All of ThomasRyan's Comments + Replies

First Phoenix, AZ Less Wrong Meetup 4/17 from 12-2pm

Next time, would anyone like to carpool from Flagstaff?

Attention Lurkers: Please say hi


I've only posted a few times. I'm still learning, and I still feel quite overawed here, mostly because of my respect for this community and because I don't want my image tarnished before I start regularly posting.

Welcome to Less Wrong!

Introduction to the CTMU

Yeah, I know what it looks like: meta-physical rubbish. But my dilemma is that Chris Langan is the smartest known living man, which makes it really hard for me to shrug the CTMU off as nonsense. Also, from what I skimmed, it looks like a much deeper examination of reductionism and strange loops, which are ideas that I hold to dearly.

I've read and understand the sequences, though I'm not familiar enough with them to use them without a rationalist context.

0advael6yA powerful computer with a bad algorithm or bad information can produce a high volume of bad results that are all internally consistent. (IQ may not be directly analogous to computing power, but there are a lot of factors that matter more than the author's intelligence when assessing whether a model bears out in reality.)
4pjeby11yIt is. I got as far as this paragraph of the introduction to his paper before I found a critical flaw: At this point, he's already begging the question, i.e. presupposing the existence of supernatural entities. These "laws" he's talking about are in his head, not in the world. In other words, he hasn't even got done presenting what problem he's trying to solve, and he's already got it completely wrong, and so it's doubtful he can get to correct conclusions from such a faulty premise.
4gregconen12yYou can't rely too much on intelligence tests, especially in the super-high range. The tester himself admitted that Langan fell outside the design range of the test, so the listed score was an extrapolation. Further, IQ measurements, especially at the extremes and especially on only a single test (and as far as I could tell from the wikipedia article, he was only tested once) measure test-taking ability as much as general intelligence. Even if he is the most intelligent man alive, intelligence does not automatically mean that you reach the right answer. All evidence points to it being rubbish.
2Paul Crowley12yMany smart people fool themselves in interesting ways thinking about this sort of thing. And of course, when predicting general intelligence based on IQ, remember to account for return to the mean: if there's such a thing as the smartest person in the world by some measure of general intelligence, it's very unlikely it'll be the person with the highest IQ.
8Morendil12yHowever intelligent he is, he fails to present his ideas so as to gradually build a common ground with lay readers. "If you're so smart, how come you ain't convincing?" The "intelligent design" references on his Wikipedia bio are enough to turn me away. Can you point us to a well-regarded intellectual who has taken his work seriously and recommends his work? (I've used that sort of bridging tactic at least once, Dennett convincing me to read Julian Jaynes.)

But my dilemma is that Chris Langan is the smartest known living man, which makes it really hard for me to shrug the CTMU off as nonsense.

Eh, I'm smart too. Looks to me like you were right the first time and need to have greater confidence in yourself.

6mattnewport12yBeing very intelligent does not imply not being very wrong.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

Thank you, I'll be seeing you around :) .

Anyway, I have been thinking of starting my year off by reading Chris Langan's CTMU, but I haven't seen anything written about it here or on OB. And I am very wary of what I put into my brain (including LSD :P).

Any opinions on the CTMU?

4Paul Crowley12yGoogle suggests you mean this CTMU []. Looks like rubbish to me, I'm afraid. If what's on this site interests you, I think you'll get a lot more out of the Sequences [], including the tools to see why the ideas in the site above aren't really worth pursuing.
Welcome to Less Wrong!


Call me Thomas. I am 22. The strongest force directing my life can be called an extreme phobia of disorder. I came across overcoming bias and Eliezer Yudkowsky's writings, around the same time, in high school, shortly after reading GEB and The Singularity Is Near.

The experience was not a revelation but a relief. I am completely sane! Being here is solace. The information here is mostly systematized, which has greatly helped to organize my thoughts on rationality and has saved me a great amount of time.

I am good at tricking people into thinking I am s... (read more)

0Paul Crowley12yHello, and welcome to the site!
Rationality Quotes January 2010

I concede that the quote was inappropriate.

Marriage is not merely, primarily or even credibly understood to be a protection for society with the object of reproducing of that same society.

