Open thread, Sep. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015

post by MrMind · 2015-09-28T07:13:19.622Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 198 comments

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.


Notes for future OT posters:

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3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

198 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-09-28T23:55:34.525Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-confirms-evidence-that-liquid-water-flows-on-today-s-mars

Evidence of seasonal flows of small amounts of extremely briny water full of perchlorates on the surface of Mars.

They don't know if it's coming up from some kind of underground aquifer, seasonal subsurface ice melt, or the high salt content of the soil pulling out seasonal humidity from the air and producing transient moist soil layers that then leak out at suitable locations.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T21:47:59.907Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

There are sometimes controversial discussions here, and I wonder how these conversations play out at meetups. Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting? If so, does it cause problems? Or, indeed, do discussions about dust specks/torture or other controversial but apolitical topics ever get heated?

LW seems far more cool-headed than the rest of the world, and I am wondering to what extent it might be partially due to being online.

Personally, I have only gone to a few meetups, but I think I have managed to offend people :(

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-09-30T06:08:28.635Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting?

So an anarchist, a communist, and a neoreactionary walk into a LessWrong meetup...

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-30T18:49:05.670Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to think of what funny thing they could do. The anarchist could walk away from the bar without paying for the drink, because they do not believe in the landlord/drinker power structure. The communist could demand that the most well-off member of the group pays for drinks.

Or which drinks:

The neoreactionary could insist that it may not be politically correct, but some drinks are objectively better than others. The communist could say that all drinks are equally good, and so insist that all drinks are mixed into one glass. The anarchist... I feel the anarchist has to smash something. Is there a drink that sounds like 'system' or 'capitalism'?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-01T19:44:19.827Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

One of my freshmen year roommates was a communist. He thought everybody should just share their food that was in the community fridge. He bought a mini-fridge for his food.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-30T19:36:58.695Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cap-it-all-ism?

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2015-09-29T09:30:30.481Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting? If so, does it cause problems?

I've been part of some arguments between libertarians and socialists. They got moderately heated but not severely so. Rationality-wise they seemed better than I've experienced in other communities, but still pretty far from a cool-headed ideal. To be fair I've also had some somewhat heated arguments over more abstract philosophical issues, though with few hard feelings.

comment by raydora · 2015-09-29T14:30:09.956Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A large portion of my coworkers (due to the nature of the job, they're probably in that weird space between family, friend, and acquaintance) fiercely endorse beliefs that I am at odds with (against gay marriage, strong religiosity, complete climate change denial, etc) but we can discuss our beliefs (for the most part; one of them insisted he would have his daughter flogged if she 'turned gay', and then kidnapped and sent to some less accepting society to 'chase it out of her') without any heated arguments. Even if we do, we still have no problems buying each other lunch the next day.

This is a wholly personal experience, since I'm used to holding contrarian views. I think it still bothers my System 1, but not enough for me to devote System 2 time to it.

What about the world at large, though?

Would an online interaction promote calm discussion, or in-person interaction?

While that dichotomy might differ in the LessWrong community due to cultural factors, I think it's safe to say that people think the opposite is usually true for most internet interactions.

A few possibilities come to mind, in regards to possible trends. I realize that it's a mixture. Help me out if I've missed something.

  • A) People are more belligerent online, less belligerent in person.
  • B) People are less belligerent online, more belligerent in person.
  • C) People are the same online and in the real world.
  • D) Online vs. real world belligerence determined strongly by culture.

Public opinion seems to favor A.

I'm having trouble finding relevant studies, because I'm not sure if data collected from the context of online sexual/nonsexual harassment is useful, here.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-09-30T15:41:54.168Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you ever get an anarchist, a communist and a neoreactionary turning up to the same meeting?

Among those I have only seen an anarchist at our meetups in Berlin.

LW seems far more cool-headed than the rest of the world, and I am wondering to what extent it might be partially due to being online.

In person I notice more empathy than online but have never witnessed any heated problematic conversations.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2015-09-28T22:09:55.275Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused about where to post stuff when I post stuff to LW. I've xposted several articles (most recently this one) that seem like decent candidates for Main, but it seems that if I submit them to Main without them getting promoted, then they end up in the weird place that I'm guessing most people never check.

My current strategy is "post to Discussion so that people will actually see it, and hope that magically promotion happens".

..."magically" used deliberately to indicate that I don't know what the process for that is.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-29T17:03:57.316Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

..."magically" used deliberately to indicate that I don't know what the process for that is.

Moderators can move other people's posts, and EY can promote posts.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T14:55:10.404Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Journaling, an extended argument for why you should do it.

Since January 2015, journaling has become the basis for everything I do, try and want. What I've found is that there's huge potential in a pen and some paper.

Keeping a structured notebook system is helping me monitor my habits, both good and bad. It makes it easier to keep tabs on my projects and to brainstorm solutions. Writing daily motivates me to try new things, and note what works and what doesn't.

Let's break down some of the reasons why I believe journaling is such a powerful tool for introspection, problem solving and goal setting.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2015-10-04T15:29:39.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still doing this after starting a year ago. I've filled up one large ruled Moleskine and am 50 pages into the second one. I have calendar pages where I don't do any forward planning, but just write a one-line summary of what I worked on that day. Empty lines or variants of "slacking off" are an instant sign of trouble.

Other than that, the nice thing is just that I have a designated single nice journal to do any sort of brainstorming notes I need. Random ideas, planning an ongoing project or reading notes all just start by labeling a new page on the journal and writing down whatever is relevant.

comment by richard_reitz · 2015-09-28T13:59:31.999Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It seems conventional wisdom that tests are generally gameable in the sense that an (most?) effective way to produce the best scores involves teaching password guessing rather than actually learning material deeply, i.e. such that the student can use it in novel and useful ways. Indeed, I think this is the case for many (most, even) tests, but also think it possible to write tests that are most easily passed by learning the material deeply. In particular, I don't see how to game questions like "state, prove, and provide an intuitive justification for Pascal's combinatorial identity" or "Under what conditions does f(x) = ax^3 + bx^2 + cx + d have only one critical point?'', but that's more a statement about my mind than the gameability of tests. I would greatly appreciate learning how a test consisting of such questions could be gamed, thereby unlearning an untrue thing; and if no one here can (or, at least, is willing to take the time to) explain how such a thing could be done, well, that's useful to know, too.

comment by Illano · 2015-09-28T17:13:46.197Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

One easy way I can think of gaming such a test is to figure out ahead of time that those questions will be the ones on the test, then look up an answer for just that question, and parrot it on the actual test.

I know at my college, there were databases of just about every professor's exams for the past several years. Most of them re-used enough questions that you could get a pretty good idea of what was going to be on the exams, just by looking at past exams. A lot of people would spend a lot of time studying old exams to game this process instead of actually learning the material.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T16:34:48.589Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How do you identify people who can grade answers to questions which show deep understanding?

comment by richard_reitz · 2015-09-30T07:12:15.241Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If we assume that the questions are designed such that a student can answer them upon initial exposure if and only if they deeply understand the material, then the question of identifying graders turns into the much easier question of identifying people who can discriminate between valid and invalid answers. I'm told that being able to discriminate between valid and invalid responses is a necessary condition for subject expertise, so anyone who's a relevant expert works. One way to demonstrate expertise is by building something that requires expertise. In an extreme example, I'm confident that Grigori Perelman understands topology because he proved the Poincare conjecture, and, for similar reasons, I'm (mostly) confident that Ph.Ds are experts. If we have well-designed tests, we can set the set of people qualified to grade tests as "has built something requiring expertise or has passed a well-designed test graded by someone already in this set."

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T16:41:36.760Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More importantly, how do you persuade these people that they should spend their (presumably, valuable) time grading mostly stupid answers?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-28T19:57:10.227Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How would that be different from grading things under the current system?

Maybe exams should be layered - first, a test on basic terminology understanding, then a lottery of commenting on scientific research (1 ticket = 1 article).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T19:59:35.965Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Under the current system, grading is (relatively) easy because all you need to check is whether the answer given matches the correct one.

The proposed system would involve answers that cannot be mechanically pattern-matched and would need a LOT more time and effort to grade.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T17:14:03.597Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You pay them. You also tell them that their job is to identify good answers, not to give detailed feedback to bad answers.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T17:37:15.842Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

not to give detailed feedback to bad answers

If your goal is to foster understanding instead of giving canned answers, this seems counterproductive.

comment by richard_reitz · 2015-09-30T08:15:24.788Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you're after feedback-for-understanding, providing a student with a list of questions they got wrong and a good solutions manual (which you only have to write once) works most of the time (my guess is around 90% of the time, but I have low confidence in my estimates because I'm capable of successfully working through entire textbooks' worth of material and needing no human feedback, which I'm told is not often the case). Doing this should be more effective than having the error explained outright a la generation effect.

Another interesting result is that the best feedback for fostering understanding often comes not from experts, who have such a deep degree of understanding and automaticity that it impairs their ability to simulate and communicate with minds struggling with new material, but from students who just learned the material. There's a risk of students who believe the right thing for the wrong reason propagating their misunderstanding, but I think that pairing up a student who's struggling with some concept (i.e., throwing a solutions manual at them hasn't helped them bridge the conceptual gap that caused them to get the question wrong) with a student who understands it is often helpful. IIRC, Sal Khan described using this technique with some success in his book; a friend/mentor who teaches secondary math and keeps up with the literature tells me this works; and I've used this basic technique doing an enrichment afterschool program for the local Mathcounts team after the season had ended and can only describe its efficacy as "definitely witchcraft".

I think there's a place for graders to give detailed feedback to bad answers, but most of the time, it's better to force students to do the work themselves and locate their own errors/conceptual gaps, and in most of the remaining cases, to pawn off the responsibility to students (this could be construed as teachers being lazy, but it's also what, to my knowledge, produces the best learning outcomes). Since detailed feedback is only desirable after two rounds of other approaches that (in my deeply nonrepresentative experience) usually work, I don't think it makes sense to produce detailed feedback to every wrong answer.

Then again, I don't fully understand what context you're thinking in. In my original post, I was thinking about purely diagnostic math tests given to postsecondary students for employers that wouldn't so much as tell students which questions they got wrong, along the lines of the Royal Statistical Society's Graduate Diploma (five three-hour tests which grant a credential equivalent to a "good UK honours degree"). In writing this, I'm mostly imagining standardized math tests for secondary students in America (which, I'm given to understand, already have written components), which currently don't give per-question feedback, but changing that is much less of a pipe dream than creating tests that effectively test understanding. Come to think of it, I think the above approach applies even better to classroom instructors giving their own tests, at either the secondary or postsecondary level.

Tangentially related: the best professor I ever had would type 3–4 pages of general commentary (common errors and why they were wrong and how to do them better, as well as things the class did well) for the class after every problem set and test, generally by the next class. I found this commentary was extraordinarily helpful, not just because of feedback, but because (a) it helped dispel the misperception that everyone else understood everything and I was struggling because I was stupid, (b) taught us to discriminate between bad, mediocre, and good work, and (c) comments like "most of you did [x], which was suboptimal because of [y], but one of you did [z], which takes a bit more work but is a better approach because [~y]" really drove me to not do the minimum amount of work to get an answer when I could do a bit more work to get a stronger solution. (The course was in numerical methods so, as an example, we once had a problem where we had to use some technique where error exploded (I've now forgotten since I didn't have Anki back then) to locate a typo in some numeric data. A sufficient answer would have been to identify the incorrect entry; a stronger answer was to identify the incorrect entry, figure out the error (two digits typed in the wrong order), and demonstrate that fixing the error caused explosions to not happen.)

