All of tslarm's Comments + Replies

Choice Writings of Dominic Cummings

It seesm to me that the only way to make that judgement is to actually read Cummings describe his cause.

What grounds do we have for taking that description at face value? I don't think that even his supporters believe his qualities include scrupulous honesty.

Carmex's Shortform

(Sorry if I'm misreading anything; my excuse is that I'm operating on 3 hours' sleep and am not very familiar with Python syntax.)

I ran your 'regular run' version, modified to keep a count of 1-vote victories, and the results were as I would have predicted: https://imgur.com/Y17ecLq

I'm a bit confused by the 'random voter sample' version -- which scenario is that illustrating, and what's the deal with the 'myvote = random.randrange(-voters, voters)' and ' if votes*myvote > votes*votes:' lines?

Carmex's Shortform

I wrote a long response to a related comment chain here: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/PcfHSSAMNFMgdqFyB/can-you-control-the-past?commentId=jRo2cGuXBbkz54E4o

My short answer to this question is the same as Dagon's: if we're assuming a negligible probability that the election was close enough for your vote to be decisive, 50% in both cases. 

I tried to explain the conflicting intuitions in that other comment. It turned out to be one of those interesting questions that feels less obvious after thinking about it for a couple of minutes than at first glan... (read more)

2Carmex2mo[Editted]
Can you control the past?

Why can't I think of myself as a randomly sampled voter? 

Same reason you can't ignore other relevant pieces of information -- doing so makes your probability assignments less accurate. For example, if you know that John is a vocal supporter of the less-popular party, you're not going to ignore that information and assign a high probabiity to the proposition that he votes for the winner.

If you're looking at this ex ante, your probability of voting for the winner is ~50% because your vote is uncorrelated with everyone else's. For every possible arrangem... (read more)

Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0

I want to draw attention to the fact that "Kerry Vaughan" is a brand new account that has made exactly three comments, all of them on this thread. "Kerry Vaughan" is associated with Leverage. "Kerry Vaughan"'s use of "they" to describe Leverage is deliberately misleading.

To be fair, KV was open about that association in both previous comments, using 'we' in the first and including this disclaimer in the second --

(I currently work at Leverage research but did not work at Leverage during Leverage 1.0 (although I interacted with Leverage 1.0 and know many of

... (read more)
Petrov Day 2021: Mutually Assured Destruction?

I don't know if this would defeat part of the purpose, but what about making it opt-in over a long time period, e.g. giving people all year to put themselves on the list of people who might be chosen to receive codes? 

Other than that, I think it's mostly a question of (to the extent possible without undermining what you're trying to do) making it pretty clear to the recipients that people take this seriously and would genuinely like them to refrain from using the codes. As far as I can tell, that has already improved from last year. (It seems like there might have been some tonal ambiguity last year, with phrasing intended to be heightened but mostly serious coming across to some readers as playful and mostly joking.)

Petrov Day 2021: Mutually Assured Destruction?

I understand why this was downvoted and I think it is harsh, but I also think it might be good if people take the sentiment seriously rather than bury+ignore it.

If I received a code, I would do nothing, because it's clear by now that pressing the button would seriously upset some people. (And the consequences seem potentially more significant this year than last.) And I think the parent commenter undervalues the efforts the pro-taking-it-seriously people made to keep their emotions in check and explain why they take the ritual seriously and would like othe... (read more)

You make good points. I, for one, strong-downvoted OP because “emotional blackmail” seems not at all accurate, and the criticism itself was shaded “go outside, nerd”, when I would have been more interested in OP’s actual arguments.

Emotional blackmail would be if Ruby emailed me and said “TurnTrout, unless you participate in this ritual, I will be upset at you.” In this situation, if I do nothing, nothing happens to me, whereas Ruby may feel differently about me if I choose to participate in the game by entering launch codes.

It’s like if I built a sand cast... (read more)

I don't want to have a ton of meta discussion on the day of the experiment, but I am pretty interested in ideas from people on how to reduce the bad parts of the social ritual. I think the benefits of doing a thing like this are pretty high, and I am pretty excited about the benefits of the trust exercise, but also don't want to needlessly distress people. So if people have any ideas on wording or additional text we could add to the announcements or emails, I think that would be a productive use of time.

Insights from Modern Principles of Economics

This also applies to the sweatshop example. If everything else is fixed, then yeah, probably those poor families are better off being allowed to work in awful conditions for low wages. But everything else isn't fixed. 

When a bunch of relatively wealthy and powerful people are benefiting financially from the existence of an extremely poor underclass (who, due to their poverty, are willing to do hard unpleasant work for little money), this creates resistance to reforms that would improve the situation of the poor and thereby give them greater bargaining... (read more)

2ChristianKl2moEven without sweatshops that produce products for Western audiences, the wealthy in a given third-world country still profit from cheap labor. Most communities that have sweatshops also have people who are at risk of starving. It would be surprising to me if there are those dynamics that a closed sweatshop leads to significantly more political and charitable help in the region. Do you know of any case studies where a sweatshop closed and that resulted in increased political and charitable help?
LessWrong is paying $500 for Book Reviews

Your book review must be published after the posting of this announcement, i.e., no submitting book reviews you wrote a month ago and already published elsewhere on the Internet.

