Open Thread, Jun. 1 - Jun. 7, 2015

post by Gondolinian · 2015-06-01T00:45:52.439Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 203 comments

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.


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203 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-06-05T00:46:47.243Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I just successfully

  • checked out the LessWrong git project
  • setup everything as required
  • provisioned the vagrant box
  • fixed one broken dependency (BeautifulSoup 3.2.1 instead of 3.0.7a)
  • run the webserver (paster) within an Eclipse PyDev environment
  • seen LW locally!

Great! Why all that? I consider forking the LW reddit codebase for my own blog - mainly because I didn't find a commenting system that suited me. I may push back improvements into the main trunk. We will see. Just one question: What do I have to respect when using the codebase? Are there any licenses I have to take care of beside CPAL? http://opensource.org/licenses/CPAL-1.0 Does anybody know?

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2015-06-01T01:44:44.622Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm playing around with writing a Chrome extension that identifies countries of the world in the browser and marks them up with expandable, at-a-glance summary data for that country, like GDP per capita, composite index scores (HDI, MPI, etc.), literacy rate, principal exports and so on. I find myself regularly looking this up on Wikipedia anyway, and figured I'd remove the inconvenience of doing so.

This example probably isn't that useful for everyone, but it got me wondering what other sets of things could be marked up in the browser in this way. Another example that occurred to me was legislature voting records, where a similar plugin would provide easy visibility of how elected representatives voted on legislation. Again, not useful for everyone, but I could imagine political junkies getting some use out of it.

Such a set of mark-uppable entities would have to be either identifiable by format (like an ISBN) where the data could be fetched from a remote source, or a finite list of a few hundred items (like countries), where the data could be stored locally. What kinds of things would you like this sort of visibility on in the browser? Is there a set of entities you find yourself tiresomely looking up data for over and over again?

(Partly inspired by the Dictionary of Numbers)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T16:03:23.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Names/EmailAddresses/Phone numbers of people can be useful. Both by drawing information from my contact book but also in the way https://rapportive.com/ works.

Unit conversion would be interesting. If someone writes the price of 5£ however over that price to see the conversion to Euro and dollar would be useful.

Whenever I read temperature noted in °F, I would appreciate being able to hover over it to see a conversion into the sensible format of °C. The same goes for units like inches. When I read a time noted in EST I would like automatic conversion into GMT+1 with happens to be where I live.

comment by bbleeker · 2015-06-02T10:06:44.433Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I use autoConvert for that on Chrome.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:38:23.250Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would like a Chrome or Firefox extension that notices when I type something like a hundred m2 or 100 m2 into a comment box (there are not so many grammatically valid combinations so it is not too hard) and it turns it into a link saying 1076 sqft, for example linking to a Google search, they do the conversion automatically when I type "100 m2 to sqft" into Google. I really dislike non-metric units, but I have to be realistic, when I want to discuss say what is a good size for a family of 3 on the English speaking Internet, I guess better cut some slack for imperial units.

comment by Cariyaga · 2015-06-02T07:32:52.581Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This would also help those of us that were raised with the imperial rather than metric system acclimate to their usage in approximating values.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2015-06-01T15:12:21.650Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still sad that there isn't a dictionary of numbers for Firefox, it sounds amazing but it isn't enough to make me switch to Chrome just for that.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T07:23:33.139Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There was a chrome extension advertised on LW a while ago that did this for "alternate points of view" - but it was crowdsourced, and didn't have enough links to be useful. But an automated version of that (that say, detected keywords, and posted up links) would be great.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T15:03:18.269Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think you mean http://rbutr.com/

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T07:35:42.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeup, that was it!

comment by eeuuah · 2015-06-06T23:27:59.155Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This kind of thing sounds very useful especially if easily extensible. How are you planning to make the ui for this work? I think it would be fairly challenging to make it both easily available without being obnoxiously overpresent and am interested to hear your approach to the problem.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2015-06-07T01:02:21.432Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For the country data example, every instance of a country name is prepended with a small icon (for development purposes this is currently an obnoxious red X, but I plan to replace this with a neutral-coloured globe or something), and the name itself is wrapped in some custom style (currently boldface, but could be anything). Clicking on the icon places a container with the relevant data on the page, offset to the same location as the icon, (giving the illusion of the icon "expanding" to show the data). Clicking on the icon again, or away from the container, removes it.

In terms of extensibility, all the data is in a local JSON file, and the format of the data container is an HTML template that might eventually live in the same file. I'm also planning on having local image assets (maps and flags). This could all be swapped out for anything, or even obtained from a web service.

comment by eeuuah · 2015-06-08T13:01:23.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah that seems like it would work pretty well for the case of country data. Let us know how development goes!

comment by chaosmage · 2015-06-01T19:00:09.051Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The Elon Musk biography that just came out is quite entertaining, but I didn't any significant actionable knowledge in it.

There's an interesting turn at the end. The author thought at the beginning of the project that Musk was particularly terrible with people. At the end, he says he thinks he gets it: Musk has basically just calculated the work of his companies to be more important that the feelings of its employees, and to go against that calculation would be illogical, which for Musk makes it kind of physically painful. So he'd rather put someone down in 5 seconds than waste another minute that he has a better use for on politeness or common decency. And it isn't that he has no empathy, he just has more empathy for mankind as a whole than for the guy standing in front of him, and he's drawing logical conclusions from that difference.

Now first of all I admire that. But this reminds me that even if I could be that consequentialist, most people would still find it hard to recognize me as one, and comparatively easy to just put me in the asshole category.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T20:29:02.209Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And it isn't that he has no empathy, he just has more empathy for mankind as a whole than for the guy standing in front of him, and he's drawing logical conclusions from that difference.

That's a risky game. It makes the company culture less enjoyable. That makes hiring harder and can motivate people to quit. Musk can afford this because of the strength of the vision of his company, that makes people to work there but it's still not clear that it's optimal.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T08:25:30.750Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But it is clear that Musk isn't the only highly successful entrepreneur that used this strategy successfully Jobs was the same way.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-02T11:53:14.710Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that both Musk and Jobs likely act in a way that can't be summarized in a paragraph.

If someone tries to copy them based on the idea that his time is more important than the feeling of his employees the person is likely to mess things up.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2015-06-02T11:46:23.417Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basically the ends don't justify the means (Among Humans). We are nowhere near smart enough to think those kinds of decisions (or any decisions really) through past all their consequences (and neither is Elon Musk).

It is possible that Musk is right and (in this specific case) it really is a net benefit to mankind to not take one minute to phrase something in a way that it is less hurtful, but in the history of mankind I would expect that the vast majority of people who believed this were actually just assholes trying to justify their behavior. And besides, how many hurt feelings are 55 seconds of Elon Musks time really worth from a utilitarian standpoint? I don't know, but I doubt Musk has done any calculations on it.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-06-02T00:00:59.865Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is a risky game but there are many factors to consider. I used to work for someone who was quite similar in that they would go completely off the rails if someone underperformed (I never got yelled at, thankfully). I actually never observed resentment or quitting due to this behavior (at least, it was never the quoted reason). However, I did observe that when mistakes happened, people tended to try to hide it much harder. There also grew a culture where people would hide the mistakes of their coworkers even if the mistakes were quite serious. All in all, I don't think productivity was much higher than other workplaces I'd been in.

My story is anecdotal of course and I'd love to see actual statistics comparing 'high pressure' workplaces with those that are more lenient.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:41:15.372Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The general problem with it is that it can be used too easily as an excuse. Hm, I think we should try to find the meta of this, this looks useful. Basically imagine a graph where various human situations are on the X and the usefulness of a given thing in that situation is the Y. And another graph, where the usefulness of that thing as an excuse is on Y. And if the second tends to be higher, that is not a good thing.

Another meta: there is a difference between thinking I figure X is good and thinking I am entitled to decide whether X is good.

For example the good old trolley problem. Pushing the fat man is the almost obviously right choice looking at that situation only ("shut up and multiply", feelings like OMG I am a murderer now do not matter as much as lives), but it is highly dangerous if people feel like they are entitled to take such choices, they are entitled to sacrifice someone without their consent for the greater good. This is a very different thing. It generates an excuse for others in far different situations.

A truly saintly person would push the fat man then demand to be punished, because the choice was right but he was not entitled to make such a choice and others should not feel entitled to either.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-03T02:11:09.346Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A truly saintly person would push the fat man then demand to be punished, because the choice was right but he was not entitled to make such a choice and others should not feel entitled to either.

Saintly in what sense? From a consequentialist point of view, there is no point in punishing the pusher (and in any case "entitled to make the choice" is not a consequentialist concept). From a deontological point of view, the pusher shouldn't push the man in the first place.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T23:06:07.617Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a fairly deep and important issue and I think you may be taking it too lightly. Good choices vs. entitlements to make choices are absolutely at the root at the whole history of civilization as such. We may easily agree that putting violent criminals into prison is a good choice, but if we all feel entitled to judge 1) who is a violent criminal 2) who belongs to prison, we are quickly back to the system of mutual vendettas that characterizes pre-civilized life. So the idea that beyond the strictest needs of self-defense, we don't claim any entitlement to take any sort of a violent or coercive action but leave it to judges, policemen etc. is that lies at the heart of civilization. (Of course, democracy makes it a bit of a farce, but whatever.)

Same story here. Sacrificing 1 life to save 5 is the right choice, but it is highly dangerous if people feel they are entitled to kill others just because they think they will serve the greater good that way. Every murderer could manufacture an excuse and could try to plead having made a honest mistake at worst. Thus, while it is the right choice, having rules that allow making choices of this kind are not good rules. This is what it boils down to.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2015-06-02T15:52:32.319Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how much I agree with the whole "punishing correct behavior to avoid encouraging it" (how does the saintly person know that this is the right thing for him to do if it is wrong for others to follow his example), but I think the general point about tracking whose utility (or lives in this case) you are sacrificing is a good one.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T23:25:53.858Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, my point is that, that the decision is correct, but believing we are allowed to make such decisions is less correct in general, and rules that allow them are suboptimal. E.g. we can believe putting violent criminals into prison is correct, and we can simultaneously believe only the criminal justice system should be allowed to do this and not every person feeling entitled to build a prison in their basement and imprisoning anyone they judge to be violent.

comment by 4hodmt · 2015-06-08T17:46:16.818Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pushing the fat man is the wrong choice because it forces fat men everywhere to constantly be on the lookout for consequentialists, and causes moral hazard by encouraging lax safety around railroads. Consequentialism is only indisputably the correct morality when everybody is perfectly rational and everybody has the same goals. In reality people have differing terminal goals and perfect rationality is impossible because of limited computational ability. Deontology is superior because it is far more predictable. Nobody has to waste brain cycles on avoiding being a convenient victim for some dubious "greater good".

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-01T19:10:04.932Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I admire that

For the record, I don't. The "I'm too important to pay attention to little people. They are nothing but tools" attitude leads to bad places.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2015-06-03T13:06:22.727Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Being a pure consequentialist will not give off the signals that a socially acceptable person, who leans towards consequentialism, will. To predict someone's ethical behaviour, some stronger signals could be checked e.g. did the guy ask himself how to create the greatest good for humanity and then go and do that in about five different industries? If so, probably high on ethics.

The question about people skills is a good question to ask when you want to predict someone's social behaviour, but that is not the same as ethics, which empathy is often a proxy for.

comment by ThisSpaceAvailable · 2015-06-02T03:49:08.514Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Consequentialist thinking has a general tendency to get one labeled an asshole.

e.g.

"Hey man, can you spare a dollar?" "If I did have a dollar to spare, I strongly doubt that giving it to you would be the most effective use of it." "Asshole."

Although I think that it's dangerous to think that you can accurately estimate the cost/benefit of tact; I think most people underestimate how much effect it has.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:46:02.255Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Except if the priority of consequences is ranked as 1. prevent x-risk 2. be popular and you act accordingly :)

comment by chaosmage · 2015-06-02T11:08:07.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree and you shouldn't be downvoted.

The flip side is that if you're not consequentialist, consequentialists will label you a fool.

