Overcoming bias guy meme | quickmeme

post by saliency · 2013-03-13T16:56:01.640Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 78 comments




Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by HungryHippo · 2013-03-13T18:18:56.558Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this kind of submission is better suited in an open thread. :)

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-03-13T18:12:56.065Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not a fan of this.

You might even say I find it OBnoxious.

(folks, this does not deserve to be at +4. +1, tops)

(... so you send it up to +6. facepalm)

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-03-13T18:15:55.450Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2013-03-13T22:58:02.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm retracting my comment because I don't feel like having my karma lowered by people who don't like it.

This is a misuse of the retraction feature. Don't do this.

comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-14T13:36:55.580Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

EDIT: The below is based on my misunderstanding of terminology. It turns out "retract" and "delete" are different things. Oops.

Huh. To me, that sounds like exactly sort of behavior a karma system is supposed to encourage. Post worthless comment => comment downvoted => retract comment => future readers don't waste time reading it.

I retract [EDIT: delete] comments in high-traffic subthreads threads if they don't get upvoted after a day or two. Should I stop doing this?

(Disclaimer: I did not see the original before it was deleted.)

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2013-03-14T15:34:19.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

retract = strikethrough + disable voting
delete = make invisible (a second step after retraction)

The comment was retracted before receiving any votes, with the purpose of being visible but not subject to karma (visible here). I am surprised that this was not clear from the quote; perhaps it's a matter of giving the benefit of the doubt to the user vs the moderator? It was deleted by a moderator, not the user. I think this deletion is very clearly the right action, to the point that I'm surprised that VN didn't delete it when he left his reply.

If you want to avoid clutter, you should delete, not just retract, but it looks to me that you do. If you change your mind, you should say that, not (just) retract, and probably not delete. The main point of retraction is to let someone pull out of the karma system without disrupting a conversation. In principle, an edit saying that should discourage downvotes, but in practice it doesn't. Also, for good or for ill, it discourages reading the comment a bit more than an edit.

comment by ModusPonies · 2013-03-14T15:55:37.154Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for clearing up the terminology.

I am surprised that this was not clear from the quote; perhaps it's a matter of giving the benefit of the doubt to the user vs the moderator?

I think, if the parent had included something like "and therefore I am deleting your post," I probably would not have been confused.

comment by mwengler · 2013-03-14T16:09:50.291Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You think you're confused? Apparently when my comment was deleted by a moderator, it is NOT deleted in my own view of the thread! So I am reading these confused followup comments with people talking about my having deleted my comment, and I'm staring at the page SEEING my comment there! It was only in a different view where I saw my alread-deleted comment did not have a "delete" option on it while a newer retracted comment I had made did show a delete option that I guessed that my comment had been deleted, but with no indication on my screen that it was not publicly visible.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-14T19:59:01.610Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The fact that non-moderators don't know it when a moderator has deleted their comments is very confusing. Once an entire subthread I was in was deleted by someone, but we only figured out what was going on because the other person was a mod herself.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-03-14T19:50:06.131Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I consider the main point of retraction to be a reconsideration of the value of a comment - that is, it should be used to say "This is, on further consideration, wrong, or without value" while leaving the reasoning for why it was wrong (or without value) in the first place intact, so other people don't commit the same mistake. This is so regardless of whether the karma value of the comment is positive or negative.

Karma values are, in general, a useful gauge, but not an ultimate gauge, of the usefulness of a comment; they are in the end the consensus view of a post or comment, which may or may not be "correct".

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2013-03-14T19:45:13.695Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I delete comments in high-traffic threads if they don't get upvoted after a day or two.

You don't need to do that. The voting system already allows good comments to rise to the top, and because it gives a bonus for recent ones you don't need to worry about your old unvotedup comments hiding new promising ones.

comment by mwengler · 2013-03-14T15:44:48.797Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a misuse of the retraction feature. Don't do this.

Even though my retracted comment can't be downvoted, I've received 3 downvotes on other comments because of this.

In any case, if you don't want people to work to the metric, why put the metric in place?

And for those students of psychology: was I downvoted because I misused the feature, or was I downvoted because I stated what I was doing? I have certainly prophylactically retracted comments before without being downvoted, but in those instances I didn't say why I was retracting.

