Comment by caue on Meetup : São Paulo, Brazil - Meetup at Base Sociedade Colaborativa · 2015-06-10T23:50:42.865Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

At last. Wouldn't miss it.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes Thread May 2015 · 2015-05-14T21:26:29.986Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the sentiment, but the advice is too often not practical. Also, not much to do with rationality.

Comment by caue on On desiring subjective states (post 3 of 3) · 2015-05-05T15:00:59.945Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

An internal combustion engine is like Carol's subjective cold-sensation in her left hand - one way among others to bring about the externally-observable behavior. (By "externally observable" I mean "without looking under the hood".) In Carol's case, that behavior is identifying 20 C water. In the engine's case, it's the acceleration of the car.

The subjective cold-sensation in her left hand should be part of the observable behavior, surely? To mix the analogies, if it were my job to disguise the fuel cell as a combustion engine, I certainly would feel like I had to include this subjective cold-sensation part.

But I'm not familiar enough with the discussions about uploading to know to what extent people intend to make the fuel cell keep the subjectively observable properties of a combustion engine.

Comment by caue on Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015 · 2015-05-05T14:35:40.406Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can anyone recommend good sources on the social dynamics of witch-hunts?

Not necessarily about witches, of course. I'm interested in the hand of Moloch in these situations: social incentives to go along, status rewards for being more morally outraged than your fellow citizen, self-protection by avoiding looking insufficiently outraged, the not necessarily intended but still unescapable prosecutorial traps, the social impossibility of denying the actual existence of the outrageous facts...

Comment by caue on Gasoline Gal looks under the hood (post 1 of 3) · 2015-05-05T14:16:09.373Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would you attribute essentialist thinking to someone who prefers that watch?

Yes, I don't see why not. The only difference is a mental tag on their map.

(not that I would look down on anyone who has these preferences, or feel particularly inclined to work on diminishing my own similar preferences).

But there are readily perceivable differences. Just look under the hood.

Ok, no differences that would make her prefer the actual combustion engine, besides it having the essence of a real combustion engine.

Comment by caue on Gasoline Gal looks under the hood (post 1 of 3) · 2015-05-04T19:54:06.107Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To the extent that there really are no perceivable differences, it looks like essentialist thinking. But I wouldn't call a desire irrational (or rather, I wouldn't call it especially irrational), even a desire for a perceived essence.

A similar example would be two identical watches, one of which was given to you by your grandfather. Or the loss of value when you discover that the autographed picture you bought on e-bay is a forgery.

(maybe it's because I'm primed by a discussion on the stupid questions thread, or because I perceived hints that the third part would be controversial, but the example I had in mind as I read the post was of a heterossexual man rejecting trans women)

Comment by caue on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T17:26:59.894Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, here's Yvain applying this reasoning to this exact question.

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015 · 2015-04-29T17:42:26.049Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(The people producing those videos say he's "producer and co-writer". Cynical-me suspects that "Gamergate fans" think he must be the real driving force because Anita Sarkeesian is a girl and therefore not to be taken seriously. I do hope cynical-me is wrong. Not-so-cynical me thinks Sarkeesian is more likely to be the real driving force because, other things being equal, a woman is more likely to feel strongly about this stuff than a man.)

Since it's been brought up...

As far as I can tell the best evidence they have for this is a widely circulated video (from before FemFreq) in which she says she's "not a fan of videogames".

And Mcintosh clearly "feels strongly about this", as much as any woman I've seen. The Gamergate people created a whole hashtag to display his tweets (#FullMcintosh), which also became, incidentally, what they use to indicate that they think someone has gone particularly far down the SJ rabbit hole.

Personally, I think the conclusion Viliam mentions doesn't rest in very solid evidence, but it's not far-fetched either. (meanwhile, the "because she's a girl" hypothesis looks very unlikely to me)

What, by the way, makes you think that Anita Sarkeesian doesn't truly believe in her cause? I've only seen a small quantity of her stuff, but what I've seen looks sincere (and fairly plausible) to me.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with videogames, or which of her videos you've seen. But I can't imagine how some of the ones I've seen could possibly have been made without outright dishonesty.

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015 · 2015-04-28T23:03:24.575Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


No, I mean people sometimes accuse leftists of holding positions motivated by hate. It's more common for this accusation to be made against right-wing positions (which is what the grandparent was talking about), but I don't think the reverse is all that rare.

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015 · 2015-04-27T22:00:03.210Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, that's quite close to my experience as well. Any disagreement about policies is actually a smokescreen - people only oppose leftist policies because they benefit from the status quo, you see, but they will invent anything to avoid admitting that (including, I gather, the entire field of Economics).

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 27 - May 3, 2015 · 2015-04-27T21:24:20.579Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's not that rare.

Consider accusations of hate against: Israel/Jews; straight cis white men; Christians; America; Freedom; rich people...