When I'm labeling myself, "fool" feels less punishing than "asshole", but I think when it's coming from others I'd rather look like an asshole than like a fool. I do wonder how much that is an influence on my consequentialist leanings.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-06-05T22:48:34.563Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have my genome data from both 23andMe and BGI. I am wondering what to make of it. BGI reports about thirty times as many SNPs as 23andMe. 23andMe: 598897, BGI: 19695817.

Of these, 475801 are reported by both. I looked to see how well they agree with each other, and summarised the results as a count, for each occurring pair of results, of how often that pair occurred. In descending numerical order, and classifying them by type of match or mismatch, this is what I get. (No individual SNPs are identified here.)

87565 CC CC
86952 GG GG
75289 TT TT
75087 AA AA
31069 CT CT
30817 AG GA
27542 CT TC
27484 AG AG
 6818 AC CA
 6767 GT GT
 6373 AC AC
 6297 GT TG
  270 CG GC
  251 CG CG
  146 AT TA
  138 AT AT

  420 C C
  402 G G
  336 A A
  291 T T

  582 CT --
  576 AG --
  426 CC --
  399 GG --
  348 -- CC
  340 -- GG
  330 TT --
  316 AA --
  270 -- AA
  240 -- TT
  139 GT --
  136 AC --
  123 -- GA
  121 -- CT
  113 -- TG
  110 -- TC
  104 -- GT
  101 -- CA
   93 -- AC
   86 -- AG
   26 -- --
    5 -- AT
    4 CG --
    4 -- GC
    3 -- TA
    2 AT --
    2 -- CG

   14 C --
   13 T --
    9 G --
    8 -- C
    7 A --
    5 -- G
    2 -- T

   51 CC CT
   33 AG AA
   32 AG GG
   31 GG GA
   31 CT TT
   30 CT CC
   25 TT TC
   23 AA AG
   18 GG AG
   15 CC TC
   15 AA GA
   11 TT TG
   11 CC CA
    9 TT GT
    9 TT CT
    9 AC AA
    7 CC AC
    7 AC CC
    6 GT TT
    6 GT GG
    6 GG GT
    6 AA AC
    5 TT CC
    4 GG AA
    4 CC CG
    4 AA CA
    3 CG CC
    3 CC TT
    3 AT TT
    2 TT TA
    1 TT GA
    1 GG TG
    1 GG GC
    1 GG CG
    1 GG CC
    1 CG GG
    1 CC GC
    1 CC AA
    1 AT AA
    1 AA GG

    1 G A

The first five lines make sense: the two analyses agree for a large proportion of the SNPs. The sixth shows 23andMe reading AG when BGI reads GA 30817 times. It looks like 23andMe are reporting unequal pairs in alphabetical order, while BGI are reporting them in random order. Taking these as matches, the great majority of SNPs reported by both are reported identically.

Then there are a few thousand SNPs that one or other analysis (in 26 cases, both) list in their output but don't report anything for. What causes this?

Finally, there are a few hundred that the two analyses just give different results for. For most of these, one reports homozygosity for an allele present in the other, but in a few cases the reports are completely different, e.g. one occurrence of TT/GA.

Is this amount of mismatch typical for such analyses?

comment by VincentYu · 2015-06-06T06:33:35.317Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. Thanks for posting this!

I received exactly the same number of SNPs from BGI, so it looks like our data were processed under the same pipeline. I've found three people who have publicly posted their BGI data: two at the Personal Genome Project (hu2FEC01 and hu41F03B, each with 5,095,048 SNPs), and one on a personal website (with 18,217,058 SNPs).

Then there are a few thousand SNPs that one or other analysis (in 26 cases, both) list in their output but don't report anything for. What causes this?

The double dashes are no calls. 23andme reports on a set list of SNPs, and instead of omitting an SNP when they can't confidently determine the genotype, they indicate this with a double dash.

Is this amount of mismatch typical for such analyses?

This seems normal considering the error rates from 23andme that others have been reporting (example). I don't know about BGI's error rates.

I think it might be possible to accurately guess the actual genotypes for some of the mismatches by imputing the genotypes with something like Impute2 (for each mismatched SNP, leave it out and impute it using the nearby SNPs). This will take many hours of work, though, and you might as well phase and impute across the whole genome if you have the time, interest, and processing power to do so (I've been meaning to try this out to learn more about how these things work).

comment by 11kilobytes · 2015-06-03T08:28:50.803Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Would a series of posts explaining the basics of Homotopy Type Theory be well accepted here?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-04T11:37:39.809Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I estimate it will be well accepted in the sense that nobody objects to your posts. At the same time I wouldn't expect much engagement. I think your posts likely will receive a bit of upvotes and nearly no downvotes.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-04T13:04:20.171Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Poll:

[pollid:987]

comment by gallabytes · 2015-06-03T20:15:45.539Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be interested to read another take on it if there's some novel aspect to the explanation. Do you have a particular approach to explaining it that you think the world doesn't have enough of?

comment by 11kilobytes · 2015-06-04T09:17:22.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, the HoTT book doesn't have enough pictures and animations. The whole point of HoTT is that programs in type theory have homotopical content, that you can usually depict, at least for the very basics of the subject.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T08:05:59.209Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The conflict between liberty and equality seems to dominate contemporary political philosophy, but do we all understand this conflict only happens when you already have fairly high levels of both? If the lack of liberty means someone gets to give you orders, you are clearly not equal with that someone, so you cannot achieve meaningful equality through repressing liberty. Conversely, why a purely wealth/income inequality is compatible with liberty, there is a more fundamental sense of equal respect or consideration that is a prerequisite for liberty. Liberty means a rich man may want to build a really glorious skyscraper but if the poor man's shack is in the way and he is unwilling to sell it, then he cannot. This only happens if we think the property, and through that, the choices, the goals, the aims of the big and the small people are equally important. Throughout most of history, we had the kind of hierarchies where neither liberty nor equality was high. And they occasionally come back, and besides, most of the planet is not there either.

I don't really know what follows from it. Perhaps, that when taking a global view, opponents could cooperate. Those who want liberty should understand that in most cultures it comes through and with more equality, and those who want equality should understand that in most cultures it comes through and with more liberty.

comment by Viliam · 2015-06-02T18:54:22.942Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that when people frame the question as whether A or B is more important to you, they are trying to take one of them from you. No, it does not follow technically; but why else would they ask such question?

When you agree to play the game and say that you e.g. prefer A to B, in the next step someone will offer to take B away in exchange for a promise to make A really safe.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T04:06:45.067Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend this essay, entitled appropriately Confessions of an ex Commie.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T14:50:26.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting, he does not even consider that one rad-left anarcho-socialist idea that makes at least some sense: Kropotkin's temporary usage rights vs. permanent property rights. What exactly would happen in a, say, simplified agrarian model where people can homestead and own much land as they can work, but if they stop working it and hire employees to work it or rent it out then they lose it? So whoever they give the usage / working over also automatically owns it? Not immediately, maybe with a gradual transitition. I figure a lot of bad things would happen, but this one idea seems to be only faulty in implementation details, and does not get human nature fundamentally wrong like all the others. And this is the primary anarcho-soc idea.

comment by Viliam · 2015-06-03T20:52:01.737Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly would happen in a, say, simplified agrarian model where people can homestead and own much land as they can work, but if they stop working it and hire employees to work it or rent it out then they lose it?

People would start thinking about how best to bend the rules.

How much work is required to own the land? I would try to own as much land as possible with minimum effort. Or grow something that gives maximum profit per unit of care. (Wood?)

Probably no one would hire employees, because that would be extremely shortsighted, if you would lose the land as a result. If I can't work on the land anymore, I might as well just ignore it, and perhaps hope that no one will notice it immediately. I would rather buy machines than hire people, even if the machines were expensive and people cheap, because the machine could give me a profit in long term, while people would always mean a loss in long term.

If you lose the land as long as you employ someone e.g. 12 months in a row, I would always employ people for 11 months, and work 1 month alone. If the work would be impossible to do by 1 person alone, I would have a friend or a relative that would help me in that 1 critical month in a year, and then I would help them 1 month in a year. In other words, I would use exactly as much other people's work as possible without losing the land, and not a bit more.

Can I build a house on the land (and then I am no longer required to grow plants on it)? I would have a huge house. Most of it would probably be the minimum structure that legally qualifies as a house.

And I certainly wouldn't be the only one doing that. People would quickly notice and start doing the same thing.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-06-04T07:41:37.152Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, if the land needs to be left fallow every few years, this system doesn't allow for it.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-03T15:09:06.798Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What exactly would happen in a, say, simplified agrarian model where people can homestead and own much land as they can work, but if they stop working it and hire employees to work it or rent it out then they lose it?

You'd have a slash-and-burn method of agriculture where your incentives are to extract the most from a particular piece of land in the short term, then abandon it and grab a new piece of land. Moloch smiles.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T15:21:10.629Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

People have children, they can hold on to it forever as long as a descendant of theirs works it... if I assumed a no-child economy, I would have the same outcome.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-03T15:34:59.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My point is not that they can't hold onto it, my point is that the incentives are to NOT hold -- the incentives are to extract the short-term value even at the cost of long-term detriment. The situation is similar to the tragedy of the commons: grab what you can fast and some other schmuck can deal with the problems you left behind.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T16:01:03.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But why are the incentives so? If we know wildly assume everybody has children and they continue their profession, the only they cannot do is sell, rent out or hire people to work it. Are you basically saying something along the lines of short-termism is the default behavior (I would agree with that), and the possibility to exploit in the family long term is not strong enough incentive to counter-act, we also need the other incentives like possibility to sell, rent out or hire others to work it?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-03T16:09:36.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

assume everybody has children and they continue their profession

That was kinda-sorta true for peasants in the XIII century, it is very very far away from true now. And if you're talking about being unable to hire people, this is just plain silly, small plots of land cultivated mostly as a hobby (it's very hard to support yourself at a reasonable standard of living from a plot of land that only you and your immediate family can work) are economically meaningless in a normal economy (as opposed to e.g. Soviet Russia).

comment by Jiro · 2015-06-03T14:58:10.506Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You'd immediately lose all economy of scale in agriculture, for one. This would be extremely bad.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T15:04:30.849Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but that is implementation detail. You can still have larger entities by these individual owners cooperating, or even collectively using their property. The end result is similar to a corporation with many shareholding workers. A better argument would be that people will not invest if they will lose the property. But even that has a fairly natural solution: hand it over to your kids, they will keep working it.

I am not arguing this is a super good idea, just arguing it does not have the usual immediately glaring flaws and deserves some consideration.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-06T22:28:31.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A better argument would be that people will not invest if they will lose the property.

You still have no way to get outside investors.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-06T23:24:15.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't make much sense. You basically punish efficient usage of land with that system. If a peasant comes up with a idea that allows him to grow the same amount of crops for the same amount of work with half the land he has no incentive to reduce his land use.

In California you see how water drawing rights that work that way, produce problems. A farmer has to use all his water drawing rights or lose his rights and he can't resell his drawing rights. Water would be more efficiently used if water drawing rights could be easily transferred and wouldn't be use-it-or-lose it.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-06T22:36:54.818Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This would greatly slow technological progress.

Suppose I come up with a way to double yield. Under the current system, I can use the extra money I make to buy out my neighbors and hire people to apply the same technique on their fields. Under your system my technique might slowly defuse to them eventually.

Suppose I have an idea for how to improve yield but it needs an upfront investment that I can't afford (like say buying a tractor), under the current system I can use my land as collateral to get a load from the bank. Under your system that's impossible. Incidentally, I've heard the argument that this problem (namely lack of completely secure property titles) is the main reason the third world stays poor.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-08T08:26:14.871Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the good arguments. This was the problem with guilds. It was a good solution to how to have an entrepreneurial market without much inequality, sort of the best of both worlds. The trick is that price floors ensured that competition will largely happen in artisanal handwork quality, and that sort of competition is very good at producing the kind of setup where there are a lot of small vendors, not a few big ones, and thus not much inequality. A price floor for beer would kill Heineken and benefit the micros with their artisanal banana chocolate chili gummybears ales.

However, technological innovation usually means cheaper production, not artisanal quality. Thus guild price floors prevented that from happening. While a cheaper, more automated production method was still useful, because it leads to higher margins, it did not allow one to undercut competition and put them out of business and that reduced its speed.

