## Posts

The Virtue of Compartmentalization 2013-02-15T08:53:41.188Z
Gambler's Reward: Optimal Betting Size 2012-01-17T20:32:31.003Z
(Possibly Bayesian) Statistics Question 2011-06-01T03:00:55.221Z
Consulting Opportunity for Budding Econometricians 2011-03-11T20:49:11.198Z
[Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! 2011-02-03T01:47:51.794Z
The Meaning of Life 2010-09-17T19:29:01.743Z

Comment by b1shop on [deleted post] 2015-02-11T23:31:45.167Z

In my experience, women enjoy the idea of coming first.

Comment by b1shop on [deleted post] 2015-02-11T23:30:18.605Z

It's a style guide. It's supposed to be ruthlessly dictatorial. I wrote it for myself and co-workers. Some local Less Wrongers enjoyed it and encouraged me to post, so I did. I thought it would be appreciated. Oh well.

Comment by b1shop on Why the tails come apart · 2014-08-05T14:41:01.477Z · LW · GW

Statistical point: the variance of forecast error for correctly specified simple regression problems is equal to:

Sigma^2(1 + 1/N + (x_o - x_mean)^2 / (Sigma ( x_i - x_mean) ^2))

So forecast error increases as x_o moves away from x_mean, especially when the variance of x is low by comparison.

Edit: Sub notation was apparently indenting things. I'm going to take a picture from my stats book tonight. Should be more readable.

Comment by b1shop on Total Utility is Illusionary · 2014-06-17T13:14:34.615Z · LW · GW

"Instead, every time you arrive at a decision point, evaluate what action to take by checking the utility of your constituents from each action. I propose that we call this "delta utilitarianism", because it isn't looking at the total or the average, just at the delta in utility from each action."

Perhaps we could call it "marginal utility."

Comment by b1shop on Meetup : Houston, TX · 2014-05-20T18:21:07.135Z · LW · GW

All, Isaac_Davis, dvasya and myself had a pleasant chat at Ikea. Looking forward to the next meetup. Hopefully we'll have enough people next time to play paranoid debating.

Comment by b1shop on Meetup : Houston, TX · 2014-05-07T13:17:59.209Z · LW · GW

Unless I'm missing something, it hasn't occurred yet.

Comment by b1shop on Meetup : Houston, TX · 2014-05-06T04:55:22.886Z · LW · GW

I'll likely be there. Looking forward to it.

Comment by b1shop on Tell Culture · 2014-01-21T22:50:37.401Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure that's true. From the original LW post on ask vs. guess:

Apparently East Asia is more "guess-based" than the US.

I've also heard that Russia is more ask-based, and the U.S. is somewhere in the middle with stereotypical differences between urban and rural environments.

Comment by b1shop on Tell Culture · 2014-01-21T14:56:54.821Z · LW · GW

A lot of the comments are ignoring the fact that this game has multiple equilibria. Saying "humans evolved into X, so therefore there must be a logic to X" makes as much sense as saying "Americans drive on the right side of the road, so therefore there must be a logic to using the right side of the road."

Also, when traveling outside the monastery, our first priority should be to figure out how the other people drive.

Comment by b1shop on Tell Culture · 2014-01-21T14:52:36.340Z · LW · GW

If you’re occasionally dishonest and tell people you want things you don't actually care about--like their comfort or convenience--they’ll learn not to trust you, and the inherent freedom of the system will be lost.

Maybe I'm only thinking of trivial examples, but I haven't noticed this. If I have guests over at my house, of course I care about their convenience, as I want the social capital that comes with throwing a good party. I want my co-workers slaving at the same project as me to be comfortable as it will make them more productive. There are tons of truly selfish reasons to be superficially selfless, and I don't think most have an aversion to superficial selflessness.

Perhaps a major exception should be made for early-stage romantic interactions.

Comment by b1shop on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-12-08T17:41:36.021Z · LW · GW

Thanks for picking cooperate.

Comment by b1shop on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-25T06:39:25.700Z · LW · GW

A comment on the prize for those who've already taken it:

Qrsrpg frrzf yvxr pyrneyl gur evtug zbir. Gurer'yy or uhaqerqf bs erfcbaqragf fb V'yy unir n znetvany vzcnpg ba gur fvmr bs gur cevmr. Ubjrire, V dhnqehcyr zl punapr bs jvaavat ol pubbfvat qrsrpg. Gung orvat fnvq, V ubcr lbh cvpxrq pbbcrengr.

Comment by b1shop on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-10-31T18:53:26.064Z · LW · GW

Sorry, haven't logged in in a while.

I'm only an econ undergrad, so I'm not a drop-dead expert in economics. However, I work as a business valuator by day, so I like to think I know a thing or two about evaluating the profitability of projects.

