Posts

Experiment: Changing minds vs. preaching to the choir 2015-10-03T11:27:33.250Z · score: 13 (14 votes)
Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) 2015-07-20T14:09:17.233Z · score: 11 (12 votes)
Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics 2015-07-01T11:15:48.689Z · score: 9 (10 votes)
Measuring open-mindedness 2015-06-02T13:35:16.709Z · score: 10 (11 votes)
Rational discussion of politics 2015-04-25T21:58:32.247Z · score: 15 (17 votes)
Natural Selection of Government Systems 2015-02-08T18:11:15.918Z · score: 5 (7 votes)
What makes you YOU? For non-deists only. 2009-11-10T19:59:41.456Z · score: 2 (17 votes)
The Hidden Origins of Ideas 2009-03-28T02:27:57.531Z · score: 4 (15 votes)
Rational Defense of Irrational Beliefs 2009-03-12T18:48:28.967Z · score: 2 (32 votes)

Comments

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016 · 2016-04-04T11:37:59.057Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Jan. 25 - Jan. 31, 2016 · 2016-01-25T21:58:22.858Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Dec. 21 - Dec. 27, 2015 · 2015-12-21T13:27:05.922Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, December 7-13, 2015 · 2015-12-08T14:44:54.660Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are two noticeable differences between the optimate/populare and the traditional left-wing/right-wing politics:

1) Traditional politics is much better approximated by a binary. Person’s views on one significant issue, such as feminism, pretty accurately predict positions on foreign policy, economics and environmental issues. By comparison, optimate/populare labels have much less predictive power. While there is a significant correlation between populare (optimate) and left (right)-wing views on economics and foreign policy, both optimates and populares are much more likely to cross ideological lines on individual issues.

2) On average, both populares and optimates are more libertarian and less religious than the traditional left and right.

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, December 7-13, 2015 · 2015-12-07T14:58:04.320Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Nov. 23 - Nov. 29, 2015 · 2015-11-23T13:02:52.140Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Nov. 02 - Nov. 08, 2015 · 2015-11-02T11:19:30.030Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Oct. 26 - Nov. 01, 2015 · 2015-10-26T09:55:28.075Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Experiment: Changing minds vs. preaching to the choir · 2015-10-04T20:24:41.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the number of extended discussions is uncorrelated with the post's karma (except maybe for strongly downvoted posts), and the number of extended discussion comments dominates the number of total comments, then that is evidence that correlations between the number of total comments and the post's karma are spurious.

If the number of extended discussions is uncorrelated with the post's karma, then they would simply add a random noise component to the graph. I think it’s pretty obvious from the graph that the signal to noise ratio is quite high.

Comment by cleonid on Experiment: Changing minds vs. preaching to the choir · 2015-10-04T15:41:36.030Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That would require a non-trivial amount of work. Is there a particular reason you are interested in this?

Comment by cleonid on Experiment: Changing minds vs. preaching to the choir · 2015-10-03T21:04:46.311Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The former would count many extended discussions that often have little to do with the OP.

Is there a reason to think that the number of extended discussions that have little to do with the OP is higher for articles with negative karma? If not, counting the total number or just the top-level comments should not affect the conclusions.

there are more than just two opposite or pro/con positions, and many more things to say on a subject than "yes" or "no"

Solving the problem for a simple binary case is a starting point in our tests.

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Sep. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015 · 2015-09-28T11:45:16.155Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Recent discussion topics on Omnilibrium:

Why Democracy?

Should Gay Marriage Be Treated Like Heterosexual Marriage?

Japanese universities are ditching humanities and social sciences

Matching donation funds and the problem of illusory matching

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Sep. 14 - Sep. 20, 2015 · 2015-09-14T11:28:12.549Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Recent discussion topics on Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread 7th september - 13th september · 2015-09-07T00:27:49.868Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Recent discussion topics on Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-25T15:22:23.261Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t think this is possible.