I think the guild idea could still be salvaged. The trick is to have multiple competing guilds, and price floors only inside guilds, not between them, and inside the guild innovations are licenced to other members for a fee. The guild on the whole uses them to undercut the competition, and the innovators get paid by other guild members profits. That could work.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-09T02:31:43.338Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It was a good solution to how to have an entrepreneurial market without much inequality, sort of the best of both worlds.

Why is inequality ipso facto a problem?

I think the guild idea could still be salvaged. The trick is to have multiple competing guilds, and price floors only inside guilds, not between them, and inside the guild innovations are licenced to other members for a fee. The guild on the whole uses them to undercut the competition, and the innovators get paid by other guild members profits. That could work.

You still have the problem of idea spreading between guilds (or replacing unsuccessful guilds with successful ones). A corporation with a successful product expands and hires more employees. A guild can't expand without diluting the voting power of existing members.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-09T07:23:09.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why is inequality ipso facto a problem?

Because money is power. And that wouldn't be a problem in itself. The real problem is that money does not look like power. For example, in a feudal system, where power is obvious, the rights and duties of lords and servants are clearly defined and the lords generally understand they have responsibility. That is not too bad. In a system where there is formally equality, yet money is still power, none of this is there, nobody defines the duties of the rich, this kind of power does not come with a clear sense of responsibility and so on.

Money works as power in multiple ways. Influencing politics is an obvious one, and although one good argument would be that politicians should not have too much power to sell to begin with, it is a moot one - since reducing government is in itself a political act, you can bet your ass that every time it gets reduced, it gets reduced in a way that it serves the interests of influential people. So true limited government you could only have through frequent revolutions, not by simply arguing and voting so that politics should limit itself - it will never happen in a way that is truly fair, it can only happen as a farce to serve vested interests.

Money is also power in different ways, and this is why I now consider the libertarian economics textbooks I tended to worship when I was 25 (Rothbard's Man, Economy and State etc.) way, way too naive. It is easy to see market exchange as an equitable transaction that makes both sides better off. But in reality often one party has the power. Adam Smith already saw it, when he wrote that a typical employee will need money right now, the typical employer can easily wait a month or two to employ a new worker, and thus the employer has the power in the bargain. The transaction itself still makes both parties better off, of course, the problem is not with the transaction, the problem is with the structural situation before the transaction. The problem is not that people exchange work for money, the problem is that most people own fuck all in the way of productive resources so they cannot possibly live any other way just others giving them a job. As a generalization, the market of consumer goods is equitable enough. The two huge exceptions are jobs and housing. Let a man have a fully paid house and a small business and he will feel free and equal enough, and consider all market exchanges fair and equal and mutually beneficial, but people who need a job to live and need to rent a flat from a landlord will never feel free. They feel like the employer and the landlord has power over them. This is why they pretty much never become libertarians. Libertarians are largely recruited from the self-employed and the home-owners. Any man who comes home from a job where the boss threatens him to fire if he does not work faster, and at home the landlords yells I did not allow you to keep a dog here, will not feel free, and will not think the government is the primary reason he does not feel free. If anything, he wants the government to balance out the transaction. So this is also how money is power.

I had enough libertarian sensibilities left in me to not simply jump from here to saying let's just throw a lot of government on the problem and that will surely solve it. Rather, I would prefer to reduce the demand for government by trying to have the kind of structures that lead to broadly equitable market outcomes. Clearly, a self-employed, family business market is more suitable for that than huge corporations. However there are significant issues with the implementation. The dilution of voting power is a real one, for example. As of now, I was unable to figure out a fully functional solution. I just know that if you want to reduce the demand for government, you basically need to live the "frontier life": nobody is a home renter and almost everybody is self-employed.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-10T01:44:05.204Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Because money is power.

No, it's not. Money can be used to purchase power, if you know what your doing and have the right connections. But it itself isn't really power. That's why throughout history those with money frequently find themselves on the receiving end of power, at best they must pay off those with power, at worst they get killed, e.g., the Jews in Nazi Germany, the bourgeois and "kulaks" in Soviet Russia.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-10T07:39:27.480Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is one thought experiment I created a while ago to illustrate the problem. Imagine that Stalin gets enlightened in 1948 and introduces capitalism and a free market. There is one caveat: he owns everything the state or local councils used to own: all the businesses, the farmlands, the apartment houses, the roads and so on. Everybody works for him, there are no other employers. Most urban people live in apartments he owns. People are free to start new businesses, or build houses, but he does not intend to make competing with him easy, there will be outrageous tolls for using the roads and so on, and if a startup still somehow survives making sure to use his weight to suffocate competitors at their infancy, such as by undercutting them at all and any costs - he can bear some loses with an immense wealth like that. Would you say he still has immense economic power? If yes, this illustrates why the distribution of property matters, and a shorter form to express it is to say money is power. It is important to understand here that it does not simply means cash: owning productive property is far more important. Money is just used as the short form of this.

The issue is that a lot of libertarians grew up in a place like Colorado where the distribution of property is very decent, because it is a post-frontier type distribution, which is actually quite close to the homesteading principle. And that is excellent, but property does not automatically distribute itself so in all possible societies. Being used to these types of fair distributions, it may be hard to see why property or money could be power. But in other types of distributions it can be. This is why it would be important to try to move all societies towards a post-frontier type of setup: many, many independent small businesses, self-employed people and homeowners, not masses of employees and renters. This is not a new idea. Have you heard of Ted Roosevelts Frontier Thesis?

Look. It's very simple. Imagine an island where all the farmland is owned by one guy. Owning it means the right to exclude other people from using it. This right comes from the government, money/property is power because the government protects property rights. This is an insight that you seem to have missed. It is borrowing the power of the government. For example, if some people would try to harvest on his farmland, he could call the police to arrest them. This is how property is power, that the government lends power to help property owners exclude others from their property. So what can the people do? Work for him, on his terms, by his rules. Thus, the power lent by the government to property owners means they can act similar to a government on the property they claim. Every piece of land owned is a monarchy, and guaranteed by the government to be so.

This is obviously a form of power. I don't see any ways how it could not be. If you can tell people all this around here is mine and you do what I say or GTFO, that is power. The only way it could be not power is if people can easily GTFO and homestead some new property for themselves. And that is called living on the frontier. This is why frontiers are awesome and post-frontier societies are quite fair. But not all societies are post-frontier and should be made so, that is precisely my point. If the power of property could be defanged by making it easy to GTFO and set up shop elsewhere, that would be precisely what I want to do. Look, bullshit like Marxism got popular because the blue collar folks of the UK, Europe, Russia saw zero chance to GTFO and set up shop elsewhere, they felt they are condemned to the life of an employee for ever and ever (and that was called class consciousness). This is why this matters. Non-frontier setups where property is power make a lot of people accept any bullshit ideology to save themselves from that kind of power.

As for your examples, obviously a gun trumps a purse, but the whole point is that they were particularly violent periods of history. Liberal democracy tries to take violence out of human relationships, this is why the second most powerful thing after the gun: the purse tends to be so important there. People are not allowed to beat up political activists (the nazis did that too, for example) but they can try to buy them off etc.

Also, counter-examples. Julius Caesar got an immense amount of gold through violence, then used it buy himself into the top of politics. While it is true that the root of it was violence/war, still gold was immensely useful at bribing magistrates, entertaining the voters with gladiators, financing public works privately and generally buying popularity. Romans understood perfectly that nothing trumps violence, this is why they tried to keep legions to the north of the Rubicon. And yes, there was a civil war. But plain simply killing or threatening enough is not enough to secure rule. Caesar understood he must also buy people off. Most importantly, ensuring the support of soldiers by giving them gold. A second good example would be the use of various Italian and Swiss mercenaries.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-11T04:37:57.883Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is one thought experiment I created a while ago to illustrate the problem. Imagine that Stalin gets enlightened in 1948 and introduces capitalism and a free market. There is one caveat: he owns everything the state or local councils used to own: all the businesses, the farmlands, the apartment houses, the roads and so on. Everybody works for him, there are no other employers. Most urban people live in apartments he owns. People are free to start new businesses, or build houses, but he does not intend to make competing with him easy, there will be outrageous tolls for using the roads and so on, and if a startup still somehow survives making sure to use his weight to suffocate competitors at their infancy, such as by undercutting them at all and any costs - he can bear some loses with an immense wealth like that. Would you say he still has immense economic power? If yes, this illustrates why the distribution of property matters, and a shorter form to express it is to say money is power. It is important to understand here that it does not simply means cash: owning productive property is far more important. Money is just used as the short form of this.

His main power would not come from money, it would come from the people having been trained that questioning Stalin leads to death camps.

This is obviously a form of power. I don't see any ways how it could not be. If you can tell people all this around here is mine and you do what I say or GTFO, that is power. The only way it could be not power is if people can easily GTFO and homestead some new property for themselves.

Or if they ignore you, or kill you.

As for your examples, obviously a gun trumps a purse, but the whole point is that they were particularly violent periods of history. Liberal democracy tries to take violence out of human relationships, this is why the second most powerful thing after the gun: the purse tends to be so important there.

No, the second most important thing after a gun is connections. Now obviously money can buy both if you know what you doing and can ensure that the people you bought stay bought. However, that makes money less important then both.

Julius Caesar got an immense amount of gold through violence, then used it buy himself into the top of politics. While it is true that the root of it was violence/war, still gold was immensely useful at bribing magistrates, entertaining the voters with gladiators, financing public works privately and generally buying popularity. Romans understood perfectly that nothing trumps violence, this is why they tried to keep legions to the north of the Rubicon. And yes, there was a civil war. But plain simply killing or threatening enough is not enough to secure rule. Caesar understood he must also buy people off. Most importantly, ensuring the support of soldiers by giving them gold.

The most important sources of Caesar's power were violence and the popularity he acquired, due to being good at said violence. Compare him with Crassus who made even more money without using (as much) violence.

A second good example would be the use of various Italian and Swiss mercenaries.

I believe Machiavelli had some rather pointed things to say about how much power using mercenaries actually gave you.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-11T07:38:54.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am afraid this way it would be an endless argument, so I try a different angle. Do you believe that "Power resides where men believe it resides; it's a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow." ?

If yes, well, you cannot deny that people feel their employers or landlords have power over them: and this feeling is power itself, because it makes them behave so.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-06-12T06:25:14.402Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Power is a relationship. You have power over me if I find it in my interest to grant it to you. This could be a financial interest, a desire to avoid physical harm, or anything else. What's granted can be revoked. If I no longer fear your ability to inflict harm or if I decide I don't want your money, your power over me ceases to exist. Power resides where men believe it resides, because they put it there.

With that said, there are, as observed, a number of methods of reliably gaining power over individuals. Money and force will work on most people in the short term.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-12T15:08:25.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Power is a relationship. You have power over me if I find it in my interest to grant it to you

That's sophistry -- it's easy to adjust your interests. Power still grows out of the barrel of a gun. Yes, you can be a martyr and get shot, but the great majority of people do what powers-that-be tell them.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-06-13T04:23:02.606Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Force comes from the barrel of a gun. It may or may not lead to actual power. There are countless historical examples where use of force simply served to fan the flames of resistance or where brutal persecutions only strengthened the cause.

People generally listen to the powers-that-be because said powers still look after their interests to an extent. People might not like the local tyrant. They may yearn for a better government. They are also keenly aware of how things can get worse. If the Emperor is tough on crime, leaves you alone if you follow the rules, and makes the trains run on time, that's probably better than a bloody civil war or domination by criminal gangs.

If I willingly submit to force, it's because I expect better treatment than I'd get by resisting.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-15T16:06:33.157Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I understand what you are saying, it's just that I don't think it's a useful framework for analysis.

There are a bunch of issues with what we mean by "power", so let's define the thing. Actually, let me offer three definition in a descending order of generality.

(1) Power is the ability to achieve your goals, make things happen, actually do stuff. If you're Superman you have the power to fly.

(2) Power is the ability to make other people do what you want. If you're Elon Musk, you have the power to build spacecraft.

(3) Power is the ability to make other people do what you want through negative incentives (basically, threats). If you're a cop, you have the power to arrest people.

Going back to DVH's point, neither of these is "a trick, a shadow on the wall".

