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Politics is the Mind-Killer

Indeed, understanding the particular error in reasoning that the person is making is not merely sufficient but necessary for fully understanding a mistaken position. However, if your entire understanding is "because bias somehow" then you don't actually understand.

And you should be careful about accepting the uncharitable explanation preemptively, as it's rather tempting to explain away other people's beliefs and arguments that way.

Open thread, September 9-15, 2013

Does anyone know how to programmatically generate large video files (presumably made of noise) for testing purposes?

0[anonymous]8yTesting what? ffmpeg can do this: Probably on linux you can use /dev/urandom for SomeLargeRandomFile. It's not working for me on windows but that's quite possibly because cygwin is janky and horrible. I should add that for most testing purposes, large realistic video files are more useful than this sort of thing. Moreover, it only gives you random pixels, not random video encoder settings.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

You're surely mistaken. The bible translators often brought in popular sayings and turns of phrase that seemed to fit. If there was a wizard motto with some currency that sounded like an appropriate translation when KJV was written, then I could totally see it being used in the bible, assuming there was any cross-pollination between wizards and christians at the time.

I don't see why the christians using a wizard motto would be particularly blasphemous, let alone maximally so.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97

It's like bitcoin mining - whoever steals Muggle gold first gets to keep it. Of course that's the Americans.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97

Hypothesis: The muggles don't possess much gold. Most of the huge stacks of gold in places like Fort Knox are clever magical replicas, and have been for a very long time. Any wizard can easily see through the ruse, but the muggles are clueless.

How do we have gold that we use as a conductor? Perhaps when a muggle handles fake gold, it gets magically swapped with real gold from a small supply elsewhere. Or else, maybe fake magic gold is a really good conductor.

0alex_zag_al8yHarry's going to be disappointed when he gets muggle rich, and Gringottts rejects all his muggle gold
2TobyBartels8yWhat Wizards even know that electrical conductivity is a thing?
2Watercressed8yPerhaps the only difference between fake gold and real gold is magical--if there's a ritual that permanently transfigures a rock into gold, people can switch that with the gold in vaults. Of course, no one in the magical world would accept transfigured gold as payment.
-1ThrustVectoring8yWhen a muggle handles fake gold and it doesn't work as a conductor, the Statue of Secrecy comes in and they get Obliviated and the gold gets swapped over so that it works properly. If most Muggle gold is a clever Wizard fake, then the fakes are getting watched to ensure that those who handle the fake gold stay convinced that it's real gold.

If most of the gold we think is in the Muggle economy is really in the wizarding economy, then wizards possess up to 170,000 tons of gold. 100,000 tons of gold divided between 1 million wizards is 100 Kg = 20,000 Galleons per wizard on average.

We actually observe that 100,000 galleons is a princely ransom and a rich fortune. Lord Malfoy is one of the richest people in Britain and he probably has on the order of a million Galleons. This seems compatible but somewhat unlikely; I would estimate less gold in the wizarding economy than 100,000 tons. And yet if they stole all the Muggle gold they'd have closer to 150,000 tons, not counting whatever they may have mined themselves.

1TrE8yAnd what about all the new gold the muggles mine, day by day? Wouldn't that cause inflation in the wizard economy? And where does the swapped-out gold go?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97

The problem was Moody not having read the paper when Harry brought it into the meeting.

2drethelin8ydoesn't harry just need to carry a few sheets of paper or have it folded into a book? I don't remember this being the case but it would prevent moody from reading it, presumably.
0hairyfigment8yA good point. But of course he was looking for threats to Harry, not threats from Harry.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97

Theoretically, indemnity implies compensation which makes the person indemnified as well-off as they would have been before the harm occurred. At the least, this change could have later been construed as a debt owed to Malfoy from Potter.

Politics is the Mind-Killer

In logic, most examples are from politics because the most salient examples of logical fallacies are from politics. So that's probably why the Nixon example was about politics, even though it wasn't necessary.

[Link] AI advances: computers can be almost as funny as people

No, the completely random baseline generated funny jokes 3.7% of the time.

0sediment8yI actually quite like the idea of completely random gags in this formula. I feel like I might even prefer them to the lame ones given by the ostensibly smarter algorithm. It could be a rich vein of absurdist, non-sequitur laughs.

They get bonus points for their metrics of LOcal Log-likelihood (aka LOL-likelihood) and Rank OF Likelihood (aka ROFL).

They also get demerits for not discussing the error bars on their estimates given that they had only five testers.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

think the most likely option is that the Potter motto was first taken from the Bible in Latin, and at some point after the completion of the King James Bible (in the 1600s) the motto was updated to English.