What's your policy on previously-partially-published reviews? The specific case I have in mind is a rough review I put up on Goodreads, which would need major reworking to be suitable here. (It's currently more of a notes-dump than a proper review.)

5Ruby3moConverting a notes-dump into a proper review is fine.
How much COVID protection is gained from protecting your eyes?

glasses evidence better explained by the fact that fogging glasses are a good feedback loop/incentive to wear your mask properly

This could be an interesting thing to study. Anecdotally, I think I've seen more people give 'fogged glasses' as a reason/excuse not to wear a mask, or to pull it right down, than as a reason to fit the mask properly. For some people and some mask types, there seems to be an assumption that air escaping out the top is inevitable.

Covid 9/9: Passing the Peak

The section on Australia is very silly. 

A year of house arrest to stop a 1 in 500 chance of death naively implies that the QALY value for a year under house arrest is at least 0.92 or so, and since Covid primarily kills the elderly that calculation is highly generous and it’s more like 0.96. Was it worth it?

I think you just made up 'a year'? The most-locked-down state in the country (and there is massive variation between states in that respect) has spent much less than a year in lockdown.

"House arrest" is hyperbolic nonsense. It's not just pithy and ... (read more)

The other thing this misses about Australia is how catastrophically incompetent the federal government has been. If the Federal government had actually bought some bleeping vaccines when offered them by Pfizer in June 2020 (i.e. the deal that Israel took), we'd look awesome even with all their other stuffups.

If you want to get vaccinated, there's currently a two-month waiting list

Canberra, where I live, went more than a year between covid cases. Yes, international travel was difficult (more than necessary for public health); but having literally zero c... (read more)

I'm in Australia and I mostly agree with Zvi here. 200+ days of lockdown is close enough to a year (especially if you include technically-not-lockdown but still heavily restricted) and while I'm also introverted, I'd give it more of a 0.7-0.8 at this point. Doesn't help that I don't enjoy video call socialisation, and even my WoW guild seems a bit subdued lately.

Hope and False Hope

Ok, thanks for engaging. Be well. Or I guess, be happy and unsufferful. 

Cheers. I won't plug you into the experience machine if you don't sign me up for cryonics :)

2TekhneMakre3moDeal! I'm glad we can realize gains from trade across metaphysical chasms.
Hope and False Hope

Well I pre-theoretically care about happiness and suffering too. I hate suffering, and I hate inflicting suffering or knowing others are suffering. I like being happy, and like making others happy or knowing they're happy. So it's not really a process of teasing out, it's a process of boiling down, by asking myself which things seem to matter intrinsically and which instrumentally. One way of doing this is to consider hypothetical situations, and selectively vary them and observe the difference each variation makes to my assessment of the situation. (edit:... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>Well I pre-theoretically care about happiness and suffering too. That you think this, and that it might be the case, for the record, wasn't previously obvious to me, and makes a notch more sense out of the discussion.
1TekhneMakre3mo>I think I'll bow out of the discussion now Ok, thanks for engaging. Be well. Or I guess, be happy and unsufferful. >I think we've both done our best, but to be blunt, I feel like I'm having to repeatedly assure you that I do mean the things I've said and I have thought about them, and like you are still trying to cure me of 'mistakes' that are only mistakes according to premises that seem almost too obvious for you to state, but that I really truly don't share. I don't want to poke you more and risk making you engage when you don't want to, but just as a signpost for future people, I'll note that I don't recognize this as describing what happened (except of course that you felt what you say you felt, and that's evidence that I'm wrong about what happened).
Hope and False Hope

The 'reasoning' is basically just teasing out implications, checking for contradictions, that sort of thing. The 'reflection' includes what could probably be described as a bunch of appeals to intuition. I don't think I can explain or justify those in a particularly interesting or useful way; but I will restate that I can only assume you're doing the same thing at some point.

1TekhneMakre3moHow, in broad strokes, does one tease out the implication that one cares mainly about happiness and suffering, from the pre-theoretic caring about kids, life, play, etc.?
Hope and False Hope

To this end I think it would help if you laid out your own ground-level values, and explained to whatever extent is possible why you hold them (and perhaps in what sense you think they are correct).

1TekhneMakre3moI mean, at risk of seeming flippant, I just want to say "basically all the values your 'real person' holds"? Like, it's just all that stuff we both think is good. Play, life, children, exploration; empowering others to get what they want, and freeing them from pointless suffering; understanding, creating, expressing, communicating, ... I'm just... not doing the last step where I abstract that into a mental state, and then replace it with that mental state. The "correctness" comes from Reason, it's just that the Reason is applied to more greatly empower me to make the world better, to make tradeoffs and prioritizations, to clarify things, to propagate logical implications... For example, say I have an urge to harm someone. I generally decide to nevertheless not harm them, because I disagree with the intuition. Maybe it was put there by evolution fighting some game I don't want to fight, maybe it was a traumatic reaction I had to something years ago; anyway, I currently believe the world will be better if I don't do that. If I harm someone, they'll be less empowered to get what they want; I'll less live among people who are getting what they want, and sharing with me; etc.
Hope and False Hope

Because it's replacing the thing with your reaction to the thing. Does this make sense, as stated?