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-12T01:29:50.048Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If yes, well, you cannot deny that people feel their employers or landlords have power over them:

Having been a landlord, I can testify that this is not in fact the case.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-12T13:28:43.239Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone can testify anything, but I don't see how "having been a landlord" gives you any particular authority to say whether tenants commonly feel that landlords have power over them. (You might be able to say that your tenants didn't obviously-to-you feel that. If you knew them closely enough to be sure of being right, then that itself makes you a very non-typical landlord.)

I would not want to claim that anything nontrivial is true of all tenants or of all landlords. But the tenants I know who have said much to me about their experience of tenancy do in fact appear to feel that their landlords have power over them -- but there's a selection effect here: you're more likely to be talking to other people about your relations with your landlord if something's gone wrong somehow.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-12T07:16:36.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You mean they easily disregarded your rules and things like that?

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-13T00:56:43.165Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, rules like that they have to actually pay the rent with checks that don't bounce.

comment by satt · 2015-06-10T03:04:57.923Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A form of power being abrogated under certain circumstances doesn't automatically make it not a form of power.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-06-02T14:28:34.575Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Liberty means a rich man may want to build a really glorious skyscraper but if the poor man's shack is in the way and he is unwilling to sell it, then he cannot.

Curiously, that sounds like a description of equality to me.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:33:14.880Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Given that my whole point is that they overlap in all but the highest levels, it is not surprising. But many libertarians tend to think a huge part of liberty is a very strict protection of property rights. Hence this.

comment by Fluttershy · 2015-06-02T06:48:12.949Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard that lots of folks from LW have graduated from App Academy. Has anyone from LW participated in a data science bootcamp?

I've been looking into data science bootcamps which accept people who don't have PhD's, because data science seems much more intrinsically interesting to me than web design. Zipfian Academy's data science program looks interesting, though I've just started looking into the idea of doing a data science bootcamp, and am not yet committed to the idea of doing one. Thanks for any thoughts or recommendations!

comment by wadavis · 2015-06-05T13:20:05.717Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This Video Will Make You Angry by CGP Grey discusses the meme-ic virility of controversial arguments.

A few different sources have also discussed the idea that we are out of the Age of Information, and into the Age of Attention, and that attention is the currency of the day.

Now, has anyone found these ideas combined in a short online text or video to present the idea that: If you find an idea to be ideologically offensive, the best way to fight it is to not engage it in argument but to starve it of attention and let the cat photo and inspirational quote weeds of social media grow over what ever fertile soil it may have found.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-05T14:53:15.119Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you find an idea to be ideologically offensive

...then you should consider disengaging the concepts of "idea" and "offensive".

the best way to fight it is to not engage it in argument but to starve it of attention

That depends. Some ideas will wither and die, but some will spread like weeds without opposition. I don't know how to decide ex ante what will happen to an idea ignored.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-05T16:25:37.958Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

then you should consider disengaging the concepts of "idea" and "offensive".

I dunno. I think it's pretty reasonable to consider ideas like these offensive:

  • "We should just kill all the Jews."
  • "People with black hair are less than human and we needn't care about hurting them."
  • "If your net worth is less than $10M, who cares what you want?"
  • "Everyone should have to affirm that everything in the Bible is 100% literal truth, or be executed."

What's actually offensive is endorsing these ideas, not their mere existence, but I'm pretty sure that's the kind of offensiveness wadavis has in mind.

(Perhaps there are better responses than offence to someone who seriously endorses this sort of thing. If so, I bet it's because getting offended at all is unhelpful, not because getting offended at ideas is specially unhelpful.)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-05T17:01:24.571Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

'm pretty sure that's the kind of offensiveness wadavis has in mind

I don't know -- if "endorsing" is the problem, then the target of your starve-of-attention campaign should be the person (people, organizations, etc.) who had endorsed, not the idea itself. But my impression was that wadavis was talking about ignoring ideas.

because getting offended at all is unhelpful, not because getting offended at ideas is specially unhelpful

Well, both :-)

comment by gjm · 2015-06-05T20:26:08.472Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

if "endorsing" is the problem, then the target of your starve-of-attention campaign should be the person [...] But my impression was that wadavis was talking about ignoring ideas.

If the problem is that people endorse the idea then starving the idea of attention might be a reasonable approach. The aim would be to reduce the number of other people getting persuaded to endorse the idea, rather than to change the minds (or destroy the credibility) of the people already persuaded.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-06-05T17:37:48.998Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Great video!

But I agree with Lumifer that ignoring bad ideas is not always the answer. Many bad ideas are kind of marginal and if you ignore them they'll wither. Others will catch on. Even if they die off eventually, they can cause a lot of damage before they do (the 20th century provides ample evidence of this, and the 21 is providing addition evidence).

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-06T15:23:00.203Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Even if they die off eventually, they can cause a lot of damage before they do (the 20th century provides ample evidence of this, and the 21 is providing addition evidence).

Which ideas are you talking about? If you are talking about something like communism, it wasn't really ignored.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-06-06T17:51:15.195Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Which ideas are you talking about?

Communism and National Socialism are two examples of what I had in mind for the 20th century.

If you are talking about something like communism, it wasn't really ignored.

That is certainly true. If we could somehow get everyone to simply ignore bad ideas, then yes, bad ideas would wither. The problem is, I have direct control over only what I ignore. Even if I choose to ignore a bad idea, others likely will not. Now lets suppose an entire group of really thoughtful people (e.g. the LW community, perhaps) could be convinced to ignore bad ideas - there are still going to be plenty of people discussing bad ideas, and so bad ideas might catch on. All we’ve really accomplished is removing a group of (presumably) reasonable, thoughtful people from the discussion – and I don’t see how that would be helpful.

An alternative to ignoring a bad idea is to confront it in a dispassionate manner; i.e. present good arguments as to why the idea is bad and address the arguments made by supporters of the bad idea while avoiding appeals to emotion, ad hominem arguments, other logical fallacies, etc. This allows us to address the bad idea without (hopefully) ramping up the anger and polarizing affects discussed in the video.

So, should we confront all bad ideas? I don’t think so; plenty of bad ideas are marginal enough that ignoring them is probably the right answer. For example, it is possible today to find on the internet people arguing in favor of a return to National Socialism. In much of the world, this idea finds little traction (unlike in the 1930s). Therefore, it may be the case that today, ignoring this attitude is the best approach. However, if this attitude ever begins becoming mainstream, then we should switch strategies and address rather than ignore the idea.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-07T23:49:40.152Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One problem is that if a bad idea is allowed to progress long enough, it is no longer safe to present any arguments against it.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-06-08T00:13:06.424Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is true. So, it is probably better to err on the side of addressing, rather than ignoring, bad ideas.

comment by chaosmage · 2015-06-02T11:17:15.611Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to understand fear of public speaking, because that's an emotion I appear to lack entirely.

So if you have it - a little or a lot - can you tell me if it is better when your audience is paying full attention, versus when they're somewhat distracted, looking somewhere else, versus when they're not listening at all but looking at their cellphones or something?

What does it feel like when someone is silently looking at you with a blank expression, and how does that feeling change depending on whether you're speaking?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-06-02T14:40:57.132Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That's something I've never understood about myself: I'm terrified to ask a passerby for the time of day, or ask a prospective love interest out on a date, or even call to order a pizza, but I have absolutely no problem standing in front of a room of strangers and speak for hours and hours. My suspicion is that it's a power dynamic issue: when I need to ask something of someone, I'm at a disadvantage, but when a group of people have already been convinced to gather in a room with little choice but to listen to me, I don't need to be afraid.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T14:30:00.088Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Another hypo: it is a confidence issue because you know you are an expert of what you speak about and the audience is interested and how good a presenter you does not matter so much. So you are full of confidence. You know you are giving them a good product, you know they want to buy this product, maybe the packaging is not so good but that is okay.

For the other situations, you don't know the product is good and you don't know they want to buy.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2015-06-02T12:36:44.030Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mild fear here, I can talk in groups of people just fine, but I get nervous before and during a presentation (something for which I have taken deliberate steps to get better at).

For me at least, the primary thing that helps is being comfortable with the subject matter. If I feel like I know what I'm talking about and I practiced what I am going to say it usually goes fine (it took some effort to get to this level, btw), but if I feel like I have to bluff my way through everything falls apart real fast. The number of people in the audience and how well I know them both have noticeable effect as well, but what the audience is doing has almost no influence at all.

The one exception to this is asking questions, if I have a good answer to a question my mind switches from presentation mode to conversation mode, which I am, for some reason, much more at ease with. (Note: This doesn't work on everyone, some people instead get way more nervous, so don't take this as an encouragement to start asking questions when the presenter seems nervous.)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T16:22:04.059Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had a paralyzing fear of public speaking which I have now mostly overcome. However this was almost entirely anticipatory fear that would go away once I actually started to speak, for example I would lose sleep about teaching a small group, excessively rehearse even for small and relatively unimportant public speaking occasions. My worries were mainly related to performance failure, e.g. that I would lose track of my plan, that I would stammer too badly, that I would suffer momentary anomia and be unable to get past it, or that I would freeze in some other way.

Audience engagement: entirely orthogonal to fear of public speaking at least for me. I may be self-critical later on if the audience isn't engaged, and may try to adapt on the fly if I notice signs of reduced engagement, but for me the fear is gone as soon as I start talking.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-04T14:39:10.182Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have much fear of public speaking myself, but I'll guess that the answer to your question about audience attention depends heavily on whether they're paying / not paying attention (1) from the outset for reasons that have nothing to do with you, (2) from the outset because of your reputation or appearance or something, or (3) as a result of what you've said and done so far. I would expect a public appearance to be maximally traumatic when everyone is initially paying rapt attention, but as you proceed they visibly get bored and stop listening.

comment by tim · 2015-06-04T02:29:13.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I have a particularly extreme fear of public speaking, but it certainly makes me feel very nervous. People are investing their time and attention into what you have to say and if you disappoint them, you have a whole room full of people that are immediately allied against you in their distaste for what you provided them in return for that attention.

Disappointing a few people in a crowd of many is nothing. Disappointing the crowd is fucking terrifying.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-06-02T13:43:52.646Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's primarily fear of embarrassment taking the form of something very similar to, if not exactly similar to, anxiety.

Anxiety, judging by the couple of times I've experienced it, originates from over-and-behind, is tinted reddish-orange and tastes sharp, and feels somewhat like you've consumed too much caffeine (these descriptions may or may not make any sense to you, and may not translate correctly even if they did make sense owing to the subjective nature of emotion) - there's a need to act, to do -something-, which I think is supposed to express as a feeling to get away from the current location, but may get expressed instead as, for example, a need to pace.

Fear of public speaking is similar, with tinges of yellow and sour - embarrassment, I think. There's a bit of a leftish direction to it? It expresses more as a need to do nothing, to prevent anything from being done wrong. It provokes a curious mixture of a need to run away and a feeling of being pinned in place and being unable to. When you start talking, the need to "run" pushes into your voice, and you talk too quickly, while the need to do nothing may cause you to stand completely still, doing nothing but speaking.

Fear of public speaking seems only weakly influenced by the audience - it's an internal experience. Everything will get interpreted according to the internal narrative - people looking at their cell phones are rude if you're feeling okay, and bored with you and your terrible presentation if you're still feeling anxious.

People studying you with a blank expression will intensify the feeling of being studied for any mistakes, but how you interpret their expression in the first place will, again, be largely determined by the internal narrative.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-06-04T03:04:48.215Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Ray Kurzweil spouts more innumerate nonsense. Why does a date 15 years from now sound like some far-off future time to him? I could see how FM-2030 made the year 2030 as the arrival date of the Cool Future sound sort of plausible back in the 1980's. But Ray should know better than to say something like this now:

Ray Kurzweil: Humans will be hybrids by 2030

http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/03/technology/ray-kurzweil-predictions/

I'll give you a prediction I have more confidence in: According to the actuarial tables, a man Ray's age has a 45 percent chance of dying over the next 15 years. I submit that the actuarial tables have a better track record for predicting "the future" than Kurzweil.

comment by Viliam · 2015-06-04T10:30:04.632Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Suggestion: We should ask futurists to predict what will happen 5 years in the future. Then publish the results. Then publish it again 5 years later.

