All of Zubon's Comments + Replies

And then I scroll down and find this, the perfect example of your question about books that can be initially amazing but not great upon re-read or reflection. If you are not familiar with the ideas in GEB, it can be an amazing introduction that opens new horizons. Or it can be too clever for its own good, getting in the way of delivering its own content.

Frequently to both.

For fiction that I re-read and find it not as good the second time, I suspect the newness of it was the driving force in my initial assessment. Permutation City was life-changing for me, but going back after having more transhumanism in my diet, I don't know that it is even my favorite Greg Egan book.

There are other times where I have that feeling without even needing to re-read. "Upon reflection, I enjoyed that a lot at the time, but there is not a lot of there there."

You should be very surprised if you think you have found a new counterexample to a centuries-old discipline that comes from a millennia-old example. Odds are there is an existing literature addressing exactly that question.

I concur on "do what I want" as the distinction. Magic is teleological: it produces a certain effect, whereas science is about the cause. Magic "just works." You do not need to know how the magic words produce light or fire, they just do. The great usual magical dream is about having massive power under your control, not whether you are the direct cause. Wishes are the archetypal example. You wish for something and it happens. Done. A genie is neither you nor a tool you control, just a massive source of power bound to your wishes.

Magica... (read more)

And the direction of the error was known and stated in advance by informed interpreters (538). A fair number of Trump voters would not have been considered "likely" voters based on past non-voting, and that was a systematic bias in the polling estimate rather than something that would affect a few states independently. Pollsters tended to stick with their "likely" filter rather than change it on the assumption that these voters would turn out and vote. They turned out and voted.

I seem to recall seeing Trump doing better in polls of regi... (read more)

Between Halls B and E, nearish giant Pikachu

Setting up at the blue Fantasy Flight tables, by the X-Wing Miniatures banner, in front of the HQ table, just before the banner showing the switch to Asmodee.

0Zubon8y
Between Halls B and E, nearish giant Pikachu

If you have spotted a good/better location at the con, suggestions are still open. Otherwise, I will be updating on-site when I arrive on Saturday.

Default location is in the card game area, specific location to be found at the time (and then posted here). There are always open tables. I would plan on near-ish the exhibit hall exit, but I have not seen how the layout may have changed this year.

There is also the official open gaming space, but that is $4/person.

We could also take discussion to a restaurant, or start at the Convention Center and wander off for food if we run that long.

0Zubon8y
Setting up at the blue Fantasy Flight tables, by the X-Wing Miniatures banner, in front of the HQ table, just before the banner showing the switch to Asmodee.
0Zubon8y
If you have spotted a good/better location at the con, suggestions are still open. Otherwise, I will be updating on-site when I arrive on Saturday.

There is some small number of people whom I trust when they say they very confident. They can explain the reasons why they came to a belief and the counterarguments. Most other highly confident statements I look upon with suspicion, and I might even take the confidence as evidence against the claim. Many very confident people seem unaware of counterarguments, are entirely dismissive of them, or wear as a badge of pride that they have explicitly refused to consider them.

There are others whose intuition I will trust with high confidence on certain topics, si... (read more)

"You can’t just decide to be happy."

"No, you can’t. But you can sure as hell decide to be miserable."

-- Quentin and Alice in The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I only know of 1 at AADL. Folks found it somewhat uncomfortable and wanted to be able to have food and drink. Several were held at Pizza House, just a bit off south campus.

0Asymmetric8y
Pizza House will likely be busy because of the hockey game. Maybe Amer's across the street? They have a large variety of deli sandwiches and frozen yogurt.
0Sniffnoy8y
Oh, was it only the one? I wasn't at the one before that one, so I forgot, oops. Yeah there have been a few at Pizza House. Noisy though. (Meanwhile, we still don't know which library Bound_up intended.)

Good point, thank you. I was focusing on the top half of the distribution, when there is also a cutoff in the bottom half.

