[LINK] Evidence-based giving by Laura and John Arnold Foundation 2013-05-18T19:47:43.270Z
What is your true decision metric? A look at medicinal chemists 2012-11-27T19:43:05.609Z
XKCD - Frequentist vs. Bayesians 2012-11-09T05:25:49.367Z
Always check your assertions... (Winning the Lottery) 2012-07-31T10:32:47.686Z
Four Short Stories on Error Checking 2012-06-25T04:58:47.681Z
Log-odds (or logits) 2011-11-28T01:11:48.673Z


Comment by brilee on Self-Congratulatory Rationalism · 2014-03-01T14:23:33.665Z · LW · GW

'''I posit that people want to find others like them (in a continuum with finding a community of people like them, some place where they can belong), and it stings to realize that even people who hold many similar opinions still aren't carbon copies of you, that their cognitive engine doesn't work exactly the same way as yours, and that you'll have to either change yourself, or change others (both of which can be hard, unpleasant work), if you want there to be less friction between you (unless you agree to disagree, of course).'''

Well said.

Comment by brilee on Rethinking Education · 2014-02-15T06:13:23.000Z · LW · GW

Excuse me if I'm misunderstanding your ideas here, but isn't this, almost bullet for bullet, exactly what Khan academy is doing?

Comment by brilee on Physics grad student: how to build employability in programming & finance · 2014-01-12T15:13:15.246Z · LW · GW

Biophysics grad student dropout/work at startup now; I personally was sort of sick of mathematical modelling, so I decided not to go the machine learning route. But as I was based in Boston, there were machine learning jobs everywhere. I enjoyed working through SICP, and its functional style been pretty useful in quickly understanding new concepts (Javascript callbacks and promises, for example) in programming.

I got my programming start in a website for a tournament that I ran - it taught me my way around a large framework (Django) and as django was what people call a 'highly opinionated and bloated' framework, it taught me one version of how experts think a large-scale project 'should' be organized.

Comment by brilee on My daily reflection routine · 2013-08-20T18:12:51.366Z · LW · GW

I did this sort of tracking for several months. My generalizable experiences are:

  • Everyone has their own situation. Following the guide of some other person exactly is bound to fail. Instead, you should start simple, and let your system evolve as you decide that you need to track different things.
  • That being said, it seems like some things tend to turn up repeatedly as "good things to keep track of", like "today I was happy for X", or "how much sleep did I get last night?"
  • Since no two people really have the same routine, instead of using specialized software, the flexibility of a raw text file with a template probably works best.
Comment by brilee on [HPMOR][Possible Spoilers] Gedankenexperiment: Time Turner Meta-Informational Relativity · 2013-07-06T02:57:09.676Z · LW · GW

I agree. I would rather not see the discussion section turned into There is for that.

Comment by brilee on How would not having free will feel to you? · 2013-06-20T23:52:00.377Z · LW · GW

Your comments seem like they answer a slightly different question: "What would it feel for a person who has free will to not have free will?". The right question is, "What would it feel for a person who doesn't have free will to not have free will?". (brushing all concerns about what 'free will' is under the carpet for now)

Comment by brilee on [LINK] Evidence-based giving by Laura and John Arnold Foundation · 2013-05-18T20:04:24.748Z · LW · GW

"But as the Arnolds' profile grows, of course, not everyone is a fan of this science of giving, especially since it comes at a cost to the many individuals and local organizations who need direct help now and could benefit from their billions. The answer to the most asked question may not be known for years: Will their plan work?""

I chuckled at this. All of a sudden, people are asking "will it work?", but they never asked the same questions of the charities they regularly donate to.

Comment by brilee on [Link] Immortality Project · 2013-03-20T13:26:35.214Z · LW · GW

I stopped reading the article after I got to "Templeton Foundation". Don't think this is quite what you're thinking it is.

Comment by brilee on Programming the LW Study Hall · 2013-03-15T20:04:06.101Z · LW · GW

...I'm reading every "pomo-" word in this comment section as "porno-" now. Thanks a lot.

Comment by brilee on Boring Advice Repository · 2013-03-07T20:53:20.202Z · LW · GW

Set double layers of alarms. I've turned off the first one and slept another two hours, way too many times!