Not without an extra premise somewhere.

we're asking for clarification about what our good-thing-detectors are aimed at

I think this is something we disagree on. It seems to me that one of your premises is "what is good = what our good-thing detectors are aimed at", and I don't share that premise. Or, to the extent that I do, the good-thing detector I privilege is different from the one you privilege; I see no reason to care more about my pre-theoretic good-thin... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>to some degree our disagreement here is semantic The merely-lexical ambiguity is irrelevant of course. You responded to the top level post giving your reasons for not taking action re/ cryonics. So we're just talking about whatever actually affects your behavior. I'm taking sides in your conflict, trying to talk to the part of you that wants to affect the world, against the part of you that wants to prevent you from trying to affect the world (by tricking your good-world-detectors). >I see no reason to care more about my pre-theoretic good-thing detector than the 'good-thing detector' that is my whole process of moral and evaluative reflection and reasoning. Reflection and reasoning, we can agree these things are good. I'm not attacking reason, I'm trying to implement reason by asking about the reasoning that you took to go from your pre-theoretic good-thing-detector to your post-theoretic good-thing judgements. I'm pointing out that there seems, prima facie, to be a huge divergence between these two. Do you see the apparent huge divergence? There could be a huge divergence without there being a mistake, that's sort of the point of reason, to reach conclusions you didn't know already. It's just that I don't at all see the reasoning that led you there, and it still seems to have produced wrong conclusions. So my question is, what was the reasoning that brought you to the conclusion that, despite what your pre-theoretic good-thing-detectors are aimed at (play, life, etc.), actually what's a good thing is happiness (contra life)? So far I don't think you've described that reasoning, only stated that its result is that you value happiness. (Which is fine, I haven't asked so explicitly, and maybe it's hard to describe.)
What Motte and Baileys are rationalists most likely to engage in?

An aside: the characterization of post-modern argument in the OP is only accurate in the most extreme and easily parodied of post-modernist thinkers. Most post-modernists would argue that social constructs are subjective narratives told on top of an objective world, and that many more things are socially constructed than most people believe. That the hypothetical about the sun is used as an example of bad post-modernist thought, instead of any of the actual arguments post-modernists make in real life, is a bit of a tip-off that it's not engaging with a ste

... (read more)
Hope and False Hope

Re your first paragraph -- fair enough, and thanks for clarifying. Something about this approach has rubbed me the wrong way, but I am stressed IRL at the moment and that is probably making me pricklier than I would otherwise be. (By the way, so that I don't waste your time, I should say that I might stop responding at some point before anything is resolved. If so, please don't interpret that as an unfriendly or insulting response -- it will just be the result of me realising that I'm finding the conversation stressful, and/or spending too much time on it,... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>I think everyone who has moral or axiological opinions is making the same leap of faith at some point, or else fudging their way around it by conflating the normative and the merely descriptive This may be right, but we can still notice differences, especially huge ones, and trace back their origins. It actually seems pretty surprising if you and I have wildly, metaphysically disparate values, and at least interesting.
1TekhneMakre3mo> I don't see how it implies that I shouldn't consider happiness to be a fundamentally, intrinsically good thing Because it's replacing the thing with your reaction to the thing. Does this make sense, as stated? What I'm saying is, when we ask "what should I consider to be a fundamentally good thing", we have nothing else to appeal to other than (the learned generalizations of) those things which our happiness comes from. Like, we're asking for clarification about what our good-thing-detectors are aimed at. So I'm pointing out that, on the face of it, your stated fundamental values---happiness, non-suffering---are actually very very different from the pre-theoretic fundamental values---i.e. the things your good-thing-detectors detect, such as having kids, living, nuturing, connecting with people, understanding things, exploring, playing, creating, expressing, etc. Happiness is a mental event, those things are things that happen in the world or in relation to the world. Does this make sense? This feels like a fundamental point to me, and I'm not sure we've gotten shared clarity about this. >I don't see anything necessarily unreasonable about wanting everyone, including me, to experience the feeling they get when their 'world getting better' module is firing. (And seeing that feeling, rather than whatever triggers it, as the really important thing.) I mean, it's not "necessarily unreasonable", in the sense of the orthogonality thesis of values---one could imagine an agent that coherently wants certain mental states to exist. I'm saying a weaker claim: it's just not what you actually value. (Yes this is in some sense a rude claim, but I'm not sure what else to do, given that it's how the world seems to me and it's relevant and it would be more rude to pretend that's not my current position. I don't necessarily think you ought to engage with this as an argument, exactly. More like a hypothesis, which you could come to understand, and by understanding it you could c
Hope and False Hope

You wrote that you have an "impartial observer" who shares "fundamental values" with you [...]

I feel like you're reifying the impartial observer, and drawing some dubious conclusions from that. The impartial observer is just a metaphor -- it's me, trying to think about the world from a certain perspective. (I know you haven't literally failed to realise that, but it's hard for me to make sense of some of the things you're saying, unless there's some kind of confusion between us on that point.) 

