All of Shephard's Comments + Replies

I don't think you should consider doing it if you don't actually feel any over desire, but it might be worthwhile to take a closer look at that lack of desire. I feel the same way, actually, and I plan on never having children, but I often wonder if that ties into deeper, subconscious issues that might be doing me a disservice.

Also keep in mind that agreeing to have a child out of a sense of obligation or a desire to please your partner could have a detrimental (if unintentional) impact on how you treat the child (especially if something went awry with the original relationship, which can happen).

0BadAstronaut12y
I also think there must be some kind of psychological issue behind my lack of interest in children. For instance I have an infant nephew that I see regularly and people ask me if I want to hold him, play with him etc. The answer is no (although sometimes I do it anyway). The strange thing is if I was around a puppy I would want to hold it and play with it - this doesn't seem right. Shouldn't I be adapted to find the young of my own species more loveable than any other?

I respect your emphasis on trying to avoid hyperbole, but there's got to be some room for speaking loosely (even in the hyper-vigilant Less Wrong community). And notice I prefaced that sentence with "I'd say that" which I think is a pretty good indication that it was more of an opinion than a bold assertion of fact. I haven't made up my mind about anything, but I can have strong opinions about an issue without getting a degree in the relevant field.

If you disagreed with me, why not skip the reprimand, and instead shame me (and enlighten me) by offering a strong counter-argument to my perspective?

-2DSimon12y
The reprimands and downvotes mean that people don't think what you've written is useful. It doesn't matter whether you're giving your opinion or asserting a fact. Either way, you're expected to support your claims, because Less Wrong is all about that. * * Except somewhat in the Discussion subsite, where sociability and the fun of conversation itself are given more weight.
7Emile12y
I don't know if there is enough evidence, looking up what evidence exists requires significant work, and making up my mind without doing that would be irresponsible. I strongly object to throwing around "it's obvious that" lightly, except when you really expect everybody to agree that yes, it is obvious (which includes pretty much nothing in discussions of macroeconomics, technical progress, and history). Otherwise it just comes off as an attempt to make people who disagree look stupid.

That sounds like what he might say, but I agree with Waveman. For one thing, the overall economic and environmental impact of one child in the developing world far outweighs that of one child born in poorer countries. Furthermore, if there's any detrimental impact of the bloated world population, then we need as many people as possible encouraging self-restraint, even if any one group of citizens can afford to indulge themselves.

Also, the claim that the percentage of innovators born to each generation is enough to offset the overall negative externalities is dubious at best. I'd say that our pace of innovation is still very obviously struggling to keep up with the pace our reproduction.

I'd say that our pace of innovation is still very obviously struggling to keep up with the pace our reproduction.

That's not "very obvious" to me at all.

For one thing, the overall economic and environmental impact of one child in the developing world far outweighs that of one child born in poorer countries.

This also holds true for their positive impacts too. Not much good science is conducted by Africans in Africa.

I've commented more extensively on the scientific and logical basis for Caplan's ideas elsewhere, including my serious concern about his reliance on separated-at-birth twin studies, but I'll limit my comments here to something a little more subtle.

While some of his data about intelligence and physical health seemed pretty sound, I remember his conclusions about personality and happiness seeming a lot sketchier. Which makes sense since the psychological health of any given individual is extremely difficult to quantify (much less the effect of one person's p... (read more)

0Multiheaded12y
Damn straight. This common-sense observation really is needed to balance the (oh-so-contrarian) original post; techincal/quantitative concerns about overpopulation, heredity, etc all seem less much less important in contrast with the point above - at least to my limited psychosocial understanding.

I don't believe LW is a cult, but I can see where intelligent, critical thinking people might get that impression. I also think that there may be elitist and clannish tendencies within LW that are detrimental in ways that could stand to be (regularly) examined. Vigilance against irrational bias is the whole point here, right? Shouldn't that be embraced on the group level as much as on an individual one?

Part of the problem as I see it is that LW can't decide if it's a philosophy/science or a cultural movement.

For instance, as already mentioned, there's a g... (read more)

While I personally agree that "personality can and does change" and that such changes have the potential to trump so-called "external" factors, the research cited in this article doesn't seem to pack much of a punch.

Furthermore, I think that there are some major obstacles in the way of this kind of research in general. The average person's concept of what shapes one's personality is still heavily influenced by poorly understood notions of genetic determinism, philosophically naive definitions of free-will, and lingering ideas about huma... (read more)

There definitely are parallels between studying either the process or the "content" of a scientific field and studying what I would refer to as "technique" in the art world. Musical composition is one example, and as a visual artist I can add things like color theory, semiotics, visual composition, and the handling of various mediums. These are phenomena that can and have been taught and written about. They can be as objectively addressed as any scientific subject in that you can say "if you follow procedure X, you'll get Y result&... (read more)

Imagine a snowball that's rolling down an infinite slope. As it descends, it picks up more snow, rocks, sticks, maybe some bugs, I don't know. Maybe there are dry patches, too, and the snowball loses some snow. Maybe the snowball hits a boulder and loses half of its snow, and what remains is less than 10% original snow material. But it still can be said to be this snowball and not that snowball because its composition and history are unique to it - it can be identified by its past travels, its momentum, and the resulting trajectory. If this can be taken to... (read more)

Evidence has smashed my belief's face quite solidly in the nose, though.

