Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016

post by Elo · 2016-04-04T04:56:50.462Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 214 comments
If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

 

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should be posted in Discussion, and not Main.

4. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

 

 

214 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-04T18:04:21.499Z · score: 18 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry to complain, but I opened the site to see what was going on, and Main has gone to utter crap.

"Is spirituality irrational?" and "3 reasons it's irrational to demand 'rationalism' in social-justice activism" are now heavily-commented recent posts in Main. Meanwhile, "Building Machines That Learn and Think Like People" was published a short while ago, and nothing about it appears on this site.

Looks like this site has slid into the River of Low Domain-Knowledge, Easy-to-Discuss General Stuff, rather than staying up in the nice Forest of Stuff LW Purports to be About.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2016-04-05T09:03:34.196Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Context: Main is currently disabled; LessWrong 2.0

LessWrong is actively being redesigned. Until further notice, posts to Main have been disabled. Once the redesign is complete, LW may have multiple subs, none of which might be called 'Main', but one or more of which will be designated as where the nice Forest of Classic LW Stuff you're hoping to find here. The only posts in Main recently are meetup posts and the survey, which were promoted there for visibility. Apparently, usage statistics show for the last several months Discussion has been getting much more attention than Main, so Discussion is where non-crap is. Of course, there is no more explicit division between crap and non-crap you'd expect the 'Main'/'Discussion' divide to reflect. Try finding other ways to filter out crap, like reading the top posts from the previous week.

comment by Xachariah · 2016-04-06T05:11:24.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Main is currently disabled

Woah there! It's called handi-capable now!

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-05T23:08:37.137Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. Whatever then.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-04-04T19:31:07.224Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Don't apologize. I've been waiting for weeks for someone to complain, to make sure that it wasn't just me who felt this was an actual problem.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-04T22:42:36.552Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Evaporative cooling. Since LW now seems to have less of the stuff that made LW unique, and more Other Internet Stuff, I've been browsing LW less often.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-04-07T13:29:26.033Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Meanwhile, "Building Machines That Learn and Think Like People" was published a short while ago, and nothing about it appears on this site.

If you come across something cool, that you think would be of interest to LWers, and no one has posted it yet, then that's your opportunity to post it yourself.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-04-04T22:00:35.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I really liked the linked paper, thanks for posting the link.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-04T22:42:11.129Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No problem! I was excited to see it, since I fanboy over that lab.

comment by Curiouskid · 2016-04-08T21:24:34.740Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A good paper!

I'm curious how you found the paper. I asked myself how I would find such a paper (rather than just stumbling on it here). I first checked Tenenbaum's homepage, but it's out of date. Then I checked the CBMM publications page and found it.

Another interesting paper from that page: "Foveation-based Mechanisms Alleviate Adversarial Examples"

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-09T18:05:01.085Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly? I browse /r/MachineLearning pretty regularly, and someone there tends to eventually post Tenenbaum-lab papers.

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-05T07:05:49.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Main is indeed frozen but for some meta stuff like the survey, it's no more a source of authoritative posts.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2016-04-05T18:30:52.184Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting astrophysics development in our solar system with astrobiological implications: the rings and inner moons of Saturn, everything closer than Titan, may be young, forming between 100 million and 1 billion years ago rather than at the dawn of the solar system.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.07071

Recent measurements of Saturn's moon system suggest that it evolves due to tides quicker than was previously believed, with moons moving ourwards more rapidly due to bigger tidal bulges on Saturn transferring more energy. This would explain the large quantity of heat pouring out of Enceladus and powering its geysers and oceans. Tidal forces go down with the cube of distance so closer moons should move out much faster than further moons. Using new figures one can trace back the orbits of the inner moons and see that they should have hit various orbital resonances during the history of the solar system as the ratios of orbital periods changed, which would have left imprints in the system in the form of effects on the rings and changes to the orbits of the moons that we see no evidence of. Conclusion is the system is younger than the age at which backtracking would produce those events, with age limits based on estimated tidal evolution rates. The authors favor tidal evolution estimates that place the age closer to 100 million years than to a billion years, and think a previous inner moon system went unstable and ground itself to rubble in a series of catastrophic impacts before reforming into a new set of moons and rings.

If true this makes Enceladus (one of these inner moons) even more interesting from an astrobiological perspective. Not only is it geologically active with chemical energy sources and an ocean spewing its guts into space where it is easily sampled, but it could be a look at a place that is very young compared to other such places in the solar system.

comment by Elo · 2016-04-04T08:46:23.759Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

user account: "Lamp" is banned for being eugine_nier. This is an update in case anyone was wondering.

so far accounts have been:

  • Eugine_Nier
  • Azazoth123
  • The_Lion
  • The_Lion2
  • Old_Gold
  • Lamp

(that I know of, I think there were more in between too that I forgot.)

If I could send this guy a message it would be this: You are quite literally wasting our time. And by "our" I mean; the moderators and the people who could be spending their time improving the place, coding and implementing a better place; instead are spending their time getting rid of you over and over. DON'T COME BACK. You are literally killing LW.

I don't want to get into the community's time or the time of the people you debate with; or the time of anyone who reads this post here. That time also adds up. Seriously.

comment by Dagon · 2016-04-04T15:40:20.186Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If one banned troll (and AFAIK, we only have one who's bothering to come back, and doing so badly enough to get caught repeatedly) is enough to kill LW, we're in pretty bad shape.

Thanks to the mods for continuing to remove his accounts, but please try not to spend any more thought on him than you feel is beneficial.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-04T16:45:22.341Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure Eugine is sucking up nearly that much moderator time. I expect his bigoted comments do more damage because we're likely to lose some good commenters.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-07T11:32:37.592Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect the number of potential good commenters who were discouraged by participation by mass-downvoting after having posted their first five or ten comments might exceed all the other damage done by Eugine. (I don't have the relevant data, though, only anecdotal evidence.) Please note that this is Eugine's explicitly stated goal.

The moderators' time wasted is not so big in absolute numbers, but LW is quite self-moderated, so there is only minimum action that needs to be done directly by the mods. However, from that small amount of direct action, I would guess that maybe a half is Eugine-related (maybe except the recent "LessWrong 2.0" planned changes). It can be quite frustrating to become a part-time Eugine's babysitter.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-04T14:46:59.656Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

You're getting dramatic for no good reason. I don't think that in reality people didn't submit patches because they were too busy with Eugine. Just didn't happen.

You are literally killing LW

Nope. Availability bias is a fallacy. Eugine is a very minor problem for LW.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-05T01:49:52.220Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're getting dramatic for no good reason. I don't think that in reality people didn't submit patches because they were too busy with Eugine.

Elo isn't talking in the past tense. At moment there are people working on LW 2.0.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-05T02:09:33.473Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Elo isn't talking in the past tense.

I don't think that in reality people don't submit patches because they are too busy with Eugine.

Happy?

comment by moridinamael · 2016-04-04T16:09:20.620Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nope. Availability bias is a fallacy. Eugine is a very minor problem for LW.

Feeling a bit left out that I haven't been targeted for mass downvoting.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-04T15:47:01.838Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Lamp" is banned for being eugine_nier.

Interesting. "Lamp"'s style came across to me as one notch less obnoxious than the other Eugine accounts I know of. (In addition to your list there's at least VoiceOfRa, Torchlight_Crimson and The_Bird.) But I take it there's good evidence it's him. (And I approve of terminating his accounts rapidly and with extreme prejudice when they are found.)

comment by Error · 2016-04-07T19:39:45.559Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Note that there is now a Lamp2. Going by the quoted parts of this subthread, he appears to be reposting his own deleted comments verbatim.

I'm a sometime admin. Ban evasion irritates me.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2016-04-04T10:37:09.745Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would they have used their time improving LWs code? I feel like the problems it has would be solved by way less programmer-time than has been lost by LW being not improved, but nobody's doing it because procrastination/it isn't fun/akrasia/ugh fields.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-07T16:13:57.625Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Just a random thing I wanted to say before I forget it:

It is okay to be rational and happy.

Why am I even saying this? Did anyone claim the opposite? Well, I haven't heard anyone say explicitly "no, as a rational person you must be always serious and grim", but sometimes people behave as if they believed that. Why could it be so?

There are many bad things in the world. Knowing and understanding more will make you see more of those bad things, which logically can make you sad. On the other hand, fools are believed to be ignorant and happy. So it's like we have an intuitive idea that intelligence or wisdom or rationality (I am not going to distinguish between these things properly; this is a comment on a blog, not a doctoral thesis) correlate negatively with happiness. Of course this isn't always true -- for example a paranoid person can be less rational, see more dangers, and thus be less happy -- but in general the idea seems plausible.

However, this is confusing two things: knowing in general that a bad thing exists, and thinking about it obsessively all the time. It is the latter that can make you sad 24/7. People in difficult situations often do have happy moments; they find a break to relax and enjoy whatever enjoyable thing is there. The hedonistic treadmill works both ways: when you do something difficult, it is a great feeling to declare it done, and then sit down and relax. On the other hand, people with a lot of free time and nothing much to do can spend the whole day thinking about unpleasant stuff.

So yeah, there are many bad things in the world. But it is perfectly okay to stop thinking about them for a moment, and just relax. Don't worry, you are not going to forget everything, you are not going to become completely stupid, if you turn off your worries for a moment.

And if it feels unethical, something like "children in Africa are starving to death every second, and here I am, relaxing and listening to music, shouldn't I feel guilty?", then think as a consequentialist: if instead you spend your afternoon depressed, how specifically is that going to help anyone? Does sadness increase your productivity? Does it somehow help you generate money that you can send to the poor? If you are like me, you are probably less productive when sad, and more productive when happy. In which case, it is actually your ethical duty to be happy. But no pressure: one doesn't get happy when a gun is pointed at their head with "now be happy, or else!". Just relax and enjoy whatever is there to enjoy.

Then there is this idea of "constant vigilance", like we must spend most of our time looking carefully for mistakes, in ourselves and in our neighbors, otherwise we could miss something, and that would be stupid, right? Nope. You are going to miss something anyway. On the other hand, by constant nitpicking you lose a lot socially. I am not going to ask you to accept all bullshit, just to... choose your battles. Also, it may help to be a bit more charitable. You don't have to automatically assume that everyone is an idiot, just because they said something without a citation.

But this requires some teamwork. One of the reasons why people stay alert is because they have an experience that when they relax, and say something that isn't perfectly scientific or misses some disclaimer, someone else is going to highlight the fact, and quite often in a way that seems like a status attack. So instead of writing "the sky is blue" we feel the pressure to write "the sky on Earth, today, during the day -- of course, different timezones do not have the day at exactly the same time -- appears to be blue -- but it may also contain non-blue clouds, or a plane, or a bird, or a flying squirrel, or... okay, I am giving up". It is easier to stop beating yourself when others stop beating you, too.

Of course (see, I am already in the defensive mode), trying to remove all negative feedback, for example not having downvotes (just like Facebook) would have bad consequences in some situations. People writing obvious bullshit; people spamming the discussion; and so on (just like Facebook). Yeah, it is okay to use the negative feedback sometimes. Just don't spend the whole day role-playing a prison guard, okay?

Obsessive thinking about bad things, obsessive looking for mistakes, obsessive mutual policing and self-policing... those are things that prevent us from relaxing and enjoying life. Each of those is necessary sometimes, rational in proper dosage, and insane when done habitually all the time. Don't think like this: doing X is necessary in some extreme situations, therefore I have to do it always. No you don't.

Smiling and hugging doesn't make you a cultist, btw. Sure, that's what cultists sometimes do. And you know what? That's also what other humans sometimes do.

Not sure what exactly should I propose here. To relax is a group activity (sometimes a group of one), because it is difficult to relax if merely one member is screaming and poking at others. But to scold that one person, well, that can start the fight. One idea -- not sure if good -- is to separate the discussion from the feedback. Imagine something like having a thread where no negative feedback is allowed, but the negative feedback could be provided in a different thread instead. Not sure how exactly would that work (the criticized person wouldn't get the message alert if the reply is not below their comment). Feel free to propose a better idea.

I guess offline people solve this problem by simply not inviting the people who violate the group norms into the debate. So maybe after having the "relaxed thread" we could have a meta thread where the most serious infractions against sanity would be pointed out, and if they happen repeatedly, the person would be banned from the "relaxed threads"? Again, this depends on judgement, whether people would propose bans for trivial things, or not. Maybe the person proposing the ban should also share some risk, like: too many unsuccessful ban proposals, and you get banned; or perhaps that after every failed ban attempt there would be an automatical reverse-ban discussion ("do you believe that X made this site too negative by proposing to ban Y?"). We probably should do some experiments to find out.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-07T21:39:21.540Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oops, I did the mistake of proposing a solution too soon. Well, in the name of greater positivity, I am now officially forgiving myself. ;-)

Meta: Not sure how frequent this is, but I often think better while talking aloud. (Or writing.) Just like today: I wrote something, later I thought about it, felt somewhat dissatisfied like I didn't exactly express what I wanted to say, later it crystalized, so now I am going to write the conclusion.

I realized this: Politeness (or other communication norms) is a recursive problem. Like, imagine that someone says "let's make it our community norm that we only talk politely", and everyone is like "yeah, sounds great". Later someone says something not perfectly polite, and someone else is like: "dude, that wasn't cool, I thought we did have an agreement about politeness". And the accused person is like: "hey, on the scale from perfect politeness to 4chan, my comment was far enough on the polite side." And then they add: "you know what? using the small imperfection on my side as a pretext to attack me publicly, that's the real impoliteness; that's a behavior much more hostile than merely using 'fuck you' as a harmless idiom, so actually you are the bad guy". -- So now we have a meta-discussion about politeness, and a problem to keep even this meta-discussion polite, which is quite difficult because 'what exactly politeness means' is the topic being currently discussed, so obviously there is no clear consensus yet.

Logically, this seems like an unsolvable problem. So how do normies deal with this stuff?

If I understand it correctly, there are a few rules of politeness that serve to prevent similar escalations of minor stuff. You should excuse small violations of polite behavior by literally pretending they didn't happen. (Unless you are e.g. a parent of a child who violated the rules.) When it happens repeatedly, a gradually increasing reaction is allowed; the idea is probably to find the smallest possible reaction when the person will become aware of their transgression of the rules, and presumably will stop. (If it becomes obvious that they are aware of violating the rules and still want to continue, I guess you are allowed to get rid of them, using the smallest necessary force, and never invite them again.)

In other words, even if the other person violated the rules, it doesn't give you a free pass to break the rules too. (This may contradict your instinct of fairness. Well, yeah, politeness does include a lot of 'not acting on instinct'; get used to it.)

Another rule, or perhaps a special case of the previous rule, is that you don't go meta about politeness. Except in situations specifically designed for this kind of debate. So what happens when two people have different opinions? If the difference is small, the small infractions will simply be ignored. When the difference becomes too big to ignore, I am not sure, but my guess is that both sides apologize for having different norms, and then try to find a compromise solution. If they can't, they probably won't meet again.

I'm thinking about this, because I would like to use the similar mechanism for creating a norm of more pleasant interactions among aspiring rationalists. And, analogically, mutual accusations of "not being pleasant enough" or endless attempts to "have a meta debate about what really counts as pleasant" can reliably kill the mood.

Therefore, to keep the debate pleasant, we also need to have a meta-rule that small violations of pleasant behavior cannot be reciprocated, should be ignored for the first time, and when repeated, they should be met with as pleasant corrective reaction as possible. (Unless it becomes obvious that the infractions are intentional. Then, the user is forcefully removed from the debate, with everyone else trying to make as little drama as possible.) A meta-debate on politeness can only appear in designated threads, separately from where the object-level debate happens.