I'll retract this comment too. If you want to downvote me for this it will cost you extra keystrokes. Is it really a good use of your lesswrong.com time?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-14T19:48:45.918Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree -- retracting a comment just means “I regret saying this”, whatever the reasons for that.

OTOH, I think that as a matter of honesty one should still keep the original text of the retracted comment intact (possibly with an explanation for the retraction added), unless it is contains potential memetic hazards (even for readers who know the writer has disavowed it), discloses confidential information, or similar.

EDIT: Should have looked into this more carefully -- apparently he retracted the comment immediately after posting it. Yes, I agree that's improper. Retracting.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-13T23:45:18.635Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that this is abuse.

His action can be circumvented though - just downvote two of his other comments. Obviously I do not enforce this strategy under circumstances other than to punish this exploit, but defectors should be punished.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-14T19:52:45.621Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

just downvote two of his other comments.


Karma is not just about reward/punishment, it's also about information. The karma score of a comment tells me how many people found it worth reading, and how many people found it harmful -- and comments can be sorted for that. Downvoting comments one wouldn't otherwise have just because of who they were written by amounts to injecting noise into that information. Please don't do that.

comment by evand · 2013-03-14T00:05:42.488Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's abusive about it? You'd rather he lose more karma from a mistake that he's already learned from?

In general, I'm in favor of people acknowledging past mistakes, rather than pretending that nothing their past selves did was in error. Even when the acknowledgment is of the form "oops, I suppose it was a mistake to voice this opinion in this forum" rather than "my opinion was wrong".

I'd really prefer we didn't have a social norm that changing your mind in response to other people's input is a bad thing, even when sometimes people learn a different lesson than the one we wanted them to. Besides, is it really so much worse for someone to learn the lesson "this sort of thing results in karma loss" vs "that comment didn't contribute to the site and wasn't worth posting"? Are they really such different lessons?

comment by Larks · 2013-03-14T11:47:03.388Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He posted and immediately retracted. The retraction wasn't because he'd learned from his mistake, it was to protect himself from punishment.

Now that he's deleted his comment mine looks asine, as it lacks context. However, I will not retract mine.

comment by mwengler · 2013-03-14T15:57:05.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have not deleted any comments. Indeed, all my comments show up in my view of the thread as this comment is posted. Maybe they were deleted by a moderator and then put back?

Maybe they are a basilisk?

comment by Larks · 2013-03-14T18:04:19.875Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My apologies - I retract the criticism of your deletion.

comment by TimS · 2013-03-14T01:57:43.766Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's abusive about it? You'd rather he lose more karma from a mistake that he's already learned from?

It appears that the original comment was made with the intent of immediately retracting it. "Learning from a mistake" is not a reasonable description of that behavior. But Larks' solution is not a good idea because two wrongs don't make a right (in this circumstance).

That said, I agree with you that retraction of a comment that one is surprised is heavily down-voted or otherwise learns later is wrong is a very reasonable reaction.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-14T11:48:06.823Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

two wrongs don't make a right (in this circumstance).

What else do you suggest we do when people defect in n-player prisoners' dilemmas? (Or do you doubt the relevance of the comparison?)

comment by TimS · 2013-03-14T15:56:51.181Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe I just overvalue karma. But I like the local norm that posts stand or fall on their own merits, not bad things the author has done elsewhere. The original criticism by Vladimir_Nesov was sufficient punishment, and even if it wasn't, the next obvious intervention (the one you described) just seems excessive to me. Likewise, I think the downvotes you received for raising the question is more negative stimuli than necessary, given evand's comment.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-03-14T08:14:06.991Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And of course. (Not great either.)

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-14T12:46:30.987Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What the hell is that? It looks like some kind of pathetic... I don't know. I know there has been some kind of wierd controversy about groupthink or censorship or something but that kind of meme... It reminds me of a much toned down version of the whole FTBullies thing.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-14T23:37:10.075Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought I'd read all of LW, but can't remember anyone ever linking to the icelandic google's image seach for "no"

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-15T01:23:47.417Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by ikrase · 2013-03-13T18:31:59.284Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... damn, we are never going to live down that rape bullshit are we. What the hell, Hanson?

