The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism 2015-01-07T17:16:14.615Z · score: 4 (8 votes)


Comment by alwhite on 'X is not about Y' is not about psychology · 2017-11-13T14:31:18.339Z · score: 3 (6 votes) · LW · GW

“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” -Oscar Wilde

Comment by alwhite on The Craft & The Community - A Post-Mortem & Resurrection · 2017-11-09T16:46:48.802Z · score: 16 (4 votes) · LW · GW

After digesting this a bit, I think I come away with the idea that the internet is bad for creating change in people and that the systemized winning training has to happen on the personal, real-life level.

Is there a function that a website like this can serve if it can't create change?

What would you turn this forum into to be maximally beneficial towards your change?

Comment by alwhite on Leaders of Men · 2017-10-30T14:12:26.423Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is sounding to me like the confidence vs competence discussion. Humans have a tendency to select confident leaders whether or not they are any good at a specific task or even leading itself.

Comment by alwhite on [deleted post] 2017-10-25T15:03:35.543Z

I'm not sure if this is possible, but I think I'm looking for something like "I used this TAP and got this result where past me would not have used a TAP and gotten this other result which is demonstrably worse".

This might be a good test of the calibration idea and making better predictions. Can we accurately predict what would happen without the extra thinking tools?

Comment by alwhite on [deleted post] 2017-10-24T17:41:30.563Z

This idea has interested me a lot and I really want to see data on outcomes. I know CFAR is trying to do this but is anyone else doing this? Anyone who visits this site, can they see how the decisions they're making now are leading to improved outcomes?

Are the better outcomes that happen in my life due to the fact that I really am making better decisions or are they mostly because my parents never got divorced, etc....

Anyone have any thoughts on how to evaluate this?

Comment by alwhite on [deleted post] 2017-10-22T13:29:22.256Z

The idea that comes to mind is "fail safe". Failure is inevitable so make sure it fails in a safe way. The tool used to evaluate this is called an FMEA.

Comment by alwhite on Seeding a productive culture: a working hypothesis · 2017-10-20T17:06:26.143Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Catholic Worker movement probably has a lot of what you're looking for.

Here's an example of one of their houses. I have spent a bit of time helping these guys fix up their buildings.

Comment by alwhite on [deleted post] 2017-10-20T01:14:52.322Z

The first thing that jumps out at me is the phrase "nourish/reward them over time such that their needs are not better met". It would seem that the first step of a rational group is to understand and meet the needs of the members of that group. I also see this as a very complex problem to solve in and of itself.

Comment by alwhite on De-Centering Bias · 2017-10-19T04:38:22.754Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To me, this is setting up a false dichotomy; that being, rational thought vs biased thought. Or said differently, rational thought automatically chooses against what a bias would choose. Said even more differently, thinking rationally isn't taking the opposite of bias. I think bias and thinking are happening on different planes and interact in weird ways.

As an aside, I find it extremely strange to say "aware of one's own biases". Bias is all about decisions that happen, seemingly outside our awareness. Decisions we make for what we think is one reason but is really a different reason, and our stated reason is a mere rationalization. If I were aware of my bias, I would take steps to not make that decision and would therefore no longer be biased, except in ways that I was currently unaware.

An example: let's say I'm biased against hiring women. In the company I hire for, I hire men way more than I do women, if I hire women at all. I could even be outspoken about this and claim that I don't believe women are as effective workers as men. This statement does not mean I'm aware of a bias, it is a declaration of belief. For me to be aware of my bias means to acknowledge that my belief is incorrect and leading to negative outcomes.

I can't effectively model a person who is aware of their own wrong belief (bias) and still chooses to believe it. (I'm aware I want to buy that shirt because the store placed it at the front, so I'm going to buy it anyway for that reason) I just don't see that happening. I think we can only acknowledge that bias might be happening and needs tested.