All of my varied and sometimes conflicting feelings, belie... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>the ratio of confident, prescriptive psycholanalysis to actual argument I appreciate you engaging generally, and specifically mentioning these process points. The reason I'm stating things without caveats etc. is that it feels like there's a huge gulf between us, and so it seems like the only way that would possibly get anywhere is to make clear conjectures and describe them as bluntly as possible, so that key points of disagreement can come to the front. I want to provide arguments for the propositions, but I want to direct efforts to do that towards where it matters most, so I'm hoping to home in on key points. I'm not hoping to dispel your confusions just by stating some position, I'm hoping to clarify your position in contrast to points I'm stating. My psychoanalyses are rude in some sense, and I want to hold them very lightly; I do at least put uncertainty-words on them (e.g. "I perceive this as....") to hopefully indicate that I'm describing not something that I'm permanently confident of, but something that's my current best guess given the data. >You're asserting a lot, but giving me few reasons to take your assertions seriously enough to gain anything from them. > I genuinely disagree with you on the fundamental importance of happiness I described a view of what happiness is, and the implication of that view that happiness isn't a terminal value. I don't think you responded to that, except to say that you disagreed with the implication, and that you have a different definition of value, which is "making the world better". Maybe it would help if you expanded more on your disagreement? Did my argument make sense, or is there something to clarify? The reason this seems important to me is that upthread you said: >Not a literal third party, but I do try to think about ethical questions from the perspective of a hypothetical impartial observer. (With my fundamental values, though; so if it's anyone, it's basically me behind a veil of ignorance.) Basica
Hope and False Hope

How do you define it

It's context-dependent, but if we're still talking about the bit where I said my "fundamental values" include "happiness is good", I meant that I think increasing the amount of happiness and reducing the amount of suffering in the world makes the world better. (edit: And not instrumentally, i.e. because of something else that suffering and happiness lead to -- the point is that to me, happiness and suffering are the ground-level things that matter; other things become instrumentally important by virtue of promoting happiness and reducin... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3moI'm saying that it seems to be a useful concept, the concept of "the aims that an agent continues to pursue (across, say, learning new information, inventing new strategies, changing its conceptual vocabulary)". That's what I'd call values. You wrote that you have an "impartial observer" who shares "fundamental values" with you. I didn't believe you that the impartial observer shares values with you, because it doesn't try to recommend actions that would bring about what your "real person" would want: in your words, "I instinctively want to continue to live, and I definitely want the people I care about to continue to live". Here the "impartial observer" is using the word "instinctively" as a derogatory word, turning the aim of the "real person" into a mere "feeling of desire", rather than a "fundamental value". That is, the "impartial observer" pretends that your "instincts" are aimed merely at feelings, as in "take the sting out of my and my loved ones' deaths", as if the point of cryonics is merely to avoid the unpleasant thought of them dying rather than a person you love never living more and their shell rotting in the ground. Your "impartial observer" then explicitly declared that it would not attempt to facilitate the "real person" with expanding its desires across new information, strategies, and ideas, and would treat them as mere inconveniences that might meaninglessly show up in place or another: "...desires aren't naturally present, I [[observer]] don't see why I [[observer]] should push myself [["real person"]] to try to create them or override their absence" "...these instincts kick in with respect to cryonics..." "...the fact that it is weird enough not to map easily onto anything I instinctively recognise as 'survival'..." I perceive this as a self-destructive conflict, and I wanted to explore and make precise what you meant by "the values that my 'impartial observer' shares with me", because that seems like part of the conflict. >I meant t
Hope and False Hope

It sounds like you said here that "happiness is good" is one of your "fundamental values". Maybe this doesn't respond to what you mean, but what I'm saying is that it's almost a type error to say "this quality of conscious experience is what I'm trying to make happen in the world". The quality of conscious experience you're talking about is a derivative aspect, like a component or a side effect, of a process of your mind learning to understand and affect the world to get what it wants. So I can see how it's confusing: if you want X, and whenever you get X

... (read more)
1TekhneMakre3mo> don't define 'what I value' as 'what I am actually trying to bring about', though How do you define it, and why do you care about that definition?
Hope and False Hope

Aren't we on LW to discuss difficult important questions?

You're welcome to make the arguments! I'm just trying to be honest here, that I think we're extremely unlikely to change each other's minds at that level. (IME, productive discussion on purely moral/evaluative questions is quite rare, and usually requires some common ground at a lower level.)

Do you think you see why someone might call it a type error to think that happiness is what we "want" or "value"?

If you're saying I'm the one making that error, I think I failed to get across my position. I don't... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo> I don't think happiness is necessarily what we want or value -- i was using the word to refer to a certain quality of conscious experience, basically the opposite of suffering. You wrote above: >What I consider my 'fundamental values' are pretty few: suffering is bad, happiness is good, and some sort of commitment to equality, such that a set of experiences don't matter more or less because of who is having them. Those are the values that my 'impartial observer' shares with me; It sounds like you said here that "happiness is good" is one of your "fundamental values". Maybe this doesn't respond to what you mean, but what I'm saying is that it's almost a type error to say "this quality of conscious experience is what I'm trying to make happen in the world". The quality of conscious experience you're talking about is a derivative aspect, like a component or a side effect, of a process of your mind learning to understand and affect the world to get what it wants. So I can see how it's confusing: if you want X, and whenever you get X you're happy, then saying "what I'm trying to get is being happy, and X is a subgoal of that" almost captures all of the X that you want. But it's backwards, if you see what I mean; you're happy because you got what you wanted, it's not that you wanted to be happy. If you optimized medium-strongly for that, you'd become a heroin addict or similar. If you optimized normal-strongly, you'd self deceive about unpleasant stuff, as people do. If you optimized for what you actually want, you'd be happy (or at least happier) in a wholesome way (the opposite of the unwholesome happiness of heroin). >Aren't we on LW to discuss difficult important questions? >You're welcome to make the arguments! Ok. It's not just arguments, but also more generally communicating provocations towards reevaluating things (for example, poetry might be not at all an argument but might evoke something which then usefully transform once evoked, in a way that usefull
Hope and False Hope