Tay-Sachs allele used to slightly increase evolutionary fitness in heterozygotes (i.e. people who carry just one Tay-Sachs allele). This allowed the allele to increase in frequency until ~3% of Ashkenazis became its carriers. But once the local frequency becomes high enough the negative effects (the risk that a random couple produces children with two Tay-Sachs alleles) balance the positive effects on fitness. Thus in any region it should be impossible for Tay-Sachs to be common for all the grandparents.

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-25T12:48:56.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is some reinforcement, but it’s not very significant.

For example, consider an Ashkenazi Tay-Sachs carrier who marries a person from China. If their children mate, the chance that the grandchildren would have Tay-Sachs disease is (1/2)^4=1/16. If instead of a Chinese, this Ashkenazi Tay-Sachs carrier marries another Ashkenazi (who have ~0.03 chance of being a carrier), the chance that the grandchildren would have Tay-Sachs disease is almost the same, ~1/16*1.12. In absence of incest, a grandchild of a Tay-Sachs carrier would have a ~0.03/8 (i.e. ~17 times smaller) chance for getting the disease.

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-24T21:33:07.755Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t understand why the origin of grandparents should matter.

To the best of my knowledge, the main problem with incest is recessive alleles. For example, if the grandfather’s genotype is ”aA” (where “a” is a very rare recessive allele) and his children (parents’ generation) mate with each other, then there is a relatively high chance (1/16) that the grandchildren would be of “aa” genotype (which might be extremely deleterious or even lethal). Having another grandparent from a different continent should not change this.

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-24T08:23:30.894Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Recent discussion topics on Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Open thread, Aug. 03 - Aug. 09, 2015 · 2015-08-03T08:48:40.297Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

Comment by cleonid on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-21T11:43:00.411Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, but it is virtually impossible to see a meaningful pattern when you have thousands data points on the graph and R2<0.2.

Comment by cleonid on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-20T22:32:17.468Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Each point on the graph corresponds to an average of several hundred (about two thousand for the middle graph) data points. A number of short posts is indeed greater than the number of long posts, so the horizontal distance between the points on the graph increases with increasing number of characters.

Comment by cleonid on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-20T22:21:13.163Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can get the rating statistics of your LW comments by registering on Omnilibrium and then clicking on this link.

Comment by cleonid on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-20T22:15:41.704Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It’s an interesting possibility. But I have looked at the data and for all ten users the comments above 1000 characters get higher average ratings than shorter comments.

Comment by cleonid on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-20T14:12:33.538Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Would statistical feedback on the style and content of your posts be useful to you?

[pollid:1010]

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-13T11:06:26.170Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

From Omnilibrium:

What is the True Islam?

Are finanicial sector profits primarily reflective of real value created?

Is faster economic growth good for improving long-run outcomes for humanity?

The firing of Tim Hunt - right or wrong?

Political Evolution and the Future of Democracy

Comment by cleonid on Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics · 2015-07-01T13:09:43.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

as people believe in fundamentally different political values and philosophies they cannot really make a lot of progress towards a consensus on the object level

At least in theory, it may be possible for people to find common objectives even when their values are fundamentally different. For instance, some conservatives support raising the minimum wage on the ground that it reduces the number of low-skill jobs and deters illegal immigration.

I would probably add a historical debate section as well.

History is already included as one of the main sections (though it currently includes only one article and one debate topic). You just need to click on “History” below the banner to get to it. Once there are enough posts on the topic of political philosophy, it can be also added as a separate section.

You are welcome to open a new debate about the Spanish Civil War (personally, I also find the topic interesting).

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-06T17:44:02.826Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I’m sure there will be some correlations but I would not know what to do with them. Traits like conscientiousness have no obvious connection to my question. Openness to new experiences is sometimes used as a proxy for open-mindedness, but to me this seems a little farfetched. Is there a strong reason to believe that an adventurous eater will be more open-minded on political questions?

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-06T15:16:33.898Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose, for the sake of the argument, that my own data is totally wrong and consider the same question for a purely hypothetical case:

Group A upvotes only its own comments. Group B upvotes preferentially its own comments. Is there a way to tell whether the difference lies in the comment quality or the characters of the group members?