I'll think about it a bit more, and perhaps make an experimental "positive debate thread" when I will feel I have a good idea about the specific rules. Meanwhile, thanks for reading my "thinking aloud", and of course feel free to comment.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-07T23:25:53.144Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A meta-debate on politeness can only appear in designated threads, separately from where the object-level debate happens.

Meta-debates on politeness also don't have to happen publically.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-07T23:42:04.653Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then there is this idea of "constant vigilance", like we must spend most of our time looking carefully for mistakes, in ourselves and in our neighbors, otherwise we could miss something, and that would be stupid, right?

To use words from phenomenology I previously haven't heard on LW attentionality and intentionality are different things. Being in attentionality and noticing your confusion is not draining one one's mental energy. On the other hand intentionally looking for mistakes is.

I don't need to feel an obligation to carefully look for mistakes to find them.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2016-04-05T18:07:39.085Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting molecular biology/neuroscience development: magnetically sensitive ion channels.

Some researchers through a series of trial and error screens managed to tether a tension sensitive ion chanel to an iron storage protein such that in the presence of strong magnetic fields (think rare earth magnets) the channels are pulled open and able to induce action potentials in electrically active cells.

Upon expression in sensory nerves on zebrafish, the fish reacted to swimming into magnetic fields as if they were being poked. Upon expression in deep brain structures in mice associated with reward pathways, the mice would spend lots of time near strong magnets as they felt good there.

The main anticipated application is neuroscience research. Optogenetics is a very useful tool, expressing light sensitive in channels in particular cell populations and activating them via fiber optics with light, but it sucks for manipulating deep brain structures. This can penetrate deeply, and is orthagonal to optical signals and readouts.

Paper extracted and put up by Peter Watts here: http://rifters.com/real/articles/Genetically-targeted-magnetic-control-of-the-nervous-system.pdf

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-08T21:33:06.627Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is a meta thread for the Positivity Thread.

All opinions about the Positivity Thread as a whole or about specific comments therein belong here.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-09T08:48:30.374Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

SquirrelInHell asked:

spread this idea to all discussion on LW, not just a special separate thread,

I can imagine a few possible reasons against that; Chesterton fence included. Essentially, the rest of LW act as a filter for some kind of personality. Having rules like "don't downvote anything stupid as long as it is nice and cheerful" could undermine the whole purpose of the website.

What I wanted is probably to have people filtered by X, and then see them doing Y. Because I believe that Y can be more awesome when done with people already filtered by X. Kind of.

Even more generally, when I try using real life as an example, during the day one's mood changes. You have serious moments, and you have silly moments. It would be wrong to remain stuck in one mode forever. On a website, having one fixed set of rules and one culture kinda pushes people to stay in one kind of mood all the time. Which is somewhat unhealthy.

But we would need some way to synchronize the mood changes. In real life this is achieved by the place where you meet, by the current agenda, by nonverbal signals, etc. But on web, we don't even write at the same time. So the only way to synchronize is per thread, I guess. So this is a thread for breaking the general mood.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-09T10:36:59.648Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Having rules like "don't downvote anything stupid as long as it is nice and cheerful" could undermine the whole purpose of the website.

This is not at all what I mean. I'm suggesting adding a new requirement (be nice) to the existing ones, without relaxing existing standards. Current LW standards are focused on the content, not the presentation - and by adding this fairly simple requirement in the presentation layer I don't think we are changing the range of possible content you can express.

Other points, agreed.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-09T16:16:52.536Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What can be destroyed by truth, should be. It's hard for destruction to be nice.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-10T02:10:17.451Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's hard for destruction to be nice.

Disagree. If you genuinely wish to help someone by destroying something by truth, and you fully take into account their subjective experience of the situation, you can be nice while destroying things.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-16T23:44:00.462Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. People can often hear you better if you take their emotional state into account when communicating with them. For instance, delivering negative feedback in a positive framing helps ensure that people engage with it well and perform better in the future.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-09T22:58:41.077Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People usually go with their non-niceness far beyond what is necessary.

I'm just not sure whether adding niceness to the rules would lead to more niceness, or more meta debates about what is and isn't nice.

Also, the community would have to moderate niceness by voting, and I am not sure about how well this would go either.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-09T23:57:59.699Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People usually go with their non-niceness far beyond what is necessary.

Who determines what is "necessary"? And, speaking of, who determines what is "nice" and what isn't (besides Santa Claus)?

Is niceness just politeness or do you want to expand it to things like steelmanning?

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-11T09:47:44.523Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Jesus, this is an impolite thing to say, but believe me that when I was making the Positivity Thread, I was already thinking "Lumifer will probably be the first one to object against this, and I just hope he won't do it directly in the thread". So, thank you for not doing it directly in the thread.

You know, even in this moment I am not really sure whether you actually have no idea what "nice" means (I assume that just like some people are colorblind, others could be nice-blind), or whether this is just your style of communication. As a consequence I am not sure if trying to explain something to you gives me a chance to be somehow helpful, or whether it means you have successfully made me your plaything (because I have no doubts that whatever I write here, you will be able to find something to attack). I am not interesting in playing verbal games online, and when I suspect someone being too fond of such games, I generally try to reduce my contact with them.

One of the problems with "when I see a weakness, I must attack immediately" style of communication is that is makes it impossible to discuss issues which we cannot sufficiently exactly express yet, such as pretty much anything about human psychology. Then the issues must be left uncommunicated.

Is niceness just politeness

As I understand it, both serve a similar goal -- both are strategies to reduce conflicts between people, and make cooperation easier. But they are different strategies, based on different approach. Politeness makes people easy to replace; niceness contributes to long-term personal relationships.

Politeness tries to achieve its goal by reducing personal involvement. The ultimate form of politeness would be a person strictly following the rules of polite behavior and doing nothing else; like a robot with no personality behind it. Different ultimately-polite people would be perfectly replaceably by each other; if you wouldn't see their face, you would probably notice no difference.

The idea is that you could still have a conflict with such people about "you want something, they want something else", but all other sources of conflict would be removed. This is a required skill for a diplomat; and there is a stereotype that Japanese people behave like this.

Niceness assumes that you care about the other person, as a person (not merely as a tool to reach some business agreement). Nice behavior leads to the kind of long-term cooperation where the individuals are not replaceable. The cooperation can grow beyond the context where it started.

Politeness is a good choice when having to deal with many strangers. Niceness is a good choice when trying to build a community.

comment by FourFire · 2016-04-18T20:54:52.254Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In retrospect, reading this thread is hilarious to me since I have been so inactive a user as to not have built up a model of any of the users who have been active since late 2011. You could argue that I have a poor or no theory of mind, but it is still fun attempting to construct temporary models for everyone based solely on the contents of this thread (I have no time to read the previous five years backlog).

Personally I think that there should be a lower limit of lesswrong culture/rationality in each post regardless of it's niceness content, and have a preference towards nicer posts, though (and this next sentence will turn a lot of people against me) making the forum too accessible will encourage Endless September effects worse than what the community on this site is currently buckling under.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-19T15:01:53.547Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't have to be a trade-off between rationality and politeness. Maybe we could downvote both comments that are stupid and comments that are rude. (Polite but not smart comments could be ignored, and only insightful non-rude comments upvoted.)

comment by FourFire · 2016-04-20T15:17:50.254Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder who downvoted you.

I'd argue for more strict dealing of downvote moderation, a higher waterline, if you like; noninsightful posts get downvoted (and otherwise ignored, or if specifically wrong, corrected) and impolite posts also get down-voted and responded to with an explanation. Explanatory responses might need to be encouraged more, in order to permit the author to know why exactly their post is being downvoted, but I'm wary of encouraging the lesswrong community to become more of a politeness before reason community than it already has, and so many other communities out there have.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-20T15:35:53.672Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I treat up/downvoting not as a carrot or a stick, but as a message. Accordingly, I either downvote or reply, not both (with rare exceptions).

Basically, if I bother to reply, there is no need for an up/downvote since I've sent a better message.

As an aside, I don't think that tinkering with voting will solve any of LW's problems.

comment by FourFire · 2016-04-20T17:11:52.368Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Same, unfortunately, I consider this site to be a mostly sunk ship, as previously stated, I've been mostly inactive since 2011, and I never really posted here anyway.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-11T16:32:20.636Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

this is an impolite thing to say

That's OK, I have thick skin and enough self-reflection capability :-)

I am not really sure whether you actually have no idea what "nice" means

The problem is that I have more than one idea :-) "Nice" corresponds to a cluster of meanings -- there is e.g. "pleasant", but there is also "mild", "inoffensive", "bland". I suspect that my own use of the word "nice" is associated with, um, underperformance, I guess? Something could have been great, amazing, wonderful, but it didn't make it, however it managed to avoid being a fail, too, so it's... nice. Damning with faint praise kind of thing.

Here, though, I think you mean things like "don't be an asshole" and "cooperate, praise, support". But when I asked "who determines", the accent was on who (in the spirit of "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything").

One of the problems with "when I see a weakness, I must attack immediately" style of communication is that is makes it impossible to discuss issues which we cannot sufficiently exactly express yet

No, I don't think so. Incoherence is a weakness, not uncertainty. And in the case of uncertainty, attempts to "harden up" the fuzziness, establish bounds, etc. are not attacks but rather attempts at clarification.

Politeness tries to achieve its goal by reducing personal involvement.

Yes, that's a good way to express it, though I still doubt that ultimately-polite people are all fungible. Politeness is just a form, there is still non-fungible content inside it.

Niceness assumes that you care about the other person, as a person

I would describe that as "caring" and I think that's quite different from "being nice to".

comment by dxu · 2016-04-12T18:11:00.864Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here, though, I think you mean things like "don't be an asshole" and "cooperate, praise, support". But when I asked "who determines", the accent was on who (in the spirit of "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything").

Generally, intuition determines. Having to ask questions like "who determines" at all is probably an indicator of the sort of "nice-blindness" Viliam was talking about.

No, I don't think so. Incoherence is a weakness, not uncertainty. And in the case of uncertainty, attempts to "harden up" the fuzziness, establish bounds, etc. are not attacks but rather attempts at clarification.

Whether something should be construed as an "attack" is in the eyes of the beholder. If your "attempt at clarification" is perceived by the one you're addressing as an attack, saying "No not really" does nothing to change that underlying perception.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-12T19:17:42.300Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Generally, intuition determines.

We're talking about establishing a particular norm for LW.

Niceness is a continuous variable and everyone has a certain threshold on that axis (threshold which "intuition determines") below which things are "not nice" and above which things are "nice". The problem, of course, is that everyone has her own and that's no good for a social norm. Some common threshold will have to be established, most likely by those who will take it upon themselves to enforce that norm. Also most likely the common threshold will be very similar to the personal thresholds of the enforcers.

Whether something should be construed as an "attack" is in the eyes of the beholder.

Nope, sorry, I don't buy the "a victim is always right about being a victim" approach.

saying "No not really" does nothing to change that underlying perception.

That depends on whether that person is willing to update on the evidence :-P

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-19T15:23:53.132Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are you perhaps arguing that as long as people don't have a unified formal definition of niceness, nice behavior is not possible? That would seem unlikely.

Even if everyone has a different threshold... well, everyone has their own upvote and downvote buttons, right? So the worst case is that some comments would get upvoted by some users for being nice enough and downvoted by other users for not being nice enough. Doesn't seem that horrible.

And over time, people will adjust to the average. And those who will still find this community unbearably rude or unbearably polite will leave.

In real life, this problem is usually solved by creating subcultures; different groups having different norms. Being too rude will get you ejected from the group. Being too polite may make you leave the group voluntarily. Groups that eject too many people end up have few members. Groups that retain too many rude people end up having mostly rude members.

It would be a nice experiment to have a website that would support this "organic" grouping of people; where LW wouldn't be one group, but rather an ecosystem of groups. But I'm afraid we are unlikely to ever see this happen. So we are stuck with having LW as one group.

In real life, sometimes the ejecting of rude members from the group is done by a local boss (a formal owner of the place, or a high-status member of the group), but sometimes the group splits "organically" -- some people stop talking to some other people, and after some time we see that what was originally one group now became two groups. It could be interesting to try modelling this by a web platform. (Mere blocking is not enough, because in the group other people see when X is ignoring Y. Also, avoiding someone in real life is not a binary decision.) But I am not expecting to see this in near future.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-20T18:09:03.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So we are stuck with having LW as one group.

I don't think that LW is one group in any meaningful sense. There's this website. There's Slack. There's IRC. There's the facebook group. There are local meetups with often have their own mailing list.

There are also various diaspora groups that don't exist under the LW brand.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-19T16:34:16.519Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you perhaps arguing that as long as people don't have a unified formal definition of niceness, nice behavior is not possible? That would seem unlikely.

I think there are two distinct ways to think of niceness.

One is that being nice is about doing things motivated by positive emotions like compassion and gratitude. The other is that being nice is about conforming to a list of social standards, not picking fights and avoiding confrontation.

I think the first version of niceness is very valuable. On the other hand the second version leads to supressed emotions, passive-aggressiveness and anxiousness. In the first model people hug each other while in the second model people often avoid physical contact.

At the community camp where most people run around with free hug and crockers rule stickers, the first kind of niceness is valued while the second kind isn't.

I'm in favor of moving this website to having more of the first kind of niceness, but I get weary when you start talking about politness with is mostly associated with the second type of niceness.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-20T08:14:46.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the second version leads to supressed emotions, passive-aggressiveness and anxiousness.

This is perfectly true. However, our current ways of communication also lead to supressed emotions, passive-aggressiveness and anxiousness.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-20T18:04:35.543Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think we have much passive-aggressiveness on LW. People here are usually pretty direct.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-19T16:06:24.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you perhaps arguing that as long as people don't have a unified formal definition of niceness, nice behavior is not possible?

No, not at all. I'm arguing that there will be behaviour about which people will not be able to agree whether it's nice or not.

It would be a nice experiment to have a website that would support this "organic" grouping of people; where LW wouldn't be one group, but rather an ecosystem of groups. But I'm afraid we are unlikely to ever see this happen.

Why unlikely? There are at many ways to move in this direction, for example the establishment of LW subreddits which will develop their own, possibly different, cultural norms. For another example, killfile equivalents or some sufficiently flexible tagging system will allow people to define their own personal "groupings of people" all of which could coexist on LW.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-20T08:10:05.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

there will be behaviour about which people will not be able to agree whether it's nice or not.

And some of them will downvote it, and some of them will upvote it.

There are at many ways to move in this direction, for example the establishment of LW subreddits which will develop their own, possibly different, cultural norms.

I suspect that mere "moves in this direction" will not be enough. May improve things, but not enough.

My reasoning is roughly this:

  • People have complex social instints, finely tuned by evolution. Sometimes we coordinate in groups by using small signals, such as face expressions, body posture, tone of voice, looking away or otherwise not paying attention when someone is speaking, sitting closer to some people and further away from others, etc. Some of these actions include plausible deniability; for example one can signal boredom with a debate by looking away, but when confronted, they can verbally deny being bored. This mechanism allows different intensity of interaction.

  • When using a web interface, most of these options are missing; sometimes replaced by crude approximations that fail in some important aspect. (For example, what is the equivalent of "looking away when someone keeps debating stuff you consider super boring"? Merely not reading and not participating in the discussion is too invisible: you don't have feedback about who is reading and who is skipping which comments. Downvoting feels too aggressive; it is more like shouting "shut up".) Another important aspect is that in real life most kinds of reactions are simple, so if they require some inconvenient action online, it's not the same thing.