This pertains to the part of the quote that I don't care too much about and don't have much of an opinion on.

The thing that I found most valuable in the phrase was this: "reproducing itself through generations," in the discussion of a nation. It's something that I've tried to say before, but it came out very clumsy. So, seeing something similar to what I've ... (read more)

0wedrifid12yDon't feel silly for putting the quote up. It is a quote that has the form of wisdom and brushes past potential insight. In fact, the reason I object is not because it silly to identify with these quotes from Octavio but the reverse. It is the sort of thing that appeals to our intuition and we are naturally pulled into agreeing with when we may otherwise see flaws. It's a trap and, speaking here particularly of the poignant angsty existential quote, one that I carefully train myself to avoid.
Rationality Quotes January 2010

Or maybe it's what a genius would say after emerging from the "existential labyrinth," the main theme of The Labyrinth of Solitude.

Here is Jostein Gaarder's response to your response:

Only philosophers embark on this perilous expedition to the outermost reaches of language and existence. Some of them fall off, but others cling on desperately and yell at the people nestling deep in the snug softness, stuffing themselves with delicious food and drink. 'Ladies and Gentlemen,' they yell, 'we are floating in space!' But none of the people down there

... (read more)
3wedrifid12y"Lonely" -> "senstationalise the experience so I sound deep" -> "gain status as a poet and author" -> "get laid". That ranks well above "cutting" as far as plans go. I do not respect wallowing in existential angst and definitely don't consider it rational. More importantly I do not allow my brain to reward itself with a sense of smug superiority when it generates such trains of thought for me.
Rationality Quotes January 2010

I can't give an opinion on the surrounding context of that phrase. However, I really liked the phrase because it is eloquent.

I am having a hard time seeing how the premise of that phrase is bogus; the phrase, on its own, is a description of the process of society reproducing itself through generations. The phrase, on its own, has nothing to say about the device, or "protection," that does this.

It's fascinating that nations can stay around with the same name and substance even though the original founders have long died. Now, isn't "a mere p... (read more)

2wedrifid12yYes, the 'no other object' part I find most bogus. I would still disagree if the claim was 'the main object' or even 'a significant object' although such relative judgements require more reasoning and background to evaluate than the banal absolute. I find it abhorrent. It has enough 'wonderfully palpability' that many people will hesitate to actually parse the meaning and realise that, trying to describe it without an expletive, what little content it contains lacks factual merit. Marriage is not merely, primarily or even credibly understood to be a protection for society with the object of reproducing of that same society. I would much prefer Octavio put his ability to turn phrase into something harmless like, say, and 'Ode to Blue'. If he wants to keep up the airs of intellectual sophistication he can perhaps work some qualia into the mix. That would tie in nicely with the whole poignant solitude, sublime experience of the human condition vibe. Then if he wants to raise the intellectual bar another notch he can include "da ba dee dah be daa" as a refrain.
Rationality Quotes January 2010

The stability of the family depends on marriage, which becomes a mere protection for society with no other object but the reproducing of that same society. Hence marriage is by nature profoundly conservative. To attack it is to attack the very bases of society.

-- Octavio Paz, The labyrinth of Solitude

Italicized emphases mine. I really liked that phrase.

3wedrifid12yThe italicized premise seems bogus to me.
Rationality Quotes January 2010

All men, at some moment in their lives, feel themselves to be alone. And they are. To live is to be separated from what we were in order to approach what we are going to be in the mysterious future. Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone, and the only one who seeks out another. His nature -- if that word can be used in reference to man, who has "invented" himself by saying "No" to nature -- consists in his longing to realize himself in another. Man is nostalgia and a search

... (read more)
8wedrifid12yOr maybe that is just what a lonely man might think so he can feel deep. Like a high status emo.
I'm Not Saying People Are Stupid

To avoid saying anything as simple as "most people are stupid" is worth it.

It is meaningless. Another one of those phrases where people will nod their heads in agreement, and those phrases piss me off.

Actually, it is pretty sad that so many people are willing to utter those words. It's a common thing most people say of everyone else. Why is this sad? From my experience, it stems from people's inability to communicate. So, not only do people misidentify the problem, but it seems like they are putting effort into not trying to fix it. Especially th... (read more)