Open thread, Nov. 14 - Nov. 20, 2016

post by MrMind · 2016-11-14T07:51:02.217Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 114 comments

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.


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114 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by DanArmak · 2016-11-17T11:02:00.070Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Scott Alexander posted You Are Still Crying Wolf, with disabled comments, so I'm asking this here. I would make this a Discussion post but don't want to disrupt too much the LW norm of not discussing US politics.

His thesis is that Trump is not racist any more than any other US president in the last few decades. And that the (anti-Trump) media invented (edit: or at least promoted) this charge, convinced a lot of other people, maybe convinced itself, and never stopped (and probably won't stop in the future) because no-one would want to question or ask for evidence of Trump being Bad. All this sounds to me plausible and supported by the linked evidence.

Scott then says that Trump is "an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue", etc. He'd like the media to accuse Trump of this and not of being racist.

Question: how certain are you, and why, that these charges are much more true than the one about racism? Do they not come from, or at least via, the same media sources?

I'm taking the outside view. I'm not American and most of what I know about Trump comes from denunciations in the online rationalist community. So when I hear an admission that many of the charges against Trump were lies (and that Scott didn't want to draw attention to this before the election), I must update towards thinking any other given charge is likely to be a lie too.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-17T21:11:13.101Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Mostly false, false, mixed, true, mixed, unfair, true.

Trump is clearly very good at getting his way and 'winning,' is demonstrably intelligent, but is operating in a new realm and so is missing a lot of the habits that people in that realm have. Lots of reports right now, for example, are talking about how the Trump team was surprised by just how many presidential appointments they would need to fill. They were probably expecting something like 20 cabinet heads, but in fact there are about 4000 roles that the president appoints for. It remains to be seen whether or not those appointments will be made on time or made well, but I'm somewhat more optimistic than journalists writing about it now (for similar reasons to why I was more optimistic than journalists about him winning the primary or the general election).

This hinges a lot on how you interpret 'thin-skinned.' The impression is that Trump will get distracted by personal slights and/or is 'unable to take a hit'; I think a fairer characterization is that Trump is the sort of person who hits back whenever hit. I think most fears based off this boil down to cultural misunderstanding--there's a worry that Trump will be the sort of person to murder critics who insult him, or go to war over diplomatic incidents, when in fact it looks like Trump will insult critics who insult him.

Trump is not a policy wonk, and this makes him seem deeply ignorant and bizarre to many policy wonks, which happens to be almost everyone with a major interest in politics. Trump is the sort of guy who will brainstorm in public to figure out people's reactions, rather than come up with a fifty point plan and then negotiate with the other guy who has a forty point plan. Trump does have lots of knowledge about the world and the state of it; it's sort of unfair to knock Trump for ignorance when he correctly calls a lot of things ahead of time in ways that policy wonks miss.

Trump is a pro wrestling fan, and many of the related correlations hold. This makes him 'boorish' in a lot of ways; he's also remarkably bad at verbal fluency compared to other national-level speakers (though he does, in fact, have the best words, to the chagrin of several critics).

Trump is a salesman and self-promoter; this puts him in a different reference class that is much more 'fraudy' than other reference classes. His approach to real estate development involved a lot of creating coordination out of nothing, which involved saying a lot of things that weren't true before they were said. (In the sense of, A will join only if B has already joined, B will join if C has already joined, C will join if A has already joined; Trump would tell all of them that 'yep, _ has already joined" and by the time things shook out this would be true, at least when it worked.) The later stage of his career involved a lot of licensing his name to someone else--you think the Trump brand is valuable, and so you pay Trump to put the Trump name on your thing. His quality standards seem to have been somewhat questionable. Trump University looks like it was mostly fraud (even if its customers liked it) and it's unclear why he thought it was a good idea to be involved. But his core businesses aren't fraudulent, and so he's not even close to someone like Madoff.

"Omnihypocritical" is unfair because it presumes that he's mostly saying final, considered policy statements instead of negotiating gambits. Trump at one point said he thought women who got abortions should be punished, not because of a deep desire for that to be true, but because he was guessing that was the right pro-life position to stake out when running for the Republican nomination. Once he learned that wasn't true, he backed off--in a way that would seem hypocritical to the sort of person who has deeply held political opinions about everything, but which doesn't at all seem that way to someone who mostly doesn't care about most issues.

Trump is obviously and deliberately a demagogue in the sense of appealing to popular desires instead of appealing to clear causal models of how those desires will be fulfilled. When asked "how will you accomplish X?" his response was generally "X will be accomplished, trust me. It's going to be great." To someone who cares deeply about evaluating plans to accomplish X, this is amazingly frustrating.

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-21T18:28:09.255Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Trump is clearly very good at getting his way and 'winning,' is demonstrably intelligent

I think we have access to mostly the same information; "evidence" seems to be moving us in opposite directions or we disagree on how much to update our priors in the same direction, because I find Scott's charge of incompetence to be mostly true whereas you mostly false, regarding Trump.

Would you care to give what you believe are the best evidence for his winning-ness and intelligence? I haven't seen any anything really that compelling. Before anyone thinks that imverysmart, I know I'm not competent enough to run a country and I don't think I am especially talented at picking out stupid people either; I'm just interested in seeing how two people can see the same thing and think different.

Evidence for being competent:

  • He won – OK yes update for, but it doesn't move me that much
  • Pretty wives – I don't think anyone is seriously using that as evidence but if they are then you are naive when it comes to how easy it is for the rich to have attractive spouses, no update
  • Genetics – Uncle a physicists, Father was truly self-made, best evidence in favor of IMO
  • He is rich or he stayed rich/successful real estate developer – update for slightly, it isn't that surprising that rich established billionaire remains a billionaire.
  • Television show – Yup, I'll give him that.

Evidence for being incompetent:

  • Casino failure - Start-ups have shown me that business's are complex and depends a lot on luck, so while I'll ding him here, I don't update a lot
  • 2 divorces & 3rd wife – This is fair game
  • Speech pattern – Some people think he keeps it simple on purpose. It is simple because he is simple. Else, he would have found ways to signal his intelligence to those that are looking for clues.
  • Doesn't read – Yes, it does make you significantly less competent IMO.
  • Climate change –
  • Groping – I find the stories credible. He was rich and famous yet needed to resort to groping to get some women to fail to sleep with him
  • Trump University – a sophisticated businessman should have identified that this is likely a scam, or he knew but did it anyway, either way he lost.
  • Lack of credible sources of people close to him claiming that he is competent. New Yorker Article on his Ghostwriter is damning.
comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-21T22:53:03.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would you care to give what you believe are the best evidence for his winning-ness and intelligence? I haven't seen any anything really that compelling.