  • It is these situations where our instinct offers us a real-life solution, but there is no sufficiently corresponding action in the web forum, that make online discussions develop in many frustrating ways that wouldn't happen in real life. (Also other dissimilarities, e.g. creating sockpuppets, etc.)

This is why I think it would be an interesting project to develop a web interface that would allows us to act as closely to our instinctive social behavior as possible. The hypothesis is that it would make the discussions much less frustrating for many participants. But crude approximations will not work, precisely because they are crude.

(I am not saying that our social interactions in real life are the best possible mode of communication. There is a space for improvement. I am saying that we are unable to get even there.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-20T14:40:47.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that mere "moves in this direction" will not be enough.

Not enough for what?

develop a web interface that would allows us to act as closely to our instinctive social behavior as possible.

You seem to want, basically, video conferencing. Or, if you prefer a more future-y way of doing that, telepresence in virtual reality.

The hypothesis is that it would make the discussions much less frustrating for many participants.

You are taking a very one-sided view. Online discussions are not just hobbled and maimed discussions in person -- they have disadvantages, but they also have a lot of advantages. They are different and that makes them occupy a different, useful niche in the panoply of ways humans communicate.

Sometimes you want to talk in person, but sometimes you don't and email or chat are the preferred way.

we are unable to get even there

Because we don't want to go there.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-12T19:29:41.256Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't buy the "a victim is always right about being a victim" approach.

I'm pretty sure dxu wasn't appealing to that. Just saying that different people will have different ideas about whether any given thing is an attack. (And then, more specifically, that a hardnosed "object to anything that looks wrong" conversational style will, whatever the intentions of the person doing it, likely upset some of the people it's done to and thereby make it less likely, not more likely, that mutual understanding will be achieved.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-12T19:45:14.266Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just saying that different people will have different ideas about whether any given thing is an attack.

I'm pretty sure dxu wasn't talking about different people in general, but specifically meant that the one on the receiving end of the maybe-an-attack has the right to declare it an attack or not. See the following dxu's sentence.

And, of course, there is the obvious right of everyone to have her own opinion, but I'm reading dxu as saying that the opinion of the originator of the maybe-an-attack is... "less equal" than the opinion of the target.

likely upset some of the people it's done to

That's a rather weak claim. Most everything is likely to upset some people.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-12T23:49:34.476Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure [...]

dxu, would you care to weigh in?

That's a rather weak claim.

The options I had, writing that sentence, were: obviously-too-strong claim; obviously-too-weak claim; absurdly fussily qualified and quantified claim. None of them was perfect, so I chose the one that looked least bad to me.

comment by dxu · 2016-04-13T17:05:43.111Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

dxu, would you care to weigh in?

Sure. What I meant was that presumably, "attacks" are considered damaging for a reason--namely, that they make discussion more unpleasant. This "unpleasantness", however, is a subjective matter, and whether a particular remark generates an unpleasant feeling is entirely up to (the brain of) the "target", as it were. So I suppose my reply to Lumifer would be something along the lines of

Nope, sorry, I don't buy the "a victim is always right about being a victim" approach.

If we're talking about effects on the victim ("victim" is not the word I would have used, by the way), as a matter of causal fact, then yes, in fact, it is. You could try to argue, of course, that the "victim" overreacted and shouldn't have felt attacked by that remark, but the fact of the matter is that he/she did in fact feel attacked.

Of course, just because someone feels attacked doesn't mean you did something wrong when addressing them--it's entirely possible, for example, that the person in question really is overly sensitive, and that a large fraction of people would not have taken umbrage to your remark. This possibility grows markedly less likely, however, when several users independently claim to find a particular poster's comments unpleasant as a whole.

I should also point out that comments, especially long comments, take some effort to write. When confronted with such a comment, I've noticed that Lumifer generally does not address the entirety of the comment, instead selectively quoting several sentences from various points in the comment and then snarking at those. When someone does this, it feels (at least to me) as if they're not actually taking the other poster seriously; if I put a lot of effort into a post and write several paragraphs for you to read and then your reply consists of one-liner responses that are more condescending than informative, it feels as though the effort I'm putting into the discussion is not being reciprocated, which makes me less likely to continue the discussion.

EDIT: An example of the above would be Lumifer's reply to your (gjm's) comment, which simply reads:

The options I had, writing that sentence

That's good evidence that your sentence has problems :-)

Snarky one-liner? Check. Does not actually address the main point? Check. More condescending than informative? Check. This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about, and it was found in the immediate next comment in the chain. You don't even have to look for this sort of thing from Lumifer; that's how often it happens.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T17:20:38.913Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lumifer generally does not address the entirety of the comment, instead selectively quoting several sentences from various points in the comment and then snarking at those.

There is a reason for that. Addressing the entirety of the comment usually requires that your answer be longer than the comment you're replying to. That leads to large walls'o'text of fisking very very quickly and the whole thing implodes shortly afterwards.

In my experience to keep a manageable conversation going for more than a couple of rounds you need to severely prune the topics and keep the whole thing on a (possibly meandering) track. Of course both sides can/should do this: I don't expect that every point I raised will be addressed in the reply. As to snarking, well... :-)

Re EDIT:

Snarky one-liner? Check.

I like snarky one-liners.

Does not actually address the main point? Check.

Nope. It actually addresses the main point of the post it's replying to.

More condescending than informative? Check.

Not condescending. Snarky (see above). Condescending would have been "Don't worry your pretty little head about it".

comment by dxu · 2016-04-13T17:43:40.045Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like snarky one-liners.

I don't. (See, two can play at this game.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T17:50:11.828Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't. (See, two can play at this game.)

Not snarky enough.

Your move :-P

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T00:55:38.806Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The options I had, writing that sentence

That's good evidence that your sentence has problems :-)

comment by gjm · 2016-04-13T07:46:00.284Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe, but it looks to me more like good evidence that some things don't fit nicely into soundbites. LW has traditionally been one of the better places around for discussing such things. Making it less so is, I think, another drawback of your preferred discussion style.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T14:24:21.433Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Your wounds are self-inflicted. My preferred discussion style is not binding on anyone and anyway, I'm a believer in the "Things should be as simple as possible but not simpler" maxim. The issue is, rather, balancing making your point clearly and correctly against writing a wall'o'text that no one reads. That's not an easy balance to strike. I often say "It's complicated" and cut off large chunks of discussion space for exactly this reason.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-13T14:49:03.114Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

balancing making your point clearly and correctly against writing a wall'o'text that no one reads

Which was exactly the tradeoff I made in a way you complained about. I dare say you'd have made a different complaint if I'd made the tradeoff a different way.

So if "my wounds" means the fact that I said something that, taken literally, wasn't very informative: yeah, self-inflicted, and I'm not bothered by those particular wounds.

But if it means the fact that I said something that called forth a bit of mockery from an LW regular who likes mocking things: nope, not self-inflicted in any useful sense.

(I wouldn't have used the word "wounds" myself. Far too dramatic.)

[EDITED to add:]

My preferred discussion style is not binding on anyone

Of course. But the fact that leaving any loophole is liable to result in a dismissive comment from you is ... not binding on anyone, that wouldn't make any sense, but it affects everyone on LW. How much it affects any given person depends on how much they care about getting dismissive comments. It doesn't bother me much, but I bet it bothers some other people more.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T15:04:39.425Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Which was exactly the tradeoff I made in a way you complained about.

The problem wasn't that you made a trade-off, the problem was that you failed at it -- you chose the "not wall'o'text" path, but did not make your point clearly and correctly.

But the fact that leaving any loophole is liable to result in a dismissive comment from you

It has nothing to do with loopholes. Express your meaning clearly and it will be fine. But if that meaning is a misshapen piece of jelly weakly flopping around, well, I will be tempted to poke it with a stick :-/

comment by gjm · 2016-04-13T16:11:49.353Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

you failed at it

Perhaps. Or perhaps (as it seemed to me) there wasn't a way of making my point clearly and correctly without too much wall-o'-text.

if that meaning is a misshapen piece of jelly weakly flopping around

Which, it seems to me, it wasn't and you have given no reason to think it was. What you have (quite correctly but, in my view, pointlessly) complained about is that an uncharitably literal reading of what I wrote is very vague. True enough; I think the only way to avoid vagueness and wrongness was more wall-o'-text than I was prepared to waste people's time with.

Of course, the ensuing discussion has produced more text and more timewasting than if I'd just written the long and boring version in the first place. Perhaps what I write will tend further in the wall-o'-text direction in future. If so, it will be wordier and more boring, and the only real benefit will be that it will be a bit less vulnerable to one particular sort of bad-faith objection. I do not think that would be a benefit to LW.

Descending briefly to the object level, let me at this point state the original claim[1] more carefully:

[1] It may be worth an explicit reminder that it wasn't a statement of my opinion but an attempt to indicate what sort of thing someone else had been saying. My elaboration here will be on both dxu's original comment and my sketchy and incomplete summary of what s/he was saying.

Suppose you adopt the approach dxu summarized as "when I see a weakness, I must attack immediately". Then discussions in which someone other than you makes some statement that doesn't have all its details firmly nailed down are liable to feature sniping from you when the other guy makes some such statement. Since actually most discussion, even here, involves plenty of such statements, this doesn't have to happen a very large fraction of the time for it to be quite common.

Such discussions tend not to be much fun for the other party, for several reasons. They may feel personally attacked, which is an unpleasant feeling whether or not any sort of personal attack is actually intended. They may find that they have to devote an order of magnitude more time to the discussion than would be necessary without your bloody-mindedness. They may fear getting a reputation for long-windedness and pedantry, when in fact all they are doing is attempting to forestall your sniping.

(Lots of "They may ..." there. I suggest that maybe half of all people you do it to will find the experience unpleasant; maybe 1/4 of the time when you do it they will find themselves devoting far more time to the discussion than it warrants in itself; maybe 1/4 of people you do it to will for some time afterward feel at least some temptation to write defensively.)

You might argue that such a discussion is worth the unpleasantness because it results in clarifying what the other guy meant (or exposing his fuzzy thinking, if what he meant is not susceptible of clarification). But that may well not be the outcome. Much of the time (probably more than half) the other guy will decline to get into a lengthy and possibly unpleasant argument; in these cases, no clarification ensues, whatever productive discussion you could have had instead is forestalled, and no one wins. When they are willing to engage, there is a danger (let's say, again, p>0.5) that the other guy gets annoyed and defensive -- I am stipulating here that there is no chance at all that you would do such a thing -- and what follows is more ego-fight than useful discussion, and again the loss exceeds the gain. The rest of the time, perhaps you do in fact get a useful clarification; very good, but I suggest that in these cases -- where the other guy did mean something specific, was able to figure out what it was, and was disposed to be helpful -- a less aggressive approach would also have elicited the clarification.

The fact is that almost all discussion outside academic journals (and plenty inside them) involves plenty of statements that don't have all their details firmly nailed down, and that could be sniped at in this fashion. So once this pattern is noticed (which of course it has been, here on LW) -- especially when, as here, the person doing the sniping is very active and clearly has time to do a lot of sniping if he chooses -- many participants (let's say >= 10% of active participants, probably more) will feel some pressure to choose between writing defensively (at the cost of extra effort, increased boredom for their readers, reduced clarity for those not reading with aggressive uncharity, etc.) and getting sniped at unpleasantly. Result: some combination of boring defensive writing, and reduced participation (hence, less interesting stuff on LW).

The overall result is -- in dxu's view, as I understand it, and also as it happens in mine -- that your conversational style is bad for LW. It's probably good for you, though: sniping is fun, and is an effective way to pick up karma if you happen to care about that. Chalk up one more victory for Moloch.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T16:53:17.625Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

perhaps (as it seemed to me) there wasn't a way of making my point clearly and correctly without too much wall-o'-text

In such situations I usually choose to not say anything and let it go.

When both of your options lose, the only way to win is not to play :-)

Result: some combination of boring defensive writing, and reduced participation (hence, less interesting stuff on LW).

Since we've been talking about trade-offs, let me point out that there is one here, too. Let's imagine a wonderful world where people like me are absent and everyone is very nice, highly supportive and full of praise. Gold stars for everyone! What kind of writing would you expect to get?

My cynical side says that you will get a whole lot of badly written, unfocused, lazy, vague, incoherent crap. You might well get increased participation because yay praise and hugs for little effort, but thoughtful people would leave, for obvious reasons. That doesn't look like a good outcome.

As usual, balance is important. You want to prune (and disincentivise) crap and you want to promote (and incentivise) interesting, insightful writing. The exact location of the proper balancing point is, of course, debatable :-)

One more thing -- it might be helpful to think of LW as an ecosystem. An ecosystem likes and need diversity. That, in turn, implies that LW needs different kinds of people who will fill different roles. Some people (like me) will snap and bite. Some people will nurture and grow. Some people will dump the minutiae of their daily lives onto LW. Some people will think for a year and then make a single post. Some people are interested in neural nets, some are interested in ponies, some are interested in how to lose weight and pick up girls, and some are interested in how to make sure LW doesn't become an example of Lotka-Volterra equations.

Monocultures are bad, mmkay?

comment by dxu · 2016-04-13T17:42:02.857Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When both of your options lose, the only way to win is not to play :-)

What if, instead of trying to win, you're actually trying to advance the discussion in a meaningful way? Some people aren't here to win verbal sparring matches.

where people like me are absent

Please keep in mind that no one actually wants that. Some people would just prefer you tone it down. Like, you could, for example, cut down on stuff like this:

Gold stars for everyone!

badly written, unfocused, lazy, vague, incoherent crap

yay praise and hugs for little effort

mmkay?

Seriously, what purpose does this sort of rhetoric serve? I understand this is your posting style, but if you write stuff like this you don't get to claim your comments aren't "attacks" (EDIT: or "condescending", for that matter).

My cynical side says that you will get a whole lot of badly written, unfocused, lazy, vague, incoherent crap. You might well get increased participation because yay praise and hugs for little effort, but thoughtful people would leave, for obvious reasons. That doesn't look like a good outcome.

This... seriously does not follow. I have read comment threads from before you joined LW, as well as comment threads that occurred after you joined but that you simply did not post in. Most of these threads were not, as you put it, "incoherent crap", primarily because there are people on this site who are just as capable of pointing out flaws as you are, but don't do it in such a grating fashion. (Examples of these people include: TheOtherDave, wedrifid, shminux, Vaniver, etc.)

Some people (like me) will snap and bite.

I'll be honest here: I have not seen a single other poster with a rhetorical style even remotely resembling yours. If you're a member of this "ecosystem", you're a species of one.

Monocultures are bad, mmkay?

What are you even arguing, here? That the presence of people like yourself is somehow necessary to keep LW from devolving into a monoculture? If so, I have to disagree--and it's hard to see how you could be arguing anything else.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-13T18:12:01.900Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What if, instead of trying to win, you're actually trying to advance the discussion in a meaningful way?

I didn't define "win" as winning at verbal sparring. If your goal is to advance discussion in a meaningful way and the short version fails at that while the long version is too long, the same reasoning applies.

Like, you could, for example, cut down on stuff like this.

But I don't wanna! X-) I like expressive, sparkly, prickly, highly saturated, slightly ambiguous language. I can easily produce polite, bland, dry, and technically correct writing, but there is not much fun in that and I'm not writing an academic paper. "Tone it down to beige" -- no, thank you.

This... seriously does not follow.

