All of Skepxian's Comments + Replies

However, making the question a little bit more complex ... and adding in why that fame really can add to the act -

How does it change your equation if that Policeman who saved the three prostitutes only became a policeman because he was inspired to do so by reading comic books about Superman saving 200 kids?

Inspiring others by your deeds, causing your actions to reflect against the world in a far greater effect than the deeds themselves would, I think, have quite an effect on the equation.

There are a lot more things that people can consider a 'habit' than most people would consider, I would expect. It's easy to think of 'getting up at 5 AM' or 'eating well' or 'exercising' to be a habit. I've witnessed exercise as a habit, to be sure, when I watched my siblings - who were very active in sports - get downright surly if they didn't have time for their morning jog.

But there's a lot of small habits in everything we do, that we don't really notice. Necessary habits. When someone asks you how you are, the habitual answer is 'Fine, thank you,'... (read more)

Not critical to your point, but I can't stand this habitual exchange: When people ask how I am, I want to give them information. I want to tell them, "Actually I've had a bad headache all day; and I'm underemployed right now and really lonely." Or sometimes I'm feeling good, and I want to say "I feel great!" and have them actually know that I feel great and not think that I'm just carrying through the formula. Human speech is one of the most valuable resources in the universe, and he were are wasting it on things that convey no information.
2Swimmer963 (Miranda Dixon-Luinenburg) 12y
I think that's one of the most powerful messages of the quote. A thought doesn't have to become word or action, but an unquestioned thought, a thought that is allowed to determine what kind of person we think we are, is much likelier to become word, action, habit, character...etc. Whereas if a thought that is stopped in its tracks and corrected, then it will stop there. And yes, that has a lot to do with asking 'why'.

Continuing other comment:

To take patrissimo's arguments on what makes something useful for self-improvement:

patrissimo says,

My version: Growth activities are Work, and hence feel like work, not fun"

I call foul. He tries to claim he's not being puritan, and not saying that growth is never fun, but then proceeds to dismiss fun in that "all use you could get out of it, you've probably already gotten." In essence stating that fun activities only helped you grow in the past, and to move towards the future, you have to be not-fun.

He also com... (read more)

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm still new, still working through the sequences, which is taking me a while because the needs and requirements of accomplishing my goals in life has down-prioritized my reading through Less Wrong. A somewhat appropriate reason for this discussion.

I see an implied assumption in the article, and additionally outright stated in the comments, that Less Wrong needs to create results, that it needs to have more successes, or it should be accomplishing something in its existence.

I disagree. Less Wrong cannot create results, n... (read more)

I am, sadly, too busy this weekend to make it. I would be coming down from Milwaukee, and very much hope to make the next meeting.

For prospective places to meet up, I am afraid that in Illinois, I have little experience. The only place i do know of is Ballydoyle Irish Pub and restaurant which is a nice place with several back rooms for parties which wish to have a more private meal and discussion.

I'd also like anything within easy walking distance of Ogilvie Transportation Center, making it easy to get there via the Metra, though within distance of any of the train stations connected to this would also be nice.

Oh, I quite agree! Thank you very much for the time spent sharing your thoughts. ^_^

I've certainly tried, thank you very much. I think that might be the most satisfying reaction I could have hoped to receive. ^_^ I hope to stick around for a good long time, too... this site's rivaling "TV Tropes" for the ability to completely suck me in for hours at a time without me noticing it.

Every time someone says, "The simplest reading..." about a passage, I really draw back cautiously. I see, usually, two types of people who say "There's only one way to read that passage," on any nonspecific passage. The first is "I know what it means and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong because I know the Will of God," and the second is "I know what it means and it's stupid and there is no God."

I'm not saying you're doing that - quite the opposite, you agree that there are many ways to approach the passage. T... (read more)

Anyhow, I think it's illuminating to be aware of what criteria actually go into one's judgments of Biblical interpretations. Your particular examples will vary.