There's a lot of Rothbardian baggage about money I associate with the theory. That may or may not be a separate conversation. Don't even bother trying to argue against my points here if you believe fractional reserve banking is bad, because we don't agree on enough to have a productive conversation about this issue. We should instead focus on money and FRB first.

The ABCT story is about excessively low interest rates causing firms to be too farsighted in their planning. If rates increase, then projects that were profitable are no longer profitable, and the economy contracts.

Here's a few reasons why I don't like this story:

• It requires a massive level of incompetence from entrepreneurs. Arguably the most popular business valuation resource for estimating costs of capital, Duff and Phelps, has a report on adjusting risk free rates for the expected future path. If businesses are unstable because they are not robust to 5% swings in interest rates, then they will likely be unstable due to other shocks as well. ABCT requires them to fall for the same trap over and over again.
• It's drastically asymmetric. ABCT only focuses on distortions caused by too much money being printed. What about the distortions caused by too little money being printed? Modern cases show this is far more damaging. The transmission mechanism isn't based on interest rates, but it still matters a lot.
• The case for expansionary policy causing bubbles is not as strong as many think. NGDP growth during the worst of the housing bubble was only 5%. That's below average growth over the past few decades, which were a remarkably stable time. Yes, interest rates were low, but that had more to do with an influx of foreign savers than Fed policy. (Aside: Interest rates are a bad indicator of monetary policy. High interest rates during German hyperinflation is a great example.)
• As far as the late 90's go, yes, lots of bad investments were made. I think this was caused not by bad monetary economics but by irrational investor beliefs. I imagine people would still have invested in Pets.com regardless of Fed action or inaction. Monetary policy might explain excessive valuations everywhere, but it doesn't explain excessive, localized valuations. Additionally, interest rates are mostly irrelevant to the tech sector where financing is usually based on equity rather than debt.
• If the ABCT policy is true, we'd expect to see a bust in long-term schemes during recessions and a boom in short-term schemes. Instead, we see a bust in both.
• ABCT seems married to the idea that expansionary monetary policy is "unsustainable" and interest rates must return to "natural" levels. This is nonsense. The Fed has been performing QE for years, and it's been tremendously helpful by most accounts. Fed "inaction" is still action.
• There's not much empirical support for the theory.

Comment by b1shop on Bayesianism for Humans · 2013-10-31T15:27:36.877Z · LW · GW

This was a great post. I'll use it to introduce people to key concepts in the future.

Many of these focus on the posterior's first moment. For continuous distributions, the higher moments matter, too. A test that I expected to lower the variance in my posterior would be considered "confirming" as I use the word. I can't lower the variance before the test is done because it's still possible the mean will change.

Comment by b1shop on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-04T01:16:42.895Z · LW · GW

I'm downvoting this quote. Read at a basic level, it supports a particular economic theory rather than a larger point of rationality.

For the record, the Austrian Business Cycle Theory is not generally accepted by mainstream economists. This isn't the place to discuss why, and it isn't the place to give ABCT the illusion of a "rational" stamp of approval.

Comment by b1shop on Gains from trade: Slug versus Galaxy - how much would I give up to control you? · 2013-07-23T21:57:27.475Z · LW · GW

This was an interesting post.

A potential extension of this problem is to worry about what happens when agents can lie about their utility function. In business this isn't usually a problem, since everyone is trying to maximize profit, but it often is in social interactions.

Comment by b1shop on Finding interesting communities · 2013-06-03T17:14:54.714Z · LW · GW

I'm somewhat puzzled by the notion throughout this thread that you should filter for people with lots of free time. Is this the same community that's interested in Soylent?

Comment by b1shop on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-28T00:47:59.372Z · LW · GW

I know nothing about tax law, so this is an important disclaimer. I won't end up trying this.

To spell out the idea, one could have their Roth IRA and their investment account at separate institutions. The Roth IRA broker would simply see a loss (gain) and the investment account broker would simply see a gain (loss). Each institutions reporting these changes to the IRS is the benefit of the finagling.

Comment by b1shop on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-27T23:06:45.923Z · LW · GW

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, accountant or investment advisor. I have not tried this, and I'm currently trying to think of reasons why it won't work.

How to Beat the Tax System:

Suppose one had an investment account and a Roth IRA. Suppose further the investment account had a realized gain for the year. From the investment account, one could sell-to-open a way out-of-the-money cash-secured put at a high limit that no one would buy. As long as you're the only open interest, you could then buy your option in your other account. You'd in essence be swapping short-term gains for tax-free savings.

You're hosed if another party rushed in to sell you the put at a lower price, but the savings could easily exceed the cost of commissions if the option is thinly traded enough. I suppose you could just take the market price on both sides, though, if you're willing to repeat the process until the transition goes the "correct" way.