I am not talking about myself. I'm talking about the balance between discouraging and promoting in general. I certainly don't claim I'm the only force that's keeping LW from drowning in crap.

you're a species of one

There is the classic Shrek's answer to Fiona's outraged "What kind of knight ARE you?"...

But really, are you telling me, on LW, that I'm too weird? :-)

What are you even arguing, here?

That applying a single standard of expected behaviour to everyone is not a particularly useful approach, but rather a "be careful what you wish for" case.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T09:58:53.182Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If your goal is to advance discussion in a meaningful way and the short version fails at that while the long version is too long, the same reasoning applies.

And what if the short version only fails when the person you're interacting with is more interested in point-scoring than engaging with your actual meaning? So that, e.g., if you say "some people will do X" they'll derail the discussion into a side-argument about how "some" could mean "only one person ever" even though even the most halfhearted application of the principle of charity would make it clear that if you meant "only one person ever" you would have used different words?

I can easily produce polite, bland, dry, and technically correct writing, but there is not much fun in that

But no one here is suggesting that you (or anyone else who doesn't want to) should be doing that.

There are plenty of LW participants whose writing is immediately recognizable as theirs, and not bland and boring and beige. Only two are immediately recognizable on account of their dismissiveness and rudeness to others. You are one; the other ... well, let's just say that he goes by many names.

The point here is not that you are "too weird". Weird is fine. The point is that it is possible to be weird without being obnoxious.

The above is harsher than I'd like to be. I consider your contributions overall a clear net benefit to LW, and your karma strongly suggests that others do too (unless of course LW is stuffed with your sockpuppets, but I'm guessing not). But they would be a bigger and clearer net benefit if you were to turn the dismissive sniping down one notch; and no, doing so would not make LW a monoculture. But it might be marginally less fun for you, and if that's all you care about then there's not much anyone else can do about it.

a single standard of expected behaviour

That's importantly ambiguous. Interpretation one: "we shouldn't expect everyone here to behave exactly the same way". Perfectly true and perfectly irrelevant; no one is expecting that. Interpretation two: "there's no norm we should expect of everyone here". Perfectly ridiculous; there are plenty of expectations applied to everyone, on LW and everywhere else.

We expect people not to reply with total non sequiturs (unless doing so in some particular case is hilarious or something). We expect people not to issue death threats. We expect people not to use LW to spam advertisements for their penis enlargement pills. We expect people to post in English unless there is a special reason not to. All these, and plenty more that I'm sure you can come up with yourself, are part of a "single standard of expected behaviour", which is not at all the same thing as a monoculture; and there's nothing wrong with that.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-21T10:23:57.187Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

what if the short version only fails when the person you're interacting with is more interested in point-scoring than engaging with your actual meaning?

Where is the button for awarding Reddit Gold? Because I need it right now.

This is exactly what I mean by talking about "passive agressivity" on LW. There are already enough genuine misunderstandings, so we don't need to create another layer of difficulty by trying to score some meaningless points.

The point is that it is possible to be weird without being obnoxious.

But there is the danger that becoming less obnoxious would be the first step on the slippery slope leading to braindead conformity and posting kitten videos...

comment by gjm · 2016-04-21T11:48:43.153Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

kitten videos

Don't worry, no one here would go that far.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-14T15:03:55.989Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And what if the short version only fails when the person you're interacting with is more interested in point-scoring than engaging with your actual meaning?

Well, if you believe that I don't see why do you bother with various versions at all. If you think the person you're talking to is uninterested in your actual meaning, why, go find someone who is.

if you were to turn the dismissive sniping down one notch

Sniping, yes, dismissive, no. The ultimate dismissal is just ignoring a post or a person. And my snarking on LW is already turned down a notch or two. But, generally speaking, I'm not great at creating a helpful and supportive atmosphere, but quite good at taking things apart (that was part of the point of mentioning an ecosystem). If someone is attached to the thing I took apart, some unhappiness is unavoidable.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T16:16:51.879Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

if you believe that

I generally don't. In this particular discussion, I am beginning to wonder. (But the point at which I began to wonder was after I wrote what I did, which I suppose is the answer to "why do you bother with various versions at all". Also, there are other readers.)

I'm not great at [...] but quite good at [...]

And -- I repeat myself, but why not? -- I think taking things apart is a valuable service, and the voting on your comments suggests that other LW participants agree. I just think LW would be improved a little if you were slightly nicer about it.

(Which, for the avoidance of doubt, does not mean any of the following: "You must be brainwashed to be just like everyone else." "Now, children, why can't we just all get along?" "Let's all sing Kumbaya and everything will be fairies and unicorns and rainbows.")

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T13:04:20.905Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At this point in the conversation I have to ask: Do either of you actually expect to change anybody's minds?

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T13:31:06.290Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Very reasonable question, albeit awkward to answer because making predictions about other people is kinda rude and kinda creepy.

I certainly don't expect Lumifer to stop enjoying being snarky at people on LW. Neither do I expect him to make a radical shift from doing whatever he finds amusing to some kind of optimization of everyone's net utility. But I do think it's possible that he will make a small update to his estimate of how other people react to his snarky dismissals, and that there will be a small corresponding change in behaviour. That would, in my judgement, make LW a marginally better place.

I also hope that some people who are upvoting snarky dismissiveness may become slightly less inclined to do so. I don't at all begrudge Lumifer his upvotes, but I think he's often getting them for the wrong comments. More to the point, I think an environment where snarky dismissiveness gets lots of upvotes will encourage other people to move in the snarkily dismissive direction, which I think would be bad for LW.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T14:23:13.230Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok. Assume, for a moment, that Lumifer is judicious about when to be snarkily dismissive - that is, he is snarkily dismissive when he thinks it is the appropriate response.

In that case, would it be fair to say that the issue you take is not necessarily with his snarky dismissiveness, but rather his skipping the intermediate mental steps in explaining why somebody is wrong? That is, he is making leaps of logic that the audience can't necessarily follow? (This might explain some of the upvotes, as well; they're not upvoting his snarkiness, but his dismissal of something they also dismiss for similar reasons which nobody ever conveys to those who don't know what those reasons are.)

In that case, instead of engaging him on a tone argument, it might be more productive to suggest he is losing some of his audience, who he could otherwise convince, by dismissing things without apparent cause.

There's probably a competing needs access issue here; Lumifer's commentary might be useful to a subset of people, while harmful (or at least non-useful) to another subset of people. The goal shouldn't be to eliminate the usefulness of his commentary to the subset of people to whom his commentary is helpful, but rather to expand the usefulness of his commentary to those who don't already know what his objections imply/what his true objections are.

(As for making predictions of people - you don't improve your models of other people by never making predictions.)

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T16:29:35.713Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In that case, would it be fair to say that the issue you take is [...] he is making leaps of logic that the audience can't necessarily follow?

Maybe that's part of the problem sometimes. But no, I don't think it's the main problem. In my own interactions with Lumifer, I am much more often annoyed by rudeness than by incomprehension. And my impression of his interaction with others is that they're mostly the same.

(I do from time to time find Lumifer's comments unhelpfully terse and seek clarification. But I don't find those annoying in the same way as I do the snarky dismissals.)

I would say that, conditional on Lumifer's snarky dismissiveness being "judicious" in the sense you describe, the objection I sometimes have is that he is incorrect in thinking it "the correct response".

you don't improve your models of other people by never making predictions

Of course. But you don't need to make the predictions out loud in public, and often it's a bad idea to -- e.g., because of the "monkey brain jerking around" issue Lumifer mentioned: talking about what someone else is going to do in the future on account of what you've said is apt to feel like a status manoeuvre; there are other reasons too.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T16:52:41.630Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In my own interactions with Lumifer, I am much more often annoyed by rudeness than by incomprehension. And my impression of his interaction with others is that they're mostly the same.

I find it rude when people don't make eye contact. It made New England an interesting place for me to live. Was I wrong to try to make eye contact, or were they wrong to avoid it? And whose mores should win in a place where both cultures coincide?

Of course. But you don't need to make the predictions out loud in public, and often it's a bad idea to -- e.g., because of the "monkey brain jerking around" issue Lumifer mentioned: talking about what someone else is going to do in the future on account of what you've said is apt to feel like a status manoeuvre; there are other reasons too.

Do you regard being predictable as being a low-status signal, and do you think society at large shares this view?

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T17:09:57.029Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Was I wrong [...] or were they wrong [...]?

Not necessarily either, of course, but in practice it's probably easier for you to learn that New Englanders may avoid eye contact even if they are friendly than for half the population of New England to change their habits.

Do you regard being predictable as being a low-status signal

I think most of us are inclined to treat being manipulable as a low-status signal, and being predictable manipulable even more so. This is why, if you want to encourage someone to change their behaviour, it is often more effective to talk about it with them in private.

(In this case, the discussion was already going on in public when I first saw it.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T17:19:22.478Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not necessarily either, of course, but in practice it's probably easier for you to learn that New Englanders may avoid eye contact even if they are friendly than for half the population of New England to change their habits.

You miss my point. Rudeness is culturally contextual. You're insisting, here, that your social mores take precedent. It's entirely possible they're the majority mores, but Lumifer's overall positive karma should be taken as evidence against that.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T19:48:55.369Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You miss my point

I promise you, I didn't.

You're insisting, here

I'm not insisting on anything. I am expressing the opinion that LW would, overall, function a little better if Lumifer were slightly less abrasive. Contrariwise, Lumifer is expressing the opinions that (1) he doesn't wanna and (2) actually LW would be worse overall if he were all nice and gentle. I don't see much of the way of insistence here on either side.

Am I misunderstanding what you mean by "insisting"?

It's entirely possible they're the majority mores

The thing about mores is that to some extent they're trying to solve coordination problems, and they do that better when people are more willing to adopt common mores -- and if you have a large majority on one side then, annoying though it may be for the other guys, it probably works best overall for them to do most of the adapting.

(Which isn't -- as I've said elsewhere in the thread -- to say that total uniformity is called for. Just a certain level of accommodation. Now, Lumifer's said that he's already being less snarky and dismissive on LW than he would naturally prefer to be; so perhaps we're actually at the optimum after all. I am inclined to think not, but of course I can see Lumifer's situation only from the outside.)

Lumifer's positive karma

His snarkiest comments are frequently on negative scores. (Scarcely ever because of me, for what it's worth.) So while there's little question that Lumifer is a valuable and valued member of the LW community, I don't think we can infer from his high karma that his snarking is either valuable or valued.

[EDITED to add:] Personally, I value some of it but not all. (And no, the distinction is not whether he's snarking at me or at others.) I'm quite sure that the optimum level of Lumifer-snark is well above zero.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-14T21:09:33.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Now, Lumifer's said that he's already being less snarky and dismissive on LW than he would naturally prefer to be

Not quite.

I have found out, empirically, that if I embrace the dark side and let my snark flow unimpeded, it grows. Grows both in width, taking over conversations, and in depth, as its teeth extend and become sharper. After a while I decided I don't like that and that my snark needs to be limited and controlled.

So it's not that I naturally prefer to be more snarky, but rather that there is a "natural" escalation which I'm deliberately keeping in check.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T22:22:01.703Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Distinction noted; my apologies for misinterpreting.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T20:34:55.552Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Am I misunderstanding what you mean by "insisting"?

Yes. You're also ignoring the issue of cultural mores in favor of a perspective in which niceness and functionality are non-subjective qualities, the subjectivity of which was my point which you claim not to have missed.

The thing about mores is that to some extent they're trying to solve coordination problems, and they do that better when people are more willing to adopt common mores -- and if you have a large majority on one side then, annoying though it may be for the other guys, it probably works best overall for them to do most of the adapting.

"Rudeness" isn't a coordination problem, except insofar as it's a coordination problem of taste.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T22:34:50.082Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes.

Is there a reason why you didn't follow that up by explaining what you did mean by it?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-15T12:40:25.533Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Forgot. I don't write linearly, I bounce between different sections, and sometimes I forget things.

"Insisting" in this case meaning, roughly, "argue for over more than one iteration". Insistence in the sense of "continuing to do something", as opposed to the sense of "forcefully argue".

comment by gjm · 2016-04-15T15:01:52.789Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

OK. Then it seems that "insisting that [my] social mores take precedence" seems actually to mean making more than one comment in which I argue that if Lumifer took one step in the direction of (what happen to be) my social mores then LW would be (by standards I think both Lumifer and I endorse) a slightly better place.

I'm quite happy to agree that I did that, and I think it's obvious that there's nothing wrong with doing so by any reasonable standards.

(Note that I have not at any point said e.g. "Lumifer, you should be less dismissive because that would be nicer". I have said "Lumifer, you should be less dismissive because your dismissiveness is likely to make others enjoy LW less and reduce the likelihood of mutual understanding in discussions". Maybe I've slipped up somewhere and appealed to values that Lumifer doesn't share with me; my intention has been not to do so.)

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T22:28:12.413Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

a perspective in which niceness and functionality are non-subjective qualities

I doubt it, since that is not in fact my perspective.

"Rudeness" isn't a coordination problem

You said above that you find it rude when people don't make (what you think is enough) eye contact. Some other people find it rude when people do make (what they think is excessive) eye contact. In a population where people don't make eye contact by default, everyone is reasonably comfortable and making eye contact can be used as a signifier for, say, intimacy. In a population where people do make eye contact by default, everyone is reasonably comfortable and avoiding eye contact can be used as a signifier for, say, mistrust. Discomfort and miscommunication are liable to follow (as you found in New England) when there is a mismatch. Surely this is precisely a coordination problem.

Similarly for, e.g., a norm of always pointing out any mistakes or infelicities when you see them versus a norm of letting things slide. LW is in fact quite a lot further toward the first of those than most communities, of course; Lumifer's preference is further still in that direction, and that's roughly what this discussion is about. Again, this is a coordination problem; a community can sit pretty much anywhere along that line and manage OK, but if there's a big mismatch then again you get discomfort and miscommunication.

comment by dxu · 2016-04-14T19:17:19.155Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I often upvote Lumifer's comments simply because they contain good content (while downvoting the ones that are pure snark). I strongly suspect that many other LW users vote similarly. That Lumifer's comments are often upvoted should not, therefore, be taken as an indication that people appreciate their tone (and I suspect that Lumifer's karma ratio--which is currently at 80%--is so low at least in part because of the tone he/she uses).

(On a somewhat related note: I have noticed a rather strange phenomenon occurring, where one of Lumifer's comments initially receives a large number of downvotes, sometimes falling all the way to -5, before a sudden surge of upvotes, usually a day or two later, brings it back up to around +4 or so. This is not the sort of pattern one would normally expect to see, and yet I have seen it happen multiple times, which leads me to think someone else may be gaming the system.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T20:18:51.651Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That Lumifer's comments are often upvoted should not, therefore, be taken as an indication that people appreciate their tone (and I suspect that Lumifer's karma ratio--which is currently at 80%--is so low at least in part because of the tone he/she uses).

Approval of tone, and finding a comment on the whole useful, are distinct things.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-14T15:09:30.721Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, I'm defending my right to have a mind which doesn't exactly conform to other people's notions of what it should be :-/

Evidently, my mind has a snarky module which can easily be swapped for the cooperate-bot module (you'll usually find it labeled "anti-Moloch" or "something something charitable") and that's a minor surgery, I'll be out of the clinic in no time. And then I'll be allowed into the rainbows-and-unicorns land where everyone shall live happily ever after.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T16:11:53.170Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It would be interesting to speculate on how "LW would be a slightly better place if you were one notch less snarky" seems to have turned into "you want to change the workings of my brain to make me exactly what you think it should be, and you think that doing so would make everyone happy", but I am much too polite to do so and will merely remark that no, of course I was not taking exception to the form or content of your mind; only (mildly) to some of your actions.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T15:34:55.613Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're both having different arguments than you think you are. Illusion of transparency, and all that.

