Weighted Voting Delenda Est 2021-03-01T20:52:27.929Z
Dremeling 2020-07-14T19:23:23.036Z
"God Rewards Fools" 2020-04-30T22:51:41.974Z


Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Weighted Voting Delenda Est · 2021-03-24T23:36:26.365Z · LW · GW

The 'application process' used by Overcoming Bias back in the day, namely 'you have to send an email with your post and name', would probably be entirely sufficient. It screens out almost everyone, after all.

But in actuality, what I'd most favor would be everyone maintaining their own blog and the central repository being nothing but a blogroll. Maybe allow voting on the blogroll's ordering.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-03-03T06:29:33.516Z · LW · GW

when installing it as intended

At this point you must be deliberately misreading everything I write. No one could be that wrong by accident.

I can move my window air conditioner six inches in either direction right now

I conclude that you have not actually tried this, because if you had you would have noticed that it reduces the capacity of the device massively. AC units need to be placed centrally in the window with carefully-guided siderails.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Weighted Voting Delenda Est · 2021-03-03T06:23:08.206Z · LW · GW

The point of LessWrong is to refine the art of rationality. All structure of the site should be pointed toward that goal. This structure points directly away from that goal.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Weighted Voting Delenda Est · 2021-03-03T06:18:59.586Z · LW · GW

What I see when I look is almost nothing of value which is less than five years old, and comment sections which have nothing at all of value and are complete wastes of time to read at all. And I see lackluster posts by well-known names getting tons of praise and little-to-no meaningful argument; the one which ultimately prompted this post to be written now was Anna's post about PR, which is poorly reasoned and doesn't seem to be meant to endure scrutiny.

The annual reviews are no exception; I've read partway through several, and gave up because they were far lower in quality than random blog posts from personal blogs; sample purely randomly from Zvi's archives or the SSC archives and you'll get something better than the best of the annual review nine times out of ten, and I get far more value out of an RSS subscription to a dozen 'one or two posts a year' blogs like those of Nate Soares or Jessica Taylor than the annual review has even approached.

You think that the bet on "the current culture (or the culture at the time) being healthy and being able to grow into good directions[...] seems to be going fairly well." I do not see any reason to believe this is going well. The culture has been bad since nuLW went up, and getting steadily worse; things were better when the site was old, Reddit-based, and mostly dead. The site maintainers are among the groups of people who are receiving the benefit of undeserved social proof, and this is among the significant factors responsible for this steady degradation. (Also half of the team are people who had a demonstrated history of getting this kind of dynamic badly wrong and doing the collective epistemic rationality equivalent of enthusiastically juggling subcritical uranium masses, so this outcome was predictable; I did in fact predict it.)

I also resent the characterization of my list as 'babble'; this imputes that it is a bunch of ideas thrown against the wall, rather than a considered list. It is a well-considered list, presented in long form because I don't expect any action to be taken on any of it but I know no action would be taken if all I presented was the things I thought would be sufficient.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Weighted Voting Delenda Est · 2021-03-01T21:03:11.027Z · LW · GW

Fair point. The short version is that it expands the scope of 'what is endorsed by the respected' from just the things they say themselves to the things they indicate they endorse, and this expands the scope of what social proof is affecting.

It seems obvious in my head, but I should have elaborated (and may edit it in, actually, once I have a long version).

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on “PR” is corrosive; “reputation” is not. · 2021-02-21T04:02:29.606Z · LW · GW

Heh, I wrote a very long comment and then ended it with "it would be nice if we could be Aral Vorkosigan". It's certainly a good concept, but my objection here is that, unlike the speaker of that quote, we do not:

  • control an army and navy, which can be used either directly to suppress the consequences of a very bad reputation or indirectly to merely suggest that we could and you therefore ought to be reluctant to act on your low opinion unless you have a very good reason
  • have a substantial family fortune to fall back on if we are unable or unwilling to use that bludgeon and can no longer rely on ever receiving resources from anyone else
  • have close bonds of personal/filial loyalty with everyone of any importance in the government, such that even if society judged your reputation sufficiently unforgivable, the chances of having our resources forcibly taken away are nil

In short, it's not something that works unless no one has power over you. Everyone has someone who has power over them.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on “PR” is corrosive; “reputation” is not. · 2021-02-21T03:52:49.522Z · LW · GW

I think this distinction is largely illusory. There's a continuum from less real standards (PR, brand) to more real ones (contract law, keeping promises), but it's all fragile, sometimes extremely so, and rests on the assumption that the societal conception of what those standards means won't change underneath you, and/or, in many cases, on the assumption that no one will call your bluff.

What is honor? Ask five people and you'll get at least three answers. What is ethical behavior? Ask five people and you'll get at least five answers, half of which will be incoherent and impossible to act on. Ask people what the brand of <Company X> is, and you'll get even more answers than that, and you'll be lucky if any of them are coherently actionable.

