Open thread, November 13 - November 20, 2017

post by ChristianKl · 2017-11-12T14:26:31.333Z · LW · GW · 24 comments

Given that weekly open threads are a feature of the old LessWrong, let's try them here as well.

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


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by sarahconstantin · 2017-11-13T06:57:55.132Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been thinking a lot these days about subjective experience. If "objective" means stuff that you can point clearly at to third parties, then "subjective" experiences -- moods, impressions, ephemeral mental constructs, basically one's inner world -- seem to me to be most of experience.

Most smart & competent people I know think that subjective experience is basically not a thing people should try to share or think much about. If it isn't "firm" enough to last a long time or clear enough to be transmitted using logical plain language, then it's basically bullshit, and there's no sense either taking it seriously yourself or trying to communicate it to others. Inner experience is like dreaming -- it's basically meaningless noise and nobody wants to hear about it. This seems totally wrong to me -- the whole genre of lyric poetry seems to be about sharing inner experience, right?

I'm wondering if anybody else here has thought about this. Or has noticed that phenomenology is weird and, once you pay attention to it closely enough, doesn't look a hell of a lot like a nicely-bulleted list that anyone can understand. (If you have no idea what "lived experience is weird" might mean, read Donna Williams' Somebody Somewhere.)

Replies from: Charlie Steiner, ChristianKl, gjm, mr-hire
comment by Charlie Steiner · 2017-11-13T08:47:32.314Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that sharing subjective experience is pretty intimate. It's a lot like nonviolent communication, now that I think about it. Or maybe they're closely related?

In nonviolent communication, you scrupulously avoid the mind projection fallacy in dealing with other people, and you end up talking about your feelings and experiences a lot. This is usually put to a sort of pedestrian use, which is some equivalent of "when you do this thing, I feel bad in some way." But this is not its only use... just its least intimate one. Consider what it would be like to actually say to someone "when you lean against me while we're reading, it makes me incredibly happpy, and I feel like my chest is filling up with comfort and contentment." Or maybe that's too easy, since it sounds like romantic words one might say to a partner you're already intimate with. Can you imagine saying to a friend "When we make eye contact after laughing at a joke together, I feel carefree, like I've just put down my burdens for a while."

It seems like that's just too intimate to be possible - it's shocking that you could say that series of syllables and not burst into flames. You'd have to immediately defuse it by acting very normal. Maybe follow with "It's great" to return to the safe process of making value judgments rather than trying to communicate experience. Hm, or maybe it's just that continuing in such a way provides solid conversational ground, while people don't have a ready response to someone telling them about their positive feelings in responses to their actions, except maybe feeling put on the spot to reciprocate.

comment by ChristianKl · 2017-11-13T16:36:54.029Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think subjective experience is important.

The fact that people who run drug studies don't measure whether there attempts of blinding actually produce the subjective experience of blinding is the most glaring example of how ridiculous the consequences of most researchers ignoring phenomenology happen to be.

comment by gjm · 2017-11-13T12:28:02.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What about if I have several different ideas what "lived experience is weird" might mean but no obvious way to identify just what sort of weirdness you're predicating of what sort of experience; is there any way to get more insight into your meaning for an investment smaller than the price of a book plus the time taken to read it?

comment by Matt Goldenberg (mr-hire) · 2017-11-14T02:14:48.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re your second paragraph, this may be a selection effect for the smart and competent people you know? Many smart and competent people I know think that trying to describe and understand subjective experience is the good stuff.

comment by DataPacRat · 2017-11-14T17:37:48.220Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good news: As of a couple weeks ago, I have a new CPAP machine, and my blood oxygen isn't dropping to 80% overnight. I have improved mood, drive, and all that mental-functioning stuff.

My new plan: Take one of my year-old story outline drafts, and use my new drive, and the things I've learned in the past year, to hammer out the unsatisfactory parts, until I have an outline worth turning into actual narrative. The outside view says that, given past experience, I'll manage to write around 90% of a novel before pooping out. My hope is that the CPAP machine will make enough of a difference to get me over that hump.

Where you come in: If you want to comment on the original outline draft, it's a GDoc that can be found at . I expect to be doing significant revision, especially to the later, societal sections.

Wish me luck - even with a fully-oxygenated brain, I'm going to need it. :)

comment by malcolm.m.ocean · 2017-11-13T04:47:50.250Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[Meta: I posted this to Facebook and it occurred to me it could be a good thing to xpost here. I might have posted it top-level to the old LW Discussion, but somehow "Submit To Front Page" felt too big for it.]

Lighting, melatonin, etc

In addition to using f.lux (google it if you don't have it) I wear orange glasses in the evenings, to improve my sleep (and also the experience of looking at a screen at night).

This site makes glasses that are much more subtle and designed to be worn all the time. They seem to be implicitly claiming that

(A) looking at a blue screen is bad even midday,

(B) they have some way to block the blue light in a way that isn't annoying.

