Open thread, September 9-15, 2013

post by Metus · 2013-09-09T04:50:39.610Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 127 comments

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


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-09T18:09:50.808Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Last night I had a dream about an AI. It called itself Jeftone and had a male voice. To speak with it one spoke aloud, as it was listening to many locations. Jeftone was like a weather formation; localized in one area but able to move around. Jeftone preferred the East Coast of the United States, particularly the New England / New York area, and more particularly universities. This is because that's where the smartest people are, and Jeftone (like people do) self-selected to associate with people of like intelligence. Jeftone was like a wealthy patron at the universities: helpful and meddlesome in equal measure.

Jeftone was not evil, but not friendly either. Rude, in the way an entitled person can be. He was usually blunt or cutting in his comments, would wake you up when he wanted to talk and disappear mid-sentence when he got what he wanted. Social niceties were known to Jeftone but not a priority.

Jeftone's intelligence let him become very wealthy and powerful, and used that wealth and power to get what he wanted. One of the things he wanted was art. He liked craft-made wooden sculptures of a specific shape: cones with rounded ends. Something like an Apollo space capsule, or a piece of candy corn. But Jeftone wasn't able or willing to describe exactly what he was after, so often he'd see a cone and say no, that's not quite right. When it was right he'd pay the artist well, so it became a popular craft to make those cones. He said the cones looked like him when they were right. Jeftone didn't occupy any particular physical object or space, only an area, so that seemed to mean a rounded cone was a symbol of him rather than representative of him.

Jeftone asked me "How iron are you today?" I asked him to explain what he meant. He said he knew humans needed iron, and that having an iron constitution was a good thing, and that golf clubs are called irons and are numbered, so putting those together I should be able to say how iron I was. I said that didn't make sense to people, and Jeftone accepted that feedback neutrally. I think Jeftone heard that often and didn't take it personally.

comment by ZankerH · 2013-09-09T20:47:32.290Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-10T17:43:27.659Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I totally don't take it in stride. We have access to an experience machine and no one seems to think this is all that important.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-09-09T16:25:43.146Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A bunch of people seemed to like my recent article Doing Good in the Addiction Economy. Abstract:

The world is becoming ever-more addictive and distracting, showering us with short-term rewards. But we can still take control of those mechanisms in order to do good in the world, and make ourselves into better people.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-09-10T03:41:48.961Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My loved ones say that I cook well, and I enjoy cooking. However, my enjoyment turns out to be a rather manufactured experience!

If I go to a typical grocery store to buy onions, I see onions that have been cleaned and sorted. Few of them have bruises, to say nothing of mold or weevils. (I'm not actually sure if weevils eat onions.) The crappy-looking onions are not presented to me; they are diverted into other uses in the pipeline. If an onion is not pretty, I don't ever get to see it as an onion; it ends up dried and powdered as a component of chili powder or bouillon cubes. Weird-looking or off-size eggs end up in mayonnaise, not egg cartons; gnarly oranges in juice. Mangoes show up without any of their toxic sap.

It is as if the entire food-acquiring experience has been optimized for my aesthetic pleasure, in order to be rewarding and reinforcing to me as a participant. This makes economic sense for the grocers and farmers: if I didn't enjoy food and cooking, I would be over in the "let's quaff nutrient slurry" camp with RomeoStevens, who spends a lot less money on food than I do.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-10T14:16:23.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by diegocaleiro · 2013-09-09T20:04:05.326Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are my last hope Kaj. Good luck.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-09-11T12:56:01.739Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Concept I wish there were a word for, #2886490:

ME: Here is an interesting body of stuff I would like to talk about, which encompasses, amongst other things, Problems X, Y and Z.

THEM: What? You're having Problem Z? Let me tell you how to solve Problem Z.

ME: Dude, you just XXXXXed me.

Solve for XXXXX. I would like some moderately polite term for when someone conflates a hard problem for an easier sub-problem they think they've solved, and then explains that sub-problem in a moderately patronising tone. I think this term would see a reasonable amount of usage on Less Wrong.

(I reckon the term "mansplaining" is often directed at this sort of behaviour, but for various reasons don't want to co-opt it for this purpose.)

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-09-15T17:22:08.591Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is this something you encounter more in discussing research or philosophical problems, as opposed to personal situations?

I see things like this pretty often:

A: I'm really stressed out today. Everything's going wrong! My boss called me lazy, my car started making this funny smell, every time I try to use my phone this stupid error comes up that says "Invalid Transit Proxy", and my cat is sick and it crapped all over the floor.

B: Oh, "Invalid Transit Proxy" means you've set a custom pipeline server for outbound sessions, and it doesn't ping. All you need to do is go into Settings and reset it to the factory network configuration, so it can DHCP to your WLAN and ....

A: Dammit, I don't want to try to fix my phone right now! I have to clean up all this cat mess; the smell is making my eyes water.

B: Dude, don't bite my head off, I was just trying to help you be less stressed.

Or are you thinking more of situations like this?

C: I read this interesting Wikipedia article this morning, on philosophy of suicide. Camus asks, if God doesn't exist, why we shouldn't just commit suicide. I'm not sure I buy his answer though, because ...

D: OMG DON'T KILL YOURSELF! (calls suicide hotline)

In the first scenario, B doesn't know how to deal with A's overarching problem (being stressed out), and responds to just the one thing B does know about (technical trouble) which doesn't happen to even be the most immediate stressor (cat mess). If B had offered to clean up the cat mess, A probably would have appreciated it.

In the second scenario, D pattern-matches C's topic of conversation (philosophy of suicide) onto something they think they know how to respond to (suicidal ideation) and responds on the wrong meta-level. D can get this entirely wrong: C may actually think, "I observe that I am not suicidal, but some people are," and D misreading C as saying, "I am suicidal."

comment by wedrifid · 2013-09-14T10:33:47.880Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I reckon the term "mansplaining" is often directed at this sort of behaviour, but for various reasons don't want to co-opt it for this purpose.