I suspect Gjm's true argument is something along the lines of "Lumifer has a tendency to dismiss people's positions without explanation." But instead he is making a tone argument, because he is noticing his reaction to your style of commentary rather than the nature of your style of commentary.

Which is not to say your dismissals are wrong, but it often requires a lot of reading between the lines, when reading your comments, to figure out what your reasons actually are. And if somebody isn't familiar with the specific argument you're implicitly referencing with your "snarky one-liners", they may fail to be able to understand what your objection actually is. Gjm is also very uncomfortable guessing at people's motivations/reasons (he considers it rude), so you two have an even wider communication gap.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-14T15:50:00.143Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect Gjm's true argument is

Human interactions are complicated, there are usually multiple factors at play. It is true that from gjm's point of view I sometimes dismiss people's positions "arbitrarily". But it is also true that my style breaks the rules of the polite society in gjm's corner of the world and that makes him less comfortable. Plus there are status signals involved and the monkey brain is, of course, jerking around in response to them.

they may fail to be able to understand what your objection actually is

That's a fair point.

Gjm is also very uncomfortable guessing at people's motivations/reasons

Not guessing, but publicly stating. I am pretty sure that he -- like all people -- builds models of people in his head all the time. But bringing out these models into the open is too direct and explicit: gentlemen do not do that.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T16:06:16.851Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On the last point there, Lumifer is right and OrphanWilde wrong: I don't consider it in any way improper to build mental models of other people, and so far as I can tell I understand Lumifer's one-liners as well as anyone else does. (Which is not to say I always understand them correctly; but if not then his wounds are, as he might put it, self-inflicted.)

The other half of Lumifer's commentary, attempting to explain what I dislike about his posting style, is so far as I can tell quite badly wrong, but I don't think it would be productive to argue it further. (It very rarely is after one party has decided to go full Bulver on the other.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T17:16:21.011Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The other half of Lumifer's commentary, attempting to explain what I dislike about his posting style, is so far as I can tell quite badly wrong, but I don't think it would be productive to argue it further. (It very rarely is after one party has decided to go full Bulver on the other.)

You should notice now that what he was interpreting you as saying isn't what you were intending to convey, as demonstrated by the fact that you felt a need to clarify; likewise, by the fact that you didn't notice what his argument was actually about, you were likewise not getting what he was trying to communicate.

Your wounds here are, as Lumifer might put it, self-inflicted. And accusing the other party of going "full Bulver" isn't exactly conducive to the sort of respectful discussion you claim to want to reify here, which is really just a subset of the overall tone of discussion. You called Lumifer out, and, by my reckoning, have more or less admitted that the thread was at least in part a response to him and his style of commentary. More, for somebody who considers it incredibly rude and status-gamey to make predictions about people, your first response to Lumifer was a post-hoc prediction that he'd be the one to respond. Given that you regard such behavior as a status play, I can't help but interpret this entire bloody discussion in that framework. [ETA: Correction: It was Villiam who did the above.]

You're playing at being the mature, responsible person, telling somebody who is ill-behaved that their behavior is problematic. But you're not actually being a mature, responsible person here, as evidenced by the fact that you chose to insert a parting shot in your "I don't want to argue about this anymore."

If you don't want to argue about it anymore, stop bloody arguing, and ignore the need to inject attacks in your closing statement.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-14T19:24:39.226Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What makes you think I didn't notice what Lumifer's argument was actually about?

you're not actually being a mature, responsible person here

I suggest that your assessment of that is strongly coloured by your completely incorrect characterization of the rest of the thread. You've already issued one correction -- indeed, my first response to Lumifer was not the post-hoc prediction you said it was (which would indeed have been inconsistent with my stated opinions). Here are some more. I didn't call Lumifer out; dxu did, my entry to the thread was an attempt to correct a misunderstanding. Given that I didn't start the thread, I'm not sure how I could possibly "admit that the thread was" anything.

you chose to insert a parting shot

I explained why I don't want to argue about it any more. I'm not sure exactly what you consider immature or irresponsible about that.

comment by dxu · 2016-04-14T19:46:52.452Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't call Lumifer out; dxu did,

I would just like to point out that my entry point into this discussion was actually rather similar to your own, in that I was simply clarifying some of (what I thought were) Viliam's points. This whole thread actually got started because SquirrelInHell proposed a "niceness norm", Lumifer (as is his/her wont) began poking at it, and then Viliam took the opportunity to say some things that (I assume) he's been wanting to say for a while. I do think OrphanWilde's accusation of you was misplaced, but I would be cautious in accusing anyone else of "starting it"; for the record, I genuinely don't think this thread was anyone's "fault"--in fact, I would argue that, if nothing else, this thread allowed several people (including myself) to express some things that might in other contexts have been considered socially impermissible. So it wasn't entirely a bad thing.

Finally, because I feel like this discussion has been rather grim for a while now, and because this is (after all) the place to discuss the positivity thread, have an emoticon:

:D

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T20:21:56.722Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I explained why I don't want to argue about it any more. I'm not sure exactly what you consider immature or irresponsible about that.

"You're too stupid to have this discussion with" is also an explanation about why you wouldn't want to argue with somebody. One I've used, albeit with different words. But it also flies in the face of your argument about rudeness detracting from Less Wrong.

comment by dxu · 2016-04-14T19:24:07.320Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're playing at being the mature, responsible person, telling somebody who is ill-behaved that their behavior is problematic. But you're not actually being a mature, responsible person here, as evidenced by the fact that you chose to insert a parting shot in your "I don't want to argue about this anymore."

Logical fallacy: ad hominem tu quoque.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-04-14T20:24:32.538Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do point out what argument I claim to invalidate there, if you would.

Or, more pithily: Fallacy fallacy.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-10T02:06:57.750Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OK, let me propose a clarification of the words we are using for this discussion:

  • politeness - adhering to a set of widely accepted social norms of communication

  • being civil - avoiding showing strongly negative emotions, or directly acting to produce such emotions in other people (in most societies, is a part of politeness)

  • niceness - having positive emotions directed at other people, together with the caring and pleasant behaviour that naturally result from it

So, using the above: LW is not big on politeness, and I fully support this position; LW has being civil in its established norms, and I suggest we keep it; LW norms have nothing on niceness, and I suggest we work to change this.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-10T02:51:59.013Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

LW norms have nothing on niceness

I am sorry, you want to have norms about what kind of emotions I am supposed to be having??

comment by gjm · 2016-04-11T12:32:52.615Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I propose to steelman SquirrelInHell's proposal a little. What if we (for this discussion) define "niceness" to mean not the emotions but the behaviour those emotions typically produce? So being nice to someone means treating them as if you have positive feelings about them.

A norm in favour of that doesn't seem obviously unreasonable.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-10T04:10:32.419Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, pretty much. I know this sounds controversial if you subscribe to a "common sense" understanding of emotions.

But from my point of view, the indignation you expressed in your comment is already a sign that you could benefit from being more aware of your emotions, and managing them consciously to make your life better and more fun.

Now don't misunderstand me - I'm not proposing to have a norm that says everyone needs to be perfect at this. I am merely stipulating a norm that we all try to do better in this respect.

I predict you would be surprised at how malleable your own emotions are, if you are serious about changing them, and you know that you can. I suggest that you set up an easy and quick experiment that goes along the lines of "choose a person I don't like, acknowledge that it's not useful to dislike that person, and then decide to bring my emotions about this person up to neutral".

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-10T04:52:57.104Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But from my point of view, the indignation you expressed in your comment is already a sign that you could benefit from being more aware of your emotions, and managing them consciously to make your life better and more fun.

Oh dear. Beyond the obvious observation that most people could benefit from managing their emotions better, pray tell on which basis did you come to conclusions about my current emotional state and about my ability to control my emotions? I can assure you that reading emotions from the tone of an internet comment is... fraught with dangers.

I am merely stipulating a norm that we all try to do better in this respect.

You are stipulating a norm of an internet forum that we all become better at consciously managing our emotions. Really.

I suggest that you set up an easy and quick experiment

Why would I do that?

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-11T01:39:34.665Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why would I do that?

The experiment is easy, quick and costs you nothing. So by asking "Why would I do that?" I here more of a "I don't want to listen and you can't make me".

It is true, of course - regarding people's emotions, I can never strong-arm anyone into doing anything.

What I can tell you is why I think disliking people is destructive to epistemic rationality.

Basically, disliking someone makes you see them through the light of the affect heuristic, and makes your thoughts about this person biased in at least a few ways (halo effect, attribution error etc.).

The same could be said to true about liking people, but I found it is not nearly as harmful in this direction, and it is much easier to prevent it from ruining your accuracy.

I hope you see why I consider it a useful skill to be able to stop disliking people (or other things you want to think clearly about). It is a simple and effective method of debiasing.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-11T16:11:07.699Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The experiment is easy, quick and costs you nothing.

That looks doubtful. You seem to believe that I "could benefit from being more aware of [my] emotions, and managing them consciously". This implies that changing my emotional stance towards a person should be not easy or quick. And as to costs, nothing, you think so?

more of a "I don't want to listen and you can't make me".

Nope. I know you can't make me and I know you know. My question was literal: what do you think I would gain? I don't see any obvious benefits from such an exercise, but maybe you have insights which are not obvious?

I hope you see why I consider it a useful skill to be able to stop disliking people

No, actually I don't.

Usually when I dislike people I dislike them for a reason. Pretending that this reason doesn't exist is unlikely to lead to good outcomes.

method of debiasing.

This method of debiasing seems to set as its goal to have no emotional reaction to people at all. Welcome, straw Vulcans :-/

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-12T01:54:03.927Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This method of debiasing seems to set as its goal to have no emotional reaction to people at all. Welcome, straw Vulcans :-/

Your argumentation is based on rationalist memes, not analysis. I'm claiming that disliking a whole person is useless and harmful to epistemic accuracy; I do not make this claim about any part, or particular thing about this person. Applying your negative emotion to the whole person is just what it sounds like - using the affect heuristic as a substitute for more detailed and psychologically realistic thinking.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-12T14:44:04.524Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm claiming that disliking a whole person is useless and harmful to epistemic accuracy

Would you like to provide some, um, analysis as to why do you believe this to be true?

Also, when you say "useless", useless for which purpose? And does me disliking, say, broccoli, is "useless and harmful" as well?

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-14T06:03:30.832Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Would you like to provide some, um, analysis as to why do you believe this to be true?

I can; but more efficiently, I need you to realize a few things about our communication.

First, I would need an enormous amount of writing to make make my current beliefs clear and making sense in context.

So far this discussion is based on me saying something, and you voicing every issue about it that comes to your mind.

So far so good, that's how you always do it on LW, right?

Only, this doesn't work if there's a big inferential distance.

See, in case of a big inferential distance between us, your questions and the doubts you have sound perfectly reasonable to you, I'm sure.

However your doubts hit very far from the actual core of the problem - and seeing them just makes me feel tired.

I see that to explain anything well, I'd need to start with the basics, and force you to think about certain topics in order of ascending difficulty, make sure I dissolve your doubts and answer all questions at each step and so on.

Which is to say, I don't have the energy to go through this long and tedious process, and if you are at all interested in what I'm trying to say here, I need you to ask better questions.

In particular, if it's visible from your questions that you actually gave these topics some thought, and you are willing to explore them for other reasons that arguing with me; then I'm happy to cooperate with you, and work together to form more accurate beliefs and efficient policies.

So far, I see none of that; and no sign that you think longer than it takes you to type the comment.

Generally, and I hope here you are not too prideful to react badly to this, I think you might be harming yourself with your ability to argue and see problems with the opinions of others. I think that yes, writing lots of comments on LW can teach you something; but it also teaches you many harmful habits, such as the argue first - think later approach, which I deem harmful to long-term progress.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-14T14:35:41.859Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Only, this doesn't work if there's a big inferential distance.

True. A great deal of things don't work if there's big inferential distance.

In particular, if it's visible from your questions that you actually gave these topics some thought, and you are willing to explore them for other reasons that arguing with me; then I'm happy to cooperate with you, and work together to form more accurate beliefs and efficient policies.

I'm sorry, I'm not interested in master-disciple relationships.

I think you might be harming yourself with your ability to argue and see problems with the opinions of others.

What kind of harm do you have in mind?

but it also teaches you many harmful habits

I don't know about many, but yes, arguing on teh internets is perilous. I freely admit to suffering from the curse of the gifted, but I doubt that changing my conversation habits on an internet forum is the right way to address it.

I am aware that my habits shape me and that masks have a tendency to grow into one's face. I consider the risks of snarking around on LW... acceptable.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-04-18T22:12:20.331Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is wrong. Your privacy and possibly your personal life can be destroyed by revealing the truth about your personal information and all of your passwords. That doesn't mean your personal life should be destroyed.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-19T14:25:44.845Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're confusing truth and public disclosure.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-08T22:32:59.840Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So, cat videos.

How long did it take for LW to get here?

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-09T07:24:56.962Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not my first attempt to bring more cats to LW. (link) :D

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2016-04-16T23:46:19.858Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yay for cat videos!

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-04-09T10:10:44.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suggest that you move the mention of the banning and the related rules from the post over to here. It just isn't positive enough.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-09T23:02:54.072Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are right, and if I make another thread like this, I will move the rules away from the thread. The rules are not positive, and also the rules by definition are meta (which is forbidden by the rules).

But I don't feel like changing this existing thread. To provide some rationalization for my laziness, I would probably say something about not changing the conditions of the experiment in the middle.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-10T02:13:20.651Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You won't be able to tell people to not go meta, or to tell them where the rules are, if you apply the rules to themselves.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-04-10T08:51:49.248Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is quite possible to refer (i.e. link) to an important rule in a cheerful and positive way even if the rule may contain negative aspects. See how much context change already happens by diverting the meta discussion to here in the Open Thread (note how you automatically perform an context change; you behave according to the norms of the Open Thread by being in it. Context is awesome. Mostly.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-04-09T10:08:41.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder how the voting rules apply to more or less deep sub-comments. Does any comment that goes off on a tangent still be positive? For example I wanted to pick up the nice games/apps for kids idea by referencing the existing ref but that didn't feel positive enough (yes strictly refs are neutral but still).

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-09T23:04:21.569Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I wanted to allow neutral sub-comments. Should express myself more clearly the next time, I guess.

comment by snul · 2016-04-05T02:06:55.605Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Following gwern's post about Melatonin, I did a self-trial of melatonin to see if it improved my sleep.

Objective: To see whether I (myself only) should take melatonin regularly or not. Therefore: Have a clinically significant decrease in sleep time or increase in daytime awakeness. Clinically significant=statistically different & meaningful (i.e. 1 minute difference is not worth the effort, for example)

Note that at baseline, I never have trouble falling asleep, and I never have trouble staying asleep. Melatonin is theoretically advantageous in inducing sleep, which is not an issue for me.