Granted. The top hires from the top. This leads to two questions:

  • Do we see corruption in those grades? If that is where it matters, that is where we would expect to see it. Say, does admittance into and top grades at Harvard Law depend mostly on academics or is class rank better predicted by other factors, from social class to blatant bribery you mention above?
  • Once you are below the tournament economy, do we see any corruption? I work for a state government. "Do you have a relevant degree?" is the question, not how good your university was or
... (read more)
5James_Miller8y
At good schools nearly everyone graduates in four years, but at lower level schools lots of students don't finish at all or take more than 4 years in part because they fail (or never finish the work) in classes. Given the importance of getting a degree, and the cost of taking more than 4 years to do so, grading is also important for students "at the bottom" of the college world.

Moreover, universities have a strong incentive to not be corrupt in their grading - if they let people slip through without learning the work, employers will start to notice and discount qualifications from that institution This assumes that employers are using a college degree primarily as a signal for education, outweighing conformity, conscientiousness, class, deference to authority, low time preferences, habitual credentialism, or anything else a degree might signal. We note that most employers want to know that you have a degree but not, say, "m

... (read more)
0CCC8y
Yes, that's true. The incentive works on grading corruption at the level of "this guy should have scored 10%, how did he pass?". It has no effect on grading corruption on the level of "this guy should have barely passed, how did he get a distinction?"

Social desirability bias remains even in randomized, anonymous polls. But the result would be less wrong than self-selected, public polls.

The writing style is ... potentially appealing to a certain sort of nerd. But I'm the sort of person who reads here and I stopped after the first paragraph, which has a geology joke, followed by a too-self-aware pun, then ends on the explicit statement that no one really understands handshakes. The typical mind does not know what the Mohs scale is and intuitively grasps social interactions, or at least it thinks it does.

"those pesky social interactions no one seems to get the hang of" comes across (to me) as signaling a lack of social competence ... (read more)

0[anonymous]8y
Okay, so the ideas and messages that I was trying to get across (which I believed aren't getting through due to poor communication skills) may be further hampered because the ideas and messages themselves are flawed, as they aren't designed to persuade a typical mindset anyway? If that's what you mean, I can see that as a deeper problem I'd have to address before moving on, because no matter what improvements I'd make to my communication style, the root ideas would still not be effective.

That seems like really sloppy sockpuppetry. Wouldn't that just tell admins which other accounts are likely also the same person, so ban the lot of them?

1Vaniver8y
Let's not publicly discuss flaws in plans to evade admin action.

My experience is mostly with formula grants, where the grant is mostly a formality like the EFT reimbursement. Many grants have expected recipients. Others are desperately seeking new applicants and ideas. From the outside, it is difficult to tell which is which, and from the inside grantor agencies often have trouble telling why random outsiders are applying to their intentionally exclusive grants but they have trouble finding good applicants for the ones where they want new folks.

How much do you trust economic data released by the Chinese government? I had assumed that economic indicators were manipulated, but recent discussion suggests it is just entirely fabricated, at least as bad as anything the Soviet Union reported. For example, China has reported a ~4.1% unemployment rate for over a decade. Massive global recession? 4.1% unemployment. Huge economic boom? 4.1% unemployment.

One of the largest, most important economies in the world, and I don't know that we can reliably say much about it at all.

2Lumifer8y
Not much. If you want to explore further, I recommend this, for example this post.

You've stated compatibilism, and from that perspective free will tends to look trivial ("you can choose things") or like magical thinking.

Many people have wanted there to be something special about the act of choosing or making decisions. This is necessary for several moral theories, as they demand a particular sense in which you are responsible for your actions that does not obtain if all your actions have prior causes. This is often related to theories that call for a soul, some sort of you apart from your body, brain, genetics, environment, an... (read more)

What implies that only a human can do that?

1[anonymous]8y
Well... Tucker Max does, in his quote. I think it's true in a narrow sense, if you take "can" as a statement about the present, not the future. But that's the least important part of the quote regardless.