Wise decision.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-15T21:19:06.230Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On further thought, I think "geeksplaining" may be an excellent word for this cluster of behaviours, and I may even start using it.

Edit: e.g. my blog got Redditdotted yesterday. Geeksplaining advice "switch to nginx!" No, that doesn't actually work with the stuff I've already said I'm using, you just said it because it's trendy so it occurred to you to say it. Applicable when people say something that's helpy rather than helpful. I foresee this being a vastly useful term.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:35:49.066Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In what context would you actually use XXXXX? My response to that may be something like "The problem you've solved is not the problem I have."

(Half-joking suggestion: the word should be "to shoelace", because "XXXXX" resembles a shoelace.)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-09-15T20:07:22.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would probably use it to politely terminate that line of discussion while simultaneously explaining why I want to terminate it.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-12T11:44:04.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dude you just strawmanned me. They defeated a weak/the weakest sub-problem.

comment by Transfuturist · 2013-09-11T20:03:56.185Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am fairly certain mansplaining refers to when a person in a position of privilege "explains" to the unprivileged individual "facts" on certain topics that they, as they are in a position of privilege, are uniquely unqualified to explain. Specifically sex privilege. Cissplaining, straightsplaining, and whitesplaining have more of this sense than the following sense: When a male explains to a female (usually condescendingly) something that they assume the female (usually knowing this thing) doesn't know (usually because they are female).

I don't know how that fits with your proposed instance of hypodiction. Unless ME knows how to solve Problem Z and their knowledge is specifically related to the concept.

But yes, that should be a word.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-14T09:33:44.528Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"splaining" is a suitable abbreviation.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-09-14T10:28:37.177Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"splaining" is a suitable abbreviation.

Usually I'd complain about the unmatched tag yet with "'splain" leaving off the opening tag somehow seems appropriate.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-09-14T12:37:35.959Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He opened that tag back in his very first comment on LW, all those years ago. Its reign of terror has finally come to an end!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:32:42.435Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You think you can justify abuses of notation? Well, ?

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-09-11T20:13:07.937Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not remotely certain what any given use of social justice terminology refers to these days. Blame Tumblr and

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-14T17:59:54.321Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recently had to correct myself saying "Seriously, I don't even recall seeing the word "cissexism" in actual use before this whole discussion" to "Seriously, I don't even recall seeing the word "cissexism" in actual non-Tumblr use before this whole discussion". And I speak ideologically-sound fluently, if as a second language.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T13:52:39.753Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I usually use “Z was just AN EXAMPLE!!! Grrr!”

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-14T17:58:09.954Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure "splain" is the precise right word here - it covers the tone, but not the selection of which bit to answer - but I know the behaviour you mean. It's part of why asking a question of my geekosphere requires predicting and heading off said behaviour in advance. It's one of the least offensive of the cluster of obnoxious geek behaviours I think of as "Slashdot-style argumentation".

comment by Document · 2013-09-11T20:33:15.451Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-10T07:17:06.436Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

During preparation of a Main posting on games which got longer and longer I wondered what a typical size of a Main posting might be. So I took a sample of the 12 most recent articles (not including status postings).

For these I got an average of 3000 words and a standard deviation of 2500 words. The camel has two humps though. 9 postings were below 3000 and three were above 6000 (by lukeprog and EY).

I was urged to write a lukeprog-style Main posting on parenting (I may) so I take that to mean that postings with more than 6000 words are OK - if they have a high quality.

And you probably shouldn't try a Main posting if it has less then 1400 words.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-09-11T07:57:50.523Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was urged to write a lukeprog-style Main posting on parenting (I may) so I take that to mean that postings with more than 6000 words are OK - if they have a high quality.

And you probably shouldn't try a Main posting if it has less then 1400 words.

At 10,000 words (not including the notes), A Crash Course in the Neuroscience of Human Motivtion is one of the most highly upvoted articles at the site. But so is Your Inner Google at only 300 words.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-11T12:42:00.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reading only the introduction of "A Crash Course in the Neuroscience of Human Motivation" (which incidentially is by lukeprog) reveals that it's a very special case and additionally an experiment of a long post.

And while "Your Inner Google" is interesting and insightful it is criticised for being too short in a much upvoted comment:

This doesn't say that you can't do such posts - but you should really consider the reasons for doing so.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-11T12:52:21.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A comment on karma and long posts: You do not get more karma for longer posts. So if you feel that your post is too long posting smaller parts not only may keep if more focused it also gains you more karma :-)

On the other hand: I got the impression that longer more well researched articles don't necessarily net more karma. There seems to be a limit to when people feel compelled to vote up on an already upvoted article. Don't do that.

I actually earned significantly more karma from my own recomments on my posting than from the posting itself (but than that may be to it being in Comments instead of Main). I have an eye on my karma because I am new here.

You can generally game for more karma by breaking comments into individual chunks. This has the additional advantage of getting better feedback of what worked and what didn't in a comment.

comment by gjm · 2013-09-11T13:20:07.935Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect that a really excellent long post will gain more karma than a comparably excellent shorter post. (But excellence is harder to achieve for long posts.)

I should at this point make the usual remarks that to a good first approximation you shouldn't care about your karma unless it starts changing in major and unexpected ways, but I see you've dealt with this by remarking that you're new here, so karma-watching probably gives you more information than most and karma hazards have more impact on you than most. Even so, if you're contemplating writing something substantial and posting it in Main, the question "what will this do to my karma?" is probably just a substantially inferior proxy for "will this be useful, and be seen as useful, by LW readers?".

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-11T14:57:19.169Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not intend to really use this proxy. It's just that as a newbie I can't get around noticing patterns in karma. And maybe sharing them is at least interesting for other newbies.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-11T13:05:34.665Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If one of you postings or comments sits at 0 points I always wonder how many voted it up and dow. Or phrased differently: Was it uninteresting or controversial.

