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Rationality Quotes Thread December 2015

I'd be even more suspicious of someone telling me that it's not that simple.

Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

One interesting point, not expanded up on, is this:

One writer chalks this concern up to a bunch of “conspiracy theor(ies)”.

Balding dismisses this by citing Premier Li Keqiang, but I think this objection illustrates a deeper problem with the way the phrase "conspiracy theory" is used. It's frequently used to dismiss any suggestion that someone in authority is behaving badly regardless of whether an actual conspiracy would be required.

Let's look at what it would take for Chinese economic data to be bad. The data is gathered by the central gov... (read more)

2Lumifer6yYou misunderstand Balding -- he asserts loudly and explicitly that the Chinese authorities misbehave with respect to statistical data. The conspiracy theories he is talking about are the conspiracies of China-watchers and the point of them would be to sow FUD about the Chinese economic development, presumably after shorting China.
6RichardKennaway6yStamp's Law. Josiah Stamp, 1st Baron Stamp [,_1st_Baron_Stamp]
Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015

Recently moridinamael wrote about diswashers: As a pampered modern person, the worst part of my life is washing dishes. (Or, rinsing dishes and loading the dish washer.) How long before I can buy a robot to automate this for me?

Imagine what it was like before the dishwasher.

0Lumifer6y/goes off to watch Downton Abbey :-P
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Wikipedia for example creates a lot of value with being structured as a network.

Which fails completely when the subject is in any way political or controversial. And by fail completely, I mean produces articles which anti-correlate with reality.

0ChristianKl6yI don't think it fails completely. Failing completely would mean that it's clearly worse than the alternatives. If I have a political question such as what happened at the Paris attacks, Wikipedia provides good answers. Is there a single market driven or hierarchical organisation that you would consider to be completely trustworthy on the topic of Racial bias in criminal news in the United States
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Yeah, part of what I was intending in the scenario would be that everyone realizes that we could make much faster technological advances (At least, that's the theory) if we didn't bother with keeping track of who owes who.

Except you need to keep track of who (or which algorithm if we want to be sufficiently abstract) is doing the most to contribute and being most efficient so that his success can be repeated in other parts of the system.

Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

It's not stable. The problems I mentioned are getting worse.

0WhyAsk6yGood point.
0hg006ySo right after seeing this comment from you, I went to my user page and noticed that a bunch of my comments that were previously at 0 points are now at -1 points--most of which were more than a week old. You've been accused of retributive downvoting in the past, so consider this another incident to add to your rap sheet. To make it more difficult for you to hide your tracks in this, I've taken the liberty of archiving my user page []... the pattern of apparent retributive downvoting is fairly clear & obvious. I'll also be letting the mods know what seems to be going on.
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Informationally equivalent = plays a role in the flow of information within the system that is equivalent to the role of money in the flow of information within economy.

Ok, I don't see how that applied to the examples in question unless you expand the meaning of "equivalent" so broadly that it becomes meaningless.

Estimate the Cost of Immortality

My point is that in the "whole world adopts anarchy" scenario the warlords wouldn't be able to use trucks. Heck, without the NGOs' money they probably wouldn't be able to use trucks.

Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Could you define what you mean by "informationally equivalent"? Merely writing a word in bold all caps does not grant it magical powers.

1Lumifer6yInformationally equivalent = plays a role in the flow of information within the system that is equivalent to the role of money in the flow of information within economy. Surely it does -- it magically made you pay attention to it :-P
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Note that the Somali warlords don't extract or refine gas themselves, they barter for it from better organized nations. Heck, according to the article the vehicles were paid for by misguided foreign NGOs.

4mwengler6yMy vote for most valuable insight applying as much to natural fitness as to economic behavior it is this: The most important part of the environment is the humans and what they are doing. If I and my merry band of 100 or 1000 or even 1000000 or even 1000000000 tribe members are contemplating how we should supply ourselves with food, shelter, weapons, entertainment, & c., we should first, foremost, and with great care look to use what is already developed, invented, and produced by the rest of the world. You were concerned about warlords having trouble extracting or refining oil, but you stumbled upon the reasonable assumption that obviously the Toyotas are going to come from Japan and don't need to be produced by the warlords. Even in the US, about the single most effective source of new cool stuff yet to grace the surface of the earth, we drive Toyotas. And BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, Volvo, Hyundai etc. We get wine, cheese, movies, etc. from everywhere else. In some self-fulfilling sense, we import about as much as we export. Could we go it alone? Sure. We'd probably be about 90% poorer. You can quibble over whether we'd only be 20% poorer or 95% poorer, but if you at all immerse yourself in a study of where stuff comes from, the expense of inventing vs copying, the benefits of mass production and massive specialization, you will absolutely unavoidably get the sign of the effect right.
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

Cells certainly utilize a variety of currencies, mostly energy in various forms.

