All of Vamair0's Comments + Replies

Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1

Rationality is a combination of keeping your map of the world as correct as you can ("epistemic rationality", also known as "science" outside of LW)

I'm not sure that's what people usually mean by science. And most of the questions we're concerned about in our lives ("am I going to be able to pay the credit in time?") are not usually considered to be scientific ones.

Other than that minor nitpick, I agree.

Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points

If there is a heaven and the killed firstborn went there, then killing them (or anyone else, for that matter) is quite harmless. And killing is wrong for people not because it causes harm, but because God forbids it. It's a strange view, but not an obviously inconsistent one. On the other hand I've always shied away from moral attacks just because the counterargument of "So, God's not benevolent, now what? You still had to worship it for a few decades or you are going to literally burn for eternity" seemed so obvious. Like it seems pointless to argue that Dumbledore is evil when you're trying to prove he never existed.

0CaosSorge5yBut if somebody is willing to admit that their respective bible or holy book lied about their God being benevolent, that should raise the probability that other parts of their book lied as well. Most of all, unlike everything else that it has been pointed out was inaccurate in the bible, that one cannot be explained by saying it was a metaphor. It would be something it could not be denied was either a severe exaggeration or a lie. That starts touching on uncomfortable territory for most theists because they have admitted part of their 'side' is flawed [].
Anti-reductionism as complementary, rather than contradictory

A lossless explanation is reductionist

Isn't that what people mean when they say reductionism is right?

0ImNotAsSmartAsIThinK6yThere are two things you could mean when you say 'reductionism is right'. That reality is reductionist in the "big thing = small thing + small thing" sense, or that reductionist explanations are better by fiat. Reality is probably reductionist. I won't assign perfect certainty, but reductionist reality is simpler than magical reality. As it currently stands, we don't have a complete theory of reality, so the only criteria we can judge theories is that they 1) are accurate, 2) are simple. I am not arguing about the rightness or wrongness of reductionism. Reductionism and contra-reductionism are containers, and they contain certain classes of explanations. Contra-reductionism conatins historical explanations, explaining the state of things by the interactions with outside forces, and reductionism contains predictive explanations, explaining the future behavior in terms of internal forces.
Wrong however unnamed

I think it's not so much a sum of properties as a union of property sets. If a system has a property that's not a part of a union then it's "more than the sum of its components". On the other hand I find the notion of something being "more than the sum of its parts" about as annoying as the frequent ads with "1 + 1 = 3 Buy two and get one for free!" equation. That is, very annoying.

Is Spirituality Irrational?

It seems interesting that a lot of spiritual experiences are something that happens in non-normal situations. To get them people may try denying food or sleep, stay in the same place for a long time without motion, working themselves to exhaustion, eating poisons, going to a place of different atmospheric pressure or do something else they don't normally try to do. The whole process is suspiciously similar to program testing, when you try the program in some situations its creator (evolution in case of humans) haven't "thought" much about. And th... (read more)

My Kind of Moral Responsibility

It is possible to talk about utilitarian culpability, but it's a question of "would blaming/punishing this (kind of) person lead to good results". Like you usually shouldn't blame those who can't change their behavior as a response to blame unless they self-modified themselves to be this way or if them being blameless would motivate others that can... That reminds me of the Eight Short Studies On Excuses, where Yvain has demonstrated an example of such an approach.

My Kind of Moral Responsibility

Isn't the question of someone being a good or a bad person at all a part of virtue ethics? That is, for a utilitarian the results of the bystander's and murderer's actions were the same, and therefore actions were as bad as each other, but that doesn't mean a bystander is as bad as the murderer, because that's not a part of utilitarian framework at all. Should we implement the policy of blaming or punishing them the same way? That's a question for utilitarianism. And the answer is probably "no".