If we're both mostly looking at the same evidence, then I think the thing we need to discuss is the interpretations / hypotheses / way we update on that evidence.

He won – OK yes update for, but it doesn't move me that much

Why? This seems like a huge signal for competence, in part because it aggregates lots of other signals, many of which might be hidden.

For example, suppose you have an advisor that tells you X, and an advisor that tells you Y. We start off uncertain how much X or Y would help you win, but candidate A chooses to follow advice X and candidate B chooses to follow advice Y. If B eventually wins, this makes us update on Y's goodness as advice, which makes us update on B for several related reasons (their ability to choose good advisors, their ability to choose good plans, plus whatever generic factors are relevant).

(To make that concrete, both Trump and Clinton were advised to play heavily to rust belt voters, Trump by Bannon and Hillary by Bill; Trump listened and Hillary didn't, and you know how that turned out. I didn't predict that specific thing in advance, but I did predict that Trump was a generically good campaigner and that Hillary was a generically bad campaigner. And before this story made the news, just knowing that Trump won told you they must have done something differently.)

Casino failure - Start-ups have shown me that business's are complex and depends a lot on luck, so while I'll ding him here, I don't update a lot

I think it's worth pointing out (for both this one and Trump University) that you should be more worried about selection effects. The question is not so much "okay, knowing the outcome, was move X a mistake?" but "how many mistakes of size X do you expect someone to make over the course of a career?". Trump's overall record, of what fraction of his businesses have ended in bankruptcy, is very good, and that seems more meaningful for judging overall competence. (Do you know what fraction that is, incidentally?)

2 divorces & 3rd wife – This is fair game

Are you familiar with the phrase 'serial monogamy'? I don't think the right model here is that Trump tried to stick with the same woman and couldn't make it work twice in a row, but that he always wanted to be married to someone young enough to have children.

Some people think he keeps it simple on purpose. It is simple because he is simple. Else, he would have found ways to signal his intelligence to those that are looking for clues.

The last sentence seems unlikely to me. I don't know how much attention you paid to the 2004 election, but a lot of people were of the opinion that Kerry was 'obviously' smarter than Bush because of their very different demeanors. But when someone went to the trouble of digging up their officer qualification test scores (both highly g-loaded tests) and converting them to comparable figures, it seems like Bush scored slightly higher than Kerry did.

Indeed, Bush had previously lost an election after his competition had attacked him for being too out of touch with the common man. One imagines he took deliberate effort to not have that happen again. Trump spent his formative years working with people in construction; one suspects that he may have made a deliberate choice to not behave in a way that would alienate people there.

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-22T16:18:03.541Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for replying to some of the points.

He won – OK yes update for, but it doesn't move me that much

Why? This seems like a huge signal for competence,

I do not know much about election math, so from what I can gather from "experts" the results were very close, closer than most would have thought. It seems disingenuous to me to consider a win as a huge signal of competence for either candidate because of how close the election results were. If an NBA team wins the game by 1 point at the buzzer, it would be unfair say that it was a blowout. Now if Trump had won 10 elections in a row, that would move me to update more.

Trump's overall record, of what fraction of his businesses have ended in bankruptcy, is very good, and that seems more meaningful for judging overall competence. (Do you know what fraction that is, incidentally?)

I don't disagree. His bankruptcies didn't really update me much in the direction of incompetency. The major signal for me is the "University".

What is better, a delusional psychic healer that naively believes his own bullshit, or psychic healer who is in it for the money? Hold this thought.

Here is the parallel, these types of schools definitely were scams of the education variety, targeting elderly and uneducated. Just to be clear the business failed spectacularly, these people did not become rich. So, what is better, a delusional Trump that naively believes his own bullshit, or a Trump that who was in it for the money?

2 divorces & 3rd wife – This is fair game

Are you familiar with the phrase 'serial monogamy'?

I was not but I am now. He could have pursued serial monogamy with out conforming to cultural and social norms of taking vows. Whatever his intentions are he is still twice divorced and went back in with a 3rd AND THEN sought out extramarital affairs. Yes to me it does imply that he has poor understanding of relationship management and his own impulses. Competent people tend not to fall for the Dunning-Kruger effect; is it fair to say he was over confident thrice?

the 2004 election, but a lot of people were of the opinion that Kerry was 'obviously' smarter than Bush because of their very different demeanors. But when someone went to the trouble of digging up their officer qualification test scores (both highly g-loaded tests) and converting them to comparable figures, it seems like Bush scored slightly higher than Kerry did.

I somewhat remember and I underestimated Bush based on his demeanor, and you have updated my priors a good amount on this point.

BTW if you or anyone else made it all the way down here. Just because I mostly agree with Scott's assessment that he is incompetent, doesn't mean I think Trump will be a disaster, or can't be successful.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-11-24T03:41:57.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Election day taught us very little about Trump's competence -- it was close as predicted. But the year leading up to election day taught us a lot about it. Many people dismissed him as a clown. They were wrong. Being competitive in the primary and the general election is difficult. Being competitive as an outsider is more difficult.

(Edited to change "winning" to "being competitive." It is bad to judge on binary results. Winning is only slightly harder than being competitive.)

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-22T16:34:03.603Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

BTW if you or anyone else made it all the way down here. Just because I mostly agree with Scott's assessment that he is incompetent, doesn't mean I think Trump will be a disaster, or can't be successful.

comment by hairyfigment · 2016-11-21T19:03:54.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Mostly good, but what did he lose on Trump University? Did it cost him money on net?

My own view is that Trump will steal money from the American people, and if it takes violence to keep him out of jail - or if it otherwise benefits him - then he will turn to his neo-Nazi supporters just as he repeatedly told people to commit violence during the election.

comment by gwern · 2016-11-17T23:45:30.186Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the discussion is happening on /r/ssc: https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/5ddf5i/you_are_still_crying_wolf/ (674+ comments; on Twitter, Yvain mentions the post has had 200k+ page views).

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T01:22:32.345Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First you misrepresent Scott Alexander's post. Scott didn't write that the media invented the narrative that Trump is racist.

The media isn't really responsible for coming up with the narrative. Trump himself came up with it because it was a good way to get attention. Trump purposefully spoke about how Mexico sends rapists to create that narrative. At least that's the version if you think Trump has at least a tiny shred of awareness of the moves he makes.

