Comment by cozy on Your Cheerful Price · 2021-02-14T22:57:39.142Z · LW · GW

Warning: autobiography and emotions ahead, I have to disclaimer this due to the anxiety I will describe later, or else I will feel I'm wasting someone's time. Thank you for understanding.

From early on I learned to hate money and especially business transactions regarding debt or interest. It felt very, very wrong. I early on chose to take the mantle of "never give a loan if you will be perturbed or think less of someone should they not be able to repay it, and if you do need to take, then pay it forward tenfold. Most of all, never expect them to thank you, but it's nice when it happens.".

Through much of my life this worked out very well. I gave and I gave and I gave. I offered quickly if someone seemed in need. I made a great number of friends and longtime companions from this mentality.

What happened was that when the fortunes turned, and my life began to spiral downwards, my hedges got hedged and then those hedges got liquidated, and I found myself leveraging emotional debt rather than "true" debt. This also came from a spoiled childhood; I still feel ashamed for what I took from my grandfather, as he lived his entire life like that; it's not until they're gone you realize how selfish you had been when on the receiving end of gifts and love. I have been forced to ask for help about three or four times since then. Every time I was absolutely ashamed of myself for having to do so, despite both 1. the people I asked were completely willing to do so not for 2, but because they loved me in whatever form, and 2. knowing how much I had done for them in the past.

2 was worse. 2 reminded me that I wasn't asking for genuine help, I was expecting. And expecting is not how I want transactions to be. I'm sure (and know) that many came to me expecting, and I obliged them before they asked, because the attitude is very blatant. I don't mind. I knew I was doing it because I wanted to, not because I felt guilty. I had gone through that rodeo and I would never feel guilt-tripped again. This has caused me some additional harm in the form of split situations and empathy, but that's a different issue.

2 wasn't always financial. It was often emotional, or therapeutic. Before my life became a stressball I was an amazing listener. Now I'm hungry. I have to figure out where to be unlucky next. Motivation fails me. My cheerful price is very low, but not sustainable. As my experience and patience become more and more eroded by time and torture, and the number of individuals willing to give me a cheerful price become fewer and fewer, finally, in the midst of this pandemic, I found myself alone.

Not completely, and not fully so. But alone, for the first time in a long time. It was what I feared the most. But...

I feel happy this way, though I struggle to earn the money to survive, and the frustration only makes the impatience more lethal. I'm in a curious place where I can see my own desperation and understand its futility, yet in the moment, the exhaustion takes over. I have tried to be submissive to get along; I would rather starve. How I got here was seeking freedom. I found it, but I didn't expect it to be so difficult to get anywhere from zero. I get confused when I read my resume, because I can't understand how I would get turned away to even clerical jobs. I can discuss the art of keeping and sharing secrets for hours; but that is not a marketable skill.

What is my cheerful price? I just don't know if I have one anymore. But I'm still alive, and I'm still here. Why I'm here precisely this evening is because I was out in the backyard from the home I rent a room in trying to smoke a six year old cigarette. I don't even smoke. It was an old pack from an overseas deployment to Qatar that had two left, and a lot of memories. I still sorta feel sick. But I stood outside, and reminded myself perhaps I should try a utilitarian go at utilitarianism, rather than trying to tie in some measure of it into that prior ethical standpoint I established. Perhaps they do not work together, without the capital to support not caring at all how much of it you lose. I feel incredibly undervalued. I feel like others value me well, but my performance is leagues under where it should be. I know I have lost some intuitive edge I had when I was younger, but I have earned in back far better in experience and perspective.

Maybe I feel I made too many mistakes and don't deserve a cheerful price, so I keep taking the painful one. Maybe that's a good definition of depression.

Maybe I'm afraid that if I ask for my cheerful price, they will get offended, or laugh. That might be a good definition of anxiety.

At some point I decided only I can give my cheerful price, now. Otherwise one of those two will stop me in my tracks before it's offered. And to do that, I have to get back to work. Futures open shortly. I will be re-reading the sequences again to regain my pride in my search to not be more correct than everyone else, but at least less wrong.

Comment by cozy on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2021-01-31T16:43:23.824Z · LW · GW
I think you usually can try to parry most of these by doubling down. "In his steps, I sure wish to find myself having the courage to breaking that racist, unfair, law". "I don't care what you call it, I wouldn't let children suffer from a disease just because the way you want to name my cure". 
The trick is to push back hard enough that you're not just defending from an accusation of something bad, you are re-establishing that your position is good. If he wants to pursue that line, you are now the one attacking his stance on a value, and you can attack by pressing on points that are related to your main issue.

This came up often in this election. See, Hunter Biden. I don't really think he's all that bad, to be honest. We had some of the same issues in life and I relate to his problems, and understand his flaws more than most seem to.

But when I say that, I then have to contest true statements, as well as fabricated ones. There's lots of bad things about him. Some are true, some are exaggerated or misquoted. I can apologize for the drug use, but when I have to defend myself for 'not minding' a 'pedophile rapist junkie china puppet', I simply have not come up with a way to do it.

When faced with a fallacy, and one so incredible, the only way to fight it is NOT to respond in a way that compromises you. You have to make them double down themselves with evidence or sourcing. At which point you can point out the bias, incorrect citations, or straight out fabrication of the source, as it will be, and then present a counter-source.