With shorter time period (but probably still long enough to trigger wild imagination in some) we could get more iterations, so we could filter out the worst ones, and still get a few useful predictions from the remaining ones.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-04T11:35:12.804Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Ray Kurzweil: Humans will be hybrids by 2030

http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/03/technology/ray-kurzweil-predictions/

It's unfair to criticize someone making claims in that area that are based on the summary of a CNN journalist. To me the most likely explanation is that the CNN journalist doesn't provide a good summary of what Kurzweil said.

It's under the standards we should have on LW.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-06-04T05:06:25.800Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed on all counts. It amazes me that anyone listens to that man.

comment by knb · 2015-06-06T22:21:47.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's interesting that Google seems to be following up on several of Kurzweil's predictions, Google Glass/Magic Leap, Project Jacquard, and the self-driving car are all predictions Kurzweil made in The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near.

comment by ThisSpaceAvailable · 2015-06-01T03:40:57.461Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose we have a set S of n elements, and we ask people to memorize sequences of these elements, and we find that people can generally easily memorize sequences of length k (for some definition of "generally" and "easily"). If we then define a function f(S) := k log n, how will f depend on S? Have there been studies on this issue?

comment by SolveIt · 2015-06-01T08:39:08.751Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why k log n? I imagine n would be largely independent of k, so f(S) would become arbitrarily large just by using bigger and bigger sets.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-01T11:31:21.176Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

k log n is the number of bits it takes to represent a random sequence of k elements from S. So f(S) is the number of bits one can remember when they're encoded as sequences of elements of S.

My guess is that f(S) will be smaller when n is very small (it's not twice as easy to remember 20 digits from {0,1} as to remember 10 from {0,1,2,3}, unless perhaps you explicitly convert them) and maybe when n is rather large (as it starts to require cognitive effort to distinguish elements of S). It will surely also depend in complicated ways on what sort of thing is in S (words? common first names? photos of faces? ...).

I'm sure there's been work on this in the context of computer security -- looking for things that are a bit like passwords but make a better memorability/bits-of-security tradeoff than passwords do. In that context it's also worth considering what happens if you allow the sequence to be remembered slightly wrongly.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T08:03:52.431Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by philh · 2015-06-01T13:03:59.664Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

k and n are implicitly functions of S. So f(S) = (length of a memorizable sequence of elements of S) * (cardinality of S).

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-06T10:17:06.900Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-06T15:21:30.655Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Trying to control your thoughts" sounds like a recipe for failure. If you exert force on trying to change a thought pattern you often strength it.

On the other hand there are a variety of ways to influence your thinking. Meditation is useful.

I use a variety of techniques to interact with my emotions. Most of them not easily describable.

Goal setting is a good way to prime thinking.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-07T01:53:16.204Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-07T15:04:35.408Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have asked this question to see if anyone has stumbled upon a sweet spot of control and how they would even approach that task.

And I answered. You don't try to control. Mediation isn't about doing something. It's about sitting and doing nearly nothing.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-08T04:17:08.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-08T11:59:25.185Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not specifically referring to zazen. You can't force yourself in a sustainable way to be mindful. You can only set conditions that make it likely to happen.

The fact that beginners prefer meditation instructions that seem straightforward and easy to understand doesn't mean that those instruction set provide you full information.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-09T08:01:29.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-09T08:37:42.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you are constantly busy trying to do something you are maxed out. You have no free capacity. Most of the time if we try to do 10 things at the same time we get nothing done.

I think a lot of akrasia in myself and on LW comes from being overstretched.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-07T05:56:31.056Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

edit 1,2,3: I can't seem to get the hyperlink right!

There should be no space between ] and (.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-04T15:21:41.907Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe I've gone far too deep into the Terrible LessWrong Cult, but could someone remind me why everyone else around me often seems to think that not-thinking and irrationality are happier, more satisfying ways to go through life than thinking clearly about stuff? Because I really don't fucking get it anymore.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-06-04T16:46:03.083Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Being rational, intelligent, and able to make good decisions sounds great. If you could wave a magic wand and grant these things, I'm sure many people would like to take advantage. In the absence of a magic wand, the journey can be unpleasant and fraught with peril. Making progress involves seriously examining your own life and dealing with all those problems you'd rather not confront. It can ruin your present social life and require you to find a new circle (as with recovering alcoholics recognizing the difference between friends and drinking buddies).

And there are plenty of failure modes. There's a stereotype that the youth who first discovers atheism becomes arrogant and quarrelsome. A little learning is a dangerous thing. There's an initial decline in effectiveness of reason before it catches up to (and eventually surpasses) good old common sense. No one likes a straw Vulcan.

I would heartily recommend Erasmus of Rotterdam's In Praise of Folly for a satiric look at the benefits of not-thinking and irrationality. Here's an excerpt which I think is fitting for the present discussion:

To these, as bearing great resemblance to them, may be added logicians and sophisters, fellows that talk as much by rote as a parrot; who shall run down a whole gossiping of old women, nay, silence the very noise of a belfry, with louder clappers than those of the steeple; and if their unappeasable clamorousness were their only fault it would admit of some excuse; but they are at the same time so fierce and quarrelsome, that they will wrangle bloodily for the least trifle, and be so over intent and eager, that they many times lose their game in the chase and fright away that truth they are hunting for. Yet self-conceit makes these nimble disputants such doughty champions, that armed with three or four close-linked syllogisms, they shall enter the lists with the greatest masters of reason, and not question the foiling of them in an irresistible way, nay, their obstinacy makes them so confident of their being in the right, that all the arguments in the world shall never convince them to the contrary.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-04T15:36:30.337Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's much, much easier. Thinking clearly for most people ranges from hard to impossible. Worse, you might come to unpleasant or even dangerous conclusions. Much better to just go with the flow.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-04T15:38:49.208Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But the unpleasant, dangerous truths are true (by definition). Ignoring them just means getting bitten on the ass later because you didn't want to think now!

comment by philh · 2015-06-05T09:57:40.458Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes, ignoring an unpleasant truth just means that someone else gets bitten on the ass.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T14:35:10.281Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And I'm supposed to not give a shit? I mean, I can't actually be assured that they deserved it.

comment by gjm · 2015-06-05T16:42:01.122Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You can't be rationally assured that they deserved it...

(Though in fact I think this is all one notch too cynical.)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T17:47:22.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(Though in fact I think this is all one notch too cynical.)

Agreed. Let's just stop now.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-04T15:48:07.233Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

First, you might get lucky. Second, getting bitten on the ass just indicates that the world is harsh, unjust, and personally mean to you. It can't possibly be your fault.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-04T15:59:22.440Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Second, getting bitten on the ass just indicates that the world is harsh, unjust, and personally mean to you. It can't possibly be your fault.

Blaming someone other than me doesn't help me in any way whatsoever. I need to reason in actionable ways, not misread the universe's basic randomness as a moral decree.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-04T16:06:00.787Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Blaming someone other than me doesn't help me in any way whatsoever.

Of course it does. The status of a victim can be highly useful. Besides you get psychological comfort which is very important to a lot of people. Blaming oneself is unhealthy, dontcha know that? X-/

I need to reason in actionable ways

I see you have been corrupted by the LW cult. Thankfully, most people have not.

In general, let me suggest to you a couple of ways to think about it. First, consider people whose System 1 is much much stronger than System 2 and basically overwhelms it. Second, consider the relative importance of actual outcomes and feelings. For you actual outcomes matter more, but that is not true for everyone. To some people how they feel about something is more important that what actually happens.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-04T18:28:58.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see you have been corrupted by the LW cult. Thankfully, most people have not.

See, the problem is, I don't remember a time when I didn't think this way, which is why I fell in with LW-types in the first place. The kinds of talks that usually end in, "Doesn't that make you feel better?" have never made me actually feel better, because I always knew that no facts were being changed whatsoever.

For you actual outcomes matter more, but that is not true for everyone. To some people how they feel about something is more important that what actually happens.

Does anyone ever actually endorse this kind of thinking retrospectively, on reflection? That is, does anyone ever, for instance, get in a car crash and think, "Gosh, I sure felt great about not wearing a seatbelt, so the fact that I almost broke my neck and died is actually pretty ok"? That sounds pretty implausible to me.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-04T19:03:59.762Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't remember a time when I didn't think this way, which is why I fell in with LW-types in the first place.

Makes sense, doesn't it?

Does anyone ever actually endorse this kind of thinking retrospectively, on reflection?

People we are talking about are not fans of retrospective thinking either and reflection -- that's what you use to check your makeup, amiright? X-)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-04T19:07:13.524Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

People we are talking about are not fans of retrospective thinking either and reflection -- that's what you use to check your makeup, amiright? X-)

You had to go and gender it?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-04T19:14:41.122Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I think there is considerable difference between genders in this.

In fact, guys underestimating how important are "feelings" to girls is a very widespread problem in personal relations.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T00:00:10.735Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wanted to tell you why I'm downvoting.

A) The assumption that "feelings" are less important to males. They are not. I'm quite attached to mine, actually. The fact that I strongly prefer to enforce a correspondence between my emotions and events (ie: I should feel good about good things happening and bad about bad things happening) is basic common sense.

B) The assumption that for women, feelings are more important than facts.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-05T00:46:31.668Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought you started this subthread by complaining how normal people do not possess what is "basic common sense" to you...

As to B), that's pure straw, I have said no such thing. Among people to whom feelings are more important than facts, women form the majority, but there are males in there, too, and the whole set is not all that large, certainly not most women. Besides, this characteristic strongly depends on age -- teenage girls and middle-age women are... different :-)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T14:34:30.067Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, I started the subthread by semi-complainingly asking why people think irrationality is more fun.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-07T02:58:46.290Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The assumption that for women, feelings are more important than facts.

Aww, did someone just run into a fact he would prefer not to believe?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-04T17:37:39.485Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's quite ironic, but people don't engage in not-thinking because they think not-thinking makes them happier. Pretty per definition, those people don't make there decision based by thinking.

comment by G0W51 · 2015-06-01T22:36:03.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is Solomonoff induction a theorem for making optimal probability distributions or a definition of them? That is to say, has anyone proved that Solomonoff induction produces probability distributions that are "optimal," or was Solomonoff induction created to formalize what it means for a prediction to be optimal. In the former case, how could they define optimality?

(And another question: I posted this a couple days ago on the last open thread, but it was closed before I got a response. Is it okay to repost it?)

comment by MrMind · 2015-06-03T08:47:04.171Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ops, I answered there.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-06T12:05:10.341Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I just got a Kindle Paperwhite. I'm still in the process of learning how to interact with the device. In case you have a Kindle, can you give me a few pointers?

1) How do you organize the relationship between the Kindle and Evernote?
2) How easily is a Kindle damaged by falling to the ground? Is it important to use a case to prevent damage?
3) Do you have tips for good PDF conversion. Especially for textbooks?
4) Anything useful to know as a new Kindle user?

comment by HungryHippo · 2015-06-07T11:52:27.773Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Congrats on your new Kindle. :-) I keep my Paperwhite 2 with me always and have started buying jackets based on whether or not they have pockets into which my Kindle fits.

2) Don't know how easy they break, since I haven't dropped one. I mean, when was the last time you dropped a book to the floor, or your phone? You'll probably be equally careful with your Kindle.

I had an accident with my Kindle Keyboard, however, where I put it in my backpack without cover and pressure from a corner one of my hardcover books made an indentation in the screen. It slightly discolored the background of the Kindle, but the text is still readable.

The reason I don't use a case is that I carry it with me, and the case makes it slightly thicker and heavier. I would use a case if I had it in my backpack.

1) I don't.

3, 4) Check out Caliber for library management and book-tagging. I much prefer it to organizing books into collections on my Kindle. It will also convert between formats, but if your pdf is a scanned book it won't improve.

Also check out the Kindle add on for Chrome/Mozilla. It sends web pages directly to your Kindle.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-07T13:26:25.944Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Don't know how easy they break, since I haven't dropped one. I mean, when was the last time you dropped a book to the floor, or your phone?

My phone does occasionally drop to the floor.

I keep my Paperwhite 2 with me always and have started buying jackets based on whether or not they have pockets into which my Kindle fits.