0Gram_Stone6yI've had similar thoughts in the past few days. It does seem that utilitarianism merely prescribes the moral action, without saying anything about the goodness or badness of people. Of course, I've seen self-identifying utilitarians talk about culpability, but they seem to be quickly tacking this on without thinking about it.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

But then the difference in intelligence would be almost completely shared + nonshared environment. And twin studies suggest it's very inheritable. It also seems to be a polygenic trait, so there can be quite a lot of new mutations there that haven't yet reached fixation even if it's strongly selected for.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

Thank you for the explaination.

Sorry, I'm still not getting it. Doesn't matter.

Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

It's ignoring the context that can be described as not going deep enough. My other usual algorithm "if the question seems easy, look for a deeper meaning" is not without its faults either. Btw, what the context of a single question that asks me to describe my opinion of something as I understand the term actually is?

Alright, I got it, I fail critical reading forever. Yet. Growth mindset. What was the real meaning?

2ChristianKl6yPeople in our society differ in how they think about genetic differences. There are people who think that race matters a great deal and other you think it doesn't matter. It's useful to have a metric that distinguishes those people. If you have that metric you can ask interesting questions such as whether people who are well calibrated are more likely to score high on that metric. It's interesting whether the metric changes from year to year. That means the question tries to point at a property that people disagree about. In this case it's whether genetic differences are important. The question doesn't define "important" but there are various right wing people such as neoreocons and red-pill-folks who identify with the term "human biodiversity". The question doesn't try to ask for a specific well-defined belief but points to that cluster of beliefs. It's the same way that the feminism question doesn't point to a well-defined belief. You don't need a well-defined belief to get valuable information from a poll. The question made it into the the survey because I complained about the usage of tribal labels such as liberal/conversative where people have to pick one choice as a way to measure political beliefs. I argued that focusing on agreement on issues is more meaningful and provides better data.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

Not really arguing anything. I'm asking if there is a rational non-meta reason to believe they do "stop at the neck" even if we throw away all the IQ/nations data.

Thanks for the reason I've missed. Are personal traits as important?

1bogus6yOf course there are. The standard argument is that the history of human evolution suggests that increased intelligence and favorable personality traits were strongly selected for, and traits which are strongly selected tend to reach fixation rather quickly.
1Lumifer6yNot to my knowledge. That is a more controversial subject. They are clearly less important than intelligence, but things like time preference (what kind of trade-offs do you make between a smaller reward now and a bigger reward later) or, say, propensity for violence got to be at least somewhat important.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

When trying to understand writing, don't go for the strawman. Try to understand what could be meant.

I try to, but here I could be overcompensating from sometimes "going too deep" with questions like that. If the question was "Do you believe interpopulational genetic differences in mental abilities or character traits are large enough to be a factor in policy making", I'd answer "No" and maybe even "Hell no, for a multinational population". But that seems like a very different question.

1ChristianKl6yI don't think "ignoring the context" is well described as going deep. Part of critical reading is to think about why someone writes what they write instead just trying to focus on the literal meaning of words. It's rather only engaging with the surface.
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

Sure, I would still bet they're going to be statistically significant if we get millions of people into the dataset. They may also have some important consequences in real life (a higher resistance to a specific disease may be important for a person with some usually small probability. A population of million that is more resistant to the disease than it could be is about million times that important). It just shouldn't influence policies much. Though it can make a difference in healthcare... well, no. It actually can influence some policies and economic r... (read more)

6Lumifer6yI am not sure what are you arguing. The fact that there are important genetic differences between populations at the medical level is uncontroversial. The controversial issue is whether these differences, as some people put it, "stop at the neck". Nope, there are apparent reasons. Intelligence of the populations is massively, hugely important, much more so than lactose intolerance or propensity for exotic diseases. See e.g. this [] or this [].
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

The question was: "115. How would you describe your opinion of the idea of "human biodiversity", as you understand the term? No Wiki page available, but essentially it is the belief that there are important genetic differences between human populations and that therefore ideas generally considered racist, such as different races having different average intelligence or personality traits, are in fact scientifically justified".