I think that's far more effective, but a bit more time consuming and requires an honest interlocutor.

If you concede the opponent definition of what's a human being. I'm not sure conception it's an ideal Schelling point.

You can concede anything at that point. The most effective argument is not at all reliant on this definition, and the embryo to fetus can be a human at any point and it is still effective.

It's quite simply that the woman is still in charge of her own body. No 'responsibility' exists here; there is no such situation where that extreme level of reliance would be forced on anyone, whether murderer, bad father, or motorist who just mortally injured the one performing world peace talks next Tuesday and your body is needed for a blood transfusion and you might die, but because you caused the accident, they are going to force you to keep him alive (since you're the one at fault after all) so that he can save the world. And you still have hospital bills.

We would never afford the same rights to a living, breathing, born human of any age, that we give to these fetuses and embryos. They have an inhuman, literally, level of social rights. The right cares more abut the fetus than they ever would about the child.

Comment by cozy on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2021-01-31T16:31:50.251Z · LW · GW

I gotta say, much too late to the punch here and nine years wiser, the 'not sexist' parts of these posts really do not age well, though many might not have caught the trend yet. The problem isn't that women, or whomever, want to be considered the same entirely physically and biologically. It's always been that, as some stark assumption, no attempt is ever made to proffer equal time or attention. There is a great amount of time and research that could be made and would reveal a great deal of knowledge in our history and the anthropological understanding of our species.

It's sexist because when studies are done regarding anthropological traits of women, it's always about mating, childbearing, or westernized fantasies of sedentary housekeeping. These things were absolutely important. Not how they want it to be, and rarely are they equivalent to what we expect or want in order to push certain biased viewpoints- viewpoints time and time again lambasted and then hidden and rewritten to sound 'statistically sound', while making an absolute MOCKERY of statistics. Anyone learn about how Native Americans were primarily matriarchies and Chiefs were local leaders at best? Or heard the story of European traders being horrified of women in Africa being the primary agricultural workers while men tended to not work and do other domestic jobs, as well as fight?

The onna-musha? The Egyptian royalty's Game of Thrones problem and the insane power of the queen mother?Ethiopia's dowry? We had bride price (that is, most of Europe, in particular Britain until only recently), while Ethiopia had a real dowry system already.

These things get swept aside to point out barbarism or tradition. We fail to celebrate unique parts of our cultures and species in favor of a narrative, and unwittingly accept it on the basis of limited information. I do not blame anyone for coming to the old conclusions I did. I'm just sorry you were driven to the wrong destination.

What these sorts of fields are useful for is checking your own bias and seeing what you can or cannot be convinced of. Go a little deeper, fact check the fact check, don't be satisfied with one answer but find perspectives. It's quite interesting when you really start to examine the numbers; they don't make any sense, are fabricated, out of context, or simply obfuscated.

Eugenics is not about folding proteins. It's about improving the gene pool artificially, and, well, no one will contest that ending things like Downs would be an incredible advancement. But we MUST be wary of the individuals who will include race, hair color, eye color, features, height, whatever, into that. Eventually, you add in a control gene, a literal possible one and not a vaccine conspiracy, and we're at a real life Brave New World, where you are your role, and you enjoy it. These people still exist, and they still fund far right groups.

Comment by cozy on Taking money seriously · 2021-01-31T16:08:08.881Z · LW · GW

I was writing something like this, like, a list of an order of subjects and reading materials to be basically competent at knowing how to further your understanding and be able to clarify specifics in a subject, any subject, merely from exposure and a wide breadth of surveys.

It's absolutely impossible without just broadly missing subtopics and context.

For instance, to comprehend the development of mathematics properly, you also need a highly detailed understanding of history.

To understand linguistics, you need the same.

To understand.. well, to be honest, I think simply studying history and going down rabbit holes is probably the best way for any individual to get a direct shot of Knowledge. HOWEVER,

our history is revisionist nonsense half the time and takes even more skill in researching to really aggregate into a reasonable summary with controlled bias.

Comment by cozy on Taking money seriously · 2021-01-31T16:00:41.594Z · LW · GW

I... wrote a big comment but I wasn't logged in

I'm very sad.

Anyway, I agree. I lived my whole life hating money due to 2007 and my family's collapse, and it being entirely because we were reliant on decadence.

All it did was limit my influence liquidity, so to speak. And my comfort. I can't even focus on writing an opinion piece or writing a meta-analysis without being concerned over food, sleep, tomorrow, or my family. It's hugely distracting.

A few months ago I decided to change that around. Now I've started to be profitable off of my learning, and it feels incredible. Not because I think I'll be rich. But because I can finally really help my family and help my Mum stop having to overwork while being underpaid with arthritis. I just want to, after so many years of being "exceptional but stupid", to make the correct choices. I think all this time suffering has done us a lot of good, though. Can you imagine where we would be without the perspective of this thinking?

The folks who started investing early are the same ones we will have to directly criticize in activism, after all.

Comment by cozy on Uninformed Elevation of Trust · 2020-12-28T19:27:28.446Z · LW · GW
Here is the gist: we trust the data as much as we trust the source, regardless of how much the source trusts the data.

Rant incoming, apologies. This is, sadly, not correct from the get-go. In general, besides your example which more closely is attributed to some form of psychological bias, we tend to lend source importance based on the lack of trust from a source. However, that implies there is any source vetting whatsoever.

