Update on Kim Suozzi (cancer patient in want of cryonics) 2013-01-22T09:15:11.369Z
How do I "test it"? 2012-01-24T04:05:27.743Z
[Help] Critique my Admissions Essay on HPMoR 2011-09-17T16:15:37.234Z


Comment by ahartell on On clinging · 2021-01-27T15:41:03.280Z · LW · GW

Indeed, before dismissing it entirely, one would presumably want an account of why it features so prominently in our mental and social lives.

One aspect to this seems to be that clinging is a mechanism by which a portion of the network maintains its own activation.  Given evolutionary dynamics, it's unsurprising to see widespread greediness and self-recommendation among neurons/neural structures (cf Neurons Gone Wild).

Comment by ahartell on EA Funds: Long-Term Future fund is open to applications until Feb. 7th · 2019-01-18T00:32:14.967Z · LW · GW

Thanks, fixed!

Comment by ahartell on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T03:41:07.391Z


In addition to safety and contact, another dynamic was that I was generally not S1 expecting much value to come out of Dragon Army, so chafing more within the system seemed like pain, effort, and time spent for little expected gain.

Stag hunts, anyone?

Edit: Though, I will note that it can be hard to find the space between "I'm damaging the group by excluding my optimization power from the process" and "I'm being a Red Knight here and should be game for whatever the commander decides." It may seem like the obvious split is "expressive in discussion and game in the field" but discussion time is actually really valuable. So it seems like the actual thing is "be game until the cost to you becomes great enough that something needs to change". If you reduce the minimum size of misfit enough, then it becomes intractable to deal with everyone's needs. But then you have to figure out if a recent failure was a result of things being seriously broken or just a sign that you need to Be Better in some operationalized and "doable" way. When do you bring up the problem? It's hard.

Comment by ahartell on [deleted post] 2018-03-20T01:39:02.199Z

Many of the Dragons who stepped into the role of the Ghost for a time did so softly and gradually, and it never felt like this level of absence was Notably Different from the previous level, in a paradox-of-the-heap sort of way. Set a bar, and set a gradient around that bar, and stay in contact.

As the person who fell most heavily into this role, the above resonates a lot. Below are some other thoughts on my experience.

I had the sense early on that I wasn't getting very much value out of group activities, and felt not very connected to the house. In this way I think "Black Knight"-style considerations were major contributors to my Ghost behavior. Competing commitments and general depression were also relevant. I didn't really feel like there was much the house could do to help me with that, but I don't know whether that's true. If it weren't for the Black Knight dynamic, I think I would have prioritized DA over other commitments, but depression may have been sufficient for me to end up as a Ghost anyway.

Not Getting Value Out of Group Activities

The things that the whole house can do (or even a large subset) are unlikely to be the on the capability frontier of the individual in an area of serious interest for that individual. Everyone needs to be able to do the thing, and there will be more variance in skill in areas that are a major focus of some but not all of the group. Programming ability is an example.

Because of something like this, DA group activities rarely felt like they were on a growth-edge that I cared about. In particular, group exercise usually felt costly with little benefit, and I never managed to get EE to be especially valuable for me. Social things like our weekly house dinner (a substantial fraction of Dragon Army hours) felt less fun or less growthy than the likely alternatives, but I probably put unusually low value on this kind of bonding.

Now when I imagine a group that is striving for excellence, it seems like there are two ways it can work:

1) The members share a common major project and can work together towards that goal. Here it makes sense for the group to ask for a high time commitment from its members, since time put towards the group directly advances a major goal of the individual.

2) The members have different goals. In this case it seems like the group should ask for a smaller time commitment. Members can mutually draw inspiration from each other and can coordinate when there is a shared goal, but generally the group should offer affordances, not impose requirements.

Counter-evidence: I think I would have gotten a lot of value out of covering the bases on dimensions I care about. Exercise was supposed to do this, and would do it along Duncan's version of the "capable well-rounded human" dimension. We discussed doing something like this for rationality skills, but we didn't follow through.

In this case, all members share a common goal of reaching a minimum bar in some area. Still, this can be boring for those who are already above the bar, and for me this sort of "catching up"/"covering the bases" is much less exciting than pushing forward on a main area of interest. (Which means group-time still ends up as less-fun-than-the-alternative by default.)