Method: I calculated an n required for a significant difference based on pvalue<0.10 but I don't remember the details. I think my required n was about 150-250 with half in each arm

Every night, before bed, I would arbitrarily unblindedly decide to take 1 mg melatonin or take nothing (SWANSON MELATONIN 1 MG 120 CAP from LH-Nutrition on amazon. This was unblinded and arbitrary to better reflect the "intention to treat" if I were to continue to take melatonin in the future. That is, if this study on myself indicated that I should take melatonin, then I want the study to reflect my reality instead of a generalized "lab" experiment to generalize to others. In the same vein, there was no controlling for biases or other factors as if things such as the placebo effect improved my sleep, then that was fine by me

In theory, I was to take melatonin vs no melatonin about 50%-50%, although in practice this was not the case

Results: I recorded sleep data from 2015/09/22 to 2016/01/26 before the study stopped due to apathy on my part and lack of perceived effect. On 3 nights I did not record data (because my sleeping was disturbed e.g. working a night shift). n=124 (n=41 melatonin, n=83)

I did not do any statistical tests because on graphing the results, on gross examination there was clearly no significant change in my daytime awakeness or number of hours slept (see graphs). On average, without melatonin I slept 7.68 hours (vs 7.67 with melatonin). The STD with melatonin was lower. The median sleep time was 7.68 without vs 7.60 with melatonin. When I slept <=6 hours, I tended not to have taken melatonin. This is likely an effect of the intention-to-treat (i.e. if I am sleeping very late so that I will lack sleep, I am too tired/lazy to take melatonin)

My wake-up energy was grossly unchanged regardless of if I took melatonin. My perceived awakeness throughout the day was lower on the days I took melatonin compared to the days I did not, (grossly looking at the graph, not formally evaluated).

I noticed no difference taking melatonin or not. No side-effects/perceived benefits.

Conclusion: Study was underpowered as study was abandoned with a low n. No blinding, no controlling for biases, "intention-to-treat" in the loosest meaning. No side effects or subjective difference noted on/off melatonin. No reduction in sleep time and no improved awakeness during the day on melatonin. Melatonin 1 mg did not have any significant effect on me (?doesn't work on me; ?wrong dose; ?bad drug manufacturer - I went with the cheapest amazon offer). Conclusion: I will cease taking melatonin as the effect is not significantly advantageous in myself.

Raw data and graphs below: http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=05048577364961130526

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-07T18:06:17.898Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good job on the study. I wouldn't call that a low n. I'm guessing you used a power analysis such as this one to calculate the sample size prior to the study, but the results are clearly wildly different from whatever your initial projections were, so the n you calculated prior to the study doesn't tell you all that much. Just eyeballing the covariance in your graph of the cumulative distribution (probability is usually listed on the y axis, btw), you've got a very strong result there. I do think intention-to-treat was the wrong system. I would have excluded all nights where you didn't want to use melatonin from the study, and randomly assigned nights where you were considering melatonin to either treatment or baseline. It looks like correcting for that would have given you even stronger results, however. But I think you went way past the point where more nights would have been of much use. Melatonin just doesn't appear to make much difference for you.

comment by Elo · 2016-04-07T07:40:18.823Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/ngj/open_thread_april_4_april_10_2016/d7q6

In a follow up of unprecedented proportions - our disappointing protagonist Aladdin returns in the long awaited sequel Lamp2.

comment by Elo · 2016-04-08T03:12:58.058Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And Lamp3.

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-08T07:27:06.415Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eh, unfriendly human intelligence (in the sense of his moral system being completely orthogonal to anything that I can conceive).

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-08T07:45:30.148Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

IMHO, just another mindkilled person. Similar in behavior to those who pull fire alarms when their opponents try to have a debate. Except that LW is the place they want to "protect", and downvoting is the closest local equivalent of the fire alarm.

Many parts of a civilized society are built on the assumption that people in general follow some norms. For example we can only have windows because there is a norm against throwing stones into them. Once in a while someone violates the norm, but as long as they are a small minority, the problem can be dealt with. However, if suddenly half of the population would start throwing stones into windows at every opportunity, we couldn't have windows anymore, at least not how we have them now.

For a mindkilled person it is easy to believe that the usual norms don't apply to them, because the victory of their tribe is of the utmost importance.

comment by Lightwave · 2016-04-05T12:34:06.282Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Should we try to promote the most valuable/important (maybe older?) Less Wrong content on the front page? Currently the front page features a bunch of links and featured articles that don't seem to be organized in any systematic way. Maybe Less Wrong would be more attractive/useful to new people if they could access the best the site has to offer directly from the front page (or at least more if it, and in a systematic way)?

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2016-04-07T02:13:12.119Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Featured Articles" is such a "best of," but that isn't obvious. But the other list is clearly marked "recent."

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2016-04-08T19:40:57.301Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe at the front page the "Recent Promoted Articles" and "Featured Articles" should move on the top, and the "Less Wrong is…" description should be below them.

Or maybe even articles first, map of meetups second, and the website description on the bottom. And the bullet points in the description are unnecessarily large.

Things at the top of the page are more likely to be noticed.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-04T21:16:17.966Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • Want to tell the future? Ask an PhD, unemployed, media-experienced, female, high-self-rated-relevance-of-expertise, right wing, realist, optimist, cognitively-foxy, extremist with integratively complex thought protocols, according to the evidence in Tetlock's Expert Political Judgement book exerpts tables for: 'individual difference predictors of calibration of subjective probability forecasts, and variable loadings in rotated factor matrix from maximum likelihood factors analysis (quartimin rototation) of belief systems item' >wtf does that mean?<

  • Finally tried some of those invitations: 'Would you like to kiss me' got a diplomatic response, which I followed up by stating: I would like to kiss you, to which she said: 'then do it', and we did. I have yet to try the permission soliciting way: May/can I kiss you, or the command way: Kiss me or 'I'm going to kiss you'. I can't use the same girl twice because it's about initiatory kisses, a behavioural experiment about rejection :)

  • Blah, remember that non-effectiveness oriented grant opportunity I mentioned a while ago? Looks like they cap grants at 10k, which isn’t much to work with. Not worth it, just like that superficially attractive funding they give to student groups that are ridiculously easy to start...

  • What if anything (other than self-limitation) is stopping prison chaplains acting as message mules from organised crime prisoners to their network and subordinates outside of prison? Prison chaplains are frequently volunteers so they could get money that way.

  • Unilodge is bad for renters but good for business. Holy shit, really bad for renters.

  • Inspired by this and reports about gender dysphoria, Is there a evidence-based case for plastic surgery as a mental health intervention (irrespective of whether gender dyphoria relevant, or even just general psychological wellbeing)?

  • Chaplains humanize the dehumanized. I'm motivated for chaplaincy by dehumanizing experiences as a child. I think chaplaincy for children, outside of their immediate family, or structured, brief, formal places like schools which they may be too unempowered to navigate to their school's chaplain themselves, are the next step in chaplaincy. However, there's an inherent tension between that utility, and the tendency for clergy to abuse, thereby dehumanising children themselves!

  • Procrastination doesn't seem so bad anmore. Is there still room for the pareto principle and doing the 'most important thing' first?

  • On the Gumtree site, at least in Melbourne, many properties have rentals available for far below market price (usually $0) for single females. The ulterior motives are obvious. However, by law, tenants are forbidden from denying their tenants or subtenants their own sub-tenants, but they must be notified in advance. So, a very lucrative option for single females could be to lease these undervalued properties under contract, then sublet lawfully (without sex discrimination...) for a tidy profit. They don't even have to stick around the creep original lessor.

  • The night before last night I watched netflix with cute girl on her bed but I don't even know how I was meant to go from there to 'netflix and chill' :( But then last night we hung out then she put her arm around me in a friendly way, then I reciprocrated and puled her closer, and it just got more touchy from there (but not sexual touchy) till we ended up holding hands to leave that romantic place by the river :) Still not sure if I could have kissed her then, but definately trying it tonight when I see her again. Finally coming out of my shell!

  • How about cryodocumentation parties for cryoprocrastinators where people get encouragement to complete their cryonics documentation in a fun environment? Longencity advertisements and you’ll have yourself a world of productivity. The one cryonics services company that does documentation for you charges over $800 for it! So, you might even make a tidy profit.

  • Today I asked myself ‘Should I keep a 'got done' things list to complement old calendar items and have a record of minor achievements to reference and optimise processes? I later concluded that my email messages to self will be a useful archive of tasks, don’t need a separate list.

  • motorcycles are 7 times more deadly than cars. No thanks.

  • Do you think 'Severitas' is virtuous? Do you cultivate it yourself?

  • A guy ('AP') said this on fb recently and I thought it was clever! 'Half of the females at the church I am familiar with read books on child rearing. These females are unmarried and have no suitors. That is all I am going to say about the matter. So many stereotypes could be fulfilled but I am not going to go there.'. That's the calibre of wit I expect from the top tiers of famous people I can quote without awkwardly referencing my personal facebook feed. I can think of about 5 stereotypes here. It's funny, because generating hypotheses with the prompt of 'stereotypes' seems to make it easier, but you know...more stereotypical rather than a mutually exclusive comprehensively exhaustive (MECE) set of hypotheses.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-05T22:49:19.327Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I can't use the same girl twice because it's about initiatory kisses, a behavioural experiment about rejection :)

If you are with a girl who likes you, focus on enjoying the interaction.

Don't try to flee into the mindset of running a detached experiment.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-06T22:26:41.995Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The night before last I said I really like spending time with you, and other skirtish things ie that to which her replies would be things like 👍 or thanks. No reciprocation. But she like holding hands, cuddling and kissing. She's even cool with my messed up sexuality. I haven't introduced the mental health stuff or losing my virginity at a brothel yet but I wonder how she will take that :P I don't know that she sees me as boyfriend material...yet

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-07T12:49:42.220Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Her not actively reciproting by explicitely saying that she likes spending time with you might simply mean that she's shy. If she actually likes kissing you, she likely likes you. It doesn't mean that shes committed to having a relationship with you but that things are going in the right direction.

comment by Dagon · 2016-04-04T22:52:22.723Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't even know how I was meant to go from there to 'netflix and chill'

If you don't have the social judgement to navigate this with grace and subtlety (and most young people don't, and many "rationalists" of any age don't), don't think about what you're meant to do, think about finding out what she wants to do. and don't overthink it or try to guess - admit your lack of knowledge so you can use your alternate skills in analysis, communication, and rationality. Tell her you're romantically inexperienced and really like her, but that you need help in understanding her pace and wants. If she's as awkward as you, this will turn into an adorable stammer-and-blushing festival where you end up with whatever level of chill you're both looking for. If she's less awkward than you, she'll let you know what's OK and what's not and you'll get there much more comfortably. If she tells you she doesn't want that, she just likes watching netflix, well, that's (probably) ok too.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-05T09:29:16.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't admitting preference for someone the the coup de grace of romance?

comment by philh · 2016-04-05T13:27:12.480Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not if she also has a preference for you.

You want to avoid suggesting that you're more into her than she is into you. So "we've been on one date and now you're my girlfriend, right?" is usually a bad idea. But "we've been on one date and I'd like to go on future dates" is probably okay (if she doesn't want more dates, it wasn't going anywhere anyway).

(Massive overgeneralization, of course, and also I'm not qualified to talk about this.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-05T22:47:26.165Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It depends a lot on local culture. There are cultures that value the demonstration of personal power very much. Other cultures value consent and mutual respect more strongly.

Romance isn't about making a series of right moves. If both people want the same outcome then it's not a problem when one of them makes a few bad moves. Romance isn't antagonistic. Both people have the same goal.

comment by WalterL · 2016-04-05T14:15:31.678Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"On the Gumtree site,..."

This reminds me of a girl I knew in college. A big part of her payments were made by a dude, in exchange she sent him used socks/underthings, etc. She told me that, without fail, whenever anyone found out about this arrangement they were possessed of a bizarre need to attempt to exploit it even more. Like, she should send him stuff she'd bought in a store and never worn, or she should threaten to expose him and demand more money.

She never did. But I suspect that if she had, it wouldn't have been as big of a win as mostly free college. Win ++ would have been win --, because if someone's notion of the payoff matrix for cooperate/cooperate is 5 to you, 0 to them, don't defect.

Never forget that the subs are in charge. It's a paradox, but it's true. There are more ladies willing to live rent free than there are dudes with available property. If you tell him your plan up front he'll choose another. If you pull a bait and switch it might just not work (you made a "by law" statement, are you a lawyer? If not, run it by them before you do this). If it does work, it is likely that your relationship with dude is now, shall we say... icy? What might he do in this situation? In your model of the future, how many months do you get these rent checks before the state changes, and is that worth whatever the blowback is?

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-06T08:12:31.464Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Procrastination doesn't seem so bad anmore.

There is the motte/bailey thing here. What specifically does "procrastination" mean? It is a mysterious black box containing many different things. Some of those things are probably helpful, some of them are harmful, some are neutral.

For example "procrastination helps your brain relax". Well, some activities (done instead of your work) help you relax, but some make you even more tired (mentally). Don't use thinking about the former as an excuse for doing the latter!

Or the argument that working too hard makes us tired, because it would be better to take a nap. I agree! But if for you "procrastination" is a code word for browsing reddit, maybe that habit is actually contributing to your lack of naps, and maybe even lack of regular sleep.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-05T15:19:34.878Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yvain's latest post at SSC is, among other things, about the dynamics of tribes:

Scholars call the process of creating a new tribe “ethnogenesis” ... My model of ethnogenesis involves four stages: pre-existing differences, a rallying flag, development, and dissolution.

Homework assignment: apply the four-stage model to LessWrong.

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-06T12:07:05.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Besides the triviality of everything having a beginning, a developement and an end, I found that the model is too simplicistic and already shows some crack when applied to LessWrong:

  • pre-existing difference: about LW there was only one man, Eliezer, who perceived the difference between what he considered a sane approach to AI and all the others approach;

  • then it came a blog about showing this approach and "raising the sanity waterline", which I think created the difference in many of his followers, or at least attracted enough interest. In this case, the rallying flag created the difference in those who attended, which in turn created (or smoothed) more differences;

  • developement and end are mixed in this case, there was supposedly a peak and a denouement, but the site is still active, the tribe has fragmented and regrouped again.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T12:54:54.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

there was only one man, Eliezer, who perceived the difference between what he considered a sane approach to AI and all the others approach

But the LW community was not really, in the first instance, built around Eliezer's (or anyone's) ideas about how to approach AI. It was built around his ideas about how to think rationally, and a lot of that existed before Eliezer wrote anything on the subject.

(I am not making claims about the originality or unoriginality of Eliezer's writings about rationality. The point, with which I am absolutely sure he would agree, is that much of the difference between a typical LW rationalist and a typical non-rationalist lies in things that Eliezer did not invent and was not the first to write down.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-06T15:18:46.561Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

then it came a blog about showing this approach and "raising the sanity waterline", which I think created the difference in many of his followers

That is... a very strong statement. You think that EY's blog actually created the differences in the people who then coalesced into a tribe around their creator?

and regrouped again

What do you count as regrouping?

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-06T08:48:41.814Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The dissolution stage is described in greater detail in the linked article. The presence of people who proudly say they never bothered to read the Sequences (available as a free book now) was a huge warning long ago, but we somehow bought the belief that caring about your garden is cultish. Well, the garden is quite trampled now.

I can imagine an improvement in creating specific subs for the "hardcore" topics.

EDIT:

I am not sure I understand Scott's explanation for the dissolution phase. He seems to suggest that it happens when "a tribe was never really that different from the surrounding population, stops caring that much about its rallying flag, and doesn’t develop enough culture". Yeah, but why does that happen?

Sometimes the difference really wasn't so big. Imagine a minority that is not that much different from he majority, but is isolated by a language barrier, and maybe both sides have a habit of avoiding each other, which all contributes to creating myths about how the other side is completely weird. -- Then at some moment people start interacting with each other, the minority learns the majority language, and suddenly they all see they were quite similar. And then the old tribal boundaries dissolve, to be replaced by new boundaries, e.g. along hobbies or social class.