You can withdraw penalty-free from the Roth IRA when you buy your first house. Or, you could simply reverse the process as needed. This could be particularly helpful if one were having a bad year and had lost more than the maximum investment-losses deduction.

Any downsides to this bit of financial munchkin-ism? Does this constitute tax evasion? I imagine it wouldn't be provable for anyone other than me (you're welcome). Are there actually options that thinly-traded?

Comment by b1shop on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-14T12:35:40.179Z · LW · GW

Really, anything that can fit in a twitter is unlikely to be useful.

72 characters.

Comment by b1shop on The Virtue of Compartmentalization · 2013-02-15T20:25:50.139Z · LW · GW

I like the encapsulation suggestion a lot. I'll implement all of these edits tonight. Thank you.

Comment by b1shop on The Virtue of Compartmentalization · 2013-02-15T20:24:38.968Z · LW · GW

You're right. The elements of reductionism in the examples are unrelated to the topic. I'm attached to the examples, but I should either demarcate them as a separate skill or remove them.

Comment by b1shop on The Virtue of Compartmentalization · 2013-02-15T15:43:06.169Z · LW · GW

To contrast my intentions, the linked post is about compartmentalizing map-making from non-map-making while mine is compartmentalizing different maps. Your association is a good data point, so I'll think about a better name. Perhaps the virtue of focus, abstraction or sequestration? Nothing's jumping out at me right now.

Comment by b1shop on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-09T15:52:41.359Z · LW · GW

In the context of probability theory:

Don't prove, try the Monte Carlo.

Comment by b1shop on Against the Bottom Line · 2012-04-21T14:55:49.447Z · LW · GW

An alternative takeaway from these posts is that we should segment our personality. In the same way I can only have emotionally honest conversations with close associates, maybe I can only have intellectually honest conversations with people I can trust. There's no sense trying to cooperate if the other side always defects.

I don't have the luxury of living in an ivory tower and the opponents in my particular quest will always push the bounds of reasonability.

Comment by b1shop on Prisoner's Dilemma on game show Golden Balls · 2012-04-21T14:20:17.632Z · LW · GW

The next contestant needs to say:

"I'm going to choose steal. If you choose split, I'll give you 25 percent after the show. I promise."

Comment by b1shop on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T21:35:04.005Z · LW · GW

Because the linked-to study simply says "conspicuous consumption has negative externalities" and the conclusion given is "Avoid Conspicuous Consumption." I call foul.

Comment by b1shop on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T17:35:58.051Z · LW · GW

For the record, I agree that home ownership isn't worth it for most prices. Bad example on my part.

I stand by my original point. Just because working out has benefits doesn't mean it's not without negative externalities.

Comment by b1shop on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T15:31:06.226Z · LW · GW

Doesn't buying a nice house contribute to genuine peace and stability while forcing a potential spendthrift to start saving? That's an internalized benefit.

Just because something has benefits doesn't mean it has externalized costs.

Comment by b1shop on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T13:53:50.890Z · LW · GW

It's the same reasoning as the "avoid conspicuous consumption" lemma, and it could also be applied to education-as-status, lawncare-as-status, fashion-as-status, art-as-status or karma-as-status. Maybe the lesson could be rewritten as "Conspicuous Consumption has Costs on Others"? That seems like an unbiased reading of that study.

But I'm not even sure if I agree with that. If conspicuous consumption encourages others to become productive members of society out of envy, then it has its societal benefits.

Comment by b1shop on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T12:40:49.344Z · LW · GW

Gut reaction: Working out has an externality. Muscle tone applies a cost on others who must devote more of their time (which can be measured in dollars, by the way) toward the positional signalling game of fitness. Does this mean we should avoid conspicuous health?

Second reaction: I don't like this advice. Maybe I value other goals higher than happiness.

Comment by b1shop on A Poisson process paradox · 2012-04-07T17:03:15.992Z · LW · GW

Sounds like the error happened because the problem has a not-immediately-obvious conunction.

Comment by b1shop on Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28 · 2012-03-31T14:28:23.578Z · LW · GW

That's great to hear. On the other extreme, could I get enough out of a three day retreat to bootstrap future learning?

Comment by b1shop on Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28 · 2012-03-31T11:06:43.022Z · LW · GW

I'd like to second the second question. Should I be worried about the 3 day camp attempting to cram in too many useful techniques or the week long camp having filler?

Comment by b1shop on Gambler's Reward: Optimal Betting Size · 2012-01-18T01:50:43.409Z · LW · GW

That was easy. Thank you, sir.

Comment by b1shop on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-10-09T20:07:31.148Z · LW · GW

There's already big signalling benefits to voting. I think it explains why most people do it. However, it feels dirty for me to do something out of concern for my image, so I abstain.