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-30T13:28:32.923Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Another interesting result is that the best feedback for fostering understanding often comes not from experts, who have such a deep degree of understanding and automaticity that it impairs their ability to simulate and communicate with minds struggling with new material, but from students who just learned the material

The core material for teaching is not the subject to be taught, but human confusions about that subject.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T15:05:07.298Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

providing a student with a list of questions they got wrong and a good solutions manual ... works most of the time ... I'm capable of successfully working through entire textbooks' worth of material and needing no human feedback, which I'm told is not often the case

That's a very important point. My impression is that people can be divided into two general categories -- those who learn best by themselves; and those who learn best when being taught by someone.

I suspect that most people on LW prefer to inhale textbooks on their own. I also suspect that most people outside of LW prefer to have a teacher guide them.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T17:44:10.605Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair point-- I'd spaced out on this being for a class rather than an employer looking for clueful people.

comment by Dagon · 2015-09-28T14:54:50.996Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Testing and credentialism is a mess. The basic problem is that it's unclear what the result should measure: how much the student knows, how much the student has learned, how intelligent the student is, how conscientious, or how well the student's capabilities line up with the topic. The secondary problem is that in most settings, the test should be both hard-to-game AND perfectly objective, such that there is no argument about correctness of answer (and such that grading can be done quickly).

I spend a lot of time interviewing and training interviewers for tech jobs. This doesn't have the first problem: we have a clear goal (determine whether the candidate is likely to perform well in the role, usually tested by solving similar problems as would be faced in the role). The second difficulty is similar - a good interview generates actual evidence of the candidate's likely success, not just domain knowledge. This takes a lot of interviewing skill to get the best from the candidate, and a lot of judgement in how to evaluate the approach and weigh the various aspects tested. We put a lot of time into this, and accept the judgement aspect rather than trying to reduce the time spent, automate the results, or be purely objective in assessment.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-02T17:11:09.338Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Patreon has been hacked and the all its internal data dumped online. Caveat utilitor.

comment by networked · 2015-10-01T18:45:44.843Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I found that variations on the following exchange are very common on programming forums:

Alice: Programming language feature X is misused more often than not. It's bad.

Bob: Every language feature can be misused. That does not make it bad.

Suppose Alice is correct on the statistics: most code that uses feature X uses it in a way that Alice and Bob would both agree to be wrong. Suppose Bob still disagrees with her over it making the feature bad. He disagrees not because he thinks the good uses outweigh the bad ones but because it is possible, in principle, to only use feature X the right way. Is there a specific name for their kind of disagreement?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-10-01T21:37:19.693Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was not illegal to produce videotape recorders, even if buyers would mostly use them to pirate TV shows, as long as the recorders had some possible lawful use. Shall we call this the VCR disagreement?

comment by networked · 2015-11-05T21:06:26.907Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like "the VCR disagreement". It sounds nice and evokes visual associations (a courtroom, a VCR) that might help one remember it. Since no alternative has been found or proposed I will start using this term for the phenomenon.

On a related note, I wonder if there is a search system that matches vague descriptions of phenomena to (existing) definitions better than Google. (Googling "a search system that matches vague descriptions of phenomena to existing definitions" didn't yield any interesting results.)

comment by username2 · 2015-09-28T20:29:40.350Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How can I reduce the stress of public speaking?

comment by Nornagest · 2015-09-28T21:37:19.915Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

In the short term, rehearse well with as close a simulation of your eventual stage as you can manage, or use prescription or nonprescription anxiolytics, or try one of the many speakers' tricks for reducing stage fright. Most of the latter probably won't work, but some might.

In the long run, the best way is probably exposure: doing a lot of public speaking, perhaps in front of progressively larger audiences.

comment by Elo · 2015-09-29T23:47:25.859Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Consider this idea:

  • How is public speaking different to giving a speech to an empty room, (or other similar but not stressful event). For bonus points actually do the non-stressful thing and afterwards consider what might be different.
  • Make a list of as many of the parts that you can come up with
  • Mitigate the parts that will be a problem for you in any way possible.

In this way a great beast of a "public speaking" problem can be managed to smaller think-able tackle-able tasks.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T14:45:30.794Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Effective Altruism in 1400 AD

If you taught the principles of effective altruism to a rich person in (say) 1400, what would they have thought was the most effective thing to do with their money? What was in fact the most effective thing they could have done?

comment by Fluttershy · 2015-10-01T00:22:36.211Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

what would they have thought was the most effective thing to do with their money?

One of the comments from MR is:

Probably hire a bunch of mercenaries and engage in forced conversion to Christianity. For the pacifists, perhaps funding missionaries might have seemed more acceptable. What better investment can there be for an effective altruist than eternal salvation of lost souls who will otherwise face an eternity of damnation?

which basically does sound about right, given the values of the time.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-30T18:06:32.314Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

These are two questions which suggest very different answers:) especially in hindsight:) without specifying where the person lives, my only guess is for the second question - exterminate rats; but it might have been simply impossible to arrive at in 1400, so - lessen taxes?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-30T20:57:38.367Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

lessen taxes?

The impact of tax policy in Malthusian eras is hard to determine--it might adjust the population size, but probably not per capita income. But it does seem like one could convince someone that urbanization is important, and they should focus on solving the city-level problems of sanitation, trade, and economics, which were approached only haphazardly at the time. Convincing them to move to an Imperial Free City and spend their efforts sanitizing it / developing institutions that keep it clean might be useful.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T20:04:10.576Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

These are two questions which suggest very different answers

That's part of the point.

exterminate rats

Is that possible with XV-century technology and level of social organization?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-01T07:31:18.921Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think so (based on fictional evidence of a Kipling's story). For example, the church could damn rats, it would make people united in their efforts.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-01T14:33:27.729Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If we're going for fictional evidence, it's easier to train an army of Pied Pipers :-)

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-30T16:06:58.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

See also the chronophone (and its followup).

It seems like the Givewell branch of EA is the application of recent improvements in scientific management / finance to charity, about ~10 years after they appeared in the private sector, similar to CharityNavigator before it. If you can count those as "principles," then they might be a huge leg up for someone like the Fuggers. (Remember, double-entry bookkeeping in Europe seems to have started about 1340, and the first textbook on it was published in 1494.)

But if the chronophone would transmit that as just "apply recent advances in business to all your endeavors," that's not very useful, and maybe even not that--trade and business is the dominant force in the society that Givewell lives in. What would the dominant force in the 1400s be? Innovation is respected in the society that Givewell lives in. Would it be respected in the 1400s?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T16:12:39.792Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The chronophone is a weird device with weird limitations suited to the purposes of EY in that post.

This is a much more straightforward question (but note the context -- it asks where should that person put his money, not what kind of tech he should invent).

In particular, there is an interesting implication/sub-question: what was the cheapest way of saving the most lives in 1400 and do you think that was the best use of resources?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-30T16:32:17.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

it asks where should that person put his money, not what kind of tech he should invent

A nontrivial chunk of EA is allocating money to tech invention, though, especially if you consider institutions and institutional design to be social tech.

Open borders advocacy, for example, would probably translate to infrastructure investments in the 1400s. (Build more lighthouses, map out channels, build and guard more roads, set up mail links, etc.)

But yeah, GiveDirectly would have an obvious analog in 1400. And SCI, if you were able to somehow transmit the 'pathogens and parasites cause disease and can be fixed by sanitation' idea along with it, seems like it could be tremendously useful. Inoculation, for example, could be moved up a century globally (and ~4 centuries in Europe).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T16:42:56.098Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're still trying to answer the question of "what is the most useful knowledge I can pass down to 1400". That's a different question.

Here all you can do is say "You should put your money in X" and no, you can't explain why X is important. "Build more lighthouses" is a valid answer, yes, but doesn't that imply that EA should be concerned with the success of commerce?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-30T18:23:58.524Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here all you can do is say "You should put your money in X" and no, you can't explain why X is important.

That's not the prompt--the prompt is:

If you taught the principles of effective altruism to a rich person in (say) 1400, what would they have thought was the most effective thing to do with their money?

But what are the "principles of effective altruism"? If they're something like "use science to determine which charitable opportunities best achieve your values," then we can't teach them to a rich person in 1400 without teaching them what we mean by "science." If it's something like "rank charitable opportunities by marginal value," then it has to include a definition of marginal value.

If it's just "don't privilege your local area, don't give for affiliation reasons, look for where your gifts can do the most good," then yeah, you're probably just going to see them funding missionaries when they should be investing in capitalism and science and infrastructure.

doesn't that imply that EA should be concerned with the success of commerce?

What do you think GiveDirectly and/or open borders EAs do?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T20:02:21.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's not the prompt--the prompt is

Yes, fair point. But you don't need to teach someone science to convey the message of EA. The message is basically "Apply your money to where it will do the most good, as best as you can determine". You can add a few negatives ("don't give to raise your status", "don't give to what tugs at your heart the hardest", etc.) and they will still be easily understood by a XV-century person.

What do you think GiveDirectly and/or open borders EAs do?

I think they concern themselves with welfare of people and not with success of commerce.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-28T22:29:05.854Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This video talks about high school curriculum design issues; advocating greater focus on concrete life skills and less of a focus on classes with "intangible" value like history or more advanced mathematics. If I recall correctly, he doesn't say anything about science class, which I think there's a lot to criticize there too. A lot of common counter-arguments to his point do not seem scientific. The argument that history teaches critical thinking for instance is very popular, but there's no good definition of critical thinking and research seems to be all over the place. I generally agree that education should provide more direct value. The commentary I saw on it kept bringing up the issue of standardized testing which is unrelated. I don't hold much hope out for improvements when the average person can't even stay on topic.

comment by richard_reitz · 2015-09-30T08:50:27.569Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Paul Graham writes that studying fields with hard, solved problems (eg mathematics) is useful, because it gives you practice solving hard problems and the approaches and habits of mind that you develop solving those problems are useful when you set out to tackle new (technical) problems. This claim seems at least plausible to me and seems to line up with me personal experience, but you seem like a person who might know why I shouldn't believe this, so I ask, is there any reason I should doubt that the problem-solving approaches and habits of mind I develop studying mathematics won't help me as I run into novel technical problems?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-30T14:06:59.066Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Simple: Where's the evidence?

Let me make a simple parsimonious assertion: knowledge acquisition is limited to the precise information acquired with zero secondary benefits to any other areas of the brain. Furthermore, unless practiced regularly this information will most likely not be retained.

While such an assertion is in all likelihood not true, in the absence of evidence, it is more likely to be true than a more complex theory of how knowledge is acquired and retained.

Now, if I was to put Paul Graham's argument into precise, scientific terms, it would be:

Holding time constant, time spent on more difficult problems is more likely to produce measurable improvements in fluid intelligence than time spent on simpler problems.

Or possibly: holding time constant, time spent on more difficult problems is more likely to produce measurable improvements in conscientiousness than time spent on simpler problems.

I'll stick with the first definition for simplicity.

But increasing fluid intelligence is a hard thing to do. This famous study argues that solving working memory tasks increases fluid intelligence however this meta-analysis argues that the evidence in this area is still inconsistent. Even if working memory tasks do generate increases there is still the problem of whether it's better to solve a few really difficult tasks or lots of easy tasks or somewhere in between. Then there is the issue of how long this increase is retained. Is it something like exercise where benefits mostly disappear within 6 months? And even if working memory tasks do increase fluid intelligence, that doesn't mean difficult math problems increase fluid intelligence.

My own impression is that the best way to increase intelligence is by just reading a lot. As evidence, this study found that reading was the best predictor of increased success on a standardized test. The next highest predictor was being social. Studying had a positive, but non-significant impact. This was an observational study so the usual caveat of correlation may not be causation applies.

I believe that reading more complex literature up to a certain point is probably better than simpler literature, but I don't have evidence of this. I'm also not sure of what that certain point is where complexity is too great.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-09-30T15:35:11.949Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

YouTube rap video's might not be the best focal point to have a discussion about high school curriculum design issues.

