All of Timwi's Comments + Replies

31 Laws of Fun

Your post explains how the bible describes heaven. However, when I hear the phrase “Christian heaven” I tend to take it to mean “heaven as Christians today understand it”. You may well be right that the bible doesn’t directly imply that it includes singing hymns for the rest of eternity, but clearly it is widely imagined that way, otherwise we wouldn’t all have heard that idea.

4[anonymous]10yIt's an often described caricature of heaven but I imagine that most believers would say that heaven isn't actually like that, and possibly add something about how the things a soul experiences in heaven are beyond mortal comprehension.
Generalizing From One Example

You seem to be using the word “experience” differently from what I understand it to mean. “To experience depression” to me would mean that you are in a depression for real. You seem to imply that you can “experience” it without actually being in it — what do you mean by that?

Note that it is not enough merely to imagine an experience. It is certainly possible to imagine oneself in a situation one has never actually been in — but the imagined experience would be a guess. It’s like imagining (assuming you are capable of visual imagery) an animal that you have... (read more)

3handoflixue10yFrom my practice as an artist, I can look at a forest and talk about the shading, light angles, and color palette. From certain neurological quirks of mine, I can look at the forest and discuss it in a weird internal palette, or discuss the flavor of the trees (I have vision->taste synaesthesia). I can push the "be happy" button and sit contentedly. I can push the "ADD" button and want to bounce around and be in motion (music also triggers this - kinaesthetic and auditory senses overlap strongly for me, and make it very difficult to track visual data). I can push the "depression" button and realize I'm all alone, miles from company, and I'm going to have to WALK back and I'm ALREADY exhausted and tired and oh god I'm stupid what made me think this would be enjoyable (low blood sugar will also trigger this one, although it's actually pretty hard to put me in a bad mood if I'm walking and/or in a forest) Basically, there's an absolutely HUGE amount of sensory information hitting me at any given point, and I'm aware that I'm only processing SOME of it. From there, there's an exponentially vaster sea of interpretations and patterns I can within that data - I can relate it to a wide variety of topics. So, I'm aware of this huge sheaf of possible observational angles, and can generally wander between them. I seem to be more able to notice "I don't like this perspective / I'd enjoy seeing this from multiple angles". I seem more able to actually switch perception, although most intelligent people can at least follow what I'm doing and mimic my shifts. I also seem to have a much broader set to choose from.
-1handoflixue10yWhen I say "experience" depression, I mean I'm actually depressed. When I say "simulate" depression, I mean I can model the state without actually directly experiencing it. "Simulation" would line up with watching a TV show or reading a book - I react as though the characters were real, I suspend the knowledge that everyone will be OK at the end of each episode, and so on. I was in fact talking about experience, not simulation, however. If you want to experience being an artist, then take a drawing class and learn to draw. There isn't some special "artist" property, you just have to draw. If you want to experience being a good artist, you'll probably need to spend some time practicing. If you want to experience the community of art, well, there's a lot of those, but learn poetry and go to poetry jams. Learn writing and join a writing circle. Find a Google Group where painters chat and discuss technique. Follow art blogs. Equally, if you want to experience being a "jock", then get in shape and join a gym that seems to have a lot of jocks. Learn to fit in with them. Female is a bit trickier, but there's people on this site that have done male-to-female transitions. Most of it is reversible, and the main irreversible bit (surgery) is pretty optional unless you're interested in a VERY specific physical aspect of being female. I wouldn't recommend it casually, but if you're serious about wanting to explore new sensations and experience new mindsets, it's a pretty amazing change.
Generalizing From One Example

If a test in no way distinguishes between knowledge gained by different methods it has no right to call one method 'cheating', no matter what it may claim.

Surely by that argument there is no such thing as cheating. If I gained the knowledge necessary to pass the test by brekaing into the headmaster’s office and taking a photocopy of the questions and their answers before the exam, by your criterion that isn’t cheating.