But I don't think this aplies to LW. I mean, when I found LW, I was shocked to see that there actually exist people like me. (Hard to describe what exactly that means, other than "I know it when I see it".) And now, a few years later, I still perceive the huge difference between me and most of the society.

However, now the LW website is not literally the only place where I can meet "LW-style" people, because the rationalist diaspora has grown, and now I can meet them e.g. at SSC. There are also the meetups, and there are people I have met on the meetups that I would stay in contact with even if the meetups would dissolve. So the LW website no longer has a monopoly on the "LW-style" people.

But there is also another way how people can find out that they are not "really that different from the surrounding population" and that they don't care that much about their rallying flag... and that is when the community gets dilluted by the outsiders who never cared about the rallying flag, and who are closer to the general population than the old members. Then the community as a whole gets closer to the original population even if the original members didn't.

This seems similar, but there is a difference. In the second model, there are the old members who still remain different, only their community was sabotaged by the new members who "came, saw, and conquered" (not necessarily by intention). Even if they would want to start over, now they have a coordination problem, because the original rallying flag is not a good Schelling point anymore, because people now associate it with the dilluted version of the community.

Unlike Scott's explanation that people in the atheist community became bored with being only atheists, and decided to become SJWs instead because it seemed like more fun... I think it was actually the second kind of process. That the atheist community was joined by people who didn't care about atheism that much (that's not a strawman; some of them admitted it afterwards), and mostly saw it as a place where they could recruit for their own ideas. They came, converted a few members, tried to take over the whole community, found a resistance, created a schism, and now keep attacking the original group in frustration. So it's not like the old-style atheists became bored with atheism, instead the boredom with atheism came from people who never strongly identified as atheists, except instrumentally for a short time during the takeover attempt.

So far LW was successful at holding off these kinds of attack (some people even doubt they actually happened). The actual danger for us comes from... not exactly "normies", but rather from people somewhere on the scale between "LW-style" people and "normies". There is no clear dividing lines. So while "normies" will avoid this site, it may be attractive to people who are only "90% LW-ish"... and if this is something like a bell curve, they will soon make a majority, then the site will become attractive to people who are "80% LW-ish", etc. and then suddenly it is not the old community of "LW-style" people anymore, but it's not obvious where the line should have been drawn, because the process was so fluent.

EDIT2:

What I mean by "X% LW-ish" is something like "I enjoy talking with the smart people whom I find on LW, and I find some of their topics quite interesting, but I don't care about the artificial intelligence, and I am not that obsessed with increasing my rationality. I don't have time to read Sequences, but here are some interesting links that I wanted to share, and I would also like to debate personal opinions on X, Y, and Z." There is nothing wrong with that per se, and on some days I would enjoy that kind of debates, but I don't want to see LW replaced by this. I would like to see that on a different website, or if that is not possible, at least on a different sub within LW.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-04-06T21:34:31.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I made a comment related to this on the SSC post about the rationalists I met in person in the Bay Area. I think it's the continued and extended version of what you stated above with some people in the Bay Area calling themselves rationalists while being in the 20% LW-ish (or lower) crowd. I primarily focused on the overcoming biases and getting stronger parts.

"I witnessed some trends in rationalists during a visit in the Bay Area recently that make far more sense to me now when seen through the lens of your generation descriptions. The instrumental rationalists seemed to fit into 3 Generation type groups.

Generation 1 agreed with 50% or greater of The Sequences and attempt to use the ideas from it, CFAR, and other sources in their daily lives to improve themselves. They seemed to take all of it quite seriously.

Generation 2 possessed a mild respect for CFAR, less respect for The Sequences themselves (and likely read next to none of it), made sure to make a comment of disdain for EY almost as if it was a prerequisite to confirm tribe membership (maybe part of the “i’m not one of THOSE rationalists”?), and had a larger interest in books that their friends recommended for overall self-improvement.

Generation 3 hadn’t read any of The Sequences, had read only a few blog posts, loosely understood some of the terms being regularly thrown around (near/far mode, far mode, object level, inside/outside view, map/territory etc.) but didn’t know the definitions well enough to actually use the mental actions of the techniques themselves, and considered themselves rationalists via group affiliation, showing up to events, and having friendships rather than being rationalists due to becoming more rational themselves and attempting to optimize their own lives and brains.

I had limited exposure to the Bay Area and would be very interested if anyone else thinks these categories actually match the territory there. This also leaves out epistemic rationalists (some of whom I met) who don’t fit into the three generations presented above."

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-07T12:09:06.377Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is interesting how a community built around the Sequences gradually changed into a community of people who treat mentioning the Sequences almost as a faux pas.

With the consequence that the ideas mentioned in the Sequences are more mentioned than used (well, those few of them that are mentioned at all), and rationality becomes a question of group affiliation.

There is an analogy with Christianity, except that what took Christianity 2000 years, we managed to achieve in 2000 days. Truly, the progress is accelerating exponencially, and the Singularity is near!

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-06T15:30:59.035Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you think LW's rallying flag is?

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-06T20:34:41.657Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The combination of:

  • transhumanism ("Friendly AI")
  • rationality ("overcoming biases")
  • improving oneself ("becoming stronger")
  • improving the world ("Friendly AI" + "raising the sanity waterline")

The individual elements are already out there -- various kinds of transhumanists and futurists; psychologists such as Kahneman; the whole self-improvement industry; and thousands of political or religious movements. But the problem is that self-improvement and world-changing movements are typically full of insanity. And dreaming about transhuman future is nice, but it's not obvious how people like me would contribute.

So, speaking for myself, what I hear in the Sequences is:

"You can become stronger, find like-minded friends, improve the world, and ultimately bring the sci-fi future... without having to sacrifice your own sanity. Actually, being smart and sane will be helpful."

(And the dissolution happens when people seem no longer interested in improving themselves, improving the world and bringing the sci-fi future; only in having a place to procrastinate by sharing news articles and nitpicking everything. Something like Mensa online.)

comment by moridinamael · 2016-04-06T17:15:17.245Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Candidates:

  • Loosely, "transhumanism", or, more basically, a belief that "radical" self-improvement or self-alteration is possible and desirable. It is no coincidence that people who find the idea of uploading their minds to computers appealing might also enjoy "life hacks." Both ideas involve self-modification. The very idea of "upgrading your rationality" presumes that a level of self-modification is possible, to an extent that a normal person might deny.

  • Interest in futurism, often in one utopian flavor or another. The concept of FAI turns bullshitting about the Singularity into something that feels like an actionable engineering problem rather than a purely sophistic exercise.

You could possibly draw a Venn diagram of three circles, labeled Futurism, Rationality, and Transhumanism. The three concepts overlap conceptually by default. The sweet spot where all three overlap contains the topics of FAI, Fun Theory, AI Risk in general.

Our propensity to subscribe to weird political theories can be viewed as the overlap between Futurism and Rationality, i.e. applying logical and dispassionate thinking toward social structures.

Our belief that it's even possible (and desirable) to "raise the sanity waterline" lies at the intersection of Transhumanism and Rationality.

The overlap of Futurism and Transhumanism is too obvious to belabor.

This is a lot of words reiterating basically the idea of Eliezer's Empirical Cluster in Personspace, which he defines extensively as "atheist/libertarian/technophile/sf-fan/early-adopter/programmer/etc". But, I think a lot of our now-prominent diaspora bloggers don't fit into that personspace very well, as he defined it.

So, if I had to really drill down to the crux of it, I would say the rallying flag looks something like a default disposition towards taking ideas seriously, plus an assumption that radical self-change is possible. Everything else just falls out of these psychological stances.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-06T17:23:51.537Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're describing the common interests of the tribe, but that's a different thing than the rallying flag.

Since we're operating within Yvain's framework, we'll use his definition which is

The rallying flag is the explicit purpose of the tribe. It’s usually a belief, event, or activity that get people with that specific pre-existing difference together and excited.

HPMoR, for example, is (was?) a rallying flag for a subset of the LW tribe. But I don't think a "default disposition" would qualify (Yvain would call it a stage 1 "pre-existing difference") and an "assumption" is very doubtful as well.

comment by turchin · 2016-04-05T11:04:06.636Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Review of state-of-the-arts in artificial intelligence. Present and future of AI.

Vladimir Shakirov

http://immortality-roadmap.com/review-of-state-of-the-arts.pdf

The article has some interesting insights in latest deep learning successes. It is an example of hyper-optimistic thinking about AI timing (which is hyper-pessimistic, if we look on risks), as 2020-2030 for the authors seems like a plausible dates of AI arrival.

Some quotes: "The difference between year 2011 and year 2016 is enormous. The difference between 2016 and 2021 would be even much more enormous because we have now 1-2 orders of magnitude more researchers and companies deeply interested in DL. For example, when machines would start to translate almost comparably to human professionals another billions of dollars would flow into deep learning based NLP. The same holds true for most spheres, for example drug design [150]"

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-21T01:34:27.478Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, I've simply tried it both ways myself.

comment by SquirrelInHell · 2016-04-20T03:51:59.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From experience, it results in better life quality if you call out bulls**ters without being angry inside about it.

comment by Gyrodiot · 2016-04-05T13:17:36.173Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(meta: I'm not sure if I should make a Discussion post for this, so I'm posting here. Feedback most welcome)

I'm exploring the following hypothesis : sometimes, you have to give up constructive actions for the sake of focus.

Most productivity methods suggest the obvious, to keep wasteful activities in check. It could be gaming, chatting, checking news websites. They all share a common trait: you don't gain any significant utility (nor money, nor fun, nor rest) for spending more time on it. You achieve the same result by spending a little time on it, rather than a full day.

With productive activites, time spent and value created aren't proportional. Sometimes you're lacking energy, inspiration, and it's okay: you don't have to work yourself ragged.

If you have multiple tasks to be achieved in parallel, you should treat them as sequential anyway. Focusing on one task at a time yields better results than task switching all the time.

Problems arise when you find inspiration, or a sudden peak of interest for a certain task which is, useful in isolation, but which doesn't fit in your schedule. Maybe a discussion with a friend sparked the idea of a story to write. Maybe you're considering moving some furniture because you're well-rested and full of energy.

Even if you could be maximally productive for a given useful task, you should treat it as a wasteful activity if you have something else you planned to do. If the idea sounds good, write it down. If it's really good, hype will come back another time. If you're energetic, do the most physical thing you had planned to do. Energy will come back another time.

The goal is not to add another task on your current schedule and mess with the plan you've set for the day, like you'd do with "classical" wasteful activities. You can convince yourself easily that news websites can wait another day. The unintuitive part is this also holds with most productive activities, even though you're training yourself to not defer work!

comment by Lumifer · 2016-04-05T14:48:03.830Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You might be interested in Marc Andreessen's approach which includes things like

Let's start with a bang: don't keep a schedule. He's crazy, you say!

I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't -- this simple tip alone can make a huge difference in productivity.

By not keeping a schedule, I mean: refuse to commit to meetings, appointments, or activities at any set time in any future day.

As a result, you can always work on whatever is most important or most interesting, at any time.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-06T08:38:31.553Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is a risk of doing "urgent, but not important" tasks, and never getting to the "important, but not urgent" tasks.

An example of an "important, but not urgent" task would be putting your money into an index fund to save for retirement. There is never a pressing reason to do it today instead of tomorrow. On the other hand, debates on social networks always give you something to do right now, and replying a few days later when everybody has already moved on is not the same thing.

This risk is also present when putting items into one's calendar, if you only plan a short time ahead. It could be reduced by a hierarchical approach where you would first list the things you want to achieve this year, and then continue planning this month, and the individual days. So you would notice that you e.g. wanted to learn Spanish in 2016, it is April now, and you still haven't started the first lesson.

comment by ScottL · 2016-04-07T11:56:10.577Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm exploring the following hypothesis : sometimes, you have to give up constructive actions for the sake of focus.

I would try to make the hypothesis a bit more concrete. Something like: flow, immersion and engagement are all important factors in productivity. An implication of this is: (your hypothesis here). You should of course look at the literature and explain what flow, engagement etc. is and how it relates to productivity.

If you want this to be interesting, then you should probably also try to find some implications that people normally don't think about because they're not strategic. Maybe, things like that you should: remove clutter, have the right perspective, exercise, practice, gamify things, learn how to beat akrasia, learn when its a good idea to relax etc.

The cfar class called turbo charging training which I described here seems to be related to your hypothesis . The underlying idea of it is the rule of intensity which states that the experience of intensity or effort that you are expending to learn something corresponds with the rate at which you are learning it.

comment by Brillyant · 2016-04-06T21:39:45.662Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

sometimes, you have to give up constructive actions for the sake of focus.

This seems obvious.

comment by Fluttershy · 2016-04-04T07:48:10.352Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Many people are aware of Alicorn's post on polyhacking. There are a few things which have been written on bihacking, though I haven't seen bihacking discussed within the rationalist community as widely as polyhacking has been. Bihacking is the process of actively trying to become bisexual.

First, there are a couple sources which suggest that people can have "epiphanies", after which they become bisexual, or perhaps just recognize their latent bisexuality. This may be due to the fact that they are able to tell themselves different stories about their feelings towards others after having an epiphany. Here are two relevant links:

  • Ozy's Notes on the Success of Bihacking is the first post I'd recommend to anyone interested in bihacking.
  • This discussion also supports the idea that the stories people tell themselves about their feelings are more important than their feelings are in determining attraction.

Secondly, some people have had mild successes with working towards bisexuality by slowly starting to explore new experiences:

  • This highly upvoted comment strongly encourages this strategy.
  • This comment does too.
  • Both of the above two links focused on bihacking with online material. However, it may be easier to bihack via establishing a comfortable level of intimacy with your dispreferred gender of people (e.g. via cuddling a whole bunch of people), than it is to bihack via material.
comment by Viliam · 2016-04-04T08:44:22.852Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

To avoid only reading filtered evidence, people interested in polyhacking might also look at this SSC thread.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-04-04T19:28:43.455Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And this one.

comment by philh · 2016-04-05T13:29:03.101Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how that's related to polyhacking either.

comment by philh · 2016-04-04T15:41:13.398Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how that thread is related to polyhacking? It's related to polyamory, but doesn't seem to be particularly focused on it, and polyhacking is another step removed.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-06T08:27:50.257Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Polyamory is the whole motivation for polyhacking, I guess, so that "another step" is actually very small.

And polyamory is usually advertised here as an opportunity to have more sexual freedom and be a part of the happy rationalist family. So it seems relevant to note that it may also come with a price, and that even the happy rationalist family is not perfect in avoiding the price.

(My personal opinion is that if you are 20 and you are not planning to have kids during the nearest decade, go poly. There is almost nothing to lose, because the probability of staying with the same partner ten years later is low, so you might as well share them now and get something nice in return. But I predict that as soon as children start getting born, most poly relationships will fall apart.)

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T09:03:21.793Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know whether it's a real issue, but if you are 20, not planning to have kids in the next 10 years, but think it possible that after that you might want to settle down monogamously and have children, then going poly now could make that second stage harder when the time comes.

(This is an empirical question. I don't have the data to know what the answer is. Perhaps others here do.)

comment by philh · 2016-04-06T12:33:24.760Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like, if someone's interested in polyhacking, they've probably already looked at evidence about whether or not to go poly. It feels somehow off to classify "polyamory, pro or con" as being about polyhacking. For one thing it's easy to find the former, but hard to find the latter, and presenting the former as the latter makes it even harder.