Back to original train of thought with this understanding of bias. Bias comes to conclusions based on processes that are not the evaluation of available data. Confirmation bias is seeking only a subsection of the data available. The reason we do this is because convincing ourselves we are right feels good. The decision here was made not by thinking, but by feeling good. Confirmation bias just might lead to the right conclusion. Bias does not guarantee rightness or wrongness and that's the issue.

As to the survivorship of biases, it doesn't really make sense to believe that only useful things survive and all negative things die off. Surviving is about lasting long enough to reproduce which means only items with severe and quick consequences die off. Benign errors or slowly acting errors can easily survive while serving no beneficial function. Many of the fallacies fall in this category. They don't lead to immediate death, therefore there's no mechanism to get rid of them. Sunk cost is wasted effort, not seeing death in that. Revenge either happens on a level less than death, or so rarely that it doesn't impede population growth. The marshmallow test doesn't look like a bias, just experiments. It's never a good idea to take a single study as truth, but unfortunately the social sciences do this a lot.

I think we also need to consider the dangerousness of the environment. Really harsh environments don't tolerate many mistakes and so organisms that live there are much simpler. More complex organisms have way more opportunities for mistakes and you find them in gentler environments. This feeds back into surviving long enough to reproduce. Errors and mistakes don't have to serve a function to exist, they can simply be tolerated in a gentle environment.

Comment by alwhite on Offloading Executive Functioning to Morality · 2017-10-16T14:17:42.879Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think I interpret this phenomenon as a motivation problem. The fear of letting someone down is more motivating to you than the actual task itself. We are inherently social creatures so this makes a lot of sense for why it's working for you. I'm not sure I'm really getting the connection to morality.

Maybe there's a need for more clarity on what morality means. Does moral just mean BAD or is moral a substitute for "damaged social connections"? Are you more motivated by not being BAD or are you more motivated by keeping your social connections strong?

Comment by alwhite on Writing That Provokes Comments · 2017-10-11T20:17:27.352Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What are you looking for on a post of CBT? I've got a bit of information on it.

Comment by alwhite on Writing That Provokes Comments · 2017-10-11T13:37:51.298Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · LW · GW

After reading this, I tried to figure out what the desired end goals were. I think we can all agree that commenting for the sake of commenting is meaningless, so I looked for what would fill in the blank "commenting for the sake of ______".

At the beginning of the post I saw:
1) I like getting comments (I see this as a bid for attention)
2) Staying in the public view (more comments = more staying power)
3) Learning on the side of the reader (commenting = engagement = better learning)

At the end of the post I saw:
4) Public attention incentivizes efforts to research and learn (I see this as attention as well)
5) People writing for comments write more engagingly
6) Learn how to comment better (what's the goal of a comment? To learn better?)
7) Engaging writing decreases the chance that good thoughts don't get lost (public view again)

With that, I'm seeing two main ideas: bids for attention and learning on behalf of the public. Bids for attention aren't bad and I think a community has to respond to them for the community to work well. If a community never tells its members that they are seen and noticed, the community isn't going to last very long. How does it change the writing and responding if we acknowledge these bids?

On public learning, I think it might help to look into the research on teaching. Additionally, the assertion of teacher and student will have to be addressed. The approach of "I have things you need to learn" is a bit off putting and likely to turn people away. However, this community seems to want to learn, so maybe a call for teachers on topics the community is interested in, and that can establish who is teacher and who is student.

On specifically the teaching/learning part, research in teaching shows that lecturing is very ineffective for learning. Many times, long written posts are simply data dumps that are similar to lectures. Effective teaching puts effort on the learner, tolerates and corrects mistakes, and encourages trying. The teacher may have the knowledge but doesn't give the knowledge and instead helps the learner find the knowledge. I have no idea how well this would work in a web forum.

I think there are more ways that writing and commenting can be used, but these were the themes I picked up from this post. Perhaps by bringing them forward like this, the other uses of writing can be drawn out.