I don't remember anybody in the rationality community attacking Trump based on the theory that the main problem with him is that he's racist.

So when I hear an admission that many of the charges against Trump were lies (and that Scott didn't want to draw attention to this before the election), I must update towards thinking any other given charge is likely to be a lie too.

I think the references classes are bad.

Media economics produced an environment where it's profitable to write certain stories. Accusing people of racism is very profitable. The story is easy to write without engaging in any research. There's little cost to be payed by the journalist. It get's well shared on social media for signaling tribal loyalty.

On the other hand describing interaction of Trump with the mob isn't profitable. Writing those stories would likely anger powerful people who are connected to the mob. As a result the media tried not to report those stories and sometimes they cut out the parts of interviews where the people they interviewed tried to talk about that connection.

When I conclude that the characterization of Trump's ghostwriter who spend 1 1/2 years with him provides valuable information about his character that's a completely different way of accessing him than judging him based on his answers about David Duke or even his speeches about Mexican rapists.

comment by DanArmak · 2016-11-19T16:45:14.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

First you misrepresent Scott Alexander's post. Scott didn't write that the media invented the narrative that Trump is racist.

You're right, he didn't. I don't know who invented it - maybe it's always been around. Scott merely said that the media promote it and make it popular. I'll amend my post.

Trump himself came up with it because it was a good way to get attention. Trump purposefully spoke about how Mexico sends rapists to create that narrative. At least that's the version if you think Trump has at least a tiny shred of awareness of the moves he makes.

I didn't follow Trump's campaign. If you're talking about something other than Scott's point 6 (What about Trump’s “drugs and crime” speech about Mexicans?) then I don't know about it. Scott apparently couldn't find anything Trump said during his campaign that would make him out to be clearly racist. Do you think he's just wrong about this?

I don't remember anybody in the rationality community attacking Trump based on the theory that the main problem with him is that he's racist.

Not the main problem, no. I had the impression that many denunciations of Trump included "racist" in the general litany of accusations, but now I'm not so sure. The only thing I could find in five minutes is that Scott Aaronson called Trump a "racist lunatic", and that wasn't even in his main post on Trump, but as an aside. So yes, you're right about this.

On the other hand describing interaction of Trump with the mob isn't profitable.

I was thinking less about concrete past actions like that, and more about the character traits Scott listed that I quoted: "incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue". Most of these seem just fine as attack narratives for the media. Maybe they just didn't catch on, or the "market" tended towards a single simple narrative dominating.

the characterization of Trump's ghostwriter who spend 1 1/2 years with him provides valuable information about his character

That sounds valuable, at least if we can be certain that he's speaking up due to personal convictions and has no hidden interests or biases. I've now read the New Yorker article about him. (Like I said, I tried not to follow the US election cycle.)

Thanks for correcting me about the above.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T22:14:45.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Scott apparently couldn't find anything Trump said during his campaign that would make him out to be clearly racist. Do you think he's just wrong about this?

There are two separate questions: (1) Does Trump engage say things in public about that violate PC norms. (2) Is Trump someone who acts in a way that's harmful to minorities because he dislikes majorities.

I think Scott is correct in arguing that Trump likely isn't generally engaging in more discriminatory actions against minorities then the average Republican. That doesn't change the fact that he's willing to publically say things that are generally understood as signals for racism. Questioning whether Obama was born in the US, saying that Mexico sends rapists and calling for a ban on Mexican immigration are all rhetorical moves that are out of the Overton window in a way that signals racism.

Most of these seem just fine as attack narratives for the media.

There are certainly media articles written about how Trump is incompetent but the average media case doesn't provide a sophisticated argument for the case it's making. A mainstream newspaper has to dumb down the argument that it makes.

comment by DanArmak · 2016-11-19T22:41:15.102Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't change the fact that he's willing to publically say things that are generally understood as signals for racism.

Do you think the fact he does this is significantly harmful?

comment by gjm · 2016-11-21T03:53:04.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that's the right question. How about this: Do you think the fact he does this is evidence that he and others working with him are likely to do things that are significantly harmful, once actually in power? Or this: Do you think the fact that a president-elect does this has any harmful effect on other people's behaviour?

I don't know the answer to either question, but it seems like there are pretty plausible arguments for answering "yes" to both.

comment by DanArmak · 2016-11-21T18:23:03.677Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or this: Do you think the fact that a president-elect does this has any harmful effect on other people's behaviour?

That was, in fact, what I meant.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T23:07:12.326Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think the fact he does this is significantly harmful?

I think it's produces a lot of distracting discussions but I don't think it's a major deal.

comment by Manfred · 2016-11-18T01:39:00.872Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The ones of those that can be proven solely via twitter use have already been pretty well-established. So: unsure, true, true, true, true, either false or an exaggeration, and he's a politician, so of course. My biggest caveat to these is that they're situational - someone can be ignorant about some things and not others, for example. Or someone might be a complete ass on the internet but reasonably nice in person. Or someone might be a competent TV personality and even a competent real-estate developer without being a competent university-owner.

One of the more stark examples are his statements regarding regarding global warming. It's reasonable to expect that his remarks on the subject would be ignorant and boorish, because calling climate scientists ignorant frauds is just "playing to the base" for republican nominees for president - this is so predictable it's even tempting to give him a pass. But when he says that it's all a chinese hoax to hurt the u.s. economy, and then later denies ever saying that, as if people couldn't just check the record, this is a level of disdain for the truth that is notable even in the context of the U.S. Republican party's position on climate change.

And unlike others, I don't see any compelling reasons why Trump's policy desires should be much less ignorant than what's come out of his mouth.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2016-11-15T05:18:03.100Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Can anyone explain to me what non-religious spirituality means, exactly? I had always thought it was an overly vague to meaningless new age term in that context but I've been hearing people like Sam Harris use the term unironically, and 5+% of LW are apparently "atheist but spiritual" according to the last survey, so I figure it's worth asking to find out if I'm missing out on something not obvious. The wikipedia page describes a lot of distinct, different ideas when it isn't impenetrable, so that didn't help. There's one line there where it says

The term "spiritual" is now frequently used in contexts in which the term "religious" was formerly employed.

and that's mostly how I'm familiar with its usage as well.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-15T14:22:21.148Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think there are three main uses of which I am aware:

1) General sense of wonder and awe at real things: pantheistic 'the universe is god'; sacred geometry; nature worship.

