Comment by baiter on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-24T16:40:58.902Z · score: -6 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Have no children, don't want any: 506, 31.3%

Have no children, uncertain if want them: 472, 29.2%

I'm horrified by this. Actually it's baseline irony at it's best -- here you've got a group of people infinitely more concerned with the future then most, yet many of them are against the lowest-hanging-fruit contribution one could make towards a better future. (I hope some of the shockingly high numbers are a by-product of the low average age and high amount of males, but, anyways, the inverse relationship between IQ and birthrate has been observed for a long time.)

Another angle from which to view this should appeal to the many people here who identified as Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, and Social-Justice-loving: class equality. If the current birthrates and demographic trends continue, we're looking at even greater social inequality than exists today: a tiny cognitive/financial elite that runs society, and a massive underclass that... does whatever else. A nation's economic inequality is apparently associated with all sorts of social ills.

Everyone who doesn't want to have kids (as many as they can, within reason) is both missing a major point of life and complicit in creating a dysgenic society -- which, btw, should be included on the list of existential risks.

Obligatory Idiocracy clip

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-04T13:20:38.184Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

English proverb

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-03T08:39:30.791Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"O great age of generous love and time of a new man! Not the poor, dark, disfigured creature cramped by his falsehood, a liar from the cradle, flogged by poverty, smelling bad from cowardice, deeper than a latrine in jealousy, dead as a cabbage to feeling, a maggot to beauty, a shrimp to duty, spinning the same thread of cocoon preoccupation from his mouth. Without tears to weep or enough expendable breath to laugh; cruel, frigging, parasitic, sneaking, grousing, anxious, and sluggardly. Drilled like a Prussian by the coarse hollering of sergeant fears."

-- Saul Bellow, Adventures of Augie March

Comment by baiter on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-17T15:47:16.036Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So far not too much; I've been adapting some exercise routines from The 4-Hour Body which has a strongly minimalist approach. Shoulder Press (seated), Bench Press, Kneeling Rows, and Squats. Doing just the basics seems to be working!

Comment by baiter on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-16T14:40:55.621Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure White names do better than ALL non-White names? The papers you sourced compare US White to Black names and Swedish to "immigrant" names -- both kind of hyperbolic examples. Nothing about White names vs Asian names, which I would expect to get different results. Also, in some industries or cases having a foreign/ethnic/unique name could be a positive.

FWIW, if I met an Asian guy with a WASPy name like John Adams I would think either he is adopted or changed his name/identity, which might send me negative signals such as duplicity, cunning, and cowardice.

Comment by baiter on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-16T10:40:12.510Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.

Comment by baiter on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-16T08:57:27.009Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you share which books worked best for you regarding productivity and depression?

Comment by baiter on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-16T08:44:20.158Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For those that don't have a convenient place to hang a pullup bar, or as a general alternative/addon, I recommend dumbbells. I bought a nice set (2 x 20kg, 0.5, 1.25, 2, 5kg increments) for around $100 and cancelled my gym membership. They paid for themselves in 2 months time. Now I'm saving money and more fit then ever because I actually workout, instead of making excuses why not to go to the gym (it's too cooold, it's raaaining, I don't have tiiiime, etc.)

Comment by baiter on Checking Kurzweil's track record · 2012-11-01T12:59:45.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would do 10.

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-02T23:27:14.036Z · score: 15 (27 votes) · LW · GW

"New rule: If you handle snakes to prove they won't bite you because God is real, and then they bite you -- do the math."

– Bill Maher, Real Time with Bill Maher, 6/8/2012

video article

Comment by baiter on June 2012 Media Thread · 2012-06-03T10:22:53.668Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I thought Jiro Dreams of Sushi was a really great documentary. Yes, it is about sushi, so for anyone who loves sushi it's a must-see (and I know there are a lot of general Japanophiles here...). But much more than that it is about two things: dedication to your craft and father-son relationships.

Jiro Ono exemplifies the concept of conatus. I always thought and was taught to be well-rounded and know and be good at a lot of things. That still holds true, but only recently I've realized that, at least professionally, you should probably choose one thing and just become the best at it. Watching Jiro really inspired me to figure out how I can go on a similar path myself, even though all my impulses tell me to be a "generalist." (After walking out of the theater I was inspired, but I also truly felt like shit because I was hit with the realization that I'm good at a lot of things but not AMAZING at anything).

