skeptical_lurker's Comments

Feedback on LW 2.0

I haven't posted on LW for a while now, but after posting to LW2.0 I got banned (till 2021) very quickly. My posts were also deleted. I was not told why I was banned, although I assume it was because I entered a fake email (I was annoyed that the new site required an email and not just a username). I asked why I got banned, and received no response.

Well, I'm sorry for using a fake email. I wasn't trying to spam, or sockpuppet or anything, but I think a 3 year ban without any sort of warning or explanation seems a little excessive. I'm happy to provide an email that works if required. I also considered setting up a new account with a real email, but I don't want it to seem like I'm sockpuppetting.

Open thread, Apr. 10 - Apr. 16, 2017

Facebook is full of bullshit because it is far quicker to share something then to fact-check it, not that anyone cares about facts anyway. A viral alarmist meme with no basis in truth will be shared more then a boring, balanced view that doesn't go all out to fight the other tribe.

But Facebook has always been full of bullshit and no-one cared until after the US election when everyone decided to pin Trump's victory on fake news. So its pretty clear that good epistemology is not the genuine concern here.

Not that I'm saying that Facebook is worse then any other social media - the problem isn't Facebook, the problem is human nature.

Open thread, Apr. 10 - Apr. 16, 2017

I've just been skimming the wiki page on Russian involvement in the US election.

SecureWorks stated that the actor group was operating from Russia on behalf of the Russian government with "moderate" confidence level

The other claims seem to just be that there was Russian propaganda. If propaganda and possible spying counts as "war" then we will always be at war, because there is always propaganda (as if the US doesn't do the same thing!). The parallels with 1984 go without saying, but I really think that the risk of totalitarianism isn't Trump, its people overreacting to Trump.

Also, there are similar allegations of corruption between Clinton and Saudi Arabia.

Against Belief-Labels

I generally agree, but...

George is a Perfect Bayesian Rationalist, and has recently come to the conclusion that everything Albert Camus says is correct with a probability of greater than 0.99999. Since his realization, George has called himself an absurdist.

One problem here could be that it might not the case that all beliefs and positions can be determined by Bayesian Rationalism. Does absurdism have an objective truth value? Perhaps not. Political positions, to give an example, seem to correlate more with personality traits than with intelligence: Einstein and Von Neumann are widely regarded as two of the smartest people in the 20th century, and yet Einstein campaigned for nuclear disarmament, while Von Neumann campaigned to preemptivly nuke the USSR.

“I’m a republican.” might not mean "I have rationally decided that republicanism is the best philosophy" it might mean "I have high enough 'aversion to danger' to want boarder controls and high military spending, low enough 'openess to experience' to be uncomfortable with unconventional lifestyles, and am rational enough to realise that free markets are more efficient"

Or it might mean something else. Either way, saying “I’m a republican.” gives object-level information quickly without going into the meta-level underpinnings to your beliefs.

Open Thread, March. 6 - March 12, 2017

I said a few weeks back that I would publically precommit to going a week without politics. Well, I partially succeeded, in that I did start reading for example an SSC article on politics because it popped up in my RSS feed, but I stopped when I remembered that I was ignoring politics. The main thing is I managed to avoid any long timewasting sessions of reading about politics on the net. And I think this has partially broken some bad habits of compulsive web browsing I was developing.

So next I think I shall avoid all stupid politics for a month. No facebook or reddit, but perhaps one reasonably short and high-quality article on politics per day. Speaking of which, can anyone recommend any short, intelligent, rational writings on feminism for instance? My average exposure to anti-feminist thought is fairly intelligent, while my average exposure to pro-feminist thought is "How can anyone disagree with me? Don't they realise that their opinions are just wrong? Women can be firefighters and viking warriors! BTW, could you open this jar for me, I'm not strong enough." And this imbalance is not good from a rationalist POV. I am especially interested whether feminists have tackled the argument that if feminists have fewer children, then all the genes that predispose one to being feminist (and to anything else that corrlates) will be selected against. I mean, this isn't a concern for people who think that the singularity is near(tm) or who don't care what happens a few generations in the future, but I doubt either of these apply to many feminists, or people in general.

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

The impression I have -- though of course I don't know what your friends have been saying -- is that the burn-their-houses-down brigade are much more upset about the kinda-fascist sort of right than the kinda-libertarian sort of right. Of course even if I'm right about that that doesn't necessarily reduce the sense of alienation; your aliefs needn't match your beliefs.

