Three-Monkey Mind


What are your contrarian views?

If “refining the art of human rationality” is our goal, we should be doing a lot more outreach and a lot more production of very accessible rationality materials.

I agree, and I'm in favor of this sort of thing. I try to do this sort of thing among my friends. Sometimes it works, at least a little bit.

On the other hand, if we're trying to save Earth from being turned into paperclips, we ought to focus our efforts on people who're smart enough to be able to meaningfully contribute to AI risk reduction.

On the other other hand, there are people here who could help with sanity-line-raising materials who can't help with rationality training as a way to avert AI x-risk.

On the other other other hand, some people who might be able to help with AI risk might get into the possibly-less-important sanity-waterline-raising projects, and this would be a bad thing.

What are objects that have made your life better?

A second laptop charger.

It's nice to be able to charge your laptop at your desk, with a cord that snakes behind the desk, and not have to go in and undo all that just to get power to your laptop when you're out and about.

And if you're not getting out with your laptop, having a second charger is still useful. I have a makeshift standing desk with my laptop on top of my dresser. With a second charger set up like this, I can shift from standing to sitting on my schedule, not my laptop's battery's.

Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020

Also, I find myself vexed with thoughts […] How do professional or amatuer traders deal with this?

Habituation, meditation, and/or alcohol.

How has the cost of clothing insulation changed since 1970 in the USA?

Subjective experience:

  • Polyester (elastane, etc.) clothes are much more common these days. Back in the 80s, people wore way more cotton shirts to the gym. Nowadays, most people wear some sort of sweat-wicking heat-venting material. They're also cheaper; Under Armour used to run about $50. Nowadays, UA shirts tend to run about 3/5 that.

  • Remember back when wool was only for itchy sweaters? Nowadays, merino wool, which is less itchy for most people, is used for shirts and undershirts and even socks and underpants. The great thing about wool shirts is that you can wear them for almost a week and they won't stink; this isn't something you can do with cotton and especially not polyester.

  • There are a lot more stretchy materials out there, as well as stretchy materials (polyester) woven into less-stretchy materials (cotton) to give the stiffer materials a bit more give. This makes slim-fitting clothing less restrictive, if nothing else.

  • There are nylon pants that don't look out of place at the office. Outlier's Futureworks pants made out of F.Cloth (click on "Fabric" on the tabs) are better than cotton chinos in at least some respects; you can spill coffee on them and likely all of it will bead up and just run off, not staining anything or even getting wet. (They'll eventually wet out if you're walking around in the rain, though.)

  • You can car camp in the rain, forget your rain gear, and everything'll turn out mostly OK.

While the price of insulation is a superlatively objective metric, it entirely misses advancements in anything other than insulation effectiveness. The big changes have all been in finding new points that balance the different tradeoffs between stretchiness/durability/stink trapping/cost/water resistance/stain resistance/warmth/air permeability.

Subscripting Typographic Convention For Citations/Dates/Sources/Evidentials: A Proposal

But if passages aren’t dense with that or other uses, then you wouldn’t need to use subscripting much, by definition....


Perhaps you meant, “assuming that it remains a unique convention, most readers will have to pay a one-time cost of comprehension/dislike as overhead, and only then can gain from it[…]

Agreed so far…

[…] so you’ll need them to read a lot of it to pay off, and such passages may be quite rare”?

You'll need a bunch in a single passage. If you don't need to disambiguate a large hairball of differently-timed people (like in My Best and Worst Mistake), then you probably shouldn't bother in general. Put another way, you're going to want to have a dense, if localized, cluster of people-times that need disambiguating for this to be a better idea than using parentheticals.

Because it brings out the contrast: one is based on first-hand experience & observation, and the other is later socially-performative kvetching for an audience such as family or female acquaintances. The medium is the message, in this case.

I'm struggling to see how this is an improvement over "on FB" or "on Facebook" for either the reader or the writer, assuming you don't want to bury-but-still-mention the medium/audience.

I waffled on whether to make it ‘FB’ or ‘Facebook’. I thought “FB” as an abbreviation was sufficiently widely known at this point to make it natural. But maybe not, if even LWers are thrown by it.

Not without context or some other way to reduce the universe of things "FB" might refer to. "My wife complained on FB" is probably enough of a determiner most of the time for most people (unless I'm really underslept), but an "FB" subscript isn't immediately obvious to people who aren't used to that sort of thing.

Subscripting Typographic Convention For Citations/Dates/Sources/Evidentials: A Proposal

This seems like a solid improvement over X!Y notation. X!Y seems to not fit my brain in the same way that XY seems to not fit my brain, and mentally substituting “’s” for “の” helps only partially.

Does it do enough good to be worth using despite the considerable hit to weirdness points? That I don’t know.

A better question, I think, would be this: "When is it worth it to use this one weird trick to boost the clarity of a work?"

It seems worth it in nerdy circles (i.e. among people who're already familiar with subscripting) for passages that are dense with jumping around in time as in your chosen example, but I'd expect these sorts of passages to be rare, regardless of the expected readership.

Also, it's unclear why "on Facebook" deserves to be compressed into an evidential. At the very least, "FB" isn't immediately obvious what it refers to, whereas a date is easier to figure out from context.

[Review] On the Chatham House Rule (Ben Pace, Dec 2019)

we’ve e.g. carefully moved a group the conversation around not putting pressure on them to explain why they were unavailable last Tuesday.

What do you mean by "a group the conversation"?

How has rationalism helped you?

Over on the "too small" end of the spectrum…

I wrote about how rationality made me better at Mario Kart which I linked to from here a while ago. In short, it's a reminder to think about evidence sources and think about how much you should weigh each.

More recently, I've been watching The International, a Dota 2 competition. Last night I was watching yet another game where I wasn't at all sure who would win. That said, I thought Team Liquid might win (p = 60%). When I saw Team Secret win a minor skirmish (teamfight) against Team Liquid, I made a new prediction of "Team Secret will win (p = 75%)". However, my original guess was correct: Team Secret eventually won that game.

I then thought about the current metagame and how, this year, any team can go from "winning" to "lost" with only a small error or two, and the outcome of any individual skirmish doesn't matter much.

I then imagined Bart Simpson repeatedly writing "I WILL NOT MAKE LARGE UPDATES BASED ON THE OUTCOME OF A SINGLE TEAMFIGHT" on a large blackboard and stopped making that mistake.

I think the major takeaway I've gotten from reading The Sequences is the vocabulary around updating beliefs, by varying amounts, based on evidence.

Generating a novelty scale

A general rule that I try to follow is “never write something which someone else has already written better”.

A sensible rule, but I'd like to bring some rationalist insights to other communities that might be able to benefit from seeing how people who've read the Sequences handle things. This seems to necessitate a little bit of redundant writing.

Also, I could stand to get better at writing. On the other hand, if I limit myself to writing only novel things, I wouldn't practice nearly as much as I ought to do. Of course, the decision to publish any given piece is a separate issue.

I worry about confusing novelty with importance—the example scale in the OP seems to mix the two.

Not on purpose. I just couldn't think of something super-novel yet unimportant.

Perhaps a better approach would be to give handles for several different ways things can be novel, and then use those as tags?

That sounds like a good idea inasmuch as it maps to reality the best, but it's also more work than I thought I'd have to do. I'm considering collapsing the novelty scale to no more than five points and trying to make it more coarse to deliberately paper over the different ways a piece can be novel.

Thanks for demonstrating that novelty isn't totally orderable, though; I thought it was, more or less.

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