All of WhyAsk's Comments + Replies

Let's say I make six predictions or statements that I believe to be true about someone I've never met and I say the statements taken as a whole are true with P = 0.7. Note that I do not claim to be psychic.

The P of each statement must then lie between 0.7 and 1.0, and if they are equal then the P of each statement is 0.7 ^ (1/6) = 0.94. Let's say 0.9 because I doubt any statement about this type of probability should be reported with two significant figures, and perhaps even one significant figure without an attached tolerance band is a bit of a stretch.... (read more)

I can state with P=.94 (much higher) that you know how to read English. Is that an impossible level of certainty? The real question isn't probability assigned, but prior probability distribution, and evidence. You're on Less Wrong - I've yet to meet somebody on Less Wrong, out of hundreds of conversations, who can't speak English, so I have a prior much higher than .94 starting off. (I don't care to calculate it, since I don't even know the exact sample size, but somewhere in the vicinity of .99) I have evidence that you read and write English, pushing the prior slightly higher. Somebody could throw this statement into a list of several others about any given Less Wrongian without influencing the overall probabilities. It's the relationship of the statements to their prior probabilities that matters.
Everything Lumifer said, plus: P(A), P(B) >= P(A /\ B) and using log-odds allows for some finer psychological control over tiny value of probability (see Jaynes book).
You mean that all the statements are true -- right? You're evaluating "a AND b AND c AND d AND e AND f"? Correct. You are assuming the statements are independent of each other. That's not necessarily so. To take an extreme example, all six statements could be a function of the same single property/event. In such a case the P of each is 0.7 and the P of all of them is still 0.7.

Thanks, I bookmarked that, and will be more specific.

Over two thousand results found. Did you mean a specific one? Could you provide a short summary? Don't get me wrong, the topic is interesting per se, I just don't like the communication in form of google search results. I can't read your mind, and google may filter the results for me, or change the pagerank overnight. You probably wanted to point out a specific link or two, so just post them directly. It would take you less than a minute to do so.
That sort of idea. See the LW wiki for more about how the term has been used around here.

Welcome back.

Can you be specific, without paraphrasing? And no ad hominem, please.

At this point you might as well let the cat all the way out of the bag, if there is a cat to be let out.

Am I in physical danger? If yes, from whom?

BTW, this is about the strangest thread I've ever participated in. I guess it's an opportunity to learn, which is what I hope I'm doing on this forum.

[Edited: Content removed.]

We've gotten derailed.

All we need do is ask O. Wilde what his or her intentions were in those posts.

I was telling you not to say those sorts of things to people, because they reveal more about you than you probably expect they do, and reveal things about yourself you don't want to be advertising.

Note to readers: I never said it was hypothetical.

And, the textbooks written about my personality type say I have a sensitivity to other people's issues.

And, I'm not starting from zero; over the years I've had office mates and others who acted in a similar way and so I know what works.

Strangely, some of these people may actually have wanted my approval or recognition. Very few get that, even those who are well-behaved. I think I know what causes this, but that info is classified - sorry.

They may have spotted ways that we two are similar. Of course,... (read more)

Of course, lots of people have attacked me verbally. But they don't know me closely enough to really know how to insult me. So their worst attacks don't even need a reply: they're hopelessly misfired. I can let them yell as long as they want. The part of me they want to hurt is one they can never reach and will never see. Even with that protection, in my experience it's emotionally exhausting to be constantly expecting attacks from every interaction. If you stop seeing an aggressive intent behind every comment, your life will be much less stressful. People are essentially good, and most of them are too busy going through their own day to bother ruining other people's.
Note to readers: this "hypothetical" scenario was actually this exchange. You're reading too much into just a few words, and you seem overconfident in your ability to divine other people's intentions. Interpreting the above exchange as a "mind game" is ridiculously paranoid.

It's not your call.

Who are you?

It says that I take for fact what people say who study this type of thing.

I suggest that your conduct in this post is offensive.

If that is all it says, you have nothing to be offended about.

Alice should avoid at all costs being drawn onto Bob's turf. There are several ways to avoid this.

I don't know about that. I think Alice should just troll him right back. For example, she might consider more... interesting clothing and better makeup X-)

She didn't provide her reasoning and I was not able to pull up this particular answer to her readers from the Web.

I guess she wants to remove the middleman costs & admin costs from your "donation." And you get direct feedback on "the fruits of your labor". There might also be psych benefits in that you can see your troubles might not be so bad in the big picture view of things.

For the class of people who think their troubles are better than anyone's (e.g., the "inverse pride" of paranoids) I guess I recommend the monetary contribution route.

Am I putting too much stock in Marilyn's high IQ and that women are biologically superior in any case?