Comment by alwhite on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-02-05T16:31:30.304Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And yet the gatherer or leader is incapable of doing as much as we claim they do. Frodo didn't gather anyone. Samwise, Merry, and Pippin all forcefully followed Frodo. Aragorn led the army against Mordor but the Stewards had gathered the army, Gandalf pushed Aragorn into the position, Boromir and Theoden led them until Aragorn arrived and took his place.

Real life examples. Steve Jobs was hired by a board of directors. The majority of hiring (gathering) that happens at Apple goes through middle management. It's the recruiters and the managers that do the real gathering.

A leader can do nothing without followers and most of the time it is the followers who make the leader and not the other way around. There is no power in a leader that exists apart from the followers. Heroes are most often myths and not actually real. Reality shows that most heroic efforts are done through a massive collaborative effort and the leader in such a situation is filling but a small role surrounded by many other small roles.

Comment by alwhite on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-02-04T22:05:52.947Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Depends on the size of the effort. The larger the effort, the more people involved in the gathering.

Are you suggesting that the gathering function is more important than any other function?

Comment by alwhite on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-02-04T20:44:00.848Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One of the things that comes to mind for me is the "Myth of the lone genius" and, in part, it sounds like you are continuing that myth in your use of the word "hero". A single person doing something to better the world. But I don't think such people actually exist. All of the heroes, all of the geniuses, have near armies of people beneath them that make their impact on the world happen. No single person has that kind of impact.

Very plainly said, if we investigate any person that you identify as "hero" we will find a lot of additional people contributing to the hero's success.

Is it helpful to re-frame the discussion to be, you want to contribute to rather than be contributed to? I think that's a valid distinction that people can make choices on.

But in terms of effective impact upon the globe, I don't think it's possible to accumulate power into a small subset to enact change upon the world. That's essentially what heroes are supposed to be, concentrate power to enact change. Instead, I think change happens through the small contributions of a wide system, where the "hero" is but the symbol, image, or figurehead. It is the breadth of the system that has the true power to change, not the concentrated power of a single individual.

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-15T20:42:27.509Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's a really big question. The very short answer is that shame is experienced on a physiological level the same way trauma is experienced. A lot of people who commit sexual assault are operating under beliefs that no one wants them (shame) and so do experience a kind of threat to their psyche.

(disclaimer. This does not excuse sexual assault and is only meant to inform. If you want to decrease sexual assault, look towards the shame triggers of the perpetrator.)

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-15T20:34:36.868Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I certainly also recognize there are other factors, but I think they pale when compared against our technological advancements. Technology in terms of general human betterment is unparalleled. This planet can not sustain a population of 7 billion without technological means of food production. Refrigeration another huge boon for food. Advances in medicine mean more people survive childhood and general illness as well. Technology enables most of our sanitation efforts which is also massive towards the betterment of human life.

None of this can be duplicated with non-technological means. We can't pray our way to better sanitation. We can't even sacrifice our way to better sanitation on any meaningful scale. But pumps and plumbing do the job magnificently.

I then think all of this contributes to lower violence and now I'm trying to tease out how much the other factors contribute. One of the possible other factors is cooperation and/or easier empathy. Can either of these do more good for a group of people than improved plumbing? I personally, don't think so but I want to see if anyone has any good data that shows otherwise.

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T18:08:39.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Homicide and assault are what I think most people are referring to. The harming of the physical body through force. Additionally these numbers are referenced per capita and not as raw numbers. If we look at raw numbers, modern times certainly have more. If we look at per capita, the trend is downward.

As far as size of perturbation? That's difficult to really answer. My rough opinion would be to ignore any perturbations that span less than 100 years. So while WW1 and WW2 might cause a spike to the graph, post-WW is still lower than pre-WW and so the trend is still continuing and valid. Could also try reducing it down to 50 year averages as well to help smooth out the variation.