Comment by brilee on Are coin flips quantum random to my conscious brain-parts? · 2013-02-19T15:46:20.552Z · LW · GW

Comment by brilee on Notes on Autonomous Cars · 2013-01-24T19:02:38.954Z · LW · GW

(unrelated) - I'm confused. Is there a reason why random letters are bolded?

Comment by brilee on Suggestion: site-wide taboos · 2013-01-16T03:50:39.857Z · LW · GW

Signalling has an academic definition in economics, for sure. It's used both in an intentional sense ("workers signal their conscientiousness to employers by making their way through a 4-year college degree") and an unintentional sense ("being a high school dropout signals to the employer that a worker is in the bottom 5th percentile")

However, I do think LW uses it in a intellectual hipster sense as well - "Do you really think that, or are you just signalling?". The difference seems to me that instead of jockeying for economic advantage, we are accusing someone of jockeying for social status. Of course, such social jockeying is widespread, simply by dint of human nature. But I suppose we could replace this use of the word with "posturing" or something of the sort.

Comment by brilee on [LINK] Why taking ideas seriously is probably a bad thing to do · 2013-01-06T00:15:47.253Z · LW · GW

Excellent post by Yvain... your excerpt really doesn't do it justice.

Comment by brilee on XKCD - Frequentist vs. Bayesians · 2012-11-10T04:12:16.129Z · LW · GW

No... because the time it takes the sun's increased brilliance to reach the moon and reflect to the Earth is the same as the time it takes for the Earth to be wiped out by the energy wave.

Comment by brilee on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-06T04:19:12.593Z · LW · GW

You have, in a nutshell, just explained why lobbyists exist.

Comment by brilee on [link] Betting on bad futures · 2012-09-22T18:45:26.950Z · LW · GW

Alice, believing that the world will end, will spend all her money by her predicted end-of-the-world date. She will then be unable to pay back. Bob, knowing this, would never lend her the money.

Comment by brilee on Eliezer's Sequences and Mainstream Academia · 2012-09-15T13:02:29.495Z · LW · GW

It's posts like this that remind me that the sequences are vast, excellent, and most importantly of all, not particularly organized at the moment.

Every so often, Lukeprog or others will make a small effort towards collating the sequences, but the resulting product disappears into the ether of Discussion archives.

Talk is cheap, but somebody really needs to do something about the sequences to make them more accessible and visible to a newcomer. The LW wiki index of the sequence is incomplete, and seems like it hasn't been changed since 'Tetronian' created it six months ago.

Comment by brilee on Jews and Nazis: a version of dust specks vs torture · 2012-09-08T03:26:45.656Z · LW · GW

You know... purposely violating Godwin's Law seems to have become an applause light around here, as if we want to demonstrate how super rational we are that we don't succumb to obvious fallacies like Nazi analogies.

Comment by brilee on How To Actually Change Your Mind eBook (In Order) · 2012-09-04T21:08:46.356Z · LW · GW

Is there any editing being done? In my opinion, a lot of essay 'refactoring' could be of use here for Eliezer's writing.

Comment by brilee on What is the evidence in favor of paleo? · 2012-08-28T05:16:55.006Z · LW · GW

Modern highly processed food is optimized to our sense of taste, to the extent that they can be called superstimuli. They are also correspondingly unhealthier, on many metrics. (I suppose this is the part in contention... I don't have any sources for this claim, sorry.)

The paleo diet, as well as the Atkins diet and other diets, inadvertently 'works' because highly processed foods tend to be carb-based (crackers, cookies, chips, sugary cereals, sugary yogurts, sugary soft drinks, sugary baked goods), and are thus excluded.

Comment by brilee on [LINK] Strong AI Startup Raises $15M · 2012-08-21T23:54:36.698Z · LW · GW

Would be nice to have details of their algorithmic approach, instead of some nebulous buzzword like 'Recursive Cortical Network'. I suppose it does hint somewhat at neural networks...

Their website also seems to emphasize the wrong thing - emphasizing the potential of visual processing algorithms and such. I would be more worried about whether their team is smart/visionary/revolutionary enough to make significant headway on such a difficult problem. Because they're emphasizing the 'wrong' things, it sets off my 'Solyndra' alarms.