I am sure there are a number of individuals here who have worked intelligence, and I am lucky enough to have both worked intelligence and ditched intelligence, so I'm not very interested in my NDA.

There is something incredible about being source of raw intelligence to the point where I have trouble trusting anything I do not hear and verify for myself so many years later. This election drove me absolutely insane. Not only for a particular side's tendencies, but everyone's failure at source vetting. Abandon the 'source'. Find out the true source. I ordered 50 year old magazines to double check a transcription. Nice collector's piece, though. The transcription was right btw.

The source itself is not relevant unless you are the collector; then what matters is not how you present it, but who it goes to, and how it goes to them. However, when you are consuming collected intelligence/information, you have to weigh the medium against the data. All information is neccesarily useful, when used correctly, even misinfo. Misinformation and propaganda neccesarily tells the bias of the consumer/creator, and can lead you in trends, since propaganda tends to be single or sparsely-sourced.

For instance: You can get a reasonable understanding of an event minus all the important bits through the news media.

You can get zero understanding of an event, and a great amount of confusion, from social media.

When I read a news article, depending on the importance of the event (ie: Trump signs stimulus bill!), I will go make sure it is consistent across reporters. If it is, it tells me one of two possibilities:

a. The source all the reporters got was similar or the same. Specific details can tell you this quite easily.

b. All the reporters are in league together and conspiring against this particular news item

Since b is highly improbable (aside from the possibility of accidental conspiring, which is completely in realms of possibility), I generally stick with a.

If it's not very important, I don't waste my time. It was probably a waste of time reading the article; news reporters are very droll. Thankfully, they have mastered the art of the thesis statement.

Given my experience with classified info, how can I rate news media's accuracy or otherwise on relevant subjects they have reported on related to my career?

Absolutely awful, and generally mischaracterizing, if not completely libel. They are easily one of the most dangerous groups that can be unleashed on anything that has the word secret anywhere near it. It is really hard to manipulate the media; they would prefer to not report something if it is not potentially breaking. It's why I think the social media conspiracy is a particularly good one; I can completely believe the or a algorithm can be trained to filter out specific posts, because it's not very hard to do, and those posts are very predictable. I absolutely think it's happening. Was there voter fraud? Probably. Who did it? Probably not us. To bet on there being no foreign meddling in the USA's elections is already a lost bet.

Trump referred to this as more secure than Afghanistan's election. Well, we designed that for them. It was so bad, they agreed to just both be president. I wish I was joking. Ghani just bullied the other individual out and he got the title Peace Negotiator. Thankfully, Trump will get no such title.

This sounds unobjectionable on the surface. We tend to equate the reliability of the data with the subjectively perceived trustworthiness of the source of data whenever we have no independent means of checking the veracity of the data. What is lost in this near-automatic logic is one small piece: the credence the source itself assigns to the data

You have no idea how the source assigns credence to the data. It is easy to obfuscate or lie. Lying happens even with people you trust. Imagine how it goes for everyone you don't care about. Well, we all know.

This all neglects source protections, which aren't as important unclassified. Suffice to say, there is nothing more important than the source itself, yet nothing as completely worthless. The importance lies in not understanding why the source is how it is, but rather in keeping it consistent.

Bad information is just as useful as good, what matters is whether you are cognizant of its quality without too much due effort (given the expiry date on data). That is most characterized by subject matter expertise.


Comment by cozy on Evading Mind Control · 2020-11-25T20:38:40.544Z · LW · GW

It sounds like you have hit a stale point in your journey. Your book list is not very stark. It generally trends into a certain sort of person, the sort of person you do not want to learn from. I would guess because you already agree with most of it, and so you'd rather just write it yourself.

That's reasonable, I understand, and I have written a good volume of work that will never see day because of this. However, I do have a solution if you will try it.

Take a specific belief you have. Ethical, political, scientific, you name it- something you think is true- and go prove it wrong. Do your best. Not the 'oh hah look at all these dumb posts' but really dig for the reasons that your interests/ideals/ethics may be wrong. Take one of your favorite books and rip it apart. Be fair; always check sourcing, cite yourself. Steelman the target, or counter-strawman, however it can be described.

Play devil's advocate for something you should never consider and then realize that there are so many better ways to criticize your opponents, and that they're really doing it quite poorly.

It's worth noting somewhat apprehensively that you are in fact the sheep here; most of the world already stopped reading books. Some just read more earlier, and some will keep reading until later. Reading or not doesn't help you integrate knowledge, reflection does. Hence why reading and writing is the best way to do it.

  • pick an old research paper's critique, and then figure out how it cherry-picked/straw-manned the paper. Wikipedia is easy for this. Pretty much every source is incorrectly cited or incorrectly summarized
  • watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie and try to describe the scene direction in words.
  • translate a difficult concept into something you can explain to a third grader.
  • translate something from third grade into something a science fiction reader would be convinced by
  • go to a used bookstore and look for books published a long time ago. no revisions. must be originals <1920
  • read through newspaper archives from 1914-1916
  • read Paul's chapters of the Bible and analyze them as a rhetorical piece for arguing a case for replacing their cult with his cult, and whether the techniques he used would have been effective then, at the target audience
  • read papers by Bell or Fourier

The problem with this new era of information is no one really made sure the information was any good, and so we're all loaded up with a lot of inputs and no insurance on the output. As we can see from this latest election, it is quite easy to flood the internet with incorrect data and convince a lot of people who think they are 'doing the research'.