Evidence other than the repeated denials of the subjects in question and a non-systematic observation of them acting as largely rational people in most respects? (That's not meant to be rhetorical/mocking - I'm genuinely curious to know where the benefit of the doubt is coming from here)

"I knew eating a cookie wasn't good for me, but I felt like it and so I did it anyway."

The problem here is that there is a kind of perfectly rational decision making that involves being... (read more)

0Kaj_Sotala12y
Psychological research tends to be about the average or the typical case. If you e.g. ask the question "does this impulse elict rationalization in people while another impulse doesn't", psychologists generally try to answer that by asking a question like "does this statistical test say that the rationalization scores in the 'rationalization elictation condition' seem to come from a distribution with a higher mean than the rationalization scores in the control condition". Which means that you may (and AFAIK, generally do) have people in the rationalization elictation condition who actually score lower on the rationalization test than some of the people in the control condition, but it's still considered valid to say that the experimental condition causes rationalization - since that's what seems to happen for most people. That's assuming that weird outliers aren't excluded from the analysis before it even gets started. Also, most samples are WEIRD and not very representative of the general population.

Sorry, I didn't respond to this sooner. We actually ended up having a long and by no means conclusive conversation about this.

There's a lot more to it but the two biggest problems I have with Caplan are as follows:

  1. He relies a great deal on separated-at-birth twin studies. These studies tend to include subjects in the dozens, and are prone to a number of mitigating inconsistencies (After all we're not talking about rats here. You can't just engineer the perfect circumstances, and the window of time between science being sufficiently advanced and the inte

... (read more)

I tend to agree that anyone who denies the tendency to rationalize is either in denial or has a different definition for the word "rationalize". In fact I would argue that rationalization is the default for human beings, and that anything else requires either focused effort or serious mental re-programming (which is still probably only partially effective).

One possible way to try to elicit an understanding for any given individual's capacity for rationalization is to ask them about the last time they did something they knew was a bad idea (perha... (read more)

3David_Gerard12y
Sounds about right. This would be why science is hard for humans. We wouldn't bother if it didn't work.

I tend to agree that anyone who denies the tendency to rationalize is either in denial or has a different definition for the word "rationalize". In fact I would argue that rationalization is the default for human beings, and that anything else requires either focused effort or serious mental re-programming (which is still probably only partially effective).

I absolutely relate. I totally would have said that a week ago. Evidence has smashed my belief's face quite solidly in the nose, though.

One possible way to try to elicit an understanding f

... (read more)

A number of commenters have referenced the idea of being a spectator instead of a target, and I think this is important. One-on-one debates often have a competitive aspect to them that can make people defensive (nobody wants to feel like they've "lost" the "argument").

And really, converting people on a case-by-case basis is probably one of the least efficient approaches to cultural change. My guess is that it's more important to create a healthy "atmosphere for conversion", and I think a big part of that is just being outspoke... (read more)

I'm not a statistician, but I think that this dilemma might simply sound like other, much trickier probability issues.

One of the misleading aspects of it is this line: 'When asked what the probability is that the coin came down tails, you of course answer “.5”.' The problem is that this is posed in the past tense, but (without any other information whatsoever) the subject must treat it the same way as the question about a future situation: 'What is the probability that a fair-coin would come down tails, all other things being equal?'

But the next time the q... (read more)

Someone jsalvatier invited to this meeting. Who are you?

1ESRogs12y
Someone who will be there. Looking forward to meeting you. :)
0[anonymous]12y
Wrex.

I've been reading up on Caplan's ideas, and I plan to cause some serious trouble, so it should be interesting.

0juliawise12y
I'm not in Seattle, but I read the book recently and would love to hear your "trouble".
0jsalvatier12y
Great! Looking forward to this.
0ESRogs12y
Who are you?

I think Professor Pagel's specific attempts to articulate the mechanics of human ideation isn't the most interesting take-away from this video. His tone makes it clear that he is playing around with a perspective that is new to him, a rough understanding of human intelligence that deserves further exploration.

The concept that I think is important, and which is certainly not universally accepted by a wider audience of reasonably intelligent and educated people, is that our creativity is not "special". That new ideas aren't magically willed into be... (read more)

This might be a re-phrasing of some of the other comments, but I think you need to calibrate your approach to match your personality make-up. For instance I could easily spend hours reading, thinking, and writing about some socio-political issue, but the idea of joining a march or protest addressing the same issue sounds draining. Other people are the exact opposite of that. Maybe you like traveling, maybe you like telling stories, maybe you like statistics, maybe you like street-art. Any of these could be creatively leveraged to change the world.

If you li... (read more)