads: Robert Wright and Eliezer Yudkowsky

Maybe I'm just too dumb to understand what Robert Wright was saying, but was he being purposely evasive and misunderstanding what Eliezer was saying when he realised he was in trouble? Or was that just me?

3Matt_Simpson11yI wouldn't say the evasiveness was purposeful. Robert misunderstood something Eliezer said fairly early, taking it as an attack when Eliezer was trying to make a point about normative implications. This probably switched Robert out of curiosity-mode and into adversarial-mode. Things were going fine after Eliezer saw what was happening and dropped the subject. But later, when Robert didn't understand Eliezer's argument, adversarial-mode was active and interpreted it as Eliezer continuing (in Robert's mind) to be a hostile debate partner. I doubt Robert thought he was in trouble; more likely he thought Eliezer was in trouble and was being disingenuous.
4Craig_Heldreth11yThe reason Wright got bent out of shape (my theory): Eliezer seemed to imply the communal mind theory is Wright's wishful thinking. This seems a little simplistic. I do believe Wright is a little disingenuous, but it is a little more subtle than that. It appears to me he thinks he has an idea that can be used to wean millions of the religious faithful to a more sensible position, and he is trying to market it. And he would sort of like to have it both ways. With hard edged science folk he can say all that with a wink because we are sophisticated and we get it. And the rubes can all swallow it hook line sinker. I forget the exact term Eliezer used that seemed to set him off. It was something like wishing or hoping or rooting-for. Then Wright's speech got loud and fast and confused and his blood pressure went up. He seemed to feel like he was being accused of acting in bad faith when he was claiming to try to be helpful. Maybe Wright's friends thought he did great under fire?
2MartinB11yI do not know his position or view to see that. But i got the impression he was badly prepared. Severe misunderstandings, and a lesson in staying calm.
Contrived infinite-torture scenarios: July 2010

Jokes aside, is that a common criticism of consequentialist ethics? How do we determine the "morality" of an act by its consequences if the consequences extend into time infinitely and are unknown to us beyond the most temporally immediate?

Expected values and priors.

The Robbers Cave Experiment

Didn't George Orwell preempt him in "1984"?

-4AgentTeapot9yReagan took office in 1981.
Let them eat cake: Interpersonal Problems vs Tasks

The former due to the rose tinted glasses of the self serving bias and the fundimental attribution error.

On a personal note I'm very attracted to intelligent women but I wouldn't be surprised at all if men in general did find intellectual women intimidating.

Let them eat cake: Interpersonal Problems vs Tasks

While that idea is, in my eyes, a good blend of effective and practical, it doesn't rule out all confounding explanations. If this pattern was found, it would not necessarily prove that their potential mates were intimidated by their intelligence.

Perhaps a way of testing it would be going to a dating service and telling random men that the woman they were dating was very intelligent (regardless of her actual intelligence)?

1NancyLebovitz12yReactions to profiles on dating services would be a good general test, though it might be harder to pull out data on particular social groups. Do you believe that, in general people are bad at telling why they have trouble attracting partners, or do you think that the idea that men are put off by intelligent women is an especially unlikely hypothesis?
Let them eat cake: Interpersonal Problems vs Tasks

Actually, some of my more intelligent friends complain that they can't find a man (that they would consider dating) that isn't threatened by their intelligence.

Now is this a social narrative, a post hoc justification of a failed relationship fueled by the self serving bias, or something else entirely?

Dating is one area of interest where anecdotage should be taken with a mountain of salt.

4NancyLebovitz12yOne way of testing the hypothesis that (many) men are put off by intelligent women would be to look at all the couples in a social circle. Is it true that none of the intelligent women are in heterosexual relationships?
Applying Behavioral Psychology on Myself

In addition, a guaranteed reward could create an anchoring on the reward, devaluing it.

Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome?

ADHD and Autism share early social difficulties and is nonspecific. One thing that differentiates the two is different profiles of impairment in executive function.

Autism has deficits in verbal working memory, while ADHD has deficits in motor inhibition.

The base rates of ADHD are also much higher than that of autism, so factor that into your calculations.

1Jack12yHeh. Motor inhibition is the one ADHD symptom I've never had any issues with. I do have working memory issues but my understanding was that that was part of ADHD as well. ADHD meds didn't do much for me, though. I use caffeine. The main thing that makes me think Aspergers or Autism don't fit is that while I often get anxious before entering a social situation (such that I don't do so as much as I should) once I'm there I generally enjoy myself and have plenty of social success (meeting people, holding court, getting people to laugh etc.) assuming the crowd is intelligent enough that I have something to talk about. The obsession with a single subject thing definitely doesn't fit me but that seems to be common here anyway. I also don't have any trouble being overly literal or getting jokes late. The weirdest question on the test for me was whether I would rather go to a museum or a theatre, both sound great to me! Maybe it is just because I don't fit well but to me these diagnoses really don't resemble natural kinds.
Attention Lurkers: Please say hi


I'm a lurking Australian psychology student. I'm trying to devour information and acquire the skills to help me to separate the wheat from the considerable amount of chaff in my field of study. I'm so fascinated by this blog (worked through most of the sequences in the space of about two months) because to be honest it has more content than my university course.

I have been toying with the idea of posting some of the arguments I've been in recently which would be kind of a case study where I could point to where they might have gone wrong in cognition, but I kind of feel that it might be a bit pedestrian to most readers of this blog.

1RobinZ12yI also support case studies - as much as science is maligned here for being too stringent with data requirements, there's a reason why ideas should be tested by experiment.
4magfrump12yI agree with Nancy. Case studies are very interesting; the few that I've seen have been voted up and very popular and I'd love to see more.
1NancyLebovitz12yI'd be interested. This blog is both for the very abstract hypotheses and for applications of rationality.