Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016

post by Elo · 2016-05-09T01:55:09.343Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 85 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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85 comments

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comment by morganism · 2016-05-09T21:12:47.880Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The swarm intel community picked the Superfecta at the Kentucky Derby, turned 20 bucks into 11k

http://unu.ai/blog/

comment by gjm · 2016-05-10T09:50:12.998Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Comment spammer.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-15T20:15:05.404Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Some notes from my LW meetup lecture on book of Julian Jaynes: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Not sure if legible for someone who wasn't there. May serve as a motivation to read the book.

Human brain has two hemispheres, relatively loosely connected, each of them is relatively independent (look up experiments when one hemisphere was disabled by e.g. injecting amytal into neck artery). Both can listen and see, but only the dominant hemisphere can talk. The corresponding part of the non-dominant hemisphere, when stimulated by electric current, creates super-realistic auditory -- and sometimes even visual -- hallucinations, similar to schizophrenia.

What is the evolutionary purpose of having a schizophrenia center in the brain? (This is just a speculation, skip this paragraph if it annoys you.) Julian Jaynes supposes that something similar to today's schizophrenia was actually an evolutionary precedessor of consciousness. Hallucinating voices of their fellow apes allowed our ancestors to create tribes of larger sizes than other primates. Belief in afterlife emerged as a side effect of hallucinating voices of dead tribe members. Obeying dead tribe leaders became a basis of religion. The hallucinations of specific people later evolved into hallucinations of culturally shared gods.

When the society becomes so complex that mere knowledge of rules and pattern-matching is not sufficient to solve existing problems, people have to develop theory of mind instead (first the theory of other minds; later, applying it to themselves, the consciousness), which made them lose the ability to see gods. Jaynes believes the switch from interacting with gods to consciousness happened during the "fall of Atlantis", which was a series of vulcanic eruptions in the Mediterranean sea, dramatically changing life in all local civilizations except for Egypt. In the absence of gods, "religions/superstition as we know it today" emerged. People started praying to absent gods, and making rituals to appease them; they also invented various forms of divination. Even then, a high level of stress can invoke the hallucinations again. The threshold of stress required seems to be genetic. People who retained the ability to speak with gods were called prophets. They were often uneducated people.

Some evidence: In ancient Egypt seeing hallucinations of other people was perfectly normal; the hallucinations were called "ka". In Iliad, people interacted with gods all the time; pretty much all thinking was outsourced to gods. (The later Odyssey already depicts humans with modern psychology: they make decisions, invent tricks, lie.) The Oracle of Delphi used illiterate teenage girls from peasant families to channel the god Apollon.

The Old Testament (a collections of books written and edited in different eras) also reflects the process. At the beginning, humans regularly interacted with gods; the latest of them was Moses. Then the interaction with gods was limited to prophets; often uneducated people, sometimes prophesizing against their wills. Sometimes they were killed either because their prophecies failed, or for political reasons when they prophesized for the wrong god. Gradually they were eradicated.

Relevant Biblical quotes:

"The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa — the vision he saw concerning Israel … He said: The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem … This is what the Lord says: … This is what the Lord says: … This is what the Lord says: …" (Amos) He speaks while hearing the hallucinations.

"Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’" (Amos 7:14-15) Prophet explains to a professional priest why such a nobody as him is speaking for the mighty God.

"But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”" (Exodus 3:11) Moses tries to avoid the role of prophet, because he doesn't feel high-status.

"Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young." (Jeremiah 1:6) "You persuaded me, Lord, and I was persuaded; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:7-9) Jeremiah also tries to avoid this role, but to no end. Hallucinations come involuntarily, and they require to be acted upon; resistance is futile.

Related interesting phenomenon is hypnosis. That's something that Vulcan rationalists try to avoid, because it works differently in different cultural settings and for different people, so it seems to avoid scientific approach. Jaynes's explanation is that the non-dominant hemisphere hears the hypnotist's voice and decides to obey (usually because the person believes that this is how hypnosis really works, hence the cultural dependence), overruling the dominant hemisphere. How is hypnosis different from voluntary compliance? People who try faking it by conscious compliance provide worse results. For example, if you convince someone in hypnosis that they are a chicken, they can spend fifteen minutes happily clucking, while a person who fakes being hypnotized will become visibly bored.

Here is something that wasn't mentioned in the book, but I think it fits the pattern: In Zen Buddhism, priests used paradoxical puzzles called "koans" to make students "enlightened", and to verify that they really are "enlightened". If Jaynes's theory is true, it could have been a historical tool to turn off the bicameral (hallucinatory, pattern-matching) thinking, and turn on the consciousness. In other words, if you are a modern human interested in Buddhism, studying koans is probably just a waste of time: the abilities they promise you already have; and no, they aren't supernatural. (Also many koans are based on puns in languages you don't know, so you actually can't solve them.)