Above all, stay cozy.

Comment by cozy on Contest: $1,000 for good questions to ask to an Oracle AI · 2020-11-25T20:07:56.736Z · LW · GW

Comment looked at. Query completed.

Comment by cozy on Embedded Interactive Predictions on LessWrong · 2020-11-24T20:54:24.916Z · LW · GW

How does this differ from PredictionBook besides being a much more pleasing interface and actually used for reasonable things (and also the nice embedding)?

Oh, I guess I just explained how.

Really nice site I like it.

Comment by cozy on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2020-11-24T20:40:01.682Z · LW · GW

Apologies for replying to this so much later.

And in a market where a price is either too low or too high, 'reversed stupidity' is intelligence...

This is exactly why I did not get into btc so long ago, and I was in those circles, but not a good tech or economist and considered it a flavor of the month, then a flavor of the year for black markets. And THIS is how I have changed my entire worldview in the past month or so- I gave up, rationality doesn't work when my life is going in wild swings, rational decisions end up being conservative and I never make any ground, or lose it fast. Losing it fast loses me confidence, and a lack of confidence leads to awful decision making, or a perception of rationality when it is not.

Rationality doesn't work in a country where half of us are immediately convinced by a twitter video edited to make Biden look like an idiot that can't talk.

As soon as I tossed intelligence to the side and started to use reversed stupidity, I've seen gains in pursuits I never had success in.

I hate this, epistemically. I love it, as a theory. I will be journaling my progress. Thanks.

Comment by cozy on Beware Experiments Without Evaluation · 2020-11-17T12:07:06.330Z · LW · GW



thank you very much.

Comment by cozy on Beware Experiments Without Evaluation · 2020-11-16T13:03:07.716Z · LW · GW

Military strategy is probably more careful than science in how many contingencies it expects, yet how few are truly accurate. Legitimately, science is more careful to actually try and do things it thinks has merit, while wars are fought off of conjecture and often just error. I think you can find a great number of amazing examples of both careful planning and completely spurious decision making, often on purpose to discredit another leader, within war. von Falkenhayn's memoir of the Great War is a wonderful example. 

He also brings up an absolutely excellent point, that is often under-considered. 

"Whether the solution proved itself in actual life depended, to be sure, as in all things in this imperfect world, primarily upon the men who had to put these principles in practice."

offtopic: why is the editor so hard to use right now, I don't remember quote blocks being this fiddly. 


Comment by cozy on Making money with Bitcoin? · 2020-11-16T11:26:59.599Z · LW · GW

Although many will not see this, I want to compliment you expressly on these posts. You surely had a very eminent expectation and understanding of the community at the time and what could be expected. I think there is a general lack of the central issue that lead many to move to btc: distrust in the governments in general. I would love if you would perhaps do a retrospective on your memories and predilections of what you thought you knew, whether you did know it, what you weren't aware of but suspected, and things you were wrong on.

I wouldn't blame you for deleting all the posts either. I'm sitting here watching numbers go up and I remember 2011 when it became mainstream-ish, and frankly, I still agree with you and most of the posters here. I thought it was stupid and wouldn't pan out. I was young then, too, so it's not like I had money- and even worse, I didn't know shit about computers at all.

Comment by cozy on Making money with Bitcoin? · 2020-11-16T11:11:15.476Z · LW · GW

So, uhm, want to revisit this idea, Mitch?

Comment by cozy on Making money with Bitcoin? · 2020-11-16T11:08:49.205Z · LW · GW

1/5 of the way there. Have you made the 10^4kg paperclips? Or are we still hedging for the raw material sourcing?

Comment by cozy on Less Wrong used to like Bitcoin before it was cool. Time for a revisit? · 2020-11-16T10:41:03.605Z · LW · GW

Big oof here.

I felt the same way. Was curious about what sentiment was back then, because I very often see people making predictions using the early years as some kind of first cycle. I really do not think it is analogous.

Comment by cozy on The Four Children of the Seder as the Simulacra Levels · 2020-09-09T10:16:34.546Z · LW · GW

My initial impression was something completely different. I feel as if I do not quite understand why it is done in this manner. The order makes complete sense to me, as intended, more easily using the dunning-Kruger curve. The labels of the children, and (admittedly) my little knowledge of these Simulacra levels which I will read more of to understand whether I am missing the point.

Level 1: Symbols accurately describe reality.

Level 2: Symbols inaccurately describe reality.

Level 3: Symbols claim to describe reality.

Level 4: Symbols no longer claim to describe reality.

Level 1: The Wise Child

Level 2: The Wicked Child

Level 3: The Simple Child

Level 4: The One Who Does Not Know How to Ask

Level 5: ?

Level 1: The Over-Confident Fool

Level 2: The Confused, and Mistaken, Learner

Level 3: Resolving A Bridge Of Found Knowledge & Wisdom

Level 4: Being Aware of One's Wisdom, But Ashamed of One's Ego

Level 5: ?

Is this applicable? It can be charted onto the curve fairly easily in my understanding of it.

Comment by cozy on Indignation in response to the 1890 census · 2020-09-09T09:59:02.059Z · LW · GW

Quoting the original Electrical Engineer 1891 publication from 1891, pp 521-530

The only wonder to the writer is, that many of the clerks who toiled at the irritating slips of tally paper in the census of 1880 did not go blind and crazy.