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-17T18:21:22.060Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The entire domains of boys toys and girls toys diverge. Previously often one set of toys was sold for and used by boys and girls alike. The play differentiated along roles but still overlapped. But ot any longer. I wondered: Why is that?

I think I'm seeing the opposite (in Brazil). I see a lot of for-girls versions of toys that used to be made for boys when I was a child. Like RC Barbie racing cars, or pink Nerf guns with matching fashion accessories. Traditional girl toys also look more varied than they used to be (e.g. horror-themed dolls).

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-17T01:36:36.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was wondering more about the happiness/wellbeing part than the my terminal goal part.

But about that: it would mean it's one of my terminal goals. I'm also not seeing how it would be incompatible with a "transactional relationship".

I feel there's an intended connotation that it should rank high among his terminal goals (in the example, high enough that he shouldn't end the relationship), but this doesn't necessarily follow from "seeing her as an end in herself".

(I think the "intended correct answer" in the scenario is that he shouldn't want to leave her in that situation. This is compatible with him wanting to stay for her sake, but also with him wanting to stay because he would still enjoy being with her. This latter possibility has a better claim to being a healthy relationship than the former, and it's also entirely compatible with a "transactional attitude" as described by Salemicus)

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-16T23:47:54.058Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A healthy attitude to a relationship makes the other person an end in herself.

What does it mean for a person to be an end? In the example, is the end the continuity of the relationship, her happiness, or what?

If the end is the continuity of the relationship regardless of quality, or her happiness regardless of his, it doesn't look very "healthy". But if it's conditional on quality or on his own satisfaction, it doesn't look like the "end".

Comment by caue on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-15T17:07:22.339Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What I can't figure out is why some noticeable proportion of heterosexual men hate prostitutes.

My bet is that they process it as a purity/sacredness violation.

Comment by caue on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-04-01T02:58:18.607Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am, however, stronger than most of the villagers, and could take some of the food that the raiders don't scavenge for.

You'd have to be stronger than the group of villagers.

Comment by caue on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-04-01T02:51:44.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The way status works looks analogous to the way Schelling points work: members of the group expect the other members to act a certain way towards member X, and also expect that everyone will expect everyone else to expect that, and so on. This is clearly how authority works (each grunt obeys the boss because he expects the other grants to obey and punish him if he doesn't, which is what all of them are thinking), and I suspect it might be a special case of the general case of status.

The value of strength, wealth, talent and etc. for high status would then go beyond their inherent usefulness in influencing people, by also acting as salient features that are more likely to become Schelling points. At the other end, each person would know not to ally with a coward because "nobody follows a coward", which would be a pretty natural Schelling point, but a similar behavior can arise if "it is known" that people born under the full moon are unlucky, and therefore nobody expects anyone else to follow someone born under a full moon...

This accords well, I believe, with the common observation that acting as one who expects to be assigned high status is an effective way to indeed be assigned high status.

Comment by caue on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-04-01T01:58:12.777Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I see what "dominance" is here. If you mean something like the OP's "general purpose ability to influence a group", then my guess is that this person is only "not-dominant" to the extent that they choose not to overtly use it. For instance, I expect the answer to the following questions would be "yes":

When the group is uncertain about an outsider, or someone new, is this person's support more important than that of the average member of the group?

Regarding trivial choices, like ambient temperature or where to go for lunch, do this person's preferences count more than the average, or do they get their choice more than the average member of the group?

In times of change or crisis, would this person's voice carry more weight than the average voice?

Comment by caue on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-03-31T03:22:45.655Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe I'm missing something, but the mystery of people wanting to be low status appears to vanish if we don't think of binary high/low status, but as a continuum going from highest to lowest status. Then we can see people not wanting to go for highest status (including, perhaps, because they don't think they can manage it), but that doesn't mean they want to be low status.

I find it useful to see status as "fuzzily ordinal", in that it's often possible to identify one or some higher status members of a group, one or some lower status members (or maybe "would-be members"), as well as some in the middle, even if it's not possible to order them precisely.

I really like Venkat's illustration of this in his Gervais Principle (as in "it's interesting and aesthetically pleasing", not necessarily as in "I have high confidence in its accuracy"), especially in this post.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T20:56:31.355Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1- I am not sure it would happen, but I think that someone who does shout "fire!" is indeed quite sure people will run.

2 - I don't know Australia's laws, so I don't know what would be protected. But Hugh's speech goes in my first box (the only information being transmited is Hugh's preferences. Also, by analogy: if it were "should I kill him?", both would be responsible).