. I generally agree that education should provide more direct value.

Do you think that anybody designing curriculas wouldn't want them to provide more direct value everything being equal?

I don't hold much hope out for improvements when the average person can't even stay on topic.

School curriculum's don't get designed by the average person, what makes you think that the average person ability to stay on topic matters for the issue?

comment by Dias · 2015-10-03T21:52:58.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm planning on running an experiement to test the effects of Modafinil on myself. My plan is to use a three armed study:

  • Modafinil (probably 50mg as I am quite small)
  • B12 pill (as active control) or maybe Vitamin D
  • Passive Control (no placebo)

Each day I will randomly take one of the three options and perform some test. I was thinking of dual-n-back, but do people have any other suggestions?

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-10-08T00:01:37.071Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Keep in mind that modafinil has a half-life of ~16 hours. You might want to allow a day in between samples. If you don't, plan to take this into account in the analysis.

Whatever test you do, try it a bunch before starting the experiment to get through a lot of the learning period.

comment by Dias · 2015-10-08T23:09:28.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the suggestions!

  • My plan was to include a 1-day lag of the independent variable as a control variable in some of the regressions and see what effect that had.

  • Yep, plan to do that, and then also add a 'date' control variable as well.

comment by Elo · 2015-10-03T13:26:36.166Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone have connection to whoever is answering this email address? hello@eaglobal.org trying to contact them.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-10-03T00:50:16.006Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For anybody more directly in the medical field:

Is there such a thing as a cryptic sinus infection / bronchitis / ear infection that produces fever and systemic effects but not local effects? I got a hell of a respiratory virus last weekend, the primary symptoms of coughing and nose issues are almost gone but my fever and general malaise are still around or even a little worse, and a doctor failed to see any indication of bacterial infection anywhere. I got antibiotics prescribed just in case and told to take them if I don't get better in the next few days but don't want to take them unless they'll actually do good. Course, there's the thought that the proximal downside of taking them isn't awful and I've been flattened for most of a week...

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-09-30T15:37:57.736Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Who came up with Pascal's Mugging? Both EY and Nick Bostrom (pdf) present it as seemingly their own idea.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-10-01T00:31:43.930Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

No, Bostrom explicitly attributes it to Yudkowsky.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-10-01T12:21:20.737Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ha, somehow missed that comment at the end. On the other hand, Bostrom only says EY named the problem. Did EY also come up with it?

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-10-01T18:44:41.840Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The footnote implies that intermediate forms were not written down. Probably everyone involved has now forgotten who contributed what.

Is it meaningful to ask about the problem? In what sense is Pascal's mugging different than Pascal's wager? That it only uses finite numbers? That it uses super-exponential growth and draws attention to Kolmogorov complexity? That the mugger's number comes second, allowing the threat/promise to depend on the probability? And, of course, the iconic difference, the one in the name, is that it is a single person making the claim, not a society, yet this is not a technical difference, but a purely psychological difference, and thus quite ambiguous and difficult to trace. At some level of granularity, every account is the same; at another, every account is different.

Commenting on Yudkowsky's post, Bostrom cites his paper "Infinite Ethics" (section 4.3?). Presumably that is as close as Bostrom got in writing before. Whether you consider it "the same" or an admission of not having prior art depends on what you care about. Moreover, that paper has a bibliography, unlike the mugging dialogue.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-30T11:12:28.366Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Noticed a weird thing about myself today... Probably more useful for its vagueness, so reporting it here.

I owe a friend, who is also a colleague, 100 hrivnas. Recently, I found an unused gift certificate allowing to buy things for 150 hrn in a book shop, and thought, wow, I can just give it to her: her child has just started school, and the shop sells basic school supplies among other stuff - or better yet, since my child is going to school in a few years, I can just buy copybooks and give her two thirds of the loot. Great!

Then I went to the shop, and learned that the certificate was out of date.

I was relieved.

I mean, I have no problem thinking about paying her back, and I know I could be relieved because the copybooks could be overpriced... And yet I still would not have predicted being relieved, and it is really simple. Makes me wonder at my predicting capacities.

comment by Dagon · 2015-09-30T15:45:27.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I need further description about the situation and why you're relieved. It sounds like you're 150hrn poorer than you thought, and I'm not sure why that's a relief.

Was there an unstated worry about repaying your friend in goods rather than cash?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-30T17:32:32.723Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

After I'd thought about it for a while, I decided that I was relieved by not having to choose between what could benefit both of us and a potentially interesting book I could have found just for myself. (There wasn't one.)

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-28T17:24:26.140Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is an open question about a brain-hack.

I don't believe the concept of love languages is big on LW, but searching the forum leads to a few mentions of them. It not exactly a data-driven concept, but anecdotally, spending time and acts of service are effective ways to make me feel loved, while gifts and compliments are not (they actually usually make me feel uncomfortable).

The primary concept of the love languages book is to change the way you show love from what you prefer to what your partner prefers (ie if your main language is touch and you are always snuggling with your spouse, but their main language is services, they will feel unloved while you snuggle with them instead of doing the dishes, so you should make an effort to do the dishes instead of snuggling on the couch)

My question is, has anyone experienced or developed (or will develop, prompted by this comment) a method to change my love language priorities so I can feel more loved given current circumstances?

The small back story is; as a result of adding two kids and a real job and an alone-time-hungry-stay-at-home-mom wife time is very limited, which means quality time is at a premium, so I'm feeling unloved. It would be preferable to make more time exist, but that's unlikely, so I would like hack my brain to make me feel loved in other ways. Any ideas?

edited to add italics for clarity

edited 10/7/2015 to add cautionary update: It has been commented that there may be side effect to brain hacking. Two that almost immediately come up and are worth mentioning because they can be in direct opposition to the goal of feeling more loved are:

Nightly listing of all instances of signals of love results in real-time noticing of them (which is a plus, the "I can write about this later!" feeling), but this is coupled with real-time noticing of missed opportunities to show love (Why didn't she make me tea?)

There is a tendency (for me) to compare/notice list lengths from day to day. ie There are only 5 today and 15 yesterday [trombone sound]

comment by Strangeattractor · 2015-09-30T05:18:44.282Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One exercise you could do is to remember a time you felt loved, and how it felt, and focus on that feeling. Spend a bit of time each day bringing up that feeling into your consciousness. Or, another similar thing to do would be to imagine being surrounded by love, with whatever visuals or feelings feel right to you.

There are likely ways to feel more comfortable with receiving compliments or gifts. But, once you are more comfortable with these other expressions of love, would you feel more loved?

Feeling loved does not seem straightforward to me.

I think "How can I feel more comfortable with receiving gifts and compliments?" would be an achievable goal. Perhaps that's a good first step. But I'm not sure it will get you what you want.

Feeling loved, at least in my experience, does not always correlate to external circumstances. Sometimes it's more of an internal issue.

Are you sure that "feeling unloved" is what is going on? It sounds to me like it's possible that what's happening is that you are feeling frustrated and lonely. Which may not be the same thing.

I know you said it is unlikely to be able to set aside more quality time for each other, at least for the time being, but I think it would be worth taking the time to think about it in more depth. Perhaps there are creative approaches that could result in more time together. Even if that's not feasible for the moment, perhaps you could make a more long-term plan to get to a point where it becomes more feasible.

Here's one idea, though perhaps you have already considered it. Find some friends who also have children, and set up a schedule with them where they have your kids over to their house, for the evening or even for a sleepover, one night of the week, and you have their kids over to your house one night of the week. Then you have at least one night of alone time, and it isn't costing you extra money. I have no idea if this would apply to your circumstances, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Back to love languages. There are a few things people do with oral languages: speak, listen, read and write. It sounds like you've trained yourself to speak the other person's love language, but haven't yet learned how to listen as well as you'd like. You could ask your partner how they feel when you do something that they like but you don't. Once you hear their perspective about why they like something, and how they feel about it, perhaps you will find something that you can relate to when it happens to you. Training yourself to like something can often happen when you spend some time learning from people who already like it, and asking them questions about it. If your partner doesn't enjoy some of the things you want to learn to like, then perhaps you can find other friends or family who do like them, and learn from them.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-30T18:36:37.642Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One exercise you could do is to remember a time you felt loved, and how it felt, and focus on that feeling. Spend a bit of time each day bringing up that feeling into your consciousness. Or, another similar thing to do would be to imagine being surrounded by love, with whatever visuals or feelings feel right to you.

This sounds very similar to journaling about ways my wife showed love each day

There are likely ways to feel more comfortable with receiving compliments or gifts. But, once you are more comfortable with these other expressions of love, would you feel more loved?

My gifts issue is mostly to do with minimalist/environmentalist concerns. I don't want/need stuff and a gift is more stuff wrapped in garbage which will eventually end up as garbage too. I know all gifts can't be described that way, but I guess (which is just hitting as I type this) I have an ugh field around "gifts".

As far compliments go, I have analyzed that quite a bit, and I believe it stems from the fact that, even though I don't give insincere compliments, they generally sound (to me) as insincere on the way out of my mouth and so I don't give them (at least not standard ones). Since they are funny for me to give, they are funny for me to get. (probably another ugh field)

Perhaps there are creative approaches that could result in more time together.

Its a little more complicated than not having enough time. I'm a "relationship guy" {a term I stole from the movie I love you man}, which is to say, while I have friends, friendship is always a lower priority than my relationships, I'd rather sit on the couch next to my wife and watch netfix on the laptop with headphones (so we don't wake the kids) than just about anything else I could do on an evening out on the town with her home with the kids. That's an unrealistic expectation of a lover if they are also not the same way (1). So since service is one of the ways I prefer to give love (and thankful she receives it) as a service to her, she can go out as needed and tend to her friendships, which are important to her. Its seems I would like to make that lower-cost to me.

Are you sure that "feeling unloved" is what is going on? It sounds to me like it's possible that what's happening is that you are feeling frustrated and lonely. Which may not be the same thing.

You could say that I'm feeling unhappy as a result of being lonely as a result of not perceiving enough love.

I think "How can I feel more comfortable with receiving gifts and compliments?" would be an achievable goal. Perhaps that's a good first step. But I'm not sure it will get you what you want.

Maybe it should be "How can I feel positive emotions when people do nice things for me, irrespective of the format/modality of the nice thing, without having to consciously think about how it was a nice thing for someone to do."

It sounds like you've trained yourself to speak the other person's love language, but haven't yet learned how to listen as well as you'd like.

The general premise of the books is to change the way you show love to match the way people receive it. I have not found anyone reference changing their own receiving modes. It seems like an incredible brain hack, that (assuming it works and is easy or not-terribly-difficult and has no side affects) would be wise for people in general to do. The end goal would be having all modes equal and highly sensitive.

1) A bummer since during the typical relationship pre-screening process early in a relationship; hormones, novelty, general insanity, etc make everyone a "relationship guy/gal" and the need for them to go spend time with other people doesn't manifest until after substantial pair-bonding has occurred.

comment by Strangeattractor · 2015-10-02T10:25:34.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds very similar to journaling about ways my wife showed love each day

Journaling is focused on keeping track of what happened in the day, and what you perceived externally. That's not the point I had in mind with the exercise. The exercise was more to help your mind remember what it feels like to be loved. It's almost like training a muscle with weights or something. If you can bring up that feeling to mind more often, you might get used to it being there more often.

Journaling might help, but in a different way.

You could say that I'm feeling unhappy as a result of being lonely as a result of not perceiving enough love.

Thank you for this comment. I understand a little better.

I don't want/need stuff and a gift is more stuff wrapped in garbage which will eventually end up as garbage too.