I volunteered for the 2020 Census as an enumerator briefly this year, but had to resign for various reasons- chief among them, that it was going to drive me insane. We used iPhones and kept our social distancing and used masks- etc, all the typical protective measures. What people were always concerned about was privacy. Especially where I live, a rather upper class suburban area near a beach that is much wealthier than I am truly justified in living (please help me leave, I can't stand these people), I was never worried about counting any of the worse parts of town, or the crowded cheap apartment complexes.

It's those gosh darn entitled gated community folks who would not cooperate and were incredibly rude about it. Ironically, they are the ones who always scream about these rights and those rights, don't want to wear masks (my town was featured on the news in the first protests!), and they don't want to do what's written in the very first article of the constitution. It bothered me. I went insane. I'm not even highly political, I have my opinions, but the absurdity of it just got to me and I was getting anxious knocking on any door at all, so I resigned.

The pay was pretty good, too.

The commission also estimated that on a basis of 65,000,000 population, the saving with the Hollerith apparatus would reach nearly $600,000.

It seems as though the true authorities had a very accurate idea of the population, despite the limitations of the previous paper tabulation. The popular opinion is not that of a desire for growth, I think. While there may be some American pride of reconstruction (remember: 1890 was not long after the Civil War, so proving our worthiness in retaining the Republic's integrity was crucial to our identity. A solid 750,000 at least had died needlessly who were young men, not counting the obvious collateral of many destroyed lives in relation), it seems to be the typical reactionary response to novel objectivity in technology, not a lack of growth. In this case, there was no one to pin any blame on.

It is needless to say that in all this burly-burly of discussion over the Census and its figures, the electrical counting system came in for its share of abuse. Just why it would not work was never made clearly apparent, for all that appeared in print derogatory to the mechanism merely went to prove its wonderful simplicity and inability to go wrong. In one or two instances, the attempts to show faultiness were so puerile as to suggest that their author was either malicious or was being imposed upon. Later on, the absurdity of some of these criticisms will be shown, but it will suffice to say that they only made the present writer more anxious and keen ‘to detect a flaw in the system and apparatus, if flaw there were. After a scrutiny as close and careful as it could be made, it seems only possible to say one thing, namely, that the apparatus works as unerringly as the mills of the Gods, but beats them hollow as to speed.
The happy truth is that as Mr. Hollerith, himself no mean mathematician, has shown, while the race is not multiplying so fast as before, its individuals are living longer. This is a state of affairs that all of us over 25 years of age, whether Republicans or Democrats, can view with equanimity. They who are loved on high no longer die between two Censuses.

There is some wisdom to be found here. I wonder if they cherry-picked this original article? It is actually a very fascinating read, and google has it digitized and scanned in its entirety.

edit: I wonder if this is analogous to mail-in voting.

Comment by cozy on Infinite Certainty · 2020-09-07T07:35:53.799Z · LW · GW

Imagine you set up a program that will continually resolve 2 + 2 after your death. Perhaps it will survive much longer than entropy will allow us to survive. It has a very nice QPC timer.

It uses binary, of course. After all, you can accomplish binary with some simple LEDs, or just, dots. Little dots. So you accomplish your program, set it to run using the latest CMBR-ran entropic technology, and no one attends your funeral, because you are immortal, but immortality does not survive entropy. At least, within the same uncertainty as you failing to state 2 + 2 = 4. Your brain remains remarkably logical through this. After all, it is highly overgeared, now, having been immortal. You are the 2 + 2 master equivalent of Ronnie O'Sullivan. Flawed, yes, but goodness, you can play a mean game of snooker. Sometimes you even get sneaky, and throw in a 4 = 2 + 2.

Your entropic death approaches. You write the code, and having made sure₁ of it, you set your canary to alert it of your death- the moment you fail to accomplish the scheduled 2 + 2 = 4 which continues the cosmic clock the universe's entropy.

It is a simple equation. It takes very few bits to accomplish. 10 + 10 = 100₂ ~

Oh. Wait. It's now 10 + 10 = 100? That doesn't fulfill our need for 2 + 2 = 4, since the semantics aren't preset. Well, what if we try this?

• • + • • = • • • •

Ah, yes, back to something reasonable. There are two dots and two dots which indicate 4 dots. This makes sense, possibly.

But the question wasn't to resolve • • + • • ; but 2 + 2. So, in the spirit of integrity, we need to convert it to a displayable format for some future god-king race of the Anunaki to come witness our last, single work of humanity. Thus, you convert

• • + • • = • • • •


10 + 10 = 100


2 + 2 = 4

Since it only necessitates one character as the result, it is also the most efficient on power.

Are you 100% confident in anything aside from yourself, even if you made it?

Because you made 2 + 2 = 4. It's just your idea. At that later immortal point in time, you are the only thing that still thinks 2 + 2 is relevant. The free floating quarks can barely find a date, let alone double :wink: date.

And this has at least three points of failure.

₁The code has at least fifteen points of failure.

₂This has at least eight points of failure.

Much like how I cannot assign a probability of 1 to my brain for any task, no matter how simple, I cannot assign a probability of 1 to a fallible CPU, no matter the quality. It could very well be the computer in Hitchhiker's. I've been wrong on too many easy simple things by accident more than once to realize this.