There were experiments intended to incentivize Dragons to do solo work on things they considered high priority, but my impression was that there was little encouragement/accountability/useful structure. Things I was originally excited about turned into homework I had to do for DA.

Comment by ahartell on Contra double crux · 2017-10-09T11:32:47.582Z · LW · GW

[These don't seem like cruxes to me, but are places where our models differ.]


a crux for some belief B is another belief C which if one changed one's mind about C, one would change one's mind about B.


A double crux is a particular case where two people disagree over B and have the same crux, albeit going in opposite directions. Say if Xenia believes B (because she believes C) and Yevgeny disbelieves B (because he does not believe C), then if Xenia stopped believing C, she would stop believing B (and thus agree with Yevgeny) and vice-versa.


Across most reasonable people on most recondite topics, 'cruxes' are rare, and 'double cruxes' (roughly) exponentially rarer.

It seems like your model might be missing a class of double cruxes:

It doesn't have to be the case that, if my interlocutor and I drew up belief maps, we would both find a load-bearing belief C about which we disagree. Rather, it's often the case that my interlocutor has some 'crucial' argument or belief which isn't on my radar at all, but would indeed change my mind about B if I were convinced it were true. In another framing, I have an implicit crux for most beliefs that there is no extremely strong argument/evidence to the contrary, which can match up against any load-bearing belief the other person has. In this light, it seems to me that one should not be very surprised to find double cruxes pretty regularly.

Further, even when you have a belief map where the main belief rests on many small pieces of evidence, it is usually possible to move up a level of abstraction and summarize all of that evidence in a higher-level claim, which can serve as a crux. This does not address your point about relatively unimportant shifts around 49%/51%, but in practice it seems like a meaningful point.

Comment by ahartell on Tensions in Truthseeking · 2017-10-07T15:44:24.062Z · LW · GW

[Note: This comment seems pretty pedantic in retrospect. Posting anyway to gauge reception, and because I'd still prefer clarity.]

On honest businesses, I'd expect successful ones to involve overconfidence on average because of winner's curse.

I'm having trouble understanding this application of winner's curse.

Are you saying something like the following:

  1. People put in more resources and generally try harder when they estimate a higher chance of success. (Analogous to people bidding more in an auction when they estimate a higher value.)

  2. These actions increase the chance of success, so overconfident people are overrepresented among successes.

  3. This overrepresentation holds even if the "true chance of success" is the main factor. Overconfidence of founders just needs to shift the distribution of successes a bit, for "successful ones to involve overconfidence on average".

First, this seems weird to me because I got the impression that you were arguing against overconfidence being useful.

Second, are you implying that successful businesses have on average "overpaid" for their successes in effort/resources? That is central to my understanding of winner's curse, but maybe not yours.

Sorry if I'm totally missing your point.

Comment by ahartell on CFAR workshop with new instructors in Seattle, 6/7-6/11 · 2017-05-21T02:53:58.839Z · LW · GW


Comment by ahartell on CFAR workshop with new instructors in Seattle, 6/7-6/11 · 2017-05-21T01:06:58.643Z · LW · GW

This was a test comment for something very important.

Comment by ahartell on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-27T04:15:20.575Z · LW · GW

Just finished. I'm sure my calibration was terrible though.

Comment by ahartell on August 2015 Media Thread · 2015-08-02T05:45:37.008Z · LW · GW

Hello Internet is a fun "two guys talking" podcast made by two popular youtubers including CGPGray, the guy who made this great video about the future of automation and employment. Low (almost no) informational content, but really enjoyable, and CGPGray will often say things that make it sound as if he's read at least some of LessWrong/Overcoming Bias. At the very least he's a transhumanist.

Comment by ahartell on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-24T19:07:30.517Z · LW · GW


Comment by ahartell on Solved Problems Repository · 2013-03-28T17:08:18.322Z · LW · GW

There is also the possibility that sex would not have happened anyway but brining it up that that was your intention made them want to distance themselves from the situation. And the possibility that it would have happened if you hadn't asked but only because the flirty/touchy behavior was leading them towards wanting to have sex but asking interrupted the process (this is distinct from the original claim in that the problem wasn't asking but asking too soon).