Have to say I don't like it. Wonder who made these.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-03-14T00:46:46.718Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Having only become involved with Lesswrong after it had split off, I've never seen the appeal of "Overcoming Bias." There are a few interesting posts, but a lot of dross and random weird political/incendiary things (like the above). All the good stuff seems to be expressed better elsewhere (mainly on LW).

Possibly this just means LW's voting system is doing its job, but I still notice I'm confused by the appeal. Can anyone enlighten me?

comment by Swimmy · 2013-03-16T21:04:04.156Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I'll stick up for OB and Hanson.

Hanson posts about interesting things in a droll way. That's intentional, I believe: sometimes he seems to be trying to get a rise out of people, but most of the time he's trying to reduce emotional reactions to his posts.

He's really, really invested in ideas like evolution: simple theories that explain lots of different phenomena. This is why we get lots and lots of posts about signaling, near/far, and farmers/foragers. He thinks that these explain far more than people currently give them credit, so he's trying to expand their influence. If this seems boring, let me just point at that Hanson has provided or advertised:

1) Probably the best explanation for why medical expenditures in the US grow faster than health outcomes.

1.a) What I consider the best post on any blog about what economists can say about health care reform

2) An explanation for traditional scifi aesthetics

3) Why dumbed-down arguments work better in politics

4) An ev/psych hypothesis for left/right political divide

5) An ev/psych hypothesis for the appeal of adventure novels and video game settings

6) Problems with the business world and how to fix them (and why they won't be fixed)

7) The dark side of cooperation

He's also interested in experimentation and clever solutions to social problems. Hence,

1) A fantastic (but probably politically unworkable) way to solve the problem of CEO value.

2) Futarchy, of course. I doubt it would be very efficient on a large scale because of target/noise problems, but on a local government scale I think it could be amazing.

3) Other numerous applications he's come up with or advertised: solving standardization/focal point problems (like blu-ray vs hdvd), solving which movie scripts to fund, etc.

If you have seen much of this expressed better elsewhere, consider the value of originating an idea vs. explaining in different words. A lot of the LW community was around for the OB days when Eliezer and Robin blogged together and many of us have absorbed insights from both of them. And these are all just memorable posts from the top of my head. Digging for them, I found many more interesting posts.

Those political posts that seem like trolling seem to me about questioning our moral instincts, which are often very bad. I appreciate a seemingly bizarre hypothesis over another self-congratulation about why X moral theory confirms what we all already believe anyway, hooray.

comment by coffeespoons · 2013-03-14T23:50:45.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Overcoming Bias can be interesting, but (as with the post on rape) I often feel that people like me (with left/feminist leanings) are being trolled.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-03-15T06:42:44.141Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think that Hanson is trolling so much as he's choosing deliberately provocative subjects to pontificate frankly on (I think any definition by which this would be considered "trolling" is inappropriately broad.)

I do think that he does tend to treat a few concepts as hammers which turn everything else into nails, and often bases his arguments on shaky premises. I don't think he has a very good sense of how far he can extrapolate before he's basically speculating blindly.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-14T12:40:23.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure. Overcoming bias is both Hanson's own blog (where he pushes ideas such as ems (those are uploaded people, right?) and cynicism) and a general project about rationality / what it says on the tin.

I've always liked the Less Wrong aristocracy (Compliment!) better as they often seem to make fewer "theory class" mistakes.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2013-03-14T14:30:57.159Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To my knowledge, ems are uploaded people self-optimizing for pure computational efficiency in a sort of malthusian race to the bottom.

[edit] Correction, em is just a shorthand for whole-brain emulation. The malthusian race was a proposed scenario, but not a necessary one.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-15T01:32:37.992Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seems like it would be easier to make expert systems (Possibly out of uploaded infants or animals?) than use humans?

comment by FeepingCreature · 2013-03-15T02:18:45.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well if expert systems make better ems [edit] uploads they'll outcompete the human ems and dominate the market, so humans will self-modify to become more like expert systems or stop getting allocated computing time.

(and that's why you don't run future supertech on capitalism!)

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-15T03:05:15.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Waitwhat? Also, are we calling everything an em?

What are all these people computing in the first place? Also, it seems like the obvious choice is for a human to own several expert-system or trained animal ems and rent their services or something. ????

comment by FeepingCreature · 2013-03-15T03:10:13.315Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I said that wrong. Also, the human is strictly overhead. There's no reason to expect we'd necessarily be better than an expert system at owning and managing expert systems.