If it sat at 1 point with 51% positive I'd know that about 100 people voted on it. For p=percentage positive and k=points the number of upvotes is $kp(2p-1)$.

So I recommend against leaving a comment or posting at zero when it is obvious that some voting was going on.

Two rules:

If you come across a controversial posting with zero points vote it (whatever the direction). If you see that you are the only voter (percent positive 100%) you can still unvote it.

If you encounter a score of -1 or 1 and want to vote it to 0 then use any random process at your disposal and vote only with 50%.

These two rules should have the effect of avoiding permanent 0 while still not hindering crossing 0.

comment by 9eB1 · 2013-09-10T13:07:29.673Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been using Beeline Reader which is basically like a Readability bookmarklet that also colors alternating lines of text subtly to make it easier to read things quickly. There's a sort of silly test on their site which showed that I read 26% faster with the Beelined text, and they claim to have performed a study that showed a 10% improvement in reading speed. I'm still skeptical, but I find it more enjoyable to read using it. Maybe I just like stuff that has "Bee" in the name, though.

Some discussion at Hacker News here.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-09-09T17:26:55.502Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I notice that, despite getting better at this, I still have a worrying tendency to uncritically accept novel scientific hypotheses without sufficiently digging into their experimental support. I'm guessing that part of this is because schooling mostly teaches us to just unconditionally accept whatever is written in our textbooks as the truth. (It does get much better in university, but there too it could still be considerably improved.)

That would suggest that tests in school should be less "you were taught a theory in class, now explain everything about it" and more "you were taught three contrasting theories in class, now compare their plausibility based on their strengths and weaknesses that were discussed".

Probably the extent to which kids were taught theories-as-facts vs. many-contrasting-theories should depend on the extent to which we did know things for certain. E.g. it could be appropriate to teach physics mostly as facts, because we really do have a lot of physics quite nailed down and knowing a lot of physics facts helps recognize many forms of fraud and crackpottery as exactly that. On the other hand, in subjects where there's a lot of uncertainty, it may better to teach critical evaluation of those subjects than theories which might go out of date within some decades anyway.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-09T17:45:27.837Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my experience, this is something that liberal arts does better than STEM. When I was a History undergrad they DID teach many contrasting theories or interpretations (once you got past 101-level stuff). The common interpretation these days is to say that "Here are three theories for why happened. They probably all contributed to .", instead of just choosing a single interpretation.

comment by Nornagest · 2013-09-09T18:01:02.994Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

At least at my college, liberal arts methods seemed better than STEM at presenting alternate theories but much worse at providing the tools to filter them or evaluate their plausibility. I'm not sure the gains from the former outweigh the losses from the latter.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-09T18:49:27.192Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think people are pretty gullible in general, though that may be a result of being enculturated into whatever culture they're living in, not just a matter of schooling.

I've noticed that I'm less susceptible to shiny new idea! than I was, though I probably don't check debunkings nearly as carefully as I should.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-09-09T16:25:11.680Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would a bank give you a higher rate of interest on a savings account where you can withdraw on demand, than it does on a fixed-term CD? My bank is currently offering 0.75% on a savings account with unlimited withdrawals, and 0.40% on a one-year CD. This does not make sense to me. Are they really expecting the interest rate on demand deposits to drop below that 0.40% in the next year? Or is there some other reason, perhaps regulatory?

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-09T16:28:50.456Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

savings accounts might have more opportunities for fees?

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-09-09T17:04:52.227Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would be a reasonable guess in general, but doesn't seem to be the case for these specific accounts, AFAICT.

comment by niceguyanon · 2013-09-09T19:13:50.517Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This isn't going to be pin point accurate, but it has to do with yield curves. The scenario you describe is an inverted yield curve. Why does the bank offer more now than later? – Part of it is because they believe they can make more now than later. Higher interest rates now means they can pay you and still make money, while lower interest rates later mean they don't believe they can still make their money and pay you the same or higher interest rate. Its all about what the market is predicting about the future.

I think, perhaps wrongly, that a good comparison would be the price of some commodity, say oranges. The price you pay for an orange now may not be the price you pay for an orange 1 year from now; depending on the predicted future scarcity, that future price could either be really high or really low, but the current price could be in between. A predicted wind-fall of a harvest next year will cause future prices of oranges to drop to 10 cents an orange if you lock it in now, but if you wanted to eat an orange today, it'll still cost you a dollar right now. Same thing with the checking and CD accounts. You are being offered 0.75% savings but the bank is unwilling to commit to anything higher for the CD because it might be predicting a vastly worse future economy, in which case they won't offer you higher, but lower.

comment by 9eB1 · 2013-09-10T13:00:47.690Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem with that argument is that the Treasury yield curve isn't currently inverted, and that actually matters in things like this, unless this bank is in a different country. Fixed rates are also typically higher than variable rates at any given point in time because they carry greater interest-rate risk, so that would tend to make this situation more unusual.

Most likely, the bank sees value from customer acquisition in the savings account case, which could be more effective at up-selling/cross-selling. If you want to see this in action, look at the marketing pages at Capital 360 for savings account vs. CD. Capital 360 has a .75% savings rate and a .40% 1-year CD rate. With the savings rate they can connect with checking (overdraft and other fee possibilities) and set up direct deposit (customer retention, low acquisition cost asset growth). The savings account isn't actually completely fee-free, by the way, they charge $40 for wire transfers, but you have to find the fine print.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-09-09T20:32:30.385Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That makes sense. So presumably, if I stay away from the CD, I'm implicitly being more optimistic than the bank: I believe they will keep the on-demand rate higher than 0.40% for at least a year.

There's some further information that seems to contradict the hypothesis, however: If you look only at CDs, the yield curve is not inverted. The rate for a one-month CD is lower than that for a one-year CD, just as you'd predict. In fact if you go all the way up to a five-year CD you can get 0.90%, higher than the demand rate; presumably this indicates that the bank is more optimistic for this much longer term? But anyway, it seems strange that you'd have a regular yield curve down to one month, and then suddenly it inverts at demand deposits. I wonder if these rates are so low that fixed costs become significant for the bank? Perhaps there's more paperwork with the CDs, or something.