If this has been your most common experience with receiving gifts, then no wonder you don't like it.

As someone who enjoys giving and receiving gifts, I would say that such gifts at least partly miss the point of giving gifts. It works much better when the gifts are thoughtful and something that the person receiving it actually likes.

There is weird cultural stuff around gift giving, different in different families and culture. In some cultures it is polite to pretend to like a gift you don't like. But in a romantic relationship, I think it is better to give feedback, and practice at getting better at it. Say it tactfully, but be honest. Then through several cycles of gift giving and feedback, adjustments can be made as you go along.

Perhaps you would prefer gifts more along the line of some sort of food that you enjoy that you could consume in a short period of time, or digital files that don't take up more physical space in your home. Those are examples I thought of that I think are less likely to fall into the category of "garbage wrapped in garbage". But you may have ideas that better suit you.

I know your topic is broader than just gifts, but I think in this example, you may not have had the experience of a gift done really well, with a lot of thought given to your preferences. When that happens, that feels pretty great, at least to me. But I also have had the experience of being given things that are of no use to me at all. If it's strangers I smile and nod, but for people close to me, I think it is worth bringing some assertiveness to the topic. In a long term relationship, I would not be satisfied with "That was kindly meant, but made my life slightly worse." Or maybe I would on occasion, but I would find it easier to accept if I had attempted to make the situation better in general.

In such a situation, I would communicate with my partner to see if we could find a way of doing things that was better for us both.

Maybe it should be "How can I feel positive emotions when people do nice things for me, irrespective of the format/modality of the nice thing, without having to consciously think about how it was a nice thing for someone to do."

Would it help to be able to separate in your head a bit the intent and the result? Because sometimes these do not match up.

You probably won't get to it being automatic to recognize and acknowledge someone's intent without spending some time doing it consciously.

If you observe people carefully over time, you may get a better idea of what their intent is. Or you could be more active and ask them directly (but politely) why they do the things they do.

Its seems I would like to make that lower-cost to me.

I think I'm missing something, because I'm not sure how that relates to what we are discussing. How would changing your perceptions of how love is shown make it easier to deal with when your wife takes some time to be with her friends?

It sound to me like your wife needs more time with her friends, but that the two of you also need more alone time together. Time is at a premium. I don't think it is reasonable to say "don't see your friends". But I do think there may be a way to achieve that, and achieve more time together. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

I don't know your specific circumstances, so maybe your time really is that scarce. But from the outside, and from the limited information I have, I think "making time to be alone together more often without reducing time spent with friends" sounds like it might be important to the future of your relationship.

It seems like an incredible brain hack, that (assuming it works and is easy or not-terribly-difficult and has no side affects) would be wise for people in general to do. The end goal would be having all modes equal and highly sensitive.

I think that getting better at perceiving the other modes is achievable. I think that having more appreciation than currently you do for the other modes is achievable. I'm not sure that preferences for which modes you like best are so easily changed. I'm also not sure that having all modes equal and highly sensitive should be the end goal. I think that to you right now it looks like it would make your life easier, but it may not be optimal.

I also don't think that this is something that you necessarily have to do alone. If you can talk to your wife more, ask her what she's thinking, get her help in this project, that may help. When she's doing something that shows her love for you, she likely knows it, and could help you notice it, if you ask for help noticing.

I've had times in a relationship where I've asked my partner to help me when I'm clueless about something that they care about, and it has worked out well, though it can be uncomfortable at times. Sometimes expressing the confusion openly helps.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-10-08T01:31:00.049Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your replies

If this has been your most common experience with receiving gifts, then no wonder you don't like it.

My issues with gifts are very layered and very deep, from going from middle class to "free-or-reduced-lunch" in middle school and becoming acutely aware of the value of things and what my mom was sacrificing for a new-but-cheap pair of jeans to a general avoidance of having stuff I don't want/use to a history of big gifts that were literally the opposite of "its the thought that counts". My wife and I don't really engage is gift giving, and it is not an area of contention.

Perhaps you would prefer gifts more along the line of some sort of food that you enjoy that you could consume in a short period of time...

I have been making a conscious effort to train people in giving experiences, as they are should to improve happiness vs presents, and don't offend my minimalist/zero-waste ideals. This is going to be a big challenge in the coming years are our 2 and 4 year olds get older.

You probably won't get to it being automatic to recognize and acknowledge someone's intent without spending some time doing it consciously.

I'd would disagree, at least for me I have been able to temporarily create new unconscious reactions. I have a little quirk that I'm paranoid that I'll call my lover the wrong name. When I first started dating my wife, any time I thought about my ex, I would repeat my wife's name in my head, this led to an odd habit of doing the same thing when I caught myself checking out another girl. That habit let to an unconscious reaction that seeing a "hot chick" would make me think of my wife. That has now attenuated away, but I'm sure if I started mentally repeating my wife's name whenever I check out a woman, it would come back.

comment by Elo · 2015-09-29T23:57:47.125Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My considerations about the love languages (with a partner of mine) was that - once you start considering languages you are already steps ahead of people who are not even trying in a relationship. Because of that it has an effect of winning-by-trying that otherwise wouldn't happen. whether or not love languages are real is completely debatable; but trying is certainly going to help (and having someone else's jargon to talk about things that you like/dislike should also help.

further comments; the 5 languages - gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch (intimacy)

I value them in this order: physical, time, and lower - words, and significantly lower - gifts or service. (as does my partner mentioned above)

There is a sneaky trick that I noticed; considering how much I don't care for gifts (and neither does my partner); when I gave my partner a gift it tricked my brain into going; "if I have time for gifts I must be fulfilled on the physical, time and word levels". Not sure why and how it works, but maybe try that?

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-30T01:14:22.045Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because of that it has an effect of winning-by-trying that otherwise wouldn't happen I have already noticed this happening; similar to people I know who are avid social media posters who view everything in terms of an instagram post, I have been thinking, "Oh I can journal about that." (at least for today, the persistence of this affect is yet to be seen) And (in as unbiased of a measurement as can be done) this brings a smile to my face they might not normally arise from hand-holding (for example).

having someone else's jargon to talk about I find having jargon very helpful, even if from baseless origins (example: astrology jargon is always helpful for me thinking/talking about personalities)

comment by Manfred · 2015-09-29T07:48:41.779Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Typical method is something like a gratitude journal.

As time becomes scarcer, it's also worth looking into more ways to exchange money for quality time with family. For example, for me I have to make a conscious effort to spend time and money on travel to see my parents and relatives - even though it's almost always a good exchange I don't do it automatically.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-29T17:28:00.078Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Typical method is something like a gratitude journal.

Thank you, I have been procrastinating gratitude journaling (for increasing general happiness) for a while, but it seems that journaling about the ways my wife shows her love, excluding quality time, would shift my perception.

Alas, I have considered daycare to put more of her alone-time during periods when I'm unavailable, but money is nearly as scarce as time these days.

comment by DanielLC · 2015-09-29T05:01:02.143Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The link is broken. You need to escape your underscores. Write it as "[love languages](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The\\\_Five\\\_Love\\\_Languages)". That way it wil print as "love languages".

comment by philh · 2015-09-29T10:05:32.786Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I think the problem is just that there was a space between the bracket pairs. This link is written without backslashes: love languages.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-29T17:15:31.501Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, this was also a problem. Thanks.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-29T17:13:28.944Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T17:41:45.022Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a method to change my love language priorities?

Do you want to change what makes you feel happy and loved?

I suspect a lot of it gets baked in during childhood and attempts to change that would involve fairly major surgery on your psyche.

comment by Dagon · 2015-09-29T15:41:04.730Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

IMO, fairly major surgery on one's psyche is an important part of optimizing one's life. You can't change everything all at once, but a whole lot of attitudes and aliefs can be reprogrammed over time.

For this one, gratitude journal is a good recommendation. Also, the same advice as other habit-changing: learn to notice when your feelings don't match your beliefs, and backtrack to the causes. Repeated self-talk (both affirmations and framing reminders) has a pretty strong effect on me, but others report mixed success.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T17:31:59.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

IMO, fairly major surgery on one's psyche is an important part of optimizing one's life.

Just like any major surgery, it's a risk. You might benefit, or you might screw yourself up in appropriately major ways.

comment by beberly37 · 2015-09-28T19:09:43.769Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you want to change what makes you feel happy and loved?

Yes. I edited the post for clarity.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-03T14:30:19.773Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't worth a karma hit to me (though I'm risking one by posting this way), but I'm pretty sure that advanced atheist was making a joke. It wasn't an especially good joke, but all the comments seemed to assume aa was serious.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2015-10-04T15:10:36.136Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's still related to his shtick and people are getting really tired of his shtick.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-10-03T16:38:06.373Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What led you to think it was a joke? Considering his previously stated opinions on a supposed incompatibility between futurism and female nature, it was completely in character for him.

comment by gjm · 2015-10-03T18:21:54.413Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's clearly a joke because he's alluding to the plot of a children's animated movie. The question is to what extent he was using the joke to make a serious point.

comment by ike · 2015-10-01T20:10:14.907Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are there any known deaths due to Quantum suicide experiments? Conversely, are there any known survivals in such experiments? (We should presumably not expect the latter for large odds of death, but just want the question to be complete.)

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2015-10-04T15:16:06.144Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not exactly, but related: Hugh Everett's' daughter Elizabeth committed suicide in 1996 and wrote in her suicide note that she's going to a parallel universe to be with her father.

comment by gwern · 2015-10-05T00:12:50.777Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The exact wording is a little more tentative. From Many Worlds of Hugh Everett, pg757 in my Calibre:

Funeral requests: I prefer no church stuff. Please burn me and DON’T FILE ME Please sprinkle me in some nice body of water … or the garbage, maybe that way I’ll end up in the correct parallel universe to meet up w/Daddy.^7

(The footnote explains that "don't file me" is a joking reference to how Everett's ashes were apparently kept in a filing cabinet for some time.)

comment by philh · 2015-10-02T10:00:06.931Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that to someone not taking part in the experiment, the odds of the experimenter surviving are the same regardless of quantum immortality.

(At least, as far as I can tell. But this seems to suggest that if someone survives lots of QI experiments, they should update massively in favour of QI, but nobody else should update at all, which seems really weird to me.)

comment by ike · 2015-10-02T17:15:45.743Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I was trying to say in my parenthetical above.

And yes, anthropics is weird.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-10-02T18:49:45.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But this seems to suggest that if someone survives lots of QI experiments, they should update massively in favour of QI, but nobody else should update at all

It seems like an observer should likewise update in favor of QI in this case. If I know that you have survived many QI experiments, don't I have just as much justification for updating in favor of QI as you do?

comment by philh · 2015-10-03T13:52:59.363Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, because from your perspective, me surviving is just as unlikely under QI as under not-QI. If I die on the result of a quantum coinflip, then the universe diverges into two branches. I can only observe the one where I survive, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You're equally likely to observe either of them.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-10-02T04:09:53.391Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Louis Slotin?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Slotin

comment by ike · 2015-10-02T04:27:05.267Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"accidentally", and it was before the idea had even been thought of (and, in fact, before MWI had been proposed.

comment by RaelwayScot · 2015-10-01T17:51:11.908Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Happy Longevity Day!

comment by G0W51 · 2015-09-29T03:41:43.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it okay to re-ask questions on open threads if they were not answered the last time the were ask on it? I had asked this question but received no answer, and I am concerened it would be spammy to re-ask.

comment by philh · 2015-09-29T10:08:27.309Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd say ask it at most three times consecutively, probably no more than two. But two is absolutely fine, especially since you previously asked it quite late in the thread.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-09-30T15:11:09.517Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

LW isn't a place that has strict rules for issues like this. It operates on the principle that it's users are generally smart and make decent decisions.