Comment by cozy on Assessing Kurzweil predictions about 2019: the results · 2020-07-02T14:21:26.697Z · LW · GW

I predicted the graph would be similar; and I was indeed much too optimistic. In fact, I was so wrong it reminded me of this exact issue, where your predictive ability becomes more and more impossibly difficult every decade or so off you go. It may also be getting even more difficult given our progress as a large unit of populations, but the underlying humanistic predictions may still well be possible, since that variable never quite leaves us.

If anyone has read 'Where To?' by Robert Heinlein, he makes predictions in 1950 and then updated his predictions in 1965 and 1980. Here is an excerpt on an alternative site since I don't have a direct link to the book itself, but if one is interested in the predictive ability of a well-educated individual, it is a very intriguing read, and archiving perspectives lets us understand just how absurd one idea could be, and yet how much further than it we got in a much shorter time frame than assumed. It focuses on technology; and the potential of certain science fiction possibilities, some of which were undershot, but most overshot. On average, he was almost entirely wrong, but only by some degrees of relevancy. Here is the excerpt of the book, and since it only extends to 1980, you can insert your own realizations of how the predictions went for 2000, and now 2020. There are many optimistic predictions made, and a few pessimistic ones. Being an aeronautical engineer and author, Heinlein possibly saw too much potential in our ability to progress that science; the same flaw would probably be present in any predictions made, since we know most well our favored subjects, and want to believe in their potentials.

I recall Alan Watts made some very interesting comments that essentially predicted a lot of our current access to phones, internet, information, etc. It isn't difficult to imagine how far we may come or how easy it may be when progress is not impeded. What is likely absurdly difficult to predict is how Google loading in four seconds instead of two can make someone upset to the point they may seethe or clench their fists. And yet, I have done that more than once, or seen that small red x icon, and then gotten similarly upset in private. The entire world is available to me, and two seconds or so of inconvenience, or possibly a modem reset, being an antagonizing factor is only context-driven. At what point does the time saving become unnoticeable; perhaps the exponential growth of a factor of our lives shouldn't be considered, or the understanding and availability of it, but the brand new frustrations and reasons for emotion they bring. Roadrage is a common example, and that comes from the novel nature of driving wearing off from monotony. It was great to drive the first few weeks and the freedom was liberating, until that freedom was stripped because I'm sitting on the I-5 and no one is dying, it's just 5PM and everyone is going home.

An optimistic prediction would be made to 'ease' that frustration- flying cars, better infrastructure, etc- but what about the new frustrations of those predictions? Having to deal with the FAA instead of the police every time you want to go eat? The city becoming sprawling and difficult to navigate, but very streamlined and without 'stops', or even simply every trip becoming much longer as the concept of not slowing down is pushed? Although contradictory, going faster when you're taking a longer route is not always favorable, but to an impatient crowd, it may solve the more pressing issue: no one will be able to get out of the car to yell at the guy behind them!

Comment by cozy on Ends Don't Justify Means (Among Humans) · 2020-07-02T13:50:09.318Z · LW · GW

Quite often when given that problem I have heard non-answers. Even at the time of writing I do not believe it was unreasonable to give a non-answer; not just from a perceived moral perspective, but even from a utilitarian perspective, there are so many contextual elements removed that the actual problem isn't whether they will answer kill one and save the others or decline to act and save one only,

but rather the extent of the originality of the given answer. One can then sort of extrapolate the sort of thinking the individual asked may be pursuing, and this is also controlled contextually. If they say oh yes absolutely I would save the five, immediately, then they are likely too impulsive. How they answer is also valuable, in whether they say they are 'saving five' or 'killing one', or explaining the entire answer of 'I am killing one person to save five people.' When answered like that, it has a more powerful impact. If more questions arise on the context of the individuals and whether the one life is more valuable than the others, that can also tell you about the priorities of the inquired, and often point out biases or preferred traits. Adding some elements to it would muddy the thought problem, but if you know the inquired's preferences, you can make the question more difficult and require them to think longer: if you had to move a train over either five convicted murderers or one randomly selected office filer who was without family, then is the answer the same? What if the one person was a relative, or a loved one? The question gets easier or harder with further context; but that's from a still limited, biased perspective. In no instance does the question become easier or harder, because the answers available are still insufficient to concern a critical thinker.

What is most valuable to hear is not any of those, but a strict perception of a third answer. Not considering the first two as valid, since they are so without context as to deny the context of the event, too. Although it may be altruistic for the one individual to accept his death for the rest, it would be a concern if a third party did not first attempt the difficult task of understanding a way for all six of them to survive, giving the best case scenario, and creating means to justify a better end, rather than accepting the means given to you and being told the results.

If x and y are the only options, if we declined to allow z, then we have stopped trying to think and have limited ourselves to a weak framework controlled in an unfair manner towards the inquired. If we never challenged this binary answer, I don't think we would have some of the incredible alternatives we have. Though it may indeed seem like a dodge as the original post says, it's a very thoughtful one. The most dangerous answers are 'I do nothing.' and answering too quickly. Inaction and impulsive action, even in a time limited situation, indicate a desire to either neglect the problem or to assume the answer. Taking Einstein's quote and shortening it, if given sixty seconds to consider this problem, you/I should spend 55 seconds considering it and 5 seconds executing a solution, even if it's a poorer one than desired.