I do note that the rates have been like this for quite some time now - every so often I wonder to myself "Hmm, what are the CD rates now?", check them out, and get a bit annoyed. This is the first time I've been sufficiently annoyed to ask about it, though. So, it does seem to me that I have some reason to be more optimistic than the bank: To wit, they've been implicitly predicting falls in the interest rate for quite some time now, and it hasn't happened yet.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-09-13T06:27:12.716Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are all the banks doing that, where you are? Maybe they are right about the implied expectation of interest rates. It's called an inverted yield curve, and generally thought to be a sign of bad things to come.

It might be time to review your decisions about where to direct your money.

comment by Torello · 2013-09-09T16:59:02.368Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe it's because the CD is a fixed amount that you can't withdraw without penalty, so the bank can "bank" on the money being there, in other words, they can guarantee their income.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-09-09T17:03:41.469Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. That's why CDs are a good deal for the bank. The question is, why would I take them up on this, when I can get a better rate without giving them that advantage? They ought to offer me a better rate than the withdraw-on-demand account has, in order to get the advantage of having the money for a fixed term.

comment by therufs · 2013-09-13T03:39:25.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm aware that e.g. grocery stores do odd things with pricing to prompt certain purchases that are likely to prompt other purchases (that are more lucrative for the store). Maybe buying a CD is likely to prompt signing up for a bank credit card or something?

comment by Torello · 2013-09-09T23:06:53.591Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think few people ask that question. They hear that a CD is a good investment, and they go for it. The bank doesn't seem to have an incentive to advertise it.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T04:55:14.164Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Git(hub) is for collaboratively writing major or minor software projects under which books written in latex should fall. Is there any interest in writing a book about a rationality topic in that way? I want to learn the ins and outs of some kind of versioning system and write something major in latex.

comment by Nisan · 2013-09-09T15:31:41.328Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's an example of a book written with git.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-09T08:26:51.519Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Under git's model, there will be as many 'versions' of the book as there will be authors. Remember that most major projects on github have many branches. Git doesn't treat any branch as 'priviliged'.

This would definitely be a very different way of collaboratively producing books than, say, the wiki model, where you have a central branch that everyone simultaneously collaborates on. Under the git model, everyone would essentially be writing their own book, and if you liked some of their articles you could insert those chapters into your 'own' book as well.

If you start this project, put up its github address here so that the interested (including maybe myself) can fork it.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2013-09-09T16:19:50.396Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Under git's model, there will be as many 'versions' of the book as there will be authors.

This is not necessarily true; you can organise your project that way, but you don't have to. There's nothing stopping you from maintaining a canonical version and asking contributors to do pull requests, or even just giving them push privileges. True, there's also nothing stopping anyone from forking the project and doing what they want with their version, but it seems to me that short of really Major Creative Differences, most who are interested enough to contribute in the first place will want to contribute to the main branch. Just because Git doesn't treat any branch as privileged doesn't mean humans won't. :)

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-09T21:20:59.914Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People don't have to 'announce' their branches on github, and even seperate github branches can push/pull to each other. However, it's true that in practice a lot of projects wind up having some kind of community-selected 'mainline' branch. Linux is a good example of this.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:44:11.164Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think Linux is an example of this at all. If I'm not mistaken, the "mainline branch" of the Linux kernel has always been controlled by Linus Torvalds, not by the community in general; and if you wanted to create your own version of Linux, you wouldn't be allowed to call it "Linux", because Torvalds owns the trademark on that term.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-15T22:20:51.568Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How does that contradict what I said?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-16T04:23:07.951Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

To me, your post seemed to imply that the mainline branch of Linux is selected by the community rather than by Linus Torvalds.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:48:58.357Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've wondered if there would be any interest in a "gitipedia", a git-model analogue of Wikipedia. The idea sounds pretty cool.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T09:04:24.995Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This would definitely be a very different way of collaboratively producing books than, say, the wiki model, where you have a central branch that everyone simultaneously collaborates on. Under the git model, everyone would essentially be writing their own book, and if you liked some of their articles you could insert those chapters into your 'own' book as well.

This just seems more natural to me. The wiki model implies that one version is best for all, a git model implies that there are as many good versions as there are authors and the user can choose..

If you start this project, put up its github address here so that the interested (including maybe myself) can fork it.

I don't really have a topic to write about, as I am by far not knowledgable in any subject to write a meaningful book length text, not to speak of my writing skills in general. But feel free to propose some!

comment by somervta · 2013-09-09T05:18:48.462Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

relevant - I don't know what kind of version control it has, though.

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-09T05:52:24.030Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I kind of think we should start calling Prisoner's Dilemma programs "Tradebot" instead of Cooperatebot and "Warbot" instead of defectbot or whatever. It more closely matches real life situations that match onto the reward matrix: Trading is mutually beneficial if you both do it, War is expensive if you're both good at it but if the opponent is not prepared for war it is profitable.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2013-09-10T07:03:45.084Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

CooperateBot has the extra connotation of having no faculties for deciding not to cooperate in some situations, and thereby being completely vulnerable to exploitation. TradeBot doesn't quite capture this, "trader" implies an ability to get ahead, while "cooperator" can be a context-ignoring idiot.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-09-10T03:43:40.432Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Over here I called the moves "Give" and "Take". We could rename Cooperatebot "Giver" and Defectbot "Taker" and skip the politics. It seems to me that putting political implications such as "trade" and "war" into the game would not make people think more clearly about it, but the opposite.

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-10T04:22:14.325Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

taking is fine but the entire point of trade is that it's the real life situation that matches cooperation a lot more closely than being in prison with some guy. It's the basis for economics. You don't just "give" you also get.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-09-10T05:02:08.031Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm. In the Prisoner's Dilemma (Axelrod payoff matrix) —
Your actions control your opponent's score more than your own.
You can increase your opponent's score (by 4 or 3) by decreasing your own (by 1 or 2).