No matter how we clusterize people into races, unless it's some kind of a good randomization procedure I think... (read more)

5ChristianKl6yScientific debates are never about whether two groups are "exactly equal". The notion that the question is about whether something is "exactly equal" ignores the core about what the debate is about. Important is indeed an important word in the sentence. When trying to understand writing, don't go for the strawman. Try to understand what could be meant. What differences in beliefs in the question about? It's not a hard question if you look at it with genuine interest of understanding it.
1Lumifer6yThere is the unstated but implied "differences which are significant and have important consequences in real life".
Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016

After the survey I've become confused about what it means for HBD to be false. Should any difference between two separated populations be completely environmental? I believe it's an antiprediction to think it's not. I would bet that the "genetic potential" for any complex trait will be slightly different on average between different populations even if we are talking about two neighboring cities. Even if they started out as copies of each other just a few generations ago. I also believe that the differences are small and are mostly irrelevant to any real world problem. If it's HBD, how does a person argue that it's false? And how does someone argue that believing it makes someone a bad person?

6Vaniver6yThis looks to me like you have a fairly good view of what it would look like for HBD to be false. That is, there would be no meaningful biological diversity among humans, and the idea of people with different levels of intelligence would be as outlandish as the idea of people with different number of eyes. I mean, we don't expect that to vary between two neighboring cities, and even though there are some people who have something other than five fingers per hand, that's also something we would expect to only barely vary between cities, and so on.
3Viliam6yI don't know too much about HBD, but I would guess that the most important trait for them is intelligence. And maybe aggressivity, impulse control, ability to cooperate with non-relatives, and this kind of necessary-for-civilization things. (You can ignore other traits, such as eye color or lactose tolerance, they don't make a big difference in modern society. So you'll buy a different box of milk, big deal.) Mathematically speaking, if you could measure something to million decimal places, it is very unlikely that the averages for different populations would be exactly the same. But in real life, a difference of 1 IQ point does not make a huge difference. So the question is whether the differences are large enough to matter in real life. Humanity split from our common origin about 10000 years ago. It seems like enough time to make significant changes; for example, mere 1 IQ point per century could accumulate to a difference of dozens of IQ points below distant populations. On the other hand, humans were already shaped by evolution millenia before they split, so maybe most possibilities of cheaply gaining yet another IQ point were already exhausted before we split. I don't feel certain enough to make a hypothesis either way. So we should solve this question empirically, and then we get into problems -- the old research was unreliable, and the new one is not done for political reasons. So I still feel like the answer could go either way.
4ChristianKl6yI don't think the survey asks that question. Just like it doesn't ask whether feminism or social justice are false. Those are cultural movements that can't simply be understood by boiling issues down to one sentence. The HBD crowd doesn't.
Rationality Quotes April 2016

Improving epistemic rationality, at least. Better thinking through understanding our mind's flaws. I don't think anyone here has a "perfect brain". Maybe it's possible to improve instrumental rationality while having no way to distinguish lies from truth, but it would probably be a random walk.

Rationality Quotes April 2016

There is no way to offer color to a colorblind man, nor is there any way for us to give the man of imperfect brain the canny skill to distinguish a lie from a truth.

There is no point to this "rationality" project anymore, everybody can go home.

0Lumifer6yProject? Which project?
Lesswrong 2016 Survey

I'm always confused by the "spiritual atheist" question, that is, the "spiritual" part. Can anyone who selected this option try to explain what they meant when they selected it?

5Brillyant6yJust define "spiritual" as something other than "supernatural". Life contains aspects of a numinous or sacred quality, even if there is no Absolute, supernatural basis for that quality. I have an affinity for some of the teachings of Buddhism and Christianity. If someone asks me at the bar, I'd say I'm "spiritual, but agnostic and ultimately not religious"...or something like that. In my experience, definitions get tricky when dealing in the atheist/agnostic/ignostic space.
3ChristianKl6yAtheist Buddhists can label themselves that way, but there are a variety of different people.
3taryneast6yI did not select that option, but I know people that identify this way. The sorts of people that do vary considerably, from an atheist who believes in ghosts or spirits, to people that believe that we can have telepathic and/or empathic connections and can achieve this through eg meditation etc. People that believe in "magic as a form of willpower making things change in the real world" consider themselves spiritual, but atheist. etc etc.
Lesswrong 2016 Survey

If you make each house in a city to be more beautiful, no one gets an advantage, but you still get a more beautiful city.

