I started posting on Less Wrong in 2011, learned about effective altruism, and four years later landed in the Bay Area. I do direct work in operations, and write for fun.

You can find my fiction here: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Swimmer963


What is operations?

Good reminder! It's been...quite a year for me, and I was unclear at the time on how much people were engaged with and getting out of this post, but I still have my planning notes for further content. 

Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full)

Hmm, it seems maybe relevant that I don't think of my various skill-acquiring periods in the past as about "success"? Or maybe that the thing my brain parses internally as success isn't very defined by what society considers to be winning. When I moved from ICU nursing to operations work, it did involve going from somewhere I was acknowledged by my colleagues to be pretty good at and where I felt a lot of mastery, to somewhere where I was much more often making mistakes and getting criticism for them, and this was sometimes frustrating and hard. Still, my overall sense was still one where learning to be a good nurse gave me a ton of generalizable skills that transferred to ops and meant I could skill up a lot faster there. Possibly it helps that I picked nursing for reasons unrelated to its prestige, and in fact got a bunch of flak from people (including people in the rationalist community) about choosing this field.

Aside: the experience I've had that feels the most to my S1 like having "made it in life", is participating in glowfic, a very niche online collaborative-rp-writing community. Writing fiction and having a couple of dozen people as avid fans of it is utterly maxing out my monkey brain's metric for feeling high-status. I do think it'll be a bit of an adjustment going back to full-time work of one sort or another (I've been doing a lot of this as a hobby while recovering from a serious medical issue, but will at some point be recovered enough to be productive on other things and will cut back substantially.) Possibly because it's so niche and only involves a subset of my social circle, though, I don't expect it to make learning different new skills feel like "losing." 

Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full)

Uh, I haven't strongly had that experience, I think mainly because my life hasn't contained that much in the way of competitive games with very legible winning metrics? One of the "switching skills" cases I'm thinking of is when I was hired for an operations role, and most of my previous experience was in volunteer event logistics, but for a bunch of contingent reasons I ended up instead focusing on finance work (largely because the person previously doing that was now spending most of their time on other work, and the team already had a person with a lot of skill at event-running.) This did mean I was going from an area where I felt comfortable and had a sense of mastery to one where I felt very inexperienced and sometimes overwhelmed, and made more mistakes as a result, but I don't think it parsed to me or anyone else on the team as "losing"? There was work that needed doing, it was my comparative advantage if not absolute advantage, and me doing it imperfectly was much better than it not happening. 

Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full)

This feels to me like the result of very specific/narrow criteria for "success" and personal ambition, which haven't applied to most people I hang out with. (Except for becoming more risk-averse about things that have high tail risk or might destabilize one's life once you have kids, which seems very reasonable to me and a worthwhile tradeoff for the category of person who values having children a lot.) In particular, the nurses I worked with didn't come off to me as feeling constrained-by-success in this way. 

I currently both feel pleased with my life trajectory, and also like I have a lot of freedom to go in a completely different direction this year if I want. My original undergraduate degree and job were in ICU nursing, I later pivoted to nonprofit operations & finance work, and then left that to work on writing a novel. I'm considering whether I want to continue with writing or do a programming or data science bootcamp (both of which I have minimal background in), and both of these feel like very viable options. It's...honestly kind of hard for me to imagine what it would be like to be reluctant to start learning a new skill I know very little about, and I'm definitely not worried about being judged by my peer group for it. I do think I'm pretty lucky in what peer group I have, and also in having a background that doesn't lend itself to people having those expectations of me. 

Lawful Intelligence

Talk:Lawful intelligence

This page needs to be broken down into components.

But carefully, into useful concepts that should be included in the narrative of the summary of this article, so that taking out the links won't break the sequence. The same goes for Bias and Bayesian and some other pages I don't recall. --Vladimir Nesov 15:01, 17 July 2009 (UTC)


Eliezer, I hope your thoughts aren't as vague as this article would suggest. The phrase "is a manifestation of" is extremely vague (trumped only by "is associated with"?), and the capitalization of "Order" and "Chaos", and the terms "heresy" and "religion", make me wonder what's going on. If we removed the meaningless or emotional bits of this and replaced them with what we actually mean, would it look something like this?

Lawful intelligence is the notion that intelligence is produced mainly by the application of useful rules rather than randomness. Even creativity and outside-the-box thinking are essentially orderly.

While this contradicts mainstream Silicon Valley beliefs, there are some good mathematical reasons for believing it.

--Warrigal 22:03, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Likelihood Ratio

Talk:Likelihood ratio

Wikipedia article Wikipedia:likelihood ratio is overly broad, and it starts with "In the frequentist statistics method of statistical hypothesis testing, the likelihood ratio...". I think including a link there is misleading for this concept. Maybe there is a subsection or another article on Wikipedia that fits better. --Vladimir Nesov 20:41, 12 June 2009 (UTC)



It was suggested that this term is a bad idea, but the concept is salient, so suggest better names for it (I like the term as it is). --Vladimir Nesov 01:29, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Expected Value

Anyone objects to deleting this page? There seems to be no significance to it, it's even not linked from anywhere. --Vladimir Nesov 23:03, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Video to demonstrate how to NOT think about expected value


George Gervin (NBA Legend) says that the 3-point shot is the worst shot in basketball. His argument is basically that 3-point percentages are almost always lower than 2-point percentages. He seems to not give any weight to the fact that 3-point shots provide you with one extra point...

