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


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)

Less Wrong/2006 Articles/Summaries

I have the same doubts about the worth of this summary-writing enterprise as before. Fleshing out stub articles is likely a better use of one's effort. --Vladimir Nesov 08:29, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree. If you're looking for a big table to obsessively fill in, I think it would be more useful to fill in the "All Articles" tables. First fill in the column listing what concepts are introduced or discussed in the article, then make wiki pages for those concepts, possibly including a quote from that article. Also add a link to the article in the "Blog posts" section of the wiki page.

Also, I was considering setting up a script to check if the links on the wiki pages match the list in the "All Articles" pages, and to report which links still need to be added.

Also, I heard that someone already wrote short summaries of the articles, but I still haven't found these summaries.

Update: I found those summaries, but only the first 27 posts are actually summarized: http://rob-zahra.blogspot.com/2009/04/overcoming-bias-summaries.html

Also, Eliezer summarized many of his own articles. See, for example:

Here are the links to the "All articles" pages:

--PeerInfinity 14:27, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Noted. No obsessiveness was involved -- due to a miscommunication, we believed Eliezer would have to spend time doing these summaries if others didn't do them, but this turns out not to be the case. Other than the sequences, though, I'm not aware of any existing summaries. --steven0461

Here are shortcuts to the summary pages:

Affective Death Spiral

"In effect, every positive thing said about the subject results in more than one additional nice thing to say about the subject on average." -- I don't know what this means, it sounds quite suspicious, and I think should be taken down until made clear. Vladimir Nesov 15:59, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

This is pretty much the core of what "Affective death spiral" means. If you don't understand this than we might have different definitions of "Affective death spiral" in our heads. I will try to give an example. Suppose for every nice thing said you want to say an aditional 1.2 nice things on average. So if you hear 10 nice things, you will then want to say (10 * 1.2 = 12) 12 nice things aproximately. Those 12 nice things will generate aproximatly, (12 * 1.2 = 14) 14 aditional positive thoughts about the subject. And so on... This should not be taken too literaly. You can't really calculate the amount of nice things that will be said in this way. However nice thoughts breeding more nice thoughts breeding more nice thoughts is what "Affective death spiral" means. --KP 16:35, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

The irrationality of your emotional disposition towards a subject isn't measured in the "number of nice things to say". What does it even mean? A rate of statements being pronounced? A size of a set of statements of length no more than 50 words implicitly classified "nice" in your current state? This doesn't make sense. Vladimir Nesov 16:57, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

The idea of a nuclear like reaction with k > 1 comes directly from the source. Furthermore, it is the mathy core of the "Affective death spiral" concept. --KP 21:28, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Appeal to authority, and avoiding the question. You haven't explained what your "number of nice things" means. k>1 is a general enough metaphor, while "number of nice things" remains meaningless to me, since you are still to explain your vision. --Vladimir Nesov 23:23, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

In this case "appeal to authority" is not a fallacy since we are arguing about the definition of a term invented by a single authority and we are not creating original research here but only trying to explain what was meant int the source. I'm not sure how to define "saying a nice/positive thing". There is no complicated hidden meaning here. It literally means any meme that creates a positive emotional resposne leading to viewing the object of discussion favourably. Is that clearer?



Peer, this article with "just lose hope already" in the body, is only misleading. You can't point a person to this page and expect it to leave the correct impression. The presence of this article is worse than its absence. I'll try to change it... --Vladimir Nesov 11:01, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorry again, and thanks for fixing this. --PeerInfinity 13:58, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

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