Comment by ahartell on Exponent of Desire · 2013-02-27T08:03:11.299Z · LW · GW


Shouldn't the last one refer to the one above it rather that the one two places above it though? I think it should be "and I love being able to recognize the costs and benefits of this uncertainty" rather than "and I love just what this drive to dispel uncertainty can do."

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-17T04:08:11.143Z · LW · GW

I don't know if they're sure. Mostly I was just responding to the "who are they supposed to have learned that from?". I think there are a lot of social, gender expectation-y things that would lead to women thinking that they were "supposed" to be less assertive.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-17T03:41:22.475Z · LW · GW

Who are they supposed to have learned that from? They sure as hell didn't learn that from me. And every man I know wishes women were more to the point. The stereotype criticism is "blah blah blah", not abruptness. If you're in charge, make decisions, and give orders. I'll salute, and we'll get something done.

No citations, but I've heard a lot of times that women in business positions are punished for being assertive or aggressive in situations where men are expected to do the same. I don't know if this is true (I think it probably is), but either way I've definitely heard it enough times that it doesn't surprise me that women would think they should try not to seem abrupt or bossy.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-16T16:44:35.850Z · LW · GW

To be honest, I'm surprised by the hostility of your comments here. I was bringing a hypothesis to your attention so that you could evaluate it. I suppose I could have read all of your comments but I don't really care that much I guess. "I wonder" was meant to identify this as a passing thought. And in my second comment I updated away from the hypothesis, so I'm not sure why this tone would be present.

I might be misreading it, but your last sentence sounds sort of fake-nice and passive aggressive due to the rest of the comment. I normally wouldn't make an entire comment just about tone, and I actually like the tone on Lessswrong, but this conversation is sort of about it, and like I said, I was surprised.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-16T08:51:50.778Z · LW · GW

It doesn't seem like that would be the case, no. I expected your alterations to have been deeper than that, including stuff like softening your disagreement.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-16T07:25:06.879Z · LW · GW

I wonder if your niceness padding has led to people missing your point and to you being frustrated by their failure to understand you.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-16T02:22:21.771Z · LW · GW

The problem is that the concept of "fairness" you are using there is incompatible with VHM-utilitarianism. (If somebody disagrees with this, please describe what the term in one's utility function corresponding to fairness would look like.)

People care about fairness, and get negative utility from feeling like they are being treated unfairly.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-15T08:05:10.131Z · LW · GW

I would tend towards the last two, I think, and wouldn't find the forth to be rude (though it might depend on the nature and scale of the clarifications, with this method being most apt for smaller ones). However, I am one of those who likes the style of discussion on lesswrong.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-15T07:55:53.349Z · LW · GW

I feel like part of this is not acknowledging that quite a few people will experience non-fuzzy or anti-fuzzy feelings if they are disagreed with in a dismissive way. Or maybe when they feel like they are disagreed with in a dismissive way.

I think that showing respect can stop disagreements from seeming like dismissals.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women- Crowdsourced research on Cognitive biases and gender · 2013-02-11T16:57:34.608Z · LW · GW


If you score 70% in an exact, you are not very accurate. If that was the only exact on which you scored 70%...

You mean "exam" here, I think.

You're right though.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women- Crowdsourced research on Cognitive biases and gender · 2013-02-11T11:06:15.462Z · LW · GW

You seem to be confused about "the situation causing her nervousness" and how that relates to the mentioning of her previous experience at a party. I really don't see how

But her reason actually refers to a totally different situation!

seems like strong evidence for the "cause" (I agree with what buybuydandavis says above about the use of the word in this situation) being the woman in question.

It seems obvious to me that she has beliefs based on her experience at the party that make the elevator situation worrying. This is not a difference in type from, say, one's beliefs about what a gun looks like informing one's nervousness in a situation in which one sees a gun, and I think it would be pretty silly to say that one's external situation was not the "cause" of one's nervousness in that case.