If we agreed on the probability of each possible outcome of cryonic preservation, but disagreed on whether the risk was worth it, how would we go about trying to convince the other they were wrong?

1TekhneMakre3moThe point isn't to convince each other, the point is to find places where one or the other has true and useful information and ideas that the other doesn't have.
1TekhneMakre3moThe point of my post is that the probabilities themselves depend on whether we consider the risk worth it. To say it another way, which flattens some of the phenomenology I'm trying to do but might get the point across, I'm saying it's a coordination problem, and computing beliefs in a CDT way is failing to get the benefits of participating fully in the possibilities of the coordination problem. edit: Like, if everyone thought is was worth it, then it would be executed well (maybe), so the probability would be much higher, so it is worth it. A "self-fulfilling prophecy", from a CDT perspective.
Hope and False Hope

There's just no way we're going to agree on the really fundamental stuff; your first-paragraph assertions are as unconvincing to me as I'm sure mine are to you.

This sounds like you've reached a "compromise" that entails basically not trying too hard to do anything. This seems very likely to be undesirable from either the "ethical" perspective or the "real person" perspective.

I've accepted that I'm imperfect with respect to my ethical system. I don't know how you got from there to the assumption that I'm 'not trying too hard to do anything'.

Do you think you... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>There's just no way we're going to agree on the really fundamental stuff; your first-paragraph assertions are as unconvincing to me as I'm sure mine are to you. Aren't we on LW to discuss difficult important questions? Do you think you see why someone might call it a type error to think that happiness is what we "want" or "value"? I could expand on that point and that might help. >I've accepted that I'm imperfect with respect to my ethical system. I don't know how you got from there to the assumption that I'm 'not trying too hard to do anything'. I don't want to talk with you as if I'm speaking on behalf of an ethical coalition that's external to you. I want to present ideas to you that your inside view can consider and extract translated ideas that are true and useful by its own judgement. I'm saying that conflicts between your "ethics" and your "real person" should be interesting as points of potential greater understanding, but it sounds like you're throwing away those opportunities. >these are encompassed in my ethical considerations -- I still matter from that perspective, just not disproportionately much But the way you speak makes it sounds like your ethics consider the "feelings of desire" of your "real person" to be purely moral patiency, without moral agency; your "real person" can suffer like a tortured animal, but can't creatively elaborate desire into an open-ended exploration of possibilities that takes ideas into itself, like a free agent. >or reasons that your desire takes up and makes part of itself? >I don't think I know what this means. It means that desire isn't a feeling, it's just the most noticeable aspect of an agent. Agents can incorporate new information and ideas, and hence become more strategic (including more in accordance with ethical behavior).
Hope and False Hope

It's an interesting one -- I think people differ hugely in terms of both how they weigh (actual or potential) happiness against suffering, and how much they care about prolonging life per se. I'm pretty sure I've seen people on LW and/or SSC say they would prefer to intensely suffer forever than to die, whereas I am very much on the opposite side of that question. I'm also unusually conservative when it comes to trading off suffering against happiness.

I don't know how much this comes down to differing in-the-moment experiences (some people tend to exp... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3moIt's an intellectual disagreement in the sense that it's part of a false lack of Hope, and if that isn't being corrected by local gradients I don't see what other recourse there is besides reason.
Hope and False Hope

I think there's some confusion between us -- why do you say "they don't recommend taking actions that would lead to things you want"?

edit: actually, I think I know roughly what you mean -- hang on and I'll edit this into a proper response.

 

What I consider my 'fundamental values' are pretty few: suffering is bad, happiness is good, and some sort of commitment to equality, such that a set of experiences don't matter more or less because of who is having them. Those are the values that my 'impartial observer' shares with me; if we're using the veil of ig... (read more)

1TekhneMakre3mo>suffering is bad, happiness is good Suffering isn't bad and happiness isn't good. Suffering without motion is bad, and suffering with motion is good (I'm not just saying the suffering is worth it, I'm saying the suffering itself is good, it's the raising and working out of conflicts that need to be worked out (it would have been better to avoid the conflict in the first place, but the suffering isn't the point)). Happiness is something that sometimes happens when you and the world are on the way towards good things. You've flattened your actual values, which really refer to and relate with the world, into mere states of mind (which previously were derivative aspects of your values). If you were really as you described, you'd become a suicidal heroin abuser. >When I'm thinking about an ethical question, I try to adopt the impartial perspective; then, in guiding my real-world actions, my view of what is ethical will be integrated with everything else that affects my behaviour, and some sort of compromise will be reached. This sounds like you've reached a "compromise" that entails basically not trying too hard to do anything. This seems very likely to be undesirable from either the "ethical" perspective or the "real person" perspective. >if I don't feel any desire to do it, and I don't see any ethical reason to do it, what's the problem with not doing it? You list (1) feelings of desire, and (2) ethical reasons. But what about reasons to desire, or reasons that your desire takes up and makes part of itself?
Hope and False Hope

Not a literal third party, but I do try to think about ethical questions from the perspective of a hypothetical impartial observer. (With my fundamental values, though; so if it's anyone, it's basically me behind a veil of ignorance.)