Except that I don't think libertarian is incompatible with boarder controls - indeed, libertarians are generally enthusiastic about property rights, and controlling immigration is no different to locking your front door and vetting potential housemates.

I'm not saying that the boarder controls should be based around skin colour, but the definition of 'Nazi' seems to have expanded to anyone who believes in any form of boarder control.

Agree about first half; not fully convinced about second half. As you pointed out yourself, it's not that long ago that we had actual Nazis and Stalinists in power in Europe, and bad though early-21st-century politics is it doesn't seem like it's got there just yet.

I certainly agree that globally its not as bad as 1930-1990. Nevertheless, things seem to have got dramatically worse in the last decade - in my personal experience it used to be that people could agree to disagree, now most political opinions seem to be in lockstep, almost like a cult. More generally, I remember people criticising Bush, but now there are very intelligent people, even the head of CFAR, saying that Trump could be the end of democracy. Either they are correct, in which case that is obviously a cause for concern, or they are wrong and a lot of very smart people, inc rationalists, are utterly mindkilled.

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

You see, its one thing to advocate violence against a literal Neo-Nazi, but advocating violence against anyone who advocates reducing immigration, well, that shows a lot more liberal tribe loyalty. So much holier than thou.

Additionally, this comment was made IRL, possibly within earshot a person they were advocating violence against.

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

I think people cluster into left and right because those are the tribes. However, it can be oversimplistic and I agree that there are many potential directions left and right progress can take - indeed, if a few more Islamic terrorists shoot up gay bars there could be a lot of LBGTs defecting to right-nationalism.

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

I think communist beliefs, violent or not, are on the rise largely due to young angry people being too young to remember the cold war. Some friends and acquaintances from multiple disconnected freindship groups are communists, and too many of these advocate violence, although I think that they are still a tiny minority overall. I think the situation is, as you put it, "this person is broken".

I'm not at all worried about actually being the victim of politically-motivated physical violence or of riots/revolutions etc in the near future. What worries me is general political polarisation leading to a situation where blue and red tribes hate each other and cannot interact, where politics is reduced to seeing who can shout 'racist' or 'cuck' loudest. My political beliefs have become increasingly right-wing, in a classically liberal sense as opposed to fascist, and it alienates me when friends advocate burning someone's house down because they hold beliefs which are actually similar, perhaps even left of, mine. I'm not worried about them actually burning my house down, it's just alienating on principle, and for fear of social exclusion.

WRT historical periods of political instability, I agree that such periods are infrequent, and given that we have seen the results of both Nazism and communism, I think it unlikely that those ideologies will gain power. But OTOH we are going to see certain events that are totally unprecedented in history, largely because of technology. We are already seeing levels of migration that I think exceeds anything in the past (due to better transport), which is leading to a rise in nationalism, and soon it is possible that we will see far more disruptive technologies such as human genetic engineering, large numbers of jobs being automated away, mass automated surveillance, and finally FAI. If safely navigating the problems these technologies pose requires a partially political solution, then we need sane politics. And yet political discourse has sunk to the point where political candidates are debating the size of their 'hands' and whether frogs are racist. Obama's advisor seemed to think that the danger of AGI is that it might be programmed by white male autists.

We do not have the level of political sanity necessary to deal with disruptive technologies and its getting worse. Nick Bostrom thinks that genetically engineered IQ boosts of 100 points+ in a single generation might be possible, and soon. Nazism and communism are unlikely now, but how would society react to human genetically engineering? Many would try to ban it. Some would try to tax it. Countries where it was illegal might suffer massively reduced economic growth compared to those where it was allowed. Inequality might skyrocket. I'm not trying to suggest that we will specifically end up with 'Gattaca' or 'Deux Ex: Mankind divided' or any of the other specific science fiction explorations of these possibilities, I'm saying that I don't know what will happen and political extremism/violence is certainly a possibility and it doesn't help if extremism is increasing anyway!

Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017

"The simplest explanation is probably correct" is true when we have a sufficient number of facts in front of us to make inference. In most things in life this is the case, but human behaviour is complex enough to make that not generally true.

However, I would say that even when dealing with high complexity and uncertainty, the simplest explanation is still usually the most probable hypothosis, even if it has <50% probability.

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