Comment by ahartell on LW Women- Crowdsourced research on Cognitive biases and gender · 2013-02-11T09:54:41.810Z · LW · GW

Actually, I think that your analogy is apt. The only difference is that the priors on "someone says "four" whenever asked for a number" and "someone only says the word "four" are really low and the prior for "someone has some misogynist beliefs" is much higher.

(Note that I am definitely not saying that shminux is a misogynist.)

Comment by ahartell on February 2013 Media Thread · 2013-02-02T20:10:41.085Z · LW · GW

I don't think that would work if you tried (posting links to everything). It may naively seem like that is being incentivized but from my own intuitions about what I would do if someone did that and that fact that that hasn't actually happened, I don't think you need to be concerned.

Comment by ahartell on Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013 · 2013-01-29T07:49:20.622Z · LW · GW

I would.

Comment by ahartell on Update on Kim Suozzi (cancer patient in want of cryonics) · 2013-01-23T06:32:06.150Z · LW · GW

Thanks, updated.

Comment by ahartell on Is there an automatic Chrome-to-Anki-2 extension or solution? · 2013-01-18T01:41:17.299Z · LW · GW

Thanks. This is exactly what I meant by "systemized."

Comment by ahartell on Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013 · 2013-01-17T05:18:30.563Z · LW · GW

Does the list of all articles include posts in discussion? If not, is there another list that does? Finally, is there some interesting reason that it stops in August 2012, or is that just a result of people not updating it? Thanks.

Comment by ahartell on Is there an automatic Chrome-to-Anki-2 extension or solution? · 2013-01-16T06:19:20.374Z · LW · GW

More broadly, I'm interested in hearing about the workflow of those who use Anki or some alternative regularly. I've used it intermittently but never felt like I was using it very efficiently. It may be that making cards always feels like that and SR's efficiency makes up for it but I'm curious to see how people have systemized the process if at all.

Also, this probably belongs in the open thread.

Comment by ahartell on Suggestion: site-wide taboos · 2013-01-16T04:27:17.250Z · LW · GW

Hah, thanks. So one cannot use the word to reference their own "subjective feeling" but can use it to reference others'?

(Sidenote: If you're right, I guess most of its usage here is incorrect, and perhaps misleading, but it seems like we'd be wrong in an silly, pedantic, "what silly rules for word" sort of way. We'd still be wrong though.)

Comment by ahartell on Suggestion: site-wide taboos · 2013-01-16T03:18:29.820Z · LW · GW

There was recently a discussion of Lesswrong's use of the word "Signaling," and it seemed to me that upon consideration it was shown that we're pretty much using it to mean what it means in a broader academic context. See this comment in particular.

With respect to the use of "affect," I again disagree but there aren't really any examples I can point to. I think its use in many cases is very similar to "emotion," but I also think that its use fits pretty perfectly with your stated definition. For example, someone might say, "I have a really strong positive affect towards ponies, so my assessment of this fanfiction's quality might be biased" (I have almost no idea why that is the example I thought of), and this fits pretty well with " a subjective feeling experienced in response to a thought or other stimulus."

With "affect," I think we might have "good reasons" for using the word, but I concede that its use isn't really necessary and that its use probably is because people want "to seem Less Wrong-y."

Comment by ahartell on Suggestion: site-wide taboos · 2013-01-16T03:07:44.788Z · LW · GW

Trivial point: Do you mean "Site-wide Taboos?" The current title is "side-wide taboos."

Comment by ahartell on Discussion of LW going on in felicifia · 2013-01-15T21:36:52.491Z · LW · GW

And that's exactly why I'm against donating to cancer research.

I think opposition to donating to cancer research (as opposed to donating to more cost efficient options) is obvious and accepted (here). Still, I'm selfish enough that if I had cancer I would treat it, which is what was actually being considered/compared to cryonics.

I'm sure this has come up before, but I think there are some cases in which cancer research donations make sense. Often donations geared towards the curing of specific diseases is prompted by some personal emotional connection to the disease (e.g., someone in one's family suffered or died as a result of it), and I expect these kind of emotional donations don't replace other would-be-efficient charity donations but instead replace general spending or saving. That said, I don't actually know if that's the case.

