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Comment by aleksander on Language Learning and the Dark Arts. · 2015-04-12T05:12:29.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can't you ask her to tutor you?

Comment by aleksander on Can we decrease the risk of worse-than-death outcomes following brain preservation? · 2015-02-23T17:17:58.383Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

3) Digital blueprints of preserved brains are made available for anyone to download. Large numbers of simulations are run by kids learning how to use the simulation APIs, folks testing poker bots, web search companies making me read every page on the Internet to generate a ranking signal, etc. etc.

Comment by aleksander on [LINK] The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics · 2015-02-23T03:20:22.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And even if you do, then the only viewpoint you will have really falsified is one which postulates that (a) the state vector collapse is caused by consciousness, and (b) concludes that therefore any consciousness has to do the trick, even one simulated on a quantum computer. I have met exactly zero physicists who'd treat (a) seriously, but even if you believe in (a), (b) still doesn't need to follow (someone could believe that only real human brain makes the magic happen).

(I assume you were referring to experiment 3. from Deutsch's "Three experimental implications of the Everett interpretation in Quantum Concepts in Space and Time.")

Comment by aleksander on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-06T19:07:34.740Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know quite a lot of people who didn't, all I'm saying if you do, chances are you might like Fargo as well.

(If on the other hand you preferred The Wire, then you should try True Detective.)

Comment by aleksander on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-06T05:44:13.023Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you enjoyed Breaking Bad, try Fargo. The two are best TV shows I watched in years and in my mind have a certain common flavor.

Comment by aleksander on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-06T05:41:34.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Military power of EU was not enough to stop or seriously inconvenience Milosevic.

Comment by aleksander on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-22T05:13:16.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hey it's a good question. I'd pick Happiness.

When I was much younger I might have said Truth. I was a student of physics once and loved to repeat the quote that the end of man is knowledge. But since then I have been happy, and I have been unhappy, and the difference between the two is just too large.

Comment by aleksander on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-23T03:26:33.019Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow thanks, I believed this one until five minutes ago.

Comment by aleksander on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-12T19:33:32.897Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think both questions are informative, they just test a different thing.

To give an analogy from copmputer science, the question about hydrogen atom is similar in spirit to, "Would you be able to implement quicksort?", whereas the one about Bell theorem is more like, "Would you be able to reconstruct the halting problem proof?" The latter seems like a much higher bar. I'm curious, do you think there exist many people who can actually reconstruct the proof of Bell's theorem, but who can't solve the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom?

(I'm assuming that by solving the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom, Daniel meant deriving the energy levels of a hydrogen atom from SE, as opposed to say providing the full basis of eigenfunctions including these for E > 0; the latter is much harder and I wouldn't expect most people who took even advanced Quantum Mechanics to be able to do it without looking things up).

Comment by aleksander on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-10-04T04:49:53.719Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I liked this short story on that topic, which I believe was written by Yvain: http://raikoth.net/Stuff/story1.html

Comment by aleksander on What are your contrarian views? · 2014-09-16T05:33:09.549Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Freud's psychoanalysis has been often put in the same category of "Copernican" things as heliocentrism and evolution.

Comment by aleksander on Open thread, July 21-27, 2014 · 2014-07-24T04:16:21.754Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The article makes it even more worse by conflating joy and happiness.

Many articles that talk about happiness do that, including the often cited paper about how supposedly the connection between income and happiness breaks down at a certain level.

Comment by aleksander on This is why we can't have social science · 2014-07-14T02:14:52.336Z · score: 34 (34 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that means you are smarter than that Harvard professor. He is a very successful person and has reached heights coveted by many very smart people. It just means that the game he is playing is not one where you get ahead by saying things that make sense.

For example, if you listen to a successful politician and spot a false statement he utters, that does not mean that you are smarter than that politician.

Comment by aleksander on This is why we can't have social science · 2014-07-14T02:11:11.919Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This is why we can't have social science. Not because the subject is not amenable to the scientific method -- it obviously is. People are conducting controlled experiments and other people are attempting to replicate the results. So far, so good.

So, you say people are trying the scientific approach. My guess is, the nature of the problem is such that nothing much came out of these attempts. No great insights were gained, no theories were discovered. Real scientists had nothing to show for their efforts, and this is why the these fields are now not owned by real scientists, but by people with other skills.

For an imperfect analogy, say an ancient civilization left a lot of incomprehensible texts. Say a lot of effort went into deciphering these texts, and to everyone's surprise it was discovered that some of these texts were English encrypted with some cyphers that the cryptographers cracked. So people skilled in the mathematics of cryptography started working on other texts, and many of them were consequently decrypted. But there were some classes of documents that the cryptographers were helpless against. Maybe these texts were really random garbage, or maybe they were encrypted with cyphers which are well beyond the current reach of our technology.