Related quote from July's thread:

Most people are neurologically programmed so they cannot truly internalize the scope and import of deeply significant, long run, very good news. That means we spend too much time on small tasks and the short run. Clearing away a paper clip makes us, in relative terms, too happy in the short run, relative to the successful conclusion of World War II.

-- Tyler Cowen

0Stingray8y
Happiness is not for appreciation of goodness of events, at least, that's not what evolution intended it to be for. It's for rewarding your actions to motivate you to do them as well as rewarding other people for their actions that are good for you. If neither you did anything to do it, neither you can pinpoint an actual person who did it and whose action you want to celebrate, it's no surprise that you do not feel happiness about that thing.
1Jiro8y
I already gave a reply which suggested three things are wrong with that. It's conveniently right there when anyone clocks on your link, but here's a repeat, and I'll add a fourth item: 1. We're not happy about the successful conclusion of World War II because it is distant in time, and that seems reasonable unless he's arguing that we should be happier about, say, the death of Genghis Khan. 2. He seems to imply that we should be happy at the end of World War II because the total benefits from winning the war are large. But people were also happy at the intermediate steps of winning the war and that happiness needs to be subtracted. In other words, if you're happy at the liberation of France, you can't be happy at the end of the war based on the entire benefit of winning the war, including the portion of that benefit that consists of France being liberated. That's double counting. 3. This argument would apply to bad news too. Among people who think Obama's Iran deal is likely to lead to Iran getting nuclear weapons, should they be a lot unhappier than they are? 4. The comparison invites the reader to think about the total benefits of the war, not the benefit to an individual reader. If you are happy about the end of the war based on the total benefits of winning the war, and everyone else is too, that's another form of double-counting Also, although it may come under #1, that reasoning indicates we should be a lot happier about the invention of fire or agriculture than about the end of World War II.

Duplicate, although with the Yogi Berra attribution.

Note the alt text about talking its way out of the box.

I am not saying we should discard our intuitions about relative outrage, but we ought to look at them more closely rather than just riding them to a quick conclusion.

Tyler Cowen, "Just How Guilty Is Volkswagon?"

0Luke_A_Somers8y
For reference, the notions of relative outrage are between deliberate and accidental harm, and in particular that as the magnitude of the problem grows, it makes less and less difference. Also, how does a post with 0 votes end up lower on the page under the 'best' criterion than a post at -8 points????

Did you mean to reply to a different post? That doesn't seem relevant to either the quote or the source article. A better metaphor here would be not believing in linens when someone puts on a white sheet and jumps out at you.

0Luke_A_Somers8y
On the other hand, in this case, it was more that they didn't check, than that they didn't believe the evidence.
3username28y
Well, if you see something ghost-like, that's a weak evidence in favor of existence of ghosts. But it's a weak evidence, it doesn't trump everything else we know about the world.

I passed the Project Management Professional certification exam.

And, going with Viliam's comment, market power is less threatening than political power, which includes criminal justice and the military. Channel your sociopaths towards dollars, not guns.

People condition on information that isn’t true.

Andrew Gelman, "The belief was so strong that it trumped the evidence before them."

4[anonymous]8y
Of course, a good hierarchical Bayes reasoner is going to use huge amounts of prior information against small amounts of countervailing evidence. Do you start believing in ghosts every time someone puts on a white sheet and jumps out at you?

As a rule, news is a distraction from worthy intellectual pursuits.

-- Bryan Caplan, expanded here

It wanders from the original quote, but "irrationality is slow suicide" is a great connection to make. (And if you want a quote, I'm sure you can find something like that from Rand.)

New games enjoyed day one: Tesla vs. Edison and Blood Rage.

Tentative location: Hall F, the green tables just behind the CCG/TCG HQ.

Time corrected to PM. Thanks.