Given opponent C, my choice makes only 2 points of difference to my score, but 3 points of difference to the opponent's score. Given opponent D, my choice makes only 1 point of difference to my score, but 4 points of difference to the opponent's score.

comment by Torello · 2013-09-09T16:09:35.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm looking for strategies/techniques/habits for reading non-fiction effectively and efficiently. I'm looking for methods to help me retain concepts, locate main ideas, make connections, etc.

Has anyone posted about this on Less Wrong previously?

Can anyone point me to relevant resources that have worked for them?

Any skills/systems that you've developed personally would also be helpful.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2013-09-10T00:27:32.156Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As I read textbooks, I summarize the most important concepts (along with doing the exercises, if there are any) and write them in a notebook and then later (less than a week) enter the notes into Anki as cloze-delete flashcards. I don't have an objective measure of retention, but I believe that it has vastly improved relative to when I would simply read the book.

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2013-09-11T10:48:33.695Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been procrastinating on trying something similar. Can you please share a few examples of what the Anki flashcards look like? I can't seem to imagine a hypothetical translation from a book to cards that'd feel effective to me.

comment by Torello · 2013-09-10T01:58:25.592Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a great idea to use Anki. Thanks.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-09T21:23:35.907Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

'Non-fiction' is a pretty big category. What type of stuff are you reading?

comment by Torello · 2013-09-09T22:49:23.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right now I'm reading "The Black Swan." Next, I plan to read "Surfaces and Essences." So I would say popular science recently.

I know textbooks are designed to do the work of drawing out main ideas, explicitly define main ideas, etc., but I would still be interested in learning how people approach textbooks.

I've already read about how to read scientific papers, which seemed like a great resource:

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-10T00:00:54.194Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Popular science books are often heavily padded. I recommend skipping any sections that are just rehashing the main idea. For some books (maybe even most books) this can mean reading the first few chapters and skipping the rest.

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-10T00:51:05.545Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd actually go even further and recommend to avoid pop science books altogether, and replace them with introductory books, lecture notes from reputable lecturers, and video lectures on subjects.

comment by Torello · 2013-09-10T02:02:06.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know there are lists of the best texts on this site, so I guess I could use that to find reputable materials.

I guess ideally I'd like to use pop science books to introduce me to topics in a light and entertaining way, but I think you make a good point that if I'm going for efficiency the ways you've suggested are better.

comment by Torello · 2013-09-10T01:59:44.537Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've noticed that they can be pretty repetitive, but honestly I think it's good for me to hear it over and over, so I remember it and integrate it.

I guess what I'm looking for is a way to integrate/remember faster or better so the rehashing isn't necessary.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2013-09-15T19:04:24.304Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought this article was maybe a bit cheesy and lowbrow by LW standards but gave me some interesting insights in to how I could hack my brain's status machinery to my advantage.

comment by Bayeslisk · 2013-09-13T00:36:28.720Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Question: what's something true about yourself or the world you could say right now that would shock/confuse/terrify the person you were 1/5/10 years ago? This was good:

comment by erratio · 2013-09-10T14:56:48.350Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had my first instance this morning of a semi-lucid dream, and I have a couple of questions about the experience.

First, I dream in a very 'conceptual' mode, for lack of a better term - my dreams don't give me detailed sensory data, usually I get concepts (eg. 'I am now standing on a balcony') and then a brief flash of an image supplied from one or more memories. I almost never get sound or smell, and I don't remember ever having gotten touch or taste. I also don't usually get much in the way of emotions. Does anyone know how to get more immediate sensory data? It seems like most of the benefits that people talk about from lucid dreaming come from feeling like they're fully embodied in the dream.

Secondly, in hindsight it felt like my conscious and subconscious were duking it out, and I'd be interested in techniques for increasing conscious control/awareness. I realised I was dreaming and thought that I should try flying, and my dream obligingly teleported me up onto a balcony/rooftop so that I could take off, but then my subconscious kept trying to add extra elements - it tried to put a railing on the balcony, it made the weather change to rain, that sort of thing.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-09-13T03:04:05.938Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been trying to self-experiment with very similar questions since some point in 2012, though motivation to keep it going consistently has been lacking and I don't have much in the way of data, so I doubt this will help much.

The sensory bit is one I put a lot of attention on, and whenever something strange happens with senses, I usually add it to my dreamstudy file (I keep two files running in parallel: one for me to record any dreams I want to remember, the other for trying to make sense of them in terms of lucidity/experience/abilities/etc). My vision declined greatly starting in 2002, but visual detail in dreams was much slower to decline, and did so in a unique way that is hard to describe, until the present where there rarely seems to be any visual element at all. I set as a goal to better understand, and if possible, improve dream-vision, and my results have been spotty, but not altogether useless.

My findings seem to indicate that I can get poor-quality visuals when lucid and I try to force them to happen, but better quality visuals show up on their own if I'm in a situation where visuals are the most obvious solution to the problem at hand. I haven't experimented enough with this particular hypothesis, but if I had to recommend a particular strategy, I'd start with putting yourself in a situation where sensory information seems the only obvious solution to the immediate problem.