Comment by brilee on Enjoy solving "impossible" problems? Group project! · 2012-08-18T04:55:46.647Z · LW · GW

Idea: Understand the human psychology that leads to the stability of the concept of currency/money.

Comment by brilee on Idle speculation about anchoring and the Facebook IPO · 2012-08-15T02:18:28.582Z · LW · GW

While I agree with your sentiment, I think this is just begging the question - you are rejecting this speculation by assuming homo economicus.

Comment by brilee on Mentioning cryonics to a dying person · 2012-08-09T22:59:39.918Z · LW · GW

I imagine the author has written this with a healthy dose of self-irony. I applaud him for being so forthright about what we should all do as advocates of cryonics.

Comment by brilee on Mentioning cryonics to a dying person · 2012-08-09T12:52:58.705Z · LW · GW

Am I the only one who finds this about as distasteful as the rabbi who goes around a hospital ward trying to solicit deathbed conversions?

If a cryonics decision is to be made, it should be made when the person is not under duress.

Comment by brilee on Natural Laws Are Descriptions, not Rules · 2012-08-07T10:13:46.055Z · LW · GW

This seems to be taking down a straw man, and far from "challenging a central tenet of LW: reductionism", you perfectly describe it and expound on it, if a bit wordily. At least in my mind, it's very obvious that physical 'law' is a map-level concept. Physicists themselves have noticed that for a map-level concept, physical 'law' fits the territory so amazingly well, that they have written articles such as "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences"

Comment by brilee on Advice please: Cognitive distortion preventing me from accomplishing anything · 2012-08-01T15:43:14.090Z · LW · GW

Ah. Thanks for the link. Why is that post not front-paged, or indexed somewhere in the wiki?

I was trying to make use of known research that people who believe themselves to be hard workers will work harder, while people who believe themselves to be smart workers will work less. Of course, explaining that would have destroyed the effect, which is why I instead opted to start my post with something intentionally harsh-sounding.

Comment by brilee on Advice please: Cognitive distortion preventing me from accomplishing anything · 2012-08-01T08:32:59.650Z · LW · GW

No, it isn't. You're preventing yourself from accomplishing anything.

Start small - accomplish progressively larger tasks, starting with something as simple as taking out the trash. Every time you successfully complete a task, say, "See look - my 'cognitive distortion' is just an illusion."

Comment by brilee on The Criminal Stupidity of Intelligent People · 2012-07-27T12:19:11.223Z · LW · GW

There seems to be some content here, but it requires massive editing to be of any use. First thing I'd recommend is to cut the first three paragraphs entirely.

Comment by brilee on A Description of Entropy · 2012-07-25T17:24:24.120Z · LW · GW

In other words, a universe where the arrow of time runs backwards?

Comment by brilee on What Longevity Research Most Excites You? · 2012-07-20T06:19:57.063Z · LW · GW

This is an interesting line of reasoning, which is not easily refuted. It seems quite plausible biochemically, and my strongest attack on it would probably be through the conjunction fallacy - while each of these steps seems reasonable, perhaps the entire chain is faulty.

However, there is one thing that seems blatantly out of place - and that's the scale of the process. The citric acid cycle as a whole operates at a catalytic concentration of 1-5 millimolar, in just about every cell of the body. Multiplied by 70 kg of weight per person, that would equal 70-350 millimoles, or roughly 10-50g of CAC intermediates in the body. If this pill is really hoping to dump enough oxaloacetate into the system in order to temporarily force the cycle to run backwards, a 100mg daily dose seems small. I would think you'd need at least 1g daily before it actually affects the citric acid cycle.

Do they teach science in school nowadays? I feel like the analysis that I'm doing should be doable by most scientifically literate people.

Comment by brilee on Exploiting the Typical Mind Fallacy for more accurate questioning? · 2012-07-17T15:02:04.557Z · LW · GW

I would suggest that an answer to "what do you think the percentage of employees who have stolen.." is a proxy question for, "just exactly how socially unacceptable to you is stealing from your employer"? It relates to, basically, your own levels of altruism, and what you perceive the local altruism levels to be. If you see that everyone around you is being altruistic, you feel a basic urge to keep the clean environment up, while if everyone around you is cheating, then you are less likely to keep up your own altruism.