I value diversity, so it would be a loss if all the modified people get similar, but I don't think it's going to happen any more than all the art becoming similar.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

I've taken the survey.

LessWrong 2.0

Generally true, and that's the reason I believe it. As for group coalescence process... I'm thinking about paying lots of attention to newcomers and setting an active chat as well as a dedicated "meeting" time at least once a week when everybody's online to discuss the topic at hand. Sure, any group may add anything they want if they think it helps.

LessWrong 2.0

I believe at least some people here have some stuff they want to do that is not orthogonal with rationality and may be helped by a group effort. Translation of some materials, writing articles, research, programming projects, just discussions of some topics. Then there is going to be a Group Bragging thread, where people can tell how much they have managed to do in a month or so. If the group hasn't bragged for a few months, it's considered dead. That can also give us some new info about group building and maintainance, which seems like a neglected topic here, as well as some data about which groups survive better than the others.

0Lumifer6yThat's generally true for any sufficiently large collection of people. The issue is how do you bootstrap the whole group coalescence process.
LessWrong 2.0

I thought an idea of a greeting party and a closer-tied community sounds good. Maybe something like a number of small teams, so that any newcomer would be taken into one and shown the most valuable stuff, with bonus ability to cooperate on articles or code projects, or research, or wherever the team advantage is. Together with some in-group chat where people may get to know each other better. And, of course, the big free-for-all discussions and articles should stay, so the community would not be divided too much. There should also be less nitpicks at the main articles comments if the articles were already discussed and edited by the group.

0Lumifer6yNot sure how you would create small close-knit teams on the basis of LW, but if you want to head in this direction, multiple subreddits seem to be the way to go.
Joy in the Merely Real

Broom is to an airplane as a motorcycle is to a train. Also, I'd guess a lot of people want their own broom exactly because nobody else has one.

What is your rationalist backstory?

It also seems that I was always thinking like that. But I don't really know if that is really the case or if it's just the way memory works. Anyway, I'm going to tell the things I remember that may be relevant. Everything started with reading. I was taught to read since I was three and I liked it almost immediately. You don't need to ask your parents to read you what was next in the story. That's great! Also, dinosaurs. I really liked dinosaurs and I got quite a few books about them. When I went to the first grade, I've been somewhat familiar with the geo... (read more)

Kant's Multiplication

When you can multiply you don't need this or any other heuristic. You just do that. This method is a method of adding utility using System 1 instead of System 2 thinking, as you don't round small disutilities to other people down to zero. Often if some action gives a good utility calculation in a separate case but doesn't generalize, it may be not a good idea because of small disutilities it creates. And the technique I'm talking about is mostly useful when it's difficult to put a number on the utilities in question. It's similar to collecting all the loss... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (8th thread, July 2015)

Hello. My name is Andrey, I'm a C++ programmer from Russia. I've been lurking here for about three years. As many others I've found this site by link from HPMOR. The biggest reason for joining in the first place was that I believe the community is right about a lot of important things, and the comments of quality that's difficult to find in the bigger Net. I've already finished reading the Sequences and right now I'm interested in ethics and I believe I've got a few ideas to discuss.

For the origin story as a rationalist, as it often happens it's all starte... (read more)

6[anonymous]6yHi there Andrey! I am also a former apologist (aspiring, anyways - teenage girls aren't taken very seriously by theologians). I clung to my faith so hard. It's amazing how much the evidence there is against the classical notion of the supernatural. It's a snowball effect. Every piece stripped away another aspect of my fundamentalism, until I was a socially-liberal Christian. Then, an agnostic theist. Then, an agnostic atheist. I'm also looking forward to getting involved with the community. The high standards for conversation here are intimidating, but it's exciting, too.