Interesting old post, I just think the answer is irrelevant, but rather the answer any given person has for the question is very relevant. It's difficult because the answer is obvious, but our humanity makes us doubt it as objectively true, and that's quite compelling as a concept.

Comment by cozy on My experience with the "rationalist uncanny valley" · 2020-04-23T21:37:19.556Z · LW · GW

This is a beautiful post in a way because it signals the ascent out of that valley. Looking at any ‘uncanny valley’ is regarded as being uncomfortable with the prospect of the bottom, but comfortable with either extreme end of it. Discomfort is essential to growth. Pushing the limits of yourself; pushing your understanding of your flaws; facing those flaws with an understanding that you will not be the same person after than you were before. I have been reading LW for while and this is my first post here, because I empathize dearly, and I hope you will understand my criticisms of your takeaways in this experience. ~In retrospect, I see my post got a bit longer than I expected, and I welcome replies. ~Okay, looking back again, I got really out of hand. Maybe a bit of an 'oops' but I too often write something and then shy from posting it because I feel it's too much, but this time I will.

Do you want to change?

Are you ready to change?

Do you know what you will change into?

It is not about practicing rationalism as a rule, and if you fall from it, you fall from grace. Rationalism is not a religion. It should not even be a way of life, in my opinion. It is just uncommon sense. A sensible way to make decisions on problems you struggle with understanding the concepts of, and being able to deconstruct the problem, examine it from various perspectives, and then come to the most reasonable answer, if not always the correct one, if such an answer exists absolutely. While I would be pleased if it became common sense, it is not, as the balance of Type 1 to Type 2 decision making is very hard to keep once you are aware of being able to influence it without falling heavily into one side. There are very few people who do not make decisions based on their understanding of the world, ‘rationally’. What the context of that rationale is very much insufficient in most of those cases. Hence why ‘rationalism’ is not just considered the default, even though when asked if their religion is rational, I suspect nearly every practicing member of a religion would say ‘yes’. This is semantical, however.

Someone who makes decisions not based on the rationale of their world has severe mental disorders. Even worse than most disorders; as even true insanity is based on an internal rationale, though in reverse. We can easily look at any person we would jeer at and ignore the differences in our base knowledge. You can either laugh and walk away; or try to educate them on those base knowledges. However, the time investment in doing so can make this not worthwhile, since the benefit gained is just not worth the cost.

That is why we must not denigrate those who have insufficient information for their rationale. What is frustrating are people who do not willingly wish to expand that context of rationale. This isn’t for people who “aren’t actually trying”, but who don’t even want to try at all. This extends not only to the obvious people we may jeer over for entertainment, but also those closest to our own lines of thinking. The danger is not in not knowing; the danger is in not wanting to know. There can be a cost/benefit analysis to your mental health in this, as well, since not everything you learn is valuable, and much will be a waste of time and non-applicable to your daily life. Whether it may be valuable in the future is uncertain.

I'm very competitive and my self-worth is mostly derived from social comparison, a trait which at worst can cause me to value winning over maintaining relationships, or cause me to avoid people who have higher status than me to avoid upward comparison.

This is not being competitive. This is being avoidant, and though I need not say it now as you described it later, insecure in what knowledge you do not know. Essentially, insecurity in ignorance. I was very concerned with this for a great portion of my life as well. It did not help that I was a quick learner, and so eventually figured I did not need to keep learning, since it would come quickly anyway. As topics got more advanced, especially ones outside of my scope of knowledge which I fast learned I hugely underestimated, my ability to learn them slowed considerably, and in some instances, I had to give up. Rather than become depressed over my lack of mastery in a particularly difficult subject, I find it to be something I can revisit later- perhaps with more alternative experience- or perhaps when in a different lifestyle or headspace that is more conducive to learning. I can do N activity with my friends all day long and win; I could also go do N activity with more skilled acquaintances all day long and mostly lose, if not always lose; one is good for my ego, the other is good for improvement. Requiring your ego to be sated is not being ‘competitive’, it is a superiority complex. These are separate things since one accepts failure and grows from it and the other rejects failure as out of their control. To be direct, and I apologize if it is too direct: do not define yourself as competitive if you only willingly compete with someone inferior in the context of the situation.

To be competitive is to, keyword, strive, to be better, not to strive to win or be right. An “I Will Never Lose” approach to life is an avoidant one, since as you take hits from those inevitable losses, it leads you into taking less risks. You express that well, but it is more dangerous than it seems. It not only reaffirms your predispositions, which may or may not be acceptable in the context, but it also limits your ability to learn and adapt. It reduces the number of new doors to walk through, since you now consider every door with a brass handle a ‘loss’. To become better, mistakes will be made. When mistakes are made, you correct them, and eventually make less mistakes, as the more mistakes you encounter the more answers you know. It feels very obvious in text, but in practice, it’s painful. Very painful. It does not end; there are always new mistakes. Every decision is made with some degree of uncertainty. Anxiety grows and develops out of knowing how many mistakes you can make in a given activity. Practice and experience alleviates that anxiety, knowing how well you can avoid making those mistakes. The same exists in both physical and mental exercises. This arises further questions: can I even avoid making X or Y mistake? How do I get around it if I cannot avoid making it through ordinary means? Do I lack alternative knowledge to make that judgment?

In this, you think. You learn. That is what’s important. To develop yourself so that when faced with any problem or challenge, you aren’t concerned with winning or losing, but with growing and understanding both it and yourself.