The film also made me think a lot about father-son relationships. I want to write at length about this it's difficult without spoilers...

Comment by baiter on June 2012 Media Thread · 2012-06-03T09:57:00.529Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

At the risk of sounding like a sappy old grandmother, I really enjoyed Faces of America and the current follow-up series Finding Your Roots. You can watch them for free on PBS. They're both done by Henry Louis Gates (the Harvard professor that famously got arrested entering his own house).*

The show features extensive research into the genealogies of a whichever celebrities are on that episode. We learn interesting details about their ancestors but it's much more about the historical context in which those ancestors lived. Once the paper trail runs out (for some it's a few generations, for others a 1000+ years) the show turns to genetics.

A few cool things so far:

  • about 40% of Ashkenazi Jews can trace their mDNA to just 4 women living somewhere in the Levant about 2,000 years ago (these were probably some really smart gals ;-)
  • many African-Americans have a LOT more white ancestry than I previously thought
  • thanks to a researcher that recently went around Western Africa taking genetic samples where the slave trade was prominent, many American blacks can now know which exact tribes they descend from
  • I got to see Samuel Jackson's face when he saw a photo of his white ancestor

*Funny story: the officer that arrested him said that Gates told him "yo mama." He really said he was coming back from a recording with Yo-Yo Ma (who was featured in Faces of America).

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes May 2012 · 2012-05-01T13:07:24.550Z · score: 16 (24 votes) · LW · GW

My function is to raise the possibility, 'Hey, you know, some of this stuff might be bullshit.'

-- Robert Anton Wilson

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-02T12:52:37.500Z · score: 58 (58 votes) · LW · GW

"...I always rejoice to hear of your being still employ'd in experimental Researches into Nature, and of the Success you meet with. The rapid Progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over Matter. We may perhaps learn to deprive large Masses of their Gravity, and give them absolute Levity, for the sake of easy Transport. Agriculture may diminish its Labor and double its Produce; all Diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured, not excepting even that of Old Age, and our Lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian Standard. O that moral Science were in as fair a way of Improvement, that Men would cease to be Wolves to one another, and that human Beings would at length learn what they now improperly call Humanity!"

-- Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Joseph Priestley, 8 Feb 1780

Comment by baiter on Spend Money on Ergonomics · 2011-12-28T11:26:45.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This exercise ball chair helped me a lot with lower back pain. It's also a lot of fun and stress-relieving to bounce around while working! Additionally I built a high table to occasionally type standing up, which is also fun/effective.

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes December 2011 · 2011-12-01T22:34:19.791Z · score: 18 (24 votes) · LW · GW

God created the Earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.

-- Dutch proverb

Comment by baiter on List of potential cognitive enhancement methods · 2011-11-13T19:15:07.974Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Surprised LSD is not mentioned.

I remember reading in one of Robert Anton Wilson's books than an early LSD study suggested a significant increase in IQ after several "therapeutic" sessions. I don't have the original book with me and can't find any info online.

I'm skeptical that LSD will have such a direct impact on measured IQ, but it definitely does something (probably acting on traits associated with creativity rather than intelligence). Wish it could be tested though...

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes November 2011 · 2011-11-04T02:31:09.833Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams, Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials

Comment by baiter on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-02T02:33:35.628Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey and really enjoyed it. Thanks! It was mostly clear but I'm not gonna lie -- had to look up the morality definitions (except consequentialism). Perhaps a very brief definition would help.

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-03T21:44:54.451Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them…there is nothing.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes August 2011 · 2011-08-05T14:24:23.748Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Obviously I went out on a limb here, but I stand by the lyric as a good rationality quote.

It succinctly and elegantly echoes one of Eliezer's 12 virtues: relinquishment. Biggy is basically telling his audience to update their beliefs based on new evidence which he reveals throughout the song. He is systematically destroying untruth.

Also, the word "nigga" is mostly devoid of racial connotations, especially in this context. It's much more akin to "brother", "comrade", "man," "friend", etc. -- it's emphasizing the communal nature between the artist and his audience. He's inviting them into his private world of truth.