This is just my speculation: This theory could explain why it is useful to debate your thoughts with other people (e.g. in therapy; most obviously Rogerian therapy), or to accompany your decisions with rituals, as opposed to just thinking rationally about them. It is how the dominant hemisphere explains its intentions to the non-dominant hemisphere, which in turn can later provide the necessary willpower. This could also provide a hint to why highly intelligent people suffer so often from akrasia.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-15T22:37:02.059Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When the society becomes so complex that mere knowledge of rules and pattern-matching is not sufficient to solve existing problems, people have to develop theory of mind instead

This implies that contemporary hunter-gatherer societies (Amazon Indians, Bushmen, Aboriginals, Andamanese, etc.) did not do this and still are "bicameral". Is there evidence that this is so?

koans ... could have been a historical tool to turn off the bicameral (hallucinatory, pattern-matching) thinking, and turn on the consciousness

Koans originate around IX century AD in China -- the implication is that the Chinese mind before that was mostly bicameral. Again, any evidence of this? In Japan koans were important much later, e.g. Hakuin lived in the XVIII century.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-16T07:51:07.952Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea if someone made a research about how many members of the contemporary hunter-gatherer societies hear "voices" and see "spirits". But it seems to be a standard trope.

The part about koans is just my idea; it's not from the book. Actually, I later realized it could easily be the other way round. High stress induces bicameral thinking, and giving someone an unsolvable puzzle and saying his future incarnations depend on it could be quite stressful. The non-dominant hemisphere is supposed to be the one that matches patterns, so it could just as well be an exercise to activate it. And the "enlightement" could mean activating the inner voice. (In other words, it could be a culturally different way to achieve what charismatic Christians are achieving by "speaking in tongues".) Well, if you can easily argue either way...

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-16T14:32:16.601Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

hear "voices" and see "spirits"

The thing is, it's not limited to primitive tribes. Try a Pentecostal church in a XXI century first-world country :-)

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-17T08:06:11.576Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that shows that even a modern mind can be temporarily switched into the bicameral mode under a proper combination of circumstances and beliefs (i.e. a ritual).

Ancient Greeks used rituals to initiate illiterate girls into speaking prophecies. Some African tribes use rituals to create zombies (unconscious slaves). Modern Christians use rituals to initiate believers into speaking gibberish, or falling on the floor. Hypnotists use rituals to make volunteers on the stage believe that they are chicken.

These are all different cultutal variations of the same thing: high social pressure can activate the bicameral mode in a modern mind. There are differences in how easily a mind will succumb to such pressure; and the difference probably has a biological component. In schizophrenia, the bicameral mode can activate spontaneously.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-17T14:29:11.219Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me you're putting too many equal signs between things like schizophrenia, religious (in particular, mystical) experiences, altered states of consciousness including the drug-mediated ones, and the bicameral mode of thinking.

Not all unusual mind states can be fit into the bicameral mold.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-18T09:21:57.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To make me understand your model and objections, please tell me which statements specifically you agree or disagree with; or rather how much likely or unlikely you consider them. (So that I don't argue for a statement we both happen to agree with.)

  • the brain has two hemispheres;
  • the hemispheres communicate with each other;
  • each of these hemispheres separately is capable of intelligent behavior;
  • each of these hemispheres separately is capable of listening and seeing;
  • the non-dominant hemisphere can send visual or auditory hallucinations to the dominant one;
  • sometimes hallucination can force people to feel certain way or do certain things;
  • hallucinations are among the typical symptoms of schizophrenia;
  • high stress increases the probability of hallucinations.

My point is that if we happen to agree on these points, then I think that proposing this mechanism as an explanation for seeing or hearing unusual things or feeling compelled to do things in situations of high social pressure is a reasonable explanation.

(Kind of like learning that humans have legs, and then concluding that legs are probably responsible for walking and running and jumping. The accusation of "putting too many equal signs" between walking, running, and jumping doesn't feel fair. And the statement that "not all long-distance movement can be fit into the leg movement" is technically true -- one could also walk on hands, or crawl -- but it still makes sense to consider legs as a prime suspect.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-18T14:50:43.481Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My point is that if we happen to agree on these points, then I think that proposing this mechanism as an explanation for seeing or hearing unusual things or feeling compelled to do things in situations of high social pressure is a reasonable explanation.

We agree on these points (in their literal interpretation), but I don't think that proposing this mechanism is a reasonable explanation. For one thing, the causal chain is really weak. For another, you're ignoring all alternate hypotheses.

For example let's do this:

  • Prolonged starvation can cause visual or auditory hallucinations;
  • sometimes hallucination can force people to feel certain way or do certain things;
  • hallucinations are among the typical symptoms of schizophrenia;
  • high stress increases the probability of hallucinations.

...Profit? X-)

The accusation of "putting too many equal signs" between walking, running, and jumping doesn't feel fair.

Have you considered the implications? For example, would you agree that members of stone-age tribes are literally schizophrenics by DSM criteria and would be diagnosed as such by competent psychiatrists? Effective anti-psychotic drugs exists -- would you agree that medicating such people would force their minds into a "contemporary" mode and out of the "bicameral" mode? Is meditation nothing but teaching yourself schizophrenia? Were all mystics throughout the ages just mentally ill people?

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-19T14:33:24.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For example, would you agree that members of stone-age tribes are literally schizophrenics by DSM criteria and would be diagnosed as such by competent psychiatrists?

This reminds me of debates about IQ, whether stone-age tribes would be diagnosed as mentally retarded.

Seems like on one hand, if we could use a time machine and somehow convince the stone-age people to do our IQ tests, they would probably score low. On the other hand, they wouldn't be the same kind of people as a random selection of people who have the same value of IQ today. I guess the conclusion is that there are many factors that can lower the IQ, some one of them would be problematic in the ancient environment, and some of them not.