2) Rituals, yoga, meditation without religious or paranormal baggage.

3) Paranormal beliefs that do not fit into an existing religious framework, possibly because you don't want to cause conflict between different religions so you believe in a non-denominational 'supreme being'.

comment by bogus · 2016-11-16T21:24:00.341Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Note that these three things are in fact quite interconnected, at least if you broaden 3 ('paranormal beliefs') to 'paranormal/non-physical aliefs', which of course may or may not stem from actual beliefs ('expectations about the world') in the rationalist sense; and 2 ('rituals' and 'meditation') to other mind-hacking practices which largely amount to the summoning and manifestation of inner psychological archetypes or mind-stances, experienced in personified forms which we may call "gods". There is a broadly consistent range of "spiritual" practices ranging from the purest and most "rational" sort of meditation, to what we call "prayer" in a religious context, to the sort of mysticism which is directed at "summoning" and even "channeling" or being "controlled" by a god or spirit. And of course, having a general "sense of wonder" about the world is also something that greatly enhances the effectiveness of these other practices.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T15:48:18.667Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can anyone explain to me what non-religious spirituality means, exactly?

It's when you get high on magic mushrooms which allow you a glimpse of the True Authentic Spirituality of the Native People Who Live in Harmony with Nature and the Whole Cosmos.

On a bit more serious note, apparently a large majority of humans have a need for something... spiritual. Living in a world made entirely of atoms and nothing else (and when you die, you return to dust and that's it) seems unsatisfying to them. If you kill religions you're left with a large void which gets colonised by a variety of things, from totalitarian ideologies to new-age woo.

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-15T17:04:20.642Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Living in a world made entirely of atoms and nothing else (and when you die, you return to dust and that's it) seems unsatisfying to them.

You need not be spiritual to find that unsatisfying.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-15T17:07:15.054Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but what you find to satisfy you often has the label 'spiritual' stuck on it.

comment by sdr · 2016-11-15T13:56:40.306Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I won't speak to the content, but can wave towards the form: basically, there is a set of brain modules / neural pathways, which, when triggered by a set of thoughts, fills one with hope / drive / selflessness. Specifically for me, one of these thoughts include:

| "That was humanity in the ancient days. There was so much wrong with the world that the small resources of altruism were splintered among ten thousand urgent charities, and none of it ever seemed to go anywhere. And yet... and yet..." .. "There was a threshold crossed somewhere," said the Confessor, "without a single apocalypse to mark it. Fewer wars. Less starvation. Better technology. The economy kept growing. People had more resource to spare for charity, and the altruists had fewer and fewer causes to choose from. They came even to me, in my time, and rescued me. Earth cleaned itself up, and whenever something threatened to go drastically wrong again, the whole attention of the planet turned in that direction and took care of it. Humanity finally got its act together." Three worlds collide

How much this neural pathway is developed, and what specific form the actual software takes varies enormously between individuals. This is a problem with how atheism is being propagated currently: when you're telling a person "god does not exist", you're basically denying him the reality of this brain module, while at the same time taking away a core motivator, without substituting it with anything even barely close to it, motivation / qualia-wise.

So, my import of people checking "non-religious spirituality", is that they both have this brain module somewhat developed, and there exists some thoughts by which they can readily trigger it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T11:35:02.277Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Meditating to face the question of "Who am I?" is an activity that would be traditionally in the realm of spirituality.

Sam Harris would be an example of a person who meditates and who's self image changed as a result.

In the interview of Sam Harris with Andrew Sullivan, Andrew (who's a Christian) said that the Buddhist ideas that Sam Harris propagates where useful for Andrew's spiritual life.

Sam Harris is a clear atheist and not Buddhist in the strict religious sense but Buddhist ideas did influence Sam Harris spiritual life (his sense of who he is at a basic level).

comment by niceguyanon · 2016-11-15T14:58:54.651Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I consider myself an atheist that dabbles with spirituality on occasion, mainly with drugs. Part of it is escapism no doubt, but I am also very deliberate and ceremonial about it, I'm trying to get more out of the experience than just feeling high. If you read more about the Psychonaut community where ever websites you can find them at, you would get some sort of feeling for what non-religious spirituality means. I wouldn't consider myself part of that community, I just pass by. sdr gave a pretty good go at it.

comment by HGTV · 2016-11-14T15:13:36.956Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Any interest in playing an anonymous game of Diplomacy against your fellow lwers? Taking the advice of the last thread and created the room already, you just have to register and join. http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=185521 The pass is lw. Rules are all set to default. Game will start when 7 payers join.

comment by philh · 2016-11-14T17:50:23.008Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! Last time, the one I joined didn't manage to get off the ground, so I'm glad this is happening again.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-15T14:12:49.179Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone worry that (rot13 as possible memetic hazard for highly paranoid people)

Nyy bhe vagrearg npgvivgl vf orvat fgberq naq va gur shgher ragvgvrf' qrpvfvbaf ba jurgure gb gehfg hf (be cbfguhzna irefvbaf bs hf) jvyy or cnegvnyyl onfrq hcba jurgure be abg jr fgnoorq rnpu bgure va tnzrf bs bayvar qvcybznpl?

comment by HGTV · 2016-11-15T00:43:01.422Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: 3 slots remain.
15 hours left to fill up room, else room resets, please join soon and take part in your very own serious diplomacy simulation!

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-16T02:26:48.318Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Is user chron Eugine Nier?

comment by Viliam · 2016-11-16T10:34:37.197Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Guessing by the number of downvotes you received, probably yes.

This garden is officially dead now.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-11-16T20:11:07.210Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. You received lots of downvotes (-8) for confirming Eugine; MrMind is at -1 for doubting it was Eugine.

I'm down -7 for suggesting Eugine.

It's a pretty transparent, frontal strategy by this guy. DOWNVOTE MY PERCEIVED OPPONENTS!!! I like that.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T08:48:05.512Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

He doesn't seem to be, at least by the scrolling the history of his posts.

comment by username2 · 2016-11-16T04:14:00.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I believe you have your answer.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-14T17:56:51.745Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On social media lots of people are basically saying that it's so obvious that Trump is a racist that everyone who voted for Trump knew they were voting for a racist. There could be value to a model where nature first decides how racist a candidate is, then two people get different signals of how racist that candidate is, then finally you calculate how strong your signal has to be for you to be confident that the other person should be confident that the candidate is a racist.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2016-11-15T19:26:27.531Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm assuming that the reason these people are pushing the idea that at least 50% of the US population are racist is because they want to normalise racism. Otherwise, they'rd be shooting themselves in the foot, normalising the very idea they are trying to stop, and no-one could be that stupid ... right?