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-03T13:36:33.402Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose people are divided by some arbitrary criteria (e.g., blondes vs. brunettes) and then it turns out that blondes upvote brunettes much more often than vice versa. You could still ask the same question.

Regarding elevation, I simply wanted a short and easy to understand title and it did not occur to me that it would be perceived as prejudicial.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-03T00:32:20.349Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T18:21:15.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The word “better” may be replaced with “more coherent” or even “more grammatically correct”. Fundamentally, the question is whether the difference in ratings arises from the difference in the comment qualities (other than political orientation) or from the difference in those who rate them.

is it possible that the way you are choosing "principal vectors" is entangled with how the resulting clusters rate?

The system chooses vectors automatically. But I think the above question would still be valid even if people were divided in two groups in some totally arbitrary way.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T18:03:16.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T16:34:52.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the "optimate" vs "populare" case, the difference was significant at about 2.5 sigmas. I don't remember the exact values in the "left" vs "right" case, but it was over 10 sigmas.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T16:09:34.678Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would your algorithm sort the people who don't strongly agree with either side with the "optimates", since their preferences are closer to the "optimate" group than the "populare" group?

In principle, this is possible. The system assigns each user a number corresponding to his/her position on the “left-right” (“populare-optimate”) axis. If, based on their votes, 25% of users are assigned “-10”, 50% are assigned “10” and 25% are assigned “0”, then the average is “2.5” which would make those with “0” into “left-wingers”.

would that produce the effect you're seeing, since half the "optimate" group are upvoting more or less equally?

At least in our first group (where the effect was the strongest and the distribution was pretty close to Gaussian) this is not what had happened.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T15:10:12.075Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I’ve written above, the two groups may not be representative of the LW community or the US population. But within each group the differences were statistically significant, so the question about their origin would be valid in any case.

Comment by cleonid on Measuring open-mindedness · 2015-06-02T14:55:10.487Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sure.

The system assigns “left-wing” and “right-wing” (“populare” and “optimate”) labels by comparing user’s preferences to the average preferences of all users, so both sides are nearly equal. In any case, the 27% difference was in the proportions of positive votes, not in the absolute numbers of upvotes.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-27T00:57:04.551Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is similarity based.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-26T19:14:22.454Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One essential difference is that our recommendation system is guided by the individual rather than the group preferences. Reddit is based on finding the lowest common denominator.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-26T14:30:13.715Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know how it works but if you have user buckets for basic political denominations

Users’ preferences are determined based on how they rate content, not on how they self-label.

In saying that a probability is used doesn't tell anythign on what the probability is based on. It just tells me that the result is a sliding scale between 0 and 1 but doesn't tell me whether it's a completely made up number.

I don’t think users need to know the actual equations (especially since the math is somewhat complicated). But they would easily find out if the numbers are made up (average probabilities for comments they like would be the same as for comments they don’t like).

Our recommendation system is based on principles of collaborative filtering. The average recommendation accuracy depends on the number of ratings in our database. With a relatively small number of users we can distinguish basic population clusters (e.g., left vs right or highbrow vs lowbrow). With a larger dataset we would be able to make more nuanced distinctions.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-26T13:14:23.452Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also, how long does it take until I receive the authentication email?

Sorry for the confusion.

To avoid cold start, we wanted to sign up a sufficiently large group of people before opening the discussions. The site is scheduled to be opened on May 1 (you’ll receive an email notification).

There doesn't seem to be a way to propose new or non-traditional discussion topics

the discussion seems to be US-centric

The site is not officially open yet. So far, we just had several test runs with randomly selected people.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-26T12:44:46.071Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for the confusion.

To avoid cold start, we wanted to sign up a sufficiently large group of people before opening the discussions. The site is scheduled to be opened on May 1 (you’ll receive an email notification).

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-26T00:29:13.923Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You raise very relevant points. I’ll try to address them without getting too technical.

the bonudary drawing is a moderation choice

Our recommendation system estimates the probability that a user A will like a comment B. It is then a personal choice of a user A to decide what is the right threshold (read all comments, ignore comments rated below 60%, etc.).