If a person makes posting decisions that the community disapproves of, he will get downvoted.

comment by MrMind · 2015-09-29T07:03:19.899Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I personally wouldn't mind if you re-asked. It might happen that I might know an answer this week and not the past one, and usually open threads get forgotten really quickly.

comment by Raiden · 2015-09-29T15:58:00.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I expect that most people are biased when it comes to judging how attractive they are. Asking people probably doesn't help too much, since people are likely to be nice, and close friends probably also have a biased view of ones attractiveness. So is there a good way to calibrate your perception of how good you look?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-09-29T17:00:08.488Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

So is there a good way to calibrate your perception of how good you look?

Can't you just post a photo on a relevant website? okCupid has a rating system, I think HotOrNot is still around, etc.

comment by Dahlen · 2015-09-29T23:31:20.337Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You gawk a lot at people and develop an eye for what attractiveness means. Don't ask people, that's almost always useless, unless you happen to run into an expert on this. See what your eye responds positively to. Then evaluating yourself is as easy as keeping a reference feature in your mind up for comparison when you look at yourself. Keep in mind that attractive people are not all identical; there are attractive and unattractive versions and combinations of any trait.

There are also some things you could do to get an eye-opening perspective of yourself – ever looked at yourself through a second mirror forming an acute angle to the first mirror, so you can see yourself from the side view? I guarantee that the first time you do it you'll feel very surprised. Same thing when you're filmed talking and then watch the footage. Images that are flipped horizontally relative to your mirror image also help you notice asymmetries. The point is that the eye notices a lot more when the image is even slightly unfamiliar.

comment by Dagon · 2015-09-30T15:57:22.712Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most people don't have a strong operational definition of what "how attractive" means - it's not so much that people are biased, but that the question is incoherent. Even the visual components of attraction between two people have a lot of dimensions, which different viewers will combine differently.

Depending on why you want to know, I can suggest a few different paths: 1) seek professional opinion - ask people at modeling agencies whether you have looks that will sell product. 2) seek crowd opinion - there are sites where you can post a photo and see how many responses you get. 3) find ways to measure the common components of beauty (symmetry, ratios between features, etc.).
4) find ways to identify (and enhance) attractiveness to specific people rather than in general.

None of these are objective. Give that up - beauty isn't actually objective (though there are components that correlate strongly with majority subjective reporting). Also, you don't say "physical attractiveness", nor "sexual attractiveness", so perhaps you intend to mean the total package of likeability for all purposes - if so, ignore 1-3; #4 is the one which acknowledges the idiosyncratic nature of human attraction.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-30T16:02:19.738Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Most people don't have a strong operational definition of what "how attractive" means - it's not so much that people are biased, but that the question is incoherent.

I am not sure why do you think so -- conditional on specifying a (sub)culture, most people have little trouble saying "X looks more attractive than Y". Of course, that's just ranking, not assigning some numerical estimate. It's easy to pick a pair of faces which 95%+ of respondents will rank in attractiveness the same way.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-02T19:02:45.150Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recently got a beard and had conversations with a few people about whether I look more attractive with it. When talking with one girl she said that the effect of the beard was that I look more mature and that the question is whether that's the image that I want to project.

In some situations looking more mature will be helpful and attractive while in other it won't. That information will get lost when you focus on a single scale of attractiveness.

Despite matureness other qualities such as friendliness, trustworthiness and openness can also be communicate through looks and some people will count them into attractiveness while other won't.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-09-30T15:13:48.405Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly do you want to know about your looks? In what way would an answer to the question help you?

comment by raydora · 2015-09-29T16:06:24.569Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a rating system based on proportions, symmetry, and skin health. However, I'm not convinced this is that (it is a large factor in decisions, yes, but it's not one you can change much beyond style and hygiene, unless you're willing to undergo plastic surgery) important, except in the realm of Tinder-esque situations.

If you happen to live somewhere where random people will complement you or flirt with you, I suppose number of incidents/number of people exposed to over a large span of time could be a metric.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-09-30T15:19:20.567Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you happen to live somewhere where random people will complement you or flirt with you, I suppose number of incidents/number of people exposed to over a large span of time could be a metric.

I think that has more to do with how approachable you look than with how attractive you look.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2015-10-04T15:40:51.642Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If there was a large dataset of faces shot in a similar way and rated for attractiveness somewhere, you could take a photo of yourself, look for people in the set who look like you (possibly with some sort of face recognition program) and see how they are rated.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T20:32:01.602Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm really hesitant about posting about controversial topics like climate change because of the heavy mind-killing effect they have. But I was recently involved in a debate about climate change, and one of the opponents in the debate pointed to evidence supposedly supporting the 'global warming hiatus' in the past 15 years and that 90's climate models did not predict the hiatus. On the other hand, work by NASA/NOAA suggests that the supposed hiatus is actually illusory and an artifact of uncorrected ocean temperature data. Other sources suggest that the time period in question is too short to say with high confidence whether a hiatus has occurred or not.

Both sides of this debate agreed that climate change was happening; the disagreement was just over the existence of a recent hiatus in land-ocean surface temperature warming and the predictive power of climate models. I am not experienced enough in climate science to determine what the truth is here. Does anyone have any more information?

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-09-28T23:48:46.671Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are a lot of decade-scale cycles that pump heat energy around the earth system, making it pile up more rapidly in the atmosphere than the deep hydrosphere or vice versa, and various other similar things . Patterns at timescales shorter than a decade or so are almost meaningless as a result.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-29T05:39:45.695Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well the question is less about heat energy and more about land-ocean surface temperatures. In the debate, both sides agreed that the climate heat content was increasing and that this was due to human activity. The disagreement was about whether surface temperature models should be taken seriously or not.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T00:07:04.947Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Patterns at timescales shorter than a decade or so are almost meaningless as a result.

That certainly wasn't what global-warming people were saying at the end of 1990s.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T20:41:32.952Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Suitability of climate models" is a... complex subject. I don't think there is a short and easy answer other than that most models overstate the certainty of their conclusions.

Whether the hiatus ("pause") exists is a much easier question. Just take a look at temperature plots for the last 50 years or so and check what your eyes tell you :-)

comment by gjm · 2015-09-28T23:32:39.701Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Just take a look [...] and check what your eyes tell you :-)

This is the same procedure that leads a lot of people to lose a lot of money trying to pick stocks, and a lot of other people to believe in the efficacy of prayer. Human eyes attached to human brains are very good at seeing patterns that aren't really there.

I am not a climate scientist and haven't looked at the data in detail. But, for what it's worth, when I eyeball the plots what I see is a highly noisy time series whose last 10 years or so do indeed look cooler than trend but not so much so that I'd want to rule out random variation as a sufficient explanation. And at least some people who have looked at the data in detail have arrived at the same conclusion; see e.g. passive_fist's second and third links.

I don't know whether those people are right, but what they say seems to me obviously credible enough that saying "just eyeball the data, it's obvious" is really bad advice.

[EDITED to add:] Maybe what's actually going here is different interpretations of "the hiatus exists". It seems fairly uncontroversial that (e.g.) the slope of the least-squares straight line fit to mean surface temperature from 1998 to 2013 is somewhat smaller than that of a corresponding fit from 1983 to 1998. (Though IIUC this is in fact what the NOAA guys are calling into question.) On the other hand, it's obvious from, er, eyeballing the data that whatever medium-to-long-term trends there may be are overlaid with a lot of short-term variation, and the question is: does that fact about slopes of 15-year fits actually give us reason to think that whatever processes are responsible for the longer-term increase in measured temperatures have stopped or slowed or otherwise changed? The answer to that could well be negative, and my own impression on eyeballing the data is that it probably is negative, and that's what I mean by saying it's doubtful whether there has actually been a hiatus.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T23:54:04.924Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe what's actually going here is different interpretations of "the hiatus exists"

"Hiatus exists" is a simple and plain phrase. I think you just confused yourself by trying to add a lot of meaning to this phrase (in particular, whether "random variation" might or might not be a sufficient explanation).

"just eyeball the data, it's obvious" is really bad advice

You are confusing observation and interpretation. Having said that, I'm a big fan of the Intraocular Trauma significance test :-)

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T01:54:31.738Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Hiatus exists" is a simple and plain phrase

... which can mean at least two reasonable things: (1) a particular set of measurements stopped increasing so fast; (2) the underlying process stopped or slowed. It seems clear that #2 is the more interesting of these.

I'm a big fan of the Intraocular Trauma significance test

(Interocular: between the eyes.) It makes for a good soundbite, but I don't think it's usually the best criterion. There's a reason why fancier and more objective significance tests have been developed!

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T03:07:26.093Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems clear that #2 is the more interesting of these

It also seems clear that we don't have a good handle on the underlying process so claims about what it does or does not should not be expressed in plain and simple phrases.

I don't think it's usually the best criterion

I didn't say it was -- I said I liked it. Fancier significance tests are fancier, but also easier to trick oneself with.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T10:52:24.697Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

claims about what it does or does not should not be expressed in plain and simple phrases

It appears that from this you draw the conclusion that any given plain and simple phrase can and should and will be clearly understood to refer to something easier to make such claims about with confidence. I draw a different conclusion: we shouldn't make claims with plain and simple phrases that are liable to be understood in terms of things we don't have a good handle on.

easier to trick oneself with

I am not at all convinced. It is very, very easy to trick oneself into seeing patterns that aren't there, and they will quite often appear to hit you between the eyes. Have a look at some random noise:

These are twelve randomly generated datasets with statistics crudely resembling those of the global warming data from 1960 to 2014. None of them has any sort of hiatus in the underlying process; they're all ramp + white noise. I'd say at least half have "hiatuses" inflicting at least as much interocular trauma as the actual global mean surface temperature graph's "hiatus" does.

If you have MATLAB you can generate similar graphs yourself:

n=55; f=7.5; x=1:n; for i=1:12; y=(1:n)+f*randn(1,n); subplot(3,4,i); plot(x, y, 'r-'); bestj=0; bestm=1; bestk=0; for j=1:(n-14); x1=j:(j+14); y1=y(x1); c=lscov([0*x1'+1 x1'], y1'); if c(2)<bestm; bestj=j; bestm=c(2); bestk=c(1); end; end; if bestm<=0.5; x1=bestj+(0:14); hold on; plot(x1,bestk+bestm*x1,'b-','LineWidth',3); hold off; end; end;

(This only plots the 15-year trend lines when the gradient over those 15 years is <= half the underlying gradient. You will notice that in my plots, every subplot has a trend line plotted. Yours probably will too.)

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T13:59:51.772Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For a better simulation of the interocular trauma from actual climate data, I did the same as above but after finding the best "hiatus" in the 55-year data I extended the data on the left (same ramp, same-distribution white noise) to give us 55 years with that "hiatus" at the end. Here are the results:

I reckon that numbers 4,5,7,8,9,10,12 are about as impressive as the "hiatus" in the actual data. That's just over half.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T17:27:40.343Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

None of your plots satisfy my Interocular Trauma test (by the way, you're right that it's interocular, though the intraocular might be a Continental variation, coup d'oeil and all that :-D). Even the bright blue LOOK AT ME! lines don't help.

And if we're throwing pictures around and talking about "objective" statistical metrics, I give you the Anscombe's quartet.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T19:09:48.412Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

None of your plots satisfy my Interocular Trauma test

Several of them are as convincing to me as the "hiatus" in the actual temperature data.

Anscombe's quartet

I'm familiar with Anscombe's quartet, but what's its relevance here? I mean, I take it you're saying something more sensible than "Knowing a few statistics computed from a dataset may tell you far less than everything there is to know about it; therefore we should judge whether or not global warming has slowed or stopped by eyeballing the graph rather than applying any statistical tests", but what?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T19:24:56.508Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Several of them are as convincing to me as the "hiatus" in the actual temperature data.