I've had my bike stolen a few times. After getting a particularly nice bike stolen, I now am always on the lookout for unlocked bikes, and when I see one, the urge is most definitely there to grab it - 'retribution', if you will, for my own stolen bike. I don't go through with it, but the possibility is a lot more present in my mind than if I had never had a bike stolen from me.

Comment by brilee on What Longevity Research Most Excites You? · 2012-07-15T21:54:36.150Z · LW · GW

47 grams per liter of lemon/lime juice. That converts to ~25 g oxaloacetate per liter. Oranges apparently have less citric acid, to the tune of perhaps 500mg oxaloacetate equivalent per liter of juice.

Comment by brilee on What Longevity Research Most Excites You? · 2012-07-15T20:25:46.793Z · LW · GW

Citric acid directly metabolizes to oxaloacetate in the body. This guy is selling you fruit juice at $50 bucks an orange.

Comment by brilee on PZ Myers on the Infeasibility of Whole Brain Emulation · 2012-07-14T21:28:29.695Z · LW · GW

In the first quote, he sets up the straw man as gwern describes it. In the second quote, he defends his first straw man by saying "but that's what singularitarians believe", essentially putting up a second straw man to defend the first.

Comment by brilee on PZ Myers on the Infeasibility of Whole Brain Emulation · 2012-07-14T18:54:24.844Z · LW · GW

Oops, didn't see a further comment below: In response to a comment, " I still don’t understand why biologists insist that you have to do a perfect simulation, down to the smallest molecule, and then state the obvious fact that it’s not going to happen.", PZ says this:

"Errm, because that’s what the singularitarians we’re critiquing are proposing? This whole slice-and-scan proposal is all about recreating the physical components of the brain in a virtual space, without bothering to understand how those components work. We’re telling you that approach requires an awfully fine-grained simulation.

An alternative would be to, for instance, break down the brain into components, figure out what the inputs and outputs to, say, the nucleus accumbens are, and then model how that tissue processes it all (that approach is being taken with models of portions of the hippocampus). That approach doesn’t require a detailed knowledge of what every molecule in the tissue is doing.

But the method described here is a brute force dismantling and reconstruction of every cell in the brain. That requires details of every molecule."

Still seems like a straw man.

Comment by brilee on PZ Myers on the Infeasibility of Whole Brain Emulation · 2012-07-14T18:48:20.785Z · LW · GW

From the comments, PZ elaborates: "Andrew G: No, you don’t understand. Part of this magical “scan” has to include vast amounts of data on the physics of the entity…pieces which will interact in complex ways with each other and the environment. Unless you’re also planning to build a vastly sped up model of the whole universe, you’re going to have a simulation of brain running very fast in a sensory deprivation tank.

Or do you really think you can understand how the brain works in complete isolation from physiology, endocrinology, and sensation?"

Seems like PZ is dismissing the feasibility of computation by assuming that computation has to be perfectly literal. To make a chemistry analogy here, one does not have to model the quantum mechanics and the dynamics of every single molecule in a beaker of water in order to simulate the kinetics of a reaction in water. One does not need to replicate the chemical entirety of the neuron in silico; one merely needs to replicate the neuron's stimulus-response patterns.

Comment by brilee on What Is Signaling, Really? · 2012-07-12T18:42:17.951Z · LW · GW

I am also a really fast speed-reader, and my mind tends to ignore these sorts of words.

I remember one time I opened a fortune cookie, glanced at the slip, laughed, and repeated it to my friend, with perfect grammar. He grabbed the slip, actually read the slip (which apparently had had horrible grammar mistakes), and demanded to know how I had managed to read the slip while unintentionally correcting all the grammar mistakes in it.

Comment by brilee on Negative and Positive Selection · 2012-07-06T04:23:21.787Z · LW · GW

The concepts of positive and negative selection are not quite well defined in your essay, I think.