0wedrifid10yI would agree that the wording is not robust against hostile interpretation, but not much more than that. While "breaking into the headmaster's office and stealing the questions and answers" and "reading the English translation of a book" are both methods of gaining "knowledge" most people would consider the kind of 'knowledge' gained to be sufficiently different that they would not equivocate between the two.
Bayesianism in the face of unknowns

That sounds pretty much the same as what I said above.

0Manfred11yYup. Except maybe with a little more confidence that Bayes' rule applies here in the specific way of altering the probability distribution over p at each point.
Bayesianism in the face of unknowns

My take at it is basically this: average over all possible distributions until you have further evidence. (Preferably, let other people play the game first to gather the evidence at no cost to myself.)

If someone tells me a coin has an unknown binomial distribution, and we really genuinely don’t know anything about this distribution (not even the distribution of possible distributions), I take the set of all possible distributions and assume they are all equally likely. Since they are symmetric, the average is a 50:50 fair coin.

In your example, you throw no... (read more)

0rstarkov11yFor the record, this is not permitted. It's easy to say this but I don't think this works when you start doing the maths to get actual numbers out. Additionally, if you really take ALL possible distributions then you're already in trouble, because some of them are pretty weird - e.g. the Cauchy distribution doesn't have a mean or a variance. I'd love to know if there are established formal approaches to this. The only parts of statistics that I'm familiar with assume known distributions and work from there. Anyone?
Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

Am I the only one who, while reading this post, thought “why doesn’t the same apply to anything else we ever discover”?

Elan vital (and phlogiston and luminiferous aether etc.) were particles/substances/phenomena postulated to try to explain observations made. How are quarks, electrons and photons any different? Just because we recognise these as the best available theory today, I am not sure I understand how one is a curiosity-stopper any more than the other.

The real curiosity-stopper is the suggestion that something is forever beyond our understanding and... (read more)

The difference between electrons and elan vital is that the former come with equations that let you predict things. If you said "electricity is electrons" that would be a curiosity-stopper, but if you said "electricity is electrons, and by the way they obey the Lorentz force equation [F = ...] and Maxwell's laws [del E = ...]" that would be an explanation.

I wouldn't call the luminiferous aether a curiosity-stopper, because it was an actual theory that did make predictions (it was essentially falsified in one experiment).

About the AI-Box experiment

How can you know that it’s stupid to look at it before you’ve looked at it?

0Armok_GoB11yBecause the file name is "reading_this_will_hack_your_mind.txt" for example.
About the AI-Box experiment

No, it doesn’t rule it out. I can’t be rationally convinced of anything that went on in the chat until I see it.

5TheOtherDave11yNor even if you do see it. After all, the possibility exists that you're being handed a fake chatlog. Short of performing the experiment right in front of you, it's not clear what can rationally convince you, if your priors are low enough.
3JGWeissman11yThe details of the chats will not be publicly released. But if you want to maintain that you don't trust the results of the experiment because the gatekeeper players might have been confederates of Eliezer, then you should have said so. You claimed, however, that this clever trick was possible given the rules followed, and this claim was wrong.
Taboo Your Words

When I read the post, I immediately thought: just say “home-run”! — I’ve been playing taboo for a long time, I’ve occasionally elicited the correct response from the other players by saying just one or two words :)

Rationality Quotes: February 2011

How do you define “illusion”? I think an illusion is a type of brain failure. An optical illusion is even more specific. Therefore, I think the term is wholly appropriate — and “brain failure”, while not at all inappropriate, is just unnecessarily vague.

How to Beat Procrastination

One obvious way to inject more value into a task is to reward yourself for completing it.

Research shows that this doesn’t work for most people (but maybe it does for you). The reason seems to be that most people normally go and get what they want if they can. In order to turn something that you can always have into a reward, you would have to suppress this. Instead of rewarding yourself, you end up punishing yourself.

To use your example, you are not bribing yourself with Pinkberry frozen yogurt at all; you know that you can have your Pinkberry frozen yo... (read more)

1lukeprog11yConcerning rewards, see Procrastinus' comment here [].