Comment by ahartell on Farewell Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) · 2013-01-14T21:38:02.975Z · LW · GW


Comment by ahartell on Farewell Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) · 2013-01-13T23:20:40.751Z · LW · GW

I would just like to register my preference that those who retract comments leave the original text in place. In most cases, I believe the retraction itself serves the purposes of retraction pretty well, whereas replacing the text is sort of overkill and detracts from the conversation.

Comment by ahartell on You can't signal to rubes · 2013-01-04T04:50:06.288Z · LW · GW

To those wondering, the first definition for rube I found was "an unsophisticated person from a rural area; a hick."

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-28T01:52:07.629Z · LW · GW

Is that why you chose her specifically to be voiced by Zoe Chace?

Comment by ahartell on META: Deletion policy · 2012-12-27T22:59:52.240Z · LW · GW

Judging by Kodos96's user page, the same is the case for posts, i.e., they are still visible after being "censored."

Comment by ahartell on [deleted post] 2012-12-25T14:59:01.725Z

Or an exploration of its bounds.

Edit: Oops. Silly grammar/spelling mistake.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T23:53:32.154Z · LW · GW

Do you remember the first time he lost for real? He put a dark torture spell on Harry and locked him in an unused classroom.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T15:44:59.654Z · LW · GW

The argument she's making is that the silliness of the girls is all uniform and dependent on them being girls, namely that they all gossip about Harry, Hermione, and Draco in a romantic context. Now this isn't true if you take the SPEW members into account, but I can sort of see it if you only consider unnamed or cameo female characters in their dining hall conversations. She's also saying that the silliness shown by the male characters isn't so obviously determined by their gender (see: lack of silly conversations about Quidditch and other suggestions mentioned in the comments of this post).

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T14:54:45.210Z · LW · GW

You can't use the fineness thing as a reason for the Philosopher's Stone to be unique to Flamel as it says explicitly in the chapter that all alchemical magic has the same requirements, and it doesn't sound at all like Flamel is the only one who can do alchemy.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T14:50:23.959Z · LW · GW

Yeah, different issue all together. Thanks though.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T04:44:08.948Z · LW · GW

Padma had the subplot where she was mean to Hermione and Harry "reformed" her or whatever. She is put as second in command in Dragon Army and is respected enough by Draco to make him realize why his father said that Ravenclaw was an acceptable House from which to choose one's wife. She is shown to be powerful and loyal in both the armies and in SPEW (her prismatic sphere or whatever is mentioned to be particularly strong; she doesn't hesitate when Hermione tells her to go find help). Finally, she sort of kind of notices that something is wrong when interacting with Tonks!Susan while the others all think that Susan is a double witch. I'm not going to argue about whether she's more important than Blaise but she definitely does more than just switch places with her sister.

On the topic of Blaise, we can be fairly confident that almost none of what happened in the underwater battle was the result of his competence; he was just the headmaster's tool. Also, we are shown that he isn't that skillful a leader as without the advantage of the green glasses he loses his battle against (I think) Dean Thomas. On the other hand, Padma successfully leads Dragon army to victory after Draco looses his duel with Hermione.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T01:37:31.425Z · LW · GW

Is this no longer showing up on the discussion page for other people? I'm not complaining, and I can imagine the reasoning behind that choice, but I was a bit confused when I tried to find it and couldn't see it.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T22:57:05.659Z · LW · GW

Is your edit saying that (in retrospect) what is being lampshaded is obvious or that it's obvious that it is a lampshade? If the former, what is behing lampshaded?

Edit: You're obviously talking about latter. Oops.

Comment by ahartell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2012-12-20T22:04:03.610Z · LW · GW

Oh yeah, obviously it would be more powerful since it was made before or after the cloak.

Comment by ahartell on LessWrong podcasts · 2012-12-04T00:12:52.321Z · LW · GW

I might be missing something obvious but I'm a bit confused about the subscription length. It says on this page that one has 6 months to download the podcast and that you keep them forever. However, it also says in two places that it is 4.99 for 1 year of access. What significance does the year have?

Comment by ahartell on Manufacturing prejudice · 2012-12-02T06:39:05.623Z · LW · GW

I absolutely agree. In any case I should have said "racism" anyway, as I'm comparing the ideas, with one being seen generally as "held by many but ill informed" and the other being seen almost with incredulity.