Well, thus far, I've mainly seen, "Welcome to LessWrong ... let's poke at the new guy and see what he's thinking!" I don't think we're getting into any real serious philosophy, yet. It's all been fairly light stuff. I've been trying to self-moderate my responses to be polite and answer people, but not get too involved in a huge discussion, because I agree, this wouldn't be the right place. But so far, it's seemed just some curiosity being satisfied about me, specifically, and my theology - not theology as a whole. As such, it certainly seems... (read more)

Oh, no, not at all! I'm quite happy to have people interested in what I have to say, but I'm trying to keep my conversation suitable for the 'Welcome to Less Wrong' thread, and not have it get too big. ^_^

As far as 'If it's logically fallacious, why is it the foundation of your belief?'

Well, it's not the foundation of my belief, it's just a very strong element thereof. It would probably require several months of dedicated effort and perhaps 30,000 words to really hit the whole of my belief with any sort of holistic effort. However, why assume a First... (read more)

Sounds like you've given this some serious thought and avoided all kinds of failure modes. While I disagree with you and think that there's probably an interesting discussion here, I agree that this probably isn't the place to get into it. Welcome to Less Wrong, and I hope you stick around.

Ah, yes. that rather strikes a chord, indeed. Thank you.

Thank you very much, I appreciate that.

however, I'm following from an assumption of a deity that wants to be known and moving forward. It certainly doesn't suffice for showing that a deity figure does exist, because if we follow the assumption of a deity that doesn't want to be known, or a lack of a deity, then any religion which has withstood the test of time is likely the one with the fewest obvious flaws. It's rather like evolution of an idea rather than a creature.

However, the existence of such a religion does provide for the possibility of a deity figure.

I used the word 'embed' because this implies the deity could (possibly) be working within the rules of physics. The relationship between the deity, physical time and whether it is immediately involved in human events would be an interesting digression. The timelessness of physics is a relevant set of posts for that. I agree with your comments. Regarding the strength of implications in either direction, (the possibility of a deity given a vigorous religion or the possibility of a true religion given a deity), there are two main questions: * if a deity exists, should we expect that it cares if it is known? * does the world actually look like a world in which a deity would be revealing itself? (though as you cautioned, such a world may or may not actually have a deity within it) If this thread is likely to attenuate here, these questions are left for academic interest ...

Oh, good golly gosh, that gets big fast. Thank you!

Apologies, I'm not as interesting as that. I changed a lot of beliefs about the belief system, but I was nonetheless still raised Christian. I didn't mean to imply otherwise - pre-existing developmental bias is part of the 'basic irrational hunch' part of the sentence.

I agree that religious belief is not generally arrived at through rational thinking, however - whether that religious belief is 'there is a God, and I know who it is!' or 'there is no God'. This is evidenced, for instance, the time I was standing there at church, just before services, and ... (read more)

See also: Epistemic luck.

Wait... he's already saying he believes reality doesn't contain any infinities...

And you say that you can't show proof to the contrary because it's likely reality doesn't contain any infinities...

I don't think I followed you there.

I distinguish between "believing in X" and "believing reality contains X". I grew to dislike the non-mathematical concept of reality lately. Decision theory shouldn't depend on that.

Ah, excellent, so I'm not so far off. Then what's 3^^^3, then?

3^^^^3 on Less Wrong wiki.

I actually found it several years ago through an atheist site which was using it as evidence that prayer had only a placebo effect, so I'm afraid I don't have a citation for you just at the moment. I'll see what I can do when I have time. My apologies.

I'm not sure I understand. Part of it is the use of BusyBeaver - I'm familiar with Busy Beaver as an AI state machine, not as a number. Second: So you say you do not believe in infinity ... but only inasmuch as physical infinity? So you believe in conceptual infinity?

The BusyBeaver value I'm referring to is the maximum number of steps that the Busy Beaver Turing Machine with n states (and, for convenience, 2 symbols) will take before halting. So (via wikipedia), BB(1) = 1, BB(2) = 6, BB(3) = 21, BB(4) = 107, BB(5) >= 47,176,870, BB(6) >= 3.8 × 10^21132, and so on. It grows the fastest of all possible complexity classes.