Additional note to #3: humans are often the weakest part of your security. If I want to get into a system, all I need to do is convince someone to give me a password, share their access, etc. That also means your system is not only as insecure as your most insecure piece of hardware/software but also as your most insecure user (with relevant privileges). One person who can be convinced that I am from their IT department, and I am in.

Additional note to #4: but if I am willing to forego those benefits in favor of the ones I just mentioned, the human element ... (read more)

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.

― J.R.R. Tolkien explains how we get problems with the availability heuristic in The Hobbit

Most people are neurologically programmed so they cannot truly internalize the scope and import of deeply significant, long run, very good news. That means we spend too much time on small tasks and the short run. Clearing away a paper clip makes us, in relative terms, too happy in the short run, relative to the successful conclusion of World War II.

-- Tyler Cowen

2Jiro9y
I am skeptical of this. 1. We're not happy about the successful conclusion of World War II because it is distant in time, and that seems reasonable unless he's arguing that we should be happier about, say, the death of Genghis Khan. 2. He seems to imply that we should be happy at the end of World War II because the total benefits from winning the war are large. But people were also happy at the intermediate steps of winning the war and that happiness needs to be subtracted. In other words, if you're happy at the liberation of France, you can't be happy at the end of the war based on the entire benefit of winning the war, including the portion of that benefit that consists of France being liberated. That's double counting. 3. This argument would apply to bad news too. Among people who think Obama's Iran deal is likely to lead to Iran getting nuclear weapons, should they be a lot unhappier than they are?

Yes: what we learn from trolley problems is that human moral intuitions are absolute crap (technical term). Starting with even the simplest trolley problems, you find that many people have very strong but inconsistent moral intuitions. Others immediately go to a blue screen when presented with a moral problem with any causal complexity. The answer is that trolley problems are primarily system diagnostic tools that identify corrupt software behaving inconsistently.

Back to the object level, the right answer is dependent on other assumptions. Unless someone w... (read more)

Any games you're looking forward to? I'm curious about Pathfinder card game (new stuff coming, never played original), City of Gears, and Die! I was using the BoardGameGeek Origins preview to scout new releases.

ETA: Gen Con preview live

0Zubon9y
New games enjoyed day one: Tesla vs. Edison and Blood Rage.

This being Less Wrong, this might be the point where you bring up whether P=NP and that solutions are often much easier to verify than compute. Easier does not necessarily mean easy or even within human cognitive capabilities. And if it does in whatever example comes to mind, just keep pushing to harder problems until we need not only tools to solve the problem but also meta-tools to tell us what our tools are telling us. And you can keep pushing that meta. (Did I mention that Blindsight is a very Less Wrong book?)

We trust our tools because we trust the pr... (read more)

"If you could second-guess a vampire, you wouldn't need a vampire."

-- an aphorism in Blindsight by Peter Watts, page 227

In Blindsight, a "vampire" is a predatory, sociopathic genius built through genetic engineering. They have human brain mass but use it differently; take all the brain power we spend on self-awareness and channel it towards more processing power. The mission leader in Blindsight is a vampire, because he is more intelligent and able to make dispassionate decisions, but how do you check whether your vampire is right or... (read more)

And when your surpassing creations find the answers you asked for, you can't understand their analysis and you can't verify their answers. You have to take their word on faith —-

—- Or you use information theory to flatten it for you, to squash the tesseract into two dimensions and the Klein bottle into three, to simplify reality and pray to whatever Gods survived the millennium that your honorable twisting of the truth hasn't ruptured any of its load-bearing pylons. ...