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T17:48:40.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Income equality certainly does play a role. This is why I include the GWP stat as well. I don't think we're at a point where income equality fixes the problem. If we made all things equal, I think we'd end up short and more people would suffer. But that is only at the view of right now. If we increased our production output even more so that total equality would put every everyone at 4 times the poverty level, then I think this income equality issue would become the greater force in violence.

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T17:42:51.186Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The co-operation theory is certainly possible and active in the whole process. Co-operation can also be more than trade too, but increasing empathy as well. But does co-operation or empathy have more impact than our richness?

Your example of movies and video games: These things exist now as part of the latest iteration of technology. Now is also the time in which violence is lowest. You suggest movies and video games have replaced physical violence. This supports my theory that technology is the cause of decreased violence.

But I disagree that people inherently like violence. As I mentioned, I'm studying counseling and most of what I understand from this is that people behave violently when they feel threatened. If you remove the feeling of threat, you most often remove the violence with it. Thus, technology as a great power in reducing violence. When achieving food, shelter, and safety is hard and requires a lot of energy we tend to feel more threatened. When all of these things are easy to attain we feel less threatened. Technology makes all this easier.

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T17:33:48.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that this is possible. I'm questioning whether or not it really is true though. This could even be our future if we're not careful.

Do you have anything that says this is happening or has happened? Something other than "possibility"?

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T17:29:30.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The GWP is the summation of the GDP for each country. The GDP is then converted to USD for comparison sakes. GDP also is not average income, so it's not entirely accurate to assume that GWP per capita is the same as having $12,000 USD. The number is all about comparison and estimation.

I realize that this is a very crude number but I still think it is useful for recognizing that we do not yet produce enough to appease all basic needs equally.

Do you disagree with that statement? Are you suggesting that we do currently produce enough and all we need to do is redistribute?

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-08T17:24:55.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you provide actual data for this statement? The trend on a global and historical scale has always been downwards, as far as we can tell. And this data spans thousands of years. (see the Pinker video for an overview of that data). This data is suggesting that wars, even the big 2 of the last century, aren't changing the global stats THAT much.

The 2012 - 2014 doesn't perfectly represent history but that just means history isn't exactly 9 to 1 for individual to group violence. It could be 8 to 1 or 6 to 1 or even 3 to 1, I don't know that exact number. But I very strongly doubt the ratio flopped to a 1 to 4 ratio. That's a massive change that I don't believe has happened and I need to see real stats before I'll accept a contrary statement.

Thus, I still contend the majority of violence is individual (Pinker video supports this idea too).

Comment by alwhite on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-07T20:47:38.119Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure your counter-example is that accurate either. This is a report for only recent time and so the historical accuracy is not guaranteed but from 2012 to 2014, individual violence outweighed group violence by about 9 times. I think it is safe to assume that historically it's at least similar.

When we look at the total historical view of violence we can not limit ourselves to just "war" or "group violence", and this data was included in Pinker's presentation. Therefore, kings, presidents, and chiefs, (if we consider them the sole source of the conflict, which we shouldn't) only contribute approximately 1/9th of the total global violence.

Sure there's a correlation that increased substances increase violence, but that in no way suggests that historical increased violence is due to increased substances. I don't think we have any kind of data that shows that these substances have been steadily decreasing over the past 10,000 years the same way that violence has been decreasing over the last 10,000 years.

Comment by alwhite on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-07T15:00:07.662Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Some gyms have automated belay equipment. It's a bit clunky and not everyone likes using them but they do exist and do work.

I have always climbed with a partner but we have also included other people into our group who needed a belay partner. I would think that it's definitely possible to find a partner for the day but it is easier to just bring your own.

There is also bouldering, which doesn't require a partner but doesn't go as high either.

Comment by alwhite on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-06T22:26:44.052Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like most of the big ideas have been covered, so here's a small one.

Rock climbing equipment (shoes and harness) and membership to a climbing gym. It's different, fun, gets you exercise and exposure to more/different people.