A weighty question... At the moment, I'm not entirely able to give you the full response, I'm afraid, but I'll give you the best 'short answer' that I'm able to compile.

1: The universe seems slanted towards Entropy. This suggests a 'start'. Which suggests something to start the universe. This of course has a great many logical fallacies inherent in it, but it's one element. 2: Given a 'something to start the universe', we're left with hypothetical scientific/mathematical constructs or a deity-figure of some sort. 3: Assuming a deity figure (yes, priv... (read more)

I like this argument. If there was such a deity, it could make certain it is known (and rediscovered when forgotten). The deity could embed this information into the universe in any numbers of ways. These ways could be accessed by humans, but misinterpreted. Evidence for this is the world religions, which have many major beliefs in common, but differ in the details. Christianity, being somewhat mature as a religion and having developed concurrently with rational and scientific thought, could have a reliable interpretation in certain aspects.
If this point is logically fallacious, why is it the foundation of your belief? Eliezer has addressed the topic, but that post focuses more on whether one should jump to the idea of God from the idea of a First Cause, which you do seem to have thought about. But why assume a First Cause at all? On a slightly different tack, if Thor came down (Or is it up? My Norse mythology is a little rusty) from Valhalla, tossed some thunderbolts around, and otherwise provided various sorts of strong evidence to support his claim that he was the God of Thunder with all that that entails, would you then worship him? Or, to put it another way, is there some evidence that would make you change your mind? (Apologies if I'm being too aggressive with my questions. You seem like good people, and I wouldn't want to drive you away.)
This sounds interesting. So were you raised an atheist or in some non-Christian religious tradition? Is the culture of your home country predominantly non-Christian? Conversion to a new belief system based on evidence is an interesting phenomenon because it is so relatively rare. The vast majority of religious people simply adopt the religion they were raised in or the dominant religion of the surrounding culture which is one piece of evidence that religious belief is not generally arrived at through rational thinking. Counter examples to this trend offer a case study in the kinds of evidence that can actually change people's minds.

I wish I could, but mid-week trips to Madison are difficult for me, given my work hours. Have fun nonetheless! Glad to know WI get-togethers happen!

I think everyone believes in infinite something, even if it's infinite nothingness, or infinite cosmic foam, but I understand your meaning. ^_^

I don't. I believe that there are things that can only be described in terms of stupendously huge numbers, but I believe that everything that exists can be described without reference to infinities. Really, when I think about how incomprehensibly enormous a number like BusyBeaver(3^^^3) is, I have trouble believing that there is some physical aspect of the universe that could need anything bigger. And if there is, well, there's always BusyBeaver(3^^^^3) waiting in the wings. Eliezer calls this infinite-set atheism, which is as good a name as any, I suppose.

Just because you didn't get the joke doesn't mean he did it wrong. I got the joke, and he was saying it to me, so I believe the joke was performed correctly, given his target audience! ^_^

The problem, I'd say, would be an assumption of shared prior experience - but humor in general tends to make that assumption, whether it's puns which assume a shared experience with lingual quirks, friend in-jokes which are directly about shared experiences, or genre humor which assumes a shared experience in that genre. This was genre humor.

While transparent communica... (read more)

I'm partway through Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions, and it's very, very interesting. Much better fodder than I usually see from people misusing those concepts. It's refreshing to see points made in context to their original meaning, and intelligently applied! I'm giving myself some time to let my thoughts simmer, before making a few comments on a couple of them.