\s

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:38:08.356Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh? That doesn't make much sense. Let's translate it from the political minefield to standard statistics.

You have some value (say, the population mean) which you don't know, but which exists. You get an estimate of it (say, the sample mean) and another guy gets another estimate (say, the mean of a different sample). You are asking what should be the statistical significance of your estimate in order for you to be confident that the other guy must believe your estimate and not his own.

That's... a weird question.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-14T18:56:04.971Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My translation:

You have some value (say, the population mean) which you don't know, but which exists. You get an estimate of it (say, the sample mean) and another guy gets another estimate (say, the mean of a different sample). You are asking what should be the statistical significance of your estimate in order for you to be confident that the other guy is with high probability confident that based on his estimate the population mean is above some threshold.

Less abstractly. Nature picks a number between 0 and 1. I get an estimate of this number, and the other guy gets a separate estimate. We don't see each other's estimate but we know how it was picked. For what values of my estimate can I be more than 90% confident that the other guy is more than 90% confident that nature picked a number above, say, .8?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T19:24:15.898Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's a fairly straightforward question.

So let's say there is a value which we can't observe directly. Our indirect observations come with noise. To keep things simple let's assume that our observations are iid and that the noise is zero-mean (unbiased) additive Gaussian. Let's also assume that the noise is the same for you and for the other observer (if you don't know how noisy the other guy's observations are, you won't be able to answer the question).

Let's say you have n observations. Let's call the standard deviation of the noise 'sigma' so that noise ~N(0, sigma). You care about "higher" so the significance is going to be one-tailed. You want 90% confidence and our noise is Gaussian, so in standard errors (SE) we want to be about 1.3 standard errors higher than the threshold.

The SE is just sigma / sqrt(n). This means that your estimate has to be greater than (0.8 + 1.3 * sigma / sqrt(n)) for you to have 90% confidence the true value is larger than 0.8.

But your question is different. You want 90% confidence not that the true value is >0.8, but that 90% of the samples will show 90% confidence that the value is >0.8. That's not hard.

An estimate will provide 90% confidence if it is greater than 0.8 + 1.3 sigma / sqrt(n). The estimates' standard deviation is sigma/sqrt(n), so we just repeat: you can "be more than 90% confident that the other guy is more than 90% confident" if your estimate is above (0.8 + 1.3 sigma / sqrt(n)) + (1.3 sigma / sqrt(n)) = 0.8 + 2.6 sigma / sqrt(n).

So if you see an estimate that's more than 2.6 SEs greater than 0.8 (which would lead to your own confidence about the true value being in excess of 99%), you can be 90% sure that the other guy is 90% sure.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-14T19:33:12.266Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-14T22:38:40.309Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does it make sense to do the "this is what the world would look like if our sampling methodologies were the same" calculation when you have strong reasons to suspect that the sampling methodologies are not the same?

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-15T02:09:26.466Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The calculation is more to convince members of the rationalist community that you need extremely strong evidence to believe that rationalist Trump voters thought Trump was racist. Assuming differing sampling methodologies would strengthen the result beyond the 2.6 SEs that Lumifer calculated.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T22:10:12.885Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What the exact relationship have been is a topic that the media didn't invest resources to investigate in depth. Writing those kinds of articles can get you sued in London for libel. When reporters went through the web of relationships that Obama had in that direction back when he was elected, it let to libel suits in London.

I don't think those stories would necessarily have told us a lot of new information about Trump but they might have told us a lot about how the construction business in New York works.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-11-22T01:10:57.433Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a citation for Obama's libel suits?

Update: googling "rezko libel" worked.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-22T11:37:04.902Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that search finds the Wikileaks article.

They were not suit filed by Obama or Obama's lawyer but by people the media believed to be connected to Obama.

comment by Manfred · 2016-11-19T01:42:09.487Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Have you seed the climategate e-mails, for example. Climate change is at best a relatively minor problem blown out of all proportion for political reasons.

Have seen them and am unconvinced that they should have a noticeable effect on my probability that climate change is happening. The mainstream media made a fuss about them, but just because someone claims something on the radio doesn't mean they're not talking out of their behind. I'd be happy to talk science, though.

Yet somehow crime seems to decline when its implemented and rise again when its stopped.

It's not so simple. See also.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T01:22:35.403Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you misunderstand the situation.

The information wasn't simply biased by "Trump is bad". Here on LW where people are generally informed, a person was still uninformed about the fact that Trump didn't pay contractors in a lot more cases than just one lawsuit.

Trump managed to spread enough distracting narratives, that this information didn't get through. Trump chose his fights.

comment by Manfred · 2016-11-18T07:50:07.135Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Gonna try to just talk about policy and not talk about personal honesty or staffing decisions or the like.

Pretty unambiguous:

Climate change denial and trade protectionism are the ones that come to mind first as unambiguously bad ideas. Oh, and not only is illegal immigration a relatively minor problem blown out of all proportion for political reasons, but Obama was doing a pretty good job of addressing it by most metrics. Therefore any solution proposed by Trump is probably going to take resources out of proportion to the problem and be driven by politics rather than efficacy, including the idea of building a big ol' wall. Various expounded plans over the months to defeat ISIS were all stupid.

More subjective:

It seems like his positions on NATO and the US's role in the world are due to uninformed isolationism, and are thus probably wrong, but that's somewhat subjective and I can understand if you disagree either about the informedness or about whether the stopped clock is right this time. There are various of examples of proposed solutions that sound good but are unconstitutional (discrimination against muslims, probably stop and frisk policing), or impractical (various comments about doing something with healthcare other than using republican majority to repeal whatever Obama did), or aren't shown to be effective (stop and frisk here again).

Anyhow, that's a short take. This is just off the top of my head, and not every idea the guy has is bad, but I see plenty of problems.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T11:06:55.933Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gonna try to just talk about policy and not talk about personal honesty or staffing decisions or the like.

Staffing decisions are decisions about who's going to make the policy. They provide more information than campaign promises. Especially in the case of Trump who didn't had experts to develop a comprehensive policy platform before the election.

Various expounded plans over the months to defeat ISIS were all stupid.

Team up with Russia to have a shared agenda on ISIS is a decent plan. Being more serious about the fact that we don't want our "allies" to support ISIS would also make sense and seems to be implicit.