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T20:43:12.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, this is what I thought. That would be the difference between my first and third types of speech, and an example of a controversy about how to draw the line.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T20:21:19.941Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Looking at my thought process, I think I'm using this differentiating test:

Look at the probability of the outcome, given the speech - if it's high enough that you can ignore the receiver of the message as an independent agent whose response generates uncertainty, the causation looks pretty direct. But if the outcome is dependent on people freely considering the information and acting on their own conclusions (as they would if the information was known by other means), then it looks indirect enough that I consider "transmiting information" as the function of the speech.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T19:38:04.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Consider e.g. whisteblowing. Or pretty much any political speech -- are you saying engaging in political speech specifically in order to influence the elections "isn't really protected"?

No, I'm saying that causation is sufficiently less direct in this case (than in cases like shouting "fire" and ordering a murder) that it's more reasonable to put it in the "intent to transmit information" box.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T18:08:58.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

By the presence of this additional element, the intent for the speech to cause a concrete effect besides transmission of information, and its ability to cause it.

ETA: For some reason I only now noticed the "other hand" on your first response. Yes, all speech transmits information (even if just the information that I think A or desire B), and most speech intends some goal (even if just the goal that people think like me). When I think of the problem of putting a speech act in the first or second boxes my mind follows paths similar those used in determining causation in Law, with similar difficulties. There won't always be a bright line, but most instances will be closer to one end than the other.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T17:47:05.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, that was supposed to be "falsely shouting fire". I'll be surprised if someone is punished for shouting "fire" if there really was a fire and they were only transmiting this information. For that reason, I also expect that "I thought there was a fire!" would be an effective defense.

Comment by caue on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2015-03-30T17:25:38.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've read the comments, and nobody seems to have mentioned the different functions of speech, and the different goals of limitations. Yvain's examples of Holocaust denial and "shouting fire" are not the same sort of thing.

Speech as an act causally linked to a desired consequence unrelated to communication, like falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, or commanding a subordinate to shoot someone, or etc., isn't really protected (I'm not very familiar with US Law, but I can't think of counterexamples). These limitations don't usually register as "censorship".

Speech as transmission of information is protected, but with many [mostly] uncontroversial exceptions, like privacy, intellectual property, and state secrets.

Most controversies seem to be about speech as expression of thought, be it opinions, theories, or art. Yvain's thoughts are about this (as are his and Vladimir's points about identifying the Right-Thinking People and legislating the truth), so the "shouting fire" example doesn't help much.

I'm not sure it's useful to speak of all three as "speech" and have a single set of general rules for them, unless this is also acting as a Schelling point (although some current debates - hate speech, blasphemy - seem to be essentially about the framing of the issue as the first or the third kind of speech, with speaker intention often acting as a [Schelling?] divide).

[edited after Lumifer's response]

Comment by caue on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-24T15:11:19.740Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Algorithms" feels more related to the Sequences, but may not be the strategic choice. I don't expect non-math/CS types to go "yay, a book about algorithms!".

Comment by caue on LINK: Cosmologist and an Evangelical Christian Don Page on God and Cosmology · 2015-03-23T14:34:57.550Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The first link doesn't work...

Don argues for God and Christianity on Bayesian reasons.

That is significantly more burdensome. And it seems that the argument presented here doesn't stretch enough to reach a God compatible with Christianity.

Comment by caue on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T23:56:56.714Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this.

Comment by caue on Rationality: From AI to Zombies · 2015-03-13T17:46:12.835Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

My first reaction as well.

But that is easy. What I haven't figured out yet is how to get them to read it.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-12T18:02:27.153Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The point was just that we should be allowed to weight expected positives against expected negatives. Yes, there can be invisible items in the "cons" column (also on the "pros"), and it may make sense to require extra weight on the "pros" column to account for this, but we shouldn't be required to act as if the invisible "cons" definitely outweigh all "pros".

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-12T17:48:55.910Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with this.

But then we look, and this turns into "we haven't looked enough". Which can be true, so maybe we go "can anyone think of something concrete that can go wrong with this?", and ideally we will look into that, and try to calculate the expected utility.

But then it becomes "we can't look enough - no matter how hard we try, it will always be possible that there's something we missed".

Which is also true. But if, just in case, we decide to act as if unknown unknowns are both certain and significant enough to override the known variables, then we start vetoing the development of things like antibiotics or the internet, and we stay Christians because "it can't be proven wrong".

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-11T18:28:19.891Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(thank you for helping me try to understand him on this point, by the way)

This seems coherent. But, to be honest, weak (which could mean I still don't get it).

We also seem to have gotten back to the beginning, and the quote. Leaving aside for now the motivated stopping regarding religion, we have a combination of the Precautionary Principle, the logic of Chesterton's Fence, and the difficulty of assessing risks on account of Black Swans.

... which would prescribe inaction in any question I can think of. It looks as if we're not even allowed to calculate the probability of outcomes, because no matter how much information we think we have, there can always be black swans just outside our models.