Energy is a resource, not a currency. Cells don't trade amino acids for energy with each other.

I'm pretty sure an anthill or a termite mound has some feedback systems which control the foraging of ants and termites.

Probably, although we don't fully understand them. Also feedback systems =/= currency.

0Lumifer6yYou're not paying attention. Let me try again: INFORMATIONALLY equivalent. Do you understand what the INFORMATIONAL role of money is? Besides, "resource" and "currency" are not mutually exclusive. Until relatively recently currency (e.g. gold coins) had intrinsic value and so was a "resource".
0[anonymous]6yWhat is an example of 'legitimate abuse'?
0Lumifer6yNote: informationally equivalent. Cells certainly utilize a variety of currencies, mostly energy in various forms. I don't know ants well enough, but I'm pretty sure an anthill or a termite mound has some feedback systems which control the foraging of ants and termites.
2mwengler6yAnts have an economy which is massively simpler than that of monetized humans. It is also massively less adaptable than is a human economy. Their interactions are hardcoded into their DNA, optimized for an environment that has persisted for many 10s of thousands of years without a lot of change because that's as fast as their DNA and natural selection can adapt. Cells also, nonmonetized, have a hardcoded "economy." Human adaptability exists outside this cellular economy. This is why humans who live in cold environments, for example, buy clothes and wear them instead of having grown blubber and/or fur. Ancient humans did not have money. They had much simpler economies with a tiny tiny fraction of the total productivity of monetized humans.
1mwengler6yInteresting hypothesis. But it doesn't align with facts, bummer. [])
Estimate the Cost of Immortality

My interpretation of Xyrik's question was more like "Imagine that by some unspecified magic we have solved that problem, so that everyone willingly pitches in to do their bit. What are the drawbacks then?"

Depends on the nature of the magic. Most of the obvious ones I can think of basically require the destruction of all individuality.

How to Not Lose an Argument

Well, if what you want to accomplish is motivating large groups of people into supporting you and using them to conquer a large empire, you should study what they did and how they did it.

6Lumifer6yNow that you mention it, I actually don't.
Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

A lot of problems that the establishment has been ignoring for decades, e.g., illegal immigration, out of control PC policing, pensions for government employees crowding out other spending, are starting to become critical and the seasoned politicians don't know how to address these problems. In fact they probably can't be addressed without upsetting established interests to whom the seasoned politicians are beholden to.

0WhyAsk6ySo we are locked into a stable, nowhere-near-optimum equilibrium. :(
Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

I wouldn't mind knowing myself. However, I don't think having Satoshi's identity publicly known would be good to bitcoin.

LessWrong 2.0

Seriously, if you're going to go into panic mode every time someone outside the community criticizes it, you'll never accomplish anything.

Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

The smarter you are, the less likely you are to change your mind on certain issues when presented with new information, even when the new information is very clearly, simply, and unambiguously against your point of view.

Also, as George Orwell said "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them".

Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

Actually, since we're genetically engineering anyway, we should be able to combine genetic material from two males or two females (or just clone, of course). And once an artificial womb gets developed you won't need to rent anything, um, living.

If we're assuming artificial wombs are widely used, humanity effectively becomes a eusocial species.

0Lumifer6yI don't know about that. I suspect that at this point things get really interesting and probably really unstable for a while :-/
Open thread, December 7-13, 2015

Consider President Obama who has a very high IQ


2James_Miller6yHarvard Law Review
Maximizing Donations to Effective Charities

I think we can both agree that there is significant likelihood of problems, such as major flooding of low-lying areas, in the next 20-30 years.

This is so nostalgic, this was what the GW alarmists were saying 20 years ago.

2Gleb_Tsipursky6yYou still haven't taken up the bet [] that you said you would
Rationality Quotes Thread December 2015

cheap O-rings in space shuttles

Look at Feynman's analysis. I'd say this is a good example of disproportionate channeling of optimism.

0Good_Burning_Plastic6yYes. My point was that disproportionate channeling of optimism isn't something specific to medicine (let alone to evidence-based medicine). EDIT: Hmm, I guess I originally took "disproportionally" to mean "compared to how much other things channel optimism" whereas it'd make more sense to interpret it as "compared to how much medicine channels pessimism".
LINK: Most of EvoPsych is pseudoscience

If that's your idea of "addressing", I can point you to some creationist sites.

Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare

You exploit the weakness by demanding more concessions. To use an example strait from today's headlines the Christakises' showing of weakness by apologizing was exploited by the BLM thugs putting pressure on her to resign.

Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare

I believe in having a gun for home defense.