I want to know what's true. Even if Christianity wasn't true, I've already found a great deal of Truth in its teachings for how to live life. The Bible, I feel, encourages a rationa... (read more)

Having been religious (in particular, a very traditionalist Catholic, more so than my parents by far)† for a good chunk of my life before averting to atheism a few years ago (as an adult), I would have agreed with you, but a bit uneasily. And now, I can't help but point out a distinction. When you point to the Bible for moral light, you're really pointing to a relatively small fraction of the total text, and much of that has been given new interpretations†† that the original apostles didn't use. Let's give an example: to pick a passage that's less emotionally charged and less often bruited about in this connection, let's consider the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. People twist this every which way to make it sound more fair to Martha, when the simplest reading is just that Luke thought that the one best thing you could do with your life was to be an apostle, and wrote the episode in a way that showed this. Luke wasn't thinking about how the story should be interpreted within a large society where the majority are Christians going about daily business like Martha, because he expected the end times to come too soon for that society to be realized on Earth. He really, genuinely, wanted the reader to conclude that they should forget living like Martha††† if they possibly could, and imitate Mary instead. Now, when faced with a passage like this, what do you prefer? The simpler interpretation which doesn't seem to help you as moral guidance? Or a more convoluted one which meshes with the way you think the truth should be lived in the world today? Which interpretation would you expect to find upheld in letters of the Church Fathers who lived before Rome converted? Which interpretation do you think was more likely for Luke? And most importantly, if you're saying you're learning about moral truth from the Bible, but you're choosing your preferred interpretation of Scripture by aesthetic and moral criteria of the modern era, rather than criteria that are close
Citations please. The only well controlled study00649-6/abstract) I know of found the opposite - subjects who knew they were being prayed for suffered more complications than those who did not.
Why? This seems to be the foundation for all your justifications here, and it's an incredibly strong claim. What evidence supports it? Is there any (weaker, presumably) evidence that contradicts it? I'd suggest you take a look at the article on Privileging the Hypothesis, which is a pretty easy failure mode to fall into when the hypothesis in question was developed by someone else.

( chuckles warmly ) don't worry - I got the joke. ^_^ Although I'm rather in a minority in my view of Hell as something other than torture, but hey, there's plenty of time for that! Thank you for the welcome!

Thank you very much!

A small element of my own personal quirks (which, alas, I keep screwing up) is to avoid using the words 'argue' and 'debate'. Arguing is like trying to 'already be right', and Debate is a test of social ability, not the rightness of your side. I like to discuss - some of the greatest feelings is when I suddenly get that sensation of "OH! I've been wrong, but that makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE!" And some of the scariest feelings are "What? You're changing your mind to agree with me? But what if I'm wrong and I just argued ... (read more)

Good attitude. I'm much the same, both in enjoying learning new things even when it means relinquishing a previously held belief, and in feeling slightly guilty when I cause someone to change their mind. :) LW has actually helped me get over the latter, because now that I understand rationality much better, I'm accordingly more confident that I'm doing things correctly in debates. I'm glad you mentioned your Christianity and your specific belief that it is rationally justified — I'll be curious to see how it holds up after you've read the sequences Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions, How to Actually Change Your Mind, and Reductionism. (I hope you'll be considering that issue with that same curious, unattached mindset — if Christianity were false, would you really, honestly, sincerely want to know?) If I may ask, what specific beliefs do you consider part of your Christianity? The Holy Trinity? The miracles described in the NT? Jesus's life as described by the Gospels? The moral teachings in the OT? Creationism? Biblical literalism? Prayer as a powerful force? Heaven and Hell? Angels, demons, and the Devil as actual beings? Salvation through faith or works? The prophecies of the Revelation?
Christian or atheist - in the end we all believe in infinite torture forever. Welcome!

Greetings, all. Found this site not too long ago, been reading through it in delight. It has truly energized my brain. I've been trying to codify and denote a number of values that I held true to my life and to discussion and to reason and logic, but was having the most difficult time. I was convinced I'd found a wonderful place that could help me when it provided me a link to the Twelve Virtues of Rationality, which neatly and tidily listed out a number of things I'd been striving to enumerate.

My origins in rationality basically originated at a very, ... (read more)

Welcome! I imagine a number of us would be quite happy to argue the rectitude of Christianity with you whenever you are interested, but no big rush. A while ago someone posted a question about introductory posts if you want a selection of reading material which doesn't require too much Less Wrong background. And yes, I posted many of those links. Hey, I'm enthusiastic!