Posts

Meetup : Newcastle-upon-Tyne meetup, December 2013-11-26T22:00:58.828Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Interesting critique of British education by outgoing advisor (warning: some politics) 2013-10-12T16:43:27.012Z · score: 25 (19 votes)
Tutoring Small Groups of Children (for money) 2013-02-20T11:51:59.233Z · score: 7 (12 votes)
On what rationality-related topic should I give a school presentation? 2012-05-07T19:00:45.232Z · score: 7 (8 votes)

Comments

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality Quotes Thread April 2015 · 2015-04-08T12:27:35.914Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It would have been wiser for the English governing class to have called upon some other god. All other gods, however weak and warring, at least boast of being constant. But science boasts of being in a flux for ever; boasts of being unstable as water.

GK Chesterton, Heretics

(for "god" read "moral principles")

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T01:46:31.376Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulverism

Comment by bramflakes on HPMOR Q&A by Eliezer at Wrap Party in Berkeley [Transcription] · 2015-03-17T18:52:17.195Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

you might be interested in reading this

Comment by bramflakes on HPMOR Q&A by Eliezer at Wrap Party in Berkeley [Transcription] · 2015-03-17T11:11:24.937Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

because that trivially leads to intelligence explosion

Comment by bramflakes on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-17T10:51:48.025Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The science material is presented to the reader in good faith, by the protagonist, who is only ever shown to be wrong in his attempts to link the science to magic, not the science itself. If it's attempting to be faithful to the Harry's youthful hubris, then shouldn't there be parts when Hermione says "actually Harry, you've misunderstood Kahneman and Tversky on X, Y and Z ...", like what happens for magical topics?

There is a section on the site called "science" which reads

All science mentioned in Methods is standard science except where otherwise specified (IIRC, the only two uses of nonstandard theories are Barbour’s timeless physics in Ch. 28 and my own timeless decision theory in Ch. 33). Wherever possible, I have mentioned standard terminology inside the book to make Googling easier. At some future point I may compile a complete list for all the scientific references in Methods, but this has not yet been done.

and if that weren't enough, Yudkowsky explicitly states that the science material is meant to be didactic.

Furthermore, "but it's better in the Sequences" is a terrible excuse. How many people are going to read a fun work of fiction, vs a sprawling 888 series of contrarian philosophy essays? A significant fraction of people on this very site have not read them, and then imagine what the odds are for the average fanfic reader (of whom there are an order of magnitude or two more than LessWrong users). Thousands of people are reading this story and taking what Yudkowsky says on faith (did you independently Google every science reference in the story? I sure didn't), so if the science is wrong then that's thousands of people coming away worse-off than when they started, and Yudkowsky is aware of this possibility..

Comment by bramflakes on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-17T00:15:16.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That being said, is HPMoR really meant as a didactic work?

We are talking about the fanfic where characters routinely block-quote from cogsci textbooks, aren't we?

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality: From AI to Zombies · 2015-03-16T23:20:08.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I didn't mean to imply I didn't like it! It was a welcome companion for hundreds of long school bus journeys.

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality: From AI to Zombies · 2015-03-14T00:08:28.371Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm getting problems too. The contents pages look like this, for example.

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality: From AI to Zombies · 2015-03-13T23:13:36.628Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

One of the most common complaints about the old Sequences was that there was no canonical default order, especially for people who didn't want to read the entire blog archive chronologically.

I was tricked into doing this. Years ago someone posted an ebook claiming to be the Sequences, but was actually just every single Yudkowsky blog post from 2006 to 2010 -_-

It took until noticing that only Yudkowsky's side of the FOOM debate was in there that I realized what had happened

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T08:45:46.744Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry needed his wand to demonstrate something (which he very plausibly might have), it would have made no sense to take it away.

So have him drop it and a Death Eater confiscate it, and if he says he needs it to demonstrate something, Voldemort can ask "do you plan to usse it to attack me, sservantss, or to esscape?" before returning it to him. Then as soon as he's done, confiscate it again. That's an extra 10 seconds; which is a small price to pay to hedge against a Black Swan.

Voldemort doesn't know about Partial Transfiguration, but he does know Harry has powers he knows not, which is what this entire charade was about in the first place! I would've done it it just in case.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T20:12:39.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He wouldn't have had enough information to conclude that Harry had invented a new type of Transfiguration - he would probably think it was a particularly powerful cutting hex for a first year, or something. Still stupid of him not to have made inquiries after two times witnessing its effects (cutting through the wall of Azkaban, felling the trees).

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T23:40:01.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Where was it stated that the Potter family's noble status is a result of baby-Harry killing Voldemort?

Comment by bramflakes on [POLL] LessWrong group on YourMorals.org (2015) · 2015-03-03T16:02:31.716Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Extreme case: the Amish

Comment by bramflakes on Announcement: The Sequences eBook will be released in mid-March · 2015-03-03T15:57:38.213Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Does this have the FOOM debate in it?