What they're computing in the first place, I have no idea. I think the assumption is that there'll be a computing-based economy of any kind, not necessarily what the specifics of it are. And data mining is already an enormous industry, for instance.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-15T03:28:49.971Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


I think somebody forgot to have something to protect! Is this Hanson's actual idea or your idea of the consequences. Frankly I expect an energy-and-matter based economy.

comment by Larks · 2013-03-17T15:24:02.113Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think somebody forgot to have something to protect

This is a positive prediction, not a normative one.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-18T00:50:59.787Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Had heard 'and that's why you don't run future supertech on captialism' and previously heard about Hanson being strictly libertarian possibly in a bad way, so thought that he was somehow accepting of this stuff.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2013-03-15T23:43:43.967Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not very confident I'm accurately representing his position. Really, I'm hoping somebody'll correct me if I'm too far offbase. Grain of salt, go read his posts on the topic, etc etc.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2013-03-17T12:29:04.198Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've always liked the Less Wrong aristocracy

See, it's things like this that makes LW seem creepy to me.

comment by somervta · 2013-07-01T01:06:01.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you saying that you dislike the LW aristocracy, or that you dislike the fact that LW has an aristocracy?

comment by Pfft · 2013-03-14T17:47:18.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wonder who made these.

CharlieSheen, I guess?

comment by khafra · 2013-03-13T18:47:58.319Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A non-neurotypical person. This one displays something I'd actually call humor; the rest are just OB references or "take that, OB!" references.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-13T19:21:49.130Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A non-neurotypical person.

That isn't a phrase I prefer to see used as (what amounts to) an insult.

comment by thescoundrel · 2013-03-14T14:46:45.702Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My complaint is that is either a euphemism for autistic (in which case, just say autistic- if that feel "Squicky", re-evaluate your statement), or it is so vague as to lose all meaning- someone with bi-polar disorder is non-neurotypical, but is no more likely to have made these than anyone else.

If you do mean specifically autistic, you may want to broaden your understanding of autism. Autism is not standard, it can present in many, many ways, including many that would not create this type of image. The images are indicative of a poor grasp of humor, and a poor grasp of the original subject matter, but I do not see a higher probability for an autistic person to create these against the general population.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-14T15:01:13.596Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you do mean

(It likely isn't your intention but I'm a little uncomfortable having these 'you' claims as replies to me when it isn't me to whom they apply.)

comment by thescoundrel · 2013-03-14T17:11:28.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My apologies, I was meaning a more general "you", as in "the person who uses this phrase". Not directed at you you, just the common you, and you are certainly not the you I meant for "you" to refer to.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-14T15:07:11.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

or it is so vague as to lose all meaning- someone with bi-polar disorder is non-neurotypical, but is no more likely to have made these than anyone else.

Not actually true (in the specific example, although I support your general objection about terminology misuse). In a hypo-manic phase someone is more likely to get caught up with the kinda-clever notion of making Hanson memes and get carried away dumping all his ideas, exercising less judgement and restraint than he otherwise would. (Of course some time later they would later be able to look at their work and see why it isn't funny and delete it. They are also more likely than average to come up with a whole bunch of awesome memes.)

comment by thescoundrel · 2013-03-14T17:09:40.019Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair enough- I should have chosen a clearer example.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-15T06:52:03.589Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair enough- I should have chosen a clearer example.

Sociopathy would be a perfect example (in the sense that I would expect them to be less likely to make terrible jokes like that). Dyslexia would work too. Definitely not schizophrenia though.

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2013-03-13T20:57:35.004Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree, but I'm not sure it was intended as an insult. The effect in (some) readers is similar though, so maybe I'm splitting hairs.

comment by khafra · 2013-03-14T11:09:29.951Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're one of the last people I would have expected to show strong moral disapproval for a neutrally-phrased, true statement. Which of these claims offends you more? "People on the autism spectrum usually have problems understanding or generating statements considered humorous by neurotypicals," or "Obese people usually have problems climbing several flights of stairs quickly"?