The motto is in Old English in the story, presumably dating from the time of the Peverells. It may have been taken from the bible verse, but then your own argument raises the question, why didn't they write their motto in Latin?

2Kindly8yThe Old English is the prophecy, not the motto.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

according to a quick Wikipedia search, translated into Old English by the Venerable Bede in the 7th century.

You may be thinking of the Gospel of John, which Bede translated shortly before his death. As far as I can tell, there was never an Old English translation of 1 Corinthians, and if there was it was not well-known.

5TimS8yI would be surprised to discover an Old English translation of any part of the Bible. The major theological movement to translate the Gospels into the vernacular (Lutherian Reformation) post-dates Old English by several centuries.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96

Given the timing, it seems more likely in-universe that the particular English translation of that bible passage was lifted from the wizard motto.

-4PhilGoetz8yWhy would you think that? I assure you that Bible translators do NOT base their translations on popular fiction. In fact, I have to congratulate you on coming up with the most blasphemous idea I've ever heard. King James version says, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." New International Version (first published in 1973) says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
5Petruchio8yI am confused. The particular Bible passage was written in Greek a solid millennia before Hogwarts was built, it was available in Latin at least since the 4th century (Latin being the language of the educated post-Roman Empire, and the language which magic seems to be based off of), and, according to a quick Wikipedia search, translated into Old English by the Venerable Bede in the 7th century.
3Kindly8yIt's a fairly literal translation. I think the most likely option is that the Potter motto was first taken from the Bible in Latin, and at some point after the completion of the King James Bible (in the 1600s) the motto was updated to English. The Peverells were, after all, contemporaries of Godric Gryffindor (at least in the HPMoR universe), so they would've been all over the Latin mottoes.
Why Eat Less Meat?

The last category you mention is basically "eggs used as an emulsifier" - so other emulsifiers should also work.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

But surely going to a rationality workshop is the best way to learn to evaluate whether to go to a rationality workshop. And whether it succeeds or not, you can be convinced it was a good idea!

How I Became More Ambitious

The modifier "comparative" is used to highlight things that are, in isolation, disadvantages,

That's just false. If A can make wool for $2 and coffee for $3, and B can make wool for $6 and coffee for $5, then B has a comparative advantage in coffee (which is in isolation a disadvantage) and A has a comparative advantage in wool (which in isolation is an advantage). Being a disadvantage just isn't necessary for a comparative advantage.

0Vaniver8yThe critical piece necessary for trade to be profitable is that each party can produce a good at lower marginal and opportunity cost than the other party. I was thinking of just the absolute advantage case (like the example you gave and the example I gave) where one party's disadvantage becomes an advantage in the presence of trade, but I believe it's correct to refer to two parties which each have an absolute advantage as comparative advantage. I'm not sure about that, though.
How I Became More Ambitious

Surely advantages can also be comparative advantages. If you're trading beauty for attention, then presumably you have a comparative advantage in beauty.

3Sophronius8yWell, there are two things wrong with that. For one thing, you do not lose beauty when you use it to your advantage, so it is not an opportunity cost. The second and more important point is that you should write to communicate as effectively as possible: This means using jargon ONLY when it is actually appropriate, not whenever you feel like you can sort of fit it in. I suspect that the tendency of people here to overuse jargon is a large part of what makes people consider Less Wrong cultish. Honestly, I feel someone should compile a list of Less Wrong "DOs and DON'Ts", which includes rules like "Don't use the word rationality as synonym for smart or good or other more specific words." (The above should not be taken as further criticism of Swimmer specifically)
3Vaniver8yThe modifier "comparative" is used to highlight things that are, in isolation, disadvantages, but which are advantages when all things are taken into account. The classic example is a lawyer who can type much more quickly than her secretary, but who hires a secretary to type because of the relative price of lawyering and typing.
0oooo8yTrading would imply that Swimmer963 is giving up some of her attractiveness in exchange for attention, by treating 'beauty' as a resource that can be depleted. However, her attractiveness in your example of the trade (beauty attention) isn't depleted significantly. Perhaps you meant something like trading her spatio-temporal presence (in which the subject gets to admire her visage in a non-awkward social situation for a prolonged period of time) in exchange for the subject's attention; or more succinctly, trading face time with attention? I agree with you that some advantages can indeed be comparative advantages, but beauty (in this context) is simply an advantage.
What's the name of this cognitive bias?

Well, imagine a planning algorithm that has no memory - then a heuristic like that (maybe with some amount of randomness to avoid cycles and such) might be your best bet.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

Just a general rule of thumb. The time loop is a powerful optimization process with outcomes that are not intuitive to humans. It's analogous to invoking evolution. If 'the world is destroyed by an asteroid' is the only stable outcome, then it seems that's what you're going to get.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.