This says far more about you than you could possibly imagine. I suggest being more cautious going forward.
In general Argument by Authority is one of those logical fallacies. There are valid ways of citing authorities but on LW, simply saying that an high IQ person holds a certain opinion is no convincing argument.

IIRC, Ms. Vos Savant says don't give money, just go in person to the soup kitchens or whatever and put in your own labor.

Without a link to Vos Savant's argument I don't think this comment is helpful.
Not efficient.

Some people hold on more strongly to their original beliefs if someone tries to convince them otherwise. This might have been in the book "On Being Certain."

I think this kind of persuasion is a lost cause but I am still sometimes drawn into trying, against my better judgement.

Even if you don't convince the non-rationalists you may learn some new mindgames, based on what they throw at you, their wacky justifications for their illogical ideas and their non-sequiturs.

On the other hand, I might just be off on a tangent. :(

Got it. Thanks for your insights. Hopefully I can wisen up and learn abut more, too.

If the person you're persuading makes a swatting motion, it means you're not getting through and your persuadee is annoyed.

Hey WhyAsk, I can see the truth value in your statement, but I'm not quite sure the exact connection to the above posts (?).

A lot of what I was sure of, I'm not any longer. . .:D

Why does my Karma score keep increasing when I don't do anything? It's a disincentive to post. . .?

I think tut has it right: old articles still get some votes. But why is it a disincentive? I'd think it would make you (slightly) more willing to take a risk and post something that might get downvoted, since you don't expect a marginal downvote to matter as much based on your background karma income.
Presumably people read your old comments and upvote them.


The textbooks written about my personality type say I'm "eccentric".

LW should make this unique thread widely known. Many couples facing similar decisions can be helped.

I am sorry for your loss.

EDIT: This association to your post won't leave me alone, so here it is: APACHE II software gives the odds of an adult leaving an ICU alive. Perhaps there is, or will soon be, an intrauterine version of this using blood values & other metrics that can prompt preventive measures early in a pregnancy.

That's one reason I'm here, but in the limited time the mortality tables give me I'd like to find a way to present myself favorably to almost any crowd.

In the past, very few have cheered me on and a more vocal few have fervently hoped I'd fail.

There's no reason you should be a pariah accidentally simply because you have clarified your goals or gotten better at implementing them. One possibility - your estimate of how many people are not friends to you. That sucks, but you can't force another person to be a good person at you. Remember the right way to approach someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet, and apply the same principle to in-person interactions. This is a much harder, and dramatically different goal, from not being a pariah.

Cost of being less wrong: increased cognitive load?

Benefit oblw: longer life expectancy?

Risk oblw: becoming a pariah in most crowds?

I was very inefficient when I was more wrong. Definately lower cognitive load now.
Cost: Not much that I wasn't already doing, less optimally. Benefit: Social group that I can count on to at least TRY to be epistemically honest. Also, openness towards odd people. Risk: Pariah? I'm already considered odd by a lot of people.
Finding a crowd that allows your abilities to bloom is a useful skill as well :)

So in this case it's the Little People against two large orgs and the LP are the enemy of both.

The orgs are above the law and it is in their interest to punish people who don't like them, but they can possibly be embarrassed.

Stay out of it unless you can help anonymously and your odds are good for the risk you are taking; this from a whistleblower.

In this particular case, the answer is that some countries have public financing of political campaigns, which limits the need for candidates to raise funds from deep-pocketed donors...
Well, some coordination problems get solved, and others don't. I think the most common solution to coordination problems is the large organization - governments, corporations, political parties, labor unions, etc., but, of course, they have their own set of issues...

The decision tree for this gets complex even after the split for concealed or open carry.

Also, shot through the heart, a person has about 10 seconds left to act (to return fire, I hope).

given the choice; I'd rather avoid the position of "most likely to get shot first" more than gain the utility of "have 10 seconds in which to shoot back right before I die".

What are then appropriate payoff models for carrying or not carrying, concealed or open?

Thanks, it'll take me some time to digest this link. Can you suggest a better definition and would this anecdote be included or excluded? If excluded, how would you define this odd exchange?

I am not a linguist -- maybe there is a more appropriate label for this thing, but I don't know it. The idea of the link is: you shouldn't say things like "the conclusion seems senseless" but rather "the conclusion doesn't make any sense to person X (but it could make sense to some other person Y)". Otherwise you get the implicit assumption that things make or don't make sense equally to all listeners; that is that "not making sense" is an inherent property of the conclusion, instead of a relation between the conclusion and the listener.