I already wear Scottevest clothing, so I have big enough pockets :) At least when I'm wearing more than just a T-Shirt.

Also check out the Kindle add on for Chrome/Mozilla. It sends web pages directly to your Kindle.

In what kind of instances do you use it?

comment by HungryHippo · 2015-06-07T14:54:25.986Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In what kind of instances do you use it?

Whenever I want to read articles or text, but not on my computer. Either because I want a distraction free environment (no tabs on the Kindle), or because I won't bring my laptop with me, or because I'm outside and need a glare free screen, or because I prefer the soft light of the Kindle screen late at night and in bed, etc., etc.

My most recent sent-to-Kindle article is this one. If I like it, I will import it into my Calibre library and tag it as "read" and maybe "thinking" or "creativity" or some such. As an alternative to bookmarking or Evernote web-clipping.

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-06-07T15:55:43.869Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How easily is a Kindle damaged by falling to the ground? Is it important to use a case to prevent damage?

I have accidentally dropped Kindle in a case a couple of times; there was no perceptible damage.

Do you have tips for good PDF conversion. Especially for textbooks?

K2pdfopt is God's gift to Kindle readers. Compare a processed version of the latest paper I read with its original version.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-07T15:57:42.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

K2pdfopt is God's gift to Kindle readers.

It seems to have a lot of settings, do you simply use the standard ones?

comment by jaime2000 · 2015-06-07T18:06:32.974Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, except that I change the "Device" setting to "Kindle Paperwhite" instead of "Kindle 1-5", and I usually convert the first 5 pages or so to make sure I have the borders right before I convert the whole document. The idea of cropping the margins is to set them such that page numbers and chapter headers are cut while retaining the text. You shouldn't need to touch the left and right margins most of the time, only the top and bottom ones. Use binary search.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-06-05T00:44:39.638Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

removed duplicate post

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T13:34:10.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-03T14:14:45.850Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean with "private domain whois"? That website can show you what's written in the Whois entry. What's written there depends on what the Register wrote into the entry. If you register with a host like GoDaddy you can choose against putting your name in the Whois entry.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-05T06:53:11.592Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, this was an useless post so now it's gone

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-05T14:57:48.476Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The NSA :-P

Also, anyone with a subpoena and, probably, sufficiently skillful black hats.

But if you are asking whether there is an alternate way you can just look it up, then no, that's the whole point of the private part.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-06-01T04:08:08.129Z · score: -1 (31 votes) · LW · GW

This illustrates the problem I have with how we leave boys' sexual development to the haphazard and just hope that they can figure it out somehow. What about the boys who can't or don't have these experiences and learn these skills at an appropriate age?

Sex And The Valley: Tech Guys Seek Expert Love Advice From Therapists

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/the-sex-therapists-of-silicon-valley/

“Dan” seems at first to perfectly embody that popular object of scorn these days in San Francisco: the privileged tech worker. He’s a developer-turned-manager at a thriving startup, the type of guy you would expect to see dodging protesters at a Google bus stop or evicting low-income tenants in order to build his dream condo. But beyond that veneer of untouchable privilege, there is a soft underbelly. He’s a 40-year-old virgin, and his troubles with women are bad enough that he’s sought out a sex therapist for help.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T10:14:40.976Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is true and I don't really understand the downvotes. Before the Sexual Revolution it was simple, not necessasarily satisfying but the rules were easy to grasp.

The early stages of the Sexual Revolution, say 1940-1970 were simple too. Pretty much everybody understood that the kind of guy who is good at sports and dancing and similar things will get the girls, and they would pretty much just go to the dances on the weekends, where Tommy Dorsey type of music was played in the 1940's or the newer rock and roll in the 1960's, and these dances still had traces of the old ballroom etiquette where girls would be sitting on one side and the boys on the other and they would approach a sitting girl and politely ask them for a dance. And things would develop on their own from there. Although the SR meant people stopped marrying as virgins (excluding the religious crazy at least) the goal was still to get married after having a few relationships and women were pretty open about basically testing men for marriage or LTR and attitudes were monogamous so there was this idea that you knew those five boys are far better than you but still as the five prettiest girls at the dance grabbed a firm hold on them the other girls had to realize that they lost that game and they have to settle for you.

And the whole thing was made even simpler and easier by people pretty much being carbon copies of each other. Everybody wore the same clothes and hairstyles and due to having similar sportly hobbies most boys would have similar musculature, fat people were rare because eating outside formal mealtimes was less common and so on. Remember in the movie Easy Riders how guys having somewhat long hair is a scandal in a small town, because they are so used to looking like each other. Today people look very individual, and this means no look is really scandalous but on the other this also increased competition in looks.

At any rate this started to break down in the eighties. I was born in 1978 so I have not seen the first phases of the breakdown, but in 1994 already what my parents taught broke down. There was no more pair dancing, just people forming circles on the dancefloor or dancing alone. But I guess it is was still recognizable what you do there, go to a girl, shake together then invite for a drink.

From about 2005 on things really started to make no sense. I saw guys just go in the dancefloor and plain simply grind their crotch on the backside of girls. Are they their GFs? No it turned out for the younger folks it became normal to do it with strangers. But the fun part is this, risk increased. This behavior could get an attractive guy a zero-effort bang and get an unattractive guy arrested for harassment. Also, as I mentioned above, there were no carbon-copy looks anymore so people competed highly in looks.

All in all, it seems the whole thing became more and more incomprehensible. It seems it is highly optimized now for the best. Guys who figure out how to look really good, or read social cues really easily can have it extremely easy now, while the rest who think there should be rules you can learn with your brain have it increasingly difficult.

Things got better for me when I left the world of dancefloors and got into internet dating, in an instinctively anti-Tinder way, as in, looking for women with no or grainy photos and really intelligent texts on their profiles It did not mean they are ugly, it mean they did not want to be judged after their looks. They make good partners. I think with Tinder internet dating is becoming something similar to the dancefloor, highly optimized for a few and not working for most. It is important to stick to less looks focused types of internet dating sites and I think filtering for no picture is still a good idea. Disclaimer: it helped that I did not live in an area with a lot of obesity, or else the lack of a picture may easily mean gravity-distorting mass.

comment by Username · 2015-06-02T05:55:12.882Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really understand the downvotes

I downvoted to say "less like this." advancedatheist has brought this topic up far too many times.

comment by bogus · 2015-06-01T21:12:02.411Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Guys who figure out how to look really good, or read social cues really easily can have it extremely easy now, while the rest who think there should be rules you can learn with your brain have it increasingly difficult.

Why? Just because the rules are very different than what they used to be (i.e. there is far less jumping through hoops, and a lot more direct, often intuitive/implied negotiation) doesn't mean that such rules don't exist or can't be learned conciously. Even "looking real good" is very much a craft that can be improved upon.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T07:53:45.531Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I have not expressed myself clearly. I need to go one meta deeper.

The limiting factor is courage or confidence. When rules are more direct, you must muster more courage to follow them because there is also a higher risk (of being accused of harassment or public embarrassment). Same with looks, there are less conspicious kinds of good looks, like the past, where you would put on a well tailored suit, and more conspicuous kinds of good looks, like a todays dance club where it is spiky hair and sleeveless shirts showing gym-made arms. Where it is more conspicuous kinds of good looks required, it is a test of courage or confidence, because if you don't have so much, you will feel that you are noticed too much or stand out too much or look like a clown, basically get too "self-conscious" about it.

So the central issue is that today the rules test courage, confidence or testosterone harder, because you need more conspicous looks that attract too many gazes and you may feel like you are being ridiculous, or braver negotiation that could result in louder embarrassment.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T21:49:48.162Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My impression has been a well-tailored suit is more in right now than a sleeveless shirt. My friends and I were making fun of how many over-dressed guys there were at a show a few weeks ago; way too many dress pants and blazers for a concert.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-02T12:13:04.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Where it is more conspicuous kinds of good looks required, it is a test of courage or confidence, because if you don't have so much, you will feel that you are noticed too much or stand out too much or look like a clown, basically get too "self-conscious" about it.

I guess that the being "self-conscious" has a bigger effect than the actual looks.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:30:44.614Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think so too. I should also say I don't like this term very much, it is unaccurate, so I like that you used quotes. Self-consciousness is supposed to mean a good thing, like knowing what you are doing and why. But a while ago in the English language this term gained a different, and more negative meaning, e.g. Daniel Radcliffe: “I used to be self conscious about my height, but then I thought, fuck that, I'm Harry Potter.” What would be a better term to express that feeling? It is something close to being inhibited and artificial because your attention is focused on yourself and not on the situation. Recommendations from other languages are welcome, we can Anglify them by translating them to Latin then using that root :)

comment by knb · 2015-06-01T04:46:29.828Z · score: 5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

This illustrates the problem I have with how we leave boys' sexual development to the haphazard and just hope that they can figure it out somehow. What about the boys who can't or don't have these experiences and learn these skills at an appropriate age?

You certainly complain about this a lot. But do you have any suggestions of how to fix this problem?

comment by Dorikka · 2015-06-02T01:56:13.745Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure if you are suggesting this, but I really want to discourage any "don't draw attention to a problem unless you have a solution" bullshit. These are two separate things, and they both have value. It is nice and good if you happen to have a solution to a problem that you've identified, but to keep silent about a problem just because you don't have a solution is nuts insofar as you would like for the problem to be solved someday.

There are productive ways to filter writing (writer is doing crappy analysis, propagating misinformation on purpose or through incomptence/ignorance, etc), but doing so based on "did you propose a solution" is actively harmful. Remember the "don't jump to solutions, scope out the problem first" bit.

comment by knb · 2015-06-02T02:17:31.983Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Given that he has been "drawing attention" to this issue more or less constantly for months, I think it is reasonable to demand he stop repeating himself and start actually developing the idea further in some actually constructive way.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T14:47:35.150Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think he keeps repeating it because he cannot and he would like others to try. This is a perfectly reasonable request / idea.

I think at this point he should be offering some trade as apparently there is not really enough people interested in trying to solve it for free.

comment by knb · 2015-06-02T18:40:27.469Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think he keeps repeating it because he cannot and he would like others to try.

I doubt it, it's the same pattern of behavior displayed when he complains about liberal transhumanists or the media bias against cryonics. It's a "woe is me, the world is unjust" attitude, not constructive at all. It seems to me he just wants people to commiserate with him.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-02T18:46:51.023Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Commonly known as "whining".

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T02:50:21.525Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This comment by user "CharlieSheen" from a similar thread seems relevant

I'm actually at the point when I think it is impossible to give men useful advice to improve their sex lives and relationships because of the social dynamics that arise in nearly all societies. Actually good advice aiming to optimize the life outcomes of the men who are given it has never been discussed in public spaces and considered reputable.

Same can naturally be said of advice for women. I think most modern dating advice both for men and women is anti-knowledge in that the more of it you follow the more miserable you will end up being. I would say follow your instincts but that doesn't work either in our society since they are broken.

I find his point here quite insightful.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-02T02:08:52.617Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This illustrates the problem I have with how we leave boys' sexual development to the haphazard and just hope that they can figure it out somehow.

That's not the problem. If you leave boys' sexual development to the haphazard, history shows most will figure it out. The problem is that society is actively giving boys bad advice.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T09:52:15.250Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think this is strictly a male problem. I would guess the average person does not have as much sex as they would prefer. A lot of this is due to child rearing. Without strict controls on relationships, a lot of women throughout history would have ended up as single parents, their partners unsupportive of their fling that went a way they didn't expect.

I'm not sure if its possible to entirely avoid such problems unless we have better birth control systems or very different child raising practices; the latter is a whole new can of worms. By better birth control i'm referring to widespread usage, lack of side effects, and product satisfaction; not just availability and quality.

comment by bortels · 2015-06-01T05:07:18.937Z · score: -3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

What about the boys who can't or don't have these experiences...

They fail to reproduce, presumably. Genetics and evolution are a harsh mistress. Is there some reason to think that males that do not find a mate should get some sort of assistance? Perhaps for them, 40 is the "appropriate age".

I think I could make a fairly strong case that anyone who is not capable of talking to peers of both sexes and learning the right social cues to find a mate is probably someone also poorly equipped to take care of the results of finding that mate in the first place, namely a relationship and children. And - that's fine, viva la difference - a nice thing about being an intelligent human being is that you are not necessarily constrained in your behavior by what might be best from the standpoint of genetics and survival of the species.