So are you convinced that the "hiatus" is just an artifact of noise in the data?

therefore we should judge whether or not global warming has slowed or stopped by eyeballing the graph

Eh? Where is this lovely piece coming from?

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T19:44:15.491Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So are you convinced [...]

Nope. I'm merely convinced that the existence of the hiatus in the measured temperatures isn't very strong evidence of anything beyond itself. Very similar effects can be produced by noise; therefore seeing such an effect isn't good evidence of anything more than noise. Of course it might have some more interesting cause, but if want to see better evidence to be convinced that it does.

Eh?

The trouble with merely pointing at things and saying "Behold!" rather than making an actual argument is that teen your readers need to guess what argument you're hinting at. In this case the best guess I could come up with seemed unlikely, which is why I wrote "I take it you're saying something more sensible than ..., but what?". Perhaps you might explain what you did have in mind?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T19:52:35.706Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm merely convinced that the existence of the hiatus in the measured temperatures isn't very strong evidence of anything beyond itself.

So, in this thread, who are you arguing against? Did someone say "this hiatus certainly means X"?

The trouble with merely pointing at things and saying "Behold!" rather than making an actual argument

If you were to bother looking at the start of this subthread, you would have seen that the original issue was

the disagreement was just over the existence of a recent hiatus in land-ocean surface temperature warming

Questions about existence are adequately answered by merely pointing at things and saying "Behold!"

I have a feeling you are searching for an opponent who would claim something along the lines of "The hiatus is a incontrovertible proof that global warming isn't happening" and are disappointed that such an opponent is unwilling to present himself.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T20:51:12.189Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

who are you arguing against? [...] just over the existence of a recent hiatus in land-ocean surface temperature warming

OK, so let's try to be really clear about this. I suggest that there are three possible claims here. GRAPH: "if you look at the temperature graph, its gradient is lower circa 2005 than circa 1990". SIGNIFICANT: "GRAPH, and furthermore the difference in gradients is too large to be adequately explained by noise". MECHANISM: "SIGNIFICANT, and furthermore the best explanation is that something has changed in whatever underlying warming phenomenon may have been going on".

What were the original questions at issue? Well, in passive_fist's comment three papers (one "pro-hiatus", two "anti-hiatus" are cited. The first argues for SIGNIFICANT and suggests two possible explanations, one of which is MECHANISM. The second argues both against GRAPH (it claims that the data need adjusting) and against SIGNIFICANT (it points out that the reduction gets smaller if you include the latest data, including the very warm 2014, and if you don't start at the cherry-picked El Niño year of 1998). The third argues against SIGNIFICANT on the basis that if you do the statistics right there isn't actually evidence for a reduction in warming, and explains that the question is important because of possible implications for MECHANISM.

So it doesn't look to me as if the question was only ever about GRAPH.

Now, perhaps you were only ever talking about GRAPH. But if so, your comments were (I'm sorry to have to say) entirely irrelevant to the points actually at issue.

I have a feeling [...]

Nope, nothing of the sort. Sorry to be less made-of-straw than you might like.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T21:17:53.870Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

entirely irrelevant

Irrelevant to the debate you were having inside your mind, probably. Unfortunately, I was not part of it.

comment by gjm · 2015-09-29T21:38:39.880Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do you, seriously, think you are being reasonable in this discussion?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T23:03:16.909Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am the very embodiment of reasonableness, am I not? :-P

comment by gjm · 2015-09-30T10:59:35.781Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

OK, tapping out now. (By the way, none of the downvotes you've received in this thread come from me.)

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T20:50:50.862Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there is a short and easy answer other than that most models overstate the certainty of their conclusions.

I'm not afraid of a long and hard answer, if you have one.

Just take a look at temperature plots for the last 50 years or so and check what your eyes tell you :-)

Looking at the official data released by NASA, there is no warming hiatus.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T21:13:55.502Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The long and hard answer is about a book's length in size and might well be more.

As to data, there are several "official" series, IIRC from NASA, from NOAA, and from the Hadley Centre. See e.g. this. Data is freely available, so you can plot your own.

However I don't know why there is controversy over the existence of hiatus if even the IPCC 2013 report accepts it as existing and spends a few pages (Ch. 9) discussing it.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-29T05:37:21.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

However I don't know why there is controversy over the existence of hiatus if even the IPCC 2013 report accepts it as existing and spends a few pages (Ch. 9) discussing it.

Science moves on... are you suggesting that just because it was in the IPCC report the matter is fully settled and over with? Even though I agree with the conclusions of the IPCC report, I'm sure there are many things in the report which will have to be revised in the future.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T17:18:28.990Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just like gjm, I think you're confusing existence and interpretation.

Outside of political posturing, I don't know why someone would claim that hiatus as a feature of the historical data set does not exist. It does and it's pretty clear. That's existence. What does the hiatus mean is a different and a much more complicated question. You can claim it's just an artifact of random variation. You can claim it reflects multi-year cycles in global climate patterns. You can claim it shows that our models are deficient and we don't understand climate variation. You can claim many things -- but a claim that the hiatus just does not exist doesn't seem reasonable to me.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-29T20:56:31.093Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure why you're using this unusual terminology, but I'm arguing about what you call existence. It seems that you're arguing that the 'hiatus' exists with either absolute certainty (in which case you'd have to provide a logical proof) or at least with very high likelihood. However, I see no reason we should assign a very high likelihood to its existence.

The 'existence' of a 'trend' or 'hiatus' in general time series data is part of the map, not the territory. If the climate temperature data were just a smooth line (like this - graph not relevant to the discussion) then I'd agree with you, but it's not. It looks like this.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T21:19:54.040Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's unusual about my terminology?

The 'existence' of a 'trend' or 'hiatus' in general time series data is part of the map, not the territory.

I am not sure about that. In your "smooth line" example, is the trend part of the map or the territory? More generally, what can I say about a time series that you would consider to be territory and not map?

Oh, and if you want to be technical about it, the time series you're looking at is not part of the territory to start with. It's a complex model-dependent aggregate.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-29T21:42:38.022Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If the temperature graph looked like the first graph, then inference of a trend (which is, again, part of the map) with high probability might be made. But it does not look like that.

More generally, what can I say about a time series that you would consider to be territory and not map?

That f(t) = x.

Oh, and if you want to be technical about it, the time series you're looking at is not part of the territory to start with. It's a complex model-dependent aggregate.

For the sake of discussion of the existence of a hiatus I'm assuming the temperature graph is a given. But you're right in that the big picture is that the temperature graph itself is not part of the territory.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T23:04:35.660Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In this case I am not sure what do you mean by "exists".

Can you give a definition, preferfably a hard one, that is, an algorithm into which I can feed the time series and it will tell me whether a particular feature (e.g. a hiatus) exists or not?

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-30T22:18:31.050Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're getting close to understanding the problem. What you're really asking about is an inference method, and the optimal inference method is Bayesian inference, which requires specification of what you would expect to see in the temperature record if the current warming rate were zero and also the specification of a prior probability. For the latter, an uninformative prior assigning equal weight to warming and cooling would probably be most suitable here. The former is a bit tricky, and that is precisely the problem with saying "the existence of the hiatus is obvious."

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-01T00:45:33.325Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What you're really asking about is an inference method

I am sorry, I do nothing of that sort. You asked a question about whether something exists and it turned out that you have a different meaning (or, maybe, context) for that word than I envisioned. So I am asking you what do you mean by "exists" -- not about the optimal methods of inference.

Given your comment, I think what you are asking is not whether the hiatus exists (as I use the word), but rather whether the warming has stopped -- or maybe whether our confidence in the current climate models is not as high as it used to be.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-10-01T07:50:52.207Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am sorry, I do nothing of that sort.

Again, yes you are, because you're asking about inferring some property (the hiatus e.g. relative slowdown in increase of global surface temperatures) from the data, not directly about the data (which is only a function mapping points in time to instantaneous temperature recordings and by itself says nothing about trends). One way of calculating a trend is simply smoothing/windowing and taking the derivative, and then saying 'a hiatus is happening if the derivative is this close to zero'. That is a kind of inference, although not the kind that I would personally use for data like this.

What you are talking about is also probabilistic inference in the strictest sense, because the confidence in your estimate of existence of the hiatus depends directly on how much data you have. In this case, only a few years' worth --- if you had 100 years' worth of data to go on, a much stronger estimate could be made. Conversely, if you had only 1-2 years of data, then no such hiatus would be 'apparent' even if it was occurring.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-01T14:54:34.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To start with, there is some confusion -- you say

you're asking about inferring some property

which isn't so. You are asking about inferring some property, and I'm asking about the meaning of the words you are using.

However, getting to the meat of the issue, I'd like to make two points.

Point one is distinguishing between sample statistics and estimates of the parameters of the underlying process. In our case we have an underlying process (warming, let's say we define it as the net energy balance of the planet integrated over a suitable interval) which we cannot observe directly, and some data (land and ocean temperatures) which we can.

The data that we have is, in statistical terminology, a sample and we commonly try to figure out properties of the underlying process by looking at the sample that we have. The thing is, sample statistics are not random. If I have some data (e.g. a time series of temperatures) and I calculate its mean, that mean is not a random variable. The probability of it is 1 -- we observed it, it happened. There is no inference involved in calculating sample means, just straight math. Now, if you want estimates of a mean of the underlying process, that's a different issue. It's going to be an uncertain estimate and we will have to specify some sort of a model to even produce such and estimate and talk about how likely it is.

In this case, when I'm talking about the hiatus as a feature of the data, it's not a probabilistic, there is nothing to infer. But if you want to know whether there is a hiatus in the underlying process of global warming, it's a different question and much more complicated, too.

Point two is more general and a bit more interesting. It's common to think in terms of data and models: you have some data and you fit some models to it. You can describe your data without using any models -- for example, calculate the sample mean. However as your description of data grows more complex, at some point you cross a (fuzzy) line and start to talk about the same data in terms of models, implied or explicit. Where that fuzzy line is located is subject to debate. For example, you put that line almost at the end of the spectrum when you say that the only thing we can say about a time series without involving models or inferences is that x=f(t) and that's all. I find that not very useful and my line is further away. I'm not claiming any kind of precision here, but a full-blown ARIMA representation of a time series I would call a model, and something like an AR(1) coefficient would be right on the boundary: is it just a straightforward math calculation, or are you fitting an autoregressive model to the time series?

comment by passive_fist · 2015-11-25T04:56:18.623Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep16784

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-25T05:08:14.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lewandowsky has an... interesting reputation.

comment by gjm · 2015-11-25T14:34:30.882Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If there's something wrong with the article, it seems like you should be able to say what it is rather than making insinuations about one of its authors.

(Lewandowsky is strongly disliked by those whose position on global warming differs from the mainstream scientific consensus, no doubt. So far as I can tell he doesn't have a reputation for dishonesty or incompetence among groups without a strong motivation to put him down.)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-11-25T15:23:48.492Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read the article, just glanced at the front page, saw the name of the lead author and thought "Hmm... that name looks familiar".

comment by existentialventures · 2015-09-28T19:32:08.446Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Has anybody heard of the fallacy fallacy?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-28T19:40:33.146Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed.

comment by username2 · 2015-10-04T16:44:37.483Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Related: flowchart logic.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-09-30T17:22:22.748Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

From Augustine's Confessions, Book 11:

What now is clear and plain is, that neither things to come nor past are. Nor is it properly said, "there be three times, past, present, and to come": yet perchance it might be properly said, "there be three times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things future." For these three do exist in some sort, in the soul, but otherwhere do I not see them; present of things past, memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future, expectation.