Perhaps the example should include probabilities

The example with the 6-sided die doesn't explicitly show how probabilities are part of the calculation. Perhaps the example should do this.

Crocker's Rules

It's easy to find examples of Crocker's influence on Wikipedia [1]. This fascinating exchange, very early in wikipedia's history, is about systemic bias [2]. It appears that Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales wished to deny that any such thing could exist! (amazing). Some LOL points:

  • "biodiversity begins in your gut, where it takes 13 species of bacteria to keep you alive. This is not a "pet" subject - rather, you are yourself a "pet" of this subject." - 24
  • "killing trees from tree farms is far less a sin than killing them from rainforest basins. When you understand that, I've broken the cycle of destruction by commodification... if only in your own mind." - LDC
  • [some] "discussions *aren't* fruitful - they are at best a source of fertilizer." - 24
  • "It's also amazing that you say that Wikipedia isn't a community. You certainly are behaving as if you believe it isn't one." - Larry Sanger - isn't he just saying he is personally amazed? He quit Wikipedia soon after.

The whole debate is wonderful to read and it's difficult not to find something to agree with vehemently from every single debate participant. Some of this stuff should be mined to tease apart the issue/position/argument structures and build on them for this wiki project. Also, the Wikipedia project on countering systemic bias which arose seemingly from these early 2002 debates perhaps needs an equivalent for less wrong, as it is a small community that isn't very representative.

The last word does indeed seem to be the last word:

"I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a real definition of "neutral point of view" that isn't just "because we say it is". It seems like there are roving bands of Orwellian truth monitors enforcing a left wing orthodoxy here. The systemic bias I see isn't just in what IS said in wikipedia articles, but what ISN'T said. Minority views are expunged, suppressed from history by militants intent on enforcing their idea of what "neutral" is. Whole pages are voted for deletion by people who want to suppress the information those pages communicate. Deleters don't even give editors time to put together a decent article before they descend en masse to make the editor conform to the left orthodoxy or be depersonated out of wikipedia.

There would be much less strife in wikipedia if different factions were allowed to post their view of what "neutral" is for a given topic, and the reading public was allowed to rate articles. Particularly for topics that are generally in dispute in the world at large, either politically or with regard to other things, the idea of reaching consensus in wikipedia on a topic when there is no consensus in the world at large smacks of elitist arrogance and pretentions to tyranthood. User:Citizenposse"

  • Fascinating. I started editing Wikipedia in about 2005, but didn't seriously edit until 2007, and got very involved, eventually being banned in 2011. I'd done a lot of work toward developing consensus process, etc. My position on "neutral point of view" was that this was not a characteristic of text (for lots of reasons) but was, more usefully, something to be approached by maximizing consensus. I.e., if everyone agreed on a text, without the process being biased (i.e., excluding contrary opinion, ipso facto), we could treat the text as neutral. "Majority rule," in this conception, would be the bare minimum, tolerable only temporarily.
  • Wikipedia has some excellent policies, but the enforcement mechanisms have been very unreliable, and the "administrative cabal" -- Jimbo Wales' original term for it -- became highly conservative toward maintaining its own power. Consensus takes lots of work, it was much easier to ban people with minority views, because they were, allegedly and sometimes actually, "POV-pushers." As if certain administrators were not.
  • However, someone with a POV will be a sensitive POV detector for opposing POV. The administrative cabal, however, became highly intolerant of the discussion it takes to seek consensus. (It didn't help that the policies made for endless inefficiencies. Wikipedia burns out administrators.)
  • I was banned, the last time it mattered, for making a successful request on the meta wiki, where an administrator had raised old issues, long settled, and responding took providing evidence or the request would have been denied. Back on Wikipedia itself, this discussion was cited as being a "wall of text," and I was banned (in spite of general guidelines against using "other-wiki" behavior for Wikipedia sanctions). While this was just my experience, I saw similar happen to many, many users.
  • See, "wiki" means quick. So the number one problem of Wikipedia is that it is a wiki, without setting up safeguards to allow full deliberative process when there is conflict. The problem is not intrinsic to wikis, but it can easily crop up if "quick" is always expected. (I'm also user Abd on Wikipedia. I'd be happy to answer questions on my Talk page here.) --Abd 02:05, 9 November 2012 (UTC)
History of Less Wrong

The diaspora section says in part: "The wiki has low traction and it is potentially in need to streamlining around remaining activity rather than its former glories."

What does low traction mean? --Alti (talk) 21:23, 19 March 2017 (AEDT)

Popularity, usage, edit rates, visits, authoritativeness, respect, importance, influence, etc. --Gwern (talk) 02:11, 22 March 2017 (AEDT)

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