1OrphanWilde6yA response which sums up this conversation, and the difference between our strategies, quite well.
LINK: Most of EvoPsych is pseudoscience

"evopsych may get a bad reputation because of racism but that's not evopsych's fault and its proponents should be fighting abuse of evopsych"

Well many critics of EvoPsych accuse perfectly correct parts of EvoPsych of racism because they don't like the conclusions. True, maybe Carrier doesn't do that specifically in this essay, but I think it's only fair to expect critics of EvoPsych to be more involved in publicly combating the nonsense accusations some of the critics make.

3ChristianKl6yAre you aware of the prehistory with Rebecca Watson? In case you aren't Rebecca gave a speech at Skepticon crticizing EvoPsych as being pseudoscience because of bad thoughts being spread online under the banner of EvoPsych (Carrier links to her speech at the beginning). It became clear that Rebecca didn't look into the actual science of EvoPsych. Some people suggested that Rebecca is was playing out the typical anti-science handbook of not engaging with the claims of scientists when critizing a science but engaging stupid claims from people on the internet. Obviously holding an anti-science speech at a Skeptic converence is controversial.
LINK: Most of EvoPsych is pseudoscience

EvoPsych also rarely finds any genetic correlation to a behavior

This is a ridiculous standard. The author presumably has no problem with using evolution to describe non-psycological traits. No one, say, demends we find the "trunk gene" before talking about why elephants evolved trunks.

More problematic still is the rarity of ever even acknowledging the need to rule out accidental (byproduct) explanations of a behavior

It's called Ockham's razor. If a behavior has beneficial (to the individual) effect X, it having evolved for that purpose... (read more)

1ChristianKl6yAre there academic papers that discuss why elephants evolved trunks?
Engineering Religion

Religion serves numerous purposes, some of which have been mentioned already by other commenters. I want to add two others:

1) a mechanism for preserving Intersubjective Truths, that is, truths that it is not possible to re-derive from first principles in a reasonable amount of time.

2) a connection to the spiritual side of life and spiritual experiences.

Also, with so many different purposes it is tempting to design different religions to fill all these roles. I suspect that is harder than it seems. Since whatever fills at least some of these roles will attempt to expand to fill all of them.

1ChristianKl6yIn the real world I don't see that any religion tries to fill the same roles. Christianity doesn't try to expand to fill law-making in the same way that Islam does.
Engineering Religion

A successful religion must serve Moloch, and your designer choice is how much and what exactly are you going to sacrifice first.

Not a bad first approximation, however, let's examine Gnon, or Moloch if you insist on that terminology, a little bit first. Notice that of the four of Gnon's sub-processes all but Cthulhu naturally, if in some cases rather brutally, converge towards making people believe true things or at least having an accurate working model of local reality.

Cthulhu is different, it causes people to engage in signalling completions that may... (read more)

Engineering Religion

The focus of the questions is intended to be on the engineering and social aspects, rather than on a question like "Should Atheism be considered a religion?" I understand that the vagueness makes this a less than perfect delineation of a topic.

Atheism shouldn't be thought of as a (single) religion for the same reason non-apples aren't a (single) type of fruit.

[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

I see you're a fan of the "say something outrageous and when called on it get angry and claim to have said something different" school of debate.

Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare

Rather using a "weakness" in the sense of belonging to an officially approved "victim group" is an advantage. Actually showing weakness in a fight will be exploited even more ruthlessly than before.

-1OrphanWilde6yHow do you "exploit" somebody in a reputational fight, pray tell?
Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare

So this was supposed to be the "surrender to the the dark arts" article?

-1OrphanWilde6yTell me, how would you go about preventing somebody from robbing your house?
Rationality Quotes Thread December 2015

but that's about putting technically unsavvy managers into positions of power over engineers,

Technically unsavy manages who insisted that the engineers tell them what they wanted to hear, i.e., who insisted that they be included in the consensus and then refused to shift their position.

[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

There wasn't a great deal of sympathy for Nazism in the rest of the world

In the 1930s, yes there was. There wasn't much by 1945, but that was because people saw what happened to the Nazis and were basically going "despite appearances to the contrary, we never really liked the Nazis we swear, please don't do that to us".

[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

Then what were you trying to say when you wrote that clause?

3gjm6ySorry, I'm not interested in having a discussion with someone who both (1) wilfully misinterprets what I say, hence requiring lots of clarifications in order to get anywhere, and also (2) downvotes everything I write. Let me know when you're prepared to be reasonable and we can try again. (In the unlikely event that you really truly sincerely think that your question was a reasonable one whose answer ought to be yes given what I'd written, I think it follows that at least one of us is too stupid to be worth engaging with even without your abusive behaviour.)
[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

and the defeat of fascism was not exactly painless and effortless.