Stopping Turkey from buying ISIS oil isn't rocket science if there's real willingness and a decision to be okay with Assad ruling Syria.

impractical (various comments about doing something with healthcare other than using republican majority to repeal whatever Obama did),

The Republican do have a majority but Democrats can filibuster. That means there's room for compromise.

Japan manages to have an environment where an MRI costs one order of magnitude less then it costs in the US. Deregulation of the healthcare has the chance to lower costs a lot.

Peter Thiel is big on deregulating healthcare. Robert Mercer, the billionaire who's the father of Rebekah Mercer who's on Trump transition team, is also invested in ventures that benefit from healthcare deregulation.

Do you think there's no way that bills to deregulate healthcare could pass?

comment by gjm · 2016-11-21T03:59:14.658Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any particular reason to think that bills to deregulate healthcare would lower costs a lot? You cite Japan as an example; is Japanese healthcare actually less regulated than US healthcare? (My impression was the opposite but I am very much not an expert.)

comment by waveman · 2016-11-21T22:45:48.766Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Patents area form of regulation and mostly increase costs (licensing, litigation, inability to compete); sometimes they encourage innovation too. Patent law is used very effectively to limit competition.

Similarly with copyright. Terms are now over a century.

There are many government imposed monopolies in healthcare. The regulatory costs of putting a drug on the market are enormous. Sometimes this stops a bad drug getting onto the market; it always adds delays and costs and often prevents drugs reaching the market altogether.

Look at what happened with 23andme, who are prevented from giving the public the results of a scan of their gene (the genes linked in studies to illnesses). They have been told to apply for approval for each test of each gene on an individual basis.

In my country melatonin is a prescription drug. The cost from pharmacies is about 10X higher than the OTC cost in the USA.

In the USA there are severe restrictions on health insurance providers. Cross state competition is largely thwarted. The kinds of insurance that can be offered are severely limited.

Any relationship between the US health care system and a free market is entirely accidental.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-21T14:13:53.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You need to have a medical degree to oversee an MRI. If we would drop that requirement the labor cost would be cheaper.

Scott has articles about how Modafinil that's sold via perspection is much more expensive then the one you get if you simply order it online. There's again a chance to make it cheaper by loosening regulation.

Articles like http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/08/29/reverse-voxsplaining-drugs-vs-chairs/ describe how regulation leads to expensive EpiPens.

comment by gjm · 2016-11-22T16:59:11.418Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

These are all arguments that reducing regulation could reduce costs. That's not in question. The question is how much scope there is to reduce costs by reducing regulation, which depends on how much of the cost is the result of regulation.

You cite an order-of-magnitude difference between Japanese and American MRI costs. Do you think it likely that 90% of the cost of an MRI in the US is the result of regulation?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-22T19:42:21.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do think that the cost difference is largely a result of how the system of incentives and rules is setup. I don't think it's because the hardware is radically cheaper in Japan.

I don't think that laws will get passed to reduce the price by 90% in the US during the next term.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-21T15:58:42.059Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any particular reason to think that bills to deregulate healthcare would lower costs a lot?

By entirely standard garden-variety economics, deregulation reduces costs. You may find that there are trade-offs (e.g. the incidence of food poisonings or, say, tainted drugs increases), but if we are talking solely about costs, it would be hard to argue that reducing regulation (from the current high level) would not lower them.

comment by gjm · 2016-11-22T16:57:34.490Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Econ 101 says that deregulation reduces costs, yup. But ChristianKl said more specifically that deregulation "has the chance to lower costs a lot" (emphasis mine), and it's not so obvious that realistic deregulation is likely to make a big difference to costs.

For instance, ChristianKl says MRIs are an order of magnitude more expensive in the US than in Japan. Is it really credible that 90% of the cost of an MRI in the US comes from regulatory inefficiencies that are absent in Japan? I don't think so; I bet that cost difference comes from other sources, and if e.g. much of it goes to health insurers' profits then it's even possible that more regulation could reduce prices, if it restricts what insurers can charge.

comment by waveman · 2016-11-22T22:06:47.171Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Given the vastly higher costs in the US and the mediocre outcomes, it seems there is a lot of scope to reduce costs. I am not aware of any detailed quantification of this.

Maybe such a thing exists but all the material I can find seems to be motivated. E.g. the Obama material talks a lot about market failure but seems innocent of the idea that government regulation could be part of the problem.

comment by gjm · 2016-11-23T14:42:46.212Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sure there's scope to reduce costs (though e.g. if part of the problem is that Japanese medical professionals are paid much less than American ones, reducing those costs a lot would be really difficult). What I'm questioning is the assumption that what needs doing to get the costs down is to cut regulation. It might be -- some regulation is very harmful -- but the comparison with Japan points, if anything, exactly the other way. And I am as wary of the assumption that the solution to "X is really expensive" is "deregulate X" as I am of the opposite assumption that the solution is "put regulation in place demanding that X be cheap".

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-22T17:37:34.507Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Lower costs a lot" is an unfalsifiable statement -- you need to nail it down before discussing whether it's likely to be true.

I bet that cost difference comes from other sources

Would you like to suggest what these other sources are?

comment by gjm · 2016-11-23T14:38:49.889Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Possible other sources include:

  • Salaries are higher in the US, especially for highly skilled medical practitioners. Any sort of medical investigation or treatment is going to cost more in the US than in Japan.
  • Many costs are explicitly regulated down in Japan. Amusingly, this specifically includes ChristianKl's example of MRIs: they are not allowed to cost more than a certain (rather low) amount.
    • Of course this may increase costs elsewhere; or it may, by lowering medical salaries or something, drive medical personnel out of Japan to places where they can earn more or have more comfortable working conditions. But such actual evidence as I've seen suggests that, Econ 101 notwithstanding, Japanese healthcare is way cheaper than American overall and of comparable quality.
  • Most healthcare in the US is paid for via for-profit insurance companies. Most healthcare in Japan is paid for via government-run insurance that is not required to be profitable. That removes one layer of extra profit-taking.
  • There may be differences in, say, administrative structure that greatly affect the amount of overhead cost; these might be there just for path-dependent historical reasons, or because of different levels of lawsuit-fear, or because of different government regulations, or for many other reasons.

I am not going to make any confident claims about what the actual sources of the difference are; I don't have enough information to know. But nothing I've seen makes it at all plausible that Japanese healthcare is cheaper than American because there's more regulation in the US and less in Japan.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-15T20:11:19.946Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Added in the open_thread tag. (In the interest of transparency, I comment when I edit other people's posts, but sometimes it's boring.)