It also comes across as pushing an agenda, though I don't think that was your intent.

comment by Val · 2016-04-04T15:01:21.053Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I fear a time will come when people who don't want to try polyhacking bihacking will be labeled as homophobic. And that will just further dilute the term.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T13:51:50.112Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When you write "polyhacking", do you actually mean "bihacking"? If not, what you say you fear seems to me a very odd thing to fear.

Actually, I would be quite surprised if (within, let's say, the next 40 years, and assuming no huge technological changes that would affect this) heterosexuality + unwillingness to try to become bi were enough to get anyone widely labelled as homophobic. (I'm sure there are already people who would apply that label, but not enough to have much impact.)

[EDITED to add:] Just to clarify, the point of the second paragraph is that I find Val's fear not-terribly-plausible even if "bihacking" is what s/he meant.

comment by Val · 2016-04-06T19:58:21.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are right, I meant bihacking, my mistake.

My concern was based on the observation how the word phobia (especially in cases of homophobia and xenophobia) is increasingly applied to cases of mild dislike, or even to cases of failing to show open support.

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T21:42:06.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that -phobia gets applied much more broadly than my etymological sensitivities would prefer, and I expect that (unfortunately) to continue. But what I find unlikely isn't anything to do with word usage; I just don't expect that any time in the near future it will be widely held that you mistreat any group by not going out of your way to make yourself want to have sex with them.

I could be wrong, of course. And, as I already said, I'm sure there are some people who hold that kind of position even now. But it doesn't seem to me like the kind of silliness that would ever attract a lot of support.

comment by bogus · 2016-04-04T11:29:30.578Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are a few things which have been written on bihacking, though I haven't seen bihacking discussed within the rationalist community as widely as polyhacking has been. Bihacking is the process of actively trying to become bisexual.

Note that selection effects are going to be especially relevant here. People who happen to be interested in becoming bi are probably more sexually fluid than average, and so may find this sort of 'hacking' somewhat useful. Do keep in mind though that plenty of people try to change their sexual orientation in some way and fail, sometimes with detrimental side-effects.

comment by Fluttershy · 2016-04-04T19:32:18.951Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

sometimes with detrimental side-effects

This is a concern that it would be good to explore, and not one that I've thought much about. Do you have a sense for what detrimental side-effects people have experienced after trying to bihack?

It might be difficult to figure out how prevalent these side-effects are, but that could be a good thing for people interested in bihacking to look into, too.

comment by bogus · 2016-04-05T07:00:29.166Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not so much for bihacking, but definitely for trying to affect one's sexual orientation in a more general sense. Mostly this involves gay people trying to become straight, or straight people trying to become gay. (Note that opportunistic same-sex behavior is actually pretty common wherever there is rigid sex segregation, e.g. in fundamentalist Muslim countries, or among prison inmates. But it's not like these folks are happy having gay sex; and indeed, they will go right back to their previous sexual orientation as soon as the rigidly-segregated environment is removed.)

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-08T07:28:16.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No gwern sub-media thread for April? Another Diasporist leaving for good?

comment by gwern · 2016-04-12T18:19:21.423Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was hit by a triple-whammy at the end of March: traveling, sick, and laptop power cord broke. So the newsletter was the last thing on my mind to do.

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-13T08:07:36.987Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No worry, I was just anxious because I find it one of the most interesting piece I read on LW every month.

comment by MrMind · 2016-04-11T07:11:08.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, it has happened... /me very happy!

comment by [deleted] · 2016-04-08T00:17:54.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  • Remembering the existence of the term ‘compersion’ gives me hope that I may overcome some jealousy I have felt lately :) At the back of my mind I fear the only reason the girl I'm dating is into me is because of transference from her ex boyfriend who's vibe I apparently give off, convenience since I live close by, and the 'rebound' of a recent breakup

  • Why would you take head of information that doesn't help you? it's up to you

  • Effective Altruist? No, I participate in the effective altruism community because I'm Hindu and needa game the Karma yoga system. Why not outreach to Hindu communities, not just skeptics groups?

  • Yoga is dangerous. Don't do it as a substitutde for physical therapy rehabilitation exercises (like for back pain!). > An extensive survey of yoga practitioners in Australia showed that about 20% had suffered some physical injury while practicing yoga. In the previous 12 months 4.6% of the respondents had suffered an injury producing prolonged pain or requiring medical treatment. Headstands, shoulder stands, lotus and half lotus (seated cross-legged position), forward bends, backward bends, and handstands produced the greatest number of injuries.[239]

  • [MAXMINCON Principle(bama.ua.edu/~sprentic/607 outline-maxmincon.html)

  • 'Neuropsychological research about the order of events in brain functioning has revealed that emotions precede reason and perception and hence some emotional repsponses and memories may be formed without any conscious thoughts (LeDoux 1998). Therefore, the cofounders of the Human Givens Institute argue that it is the emotional arousal that causes blacka nd white thinking (HGIPRN 2009). It is widely known that evidence-based CBT is underpinned by the premise that the opposite cocurs, that is, thoughts precede emotions. However, arguably, and in line with LeDoux's (1998) findings, and the APET model which drew upon them, there area great number of things that practioniers may do before challenging faulty thinking, as this may be too taxing to begin with for young people. Order of events in brain functioning

  • Organ donation registered-only party

  • Australians can sense the lack of good governance, and minor parties are becoming increasingly popular (among some voters) because none of the major parties (LNP, ALP, Greens) are able to represent those voters. When you think about it, a system of democracy that isn’t able to deal with a diverse votership can’t be that good at the end of the day.

  • What is the evidence for and against slum clearance?

  • I recently used Doodle to schedule a meeting. It only let's you schedule for particular days, whereas need to meet lets you schedule by the hour - way better, instant regret

  • Anyone remember that monopoly pc game with the nice music?

  • will rough skateboard grit that scratches your hands when you carry it toughen them..is that even bad?

  • don't reuse floss

  • heard of dynamic deconstructive therapy for BPD?

By repeatedly recounting recent social interactions, identifying emotions, and putting them into perspective, DDP is hypothesized to activate higher-level cortical pathways, thereby strengthening them and remediating deficits in how emotions are processed in the brain. The analogy used is to physical therapy following stroke; physical therapy repeatedly activates motor neuron pathways in the brain, thereby strengthening them and restoring control over muscle functioning and voluntary movement.

  • can you explain how neurogenesis-based treatments for depression would work...to a ten year old?
  • Why can't I get my receipts sent me to by email, itemised, rather than paper copies. My bank card could carry that detail.

  • I wish my mum would understand this fact sheet on family violence :'(

  • Violent virtue:

'Tetlock uses a different “functionalist metaphor” to describe his work on how people react to threats to sacred values—and how they take pains to structure situations so as to avoid open or transparent trade-offs involving sacred values.[21][22][23][24] Real-world implications of this claim are explored largely in business-school journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research, California Management Review, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. This research argues that most people recoil from the specter of relativism: the notion that the deepest moral-political values are arbitrary inventions of mere mortals desperately trying to infuse moral meaning into an otherwise meaningless universe.[25][26][27][28] Rather, humans prefer to believe that they have sacred values that provide firm foundations for their moral-political opinions. People can become very punitive “intuitive prosecutors” when they feel sacred values have been seriously violated, going well beyond the range of socially acceptable forms of punishment when given chances to do so covertly'

  • political psychology or psychological politics?

Tetlock has a long-standing interest in the tensions between political and politicized psychology. He argues that most political psychologists tacitly assume that, relative to political science, psychology is the more basic discipline in their hybrid field.[30][31] In this view, political actors—be they voters or national leaders—are human beings whose behavior should be subject to fundamental psychological laws that cut across cultures and historical periods. Although he too occasionally adopts this reductionist view of political psychology in his work, he has also raised the contrarian possibility in numerous articles and chapters that reductionism sometimes runs in reverse—and that psychological research is often driven by ideological agenda (of which the psychologists often seem to be only partly conscious). Tetlock has advanced variants of this argument in articles on the links between cognitive styles and ideology (the fine line between rigid and principled)[32][33] as well as on the challenges of assessing value-charged concepts like symbolic racism[34] and unconscious bias (is it possible to be a “Bayesian bigot”?).[35][36][37][38] Tetlock has also co-authored papers on the value of ideological diversity in psychological and social science research.[39][40] One consequence of the lack of ideological diversity in high-stakes, soft-science fields is frequent failures of what Tetlock calls turnabout tests.[41][42][43]

Tetlock argues it is virtually impossible to disentangle the factual assumptions that people are making about human beings from the value judgments people are making about end-state goals, such as equality and efficiency.

  • Why syncretism outperforms ideologies - syncretists are foxes and ideologues are hedgehogs

  • When Flux is implemented, it will take the form of an app you can access right from your computer or smartphone. You’ll be given a vote on every bill put before Federal Parliament, and can use that vote immediately on the issue at hand, give it to a trusted third party to cast on your behalf, or save it for an issue you care more passionately about later. We seek to dismantle political apathy, by empowering the disenfranchised, and motivating a new generation of innovative Australians to take responsibility for their society. We are excited about a democracy for the information age. One which fosters constructive criticism, encourages innovation, and empowers our best and brightest.

comment by banx · 2016-04-08T06:21:33.115Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone remember that monopoly pc game with the nice music?

The jazzy music? I played that a lot.

don't reuse floss

I think most of the answers there imply that one shouldn't use floss picks (unless you use many per day)? That's unfortunate.

isn't the nurturant parent model blatantly the best parenting style, obviously?

Seems to me like it's the best. But I can imagine being convinced otherwise by data. It also depends on what you're trying to optimize for. The generally agreed-upon answer to that question has likely changed over time.

edit: fixed formatting

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T13:34:11.214Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Comment spammer alert.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2016-04-06T20:42:50.476Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Removed (both the comment and the user).

comment by gjm · 2016-04-06T21:43:46.632Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T06:50:36.375Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oftentimes, I am confused because I didn't lock in my algorithm. This makes my behavior incongruent.

comment by Elo · 2016-04-04T08:35:56.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a complicated post and was confusing to work out; you should consider more instructions.

something like:
"I am looking for advice on a few times where I seem to follow various existing algorithms that should lead to success in different circumstances. But sometimes the general advice conflicts with itself.

I have formatted the sub-posts to this one with - general area; then specific question; then an example."

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T06:51:14.907Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Specific examples go here (add yours), so they can be discussed separately

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T07:17:50.439Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Self-promotion

Should I just apply the counter-signalling model?

Sometimes you can win so big, that you need not say anything. Other times, you DO need to say something to be noticed. The problem is, nobody exactly LIKES a braggart. The question is, how do you find an appropriate weighting between these two? Does this change if you've already managed to win big in one different field?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-04T12:41:55.765Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth, Nassim Taleb and Eric Raymond both do quite a bit of bragging, and they both have fan bases. I don't know about Taleb, but Eric also has friends.

I'm not sure what it takes to make this work.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-04T08:56:10.625Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depending on situation, you might ask (or even hire) someone else to do the bragging on your behalf.

Have someone else say "You should all pay attention to Arshuni, the most awesome person in the world!", then act like "Oh, you are embarassing me, I am just an ordinary person", then have them list your specific achievements like "Arshuni is always so adorably humble, but in fact he achieved X, Y, and Z, isn't that awesome?", and then you conclude it like "I think anyone could have done the same thing (there are many other people who have Nobel price, too), and I also wouldn't be able to do it without a bit of luck and a lot of help from my good friends (not that I am bragging about also having great social skills)... but please let's change the topic now, and focus on the original issue of our meeting here..."

Must be done with some tact, and adjusted for specific culture or subculture, but I think many successful people do this. I think the typical solutions are (a) have allies who do this service for you, and in return you do it for them on a different day; or (b) hire professionals: art critics, or PR agencies; in addition to money, you could also pay them by flattery or sex.

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T07:13:19.696Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unsolicited advice/interventions

You can really save someone a lot of time, effort, or pain. Or help them improve.

OTOH, sometimes you ARE wrong, unsolicited advice does not always come across well, and... well, you probably gave them advice because you care about them, but also, being the guy who always knows better (whether true or not, rarely matters) does not help your relationship.

I think giving advice only if asked, and otherwise, rewarding good behavior is A solution. But for example non-alcoholist me thinks I would prefer people to take a more interventionist approach, if I were to regularly take drinking to an excess.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-04T23:57:17.581Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A good first step isn't to give advice but to start asking questions about the issue and listen empathically.

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T07:06:42.786Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Revenge. It does not often come up in my life.

I think the supposed best strategy would be to be known to be a vengeful person, who ruins you if you cross him, but only if it is really a valid reason, so people are not afraid to enter a social relationship with you. (only hating for the right reasons)

OTOH, do people actually differentiate at this level? If I hear someone dealt sweet revenge, I am not sure my next question is necessarily going to be 'was it for the right reason?'

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-04T23:55:55.159Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When it comes to revenge I would focus more on what's good for my own emotional health than about how it looks like to outsiders. Don't invest too much effort into image management. Having good emotional health results in many situations where you look good without you having to manage your image.

comment by Arshuni · 2016-04-04T07:01:16.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In telling stories about acquaintances, should I be explicit with names? It helps follow the story, makes it more personal, and follow up stories paint a better overall picture. On introductions, 'Oh, I've heard a lot about you!' is great, too. On the other hand, sometimes you end up telling stories that may be slightly embarrassing for some concerned. In being explicit with their names, you may end up making the recipient less likely to open up to you (or I would assume so: I don't remember if I ever decided to be less open to someone merely because that, even after being surprised by hearing a story back from a third person. OTOH, I did definitely think deeply about my relationship with people who have a habit of shit-talking people behind their backs.)

Any other considerations? Which would you consider more appropriate?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-04-04T12:38:08.904Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If names are needed to keep a story clear, you can use made-up names.

comment by Viliam · 2016-04-04T09:10:44.295Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Depending on what level you are playing at. The safe strategy is to mention specific people only if the story reflects unilaterally positively on them.

Because even if you think the story reflects on average positively for them, you are at risk that they will calculate the averages differently than you (e.g. the embarassing part may be their very sensitive spot), or more likely, that the story may reach them in a modified form, where the embarassing parts are remembered and exaggerated, while the positive parts are left out. But still the person will say that 'this is the story you told them', and upon confrontation it will be awkward to explain that "yeah, I kinda said that, but not exactly like this, and also I said this and that" when the target person is already angry at you.

Generally, you should assume that 'the world is smaller than you expect', that is, once in a while you will learn afterwards that two random people actually know each other. Most of the time this is not the case, but when it is, it could come costly.

comment by username2 · 2016-04-05T10:30:53.768Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ask yourself why you are telling a story. If what you want is to share a good story, don't tell their names. If you want to inform a listener about specific actions of a person, say, to warn them, then you have to tell their names

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-04-04T23:54:21.163Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In telling stories about acquaintances, should I be explicit with names? It helps follow the story, makes it more personal, and follow up stories paint a better overall picture.

It depends on the context. Do you think the person would want their name associated with the story? Have you heard the context in a confidential setting?

How confidential is the setting in which you are speaking? If I'm talking to my girlfriend I try to use names for most stories that aren't confidential. If I'm talking to strangers I will less likely use names for sensitive stories. If I'm talking on the LW I don't use any names for stories I tell unless the person in question signaled they are okay with the story being public. I don't use the name of my girlfriend in this paragraph.

comment by Elo · 2016-04-04T08:29:28.911Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have tried with or without names; for me it would depend how close I am to the person I am telling the story to.

And depend if the 3rd party is known in positive/negative light. i.e. story that involves an ex to a current partner.

I think you might be over thinking this because for the most part it doesn't matter, however if you are developing a rule of thumb; if a story gives positive credit - name the person, if not positive, skip the name.