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-06-02T02:12:22.281Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They fail to reproduce, presumably. Genetics and evolution are a harsh mistress. Is there some reason to think that males that do not find a mate should get some sort of assistance? Perhaps for them, 40 is the "appropriate age".

The fact that we appear to selecting against traits like intelligence.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-06-01T10:08:09.843Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Given that most males in our current society (and, indeed, a significant fraction of females) seem to try to delay or indefinitely postpone reproduction - sometimes failing to do so - it doesn't seem that failure to reproduce is a driver of behavioral modification.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T06:58:48.642Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist swearing

TL;DR: "Mort" serves well as an expletive.

Swearing, cursing, profanity, obscenity; whatever you call it, bad words serve many useful purposes (eg, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jol-KLSKxM ), and provide insight into what a culture finds taboo. While the evidence is rather mixed, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis implies that the language you use shapes your more instinctive, Type 1 thought processes, and there could be some benefit to consciously nudging your Type 1 reactions in preferred directions.

For example, a lot of the best swear words are based on religion; and keeping them as part of your swearing vocabulary has a non-negligible probability of increasing your biases to think in religious terms. Replacing those swears with some other words may reduce how much effort is required to apply Type 2 thought on issues affected by such biases. Lojban would be an ideal source of words to improve one's thought - except that as it was designed to be culturally neutral, it lacks any direct swear-words. As the LessWrong rationalist community is linked moderately closely with science-fiction fandom, one possibility would be to draw on one or another SF franchise, such as Klingon's selection, "By Crom!", "Great Krypton!", "Klono's tungsten teeth and curving carballoy claws!", "Snugglebunnies!", "Belgium!", "Shazbot!", "Primitive and outmoded superstition on a crutch!", and so on; but it's hard to treat such phrases as actual swears with full emotional content instead of pseudo-swears with metaphorical grins-and-winks.

There is, however, at least one topic which seems as if there could be some LWist consensus on its obscenity: Death, particularly when it could be avoided through cleverness. The Latin for it, "mort", has enough English derivatives that its meaning is moderately obvious; it doesn't actually collide with any popular English words; and it is short enough to be spoken quickly in a moment of emotional stress. It comes moderately close to the French "merde", which has seen its own success as a piece of profanity. And on a personal note, I've been holding back on posting this idea publicly - until this morning, when after causing myself some easily-avoidable pain, I realized that I had thought the word to myself as an actual swear, and not just a cute-idea-for-an-injoke-in-a-story.

I'm hoping that this post will evoke further ideas in this vein, perhaps neologisms that can be used in different grammatical contexts; though I do request that any such suggestions pass at least the minimal threshold of being able to be said with a straight face. After all, there are plenty of extinction risks that have to be navigated through, and only a finite time before solutions have to be come up with for each one; and the less time that has to be spent with wrestling against our cultural instincts, the more time we'll have to work on solutions that will keep us joking, swearing, and being generally silly into the distant future.

comment by Jiro · 2015-06-01T15:19:56.453Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Don't use up your idiosyncrasy credits on this.

comment by Jiro · 2015-06-02T06:30:41.612Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally, "weirdness points" falls under this. Gratuitously using nonstandard terms (particularly geek pop culture related terms) makes Less Wrong look weird for little benefit. And LW already has a bad problem with not using standard terms for concepts.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T16:10:13.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that I have any weirdness points left /to/ lose. I'm fully signed up for cryo, which makes me weirder than 99.9999% of the population; throw in any other details about myself, such as atheism or schizoid personality, and I'm weirder still. ... That said, just last week I upgraded my wardrobe from nearly entirely t-shirts to enough button-up shirts to wear all the time, so I'm not necessarily /obviously/ weird. I don't plan on starting to swear any more than I do now, so adding an idiosyncratic swear-word to the ones I might draw from doesn't seem as if it would measurably increase how odd I seem to others.

Of course, YMMV, so an unusual curse-word that ties into your presumed anti-deathist leanings may or may not be worth the idiosyncrasy credit.

comment by gwern · 2015-06-01T18:09:01.056Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

You don't have to tell people that you're signed up for cryonics or an atheist! They can only deduct weirdness points if they know about them. You should be engaged more in invisible weirdness and being very careful about conforming visibly with your dress, hair style, how you normally talk; having a tattoo everyone can see is far more costly to your credibility's health bar than being signed up for cryonics where only your lawyer knows.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T08:31:16.011Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I would strongly recommend to not do anything of this type. The point is, rationality means a set of method that preferably every human being should learn and use. Ideally, it should be part of the school curriculum.

This means Rationalists should not be a separate tribe or subculture with a separate culture and lingo. Anything that unnecessarily sets apart Rationalists from everybody else is a bad idea because it prevents ideas from spreading. Instead of being seen as generally useful ideas, it will be seen as the ideas of "those" people. Some of this is hard to avoid, I really dislike R. being so tied up with transhumanism and AI because then everybody who finds that weird silly and geeky is less interested in learning R. methods. But at least in those cases there are fairly good reasons, as using the methods themselves may lead to those things. So it is a trade-off between making the methods popular and accessible vs. being honest about it leading to some ideas that look a lot like sci-fi geekdom and all the low social status it means.

But at least when there are not so compelling reasons R. should be like everybody else.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-06-01T09:07:56.688Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This means Rationalists should not be a separate tribe or subculture with a separate culture and lingo.

Yeah, that ship already sailed out of Southampton harbor, gutted itself on an iceberg, and sank.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T10:38:53.154Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

tied up with transhumanism

I look at the matter differently. As far as I can tell, few people are interested in LW-style rationality because they don't perceive any reason to. I, on the other hand, have near-twin goals of avoiding dying and avoiding the permanent extinction of sapience; and LW-style rationality is one of the strongest toolboxes I know of to help me have any chance at all of improving my odds of either goal coming to pass.

Put another way - at least to me, spreading LW-style rationality is a mere sub-goal, a means to a larger end. From your post, I can't determine what ends you are hoping that spreading R. methods to school curriculums would actually achieve, outside of it being a terminal goal in and of itself. Perhaps if you shared /why/ you think R. should be so widely distributed, we might be able to figure out whether our goals are compatible?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T12:42:22.875Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Because it is a user manual for the brain, or, the meta-level behind getting any kinds of goals accomplished. Also a meta-level manual for people to more effectively get what they want out of life.

I have a very simple definition of LW-style Rationality. People strive to improve themselves all kinds of ways, such as learning a new skill or lifting weights. LW-style Rationality is IMHO about improving the improver itself, i.e. that part of the brain that sets goals and predicts what methods will lead to reaching those goals most effectively and reviewing the goals and seeing if the methods work and all that. It is a logical and necessary extension of the general idea of self-improvement.

To see it on levels, Level 0 is whining why my life sucks. Level 1 is working on life goals directly, for example sending out a lot of job applications in order to get a good job. Level 2 is improving myself so I become a better tool for pursuing my life goals, such as getting a college degree to be eligible for the better jobs. Level 3 is improving the improver, the part of the brain that oversees both Level 1 and 2 work. That is Rationality IMHO.

I talked with transhumanists about 20 years before I discovered LW. It was not convincing, because they were the kind of transhumanists who considered it a fashionable techno-trend. Go to electronic music raves. Read Gibson type cyberpunk novels. Have a website, which was kind of a bigger deal in 1994-5. Talk about Dyson spheres and uploading. It was a bit too... stylish and posturing. It sounded too much like just a fashion, and it sounded like "Look at me, I am smart!" Back then this fashionable kind of transhumanism was often called extropianism. The community had heroes with handles like T. O. Morrow and R. U. Sirius. It was hard to take them seriously. Just look at Sirius' publication list. When serious sounding titles like "Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity." are published by the same guy who also published "Everybody Must Get Stoned. Rock Stars On Drugs. " and "Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House. " and "Cyberpunk Handbook: The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook." then yeah, it is easy to write off.

So I was surprised when I learned on LW that far more serious transhumanism than Sirius's stuff exists. And I love it that googling R. U. Sirius' name gives 0 results on LW.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-06-01T18:06:45.086Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The community had heroes with handles like T. O. Morrow and R. U. Sirius. It was hard to take them seriously. Just look at Sirius' publication list. When serious sounding titles like "Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity." are published by the same guy who also published "Everybody Must Get Stoned. Rock Stars On Drugs. " and "Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House. " and "Cyberpunk Handbook: The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook." then yeah, it is easy to write off.

I did the Extropian name change, too. ; )

I agree that the transhumanist idea needs some cognitive house cleaning. For one thing, the newcomers like Zoltan Istvan amuse me by not seeing the contradiction between the transhumanist goal of "living forever" versus Zoltan's boosterism of younger transhumanists, especially the 20-something transhumanist women who think that posting all those selfies on Facebook accomplishes something. Apparently Zoltan, a man in his early 40's, can't imagine how transhumanists in, say, the 2030's, will talk about him as one of those obsolete figures from the Dark Ages of transhumanism who needs to step aside for a younger generation.

In other words, we seem to miss the perspective of seeing transhumanism as a project of personal development where time works to your advantage. The transhumanists' life extension goal should state explicitly that the experience of living all those extra decades and centuries in good shape will turn you into a really impressive badass, at least if you do it right. Even within the limits of current life expectancies, if age and experiences add value, then the older transhumanists with good reputations should have higher status and more authority in promoting the world view than padawan transhumanists with shorter résumés who have yet to prove themselves.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T13:04:53.549Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You have obviously taken some time to work out your reply to my post; however, it does not seem to address what I thought was my salient point. So I hope you will forgive me if I try rephrasing, in order to evoke a somewhat different reply from you.

I have certain goals, which I'll simplify as NotDying, and which you appear to emotively associate with 1980's-90's extropianism. I can more likely achieve that goal by applying LW-style rationality. I have just come up with a small step which may allow users of LW-style rationality to adjust their Type 1 thinking in a preferred direction. Thus, using "Mort!" as an expletive contributes, in a very slight way, to my achieving NotDying.

Your stated goal appears to be to increase the number of people who can more effectively get what they want out of life, by applying something similar to LW-style rationality. You appear to want to achieve your goal by minimizing the extropian/transhumanist aspects of LW-style rationality. Thus, using "Mort!" as an expletive runs contrary to your goal.

If the above is at least roughly accurate, then: is there any fashion in which I can increase my odds of achieving NotDying by cooperating with your subgoal of minimizing extropianism in LW? If not, then is there any fashion in which I can increase my odds of achieving NotDying by assisting you with your terminal goal, even if we disagree about your subgoal?

comment by lfghjkl · 2015-06-01T14:00:04.557Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Thus, using "Mort!" as an expletive contributes, in a very slight way, to my achieving NotDying.

I disagree. Using "mort" as a swear word would be extremely low status. You'd only come across as the angry weird guy who doesn't like death. Associating "being against death" with "being socially oblivious" will not further your goal, please don't do this.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T14:13:22.227Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think you have to worry as much as your post seems to indicate you do. As best as I can recall, in the last decade or so, I have sworn aloud approximately once - and I was alone when I did that. (IIRC, it was when I thought I'd discovered my VPN had started blocking access to certain political sites.)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T13:37:05.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I get it now, thanks! Question: do you want a small number of (exceptionally smart but not yet rich, typically young) people who already significantly care about NotDying care even more about it, or do you want a large number of people (some of them who are billionaires) not think that rationality is a weak subculture, by a slow osmosis, learn the ideas and through that slowly figure out that dying is not such a good idea and throw their immense numbers and wealth at it?

The disadvantage of the second solution is that it may be too slow for your own timespan. It would be kind of a process where nothing happens for a long time and then blam NASA like budgets are thrown on the problem. Your first solution works on a shorter timespan, but you are preaching to a choir of largely like-minded people who have significant amount of smarts but not so much money to throw on the problem.

comment by DataPacRat · 2015-06-01T13:58:27.519Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that, to the extent that "Mort!" would act as advertising, my target group would be those people who are not currently transhumanists or cryonicists themselves, but have subculture leanings which reduce their automatic emotional rejection of the ideas: science-fiction fans, skeptics, atheists, and others of that ilk. I don't think I can do anything that would measurably nudge the larger population, who currently resoundingly reject or ignore transhumanist ideas; at least, as you put it, in my own timespan.