And attempting to avoid offending them, as Gleb is arguing for, was obviously counterproductive in retrospect.

Starting University Advice Repository

The correlation studies that lead to defining IQ suggested that there is a single one, or if there multiple, they themselves are strongly correlated with each other.

[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

the sort of leftism Hitler worried about, or the sort neoreactionaries worry about, didn't exist in that form before the 19th century.

So you're arguing not wanting to live under a leftist totalitarian dictatorship with an economy based on a delusional economic theory makes one a fascist?

[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

or the higher-level question of whether and to what extent you can get rid of ideas with bombs.

I never said one could get rid of an idea with bombs. Bombs + boots on the ground, on the other hand.

I think I kinda agree with you about the first, am inclined to disagree about the second

Why the difference? This sounds like a classic near mode/far mode thinking split.

0gjm6yI know what the outcome of WW2 was but not what the outcome of bombing or invading Syria will be. WW2 was a huge affair in which several major nations expended pretty much all the effort they could to beat the Axis powers; it is vanishingly unlikely that anything like as much will be done to ISIS. There wasn't a great deal of sympathy for Nazism in the rest of the world, but there's plenty of Islamic fundamentalism outside ISIS.
3ChristianKl6yEven if you kill all of ISIS that won't destroy fundamentalist Islam. There are enough other sources of that in the middle East.
[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

My apologies for being dim, but I'm not sure what it is you think I'm doing that I shouldn't. What model am I treating what as extrinsic to?

You may want to look at how this thread started.

2gjm6yOK, I looked at that. I'm afraid doing so hasn't answered my question. (It may be worth saying explicitly, though, that my comments here aren't intended to address the question of whether bombing the hell out of Nazi Germany was an effective way of getting rid of Nazism in Germany, or the possibly-analogous question of whether bombing the hell out of ISIS-occupied Syria would be an effective way of getting rid of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist dictatorship in Syria, or the higher-level question of whether and to what extent you can get rid of ideas with bombs. I think I kinda agree with you about the first, am inclined to disagree about the second but would need to see some more joined-up thinking on the subject than seems generally to be on offer before forming strong opinions, and suspect the third is too vague to be able to say anything useful about.)
[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

One element [emphasis mine] of fascism is a desire to restore (alleged) past glories.

Yes, and Hitler ate sugar.

Human biology probably doesn't change much on (merely) historical timescales, but human societies certainly do and human brains are pretty malleable.

Except we're talking about human political philosophies, not individual people. Thus it makes no sense to consider political philosophies and societies as extrinsic to our model.

2gjm6yI am not arguing that everything backward-looking is bad because Hitler was bad. (Though, actually, most of us would do well to eat less sugar.) For that matter, in this thread I haven't been arguing even that Nazism is bad, though as it happens I'm not a fan. Merely observing that there's a considerable overlap between the backward-looking things neoreactionaries advocate and the backward-looking things the Nazis were keen on. And, as it happens, I am quite comfortable saying that in many respects "nearly everyone before the 19th century" had views and attitudes that I dislike and disapprove of; if I make a list of Things I Dislike About Nazism and it turns out that they're mostly also things I dislike about the fifteenth century, my conclusion will be "so much the worse for the fifteenth century". I already know I wouldn't want to live there; I already know that "nearly everyone" in the past was wrong about huge swathes of how-the-world-works stuff that we've discovered since; why should I be discomfited to find their values also meeting with my disapproval? (One possible reason: "That would imply that almost everyone until recently was a Bad Person, but that lots of people now are not Bad People, which would mean a bigger faster change in human nature than is plausible." But people's values aren't in fact mere manifestations of their genes, they also come from the surrounding society, and societies can change quickly. It could be that most people would be (what I would consider) Bad if brought up in one society and (what I would consider) Not So Bad if brought up in a different one.) My apologies for being dim, but I'm not sure what it is you think I'm doing that I shouldn't. What model am I treating what as extrinsic to?
[Link] A rational response to the Paris attacks and ISIS

Anecdotal reports by terrorists is the best data we have available.

Which explains why you ignored all the reports that didn't fit your conclusion, e.g., the ones about how ISIS is planning to conquer Europe and considers this a war. You don't win a war by worrying about not offending the other side.

0[anonymous]6yNo, you really really don't. But this is sort for the record of "future you". Start with (Neyman 1923) and (Rubin 1970). I already had this conversation with gwern who basically eventually noticed that none of the naive causal analysis he was doing actually panned out, and he had to go and start learning all this stuff. But you are not gwern, you are a demagogue, I don't expect you to actually make scientific moves, or update on evidence, or anything. You need your precious causal factor to order people from best to worst.
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