Wiki Contributions


Prefer the British Style of Quotation Mark Punctuation over the American

I've always thought the British style puts an awkward amount of space between a comma or period and the word preceding it. It's even worse if you start using it with American-style double quotes.

Interesting discussion here on blog of the Chicago Manual of Style, which supports the American convention:

But notice how the commas and the period in the example of Chicago style appear consistently right next to the words they follow [...], creating a pleasing uniformity along the baseline. In British style, placement is interrupted by the quotation marks, though the gap is smaller than it would be with double rather than single marks.

Personally, I alternate between the two styles like a total maniac.

Cherry Pit Storage

Tried this today. Had high hopes but it turned out to be pretty uncomfortable for me, even with just one pit.

How will OpenAI + GitHub's Copilot affect programming?

Agreed, but code generation is a more natural fit for a GPT-style language model. GPT-3 and Codex use massive training sets; I would guess that the corpus of human code reviews is not nearly so big.

The Apprentice Thread

Really interesting. How would you say the people there respond (or would respond) to EA ideas?

[Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community

The fraction of LW readers who are non-cisgender is much more than 1/20,000. Respondents to the 2020 SSC survey were 94.5% cisgender, 2.5% transgender, 3% other.

Sexual Dimorphism in Yudkowsky's Sequences, in Relation to My Gender Problems

Really appreciated all ~16,000 words. For what it's worth, I agree with what Pablo said above.

The parts about your ideological journey were quite fun to read. Reminded me of HPMOR Harry learning partial transfiguration—maybe in that he finds a way to see category boundaries that others can't.

I'd be interested to hear more about why you think social transition "doesn't seem like a smart move". I read some of your posts on gender categories, and I feel like I'm agreeing for the most part but losing you in the conclusions. I haven't read much about this, so forgive me if I'm retreading obvious ground.

My impression of what you're saying is that even if you asked others to use different pronouns for you, internally they would keep classifying you into the same gender-cluster they always did—the one based on biological features—and this disconnect would be a loss for societal rationality. Specifically, we might lose the common knowledge that our internal classifiers operate mostly on the biological clusters, or that the biological clusters exist at all—or the biological clusters might just become harder to talk about, when commonly-occurring nouns like "man" and "woman" and pronouns like "he" and "she" no longer map to them. [1]

I completely agree that we don't want to lose the common knowledge of biological clusters. But I don't think changing pronouns has to contribute to that loss—I would hope that with careful communication, one could change pronouns without contributing at all to the social pressures that discourage discussion of biological clusters.

As for the terms we use to refer to biological clusters becoming more niche, I guess that possibility doesn't seem obviously bad to me. Maybe it'd be better if we talked a bit less about the biological clusters; I'm not sure why we should privilege the current state of affairs. But in any case, the stakes are low—word frequencies and definitions fluctuate all the time, and alternative names like "biological male" are easily understood and only a few syllables longer.

(On the other hand, if I think of redefining "man" and "woman" as a deliberate attempt, by some contagious meme, to shift the kinds of ideas we think about, then it does seem a lot more worrying.)

TL;DR: Socially transitioning shouldn't have to be/feel like promoting "lying" or bad epistemics.

On Sleep Procrastination: Going To Bed At A Reasonable Hour

It was great, thanks for asking!

In all seriousness, I am hoping to make a change bigger than just the one nap. I do procrastinate going to bed, and you've reminded me that the ill-effects of that might be much bigger than what I usually notice (e.g., long-term health problems, or having less mental energy even when I don't notice feeling tired). The first thing I want to try is measuring how much sleep I get. I installed a sleep tracking app (Sleep Cycle) but I haven't yet had enough time to see if it will give me the data I want, or if it will affect my habits.

There Is No Control System For COVID

Supporting your point, the ACX post on COVID and Vitamin D cites this study finding that Vitamin D levels are relatively stable.

Relevant from the abstract: "The 25(OH)D levels were correlated between visits 2 and 3 (3 y interval) among whites (r = 0.73) and blacks (r = 0.66)."

Trapped Priors As A Basic Problem Of Rationality

I don’t know why this doesn’t happen in real life, beyond a general sense that whatever weighting function we use isn’t perfectly Bayesian and doesn’t fit in the class I would call “reasonable”. I realize this is a weakness of this model and something that needs further study.

I'll take a stab at this.

You've got a prior, P(dog I meet is dangerous) = 0.99. (Maybe in 99 of your last 100 encounters with dogs, you determined that the dog was dangerous.) You've also got a sensation, "dog is wagging its tail," and some associated conditional probabilities. Your brain combines them correctly according to Bayes' rule; since your prior is strong, it spits out something like 95% probability that the dog is dangerous.

It then determines that the best thing to do is act afraid. It has no further use for the 95% number—it's not going to act with 5% less fear, or any less fear, just because there's a small chance the dog might not eat you. That would be a good way to get eaten. So it attaches the "dangerous" label to the dog and moves on to screaming/hiding/running. (I see alkjash has an idea about rounding that might be similar.)

You go to update your prior. You've seen one more dangerous dog, so the strength of your prior increases to 100/101.

The mistake your brain makes is updating based on the label (dangerous/not dangerous) instead of the calculated probability of danger. It kind of makes sense that the label would be the more salient node, since it's the one that determines your course of action.

This explanation isn't totally convincing (why can't I just store both the label and the probability? is that too much to ask of my monkey brain?), but it does match what I feel like my brain is doing when it traps itself in a belief.

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