As an example, here's a possible use case, at a science fiction convention: Someone drops a Dalek on their foot, and exclaims "Mort!". A nearby conventioneer thinks, "'Merde'?" and asks, "Are you French?" The swearer explains, "No, 'Mort' - death is obscene. Now where's that sonic screwdriver?" The questioning conventioneer and any other bystanders are socially nudged, slightly, in the direction of anti-deathism, and might be a percentage point or so more likely to discover LW in the future; and the swearer has used an expletive to help manage pain. Everyone wins.

I don't think that an anti-deathist swear word is going to make the general population any /less/ interested in cryonics, life-extension, etc.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-01T16:51:40.805Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point is, rationality means a set of method that preferably every human being should learn and use.

Don't get hung up on terminology. "Epistemic rationality" is known in the normal world as "science" (or "scientific method"). "Instrumental rationality" is known as "pragmatism".

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T17:03:26.459Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think those Rationalist swear words are a case of pragmatism.

comment by DanielLC · 2015-06-01T07:01:45.287Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't consider death bad in of itself, but only a problem due to opportunity cost. If you create a new person, that's just as good as extending the life of an old one. I've noticed my instinct on that start to shift due to being on LessWrong, and I'm kind of creeped out by that. I don't want to make it happen more.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-01T07:19:53.504Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's only following if you follow some intuitive utilitarian ideas to their unintuititve conclusions. I'm curious as to how you arrived at this view as "the truth," and not just "an obvious failure mode of utilitarianism."?

comment by DanielLC · 2015-06-01T18:59:10.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it has something to do with intuiting eternalism. If you think that when you're dead you're just gone and nothing matters, then death makes life meaningless. If you think that when you die you still exist in the past, then the only advantage of not dying is that it makes the time you exist longer.

Also, I reject personal identity. Someone who remembers being me isn't fundamentally different from someone who does not. I don't know if that's at quite an intuitive enough level to explain this though.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-06-01T09:15:50.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Wikipedia article on swearing is interesting.

It gives reasons why swearing may be not only a human universal but also serves social and other functions.

Steven Pinker lists the following functions (The Stuff of Thought: Language As a Window Into Human Nature, 2007):

  • Abusive swearing

  • Cathartic swearing

  • Dysphemistic swearing

  • Emphatic swearing

  • Idiomatic swearing

I had to lookup dysphemistic and from that I'm not sure about the distinction to abuse. I think some way to deal with abuse has to be found anyway so that usage is addressed by that. Cathartic is positive so cultivating that should be fine. Idiomatic swearing is a cultural usage that I'd guess interlinks with the other due to circumstances - which could be solved if the social tension behind it were solved (otherwise it would inevitably remain and should be accepted too. This leaves emphatic swearing which I'm not sure has positive effects. Or maybe it is just a weaker form of cathartic swearing (scaled depending on temperament/character).

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-06-02T15:51:43.241Z · score: -8 (16 votes) · LW · GW

9 obscene ways the rich spend their money

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/02/9_obscene_ways_the_rich_spend_their_money_partner/

Look at #7:

Trying to live forever. It’s a myth that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen; the Cryonics Society of California claims he was very interested in the process, but his “family didn’t go for it.” Today, several super-rich types are investing heavily in cryonics, as well as other life-extending measures. Canadian electronics billionaire Robert Miller and American hotel and casino billionaire Don Laughlin have both poured tons of support money into Alcor, which bills itself as the “world leader in cryonics.” If everything works out for these two, at the point of death, their body temperatures will be lowered to somewhere below -120° C (that’s -248° F) in a process called “vitrification” until the cure for what ailed them is discovered and they can be revived, or something like that. (They’re also planning to have most of their assets frozen, because what’s the point of bothering to live if you’re poor?)

Plenty of nonwealthy people can afford cryonics, myself included, by using life insurance as the funding mechanism. For some reason this idea fails to communicate in most of the stories I've read about cryonics. You can see cryonics' true wealth demographics just by going to a cryonics convention, like Alcor's in Scottsdale this October, and noticing the absence of attractive young adventuresses who want to try to meet and sell themselves to these allegedly wealthy men. If anything, cryonics acts as "female Kryptonite."

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-06-02T17:15:03.372Z · score: 21 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Does absolutely EVERYTHING come back to women not throwing themselves at men for you?

EDIT seriously this is like a third of your posts. It gets thrown in as non-sequiturs everywhere for no apparent reason. Are you intentionally trolling?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-02T17:16:30.724Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the article jumped out at me as bizarre. Wife bonuses are just a very formal and translucent process for negotiating a relationship. There's nothing wrong if two people want to negotiate like that. The $1500 purses are a better example. And lots of people plan for doomsday scenarios. And why wouldn't you want a doctor who could make house calls if you could afford it?

comment by Jiro · 2015-06-02T18:49:07.699Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A spouse should prefer that you signal unconditional commitment to the marriage rather than conditional commitment. Wife bonuses signal conditional commitment. That's why people find them distasteful. (For rich people, of course, they countersignal "you get so much from marrying me that I don't need to commit unconditionally in order to keep you".)

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-06-01T16:36:56.256Z · score: -11 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I have an objection in general to the sort of atheist, or at least secularist, propaganda where a woman who grows up in a sexually oppressive cult finds it just liberating to set aside her abstinence and purity indoctrination when she leaves home.

Some recent examples:

I Once Signed an Abstinence Pledge and Wore a Purity Ring; Now, I’m a Sex-Positive Former Christian

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/02/27/i-once-signed-an-abstinence-pledge-and-wore-a-purity-ring-now-im-a-sex-positive-former-christian/

Sex as a Southern Woman: A Story of Shame

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/04/21/sex-as-a-southern-woman/

I could’ve been a Duggar wife: I grew up in the same church, and the abuse scandal doesn’t shock me

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/28/i_couldve_been_a_duggar_wife_i_grew_up_in_the_same_church_and_the_abuse_scandal_doesnt_shock_me/

After a First Time, Many Second Thoughts

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/style/after-a-first-time-many-second-thoughts.html

Namely, that this kind of sexual liberation doesn't necessarily work symmetrically for young men who grow up in similar religious environments. Women naturally hold the gatekeeping position, regardless of what their elders brought them up to believe about sex. So even average-looking women who decide to break away from these restrictions usually have a relatively easy way to do so.

But because of the asymmetry in human mating, the sexually unattractive young christian man who wants to break away from his sex-negative upbringing will discover pretty quickly that his apostasy hasn't increased his sexual market value. Instead he becomes just another sexually yucky and frustrated secular guy.

Yet atheist bloggers like Hemant Mehta keep publishing these dishonest stories by or about young, formerly christian women who decide to take off their purity rings and start hooking up with men. This sounds like a sexist way to make the case for the benefits of atheism: Wow, look at the fun all those women have when they become atheists and lose their sexual inhibitions.

It just doesn't work that way for a lot of guys who leave religion, however. Referring to the story I linked below about the male virgins in Silicon Valley, I doubt that they wound up that way because of christian upbringings. Silicon Valley doesn't have a reputation as a christian sort of place, and I suspect most of these guys have secular outlooks.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-06-01T16:47:33.469Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Namely, that this kind of sexual liberation doesn't necessarily work symmetrically for young men who grow up in these kinds of religious environments.

I do not think that a lack of symmetry is sufficient reason to scuttle an improvement in people's lives, which sex positivity appears to be.

I also observe that the sympathy one receives for a hardship is not linearly proportional to the amount one advertises that hardship.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-06-01T16:55:50.206Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

is not linearly proportional

I would probably call it "negatively correlated" X-/

comment by ReevesAnd · 2015-06-01T16:58:26.234Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You state that these stories are dishonest; do you have anything to support that?

You also state that you object to this sort of "propaganda" because it does not apply in the same way to males. I agree that differing sexual attitudes towards men and women lead to different experiences for men and women in the situations you're describing. But why would this lead to an objection? Pointing out life events that have helped some people (and likely wouldn't help some others) seems like a positive thing to do to help those who could be helped (in this case, women with sex-negative upbringings).

comment by bogus · 2015-06-01T20:58:26.706Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So even average-looking women who decide to break away from these restrictions usually have a relatively easy way to do so.

What does "relatively easy" mean here? Doing well in a sexually open culture may be especially hard for males with some sort of religious baggage and no real education in the matter (you have argued this quite persuasively elsewhere, and I broadly agree), but I doubt that it's anything easy for females in the same condition. Even the most un-inhibited folks have preferences and standards for their sex lives that don't boil down to just "having sex, and as much of it as possible, regardless of the circumstances and risks involved".

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T17:20:55.329Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Just because religion isn't the root of all evil doesn't mean that it doesn't produce any of it.

In the US in the age bracket of 30 to 34 years only 2 percent never had sexual contact and less than 5 percent had no sexual contact in the last year. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf

That doesn't mean that hardship of both male and female virgins doesn't exist but the numbers don't tell the story that you try to tell.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-06-01T17:55:59.993Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not that I find much useful in the post you're responding to, but your response seems written to mislead. The age range is suspicious, and looks cherry-picked (the original post was talking about young people, and 30-34 doesn't match that). The author talks about the difference in experiences between virgin men and women, and you instead talk about the prevalence of virginity. The author's focus is on the way atheism is "sold" to young men and women as a way to improve their sex lives, and how this is misleading to young men, and your focus is instead on how rare the target audience of this kind of sales tactic is.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T18:07:18.678Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

the original post was talking about young people, and 30-34 doesn't match that

No, he referred to a 40 year old virgin in Silicon Valley. In general advancedatheist argues that young people who don't learn the requisite skills of mating when they are young don't learn them afterwards.

The author's focus is on the way atheism is "sold" to young men and women as a way to improve their sex lives, and how this is misleading to young men, and your focus is instead on how rare the target audience of this kind of sales tactic is.

Where does the assumption that improving one's sex life is impossible if one already has sex come from? If you believe that sex is bad than you will have less fun with it. It becomes harder to communicate with a partner about what one desires. Plenty of women who do have sex have no orgasms.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-06-01T18:45:33.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, he referred to a 40 year old virgin in Silicon Valley. In general advancedatheist argues that young people who don't learn the requisite skills of mating when they are young don't learn them afterwards.

I don't see that reference. It's possible it's been removed - the comment/post has been edited - but either way that's both still not the right age range, and a red herring anyways.

Where does the assumption that improving one's sex life is impossible if one already has sex come from? If you believe that sex is bad than you will have less fun with it. It becomes harder to communicate with a partner about what one desires. Plenty of women who do have sex have no orgasms.

Null. Improving one's sex life requires having a sex life in the first place, the absence of which is rather central to his comment/post.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-06-01T20:39:36.387Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see that reference.

That's because you read the post without the context. This post includes the sentence "Referring to the story I linked below about the male virgins in Silicon Valley, I doubt that they wound up that way because of christian upbringings. "

That post refers to a 40 year old virgin.

Null. Improving one's sex life requires having a sex life in the first place, the absence of which is rather central to his comment/post.

Then you just contradicted yourself. You wrote "atheism is "sold" to young men and women as a way to improve their sex lives"

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-06-01T20:53:41.695Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. I see. Well, I'm not interested in winning points in a pedantry contest, so good day.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2015-06-02T14:22:16.385Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Namely, that this kind of sexual liberation doesn't necessarily work symmetrically for young men who grow up in similar religious environments.

What, going from under the control of others to in control of yourself feels better than going from in control of others to only in control of yourself? Why, who would have ever guessed??? Shocking!

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-06-02T00:28:49.549Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Women naturally hold the gatekeeping position

You don't understand how patriarchy works.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-06-03T14:35:43.597Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This was not very productive. Overall power imbalances do not prevent it being the other way around in certain subfields. Whites can have most power still blacks can decide who gets to make a career in hip-hop. This is perfecty normal and in fact you should expect this. The problem with the current feminism narrative going back straight to Hegelian philosophy is that it is a one way interaction between oppressor and oppressed. It is never so. People react back and make their own structures. Nobody is fully passive.