Comment by bramflakes on Imagining Scarcity · 2015-03-02T04:51:39.782Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

needs a "none" option

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-02T03:49:05.423Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I remembered I have a PredictionBook account that I registered some years ago and forgot about, so I might as well get started with this whole "calibration" business.

The true solution will hinge on truly convincing Voldemort to let Harry out of the box (i.e. no “brute force” transfiguration solutions where talking is just a distraction): 95%

The true solution involves time travel: 50%

The true solution relies on Partial Transfiguration: 80% (this isn't in contradiction with #1 - it can involve Partial Transfiguration (e.g. as a threat, or a demonstration, or distraction), it just won't be the lynchpin of the entire plan)

Conditional on EY accepting a viable fan solution, it will be different to what will actually happen in the story: 75%

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T17:46:41.125Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

EY has previously stated that HJPEV is only knows some of the content of the Sequences, because if he knew all of it he'd be too powerful to write an interesting story around. EY has also stated that Harry is now allowed to come into his full power as a rationalist, presumably meaning he can deduce anything remaining in the Sequences.

So, what things are in the Sequences that Harry hasn't yet invoked? The answer may lie there.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T03:13:09.929Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The Foreshadowed Weasley Loot was invoked - the gun.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T00:05:15.480Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Re-reading the story, this made me smirk in light of recent revelations:

Harry scowled at her. "Fine, I won't bite anyone who doesn't bite me first."

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T22:33:29.726Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

(Plausible) Harry can stall for time by explaining his discovery of Mendelian magical inheritance, and the implication that magic is not a property of Wizards but rather bestowed upon them, possibly by the Atlantean Matrix lords. This is a power, or at least knowledge, the Dark Lord knows not, and it gives him time to do his Partial Transfiguration attack, while also not giving Voldemort any kind of immediate strategic advantage.

(Implausible) This would then segue into a discussion of whether Voldemort is just seeing his CEV, and simulated-Harry trying to break it. Somehow, they end up breaking the Mirror's illusion, thus destroying this "world".

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T22:07:26.272Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I made a countdown timer.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T21:38:43.691Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nitpick - antimatter will also produce a pure light pulse, just the wavelengths are much shorter than the visible spectrum.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T20:54:20.430Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

After 5 minutes of thinking about it, the only thing I could come up with concerns:

"HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN. HE IS HERE. HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD."

Bellatrix and Sirius are stars, and also Death Eaters. Voldemort has already torn apart Bellatrix to use the Dark Mark, and Harry can tear apart Sirius with the Partial Transfiguration trick people are talking about. How do we know Sirius is present? Because there is a Death Eater named "Mr Grim" who is stated to have known the Potters.

Hang on, isn't Sirius in Azkaban?

"I'm not serious, I'm not serious, I'm not serious..."

The "he" refers to both Tom Riddles, as they are branches of the same person.

Troubles with this suggestion:

The "HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD" part remains unresolved.

Narratively unsatisfying.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-27T17:44:30.652Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

He could also transfigure a few micrometres of wood from the end of the wand itself.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T13:05:25.819Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You can't Apparate within the Hogwarts wards.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T22:53:37.587Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He looks like that in canon, for which I think the underlying meaning was from the idiom "cutting off ones' nose to spite ones' face". Not sure if it applies to HPMOR.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 110 · 2015-02-24T22:40:12.383Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

He has to breathe.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 110 · 2015-02-24T20:30:47.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the mirror universe was antimatter, Harry would be annihilated instantly because his feet are touching the floor, even if the Cloak could shield everything else.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T22:34:57.336Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

CEV is meant to be reflectively consistent.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T21:36:18.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wait a minute, aren't all human CEVs supposed to converge to roughly the same thing? (tell me if I've catastrophically misunderstood or misremembered the concept, it's been a while since I read the sequences)

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T20:45:34.423Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Use http://hpmor.com/chapter/109

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T20:44:39.136Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I show not your face but your coherent extrapolated volition

I got shivers when I read that and realized what the Mirror was. Another thing that ought to have been obvious, in hindsight.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-23T16:50:26.555Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Harry would be very bad at wandless magic the first time trying, so he might not even be able to do anything macroscopic. He might be able to conjure up the tiny amount of antimatter required though.

Comment by bramflakes on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-23T13:05:16.718Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't re-read the fic in a while so this might be a stupid question, but does QQ know about Partial Transfiguration? I can't recall him being present/conscious at any point Harry uses it. That would be a power the Dark Lord knows not, right?

If Harry judged that whatever Quirrel was planning was X-risk level dangerous, he could try wandlessly Transfiguring a few micrograms of antimatter, destroying both of them (along with a large chunk of Scotland) in the process.

Comment by bramflakes on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-02T06:51:07.191Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Because the sovereign and independent Eastern European nations wanted to become part of NATO, and NATO tanks didn't need to force itself on a single nation, it was invited( a single country, nor change the borders, unlike Russia's military occupation of portions of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

I'm not sure your average Serb would agree ...

Because when Greece has been recently openly allying itself with Russia, I don't see NATO troops from Italy or Albania or Bulgaria attempting to break apart portions of Greece.