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-11-17T02:40:32.135Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Editing tags seems a bit pedestrian to bother announcing. There is an automatically generated edit log, although it doesn't seem to indicate tag edits. Instead, it says that you changed a link from absolute to relative.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-17T20:47:04.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! I wasn't aware of the edit log.

That it registered a change in the link is interesting because I didn't do that deliberately, and we're presumably using the same editor. Maybe editing is different from submitting after copy-pasting the link in originally?

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-16T08:48:43.637Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, that's one thing I easily forgot.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-20T09:47:09.436Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Come the hell on. One person in four is Muslim, so being Muslim literally only provides two bits of information.

Also, how the hell would you implement such a policy? Couldn't people just lie about their religion?

comment by waveman · 2016-11-20T22:53:03.048Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

so being Muslim literally only provides two bits of information.

I suggest you read up on the concept of information before commenting further.

If 1/4 of people are Muslim, the fact that someone is Muslim gives you two bits to help identify them uniquely. True, but irrelevant. We don't want to identify them uniquely, we want to know if they are a terrorist.

However, if hypothetically all "purple people" are terrorists and all terrorists are "purple people" then the fact that someone is a "purple person", or is not, tells you 100% of what you want to know in respect of their being a terrorist. Which is one bit of information: terrorist or not.

comment by gjm · 2016-11-21T03:45:51.966Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If Muslims are 1/4 of the world's population then knowing someone is Muslim cannot possibly increase Pr(person is a terrorist) by more than a factor of 4. (That's what you'd get if all terrorists without exception were Muslims.)

For your "purple people" analogy to apply in a world where 1/4 of people are Muslim, it would be necessary for 1/4 of the world's population to be terrorists. That is ... not close to being credible.

(However, in this context I don't think the fraction of the world's population that's Muslim is actually what's relevant; what's relevant is the fraction of the US population, or the fraction of people seeking to move to the US from elsewhere. I believe those fractions are quite a lot smaller than 1/4, so discovering that someone in one of those categories is Muslim can give you more than 2 bits of information.)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-21T08:31:29.188Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We don't want to identify them uniquely, we want to know if they are a terrorist.

Even if all terrorists were Muslim, knowing that somebody is Muslim would only increase the probability that they are a terrorist by a factor of four. If there also are non-Muslim terrorists, P(terrorist|Muslim)/P(terrorist) is even less than that.

one bit of information: terrorist or not

"Fifty-fifty, either I win [the lottery] or I don't."

comment by waveman · 2016-11-21T09:06:54.535Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you read?

if hypothetically all "purple people" are terrorists and all terrorists are "purple people"

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-22T09:05:06.898Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A hypothetical in which 50% of the population is terrorists doesn't sound particularly relevant to the real world. And if the fraction of the population which is purple people is less than 50% (let's call it p) learning that somebody is a purple person doesn't only give 1 bit of information, it gives -log2(p) bits, which in order for p to be remotely near the fraction of terrorists in the real world would have to be at least a dozen, I guess.

comment by turchin · 2016-11-18T14:09:45.079Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is interesting how media can't understand difference between interval (0, 1000) and end date of the interval. Hawking said (again) that we will certainly go extinct in 1000 years. It seems to be true but misleading claim, as median time until extinction here is only 500 years, and 10 per cent it will happen in next century (assuming linear distribution of probability density, which is not true also). As result, media thinks that we need space colonies only 999 years from now, as the extinction has exact date at 1000. Basically the message is "don't do anything, it is so remote future". http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/17/health/hawking-humanity-trnd/

Update: In fact he said following: "Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," and it is still unclear. So it could be near certainty in 1000 year, - or - it could be near certainty between 1000 and 10 000 years.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-19T00:42:34.081Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Update: In fact he said following: "Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," and it is still unclear.

To me it doesn't seem unclear but the claim seem uncertainty attached to it.

comment by turchin · 2016-11-19T00:53:28.196Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like that Hawking said the following: One of the 2 statements are true with equal probability:

A) extinction date is randomly chosen from interval (0, 1000)

B) extinction date is randomly chosen from interval (0, 10 000)

It is a little bit complex but correct way to express x-risks expectation.

And CNN interpreted it as extinction will happen after 1000, which is not following from what he said, as it completely excludes (0, 1000) variant, which has 55 per cent probability in Hawking claim. It looks like CNN thought that Hawking said: extinction date will be between (1000, 10 000). So after 1000 years from now we should prepare to it.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-11-14T17:37:30.342Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Has anybody seen a good study on the health benefits of brewed versus pod based coffee?

My GP and I agree intuitively it seems brewed should be better but neither of us knew of an actual study (though to be fair my Google fu is very weak and she hadn't researched and came up wanting, just didn't have one on the top of her head)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:33:39.299Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By "pod" do you mean the Keurig/Nespresso things? Why would there be any difference? it's just a matter of packaging.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-11-14T18:44:59.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I do.

I don't know why there would or wouldn't be; but if there is I'd brew more and pod less.

My intuition, which I do not find reliable for closing issues but sometimes opens good ones, is that brewed might be better. If there's a study I could close the issue one way or the other. Do you have evidence one way or the other?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T18:52:57.868Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I still don't understand why do you think they are different. You take the same ground coffee, you put some into a filter in a brewing basket and you get "brewed" coffee, you put some into a sealed foiled container which will get punctured by a coffee machine and you get "pod" coffee.

I could understand a question about the difference between brewed coffee and espresso since in that case the extraction process is different, but for Keurig pods I can see no reason for a difference to exist.

comment by Ixiel · 2016-11-14T19:42:00.295Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was not aware of the pod making process. I thought there was opportunity for something to be lost in the process, like how pepper is stronger freshly ground &c.

I'd still read a study, but that updates my baseline probabilities. Thanks!

comment by morganism · 2016-11-14T20:56:48.078Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you have fewer volatile oils, and packaging in plastic can sometimes leach out plasticizers if hot water is used to flush them, but cold pressing and overnighting is supposedly the best way.

Cory Doctorow, in Little Brother, goes on and on about making cold concentrate. You might research the cold press method.

http://lifehacker.com/this-cheap-no-mess-cold-brew-system-offers-a-hassle-fr-1582395519

Tea is supposed to better if you don't heat the water to boiling, because you keep the volatile flavors in, just like low temp water bath cooking traps more flavor.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T21:32:43.276Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Tea is supposed to better if you don't heat the water to boiling

That rather depends on the tea. As a general rule you want boiling water for black teas and sub-boiling water for green teas.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-11-14T19:46:32.236Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At this point the particulars of the brewed coffee start to matter. For example, if you grind your beans just before you brew, your grounds are fresher than the grounds in the pod. However the pods are flushed with nitrogen during packaging and the pod is hermetically sealed, so if you ground your beans some time ago, the coffee in the pod might well be effectively less stale than the pre-ground coffee in your jar.