Analogically, the idea that the members of stone-age tribes would be diagnosed as mentally ill using today's criteria seems quite unsurprising to me. And analogically, there could be various variants of schizophrenia, some of them widely present among the stone-age tribes, and some of them absent. I have no idea whether the anti-psychotic drugs would target those historic variants.

Is meditation nothing but teaching yourself schizophrenia?

It seems like the goal of the most serious meditators is to have hallucinations of your previous reincarnations, which is supposed to give you the hard evidence that your faith is the true one. (Conveniently ignoring the alternative explanation that your faith may actually have shaped the content of the hallucinations.)

But most people in our culture seem to meditate merely as a way of relaxation. That means, not giving it enough time and effort to make the hallucinations appear. (Literature seems to suggests that it is usually necessary to spend weeks meditating several hours daily to achieve the "enlightenment".)

Were all mystics throughout the ages just mentally ill people?

Well, unless you believe in the supernatural, I am curious what other explanation there is...

(Connotational disclaimer: "Mentally ill" is not the same thing as "dysfunctional at everything". Just because a person has weird hallucinations once in a while, they can still be a great person, even a great scientist.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-19T14:41:05.344Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

if we could use a time machine

I'm talking about people living now. Amazon Indian tribes, Andamanese, maybe remote communities of Bushmen, Aboriginals, etc.

the idea that the members of stone-age tribes would be diagnosed as mentally ill using today's criteria seems quite unsurprising to me.

The question was much more specific: diagnosed with schizophrenia by DSM standards. And should we medicate them? The life of schizophrenics noticeably improves when they take their drugs.

It seems like the goal of the most serious meditators is to have hallucinations of your previous reincarnations

I don't know about that. Meditation is not limited to the Hinduist or Buddhist religious context. And, by the way, enlightenment is usually thought to require many years of meditation, not weeks.

I am curious what other explanation there is

They are normal :-P

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-19T15:18:05.545Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Amazon Indian tribes, Andamanese, maybe remote communities of Bushmen, Aboriginals, etc.

I remember reading somewhere that Incas received commands from statues when the Spanish conquerred them. Not sure how reliable this information is, but I would count "hearing voices from statues" among the symptoms of schizophrenia, if that's true.

diagnosed with schizophrenia by DSM standards. And should we medicate them? The life of schizophrenics noticeably improves when they take their drugs.

The map (even a high-status one such as DSM) is not the territory. Asking "are they schizophrenic according to DSM" and "are they the kind of schizophrenic who is unable to function normally in their daily life" are two different questions. If someone hears voices which are completely benign, I'd say "live and let live". It's only the voices that make people cause harm to themselves and the others that should be treated by medication.

In the bicameral era, I can imagine that most people heard the relatively benign voices, and only a few ones heard the harmful voices. In other words, the actual problem of schizophrenia could be not hearing voices per se, but having those voices become dangerous. (Or hearing the voices so often that it makes normal functioning difficult; but how much that is would probably differ in the ancient times and now, especially when it's a social stigma now.)

The life of schizophrenics noticeably improves when they take their drugs.

Removing the dangerous voices improves life.

Removing rare and benign voices... I am not sure about that one. Actually, I could imagine this being the other way round, for example sometimes hearing the voices could manifest as increased "willpower" (e.g. it's easier to exercise every morning, if an irresistable voice of God keeps reminding you). Maybe akrasia correlates positively with atheism.

Meditation is not limited to the Hinduist or Buddhist religious context.

Then I'd cynically guess that people in those other contexts, if they meditate hard enough, usually receive hallucinations that confirm their contexts (e.g. instead of their previous reincarnation, they will see Jesus Christ or Holy Spirit or Allah coming and speaking to them).

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-18T15:55:37.677Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Jaynes's explanation is that the non-dominant hemisphere hears the hypnotist's voice and decides to obey (usually because the person believes that this is how hypnosis really works, hence the cultural dependence), overruling the dominant hemisphere.

This theory seems the prediction that you shouldn't get a similar hypnotic effect if the sound get's processed by the left and by the right ear. How strongly do you believe that?

Some evidence: In ancient Egypt seeing hallucinations of other people was perfectly normal; the hallucinations were called "ka".

Plenty of people I know have internal family systems type hallucinations that speak to them. Given different cultural norms they likely also coud be called "ka" or do you have an argument for why what the Egyptian hallucinate was something different or why you think that their society had more people having those hallucinations?

Furthermore internal family systems voices often have a clear direction from which they are coming. When some come from the right and others of the same person come from the left, why should we believe that they come from the "non-dominate hemisphere" (which probably is either left or right).

If Jaynes's theory is true, it could have been a historical tool to turn off the bicameral (hallucinatory, pattern-matching) thinking, and turn on the consciousness. In other words, if you are a modern human interested in Buddhism, studying koans is probably just a waste of time: the abilities they promise you already have

I don't think you get to the purpose of koans. Koans often point to phenonomogical primitives that the student doesn't has access to and provide a tool to learn the new primitives.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-19T14:40:24.376Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This theory seems the prediction that you shouldn't get a similar hypnotic effect if the sound get's processed by the left and by the right ear. How strongly do you believe that?

