Jacob's Twit, errr, Shortform

post by Jacobian · 2019-08-17T23:49:43.993Z · LW · GW · 14 comments


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comment by Jacobian · 2020-04-22T23:08:08.190Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

People ask what the goal of the Rationalist community is. It's to raise the sanity waterline. To flood the cities with sanity. To wash the streets with pure reason. To engulf the land in common sense. And when our foes, gasping for air, scream "this literally can't be happening!" we'll remind them that 0 and 1 are not probabilities.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2020-04-22T23:59:16.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In science we have standards for what qualifies as evidence. In increasing order of respectability, we have personal opinion, expert opinion, case reports, cohort studies, RCTs, and meta-analyses. 

And then if none of those work, we use what's known as an 'SSC lit review'.

comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2020-04-22T23:30:24.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In an alternate universe: All the over-estimators, under-estimators, slow updaters will look up and shout, "save us!" And we'll whisper "Bayes".

comment by Chris_Leong · 2020-09-16T08:39:37.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To be honest, I'm somewhat skeptical of this aim. I suspect the timelines are too short for this to be a viable strategy. We need to find a way of winning regardless.

comment by Jacobian · 2019-09-20T21:06:40.429Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


TL;DR: In Utopia, no one is Catholic.

Politics, business, technology, even rationality: many important things preoccupy us but leave the soul lacking. People crave connection, beauty, purpose, meaning, transcendence. These things can be found And so they turn to the many religions that seem to offer that.

Tim Urban noted that people in non-great relationships are twice as far from having relationships figured out as single people. They have two hard steps to take instead of just one: first to realize their current relationship is bad and break it up, then to find a great one. I'm starting to feel that today's religions are the bad marriages of the pursuit of transcendence.

Religions were not optimized to uplift humans, they evolved to serve their priests and their memes. They offer pieces of the good stuff, but at the heavy cost of false beliefs. And how can the ideal state of your soul be one where you believe falsehoods?

I have seen glimpses of my soul's ultimate goal. In poems, in woods, in cuddle parties. And I'm grateful that I could see them clearly, without the veil of one dogma or another obscuring my vision. I may or may not ever get there, but with religion I certainly won't. And when I hear about rationalist friends becoming religious, I grieve for them having fallen off the path.

I think that this is Sam Harris' core truth, which is why he's so adamant about the benefits of individual spiritual practice and the horrors of organized religion. Each person's path is their own, and while the wisdom and advice of others is indispensable, any person (or holy book) claiming to already know the destination is going in the wrong direction.

comment by Jacobian · 2019-08-17T23:49:44.150Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's been a lot of noise lately about affirmative consent, a standard of consent which requires explicit verbal confirmation for every escalation of romantic or sexual interaction. It has been adopted as a standard by many college campuses, and efforts have been made to turn it into actual law.

Most of the discussion has centered around the use of affirmative consent as a legal standard, and as such it is quite terrible: unfair, unjust, and impossible to interpret in a consistent way that stops bad behavior without criminalizing normal conduct. But, what I haven't seen mentioned, is that adopting affirmative consent as a loosely enforced social norm is really good for nerds. If you're not great at reading body language and subtle signs, the expectation that you'll ask for verbal consent makes flirting much easier. You're no longer an awkward geek, you're hip to the times!

I've personally erred on the side of asking explicitly in the past, and I think it has worked out great for me. Most women were happy to give consent when asked, the momentary awkwardness of asking quickly forgotten. A few said "no", in which case it's a good thing I asked! And I doubt that even a single one was poised so evenly on the fence that asking for verbal consent turned her off me.

What do y'all think? And is this actually making life better or worse for women who date nerds?

comment by Viliam · 2019-08-18T12:27:00.927Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Rules making human behavior more transparent would be good for nerds, if everyone followed them. Unfortunately, I believe this is not going to happen.

What is going to happen instead, in my opinion, is the usual: rules that high-status people can afford to break, and low-status people can either accept them as additional burden or get punished for breaking them.

The usual "he said / she said" of sexual violence investigation will remain, only the object of the debate will move to "they gave me an explicit verbal confirmation / no I didn't". The usual double standard will remain, too: when two people will have sex, with neither of them giving explicit verbal consent, only one of them will risk actual repercussions.

Also, many people love plausible deniability, so adopting the new rule will stimulate a lot of creativity in this new direction: how to say something that simultaneously could be interpreted as an explicit verbal confirmation, but also as something other than explicit verbal confirmation. And, as usual, nerds will be at a disadvantage at playing these games.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-08-18T17:33:07.613Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right. I often suspect attempts to change social equilibriums are not attempts at Pareto improvements but instead trade-offs along the existing frontier that better serve some people that are currently underserved by the existing equilibrium. They are, of course, often sold as Pareto improvements by their supporters because it's both not considered acceptable to argue for trade-offs that will make others worse (unless they are undesirable others) and because they may innocently but motivatedly confuse them for true Pareto improvements because they have blindspots that prevent them from noticing how the change would be bad for others when it's good for them, such as via the typical mind fallacy.

comment by magfrump · 2019-08-20T04:40:54.957Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my experience I endorse affirmative consent as a *strongly* enforced social norm. Having sex or even kissing someone without explicitly asking first is something that I would reprimand friends if I knew they did.

I am probably in some very strongly selected communities but I like living in a world where affirmative consent is the explicit norm and I would not want to go back outside that.

comment by Antonius Westerbrok · 2019-08-21T05:55:48.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm curious if you'd reprimand both friends if two of your friends kissed, escalated, and then had sex, both enthusiastically, but without any verbal consent in either direction. (Obvious conclusion I'm jumping to: that we generally mean that men must get consent, even if we state that it goes both ways.)

comment by magfrump · 2019-08-22T23:54:03.332Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I certainly have the moral instinct to.

I don't have a lot of experience with people within my friend group hooking up, or necessarily a lot of experience hearing about the details of hookups enough to have explicitly put me in that situation.

I have had several personal experiences where I reciprocated advances from women, then later been hit by the fallout of the lack of explicit verbal negotiation of what was going to happen. And I certainly reprimand friends (including women) for failing to communicate in their relationships at a broader level when I do know about it.

comment by Jacobian · 2019-10-04T15:54:53.000Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you're reading this, please fill out a short online survey to research the beliefs and habits of people in my online circles. The results, along with my hypotheses, will be published on putanumonit.com. It is anonymous, multiple-choice, and should take 5 minutes to complete. Thank you!


comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2019-10-04T18:14:58.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was a little unhappy with the implied intuition vs. cognition conflict in the "My gut feelings and intuitions are..." question. I would have preferred to say something like "I try to make my intuitions and cognition into a unified whole, using them to balance each other's strengths and weaknesses, and I don't have an experience of privileging either over the other".

comment by Matt Goldenberg (mr-hire) · 2019-10-05T19:11:36.941Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed, I skipped that question because none of the answers matched my actual stance.