9RichardKennaway8yIn the military, it is standard wisdom that in combat, you will not rise to your best, but sink to the level of your training.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

Yes. I think Dumbledore was trying to talk about either Slytherin or himself, but accidentally was foreshadowing Voldemort.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

This doesn't seem significantly different from the loop Harry already tried, that didn't work. Don't summon Azathoth.

6drnickbone8yWell it didn't work before because getting scared and writing "DON'T MESS WITH TIME" was also a stable loop. If you read the description carefully, Harry broke his own protocol. This is why I suggested adding the Imperius, memory charms and other powerful protection spells to ensure the protocol is followed. If Azathoth appears in the middle of the protocol anyway then the protection spells weren't strong enough !
0Velorien8yI'm not sure what you're implying here. Is this just a general rule of thumb for rationalists?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94

No, but Hermione's life is on the line - he'd bite off his own fingers to save her.

What's the name of this cognitive bias?

Wow, that actually describes a pretty sane heuristic.

0MalcolmOcean8ySane unless one of the paths is actually substantially shorter, in which case it's a waste of time that feels efficient. There are psychological aspects to all of this too. There are several routes from my bus stop to my house right now, and while they all have the same length (Manhattan distance = x+y, i.e. right angles) certain paths feel shorter... I think it's mostly number-of-turns. When I walk straight down the street I live on, it seems really long, but when I walk partway down the adjacent street, then a block sideways, then the rest of the way, it seems somewhat shorter.
[LINK] XKCD Comic #1236, Seashells and Bayes' Theorem

He fixes things a lot. There is practically never a notice.

What are you working on? July 2013

I have heard rumors that cool things happen elsewhere, but I do not believe them. Though Akihabara is pretty cool.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90

What he means is that he wishes that books on memory charms fit that description - but in fact they're not guarded at all or even in the restricted section of the library.

0benelliott8yThat's clearly the first level meaning. He's wondering whether there's a second meaning, which is a subtle hint that he has already done exactly that, maybe hoping that Harry will pick up on it and not saying it directly in case Dumbledore or someone else is listening, maybe just a private joke.
What are you working on? July 2013

Trying to find web developer work in the SF Bay area.

Because SF is awesome and where all the great stuff in webdev is happening.

0SuspiciousTitForTat8yIs there anything cool happening anywhere else?
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89

I prefer the theory that qhzoyrqber hfrq svraqsler gb qrfgebl gur qvnel ubepehk jura ur gubhtug gur ubhfr jnf rzcgl, naq gura pynvzrq perqvg sbe anepvffn'f qrngu fb gung ure fnpevsvpr jbhyq abg or zrnavatyrff

New Favicon

Current favicon is best favicon.

Artificial Addition

I'm surprised nobody brought this up at the time, but it's telling that you've only picked out examples of humans when discussing intelligence, not bacteria or rocks or the color blue. I submit that the property is not as unknowable as you would suggest.

Artificial Addition

Furthermore, if you draw the graph the way Neel seems to suggest, then the bodyguard is adding the antidote without dependence on the actions of the assassin, and so there is no longer any reason to call one "assassin" and the other "bodyguard", or one "poison" and the other "antidote". The bodyguard in that model is trying to kill the king as much as the assassin is, and the assassin's timely intervention saved the king as much as the bodyguard's.

Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013

Upvoted for the multilayered pun

Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns

I think steelmanning would instead be if you listed more realistic dangers of that place rather than more extreme dangers

I think you missed what was going on there. In the hypothetical, Feynman's mom was concerned about the plague and for the steelman Feynman corrected it to TB. The assumption there is that TB is a more realistic threat than the plague.

0SilasBarta8yI see that now. It didn't help that Luke_A_Somers, in defending what he did as steelmanning, kept insisting that he was "making the original argument worse" [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hmn/applied_art_of_rationality_richard_feynman/94e3]. (In any case, I don't think TB was the "steelest" man you could make here, nor the mother's real rejection.)
Tiling Agents for Self-Modifying AI (OPFAI #2)

I don't read a lot of other people's stuff about your ideas (e.g. Mark Waser) but I have read most of the things you've published. I'm surprised to hear you've said it many times before.

Tiling Agents for Self-Modifying AI (OPFAI #2)

This post does answer some questions I had regarding the relevance of mathematical proof to AI safety, and the motivations behind using mathematical proof in the first place. I don't believe I've seen this bit before:

the idea that something-like-proof might be relevant to Friendly AI is not about achieving some chimera of absolute safety-feeling

3Eliezer Yudkowsky9y...I've actually said it many, many times before but there's a lot of people out there depicting that particular straw idea (e.g. Mark Waser).
Many Weak Arguments vs. One Relatively Strong Argument

I think the concept you're looking for is the principle of charity. Steel man is what you do to someone else's argument in order to make sure yours is good, after you've defeated their actual argument. Principle of charity is what you do in discourse to make sure you're having the best possible discussion.