I don't know how the sound is processed in brain. For example in vision, each hemisphere gets half of input from each eye. So "which eye" doesn't matter, but "left or right from where you are looking at" does.

When some (voices) come from the right and others of the same person come from the left, why should we believe that they come from the "non-dominate hemisphere" (which probably is either left or right).

This would suggest that inputs from both ears are processed by both hemispheres. If not, then I admit this is a serious argument against Jaynes's theory.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-19T14:50:42.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For example in vision, each hemisphere gets half of input from each eye.

Where did you get that idea? A quick googling gives me http://changingminds.org/explanations/brain/parts_brain/left_right_brain.htm:

The halves are neither mirror images nor contain completely exclusive functions. However there are significant similarities. Each half receive sensory information though, curiously, from the opposite side of the body. Thus the right eye goes to the left brain and vice versa. The exception is the nose: the right nostril goes to the right brain.

Skeptics question : http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/32988/does-the-right-eye-feed-information-to-the-left-brain-hemisphere-while-the-left

comment by gjm · 2016-05-19T15:10:16.041Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you look e.g. at the start of the Wikipedia article on the visual cortex you will find:

the left hemisphere visual cortex receives signals from the right visual field, and the right visual cortex from the left visual field.

Or take a look at this diagram from a book about the visual field. Or this online book.

I thought this was very widely known -- which I say not in order to make you feel bad (there's no shame in not knowing things) but to suggest why Viliam didn't find it necessary to provide references when he said that each hemisphere gets input from both eyes' view of one half of the visual field.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-19T15:37:11.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or take a look at this diagram from a book about the visual field. Or this online book.

Thanks.

but to suggest why Viliam didn't find it necessary to provide references when he said that each hemisphere gets input from both eyes' view of one half of the visual field.

I don't ask for reference to claim that it was wrong for Viliam that he didn't provide references. I rather ask because the belief I had in my mind conflict. Likely because sources like the ChangingMinds website making a wrong claim (if I take your link to be trustworthy).

But if it's the visual field that's link that doesn't raise my basic confidence in the claim that hypnosis focuses on a single hemisphere. Timeline therapy would be a good example. Some people orient their timeline in a way that if you ask them to visualize an event that happend in the past it will be on the left side and if you ask them to imagine an event of the future it will be on the right side.

Different people have a different spatial layout for this but it generally doesn't happen that someone visualize both his past and future in the same direction. Generally entities accessed by hypnosis do have a location and there are effects of moving that location around but they are not all located to one side, and if I would meet a person for whom everything is on one side I would hypnotize that the person has a pathology.

I'm personally wary of drawing strong conclusions about underlying neuroscience when thinking about hypnosis, particularly because I'm exposed to hypnotists talking about neuroscience who might have access to empiric experience of what hypnosis does but who don't have real neurosicence knowledge.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-19T14:59:28.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't quickly find a source for each hemisphere receiving only a part of the visual field, but the optical nerves coming from each eye cross before reaching the brain, so it's not "one eye, one hemisphere". (That doesn't mean "the left one goes right and vice versa", but "they join, and then they split again".)

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

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-19T15:09:00.421Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't quickly find a source for each hemisphere receiving only a part of the visual field, but the optical nerves coming from each eye cross before reaching the brain

The nerves cross in the ChangingMind descriptions. That's how the left eye surplies the right hemisphere and vice versa. I don't see how they join in the sense of sharing information while the cross.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-18T15:26:25.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How is dominant hemisphere operationalized?

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-19T14:44:03.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I remember correctly from school, there are many different criteria, but for right-handed people usually most of them provide the same answer. Example criteria: which hand is more dextrous, which foot is more dextrous, which eye perceives better, where is the speech center...

(With left-handed people it's complicated; for some of them the functionality of brain is a mirror image of right-handed people, others are some mix of both.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-19T15:05:35.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Basically you are saying if we have a right handed individual with a dextrous right hand that means his left hemisphere is dominant. Thus for them hypnosis is about activiting the left brain hemisphere?

Is that a correct description of your claim?

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-21T21:06:27.377Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the left hemisphere is dominant, then hypnosis is about making the right hemisphere comply with the hypnotist's commands; then the right hemisphere will make the left one obey the hypnotic commands.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-05-13T02:50:18.629Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This week in big name rationalists on facebook: Wiblin's commenters allege a Trump conspiracy, and EY argues against Wiblin on the social value of voting

Obscure Australian Tax Office document explains how to dodge tax in Australia. Protip: The Netherlands is your friend, the Cayman Islands are for chumps

  1. So, for example, investors who are resident of the United States, or indeed a group of investors who are residents of various jurisdictions, may want to join together in creating an investment entity in the Cayman Islands. If the funds of that entity were used to acquire Australian business assets, that Cayman Islands entity would be the relevant taxpayer for the purposes of the Australian taxation system. For entities resident of a non-treaty country deriving a business profit sourced in Australia, it has always been readily understood that Australia would seek to tax that profit.

  2. This understanding may be responsible for arrangements involving the purchase of shares in Australian businesses where the arrangements go beyond what might be thought necessary to achieve the commercial goal of bringing various buyers together to make the purchase.

  3. Whilst no particular adverse taxation conclusions ought to follow from the use of a Cayman Islands entity to invest into Australia, the use of more complicated structures to make the same investment may require a broader consideration.