No, they just get the Troika to do it by proxy.

I'll restate what I said before - I'm not defending Putin's regime as such. It's tyrannical and corrupt and no sane person would die defending that hill. Just that Russia's actions are perfectly understandable as defensive and reactive in nature. Yes, the Eastern Euro countries (mostly) joined NATO of their own free will (more accurately, they had little alternative either way with Russia being dead in the water through the 90s). What of it? The fact remains there's an explicitly anti-Russian coalition on Russia's doorstep, and allied groups like the EU pushing into historically-Russian territories. They're understandably afraid of the Germans pushing east of the Vistula - after all, it didn't end well the last two times.

"Rebuilding the Soviet Empire" is exactly the kind of propagandistic slogan that contributes to crises in the first place - viewing your enemy as some kind of inscrutable, uncompromisingly aggressive monster rather than a country concerned for its survival and who possesses few natural defenses.

Comment by bramflakes on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-02T00:20:30.056Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And NATO pushing up to the borders of Russia isn't considered an aggressive move on the part of the USA, because ... ?

I'm not trying to defend his annexation of the Crimea but "trying to rebuild the Soviet Empire" isn't what I think his motivations are when I can look at a map like this, and recall the Georgian conflict was itself sparked in part by aspirations of that country to join NATO. Americans would feel threatened if say, Mexico joined the Warsaw Pact, no?

Comment by bramflakes on February 2015 Media Thread · 2015-02-02T00:16:47.169Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Allegedly.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015 · 2015-01-30T03:25:40.827Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is that open offices make the company seem more cool/laid-back and less stodgy than cubicle farms. This might help to attract employees, even though it actually makes them less happy in the long-run.

This is it, basically. You see it a lot in companies based on churning through employees rather than building up a stable longterm workforce. The open-plan spaces look hip and make newcomers feel like they're working in a Cool Modern Company, so they're more willing to endure the daily annoyances like half a dozen distracting conversations going on at once across the room. It doesn't matter that they eventually wear down under the realization that they are working in a Panopticon prison yard. In fact it's probably considered a feature instead of a bug - I can't think of a better way to make employees feel small and pressured to perform.

Cubicle farms might seem like the prime example of drudgery, but at least you get your own little space and have an unexposed back.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015 · 2015-01-30T02:04:11.073Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I could never work in an open-plan office. The entire idea is a nakedly aggressive intrusion into employees' personal space on the part of management.

Comment by bramflakes on LINK: Diseases not sufficiently researched · 2015-01-17T22:39:23.112Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But I have no good explanation for the overfunding of HIV which is a completely preventable disease on the personal level by using a condom and refraining from using IV drugs.

one would think so but certain demographics can't seem to handle this

Comment by bramflakes on How Islamic terrorists reduced terrorism in the US · 2015-01-11T14:05:15.733Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

We see a dramatic drop in terrorist acts in the US after 2000.

Do we? I see a sawtooth-decline starting in 1995/6, with 2000/1 not deviating from the trend.

Comment by bramflakes on Stupid Questions January 2015 · 2015-01-07T02:27:19.782Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I feel it, but it's a weak emotion. I could easily imagine going without it.

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-27T13:08:10.312Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It isn't meant to be some rigorous account of how the world works, it's a deliberate mythology. I'm not entirely convinced as to whether it's a good idea, but aspie criticisms that amount to "god don't real" are missing the point entirely.

http://www.moreright.net/postrat-religion/

Comment by bramflakes on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-26T00:14:57.613Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is about the only scenario on LW that someone can be justifiably downvoted for that statement.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Dec. 22 - Dec. 28, 2014 · 2014-12-22T10:32:04.770Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not as opposed to political discussion on this site as many are, but I do think the original point of EY's "Politics is the Mindkiller" post is worth keeping in mind. Inserting this kind of mind-killing aside in an otherwise non-political comment is needlessly inflammatory and distracting. I don't want to see this sort of thing on LW.

Having seen many of his recent posts I believe he's doing it on purpose.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-17T18:54:50.355Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

We don't know whether the Great Filter is ahead of us or behind us. The more evidence we find that life is common throughout the universe, the more the probability mass moves towards "ahead of us", because more "behind us" possibilities have been eliminated.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-17T01:00:55.194Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

We've known for some time that Titan has plenty of organic molecules.

Comment by bramflakes on Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum · 2014-12-16T22:41:13.517Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Sequences don't purport to be average.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-15T01:18:42.665Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I tried that before, I'd just turn it off and get back into bed.

Comment by bramflakes on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-15T00:49:00.189Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I have a terrible problem where I wake up from my alarm, turn off the alarm, then go back to sleep (I've missed several morning lectures this way). The solution I've been trialing is to put a glass of water and some caffeine pills on my bedside table when I go to sleep. That way, when I wake up I can turn off the alarm, take the pill and give in to the urge to put my head back on the pillow, confident that the caffeine will wake me up again a few minutes later. This has worked every time I've remembered to put out the pills.

I got this idea from someone else on LW but I've forgotten who, so credit to whomever it was.