Now imagine a crook comes and says he has found the true meaning of a text. He calls himself a cryptographer and produces an "explanation" which is drivel but which superficially sounds like what the cryptographers say. If he tries that with one of the texts that have been decrypted for real, it will be hard for him to compete with the actual solution. But for the texts that remain a mystery, crooks will be the only game in town.

Comment by aleksander on [LINK] No Boltzmann Brains in an Empty Expanding Universe · 2014-05-09T05:23:28.924Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Motl with his immature style and his political extremism is very easy to mock, but I don't think he's intentionally contrarian. When he writes about physics at least his opinions agree with the mainstream view as far as I can tell. Three examples

  • Some time around 2005 Motl frequently exchanged hostilities with another blogger, Peter Woit of Not Even Wrong (that's actually how I first heard of LM: I was following NEW which frequently linked to Molt's blog to mock him). The disagreement was that Woit was a critic of the String Theory whereas Motl was a defender of it. The latter view is much more common in the academia.

  • In January last year, Motl criticized Sean Carroll's blog post about the interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. Here again Motl is defending the most popular view.

  • This is much less clear cut but, if you continue reading despite the political raving (which I realize is not easy), everything he says in this review about discrete and continuous mathematics and how it relates to the foundations of physics is eminently reasonable and what I'd expect to hear from a physicist.

These are not cherry-picked examples, it's all I recollect reading of Motl about physics, since I don't follow his blog regularly. In all these cases the vibe I'm getting is not contrarianism, but exasperation with people who pretend they have deep insights into his field when he feels all they have is a nice turn of phrase and the ability to please the audience.

Comment by aleksander on [LINK] No Boltzmann Brains in an Empty Expanding Universe · 2014-05-09T05:22:09.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Motl with his immature style and his political extremism is very easy to mock, but I don't think he's intentionally contrarian. When he writes about physics at least his opinions agree with the mainstream view as far as I can tell. Three examples

  • Some time around 2005 Motl frequently exchanged hostilities with another blogger, Peter Woit of Not Even Wrong (that's actually how I first heard of LM: I was following NEW which frequently linked to Molt's blog to mock him). The disagreement was that Woit was a critic of the String Theory whereas Motl was a defender of it. The latter view is much more common in the academia.

  • In January last year, Motl criticized Sean Carroll's blog post about the interpretations of Quantum Mechanics. Here again Motl is defending the most popular view.

  • This is much less clear cut but, if you continue reading despite the political raving (which I realize is not easy), everything he says in this review about discrete and continuous mathematics and how it relates to the foundations of physics is eminently reasonable and what I'd expect to hear from a physicist.

These are not cherry-picked examples, it's all I recollect reading of Motl about physics, since I don't follow his blog regularly. In all these cases the vibe I'm getting is not contrarianism, but exasperation with people who pretend they have deep insights into his field when he feels all they have is a nice turn of phrase and the ability to please the audience.

Comment by aleksander on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-07T23:27:42.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't disagree with any of that. Who knows, could be even one and the same experience which people raised in one culture interpret as God's presence, and in another as enlightenment.

Comment by aleksander on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-07T20:46:09.967Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So while the original quotation talked about not thinking at all, your revised version urges that we think as little as possible. How does it qualify as a "rationality quote"?

Comment by aleksander on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-07T20:30:09.602Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

While we are quoting Perelandra

"How far does it go? Would you still obey the Life-Force if you found it prompting you to murder me?"
"Yes."
"Or to sell England to the Germans?"
"Yes."
"Or to print lies as serious research in a scientific periodical?"
"Yes."
"God help you!" said Ransom.

Comment by aleksander on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-07T16:39:02.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are also people who claim that they feel God's presence in their heart, you know.

Comment by aleksander on Rationality Quotes April 2014 · 2014-04-16T19:36:44.680Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Only a small fraction of math has practical applications, the majority of math exists for no reason other than thinking about it is fun. Even things with applications had sometimes been invented before those applications were known. So in a sense most math is designed to be fun. Of course it's not fun for everyone, just for a special class of people who are into this kind of thing. That makes it different from Angry Birds. But there are many games which are also only enjoyed by a specific audience, so maybe the difference is not that fundamental. A large part of the reason the average person doesn't enjoy math is that unlike Angry Birds math requires some effort, which is the same reason the average person doesn't enjoy League Of Evil III.

Comment by aleksander on [Open Thread] Stupid Questions (2014-02-17) · 2014-02-19T18:54:29.644Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While we're on the subject, what words would you use to differentiate "proof" from "evidence" in Polish?

"Poszlaki"?

Comment by aleksander on Steelmanning Young Earth Creationism · 2014-02-19T18:14:51.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Catholics accept the theory of evolution and have for a long time now.