  4. For example, rather than make a direct purchase from the Cayman Islands of the Australian assets, we have see>n Cayman Islands entities make an equity investment of their funds in a shelf company resident in another low-tax jurisdiction, which may then make an equity investment into a shelf company resident in a country with which Australia has a tax treaty. (European resident interposed entities are often used.) The treaty country resident then capitalises an Australian company intended to be the holder of the target assets. (It is this new Australian holding entity that is ultimately the entity sold by its tax treaty country resident parent.)

  5. Where no sound commercial reasons for creating this pattern of holding interests in a number of jurisdictions is apparent, it naturally requires consideration of why these interposed entities between the Cayman Islands entity and Australia are there. For example, if a Dutch company buys and sells Australian assets and makes a business profit, the Australia-Netherlands tax treaty provides that the profit would be assessed in the Netherlands. If a Cayman Islands entity or a Luxembourg entity made a business profit on a similar transaction, the profit is assessable in Australia.

  6. Under Australia's tax treaty with the Netherlands a business profit derived from Australian sources is taxable in the Netherlands, not Australia. We understand, however, that the Netherlands domestic tax law provides a participation exemption for mere holding companies that make a gain upon the sale of shares in a subsidiary company. There is also a European Union tax directive regarding the non-imposition of withholding tax in respect of dividends paid from subsidiaries to their European Union resident parent. In these circumstances if the Dutch holding company is owned, for example, by a Luxembourg holding entity, then one can see that a business profit that otherwise is taxable in Australia might be argued to have become a non-taxable gain in the Netherlands, a tax free dividend in Luxembourg, and then a tax free dividend to the Cayman Islands owner of the Luxembourg shelf company.

  7. The characterisation of certain profits derived that are, for Australian taxation purposes, considered to be business profits, which in the Netherlands may well be characterised as mere capital gains in terms of Dutch tax jurisprudence, explains the desire, in tax terms, to have the profits derived by a Dutch resident entity rather than its Luxembourg parent or its indirect Cayman Islands holding entity.

Notes from my evening with my friend from the US

  • Turns out my effective altruism economics politics and science motivation are all extrinsic therefore incompatible with my egoism and wellbeing
  • It not a 100% maxim it's about nudging in the right direction
  • Stop time travelling into the future about what happens. Contingencies, just enjoy the here and now
  • Relationships from PERMA are extrinsic motivation, shift that! Unconditional self worth don't need validation
  • Alternative explanation: I’m just not opinionated therefore non fb posts
  • Reduce decision fatigue don't casually revisits tough decisions
  • Sunk cost blog
  • Read aloud ms voice my blog
  • Overthinking the utility of my journal
  • my externalising of my breakup with my housemate could be fed by a lack of humility about what’s wrong with me and my room for improvement.

Notes on reflection of that time, afterwards

  • damn she even suggested having sex in my car at one point. Damn, so close, dw, keep trying with others
  • I’ll be sure to change my preferences from intelligence operator with the army to intelligence specialist with the airforce since the fitness requirements are getting too dangerous!
  • Excessive self reflection?
  • Enjoy that Idgaf mentality
comment by cousin_it · 2016-05-12T18:10:36.243Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a simple explanation why quantum entanglement is weird. Imagine that Alice tells you: "I have three numbered fair coins. I can flip one of them, but then the other two will disappear." Bob, who is far away from Alice and can't communicate with her, says: "I have another set of three coins that is mysteriously connected to Alice's and always gives the same outcomes."

1) If you ask Alice and Bob to flip the same numbered coin, their answers always agree.

2) If you ask Alice to flip coin 1 and Bob to flip coin 2, they are different about 5% of the time.

3) If you ask Alice to flip coin 2 and Bob to flip coin 3, they are different about 5% of the time.

4) If you ask Alice to flip coin 1 and Bob to flip coin 3, they are different about 20% of the time!

Why is that strange? Well, if coin 1 is different from coin 3, then at least one of them must be different from coin 2, which you didn't ask about, but could have. So the probability of the last situation can't be greater than the sum of the previous two. Even if Alice and Bob are lying to you and have agreed on some strategy beforehand, the above scenario is still impossible. But with quantum mechanics it's possible (see Wikipedia or Eliezer's post for details).

It's also easy to understand why such tricks don't allow you to send signals faster than light. For example, if you want to influence one of Bob's coins toward heads, asking Alice to flip one of her coins won't help you, because it's equally likely to come up either way. As a tool for playing games like this one, quantum entanglement is stronger than hidden variables, but weaker than communication.

comment by Stefan_Schubert · 2016-05-10T10:26:20.772Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

deleted

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-10T15:58:43.720Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Could machine learning be used to fruitfully classify academic articles?

The word "fruitfully" is doing all the heavy lifting here.

It is, of course, possible to throw an ML algorithm at a corpus of academic articles. Will the results be useful? That entirely depends on what do you consider useful. You will certainly get some results.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2016-05-11T05:44:01.217Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Something in a related space, http://www.vosviewer.com/ is now being used by a few publishers and it is AWESOME. You can rearrange by researcher links (who published with whom), academic area links, citation links, institution, etc.

comment by RyanCarey · 2016-05-10T16:21:05.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you had a million labelled postmodern and non-postmodern papers, you could decently identify them.