The man who spoke at my high school graduation (East Central High School in Tulsa, Class of '78) actually quoted this passage of Augustine's in his speech, which I remember as part of my present of things past. Unfortunately I have forgotten the speaker's name.

comment by philh · 2015-10-02T10:03:30.266Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Quite apart from the content of the quotes themselves, why are you posting so many in open threads instead of in quotes threads?

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-10-01T16:07:30.298Z · score: -6 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Transhumanism sounds like all fun and games now. But wait until an enhanced woman goes into the mountains, creates an ice castle with her superpowers and plunges the world into endless winter.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-01T16:14:59.123Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The fallacy of generalizing from fictional evidence? :)

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-10-01T16:19:52.290Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You picked the worst possible example. She was not the villain of that movie.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-10-01T16:27:06.757Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention picking a Disney princess movie as an example of an apocalypsis X-)

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-09-30T23:37:37.461Z · score: -6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Dante Alighieri, De Monarchia:

Ineffable Providence has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of the countenance of God, to which man’s natural powers may not attain unless aided by divine light, and which may be symbolized by the celestial Paradise.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-10-01T12:25:18.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

HITARQ?

I can confabulate a rationalist!Dante version, but I can do that with anything:

Ineluctable Reality has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of Reality in its fullness, to which man’s natural powers may not attain unless rightly guided by Reality, and which may be symbolized by the transhuman Paradise.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-09-28T14:14:16.120Z · score: -12 (34 votes) · LW · GW

The recent propaganda about the wonders of sex robots has gotten me worked up because I consider the sex robot a horrible idea, and it leads me to worry about just how disordered the relationship between the sexes can possibly get. Young men need experience with sexual relationships starting at an appropriate age so that they can develop the skills they need for dealing with women successfully in adult life in general. Sufficiently advanced sex robots (“advanced” in a technological sense, because I consider the technology socially damaging) could sabotage this process and result in turning a whole generation of adolescent boys into emotionally and socially impaired adult male virgins who don’t know how to relate to real, biological women. Something like this trend has already advanced far in Japan, even without sex robots: Reportedly a quarter of unmarried Japanese men in their 30’s have had no sexual experience, despite Japan’s normal male to female sex ratio, the culture’s sexual liberalism and Japan’s proximity to other Asian countries which have sex tourism industries. Japan has a funny way of living “20 minutes into the future,” so we shouldn’t shrug this off this phenomenon as a peculiarity of Japanese culture and not expect it to show up elsewhere.

For some reason I find little reception to my concerns about this. I would even argue that male sexual backwardness should become a focus of professional development in business, to show the importance of addressing it as a wider problem. Promising male business leaders who lack sexual experience need help in acquiring it as part of their training so that they can earn the respect of women in the work place. (What, you don’t think that women can pick up on the difference between the experienced, confident man versus the inexperienced man who feels uncomfortable around young women, ceteris paribus?)

But as I said, I don’t know of anyone else who shares my point of view, and especially not professional sexologists. The sex scientists in the West, at least, seem to have the agenda of promoting feminism and normalizing deviancy. They don’t care about the experiences and problems of adult male virgins and incels with normal desires, so guess who gets thrown to the wolves?

Then I just read the following story:

Advent of the virgin births: Women who have never been in a relationship paying £5,000 to get pregnant http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3250413/Advent-virgin-births-Women-never-relationship-paying-5-000-pregnant.html

Apparently some fertility clinics in the UK will help virgin women bypass sexual experience on the way to motherhood, even ones who might never have had a boyfriend or gone on a date.

Hmm. Okay. What could possibly go wrong with this, apart from the usual hazards of single motherhood?

Well, the Daily Mail article says the following:

Child psychotherapist Dilys Daws said the fact that virgin women were resorting to IVF ‘suggests someone who is not emotionally mature enough to be close to someone else – and that matters when it comes to bringing up a child. It implies the woman has a fear of having a close physical relationship with someone else, in which case the baby will not be brought up with that love.’

Uh, you know, this resembles my concerns about the developmental deficiencies of adult male virgins. Perhaps I sound like a crank for insisting that young men need experience with sexual relationships to develop into thriving adult men; but then this psychotherapist says that young women need the emotional growth that comes from experience with sexual relationships, and they preferably need to become pregnant in these relationships, so that they can become good mothers.

And now the UK has inadvertently started a social experiment where female virgins can forego this stage of life experience and skill development because they want to make babies right away without having any sexual involvement with men. The women who give birth this way will probably have problems forming relationships with men afterwards, and not just because of men’s natural aversion to cuckoldry – why should these men invest their resources into rearing other men’s children? – but also because these women could project something “off” about them that reduces the perception of their reproductive fitness. Making babies as virgins minus sexual intercourse has to muck up women’s hormonal cycles involved with courtship, pair bonding, mating, conception, pregnancy and childbirth – natural and sexual selection shaped women’s bodies and minds to do it this way over hundreds of thousands of years - and the subtle but detectable damage will probably manifest itself in their bodies and in their behavior around men.

However I doubt if the medical community will heed the warnings of mental health professionals like Dilys Daws. In the modern political regime, women can get pretty much whatever they want, even female virgins who want to become mothers without having to submit to the indignity of coupling with the bodies of icky boys. Meanwhile, some transhumanists who should know better think that sexually backwards men will find meaningful “relationships” with sex robots. The two trends complement each other, in a sick and twisted way; and I just don’t see how they can turn out well, especially if the one about virgin motherhood goes viral.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-28T15:04:29.072Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t know of anyone else who shares my point of view, and especially not professional sexologists.

You may need to update your beliefs based on that evidence. Admittedly, your personal history has a strong effect on your recommendations for society, but (and I'm sorry that there's no delicate way to say this) your case is not the average.

sexual relationships starting at an appropriate age

You keep using that term, like it's analogous to the essential time window in childhood for language acquisition, but adults are much more flexible.

male business leaders who lack sexual experience need help in acquiring it as part of their training so that they can earn the respect of women in the work place

One anecdote is not evidence, but I'm the least sexually experienced and the most professionally respected person at my office. Even outside of my own team, our commercial department is full of women and all of them defer to my opinion on expected timeframes and quality checks. And I achieve all that while being on principle opposed to the idea that women naturally look up to men for guidance.

this psychotherapist says that young women need the emotional growth that comes from experience with sexual relationships

I think it's time for each individual to decide what they need instead of imposing a homogeneous standard on everyone.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T17:09:33.701Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're overestimating the importance of sex in human relationships. I'm willing to bet that someone with no sexual history can do a good enough job of raising a baby and a child, especially if they were well nurtured themselves. I'm concerned about how they'd do with an adolescent who's interested in sex.

More generally, I believe that people who have a hard time getting started on sexual/romantic relationships have parents who didn't have a good relationship.

As for social change, I don't think forbidding IVF for virgins isn't going to solve anything. I think we have sufficient evidence that external control doesn't have good tools for getting people to have children or form families.

I believe we're looking at a bottleneck where only people who really want children are having children, and I don't know what the outcome will be.

If the human race went entirely non-sexual but still wanted children at a reasonable rate, I don't think it would be a disaster. I also don't think this is likely.

I find it plausible that at least some of the people who don't want sex have had a traumatic sexual history. I really can't say that the world is a worse place because such people don't have to have sex to have children.

The big advantage I can see for sex robots is that if they can compete successfully with low-end prostitutes, women and girls will be much less likely to be forced into prostitution.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T20:24:00.007Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm willing to bet that someone with no sexual history can do a good enough job of raising a baby and a child

Indeed, in the past this was the norm in many societies. Most women's very first sexual experience was with their husband and they often became pregnant after very little sexual activity. Aside from the comment made by that anonymous psychologist, I am not aware of anyone saying that women require sexual experience to raise children. The two concepts seem entirely unrelated.

Experience with other children (children of other people in the family, or even stranger's children) seems to be a far more relevant area of experience and, if anything, this is the area in which many women today lag behind their predecessors.

comment by philh · 2015-09-28T22:20:50.470Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, in the past this was the norm in many societies. Most women's very first sexual experience was with their husband and they often became pregnant after very little sexual activity.

Not to mention - my impression is that upper-class families would often hire nannies and governesses to do much of their child-rearing, and that these were considered respectable positions for unmarried women.

comment by knb · 2015-09-28T21:07:25.974Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the idea is that having had long-term relationships (which leads to sex in almost all cases) is an important developmental step in which you learn a lot of important interpersonal skills. I think that's true, and I think it's unwise to let people skip this developmental step and create a child to fill the resulting void of loneliness.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T18:12:22.809Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

More generally, I believe that people who have a hard time getting started on sexual/romantic relationships have parents who didn't have a good relationship.

Interesting. What evidence do you have for this?

I believe we're looking at a bottleneck where only people who really want children are having children, and I don't know what the outcome will be.

Extrapolating from the current situation, feminists, liberals, environmentalists and the highly educated don't have kids, while conservatives and religions people do. In the unlikely case that there is no singularity or genetic engineering or brave new world style babies in tubes for the next few hundred years, the world turns back into a medieval theocracy, with nukes.

I find it plausible that at least some of the people who don't want sex have had a traumatic sexual history. I really can't say that the world is a worse place because such people don't have to have sex to have children.

It depends on how it affects them. If they are a complete nervous wreck because of the trauma, maybe it is best they don't have children? But that is a worst-case scenario.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T22:59:48.890Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Extrapolating from the current situation, feminists, liberals, environmentalists and the highly educated don't have kids, while conservatives and religions people do. In the unlikely case that there is no singularity or genetic engineering or brave new world style babies in tubes for the next few hundred years, the world turns back into a medieval theocracy, with nukes.

This is a commonly-repeated point which I have seen no evidence for. Specifically, I am aware of no evidence that propensity to believe in religion is passed on as a hereditary trait. Indeed, there are many human behaviours that would seem to be highly selected against in evolutionary terms but still persist to a high degree in the population (homosexuality, etc.) The reason of course is that these behaviours have a strong developmental component that is independent of genetics.

As an anecdotal example, I am the child of very religious parents and I have zero belief in religion, and I have always had zero belief in it ever since I remember.

People always make the implicit assumption that children are going to be identical to their parents. In practice, culture, environment, and other factors play a huge role. The key to securing the future success of a society lies less in getting 'smart' people to breed and more in providing a good and intellectually stimulating environment for future children to grow up in.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-29T09:30:31.363Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is a tangent, but I just caught myself thinking, 'If my religious parents had a less amorphous image of religion - although maybe in their heads it really is so - a more structured way of how the world should be, instead of is, I would find religion more to my liking. After all, they taught me to doubt, they taught me to tolerate incompatible beliefs when they don't likely lead to what I consider 'bad outcomes', they taught me to be curious about the world, so they have to have these values themselves! But no, it was as if they just thought religion is something you pick up with age... Maybe religious and unreligious people are more concerned about their own generation, and the respective vocal minorities who 'go after the children' are regarded as truce-breakers?

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T23:28:24.062Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a commonly-repeated point which I have seen no evidence for. Specifically, I am aware of no evidence that propensity to believe in religion is passed on as a hereditary trait. Indeed, there are many human behaviours that would seem to be highly selected against in evolutionary terms but still persist to a high degree in the population (homosexuality, etc.) The reason of course is that these behaviours have a strong developmental component that is independent of genetics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity#Genes_and_environment

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/what-twins-reveal-about-god-gene

Also, homosexuality is 35-40% hereditary. There have been twin studies done. This is plausible, if for instance its caused by recessive genes which confer a homozygote fitness boost.

The key to securing the future success of a society lies less in getting 'smart' people to breed

Intelligence isn't orthogonal to religiosity, and I didn't propose any sort of eugenics.

and more in providing a good and intellectually stimulating environment for future children to grow up in.