There is nothing wrong with being competitive. There is a great deal wrong with avoiding losses, and especially with being forced into upwards comparison. If you avoid those who are more ‘advanced’, I say that term loosely as the concept may well be arbitrary depending on the context, how do you know what to improve in yourself? Are you even trying to improve yourself? Is it merely feeling you have already improved yourself in some manner but fail to put that into practice, and so feel knowing that you have not done so creates insecurity? It is much more secure to not know how poor one is at any activity, but that also contributes to arrogance and ignorance in general in ourselves and in the world. Having the strength to accept that weakness, an oxymoron, is the first step to true improvement.

Your guidelines tell me those things because I find them to be misguided advice. Don’t do things you know you can do, if you are trying to improve yourself. Routine is for comfort, when desired. Don’t be content with doing things you find mentally safe. Don’t shy from discomfort. “Unhealthy” is different- do not obsess, I can agree with this, as burnout both reduces what you take from the readings and curbs further reading, making a valuable source of varied conjecture and opinion wasted. However, discomfort is good. Discomfort means you must think.

Why am I uncomfortable with this?

Why does it bother me?

Is there logic to why it bothers me?

Is this discomfort rooted in a predisposition, prejudice, ignorance?

Do I simply not have the time today to click every link in this post to understand the full context?

The answer to every one of these questions leads to growth in some way, even the last one, since it means you should probably go finish whatever work needs to be done that is distracting you from learning. I must specify I am not encouraging dangerous things. Inevitably there is a darker side that must eventually be understood in ourselves, and that is a difficult beast to cope with. That, however, is outside the scope of this post. To even begin to try to understand that, finding your mentality towards your self-improvement and your perception of yourself among your peers is more important.

Do not simply challenge yourself in comparison to yourself and worry about lacking commitment. It is perfectly normal, even moreso with ADHD, medicated or not. Alternative perspectives are incredibly valuable, and not looking to understand them when they do not line up with what you are predisposed to (or even simply disregarding them because they are of a certain group or subgroup) is willingly choosing ignorance. Note: you do not have to agree with what you learn. You do not even need to find it acceptable. Without context, all other perspectives are meaningless at the surface.

In learning why you disagree, you now understand more. It is rarely a calm conversation, but afterwards, reflect not on their reasoning with distaste but with your newly acquired knowledge. You now know why their position is incorrect, moreso than before, because of this or that flawed point, this or that lack of context, this or that lack of knowledge. You can then apply that in the future.

I always found the idea of concerted applied rationalism ridiculous. If you can comprehend and realize how rationalism and the subcategories relate to your thinking and your approach to perspectives and discourse, you’re automatically applying this rationalism in your everyday life. It’s a result of being aware of it and being able to pull yourself back when you find you’ve started to become nonsensical, and, as you say, resolve the unwillingness to apologize.

When you have understood the basic precepts, they will naturally absorb into your day to day actions and personality. You don’t need to think, as you’re looking through your phone, “Hmm, I don’t like this article, it’s got a title that is clearly written by someone without any context, so rationally I will move on to a different article to read.” You will just swipe through it without thinking. You often don’t need to explain your decision-making, because once the heuristics are there, certain things that may qualify as Type 2 for people who haven’t delved very far into the idea become Type 1 thinking for someone experienced in even the basics of rationalism. The problem of status does become an issue here. Again, note you are not superior because of this. What you want is for the consequences of your decision making to be superior to someone who doesn’t use those autopilot heuristics. Anyone can philosophize all day; if nothing good comes of it, no one will care, or find any purpose to it. When good comes of it, you can then have impact. You can improve systems already in place or convince others of your methods.

I think you have applied those training regimes to your life. You just aren’t actually as aware of it as you think. Just making this post makes it clear to me that you are, in some measure, affected by it, though not those perhaps specifically, but the concepts in general. There’s a lot to still improve, and there always will be.

I have to stop writing here or I’ll just end up having to write my own post instead since I got a little out of hand with what I expected to be a couple paragraphs. A lot of it is just repeated rationalist rhetoric anyway, though in a way I think is more realistic than what I believe some end up doing: making rationalism a mystical Type 3 mode of thinking, beyond anything else and exclusive to non-NPCs, something difficult to apply and even more difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t use it.


The goal of life and reason is not to win. It’s to grow. In that growth you will help others, and they will help you. You will fail others, and they will fail you. Humility is the greatest teacher, but there is no test to check if you’ve passed or not. Challenge yourself, but within the limits of your mental health.

Now may not be the time for that. We’re all feeling the affects of the quarantine. Even believing all I’ve said above, I’ve acted irrationally by my terms over the past two months, tore apart relationships, made mistakes. It is a great mental stress that at any moment more could happen, things could get worse, and if we are too quick to return to normalcy as they start to improve, knowing that would make it even worse too. There are not many ways out of this situation without being patient and following the guidelines, staying safe, and helping who you can.

If nothing else, it puts a lot into perspective that some may not have understood before this, though something I tried to always express. Our circumstances determine our tendency to irrationality. Those who have felt safe and secure suddenly, even when they may still be safe and secure, are posited with a situation that may throw that into a great imbalance. Some of it may not be obvious, but if you can see it in your friends and they deny it, they probably see it in you too. I know I can see it in me.