You could categorise most papers with fewer labels using citation graphs.

You can recommend papers, as you would Amazon books with a recommender system (using ratings).

There are hundreds of ways to apply machine learning to academic articles; it's a matter of deciding what you want the machine learning to do.

comment by Stefan_Schubert · 2016-05-10T17:08:53.193Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, I guess my question was whether you'd think that it'd be possible to do this in a way that would resonate with readers. Would they find the estimates of quality, or level of postmodernism, intuitively plausible?

My hunch was that the classification would primarily be based on patterns of word use, but you're right that it would probably be fruitful to use at patterns of citations.

comment by RyanCarey · 2016-05-11T03:00:17.323Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you get a well labelled dataset, I think this is pretty thoroughly within the scope of current machine learning technologies, but that means spending perhaps hundreds of hours labelling papers as a certain amount postmodern out of 100. If you're trying to single out the postmodernism that you're convinced is total BS, then that's more complex. Doable but you need to make the case to me about why it would be worthwhile, and what exactly your aim would be.

comment by Stefan_Schubert · 2016-05-11T13:39:09.175Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks Ryan, that's helpful. Yes, I'm not sure one would be able to do something that has the right combination of accuracy, interestingness and low-cost at present.

comment by Arshuni · 2016-05-09T06:11:29.047Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Which psychological findings have great practical implications, if they are indeed true?

Overjustification comes to mind, as an example.

On a related note: if it is true, does that suggest that, as far as we take the diminishing utility of money for granted, by using extrinsic rewards, we are reducing the number of extreme performers? (in so far as we can't keep giving exponential rewards, and money/tokens/what have you motivates in proportion to their utility) I have seen it argued, that if you are not doing well enough to be expecting a non-interrupted stream of extrinsic rewards, you probably shouldn't be doing that thing. Does that lose any validity in this context?

Still, it seems like whether it's true should have some implications.

A more certain finding seems to be the poor transfer of learning. It SEEMS like this SHOULD have implications for the education system.

What else would? (like, even if stereotype threat existed as a significant force, it seems far less clear to me how that finding could realistically impact any policies or our behaviors)

comment by Jurily · 2016-05-14T03:08:55.424Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Psychology produces useful information at the same rate as Christianity. If you want practical results, learn hypnosis.

comment by knb · 2016-05-10T03:02:45.370Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On a related note: if it is true, does that suggest that, as far as we take the diminishing utility of money for granted, by using extrinsic rewards, we are reducing the number of extreme performers? (in so far as we can't keep giving exponential rewards, and money/tokens/what have you motivates in proportion to their utility).

I think the positional qualities of money compensate for this somewhat. People still work hard because they want to keep ahead of their neighbor/coworker.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-09T21:43:11.541Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On a related note: if it is true, does that suggest that, as far as we take the diminishing utility of money for granted, by using extrinsic rewards, we are reducing the number of extreme performers? (in so far as we can't keep giving exponential rewards, and money/tokens/what have you motivates in proportion to their utility)

Paying people is complex. Companies often pay their employees often market wages and don't pay to optimize motivation. Even when it comes to optimizing motivation fairness perception matters a lot.

What else would? (like, even if stereotype threat existed as a significant force, it seems far less clear to me how that finding could realistically impact any policies or our behaviors)

If stereotype threat is a force that exists there are likely variables that make it stronger or weaker. A HR deparment of a company might want to introduce policies that weaken it's negative effect and use possible positive effects.

At Google they got people to cancel training courses instead of no-showing by reminded people of the group image of Google and being googly. They positively used the stereotype of Googlers.

comment by Elo · 2016-05-09T02:28:05.103Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/v2appf.htm
some fun but old reading - Fenyman's review of why the challenger disaster happened. Bonus points if you share what you think the take-away messages are (in ROT13) and how we (and NASA) has learnt from this mistake.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-05-13T18:05:53.566Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I saw a link in an open thread several months back about an organization in the past that was quite similar to the Rationality movement but eventually fell apart. It was science based self-improvement and people trying to make rational choices back in the 1920s or earlier. I've tried searching for the link again but can't find it. Does anyone know which one I'm referring to?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-13T20:49:40.807Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The 1920 didn't have the same idea of science that we have today. Maybe you mean General Semantics?

comment by TheAltar · 2016-05-13T22:59:13.084Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This looks like it. Thank you!

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-05-22T17:54:44.874Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How old is the "idea of science" that we have today and what did they have in 1920?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-23T09:06:24.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The doctrine of evidence-based medicine was proposed in a paper in 1992. The Cochrane Collaboration was founded in 1993 and over time made meta-analysis authoritative papers.

The Student's t-test paper was published in 1908 and in the 1920's the statistical signifiance as measured by t-test wasn't central to science the way it is today.

In 1920 Freud was considered doing scientific psychology. As far as I know the General Semantics community is like the Freudian community in the regard that they didn't try to back up specific interventions in controlled trials.

comment by iarwain1 · 2016-05-13T14:25:24.936Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In our world, classical mechanics (Newton + Maxwell and their logical implications) holds for most everyday experiences at slow speeds (relative to the speed of light) and at scales larger than the atomic realm.*

Question: Is this necessarily true for every possible world that matches our macroscopic physical observations? Is it possible to construct an alternative set of physical laws such that the world would function exactly as our world does on a macroscopic, everyday level, but that would violate Newton's laws or Maxwell's laws or thermodynamics or the like? Again, I'm not talking about violating those laws in extreme cases (close to the speed of light, tiny scales) where these laws don't really apply even in our world. I'm talking about a world where even the everyday approximate equations of physics, as expressed in classical mechanics, do not apply.