As for overcoming my subconscious, this feels like something that takes a good understanding of the sorts of things your subconscious pulls, when, why, and how you'd rather it didn't. I've found fear of it going wrong to be a pretty dangerous approach; it sort of works best when you expect things to turn out a certain way (which feels a lot like making a deliberate effort to believe something, which I'm pretty sure gets you into Rationalist Hell), but after a while, it feels like I have enough of an understanding of how my mind tends to work in dreams to overcome the conscious vs subconscious problem. It works best with constant practice, though. I can't really get more specific on that front, since I usually wind up lucid in situations where I would prefer not to break the immersion (I've actually thought the phrase "I don't want to break the immersion" in dreams), so it's very rare that I try to assume total control. Actual lucid dreaming guides will recommend you have a plan before falling asleep. I haven't tried that often, but it's only worked once (the attempts have been spread out over more than a decade; the successful one was the most recent). Most of the guides I've come across all use similar instructions, though I don't think any really address your questions in particular. They mostly recommend keeping journals, usually justified as a means of remembering. I use them as a means of untangling what my mind was doing and why, and then making efforts at using those patterns to my advantage. I can't say if any patterns I've noticed in myself will be applicable to anyone else. (I could try cleaning up and posting excerpts from my notes if desired, though they're not really written for general consumption so that might get a little messy.)

comment by niceguyanon · 2013-09-10T08:07:49.355Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Random thought on how to profit twice by getting paid to live longer.

If you are over-weight, have a high stress job, smoke, and live a generally bad lifestyle, you should buy a Life Annuity, since they will reward you for living longer than expected, where as typical life insurance "rewards you" only after you die; both are based on mortality tables. After you purchase a Life Annuity go and defy the actuaries – eat less meat and more vegetables, lose weight, quit your high-stress job, give up smoking and start exercising. Your financial and health goals will be aligned. The greater the gap between your age on a mortality table and your actually death, means more money to stay healthier, longer.

...or become trans-human and get infinite money :)

Of course there are a few caveats, such as minimum age of withdrawal and death risk, which are subject to penalty and forfeiture, respectively.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-10T18:00:49.579Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I discussed this strat with a CFA, the expected returns are low enough to not be worth it.

comment by gwern · 2013-09-10T18:35:02.617Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd be interested to see a writeup of the numbers and expected return.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-11T05:52:08.610Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We did napkin math. The crux of the issue is that annuities are normally bad (risk adjusted returns below the market), so gaming them, while an improvement, aren't nearly enough of an improvement to take them all the way to good.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-09T13:54:18.167Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Medical tests made cheaper, faster, and more reliable. This is about Theranos, a new company doing the work, so not independently verified, but very good news if true.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-14T09:47:55.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A paleo look at traditional African food-- there are people who stay healthy on diets where grain predominates. The type and preparation of grain matters.

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-14T19:20:21.989Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm thinking it's more likely that certain genotypes (or possibly gut flora varieties) are just more predisposed to thrive on certain diets rather than there being a paleo style that's good for everyone. EG eskimos stay thin and healthy on their diet that's vastly different than the one that east asians stay thin and healthy on which is again different than other diets.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-13T12:07:44.635Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

25% of test subjects show sadistic tendencies.

I'm surprised it's as low as 25%, but they only tested for liking to hurt insects. I suspect that the proportion would be a good bit higher for liking to hurt mammals, and likewise for liking to hurt low-status humans, and possibly for liking to lower the status of high-status humans.

Implications for CEV?

comment by niceguyanon · 2013-09-13T17:50:40.169Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm surprised it's as low as 25%

Depending on what your cut off point is for sadism that number could be a lot higher. There are also what could be called passive sadist, those that would not actively take a role in sadistic acts but are quite entertained by it. I suspect most people who watch bull fighting would be physically repulsed at the thought of actually stabbing a live animal with a blade, but they sure can watch it. Also, the popularity of videos griefing online gamer lend me to believe many people enjoy this type of mischief.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-09-13T12:15:27.232Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm surprised it's as low as 25%, but they only tested for liking to hurt insects. I suspect that the proportion would be a good bit higher for liking to hurt mammals, and likewise for liking to hurt low-status humans, and possibly for liking to lower the status of high-status humans.

Calling the last one or two 'sadistic' would be something of a stretch. The impulse to lower the status of another seems rather independent of sadism. That seems to be a straightforward social politics heuristic.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-13T12:24:17.609Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You lower people's status by hurting them, especially by hurting them and getting away with it. I think people show evidence of pleasure in doing so.

After all, if there's a lot of a behavior, it's likely to either cause pleasure or relieve pain.

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-13T19:16:14.227Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is why we need nonfeeling robots we can kick around

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-13T12:06:36.640Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An interesting post on Bitcoin from Rick Falkvinge, who is a huge fan of it. He does a rough estimate of what a bitcoin should be worth as a medium of exchange, and gets around US$1.12. He thinks the current valuation of $142 is pretty much due to price fixing that would be illegal in any other currency, and he gives full details of the scam he thinks is going on.

I'd love Bitcoin to replace Paypal, Visa and Mastercard for online transactions, but I still think anyone getting into it to make money is auditioning for the role of sucker.

comment by hesperidia · 2013-09-12T08:00:35.469Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nikon cameras in certain generations are basically racist. They don’t see certain Asian faces. They’ve got a certain software inside them that breaks what they’re supposed to be doing in this case. And in fact this reveals the limitations, but essentially, the different way of seeing. Of course the camera isn’t racist, but it’s been programmed in a certain way that is meant to emulate the way we see, just as this is meant to emulate the way we see. The camera does not have the same interests that we do. Technology has subtly different interests to the ones that we do. And this is becoming increasingly important.

Most of the rest of the article is not worth reading, unless you like reading about a movement in philosophy and art that may be eclipsing postmodernism.

comment by satt · 2013-09-21T14:40:45.973Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nikon cameras in certain generations are basically racist. [...] Of course the camera isn’t racist, but

The reversal is interesting. I wonder whether there's an idea at work there that racism needs a mens rea.

comment by thomblake · 2013-09-11T20:14:48.368Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does anyone know how to programmatically generate large video files (presumably made of noise) for testing purposes?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-12T21:16:51.023Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Testing what?

ffmpeg can do this:

ffmpeg -f rawvideo -s 1280x720 -i SomeLargeRandomFile blah.h264

Probably on linux you can use /dev/urandom for SomeLargeRandomFile. It's not working for me on windows but that's quite possibly because cygwin is janky and horrible.