Back when Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel prize, I remember reading a summary of her work that says self-management of the commons is possible when communities are a certain size. I forget the magic number, but I think it was something like 120,000.

Comment by b1shop on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-10-09T05:15:35.168Z · LW · GW

I'm saying I don't always act a certain way. Producing a counterexample where I do act that way doesn't disprove my position.

I used to have a reasoned moral code that favored consistency, but I slowly dropped these when I moved into the real world and witnessed lots of people not following my precious moral system. There's no point cooperating if others don't cooperate, too. For iterated games, tit-for-tat >= always cooperate.

There are some moral beliefs (i.e. don't steal/lie) I usually feel a compulsion to follow regardless of the utility. I blame/thank evolution. In small circles, I lean more towards the golden rule (i.e. don't overbill). But in larger circles, playing the cooperate card because you would want others to is not a strategy I endorse.

Comment by b1shop on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-10-08T04:57:15.264Z · LW · GW

I, sometimes proudly, do ignore the broad "ethical principle" of behaving as I would like others to behave. I don't hold that as a moral belief.

Also, you can't win this argument by appealing to negative consequences, because there are none. Yes, you did list some alleged benefits to democracy, but these benefits don't go away for the nation if me (or even me + all my friends) stop participating. I don't have any fantasies about the marginal effect of my personal participation.

Comment by b1shop on Should I play World of Warcraft? · 2011-10-08T04:41:06.238Z · LW · GW

I enjoy playing a lot of video games, but I found the time my SO and I played WoW boring. In a real video game (lately for me: TF2, FIFA, ME), when you fail you have thoughts like "next time I'll try a different approach" or "Oops! I herped when I should have derped." Winning is genuinely satisfying because the challenges involve more than measuring your sunk cost against an arbitrary number of hours.

When you fail at WoW, it's because you picked a fight several gameplay hours too soon. When you win, it just means you get to move on to the collection quest.

There might be more cerebral challenge in the upper levels, but I was bored by the month-and-a-half I invested into it.

Comment by b1shop on (Possibly Bayesian) Statistics Question · 2011-06-02T01:06:53.001Z · LW · GW

This makes sense. Using Bayes rule to develop the weights was the (/a) missing link for me. I was trying to do it all conditional on the possible outcomes.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there should be a different weight between the models at different parts of the dependent variable? When the dependent variable is near its mean, the regressions will have narrower forecast distributions and so less weight should go to the insider methodology.

Comment by b1shop on (Possibly Bayesian) Statistics Question · 2011-06-02T00:53:56.506Z · LW · GW

Comment by b1shop on Consulting Opportunity for Budding Econometricians · 2011-03-12T23:35:02.121Z · LW · GW

I can't go into specifics, but the alternatives are far worse.

Comment by b1shop on Consulting Opportunity for Budding Econometricians · 2011-03-11T23:54:39.108Z · LW · GW

There are a lot of metrics of how good a model is (i.e. adjusted R-squared, AIC, SIC).

Edit to add: Backcasting would be a good measure.

Comment by b1shop on [Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! · 2011-02-03T03:27:00.582Z · LW · GW

But if you only die in some of the branches, then you'll experience yourself living.

If QI is true, then it's when you die in ALL of the many worlds that you no longer experience anything.

Comment by b1shop on [Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! · 2011-02-03T02:53:42.384Z · LW · GW

If you make the case that p(S) should include any life, then I can concede the adverb perhaps shouldn't be so dramatic. Are we in agreement that it would be dramatic if we only included humanity exactly like us? If so, I'd like a second opinion from others if a specific anthropic principle is allowed, because it seems reasonable to me.

Comment by b1shop on [Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! · 2011-02-03T02:31:44.954Z · LW · GW

You're right about the first part. I'll fix it when I get to a real computer.

Since we observed humanity surviving, I think it's alright to use a more specific reference class. If the anthropic principle holds for life in general, then it also holds for just JoshuaZ, right?

No matter what p(S) is, p(S|MW) is larger.

Comment by b1shop on [Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! · 2011-02-03T01:49:00.234Z · LW · GW

If you think this should stay in discussion, upvote this comment and down-vote its parent.

Comment by b1shop on [Draft] Holy Bayesian Multiverse, Batman! · 2011-02-03T01:48:54.819Z · LW · GW

If you think this should be top-level, upvote this comment and down-vote my reply to it.

Comment by b1shop on You're in Newcomb's Box · 2011-02-01T14:55:41.747Z · LW · GW

How does Prometheus being wrong make me cease to exist?

Comment by b1shop on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-02-01T01:09:03.895Z · LW · GW

This is how I interpreted it as well. I'm assuming something else is going on with the "updateless" part, but I don't know what it is.