Said another way: If you messed with Newton's equations or Maxwell's equations or thermodynamics even a little bit, would the world necessarily function differently in such a way that we could tell that you'd messed with the laws? Would it function so differently as to be unrecognizable?

Or said yet another way: Do our macroscopic experiences entail that the equations of classical mechanics are at least a very good approximation of the underlying physics?

I'd especially appreciate sources / references / links to further reading.

[*Leaving aside the types of modern technology which bring quantum mechanical effects into the everyday observable world.]

comment by mwengler · 2016-05-14T17:36:32.771Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I may not understand the question's point, because as I read it the answer is a very obvious "Yes." We determined Newton's laws and Maxwell's equations from observations of our world. So the planets in orbit around the sun, the moon around the earth, and an apple falling to the ground all lead to gravitation. The attraction between wires carrying current in the same direction (magnetic), the functioning of transformers (change in magnetic field produces electric field) and radio and light all fit together to give Maxwell's equations.

So yes, a world with the macroscopic physical observations as ours does not violate Newton's or Maxwell's laws because our world with those observations doesn't violate those laws. If Newton's or Maxwell's equations were different, the world you saw would necessarily be different.

What am I missing here?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-05-13T14:05:08.209Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some months ago someone mentioned a chat website that tracked arguments in syllogism form to help people organize their debates. Does anyone remember what it was called?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-13T10:54:19.149Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a public database for math proofs in a form where they can be read by computers?

comment by bogus · 2016-05-13T11:21:09.339Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

http://us.metamath.org ?

comment by TheAltar · 2016-05-11T13:56:05.507Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was reading through a link on an Overcoming Bias post about the AK Model and came across the idea that, " the Social return on many types of investments far exceed their private return". To rephrase this: there are investments you can make such as getting a college education which benefit others more than they benefit you. These seem like they could be some good skills to focus on which might be often ignored. Obvious examples I can think of would be the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and various social skills.

Do you know of any good low hanging fruit in terms of skills or time investments a person can make which can provide a lot of benefit to the people around them (company, family, friends, etc.) but don't actually benefit themselves?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-05-11T17:51:43.506Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are cases where better being able to perceive whether someone else really wants to do what you ask them to or whether they are just saying "yes" because they feel an obligation benefits the other person a lot more.

comment by username2 · 2016-05-13T06:03:30.638Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Writing educational articles, editing wikipedia, contributing to free software projects.

comment by Stingray · 2016-05-13T14:53:30.404Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that parenting skills are a good example of such situation

comment by Lumifer · 2016-05-13T16:16:50.936Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

low hanging fruit in terms of skills or time investments

Getting pregnant.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-05-12T09:07:51.713Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any recorded evidence of grown daughters of hirsute mothers exhibiting signs of masculinization? Like, in the 2D4D ratio, or body type, or 'character'?

(Brief googling was insufficient. Question arose from looking at the portrait of Magdalena Ventura.)

comment by DanielDeRossi · 2016-05-12T01:23:06.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So I got a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering , but I worked in a non engineering related field since then. I'm preparing to go back and do a Master'\s degree in engineering. Does anyone have any tips for what I can do to regain lost knowledge over the summer? I'm cracking open some old textbooks.

comment by morganism · 2016-05-13T21:19:13.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you in SoCal?

the private space companies out in the Mohave are taking on interns, prob be the best way to see skills in use, and get to be in machine shops too...

comment by morganism · 2016-05-13T21:17:09.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you in SoCal?

the private space companies out in the Mohave are taking on interns, prob be the best way to see skills in use, and get to be in machine shops too...

comment by Bound_up · 2016-05-11T18:19:52.633Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the context of religious arguments, some say that the constants of the universe are improbably finely tuned for the existence of life and order. The constants refer to things like the gravitational constant, the strength of the atomic weak force, etcetera.

It is my understanding that the order part is key; most other possible constants wouldn't allow for an alternate form of life, for example, because everything would be so far apart as to never interact, or so close together as to never vary in its state.

Some will respond that there may be a multiverse of universes, with random universal constants, so that some improbable universes are bound to crop up.

To this, it is responded that inventing a multiverse to explain away apparently purposeful tuning of universal constants doesn't really work. It's an excuse.

Now, I know that MWI was NOT invented to explain away anything, that it was presented as a possible explanation for certain observations well in advance of this kind of argument.

But, here is my question. Does MWI limit itself to alternate universes with the same universal constants, or does it predict also the existence of universes with different universal constants?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2016-05-12T13:12:25.767Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

MWI doesn't say anything about other constants- the other parts of our wavefunction should have the same constants. However, other multiverse hypotheses do suggest that physical constants could eb different.

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-13T14:37:34.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To this, it is responded that inventing a multiverse to explain away apparently purposeful tuning of universal constants doesn't really work. It's an excuse.