Comment by aleksander on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-05T21:48:14.381Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I understand that and I didn't mean to criticize your argument, which is good, I meant to attack the original source which was trying to impress the audience with a large number without explaining where it really comes from (which you did explain). Sorry that I didn't express this more clearly.

The cited value isn't wildly off base, in the same sense it wouldn't be wildly off base to say that if you work at McDonald's and invest every penny you made, after 40 years you'll be a millionaire. So car ownership is really expensive in the same sense in which McDonald's pays really well.

Comment by aleksander on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-05T01:46:51.659Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One can turn any expense into a high number by applying some not-quite-realistic rate of return[1] over a long period of time. I remember reading a web comic which applied this procedure to an iPhone, with enough creativity you could probably make coffee at Starbucks into a million-dollar expense as well.

In some sense it is true, if you invest regularly and wait a long time you'll likely accumulate considerable savings. But singling out one particular expense for that kind of treatment, without the context which you provided above, is exactly what Lumifer called it: blatant propaganda.

[1] E.g., William Bernstein "Five Pillars of Investing" cites 3.5% long-term real (ie after inflation) rate of return from stocks.

Comment by aleksander on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom · 2014-02-03T01:16:27.379Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think he answered your question by providing an example on the spot.

Comment by aleksander on How can I spend money to improve my life? · 2014-02-02T18:23:46.814Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If money doesn't make you happy, then you probably aren't spending it right

Comment by aleksander on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-29T23:11:23.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've wondered why more people don't train to be software engineers. According to wikipedia, 1 in 200 workers is a software engineer. A friend of mine who teaches programming classes estimates 5% of people could learn how to program. If he's right, 9 out of 10 people who could be software engineers aren't, and I'm guessing 8 of them make less in their current job than they would if they decided to switch.

One explanation is that most people would really hate the anti-social aspect of software engineering. We like to talk a lot about how it's critical for that job to be a great communicator etc., but the reality is, most of the time you sit at your desk and not talk to anyone. It's possible most people couldn't stand it. Most jobs have a really big social factor in comparison, you talk to clients, students, patients, supervisors, etc.

Comment by aleksander on Things I Wish They'd Taught Me When I Was Younger: Why Money Is Awesome · 2014-01-23T19:39:23.402Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most studies I've read find that actual productivity doesn't go up much with the extra hours in the long run, especially for knowledge workers

Not as clear cut as people like to assert, see e.g.,

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/work-hour-skepticism.html

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/construction-peak-60hrwk.html

If you have data for knowledge workers specifically that paints a different picture I'd like to hear about it.

Comment by aleksander on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-22T23:09:58.097Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Financial markets are positive-sum. If you just buy a bunch of stocks and hold onto them, on average you'll outperform cash.

Comment by aleksander on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-21T19:08:27.949Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This seems related: http://squid314.livejournal.com/350090.html

Comment by aleksander on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-21T18:39:41.443Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it a little bit self-contradictory, to propose that smart people have beaten the market by investing in Bitcoin, and at the same time, that smart people invest in index funds rather than trying to beat the market? Or in other words, are those who got rich off Bitcoin really different from those who picked some lucky stocks in 1997 and cashed out in time?

Comment by aleksander on Continuity in Uploading · 2014-01-20T23:50:03.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recall a humorous one of the Lem's Ijion Tichy stories (can't find a link ATM), where on one of the planets under constant heavy meteorite bombardment the mandatory logging and cloning tech was used as a routine way to revive the victims, replacing fatalities with minor inconveniences.

It's the Twenty-Third Voyage in Star Diaries.

Comment by aleksander on Continuity in Uploading · 2014-01-19T17:21:50.718Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And he in turn might respond by asking how you feel about thinking like a dinosaur.

Comment by aleksander on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-19T16:28:57.234Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You might as well ask, "Who is the president of America?" and then follow up with, "Ha ha got you! America is a continent, you meant USA."

Comment by aleksander on Things I Wish They'd Taught Me When I Was Younger: Why Money Is Awesome · 2014-01-19T02:35:34.273Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Here is an example which I discovered only recently and which for me is 10x the awesomeness of house cleaning.

I like to work on casual games as a hobby, I haven't released many but it's something I like to do. I am a software engineer and have no art skills. You can make a game with no art, or make a port of some game for which the art exists. It is limiting.

Enter the miracle of Elance. You can find good artists on that site, with experience making art and animations for games, and they're very affordable. I think they charge less per hour than house cleaners in California. All of a sudden getting real art for your game is just an ordinary hobby-related expense, kind of like if I were into photography I'd spend money on lenses and Photoshop license fees.

(My experience was mostly with graphics artists, but that site is general-purpose, you can find people willing to do all sorts of work there, translation, programming, whatever.)