Imagine that you have one test, with a gaussian distribution of outcomes. Let's arbitrarily set a threshold, and if people are above this threshold, they have passed this test. Call the sets of passing A and not passing ~A

Would you call this a positive or negative selection? It is neither, in my opinion.

Now, imagine you have two tests, A and B.

A positive test is one where A U B are selected. A negative test is one where ~(~A ^ ~B) are selected.

In other words - the operative difference between positive and negative selection is OR vs. AND.

Comment by brilee on Negative and Positive Selection · 2012-07-06T03:23:15.916Z · LW · GW

One word:


One massive examination that determines your entire future? Isn't that about as positive selection as you can get?

Comment by brilee on On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists -- Revisited[Draft] [Request for Feedback] · 2012-07-05T23:24:39.317Z · LW · GW

It would seem to me that parenting is one of those fields of knowledge where you don't know what you don't know until you've actually had kids yourself. If you find this hard to believe, then imagine how seriously you'd take your younger self if ey were to talk about how to be in a good relationship, before having had a significant other.

So, while I generally dislike discouraging people who are enthusiastic about getting something done, I would like to suggest that perhaps you are not the right person to write this post (or not yet). This is based on my reading of the rubber-ducking sentence as meaning that you have not yet had kids.

Comment by brilee on Four Short Stories on Error Checking · 2012-06-25T23:05:09.906Z · LW · GW

Comment by brilee on Four Short Stories on Error Checking · 2012-06-25T16:24:03.808Z · LW · GW

You're very right about the moral of the story. I had intended it as a an allegory to publication bias in science, but I don't think I wrote the stories quite right.

Comment by brilee on Minimum Viable Workout Routine is Dangerously Misinformative · 2012-06-24T15:46:50.500Z · LW · GW

Seems like a good post on its own; no need to bring down its apparent quality by making it appear to be an emotionally heated response to another post of lesser quality

Comment by brilee on Low Hanging Fruit- Basic bedroom decorating · 2012-05-31T22:30:54.896Z · LW · GW

Downvoted for being about as plausible as fan death

Comment by brilee on Petition: Off topic area · 2012-05-14T20:46:27.710Z · LW · GW

To put it bluntly, HPMoR threads contribute a very non-trivial fraction of karma GDP. Shouldn't you be worried about that?

Comment by brilee on Hofstadter's Superrationality · 2012-04-22T01:26:41.698Z · LW · GW

Huh. I finally understand the "logic" that has been espoused in HPMoR, ch 33 ""Precisely," said Harry Potter, his face now turning serious. "We are faced with a true Prisoner's Dilemma..."

What this reminds me of is the logistic equation: dx/dt = x(1-x).

This simple system has two equilibrium points: x = 0, and x = 1. x=0 is unstable - that is, any perturbation will cause the system to veer away from that equilibrium point. x=1 is stable, and any perturbations return to that equilbrium.

Hofstadter says that superrationalists should decide to pick the x=0 (unstable) equilibrium - i.e., cooperate. But any deviation from superrationality, however slight, will cause the equilibrium to collapse into the all-defect equilibrium.

Comment by brilee on Our Phyg Is Not Exclusive Enough · 2012-04-15T20:37:20.383Z · LW · GW

Could I get an explanation for the downvotes?

Comment by brilee on Our Phyg Is Not Exclusive Enough · 2012-04-15T14:55:12.833Z · LW · GW

From Shirky's Essay on online groups: "The Wikipedia right now, the group collaborated online encyclopedia is the most interesting conversational artifact I know of, where product is a result of process. Rather than "We're specifically going to get together and create this presentation" it's just "What's left is a record of what we said."

When somebody goes to a wiki, they are not oging there to discuss elementary questions that have already been answered; they are going there to read the results of that discussion. Isn't this basically what the OP wants?

Why aren't we using the wiki more? We have two modes of discussion here: discussion board, and wiki. The wiki serves more as an archive of the posts that make it to main-page level, meaning that all the hard work of the commenters in the discussion boards is often lost to the winds of time. (Yes, some people have exceptionally good memory and link back to them. But this is obviously not sustainable.) If somebody has a visionary idea on how to lubricate the process of collating high-quality comments and incorporating them into a wiki-like entity, then I suspect our problem could be solved.