And if you (generic you, not 'specifically Anna Salamon') get together a panel today - maybe your organization's board - and give them a day to hash out a definition of what 'being honorable' means for your group, you'll get an answer. But if you bring them back next year, even if you give them today's consensus then, they won't get the same answer. Even if there are no major changes in the societal zeitgeist, which is a very unsafe assumption given that the last few years have given those to us on an annual basis, you're not going to have a stable picture of your target. (Examples: #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter redux, all had significant effects on what we culturally perceive as proper conduct. It's not enough for them all to be improvements on net, though I think they are, or even enough for them all to be purely-good uncaveated improvements, which is uncertain but plausible.) Even if all the changes are improvements, society getting a better picture of the moral good, they're still substantial changes which are neither predictable in advance nor backwards-compatible.

The obvious response to this is to stick to your current best working theory of what you ought to do to behave honorably. This has several complications. Firstly, assuming you are not a sole proprietorship or a startup small enough that the founders can make decisions by consensus and directly, personally relay them to everyone else in the org, you are not all going to make the same updates. You will not have one idea of honorable conduct; even if you start with one (already difficult!), when the underlying social reality changes, you will have many different ideas of what that means. You can attempt to reach consensus, but you will not succeed in a feasible timeframe, even if you take the time to hash it out until you're satisfied you've reached consensus; Hofstadter's Law is in full force, doubly so because you don't just have to resolve your disagreements with other people but also your internal disagreements between the elephants in your brains and their riders. Secondly, you have to decide how much to apply it retroactively, and you, y'all, and y'all's backers/customers/funders/supporters/audience, will each have a different idea of how much that should apply. This is where the 'call your bluff' bit gets into it. If standards change and you change along with them, you essentially must bluff your way past the obstacle of past behavior. For things which are in retrospect egregious, you can apologize and/or make restitution and move on, but for all the judgment calls, you're not going to have the time, energy, or bandwidth to check, so you have to 80/20 it and tacitly declare that good enough. This works most of the time, but you're bluffing, and if someone watching you (either externally, e.g. customers contemplating a protest, or internally, e.g. middle manager contemplating a leak) has a large enough difference of opinion, they might call your bluff and force you to have an opinion. This downside risk here is not small, and it is rarely practical to get compact. Your audience and employees are usually not out to get you, but that could, on a limited front, change at any time. You can try to route around this - but that's just back to 'PR', examining all the ways in which your environment might start being out to get you and hedging against all of them.

If you really want to get out of the game: get tenure. Literal tenure probably works, but I primarily mean metaphorical tenure. Have a full alternative stack such that you're not beholden to anyone outside your subculture (which is smaller, more uniform, and therefore much easier to get compact against than broader society). Be independently wealthy. (Hey, it worked pretty well for the psychedelics pioneers!) Establish an extremely robust UBI that can't be interrupted by retroactive declarations of criminality or wrongthink. Secede. Take over the world. Become god. In short: make yourself immune to other people's low opinion, directed along any of the thousands of levers by which they can express it tangibly in ways that may ruin your life.

It would be better, for everyone, if it was a feasible strategy to listen to Aral Vorkosigan. But, besides being fictional and therefore poor evidence, he was the Imperial Regent of three planets. "Let your reputation fall where it will and outlive the bastards" is much more feasible advice when you have an army, a navy, an immense family fortune, and the personal loyalty of everyone of consequence in the entire planetary government. Which I do not, and I'm fairly certain no one else does either. And even if someone does, it doesn't scale.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-19T05:59:05.342Z · LW · GW

None of that sounds like a thing most people attempting to arrange this will manage to do without exhausting some scarce resources; primarily willpower but also social capital, relationship closeness, and other fuzzy things. People on LessWrong are worse, not better, than the general population, both at weighing those costs and at bearing them.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T03:20:56.272Z · LW · GW

No one said anything about a clinical trial. Emphasis added:

I could not find one research study using any of the peptides in the RADVAC white paper that found they inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells,

Researching the effects in cells requires no IRB approval and publishing the results of that research as a publicly-accessible preprint is not hard. This should be fairly easy to do, for someone with access to a good lab, personal-scale funding, and motivation. I have to assume that Church et. al. have the first two, so either they don't care enough to bother, or they did but the results weren't encouraging (and either kept quiet or just unnoticed). Neither is what I'd call a 'good sign'.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T03:13:11.244Z · LW · GW

20 people sequentially, over a day or two, navigating an unfamiliar kitchen, without contact with the host? Not gonna happen. Most of them, at least, are going to have substantial exposure to the host (and vice versa).