How would you explain why Earth is at the correct distance from the Sun so that the life can exist here? I would say there are many planets, most of them are in wrong distances, and Earth happens to be one in the right distance, which is why we have this debate here instead of on Pluto. But this is a similar kind of excuse.

It would be even more suspicious excuse if Earth would have a more cloudy atmosphere, so that no one would actually see the sky. And when we can see the sky, it is also suspicious to assume that those tiny dots are actually also Suns, and there is actually a few order of magnitudes more of them than we can see, and they have their own planets that we can't see at all, etc.

Just saying that there is a precedent that something suspicious things happen to be true.

On the other hand, we do see the stars, we can see other planets through telescope, in other words, these suspicious truths have left some observable footprints. We can even experiment with Everett branches on the microscopic scale. But we have no observable footprint of the Tegmark multiverse. And I am not sure if we ever can have such thing.

However, the whole religious argument is "if you cannot explain to me all the details of the universe right now, you must accept the existence of my invisible friend", which is nonsense. Not knowing some laws of physics (yet?) is perfectly normal even in universes without invisible friends, so it cannot be used as an evidence for one.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-05-11T18:36:33.300Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But, here is my question. Does MWI limit itself to alternate universes with the same universal constants, or does it predict also the existence of universes with different universal constants?

As far as I know, we don't know why we have the physics constants we have now. There are hints that the constants may be a product of the structure of the universe (and that the constants have changed over time as the structure of the universe has developed), in which case MWI would predict universes with different constants. But there are a lot of unknown unknowns in all of this.

Insofar as MWI might predict universes with completely different physical laws - I'm unaware of any evidence for this proposition.

comment by morganism · 2016-05-10T22:30:51.557Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a brief history of game AI in three parts...

http://www.andreykurenkov.com/writing/a-brief-history-of-game-ai/

comment by morganism · 2016-05-10T22:30:27.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a brief history of game AI in three parts...

http://www.andreykurenkov.com/writing/a-brief-history-of-game-ai/

comment by Joseph_P · 2016-05-09T03:53:52.340Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a typo in the title ("Open Threat").

comment by Elo · 2016-05-09T05:46:30.511Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

wow. I can't believe how I keep being wrong at this. This has to be at least the 10th one I have submitted...

comment by Error · 2016-05-09T14:48:29.891Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I dunno, I liked it better as Open Threat. ;-)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-05-10T08:19:29.739Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would have liked it even better as Open Treat.

comment by Arshuni · 2016-05-09T06:11:52.037Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you in distress?

comment by Elo · 2016-05-09T10:05:51.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

heh. No, but thank you for your concern.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-05-13T02:50:12.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like the way you think and feel.

comment by MrMind · 2016-05-09T06:58:14.353Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it sort of irks me: it should be always "Open thread, mmm dd - mmm dd, yyyy", and yet every time is something different X-D

comment by root · 2016-05-09T18:08:43.583Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Elo submits the open threads via a scripted cron job - am I wrong? (and if I am, would that not be a good suggestion?)

comment by Elo · 2016-06-18T12:17:30.483Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

what? No. I do them manually. As did MrMind before I realised I was in an earlier timezone for posting them...

comment by root · 2016-06-18T20:11:09.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then yet another feature for LW 2.0: open threads published with cron. (I'm assuming that you're not familiar with wget/curl so there wasn't even a manual script written)[1]

[1] You can also use Python or some other language in a similar tier.

comment by Elo · 2016-06-18T21:35:46.629Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

it's certainly possible to auto publish them but by removing the manual process you distance the community from self supporting - I definitely hung around more from the day I started creating open threads... I also messaged MrMind and various others since that day.

comment by ike · 2016-05-15T13:21:20.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why does http://lesswrong.com/lw/z0/the_pascals_wager_fallacy_fallacy/, written by EY, have "deleted" as the author?

comment by morganism · 2016-05-14T21:13:36.134Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Experiments guided by Bayesian math reveal that the guessing process differs in people with some disorders

Someone might want to start a conversation about this line of psych.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/bayesian-reasoning-implicated-some-mental-disorders

comment by morganism · 2016-05-13T21:20:53.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

El-cheapo VR headsets from China shipping now.... content still slack, but this could def drive demand.

http://www.destructoid.com/-130-oculus-clones-from-china-are-here-360673.phtml

comment by morganism · 2016-05-14T21:50:27.715Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Humans are nothing but robots that nature, via Darwinian evolution, happened to produce from self-assembling nano machinery."

"‘natural’ selection involves systems eating each other while ‘artificial’ selection is less violent."

http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/adapting_as_nano_approaches_biological_complexity_witnessing_humanai_integration_critically-172631

comment by Viliam · 2016-05-15T20:09:55.655Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like a bunch of impressive words randomly thrown together. More of less what you would expect from someone who calls themselves "alpha meme".

Recommended reading: The Virtue of Narrowness, No Evolutions for Corporations or Nanodevices

comment by morganism · 2016-05-10T20:21:22.238Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

For the media thread, Aeon magazine philosophical article

https://aeon.co/essays/true-ai-is-both-logically-possible-and-utterly-implausible

comment by knb · 2016-05-11T01:49:34.619Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

For anyone curious about this link, I'll save you some time:

From this, they jump to being seriously worried about their inability to control their next Honda Civic because it will have a mind of its own.

It's that type of article.