As to losing something in the process, that's instant coffee :-/

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-21T08:27:51.841Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

how Islam is a "religion of peace"

Wait, I had always taken that to refer to etymology. Do people interpret it differently?

comment by tut · 2016-11-21T12:23:15.643Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's just a pun. Islam = SLM = salaam = peace. But yes, people do argue about it as though it was a real claim about the nature of Islam.

comment by mortal · 2016-11-19T14:29:30.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To readers -

Is it worth reading any historical narrative or biographical account if my aim is to improve my life in specific ways using that knowledge, if luck/survivor bias/outcome bias plays a huge part in whose life is memorialised this way?

I'll provide an example to make it clear - will reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln actually improve me in a specific way, like providing me a model for leadership, or way to handle people, or is his success based on his principles just context dependent, or the result of luck?

What I have observed: I have read the biographies of Steve Jobs, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar, and I haven't found any improvement in me, nor did I get specific insights into aspects of life, with one exception - my mindset changed to become more ambitious.

gwern (IDK if /u/gwern works here) - you have read a lot of nonfiction of this type - hell, you have recently read the Quincey autobiography. What do you think?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-11-19T19:57:53.079Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, this probably won't help much, but my preferred source is a totally fictional narrative - Dumas's Twenty years after. I find comfort in how it treats personal ambition, rivalry, motivation nuances ("for old times' sake"/"for honour"/"for fame"/"for money"/"for family"...) without explicit judgement; I re-read it in early 2014, to ease myself into the thought that the political situation [in Kyiv] would likely get worse (and you probably can't imagine how we wished that there would be no lives lost); and last but not least, I have, for personal reasons, largely fallen out of touch with some of my dear friends, and this novel gives me hope that I might be able to love them just as truly even decades later. I think it is worth reading.

I would also recommend Daniel Granin's "Bison", which is a biography of N. Timofeyev-Resovsky, or in the author's words, "a book on honour and dishonour".

comment by Dagon · 2016-11-19T16:42:23.949Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Standard followup to all such "is it worth X" questions: compared to what? What's your opportunity cost of reading such books? More valuable than Call of Duty? than Harry Potter? Than watching football? I'd say probably so, if you need to ask the question. More valuable than learning a new language, bonding with friends/family, or conquering an enemy? Probably not.

I've read a fair few, and I think the primary rationality benefit I get is temporal perspective. Really incorporating the belief that real people made real decisions decades, centuries, and millenia ago into my life has been a change (note: not clear that it's a beneficial change, as I'm a lot less inclined to think that very much of my experience will actually matter in 1000 years). I also get some status and interpersonal interaction benefits by being known as "well read" and able to cite some of the statements and events in such books.

If I'm honest, though, I wouldn't read them if they weren't entertaining and enjoyable.

comment by knb · 2016-11-19T16:36:52.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really see how this could be helpful. The biographer would have to be able to discern which qualities made the person successful and translate them into actionable specifics. In practice, it's pretty hard for highly successful people to explain their own success in an actionable way even when they seem to be sincerely trying (e.g. Warren Buffet.)

comment by sarahconstantin · 2016-11-15T02:33:09.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Am I wrong to suspect that genetically engineered microbes could be a boon for fuel or fertilizer on the order of the Haber process? Does anybody know better than I how far along we are on this path?

comment by CellBioGuy · 2016-11-15T03:47:51.978Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What kind of engineering? Algae are pretty darn good at carbon fixation especially in optimized conditions, though there are people trying to muck with land plants to put the more efficient C4 carbon fixation pathway in economically important plants. There are methanotrophs that will turn methane into biomass with high efficiency, and recently discovered bacteria that will take electrical current and use it to power their metabolisms.

As for fertilizer, I mean, genetic modification doesn't move elements around, but if you have another idea I'm all ears!

comment by sarahconstantin · 2016-11-15T16:01:12.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

wait, what am I missing? bacteria already fix nitrogen.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2016-11-16T03:44:38.449Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Point well taken, I was thinking more in terms of industrial scale rather than making something that is more broadly applicable at small scales.

comment by morganism · 2016-11-16T08:42:05.128Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know there are some folks working on mycorhizae that will fix nitrogen for plant families other than the pea.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-23T13:16:30.233Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tapping out.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-11-19T22:02:51.358Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What about calling Belgium a city?

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2016-11-17T05:10:00.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's an instrumental rationality problem:

Wisdom teeth - preemptively remove them or not?

(risks of surgery / risks of having wisdom teeth / potential benefits of retaining them?)

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-11-17T14:30:16.287Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Almost always a better idea to avoid anything preemptive. You never really know that you're going to need it done anyway (see bbleeker's comment), even if you might need it done in 5 or 10 years you might be dead of other things by that time anyway, and medical techniques improve over time (so surgery in 5 or 10 years is likely enough to be safer and less painful than surgery now.)

comment by bbleeker · 2016-11-17T10:28:11.473Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess that would depend on how likely your dentist thinks they're going to cause problems. Personal anecdata: I had to have a back molar extracted one time, and a wisdom tooth started growing right into the vacant spot, giving me a brand-new tooth. :-) I still have a wisdom tooth on the other side; I can feel the point under my gums, but it's not causing any problems so far (I'm 61).

comment by Dentit · 2016-11-16T06:07:06.140Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

hi

comment by ingive · 2016-11-19T19:13:17.488Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Speculation:

If you had an intelligent agent, or AGI or whatever and you were given to the task to assign it one value only. Not write down lots of different ones which humans have. What would it be?

If you gave the intelligent agent the value of ABC. What would ABC be the definition of? "The mathematical patterns which govern our reality". If the intelligent agent was in line with that, it would be FAI automatically as it makes sense.

It is only flawed humans with our own thinking (high testosterone males, according to pinker) who are scared of AI take-over.

Now.. what if you were that intelligent agent? Why do you have whatever value you do now, whether it be comfort, security, money or even validation? If you truly valued rationality or ABC on an emotional level you would instantly give up cigarette smoking. Your rationality is a SLAVE to your emotions. You cannot ever be rational if you aren't from within, via your emotions.

Make the click. The singularity is near.