I've never convinced myself that we made the right choice. I can cite the usual justifi

... (read more)
1Zubon9y
This being Less Wrong, this might be the point where you bring up whether P=NP and that solutions are often much easier to verify than compute. Easier does not necessarily mean easy or even within human cognitive capabilities. And if it does in whatever example comes to mind, just keep pushing to harder problems until we need not only tools to solve the problem but also meta-tools to tell us what our tools are telling us. And you can keep pushing that meta. (Did I mention that Blindsight is a very Less Wrong book?) We trust our tools because we trust the process we used to develop our tools, and we trust the previous generation of tools used to develop those tools and processes, and we trust... At some point, you look at the edifice of knowledge and realize your life depends on a lot of interdependencies, and that can be scary. And then I trust Google Maps to get me most places, because I know it has a much better direction sense than me and it knows things like construction and traffic conditions.
1Zubon9y
In Blindsight, a "vampire" is a predatory, sociopathic genius built through genetic engineering. They have human brain mass but use it differently; take all the brain power we spend on self-awareness and channel it towards more processing power. The mission leader in Blindsight is a vampire, because he is more intelligent and able to make dispassionate decisions, but how do you check whether your vampire is right or even still on your side? Like Quirrelmort, they are always playing at least one level higher than you. The synthesist quote is the first time Blindsight brings up the problem of what to do when you build smarter-than-human AI. The vampire quote approaches it from a different angle, with a smarter-than-human biological AI. Vampires present a trade-off: they cannot rewrite their source code, so they cannot have a hard takeoff, but you know they are less than friendly AI. (If you know what is wrong with the above, please ROT13 your spoilers.)

To match action to word, here are some of Ken's specific examples of vague legal claims, presumed meritless until actual examples can be cited (in reverse chronological order):

Vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of meritless thuggery.

-- Ken White from Popehat

Ken wants you to be specific because a vague claim is usually a meritless claim. Not citing a good example implies that there are no good examples.

6Zubon9y
To match action to word, here are some of Ken's specific examples of vague legal claims, presumed meritless until actual examples can be cited (in reverse chronological order): * Donald Trump * Randy Queen * Todd Kincannon * WorldVentures * Peak Internet * Steve Stockman * Bharat Aggarwal * Casey Movers

It's accurate but not very precise, in the same way that the story about how there are wet streets and rain is true but misses the inner connections. Many people fail to get the distinctions between programmers, artists, and designers, because they want designers to fix bugs, just shift staff to design, etc. And testers are nowhere in that simplified model. So people have enough of an idea to get the wrong idea.

Many game developers have a shaky idea of how game development works once the team is larger than can work in one room. That becomes project manage... (read more)

According to a distinction that originates with Aristotle himself, his writings are divisible into two groups: the "exoteric" and the "esoteric". Most scholars have understood this as a distinction between works Aristotle intended for the public (exoteric), and the more technical works intended for use within the Lyceum course / school (esoteric). Modern scholars commonly assume these latter to be Aristotle's own (unpolished) lecture notes (or in some cases possible notes by his students). ... Another common assumption is that none of

... (read more)

Stronger point: since we are at Less Wrong, think Bayes Theorem. In this case, a "true positive" would be cancer leading to death, and a "false positive" would be death from a medical mishap trying to remove a benign cyst (or even check it further). Death is very bad in either case, and very unlikely in either case.

P (death | cancer, untreated) - this is your explicit worry P (death | cancer, surgery) P (death | benign cyst, untreated) P (death | benign cyst, surgery) - this is what drethelin is encouraging you to note P (benign cyst) P... (read more)

4ChristianKl9y
In general if you list everything you can think of and give it probability scores, you ignore unknown unknowns. For medical interventions like surgery unknown unknowns are more likely to be bad than to be good. As a result it's useful to have a prior against doing a medical intervention if there no strong evidence that the intervention is beneficial.

Me, I'm comfortable having somewhat meandering discussions. One of our meetup best practices suggests that groups have more success (measured in terms of interest and retention) with a project or something specific to do rather than socialization. Maybe we cut in the middle of that with a discussion group rather than resembling a cocktail party. I am also concerned that having something that looks like a homework assignment would cut against our "all are welcome" goal.

So perhaps I could rephrase it as "what do you (general you) want from a meetup?" The link has some ideas that have worked nicely elsewhere.

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