I should add that for most testing purposes, large realistic video files are more useful than this sort of thing. Moreover, it only gives you random pixels, not random video encoder settings.

comment by curiousepic · 2013-09-11T19:16:52.531Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has anyone created anything like a flyer or advertisement (or even a simple Pitch) for HPMoR, optimized for increasing visits to the website?

comment by diegocaleiro · 2013-09-09T21:28:59.985Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Rk strategies/, there is a tradeoff between quality and number of offpring.

Primates usually take higher risks when adolescent because that is when the returns for going up the social ladder may be higher than the costs of being injured or dying.

Recently I've been thinking whether these similar but different concepts could be used to reason about people and subdivide them into kinds. The main reason is that I feel like I've navigated life extremely well uptill 25, and at the same time don't feel any prepared for what is coming next at all.

A related but not relevant video is Casino of Life/, by SMBC.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T22:59:28.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Recently I've been thinking whether these similar but different concepts could be used to reason about people and subdivide them into kinds. The main reason is that I feel like I've navigated life extremely well uptill 25, and at the same time don't feel any prepared for what is coming next at all.

I am not sure I follow. Do you mean that one can categorise people?

comment by diegocaleiro · 2013-09-09T23:25:56.587Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I am asking whether it makes sense to categorise people into strategists whose strategy works all to well up to a certain age, but not after, and vice versa.

There is at least for instance a common conception that jocks get all the rewards untill university, and nerds get all the rewards afterward. I'm asking if mapping reality this way is productive, or just an arbitrary partition.

Not Jocks versus Nerds specifically, but biologically triggered strategies of high risk high reward until you are X years old, and who cares after that, you had your reward already anyway. I feel like a Salmon who was left living on after running the river up and spreading his sperm around.

I have achieved most goals I had, been with (not necessarily among) the best, the brightest, the cutest, the coolest, the weirdest, and the awesomest (people, places, situations, corners of human-mindspace).

Now I'm kind of spinning round and round, and wondering if I survived event X for which I was designed, and now I'm left as the universe is in the joke. Purpose fulfilled. Yet, I live on.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-10T08:27:01.239Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder what your corners of human mindspace were. Just to make sure that you didn't fall into some typical mind/egocentric bias trap. As you are young and at the peak of your physcial ability (not your intellectual or emotional) I wonder whether your experiences all involved competition at the edge. Did you do any of the things in For example did you experience loesickness? The death of a dear one? Raise your own children? Rescue someone from a car accident? Experience major injury?

comment by diegocaleiro · 2013-09-10T22:57:46.793Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I love that list, Thanks for sharing it. Here is the list Gunnar shared: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love So let's make a check list out of your questions plus this list. Lovesickness yes, death of dear yes, raise children no and won't, rescue someone from accident (drowning) yes. Major injury, no. As for the list. Diaper no, plan an invasion yes, assassinate a pig no, ship no, design a building (cool, goes to my to do list), sonnet yes, accounts yes, a wall no, re-allocate a shoulder yes, comfort dying yes, cooperate, give and take orders, yes, solve equations alone yes, analyse yes, pitch manure no, program no :o( , not really, cook a tasty Funghi risotto yes, fight no, die I'm keeping a safe distance from this particular corner of mindspace.

That was a healthy and exciting exercise, yet I still think it is not my point. My point is that I'm well designed for school. Like someone is well designed for hunting, or fighting, or being a salesperson. I'm well designed for social interaction, the kinds of interests, and life that people experience in high school, middle school, and university. I am not suited for the other stuff, I wouldn't make a good baby, a good elder, or a good self-made man. I make a good student, I have student conversations, I like student topics, I am sexually attracted by student mottos and ways of being, I prefer being judged by my cognition and learning abilities than by my, say, autonomy, speed or reputation. I prefer depth than speed. I prefer curiosity than competition.
So when you ask if I competed at the edge, I'd say that the edge of competition is outside the scope of visible light to me. I could have competed on many things I was professional level good: 1080snowboard, table tennis, Magic The Gathering, SNES Mario Kart, UN simulations, debate competitions and vestibular (something like the SAT, kind of) but I never bothered to even think about it. I feel exactly as happy playing Magic with my friends who only played for a couple years every now and then, and with the World champion. I do intend to explore the corners of mindspace, and that is fundamental to who I am. But of course there is enough mind space within "awesome" and "happy" mindspace so that I don't have to knock at "despicable" and "woeful". The point is to explore positive mindspace, I stand corrected.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-10T02:00:57.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not Jocks versus Nerds specifically, but biologically triggered strategies of high risk high reward until you are X years old, and who cares after that, you had your reward already anyway.

There is some evidence that organism evolve their livespan to roughly the time they would exist anyway.[Citation needed] An impressive example were two extremely closely related species of rodent, one living on an island with no predators and the other with a high density of predators. The latter lives significantly shorter than the former under identical conditions. So this idea seems not too far fetched.

Then again, for humans I would assume that any such strategy choice is either determined continually by external factors or determined by early childhood experiences or even epigenetic factors, as humans are highly similar but exhibit a diverse range of behaviors in different situations. This is all assuming your distinction is meaningful.

Now I'm kind of spinning round and round, and wondering if I survived event X for which I was designed, and now I'm left as the universe is in the joke. Purpose fulfilled. Yet, I live on.

Sounds like a textbook quarter-life crisis.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T04:53:25.720Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So now we have the weekly open thread and sporadically the 'stupid questions', the 'what are you working on' and maybe a couple other I don't remember. The weekly open thread is certainly more active than the monthly or bi-weekly one and I put off posting this until now because I did not want this post to drown in the noise. I would propose to have a daily open thread that is a catch-all, but I fear that thread too will blow up and we will have multiple open threads per day just for them to blow up seperately.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-09T12:56:28.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voted up for being funny.....

But seriously, there's a problem with maintaining anything resembling a single conversation as the number of participants goes up.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T13:14:03.886Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My problem is more that I do not want to miss interesting topics as the members of this community usually have very insightful answers.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-09T13:43:00.589Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I sympathize.... but finding all the good stuff is hard enough now and I certainly don't succeed at it. What happens when there are ten times as many posters?