Why do you believe this? All the evidence I've seen is that intelligence is mostly genetic, and providing an intellectually stimulating environment (beyond normal schooling, I suppose) will have very little effect.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/intelligence-and-iq-scores-children-are-not-influenced-parenting-style-good-or-bad-313588

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-29T05:27:49.983Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you; I know that homosexuality is somewhat influenced by genetics. Which is why I said it has a strong developmental component. It is not 100% genetic, like eye color or skin color.

All of this said, twin studies are highly unreliable and I don't recommend them as hard and fast evidence.

Why do you believe this? All the evidence I've seen is that intelligence is mostly genetic, and providing an intellectually stimulating environment (beyond normal schooling, I suppose) will have very little effect.

I'm not talking in terms of raw intelligence potential per se. I'm talking about how that intelligence is used. I'm sure that "medieval theocracies" had plenty of smart people, in fact they were almost definitely just as smart, in raw intelligence terms, as people are today. This is why I'm saying the key to a successful society lies in providing a good cultural environment for children to grow up in.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T20:15:01.522Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I should have been clearer-- I find it very plausible that people whose parents had an unhappy marriage are more likely to have trouble getting started on relationships, but that's what I find plausible, not what I have evidence for.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T20:34:49.610Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find it very plausible that people whose parents had an unhappy marriage are more likely to have trouble getting started on relationships

I don't know. I find it very plausible that children of bad marriages would have trouble creating and maintaining a stable and happy relationship, but I'm not sure about just starting a relationship.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-09-28T21:04:14.235Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Part of the situation is that people are under less pressure to start relationships (less likely to deal with parents who are demanding grandchildren), and that they're in a social environment where it's easier to turn people down. Even a slight flinch reaction at the idea of starting a relationship is going to raise the threshold effort.

I'll track down the link if it's wanted, but there was a piece by a woman from the UK who decided to accept every date that was offered to her. It turned out that a lot of men had no plans for the date-- they'd say "whatever you want to do". Admittedly, this isn't a formal survey, but I wonder whether it's an indication of a lot of men who aren't actually enthusiastic about dating.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-02T19:38:42.498Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It turned out that a lot of men had no plans for the date-- they'd say "whatever you want to do". Admittedly, this isn't a formal survey, but I wonder whether it's an indication of a lot of men who aren't actually enthusiastic about dating.

I don't think offering a woman the choice of what the date is about indicates lack of enthusiasm of going to a date with the woman.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-02T22:34:58.291Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It might be a matter of tone, but I'd rather hear at least an offer of a plan with room for other suggestions rather than no plan.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-10-03T10:38:03.481Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are two different issues:
1) What does the woman prefer.
2) What does this behavior signal about the guy.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-10-03T14:28:31.274Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The thing is "signal" is at least a two place verb-- it probably needs more places because there are a large number of people involved.

I may have just acquired signal as a word to be sensitive to-- signals have to be interpreted, so just saying something is being signaled leaves out altogether too much variation in many cases.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-29T05:56:49.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Behavioral genetics has only found weak effects from parenting (shared environment). While the nature of the research only allows for detecting large effects, and I doubt your specific argument has been studied, I generally assume such selection effects are weak unless there is evidence to indicate otherwise.

Edit: Unless you're arguing that if someone's parents are naturally bad at relationships, they too will be bad at relationships, but since whether a marriage is good or bad is generally more complex than that I don't think that's what you're arguing.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T20:27:23.065Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree, that does sound plausible, both genetically and psychologically.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-28T19:35:01.250Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the highly educated don't have kids, while conservatives and religious people do [...] the world turns back into a medieval theocracy, with nukes.

More children of conservatives does not equal more conservative people. For the godzillionth time: transmission of ideas is not genetic.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T19:46:14.991Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

More children of conservatives does not equal more conservative people. For the godzillionth time: transmission of ideas is not genetic.

Amish population grew by about 120% between 1992 and 2013. Do you think their ideas are that attractive..?

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T23:04:11.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Amish are actually a good example, they live quite differently today than they used to in the past and they're starting to embrace non-indigenous technology; some examples include more use of things like cellphones and motorcycles. If given 100 years, would the Amish still live as they do today? It's very likely in my opinion that they won't. There have been many ultra-conservative religious movements in the world that persisted for centuries and then died out in a single generation due to changing factors in the external world.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-28T19:48:45.712Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Amish intentionally restrict their children's exposure to foreign ideas. That's less achievable in normal society.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T19:56:00.758Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Define "normal". US looks pretty normal to me :-/

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-29T00:34:04.634Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

OK, I'll be clearer: the Amish are a closed subculture within the U.S. Inside the Amish little world it is very difficult to learn about other ways of living. Outside of the Amish little world, but still within the U.S., you find the tremendously complicated, varied, and unpredictable chaos that is normal society, where you can see both the borders of other closed subcultures (e.g. underground crime syndicates, elite social clubs, or Druze) and the cross-pollination between relatively more open subcultures (e.g. hipsters, emos, goths, surfer dudes, straight-edge punks, Harley-Davidson riders, tattooists, backpackers, metalheads, otakus and LARPers all hanging out with each other) which together constitute the "normal."

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T00:41:02.473Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Inside the Amish little world it is very difficult to learn about other ways of living.

This is not true. Amish do not live in gated communities. They are in daily contact with normal (albeit rural) American life.

hipsters, emos, goths, surfer dudes, straight-edge punks, Harley-Davidson riders, tattooists, backpackers, metalheads, otakus and LARPers all hanging out with each other

That's not true either. They don't.

In any case, your claim was "More children of conservatives does not equal more conservative people". There are a lot more Amish and Amish are definitely "conservative people". Why are there more Amish?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-09-29T00:58:40.826Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From Wikipedia:

... average of seven children per family.

Amish rules allow marrying only between members of the Amish Church.

They typically operate their own one-room schools and discontinue formal education at grade eight, at age 13/14.

Almost no Amish go to high school and college.

the educational authorities allow the Amish to educate their children in their own ways.

Desertion from the Amish community is not a long-term trend, and was more of a problem in the early colonial years.

Rumspringa notwithstanding, the Amish way of life has several built-in features that repel modern influences without needing physical fences to do so.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-29T01:30:32.929Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the Amish way of life has several built-in features that repel modern influences

Well, of course. That's how a culture survives without being melted down in a pot. In a certain sense, that's what makes it "conservative".

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T20:13:55.706Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I googled it again, (I really need to start organising bookmarks more) and the first two sources I found both said religiosity/spirituality is 40-50% genetic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity#Genes_and_environment http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/what-twins-reveal-about-god-gene

Now, this doesn't mean that the actual ideas are genetic, but unless children are separated from parents at birth they will pass on memes too. Its also possible that in a secular environment, people with a genetic tendency towards religion will adopt a quasi-religious attitude towards philosophies or politics.

It is also possible that in some places, current world religions loose out memetically before the religious genes take over, and the future theocracy could be some kinda new-age religion. I'm not saying its likely, but I am pointing out that I'm not arguing that specific ideas are genetic, only that traits such as religiosity are.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-28T19:10:36.845Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: wording.

  1. As a woman, I do find men who think that upon encountering one, they should 'deal with her' (not even sexually) rather creepy... Perhaps you could imagine this totally counterfactual world where you simply have no obligation to 'deal' with anyone based on a binary characteristic?

  2. As to virgin motherhood, strictly speaking only mating is 'missing', the rest is right there (since the blind god of evolution has prepared females to give healthy offspring if raped, pair-bonding and courtship cannot be necessary). Dunno how much emotional maturity one picks up during mating, but I would not expect it to be a lot. As to hormones, it is in principle not impossible, just a very complex issue.

  3. I found (usual disclaimers apply) that maturity comes rather after giving birth. When you slink into bed and try to immediately fall asleep, in case the kid decides to wake up at 3 am; or if you desperately want sex, you do it silently and briefly, in case that deadline moves ever closer - than yeah, you can claim some personal growth, because you are putting other's interests before your own.

  4. Do you think it is better for a human being not to leave descendants if the being is absolutely unable or unwilling to have sex? If virgin motherhood actually outcompetes the traditional way of reproduction, it means it has some advantage, and the question becomes - what is the acceptable trade-off for this advantage. I would like to see some in-depth discussion of this, but I am afraid I can not quite treat the idea [of a "parthenogenesis-based" society] seriously.

BTW, do you think notable clergy 1) never included 'thriving adult men', or 2) were secretly all debauched anyway?

comment by knb · 2015-09-28T21:13:35.808Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Let's say a long-term couple wants to have a child, but some birth defect or sexual dysfunction prevents them from having sex. Should they be prevented from having a kid? The sex aspect doesn't seem to matter in itself. What would be concerning would be if people who fear intimacy or lack interpersonal skills are able to just skip straight to having babies out of loneliness, without ever having to get past their developmental blocks.

I don't doubt adult virgins have missed out on important developmental experiences, but it's odd that you focus on sex itself as being this big developmental step rather than, e.g. a committed long-term relationship. I think that's the important part.

comment by Dagon · 2015-09-28T14:38:53.058Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree (but upvoted - social evolution is a worthy topic).

I'm a pretty big fan of freeing our (and specifically my) cognition from the evolutionary pressures which created it (and me). Removing the pressure of sex from almost all male/female interactions seems like a worthwhile thing to explore.

I share your basic conservatism in that it's a pretty scary change. I just see the good in it as well as the risks.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-28T16:51:36.551Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why are you worried about preserving skills that would largely become irrelevant?

comment by raydora · 2015-09-29T14:40:57.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How is a sexbot different from a sexdoll or a fleshlight and pornography?

I don't think it would create any problems in a mentally healthy individual, though it might exacerbate those suffering from pre-existing issues surrounding sex.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-09-28T20:19:27.945Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Create a sex robot that behaves like a human female. Problem solved.

In all seriousness though, it seems like by the time sex robots that look and act sufficiently human arrive on the scene, we'll already necessarily be well within the time frame of emergence of strong artificial intelligence and most of your points would become moot. It seems to me that there's only a short window of time between "sex robots that some men, but not most, would find appealing" and "the (sex?) robots have taken over."

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T20:36:22.623Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard some people worry that even sufficiently good vibrators and fleshlights will reduce the amount of actual sex people have. Making a robot that a normal person can fall in love with might be AGI-complete (although some people do get attached to robot pets or form imaginary relationships with anime characters or 'waifu') but even a robot which isn't as good as a human still decreases the need for human company.

Also, is the creation of sex robots a matter of AI, or of creating realistic synthetic skin? If its the latter, and AGI turns out to be really hard, then sex robots could easly come a long time before the singularity.

comment by RowanE · 2015-10-03T20:04:05.812Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the accepted plural of "waifu" is "waifus".

comment by Lumifer · 2015-09-28T20:43:06.772Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, is the creation of sex robots a matter of AI, or of creating realistic synthetic skin?

That depends on whether you interpret "sex robot" as a companion or as a fucktoy.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-09-28T21:02:08.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, and this is one of the times when we need to define exactly what we are talking about.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-09-28T15:56:22.074Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Sexbots are more of a joker, some sort of wild card in the gender dynamics debate. I think there's something that I'm not sure if it's being avoided or if it's simply elusive enough to not be mentioned, and I have no idea what that is. It seems like they're making men and women like cooperating enemies.

On topic, sexbots would be harder to implement for women considering they're more attracted to behavior rather than looks.. although if you can make a convincing sexbot for a man I'm sure that canonically we're not too many steps away from making one for a woman.

Something like this trend has already advanced far in Japan,

Next stop: Japan. Now I'll just need to figure out if their supposed dislike for non-natives is real or not.

By the way advancedatheist, you give me a troll-esque vibe but admittingly you post some good content from time to time. High five.