1TekhneMakre3moIn what sense do they have your values if they don't recommend taking actions that would lead to things you want?
Hope and False Hope

I'm not sure if you'd count me as having "really considered" cryonics; I've genuinely thought about the topic, but I've never been tempted to take any steps toward signing up, or researching it in depth. Here are a couple of reasons:

  • Failure (or 'success' with caveats) needn't merely leave me with the default outcome (nothingness) -- some of the conceivable failure modes are horrifying. I don't want to go into detail, but there's the potential for a lot of suffering.
  • I'm instinctively biased toward myself and the preservation of my own life, but I don't thin
... (read more)
1TekhneMakre3mo>Failure (or 'success' with caveats) needn't merely leave me with the default outcome (nothingness) -- some of the conceivable failure modes are horrifying. I don't want to go into detail, but there's the potential for a lot of suffering. (This, by the way, does seem like both a potentially solid reason to not want cryopreservation, and also might describe a cryptic motive of people who haven't thought about this as much as you have, which I gestured at by "afraid of future justice".)
1TekhneMakre3mo>I'm instinctively biased toward myself and the preservation of my own life, but I don't think I particularly ought to be. >I see no reason to try to override my natural tendency to do nothing. >but where those desires aren't naturally present, I don't see why I should push myself to try to create them or override their absence. To me this sounds like you're speaking from the perspective of a third party, asking what tslarm should do. Is that right? Do you know who the third party is?
Covid 7/29: You Play to Win the Game

That explanation is incompatible with the finding that TTS is an order of magnitude less common after the second dose than after the first. (see e.g. https://mvec.mcri.edu.au/references/thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome/)

It would also require our authorities to be complete idiots, beyond the level of incompetence one could reasonably expect. Unless it has literally been paid off by Pfizer, the Australian government does not have an interest in spreading FUD about AZ; quite the opposite, because our vaccine rollout strategy relied quite heavily on A... (read more)

Covid 7/29: You Play to Win the Game

Have you looked seriously into the blood clot question? I may have missed a more detailed account of your position, but my perception over the past several months has been that you're conflating 'this is not worth worrying about in the present context' with 'this is not a real effect', and that you may have justified grounds for the first claim and not for the second. 

The distinction is relevant to me, an Australian who has to choose between AZ now and Pfizer soon, and whose current risk of catching Covid is extremely low. TTS is just one consideratio... (read more)

1Kenny4moMy understanding is that the larger point, apart from any comparison between the AZ and Pfizer vaccines, is the "blood clot question" seemed to ignore the general population baseline. I interpreted Zvi's point about the new study as being evidence that there's no extra risk from the vaccines above the baseline risk.
4thjread4moVery much agree with this - we have adverse event data from tens of millions of vaccinations, so it seems odd to suddenly ignore that on the basis of this study (doesn't look at deaths as far as I can see, and only looks at ~400,000 AZ vaccinations, mostly in people aged over 60).
Ranked Choice Voting is Arbitrarily Bad
  • 33% of voters prefer Alice > Carol >  Bob > Dave
  • 33% of voters prefer Bob > Carol > Dave > Alice
  • 33% of voters prefer Dave > Carol > Alice > Bob

Leading to a victory for Carol, even though she was universally despised.

In the Australian system (which is the one I'm familiar with) Carol would lose this election. She has the fewest (in this case 0) first-preference votes, so she is the first candidate eliminated.

Yeah, I think ranked-choice voting almost always refers to [instant-runoff voting](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting), which would indeed eliminate Carol first here. So I think the post is just wrong with that example.

A real example of a questionable RCV outcome was the [2009 Burlington, VT mayoral election](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting#2009_Burlington_mayoral_election), where the Democrat would have beaten either the Progressive or the Republican head-to-head but had fewer first-choice votes than either, leading to a Progressive victory over the Republican in the final round. This seems bad but not arbitrarily bad—the winner wasn't universally despised or anything.

Defending the non-central fallacy

I think the badness of the fallacy (or 'fallacy') depends on the surrounding context.

If, in a one-way communication, someone presents 'X is an A' as if nothing more needs to be said, that's bad. Or if they're engaged in a conversation but they present it as some kind of unanswerable knockdown argument and refuse to discuss it, ditto. (Especially so if they're using it to smear the other side in the eyes of onlookers.)

But if it's a proper conversation and they are engaging in good faith, it's fine; the next step in the discussion can be to tease out which f... (read more)

Suspected reason that kids usually hate vegetables

Personally I like them boiled, but it makes a big difference if you avoid overcooking them (especially important for things like broccoli), and only use a small amount of water so you can boil it right down rather than having to strain it away. I suspect this is worthwhile nutritionally, too.