Game Theory (Nalebuff, Avinash) says carrying a gun is a dominant strategy. Does it favor concealed, or open carry? TIA.

simple thought experiment: You are carrying a gun. Someone else decides they want to do something dangerous with a gun. (shoot some people; commit a gun-crime, etc.). They know they are about to become a target because everyone else is usually also self-preserving. They decide to shoot anyone with the means to slow them down. That primarily includes everyone else with a gun; anyone else strong enough to overpower them, and anyone able to alert authorities on them. Who do they shoot first? anyone else with a gun. Likely a not safe position to carry a gun
I only read a synopsis of their book, but it's massively incorrect to take their statements as "game theory says" anything about carrying a gun in the real world. In their incredibly wrong payoff model, gun ownership does dominate. But that payoff model is simply is simply insane.
First big problem is obviously that things are only proven given some starting premises, and in this case those premises are highly questionable. Carrying a gun has plenty of costs that might outweigh the benefits. Obviously it costs money, and peoples' reactions to you may be a cost, but I think the most interesting, and possibly biggest, cost may be the mortal one. Gun accidents are rare but they happen, especially if you're going to be carrying your gun around loaded, so in order to check whether it's worth it to carry a gun, one of the things you might want to estimate is the risk of accidents. Even more interesting to me is the risk that if I become temporarily suicidal, having a gun might increase my probability of suicide, and right now I don't want my future self to commit suicide (unless terminally ill etc.).

Two people were lamenting the state of affairs of the world.

A bystander said, "When I become 'King of the World' I will fix things."

One of the two said, "Can I trust you?"

The bystander said, "Of course not."

The retort was, "In that case, I trust you."

Is this a

par·a·dox/ˈperəˌdäks/ noun

1.    a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.


I think the word "paradox" is ill-defined, because "seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory" is a "2-place word" -- seems X to whom?

Here's a letter to an editor.

"The Dec. 6 Wonkblog excerpt “Millions and millions of guns” [Outlook] included a graph that showed that U.S. residents own 357 million firearms, up from about 240 million (estimated from the graph) in 1995, for an increase of about 48 percent. The article categorically stated that “[m]ore guns means more gun deaths.” How many more gun deaths were there because of this drastic increase in guns? Using data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, total gun murders went from 13,673 in 1995 to 8,454 in 2013 — a decrease in gun dea... (read more)

Besides cognitive biases and logical fallacies, the 20 or so defense mechanisms should be added to the ways people become more wrong. Russell is using rationalization.

So we are locked into a stable, nowhere-near-optimum equilibrium. :(

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

"blaming of victims"

See Lerner's book, The Belief in a Just World. . ." It's really bad when judges have it. Many people have it and they don't know it, hence "delusion."

Having viewed the video, I'm disappointed in the 3rd Earl Russell.

I don't know how to reply to this thread as a whole, so I defaulted to this.

Like the Veiled Statue at Sais, I'm thinking this drama is revealing some truth about the US society and the US government. Some people recoil and want the veil restored, some want to see more and some don't know what to do, but no one is neutral.

What does Game Theory suggest in this situation? Is a tie the best that can be done? I don't think the "have you no decency?" retort will work here.

Also see DSM-IV, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the first choice for any world leader according to Jerrold Post.

It's a rerun.
Game Theory assumes a defined set of players. In politics there are many different players each with different incentives and agenda's. It reveal that the US government is weak. Both the Republican side and the Democratic side with Berny Sanders. We had three presidents from Yale in a row. Then in 2004 two people from the same Yale fraternity running against each other. In 2008 Obama from the university of Chicaco was elected president. With Hilary the presidency might go back to Yale but otherwise there are many people with really different backgrounds. People seem to be fessed up with politics as usual.

Why can't seasoned politicians handle a windbag millionaire?

Is it because he is a caricature of them?

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.
I don't know how to reply to this thread as a whole, so I defaulted to this. Like the Veiled Statue at Sais, I'm thinking this drama is revealing some truth about the US society and the US government. Some people recoil and want the veil restored, some want to see more and some don't know what to do, but no one is neutral. What does Game Theory suggest in this situation? Is a tie the best that can be done? I don't think the "have you no decency?" retort will work here. Also see DSM-IV, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the first choice for any world leader according to Jerrold Post.
Trump is a new problem. It can take time to figure out how to solve a new problem. How were you expecting them to handle him? You're actually asking why they couldn't handle him quickly. He may end up handled in the sense of not getting the nomination. It also seems as though it took Trump's proposal to not let Muslims enter the US to really motivate the Republican heavyweights.
I don't think it makes sense to call Trump a 'windbag millionaire'. Trump is a billionaire because he's good at dealmaking which is a relevant skill for political campaigning. Offensively attacking Fox news and then having Fox news fold is an example of a political move that's likely calculated and no other Republican candidate could have pulled of the same way. Trump and other politicians of this session show that the model of political electioneering that is about polling and then saying whatever polls best isn't the only one that works. Through calling for the US to bomb Daesh's oil industry Trump already achieved concrete policy changes of US policy. Trump isn't stupid or uncalculated even when his public persona gives the impression that he's uncalculated.
Because a lot of people are tired of and disillusioned with seasoned politicians who they see as windbags on their way to becoming millionaires. The usual explanation for Trump is that it's a Rage Against the Machine thing.