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-14T13:04:49.004Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're one of the last people I would have expected to show strong moral disapproval for a neutrally-phrased

The phrasing may be neutral but the decision to use it in the particular context was not, and that conveyed social meaning of the type that I felt it appropriate to assert opposition to. (A thought that I recall crossing my mind was "Hmm... this is getting dangerously close to 'non-neurotypical person' being used where 'retard' once may have been, before that became a politically incorrect move.")

, true statement.

I am perhaps less confident of the Autism diagnostic capability of the memes in question. In fact, I might consider the fact that the person follows OvercomingBias at all to be stronger evidence!

Which of these claims offends you more? "People on the autism spectrum usually have problems understanding or generating statements considered humorous by neurotypicals," or "Obese people usually have problems climbing several flights of stairs quickly"?

Neither of those offends me.

comment by ygert · 2013-03-13T19:52:32.413Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly, that one is nothing more than a quote from HPMOR. From chapter 63:

But "pessimistic" wasn't the correct word to describe Professor Quirrell's problem - if a problem it truly was, and not the superior wisdom of experience. But to Harry it looked like Professor Quirrell was constantly interpreting everything in the worst possible light. If you handed Professor Quirrell a glass that was 90% full, he'd tell you that the 10% empty part proved that no one really cared about water.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-14T12:49:06.894Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Am I correct in my impression that Rational!Quirrel is in part inspired by Hanson?

comment by simplicio · 2013-03-14T13:43:14.143Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I certainly have that impression as well, yes.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-15T01:22:30.445Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also Yvain mentioned his 'Evil Hansonian' and 'Bleeding Heart Liberal' internal interlocutors once.

comment by pinyaka · 2013-03-13T18:46:07.974Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I notice that I am confused.

Who is this?

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-03-13T18:51:06.402Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Robin Hanson.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-14T12:50:30.880Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He writes Overcoming Bias. Is rather cynical, predicts future involving (i think) libertarianism and stuff that sounds morally bad to present day sensibilities.

Had a gaffe a while ago where he ignored mental trauma related to bodily autonomy, expressed confusion about rape being considered worse than cuckoldry.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-03-14T23:17:56.177Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the right hand side of LessWrong, if you scroll down you see Overcoming Bias mentioned as sister site.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2013-03-14T16:18:35.085Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

More importantly, it's where EY started blogging when he was sponsored by the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford (he moved here after finishing the first few sequences).

comment by wedrifid · 2013-03-14T16:26:17.587Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

More importantly, it's where EY started blogging when he was sponsored by the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford (he moved here after finishing the first few sequences).

Where "first few" means "Basically all of them". There are a few later additions but the bulk (from when he was writing a post a day or somesuch) was all OvercomingBias.

comment by ESRogs · 2013-03-14T19:55:52.538Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note: it is meant that he moved to LessWrong from Overcoming Bias, not that he moved to the States from Oxford. :)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-14T14:37:36.283Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[Meta] Speaking as someone who upvoted this, (edited for clarity) why did someone downvote? Not everyone knows what Hanson looks like. This isn't the first time I've noticed on LW an answer having more karma than the question, which is a Thing That Bothers Me. (Although I do think that there is such thing as a stupid question, this isn't obviously one of them.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-03-14T23:20:11.372Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In general posts in discussion are expected to contain more information than a simple link. As the time of this writing the post with the most upvotes is saying "I think this kind of submission is better suited in an open thread. :)".

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-15T13:42:16.206Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm confused as to the placement of the above comment.

comment by Randy_M · 2013-03-15T15:35:01.853Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why are you confused? It's a perfectly obvious that it is misplaced due to prior poster's confusion about your post's target. ;)

comment by Error · 2013-03-14T15:30:43.475Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not everyone knows what Hanson looks like.

He looks a bit like Jack Nicholson in Batman, going by that picture. O_o

I'm not sure about the downvote. I'm upvoting the question on the grounds that noticing confusion is good.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-15T12:31:00.864Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In some of those there's text covering his eyes and in some there's text covering his mouth, making it even clearer how his eyes are frowning while his mouth is smiling.

comment by Jack · 2013-03-14T03:36:57.321Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is the one about Less Wrong being a dare referring to?

comment by simplicio · 2013-03-14T13:36:39.327Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's a riff on the old story that Scientology arose from Hubbard betting that he could start a religion.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-19T15:04:39.367Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The link in the OP is broken. This one is better.