(If you add more water than necessary, you can strain it out and drink it. With the right mix of vegetables, and provided it's not overly dilute, you've just made yourself a nice vegetable soup. I like doing this, but it's probably not so appealing to a child's palate.)

Judging Our April 2020 Covid-19 Predictions

I'm confused. In theory, $50k currently invested in VTI could also go to any of those values.

Yeah, I could do with more explanation here too. I see that 'EMH implies 50-50 odds' is clearly false, and not only because of the risk premium. And I see why bitcoin could be a great buy with a 50% chance of outperforming the stock market. But I don't see why it obviously would be.

It definitely seems more volatile, but why couldn't a sensible person judge that it is:

  • much more likely than the stock market to crater to ~0
  • more likely than the stock market to ri
... (read more)
The feeling of breaking an Overton window

I didn't downvote, but I think it's unclear what your proposed responses are supposed to achieve.

The first and fourth include a lie, the second and fifth come across as abrasively sarcastic, and the third seems passive-aggressive (are you implying that the unworried don't have loved ones, or that they're shirking their responsibility to them?).

If you're willing to lie, there are smoother options; if you want to tell the truth, why not do it in a nicer way, and leave an opening for the cashier to learn from your reasoning if they're interested?

Maybe 2,3, an... (read more)

Bet On Biden

If it's that obvious, though, why does it persist? Elections might not be frequent enough to bankrupt the sources of dumb money, but why have the pros not eaten it up by now? Even if there aren't that many of them, and despite their skills they're not very rich yet, why haven't the people who do have enough capital to bring the markets back to their senses got involved?

3Liam Donovan1yThat's a good question; I assume it's because they don't have enough domain expertise to make a confident judgement about the market, and they have more valuable things to do with their time than acquire that expertise.
Bet On Biden

The arguments here have convinced me to bet some money on Biden

Which ones convinced you? I still haven't seen a serious explanation for why everyone is apparently leaving so much expected value on the table. It seems to me that the market is big enough to be worth the attention of serious people, but not so big that it would take a huge number of them to snap up all the 'dumb money' and push the odds somewhere reasonable.

3ShardPhoenix1yThe main factors were Nate Silver's record of good calibration, and (alleged) "smart money" successful bettors (including local Zvi) being onto it. I'm still uncertain why the market could be so inefficient in this case, so I'm not betting a lot of money, but it's possible that institutional factors prevent large amounts of smart capital coming in - perhaps directly betting on the election is still too weird for a large investment firm.
Bet On Biden

At least a couple of people have downvoted this without replying. One of the things I usually like about LW and similar spaces is that good-faith comments get a reply, not just a silent dismissal.

I get that the comment is not exactly punchy or brilliantly written, but I was trying to do the right thing and explain some of my own assumptions, rather than write the equivalent of 'wat?' and leave deluks917 to do all the work of bridging our communication gap.

2deluks9171yhttps://www.lesswrong.com/posts/y8RWtNBiksbSzm9j4/bet-on-biden?commentId=ENYJswSZy2DgrntEh [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/y8RWtNBiksbSzm9j4/bet-on-biden?commentId=ENYJswSZy2DgrntEh] seems like an ok guess. I have a much higher confidence in this being a good bet than in any particular theory of why people are betting on Trump.
Bet On Biden

Can you elaborate? I'm not sure what the point of disagreement is here.

For a big market like this, on an exchange like Betfair, my rough mental model is that there is a combination of recreational/compulsive gamblers, more serious professional/wannabe professional gamblers, and (given that the US election captures the attention of a great portion of the world) people who don't bet for a living but will keep an eye on the market and take any obviously profitable bets on offer.

So a lot of the bets that get matched will be between unserious players (who eithe... (read more)

4tslarm1yAt least a couple of people have downvoted this without replying. One of the things I usually like about LW and similar spaces is that good-faith comments get a reply, not just a silent dismissal. I get that the comment is not exactly punchy or brilliantly written, but I was trying to do the right thing and explain some of my own assumptions, rather than write the equivalent of 'wat?' and leave deluks917 to do all the work of bridging our communication gap.
Bet On Biden

My argument doesn't require the EMH to be true in any strong sense, just true enough that you can't beat a big, liquid market by a large margin via easy analysis of very public information. Predictit's price is similar to Betfair's -- in fact Betfair is currently slightly less favourable to Biden -- and presumably won't diverge too far in either direction due to arbitrage. Betfair has matched about $180 million on its 'next US President' market. Of course a lot of its users are wild gamblers, but it is big enough to attract serious professionals (and smart opportunists with plenty of capital) too.

Bet On Biden

Yeah, I think the OP's argument requires a good explanation of why the markets have failed to adequately price in Silver's prediction. I'm not saying markets are always right and impossible to beat no matter what, but the EMH is a pretty good default starting point, requiring strong evidence to overcome in any specific case. 'I trust this guy's public prediction, based on equally public information about his methods and track record' doesn't seem nearly enough.