If you're really ambitious, solve the problem of so men and women (which is cross-cultural communication) can communicate unambiguously.

I've read both of D. Tannen's books on thIs and I still get sucked into traps but at least I know now that women are most likely not playing Bait and Switch with me.

Dunno' if women on this site have a problem with this since this site is not a random sample.

BTW, by reading some of my own posts, I'd think tha... (read more)

That's been my experience, and any questions about "How much more is this going to cost me?" are not received well.

Almost every lawyer I've hired or dealt with gave me almost nothing for my money. And good luck trying to get a bad lawyer disbarred.

What I should probably do is solicit bids for a particular legal problem.

Your post reminds me of something.

If there is a huge disparity of power between the lawyer and you, Game Theory kind of "goes out the window".


The fact that I have never hired a lawyer may be a factor in my difficulty imagining a scenario where your lawyer turns into your opponent in a power struggle; I see it more likely to happen between you and your opponent's lawyer. High-profile lawyers with a lot of power don't tend to be hired by ordinary people with little power. In any case, it is in your lawyer's interests that your interests get served. Besides, what you could lose in the worst scenario is that one lawsuit (and possibly money and/or jail time); what your lawyer has to lose in the worst scenario is reputation, future clients, and the legal ability to practice law.

Any US lawyers here?

A woman who once worked in a law office told me that clients come and go (she used the word e·phem·er·al) so the real allegiance for a lawyer is to other lawyers. Because they will see them again and again.

And Game Theory has something to say about how to treat a person that you are not likely to see again.

Please, folks, do not ask me to justify this "hearsay". I found her credible, so please take this woman's word as gospel, as an axiom, and go from there.

Please confirm, deny, explain or comment on her statement.


A "person that you are not likely to see again" is not a complete description of a lawyer's client; it's missing the part where "this person pays me for my services so I need many of this person in order to make a living."
You're welcome. (In the light of discussion elsewhere in the thread, I should maybe say explicitly that the first part of what I wrote was not intended to be any kind of suggestion that you go away.)

Is there a button somewhere on this site that allows me to ignore certain posters?


The close button on your web browser window will allow you to ignore all posters, but otherwise no; LW has no filtering/blocking features.

Considering castration seems to indicate that you believe you are the monster, under the bed or wherever.

This may be a reasonable viewpoint for you or for others, or you may view sexual urges of any kind as deviant.

Get other opinions. For the outlying opinions, visit Provincetown, MA [either in person or virtually].

Good luck with what you are struggling with.

I don't think that he wanted to be castrated for the sake of other people, but for his own sake. Maybe the "urges" are distracting and useless. I sympathize, but castration has too big side effects for me to use it.
It's a New England touristy small town :-/ Even the Castro district in San Fran would offer better "outlying opinions" :-D
You would do better to engage and consider seriously the possibility that you might be missing something. It looks to me as if either (1) you are taking pop evo-psych as literal unquestionable fact, in which case you're making a mistake, or (2) you are deliberately being inexact and handwavy while others take you literally, in which case they're making a mistake but you can correct it and move on. If #1, then I think Lumifer's objections really should be sufficient to make you reconsider. It demonstrably isn't the case that men devote their lives to maximizing offspring, still less to maximizing the number of different women they impregnate; similarly for women and maximizing the quality of their offspring. So any set of ideas that leads you to say they do must be wrong. If #2 -- e.g., if what you really mean is something like "there are evolutionary pressures pushing us toward maximizing offspring number for men and offspring quality for women, and maximizing these things is very different from thinking rationally and may sometimes be impaired by it, so we shouldn't expect our brains to be well optimized for rational thinking" then I think you will find that (as well as getting a better reception here) you will think about this stuff more clearly if you're more explicit and careful about what you're claiming. E.g., it seems like rational thinking could be a useful tool for maximizing offspring number/quality so it's not at all clear that being optimized for offspring has to be an obstacle to thinking rationally; there's some pressure for men to optimize quality and women to optimize number too, which maybe makes some difference; there are such things as kin selection and (in special circumstances, whose rareness is disputed) group selection, and these can help genes to prosper even if their direct effect on offspring is negative; etc., etc., etc.; it's easier to assess the impact of considerations like these on your argument if your argument is more precise and
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