If you think Eliezer should have steelmanned your argument then you think he has already defeated it - before he even commented!

1JonahS9yI guess I didn't mean that he didn't steelman my argument, I meant that he didn't steelman the things that he was objecting to. For example, he could have noted that I did give an example of the type that he seems to have been looking for, rather than focusing on the fact that the Penrose example isn't of the type that he was looking for. I agree that there's substantial overlap between this and the principle of charity.
...so did we now get cold fusion to work or what?

Why was this post downvoted like crazy? Is Less Wrong not the sort of place to post this sort of question?

Should we have a Q&A site for this sort of purpose? It's been discussed before.

Or is it just that this should have been posted to Discussion or the open thread?

8Friendly-HI8yI have made a terrible mistake judgement-wise by posting this topic in the fashion I did. The situation was like this: I've been at the librabry, studying for an exam when I took a not unusual 10-minute procrastination break to surf whe web. I went onto planetrationalist.com (a website that collects the newest articles from a wide variety of "rationalist" websites of varying quality including LW), where an article about the mentioned paper was one of the most recent ones. At that point I made at least three faulty assumptions/ mistakes that were to some extent connected: 1) "It's the top post so this is actually news." (I think it was actually a week old at that point already). 2) "The article about the article does not point out any obvious flaws, and because it's linked on planetrationalist.com I assign some trust/probability that it's not complete garbage" (by far my worst irrational crime) 3) "I'll take a look on lesswrongs discussion board to find what people say about this topic because right now I haven't any time to really check out this paper myself. [...] Oh, there's no post yet in the discussion section, but since it's news (which it wasn't) that makes sense, so I guess I'll open the first topic to see what others think about this paper." If I had realized that it was old news I would have taken the absence of discussion about this paper/topic in the discussion section as a vital hint. Bad choices and assumptions all along. So right now I just hope people stop upvoting this and let it die in silence because more people who thinks this thread hasn't enough downvotes yet show up all the time ruin my karma yet further, which overall has been rather positive up until very recently. On the upside however I've learned a valuable lesson about lesswrong at the cost of some karma I wouldn't have learned otherwise.
Privileging the Question

To take another tack on the gay marriage example, asking the question also implies that it's the sort of thing one is allowed to decide on. I welcome a national debate on "Should we give Thom Blake a million dollars" but am less enthusiastic about debating "Should we throw rocks at Thom".

How would you respond to the Philpapers "What are your Philosophical Positions" Survey?

Let's see... I'll try to answer as I would have when I was taking this, for consistency...

Abstract objects: Aristotelianism. Forms are always instantiated, but are not completely arbitrary categories as nominalism would suggest.

Aesthetic value: subject-sensitive objectivism. There is a fact about what you find beautiful regardless of your say-so, but beauty depends on the observer.

Epistemic justification: subject-sensitive invariantism / contextualism: There is an external fact about whether a belief is justified, but it depends upon the context of the ... (read more)

Open Thread, March 1-15, 2013

I am in Berkeley for a few days, primarily Thursday march 28th. Please text me at 203-710-5337 if you'd like to catch up or have any ideas for a thing I shouldn't miss.

An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction

Yes, length there is short for "minimum message length" or in other words Kolmogorov complexity.

MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare

Am I correct in thinking this is a continuation of the vanished company Personalized Medicine?

What's the story there?

0Larks9ycompanies often go under one name pre-launch, then adopt a new one so they can have a 'clean slate', publicity-wise.
Philosophical Landmines

I don't understand how the Atheist gets from the Theist's claims about the creation of the universe to "natural selection". I thought that was the bad pattern-matching in the first example, but then they make the same mistake in the second example. Does the Atheist think the universe is an evolved creature?

1Jack9yThe atheist doesn't think the universe evolved; he thinks the complex things in the universe evolved. The theist I was modeling is thinking of -say- the human eyeball when he thinks about the complexity of the universe. But I agree the shorthand dialogue is ambiguous.
LessWrong podcasts

you've strawmanned me repeatedly

Translation: "I'm a bad communicator".

Rationality Quotes December 2012

Yes. The whole thing should be read as elaboration of one piece of advice - the individual sentences are not meant to stand on their own. If you're overwhelming the enemy with multiple attacks, then none of them should be counted as failure.

And FWIW, Musashi was primarily writing about swordsmanship, not command.

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