I would roughly interpret it like this: "You may not have known before, but now you do know, my friend [and that is a good thing]."

Comment by baiter on Rationality Quotes August 2011 · 2011-08-03T08:45:05.563Z · score: -4 (20 votes) · LW · GW

And if you don't know, now you know, nigga

-- The Notorious BIG, Juicy

Comment by baiter on The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality · 2011-04-25T15:04:36.770Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For those interested in these topics I suggest reading Robert Anton Wilson's nonfiction, specifically the Cosmic Trigger series and Prometheus Rising.

Comment by baiter on Learned Blankness · 2011-04-20T02:34:35.113Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting and useful post, but I'm not sure I agree with the analogy to learned helplessness or using the word "learned" at all. The state you are describing seems to vary greatly between individuals (for contrast, I know many people who believe they can do or know almost anything correctly) and probably correlates to such things as intelligence, openness, risk-tolerance, etc. What makes you think this "blankness" is learned?

Comment by baiter on Verifying Rationality via · 2011-03-28T19:28:17.698Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is really great! I was hoping some sort of rationalist/poker mashup would materialize (and would have organized something like this myself if my rationalist knowledge matched my poker knowledge ;-)

I've always believed poker to be a great test for rationality. OK, maybe it's not perfect -- but who can suggest something better? Also, it's got mainstream popularity going for it which is very valuable.

That said, there are other details which contribute to being good at poker. Last year I conducted an informal study into the personality traits of online poker players. There were only two measured factors which correlated (negatively) with poker success: age and Neuroticism. I would venture to say that a very rational person who also scores very high on the Neuroticism personality scale would not be good at poker. (Then again, a rational person could(?) retrain his or her level of Neuroticism, but then we're entering the whole nature vs. nurture debate of personality and that's a whole other topic...)

I'll be following your blog and would love to help out any way I can!

Comment by baiter on Verifying Rationality via · 2011-03-28T18:57:55.858Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

AFAIK playing online poker is NOT illegal in any state except Washington. What is illegal is for US financial institutions to conduct transactions with online gaming companies.

For a review see:

Comment by baiter on (Virtual) Employment Open Thread · 2010-09-30T20:08:41.958Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is some truth to the fact that online poker is getting tougher, but it is definitely exaggerated. I can assure you that it is still beatable and very profitable by competent players.

Also, don't forget the option of playing live poker. With a little training and practice, I would bet that most readers of this blog (who aren't prone to emotional instability, aka "tilt") would easily dominate at least the low-stakes games.

Comment by baiter on (Virtual) Employment Open Thread · 2010-09-30T19:57:04.269Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Gambling online for money is NOT illegal in most states. What's explicitly illegal is for US banks/financial institutions to perform transactions with online gambling companies.

Comment by baiter on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2010-05-03T10:41:54.135Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think he means that it is irrational to ponder death when those moments can be spent living life productively. Not sure if I agree -- doesn't the thought of one's death often propel us to great action, while lack of such thoughts leads to complacency? Anyways here is the the proof from the Ethics:

Proof.— (67:1) A free man is one who lives under the guidance of reason, who is not led by fear (IV:lxiii.), but who directly desires that which is good (IV:lxiii.Coroll.), in other words (IV:xxiv.), who strives to act, to live, and to preserve his being on the basis of seeking his own true advantage; wherefore such an one thinks of nothing less than of death, but his wisdom is a meditation of life.

Comment by baiter on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2010-05-02T20:57:01.879Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life."

-Baruch Spinoza

Comment by baiter on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-26T13:28:53.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cool, I will take a look. I've frequently wondered how things would've developed had the Dutch been able to hold on to New Amsterdam...

Comment by baiter on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-23T11:44:10.701Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hi all. 25 yo New Yorker here. Been following this site for a while now, since Eliezer was still writing at OB.

Currently I'm working on two tech startups (it's fun to not get paid). My academic background is in cognitive psychology. In addition to AI, rationality, cognitive bias, sci fi, and the other usual suspects, my interests include architecture, poker, and 17th century Dutch history. ;)