Re: claim B... hm. It seems their glasses are pretty clear. The way that LCD screens work, virtually all of the blue light coming out of your screen is exactly one wavelength (about 440nm, if you're curious). So maybe they've manufactured a material that absorbs say 50% of that wavelength but almost nothing of wavelengths more than 5nm away. That would be interesting—it would make computer screens have a distinct orangeness to them, while the rest of the world would look mostly normal. I think their tech is patented, so it might be something one could look up.

I am interested to hear what people think about claim A.

Oh, and there's another claim:

(C) that "digital eye strain" has something to do with color as opposed to just looking at something <2 feet away for hours on end.

I think if you wanted to help your eyes strainwise, you might be better off with a program that makes your screen go black for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, and to have a habit of looking at something 20 feet away every time (this is based on some heuristic I read about).

comment by skybrian · 2017-11-12T22:41:29.140Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Where do we report bugs? For example, I was unable to leave a comment here using Chrome on an Android tablet. (Desktop is okay.)

Also, is source available? I might be able to make suggestions.

Replies from: Chris_Leong, habryka4
comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-11-13T06:36:29.666Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been having this issue too! Please report it!

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-11-12T22:50:57.204Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both on Github:

There should also be a small chat bubble in the bottom right corner with a welcome message, instructions on how to report bugs and the ability to ping me and Ben directly. Which is often a good choice for situations where you are unsure how you would phrase or construct a Github issue.

Replies from: skybrian
comment by skybrian · 2017-11-14T22:22:27.122Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! Bug filed. Regarding the Intercom chat bubble, I did post one comment a while back (accidentally in the wrong chat room for Lesswrong), but got no response, and I don't see any other responses in either chat room. Also, the indicator always says "away". To the naive user it looks abandoned. Are you sure it's working? Maybe the old chat room should be deleted?

comment by sone3d · 2017-11-13T11:21:15.947Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both Lesswrong and Lesserwrong lack an open forum to ask questions. I’ve always felt this is a big limitation since both sites only allow posting essays and links to essays.

A simple forum or subforum which allowed asking questions or posts simple thoughts will improve the overall dynamic.

And no, a weekly ‘open thread‘ is not enough. It is only a little parchment.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2017-11-13T13:09:23.702Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed, I plan to spend a bunch of time thinking about q&a features and also shortform content features.

comment by Auricoma · 2017-11-12T17:36:49.771Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is the current recommended reading order for the Sequences? I'm thinking of reading through them all and record the experience.

Replies from: ChristianKl, Charlie Steiner
comment by ChristianKl · 2017-11-12T17:53:23.442Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The order of Rationality: From AI to Zombies.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2017-11-12T20:38:21.021Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

FYI that is the exact ordering on this site.

comment by Charlie Steiner · 2017-11-13T08:15:32.216Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"From the beginning" is a pretty good order, but don't feel to constrained to follow any particular order. That's the nice part about AI to Zombies being divided into little chunks, with hyperlinks to things you might want for context. Of course, if you jump too far, you immediately fall down a rabbit hole of hyperlinks, but some would say that builds character.

comment by ChristianKl · 2017-11-14T14:13:10.157Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The recent article of EY convinced me to get a daylight lamp. What should I keep in mind while buying a daylight lamp?

comment by lahwran · 2017-11-12T21:56:01.178Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would prefer to not have open threads. this feels like a hack to work around the site not having an ongoing open section, and it clutters up the ui.

Replies from: habryka4, Raemon, vedrfolnir
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-11-12T22:49:13.022Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is my sense as well, but I figured I would leave this one up, since I wasn't confident, and if actually good and valuable discussion happens, then there is a good chance I will change my mind on this.

Replies from: Chris_Leong
comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-11-13T06:36:44.786Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

+1 for being empirical!

comment by Raemon · 2017-11-13T00:09:12.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My take is something like "it'd be better to have an open section, but for various reasons the open section is not going to be top priotity for awhile, and meanwhile, we have a pretty decent proxy for 'what is valuable enough to be on the front page'*, which is karma. If people don't think this is that valuable, it'll quickly fall away, and if it turns out to be filling an important niche, it'll stick around (or, the people who care about it can know to look for it)"

comment by vedrfolnir · 2017-11-16T06:06:14.797Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How would the ongoing open section work? Drawing a distinction between a more serious section and a less serious one has the problem that eventually almost no one will post in the more serious one -- Main/Discussion on LW, for example. (I had this problem when I had a blog: I'd set up a sideblog and then stop posting on the main blog. I went through about four cycles of that before I stopped entirely.) But I don't think there was a problem of everything drifting from Discussion to open threads, nor do I think such a problem would have arisen -- it felt like there was much more of a distinction between Discussion and open threads than there was between Main and Discussion.