Should we have ever started mass vaccination campaigns? Smallpox was costly, but it was a known, bounded cost that we had been living with for thousands of years, and, although for all we knew the risks looked obviously worth it, relying on all we know to make decisions is a manifestation of hubris. I have no reason to expect being violenty assaulted when I go out tonight, but of course I can't possibly have taken all factors in consideration, so I should stay home, as it will be safer if I'm wrong. There's no reason to think pursuing GMOs will be dangerous, but that's only considering all we know, which can't be enough to meet the burden of proof under the strong precautionary principle. There's not close to enough evidence to even locate Christianity in hypothesis space, but that's just intellectual reasoning... We see no reason not to bring down laws and customs against homosexuality, but how can we know there isn't a catastrophic black swan hiding behind that Fence?

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-09T20:29:39.590Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with the apparent LW consensus that much of religion is attire, habit, community/socializing, or "belief in belief", if that's what you mean. But then again, people actually do care about the big things, like whether God exists, and also about what is or isn't morally required of them.

I bet they will also take Taleb's defense as an endorsement of God's existence and the other factual claims of Christianity. I don't recall him saying that he's only a cultural Christian and doesn't care whether any of it is actually true.

I would also add that it's quite okay when different people hold different beliefs.

Well, I won't force anyone to change, but there's good and bad epistemology.

Also, the kind of Chesterton's fences that the new atheists are most interested in bringing down aren't just sitting there, but are actively harmful (and they may be there as a result of people practicing what you called religion1, but their removal is opposed with appeals to religion2).

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-09T19:24:53.454Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It can also help to illustrate ideas. Taleb basically says that religion1 is a very useful concept. New atheists spend energy arguing that religion2 is a bad concept. That's pointless if they want to convince someone who believes in religion1. If they don't want to argue against a strawman they actually have to switch to talking about religion1.

But you could say that the new atheists do want to argue against what Taleb might call a strawman, because what they're trying to do really is to argue against religion2. They're speaking to the public at large, to the audience. Does the audience also not care about the factual claims of religion? If that distinction about the word "religion" is being made, I don't see why Taleb isn't the one being accused of trying to redefine it mid-discussion.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-09T17:50:59.691Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(I haven't read the book)

The way I usually come in contact with something like this is afterwards, when Elinor and her tribe are talking about those irrational greens, and how it's better to not even engage with them. They're just dumb/evil, you know, not like us.

Even without that part, this avoids opportunities for clearing up misunderstandings.

(anecdotally: some time ago a friend was telling me about discussions that are "just not worth having", and gave as an example "that time when we were talking about abortion and you said that X, I knew there was just no point in going any further". Turns out she had misunderstood me completely, and I actually had meant Y, with which she agrees. Glad we could clear that out - more than a year later, completely by accident. Which makes me wonder how many more of those misunderstandings are out there)

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-08T15:44:01.302Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Ambivalent about this one.

I like the idea of rational argument as a sign of intellectual respect, but I don't like things that are so easy to use as fully general debate stoppers, especially when they have a built-in status element.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-08T15:29:18.538Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My source were his tweets. Sorry if I can't give anything concrete right now, but "Taleb GMO" apparently gets a lot of hits on google. I didn't really dive into it, but as I understood it he takes the precautionary principle (the burden of proof of safety is on GMOs, not of danger on opponents) and adds that nobody can ever really know the risks, so the burden of proof hasn't and can't be met.

"They're arrogant fools" seems to be Taleb's charming way of saying "they don't agree with me".

I like him too. I loved The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness back when I read them. But I realized I didn't quite grok his epistemology a while back, when I found him debating religion with Dennett, Harris and Hitchens. Or rather, debating against them, for religion, as a Christian, as far as I can tell based on a version of "science can't know everything". (

I've been meaning to ask Less Wrong about Taleb for a while, because this just seems kookish to me, but it's entirely possible that I just don't get something.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-03T03:03:13.636Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but my point is that this is also true for, say, leaving the house to have fun.

Comment by caue on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-02T15:51:19.715Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Opportunity costs?

I would say it should be the one with best expected returns. But I guess Taleb thinks the possibility of a very bad black swan overrides everything else - or at least that's what I gathered from his recent crusade against GMOs.

Comment by caue on Three Parables of Microeconomics · 2014-05-14T19:42:11.162Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are they really not communicating, though? They seem to be signalling to each other their willingness to cooperate in the prisoner's dilemma.

I'd be very surprised if judges and regulators failed to classify this as a cartel.

Comment by caue on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2014-05-14T19:28:23.302Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hello again...

I am this guy. For some reason one year ago I thought that translating the name "Less Wrong" into Portuguese would be enough differentiation, but I'm not comfortable with it anymore. It's a wonderful name, but it's not mine.

So I figured I'd just post under my actual (first) name.

I'm still in love with this place, by the way.