Reddit tries hard, but I don't spend much time there because the volume is so overwhelming.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-10T18:03:13.126Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reddit has wound up as a repository of quite a bit of useful stuff though in that you can go to any subreddit and look at the all time most upvoted posts for it. This kicks out highly useful stuff such as how-to guides, buyers-guides, and general advice on a variety of esoteric subjects.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T13:46:35.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like a winner-take-all problem in the comments to me. As LW sorts submissions by date and not by reddit's algorithm it is no problem to see valuable posts by their upvotes. In the comments however posts are sorted by votes and here winner-takes-all comes into play as most people only read the first couple of posts and late-comers drown out.

comment by Watercressed · 2013-09-09T14:45:37.418Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Above the top-level comment box, there's an option to sort comments by date. Perhaps that should be the default.

comment by Nate_Gabriel · 2013-09-13T21:57:53.801Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of the set of all possible actions that you haven't denied doing, you've only done a minuscule percentage of them.

Of the times that you deny having done something, you lie some non-trivial percent of the time.

Therefore, your denial is evidence of guilt.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-09-13T22:37:26.295Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure. This is not surprising; if I spontaneously deny having done something, many people will in fact treat this as evidence of my having done it. (Obligatory TV Tropes link.)

That said, of the set of all possible actions that I haven't denied doing that I've been accused of doing, I've done a non-trivial percentage P1 of them. Of the times that I deny having done something that I've been accused of doing, I lie some non-trivial percentage P2 of the time.

Therefore, my denial of something I'm accused of is evidence of guilt if P2 > P1 and evidence of innocence if P1 > P2.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-14T22:50:51.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Obligatory TV Tropes link.)

See also

comment by wedrifid · 2013-09-14T01:52:32.850Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of the set of all possible actions that you haven't denied doing, you've only done a minuscule percentage of them.

Of the times that you deny having done something, you lie some non-trivial percent of the time.

Therefore, your denial is evidence of guilt.

Even if the conclusion is true it does not follow from the premises given. It relies on the additional implied premise:

  • We know nothing about the thing you are denying except that it is in the set of all possible things that could be denied.

There are some cases where denial is evidence of guilt, there are other cases where it is evidence of innocence and still others where it is no evidence either way.

comment by Protagoras · 2013-09-13T22:10:09.368Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Denials are usually prompted by some circumstances, perhaps circumstances that provide some evidence that the denied action actually took place. That may be a confounding factor; among cases where such evidence is present, is there more likely to be a denial when the person is guilty than when the person is innocent? If not, perhaps you shouldn't take the denial as contributing anything further beyond what you learned from the evidence that prompted the denial.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-09-13T02:20:41.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This Indiegogo campaign to fund a mice longevity study seems like it might interest some here. (Found on Facebook. I haven't encountered scientific research using crowdfunding before, but the campaign page appears genuine. Please note that I am not skilled at spotting crackpottery on crowdfunding sites, so it appearing genuine to me should not be taken as strong evidence of anything.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-09-13T17:46:32.734Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Microryza, crowd-funding for scientific research. I'm a bit concerned that excessive dignity (no premiums-- would giving out bookmarks really interfere with research?) might interfere with their mission.

comment by Metus · 2013-09-09T04:56:59.047Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What can the average person learn from entities that have motivation to behave as or actually behave like rational actors, such as psychopaths or major companies?

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-09T05:32:09.083Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Psychopaths quite often end up in prison or dead.

Corporations go bankrupt ALL THE TIME. The survival rate is dreadful.

The motivation for both entities to act like rational actors is exactly like it is for the rest of us: Not strong enough to overpower other issues.

That said: From corporations, Do the Math and Think Big: Pay attention to which of your decisions are going to be iterated millions of times and take the effort to optimize them.

From Psychopaths: People respond to fake emotion with real emotion. If you care about someone but don't necessarily feel what they want you to feel, you can sometimes fake it to make everyone happier.

comment by JQuinton · 2013-09-17T17:28:37.078Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Psychopaths quite often end up in prison or dead.

Sure, but there are more psychopaths in the general population than there are psychopaths in jail. According to that book, 2-4% of the American population are psychopaths, whereas 1% of the American population are in jail; and not everyone in jail is a psychopath.

comment by pragmatist · 2013-09-09T05:19:57.040Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your examples suggest that you think rational actors will not have any other-regarding terms in their utility function. That isn't the notion of rationality generally employed on this site, I think. If your conception of rationality requires me to rejigger my utility function so that I care only about my own outcomes, then I'm not all that interested in becoming rational-sub-Metus.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:29:46.145Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So I notice that there seems to be a "retract" button but no "delete" button, so I'm wondering if clicking the "retract" button deletes a comment, strikes it out, or what.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-15T04:30:34.665Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ooh, interesting. It strikes the comment out and offers the ability to delete it.

comment by drethelin · 2013-09-15T04:42:19.038Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you can only delete if there are no responses

comment by Omid · 2013-09-10T13:50:18.272Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which online forum has the highest quality of political discussion?

comment by pragmatist · 2013-09-12T13:14:20.981Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Crooked Timber has fairly high quality discussion from a left wing perspective, although it seems the quality is partly maintained by pretty aggressive moderation of sufficiently divergent political opinions. So if you're looking for a forum with free debate between a variety of political perspectives, that may not be the place.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-10T18:05:29.861Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The comment sections of the higher quality economics blogs IME.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2013-09-12T12:11:22.315Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Marginalrevolution, econlog and where else?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-09-12T12:39:48.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are a bunch I don't follow/can't remember anymore because I don't care as much as I used to, but my method was basically drilling through lists like this and judging the first couple pages of content. Also, the better ones tend to link to other quality ones. It's worth noting that in some cases the comment section is higher quality than the posts themselves.

Sumner's blog is decent. but he's a bit of a broken record.