Another naive failure mode is that if a user is as a whole bucketed as good or bad.

We use a bit more sophisticated method.

it's hard to impossible to differentiate within a subject area

I’m not quite sure what you mean here. Could you elaborate on this?

while it would be text and there would be low amount of conflict based interruptions it would not be that communicative. In order to make transimission of information make sense you have to be able to send information that the receiver doesn't already have.

We use two methods to solve this problem. The first is to let people choose among several possible filters. For instance, the people can sort comments based on recommendations for their own in-group or they can read comments popular among large outgroups (liberals, conservatives, libertarians etc.). The second is to split all debate arguments in two groups – pros and cons. Users will then be able to read the best arguments (i.e. those recommended by their own group) against their current position.

Comment by cleonid on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-25T22:56:23.405Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The website is intended for discussion of all ideologically divisive issues that are currently avoided on LW (economic policies, historical analysis etc.).

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-08T13:34:23.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Among other things, it will include an individualized recommendation system. In a political debate, the regular upvotes & downvotes system has many problems (for instance, it encourages partisanship).

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T14:54:03.344Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

2) We are thinking of creating a new format for the discussions (based on the principles of collaborative filtering) that will be less vulnerable to various mind-killing mechanisms.

Comment by cleonid on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T14:21:06.802Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Recently several people suggested opening a separate website for rational (or Less Irrational) discussion of political issues. If such a website is created, will you be interested in participating?

[pollid:845]

Comment by cleonid on Natural Selection of Government Systems · 2015-02-19T13:57:53.598Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry it was not sufficiently clear, but this is precisely the point I was trying to make in that paragraph. The real question was not whether the deterring force would be needed (obviously it would), but how to organize it effectively. In particular, how to solve the free rider problem which is intrinsic to all military coalitions?

Comment by cleonid on Natural Selection of Government Systems · 2015-02-18T16:16:40.301Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Naturally, political systems which require no one to defect are unworkable. But what makes you think that defection is an insolvable problem in this particular system? Just like individual people can act jointly against aggressive criminals, individual states/provinces/communities can act jointly against aggressive regimes.

Comment by cleonid on Natural Selection of Government Systems · 2015-02-18T16:01:25.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Violence exists not out of necessity, but basically because we like it.

This is similar to sex and reproduction. Animals reproduce not because they consciously want offspring, but because they enjoy the process itself. Likewise, violence is often enjoyed for its own sake, rather than for its material rewards. However, for humans the invention of contraceptives made it possible to decouple reproduction from sex. Similarly, once violence becomes unnecessary people will still find it enjoyable, but it may be possible to replace the actual violence with surrogates (e.g., sport contests or computer games).

Ceding low means fracturing a country, and people will not like that, because they reify and essentialize their country/government (nationalism).

This is certainly a problem, but are you convinced that it is unsolvable? In Europe, many countries already have strong separatist movements (for instance, Lega Nord in Italy). I am not aware of any popular political movements with the opposite goal (making their countries more centralized).

Comment by cleonid on Natural Selection of Government Systems · 2015-02-14T15:37:27.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In fact, with territory size kept constant, many of the people in positions of power might welcome emigration for the increase in land availability.

This is true for undeveloped countries where arable land and natural resources are still main economic assets.

It does seem like it would be easiest to just allocate each nation total_habitable_land(nation_population/total_population)desired_proportion_of_natural_reserves.

There is an old tradition of trying to settle territorial disputes based on general idealistic principles. “Legitimacy” was a very popular concept after the Congress of Vienna. “Self-determination” and “national sovereignty” are just as popular today. In practice, statesmen always interpret these principles in a way that serves their own interests.

In my opinion, any abstract solution to the problem of the land division, no matter how just and perfect in theory, has no real chance of working (at least in the foreseeable future). In most cases it would probably be better to work with the currently existing borders – for instance, by giving full internal autonomy to states or provinces within one country.