4Rafael Harth1yI've been told that the election is considered a massive and rare opportunity among professional gamblers, which that person thought was the 'smart money'.
-1deluks9171yAnyone who thinks that betting market prices are rational will not bet on them. Why would you tie up your capital (even for a few weeks) and pay fees if the prices are fair?

The efficient market hypothesis is  an overrated and dubious hypothesis when applied to the stock market (a market which could plausibly have the necessary conditions for EMH to be reasonable), betting market's like predictit though are nothing like the stock market and significantly more inefficient. The necessary conditions for a market to be efficient require the market to be heavily/majority used by profit maximizing investors and this just isn't the case for most gambling markets. 

In general betting on a gambling market is a much worse idea ... (read more)

Covid 10/8: October Surprise

Yeah, I wouldn't expect any change unless my reaction turns out to be common.

As for what to do, personally I am fine with uncensored swearing (which I would prefer to asterisked swearing, which in turn I would prefer to word substitution). But I also think you're a good enough writer to convey the same emphasis or emotion without any swearing or substitutions.

Puzzle Games

I think you might like SpaceChem, by Zachtronics. It fits into your Technical + Efficiency categories. It's superficially chemistry-themed, but effectively a programming game with physical constraints (i.e. the need to fit everything into a finite 2D grid and avoid unwanted collisions) contributing to the challenge. It's generally considered difficult, to the point that Zachtronics regretted making it so hard to beat. It can't be that hard, because I beat it, but it was a very satisfying challenge.

It violates No Time Elements, but only in the final puzzl

... (read more)
Covid 10/8: October Surprise

Thank you very much for continuing to do these. 

This is a trivial and potentially annoying critique, but I've held back from making it a few times, so I'll just say it in case it's a useful data point: I find the self-censored swearing (e.g. 'forking') quite offputting. Sometimes it's momentarily confusing (what is a 'forking mask', I don't think I've heard of those before?), often just jarring. I like your writing style but when I hit one of the self-censored passages I always cringe a little. (Aside from the occasional confusion, I don't have an objective argument against it; it just rubs me the wrong way and seems unnecessary. )

4Zvi1yOthers can let me know if this is common, and what I should do instead of it is. F***? Just don't censor at all? Skip word entirely?
Rationality Quotes September 2014

It might be possible (and useful) to design an ethics curriculum that helps students to think more clearly about their own views, though, without giving their teachers much of an excuse to preach.

The Correct Contrarian Cluster

I don't think it's as simple as 'agreement = competent; disagreement = incompetent', for at least a couple of reasons.

First, when judging the credibility of a source, their views on a given issue will be weighted according to the confidence with which they're expressed (i.e. the source's level of claimed expertise in that area). Second, disagreement will have more weight the closer the matter is to being one of settled objective fact.

I'm by no means an expert on the philosophy of mathematics, but I imagine that at the very least it's an area in which tho... (read more)

3Azathoth1237yWell near as I can tell >90% of mathematicians are Platonists.
Causal decision theory is unsatisfactory

I don't think you've misunderstood; in fact I share your position.

Do you also reject compatibilist accounts of free will? I think the basic point at issue here is whether or not a fully determined action can be genuinely 'chosen', any more than the past events that determine it.

The set of assumptions that undermines CDT also ensures that the decision process is nothing more than the deterministic consequence (give or take some irrelevant randomness) of an earlier state of the world + physical law. The 'agent' is a fully determined cog in a causally closed... (read more)

1dankane7yI think some that favor CDT would claim that you are are phrasing the counterfactual incorrectly. You are phrasing the situation as "you are playing against a copy of yourself" rather than "you are playing against an agent running code X (which just happens to be the same as yours) and thinks you are also running code X". If X=CDT, then TDT and CDT each achieve the result DD. If X=TDT, then TDT achieves CC, but CDT achieves DC. In other words TDT does beat CDT in the self matchup. But one could argue that self matchup against TDT and self matchup against CDT are different scenarios, and thus should not be compared.
3[anonymous]7yDecision theories are algorithms. Free will really doesn't have much to do with them. A deterministic agent must still actually use some algorithm or another to map from sensory inputs and learned knowledge to effector outputs.
2Anders_H7yThank you - this is exactly the point that I was trying to make, just stated much more articulately. I too would much appreciate responses to this, it would help me resolve some deep confusion about why very smart LessWrongers disagree with me about something important.
Why I Am Not a Rationalist, or, why several of my friends warned me that this is a cult

I interpreted "the best (funded) PhD program you got into" to mean 'the best PhD program that offered you a funded place', rather than 'the best-funded PhD program that offered you a place'. So Algernoq's advice need not conflict with yours, unless he did mean 'best' in a very narrow sense.

Stranger Than History

Note: I honestly have no idea about the relationship between race and intelligence, so I deliberately set aside the question of who, if anyone, would have the higher prior in the Obama-Bush comparison. These aren't politically correct weasel words; I would have a hard time properly defining intelligence, let alone measuring it in a culturally neutral way, but if I do see good evidence for a racial intelligence gap then I will readily accept it. All of this is beside the point of the dispute between TheAncientGreek and Eugine_Nier, though, for the reasons I gave above.

0[anonymous]8yIt's statements like this which make me extremely skeptical of the idea that human rationality has increased over the last 100 years.
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