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T03:10:34.328Z · LW · GW

The in vitro testing had already been done before those two days; they had the basic structure of the vaccine known, so once they had a virus sample they could fill in the blank (the spike protein of this particular virus rather than another in its 'family') with high confidence that it would work. One of the two days, IIUC, was spent synthesizing a sample vaccine and running some very-short-term tests.

This, again, has only simulation to support that it's hitting the correct target at all. There is no indication that any of that has been done, by the authors or anyone else; IIUC there is not a clear path for doing short-term tests for this type of vaccine.

Also, it's not my background knowledge that you should be comparing to, it's Sarah's. And I literally believe there is no one in the world who can be more trusted to reason clearly, well-informedly, correctly, and with humility and arrogance in their respective correct places than Sarah Constantin. Evaluating biomedical research has been her job for many years, with some gaps, and she's really good at rationality, Aumann-level good. The bare fact that Sarah C thinks this is very unlikely to work is conclusive on its own.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-05T20:03:00.905Z · LW · GW

Vaccines that are brought to clinical trials

This is an inappropriate reference class. This has no in vitro testing conducted; it's entirely a computational model. "“Peptide” just means “sequence of amino acids.” Would you conclude that, because some lines of code can navigate a rocket to the moon, that your code is pretty likely to navigate a rocket to Mars?". A vaccine brought to clinical trials has already overcome many more hurdles than this has. Generally in vitro testing (I think both for safety and efficacy), in vivo safety testing (in rats!), and some scaled-up testing in other animal models.

This isn't a vaccine candidate. This is a promising research lead for a vaccine candidate.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-05T19:55:46.713Z · LW · GW

As someone else said, the logistical difficulties for this are much larger than the standard jab method, the production process doesn't scale well, and once prepared it doesn't last long even if you freeze it. Making this for 20 friends and distributing it to them is very plausibly net-harmful, because you need to gather in close quarters to hand off the prepared vaccine, do it within a fairly short window (1-3 days) for all 20, and then repeat all that, including the production of new doses, at least once per week and ideally 2-3x per week. Given that the only evidence for efficacy is in silico, none in vitro let alone in vivo or in actual humans, it's not at all clear that the benefits outweigh the increased risk of spread from all that close contact.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-05T19:45:35.768Z · LW · GW

Via Sarah Constantin's Twitter:

I looked into this, because yay citizen science. I could not find one research study using any of the peptides in the RADVAC white paper that found they inhibited SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells, let alone animals or humans.


“Take a random peptide that has never been tested on any living thing” is not at all the same thing as “take a well-known, well-studied recreational drug”, as far as risk goes.

She doesn't explicitly state that this has never been tested on any living thing. Possibly because she wasn't confident enough in her research survey to claim that, possibly because she was drawing a starker contrast than applies to this instance. But all the COVID testing for RADVAC is purely in silico, so while the chemicals involved may be studied for safety in vivo, efficacy is completely untested even at the (much simpler than organism) cell level.

So the EV of the benefits are low, and the risks are unclear.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-23T22:13:07.147Z · LW · GW

I think it is a pretty major factor. 20 F is not that common, and much easier to work around than 100 F, which is approximately as common. Both are pretty terrible outdoors; 20 F often comes with some benefits that make it worth suffering through, most of which involve snow, and 100 F doesn't AFAIK, but that's a minor detail. And you're correct that the difficulty of dressing for the weather is not obviously tied to the difficulty of controlling an indoor environment; I think there's a weak correlation there, but it could just be noise.

It's only inside that you can really work around either extreme enough to be comfortable. And how hard that is differs greatly due to the different underlying complexities of the problems.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-22T21:40:08.777Z · LW · GW

Let's try this again, being more explicit about the analogy, though it's incredibly simple so that really shouldn't be necessary.

E. Large drawbacks

  • Boston has very cold winters.

F. Small drawbacks

  • Boston has summers that are hot, humid and swarming with mosquitoes.

These are backwards. Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers; a fireplace is simpler than an air conditioner.

  • A fireplace is simple, and is the simplest man-made method of dealing with cold.
  • Because it is simple, manufacturing tolerances and installation tolerances are large.
  • This makes it cheap, and easy to install, when installing it as intended
    • If you install a fireplace six inches to the left of the intended location, it will work without problems. (You will probably have other architectural problems, but they are not the fault of the fireplace; if it had been a window or a non-structural column that was moved, that would be equally problematic.)
  • Derivatives of the fireplace optimized for particular use-cases, such as being addable and subtractable after the building is finished, start from this extremely low baseline. They add complexity, reduce manufacturing and installation tolerances, etc.
  • But because the baseline is incredibly low, even after making those changes it remains very simple, so the devices remain cheap, easy to install, etc.
  • End result: Furnaces, space heaters, radiators, all are cheap and abundant.

Contrast with

  • Air conditioners are the simplest general-applicability man-made method of dealing with heat.
  • They're really fuckin' complicated. Tolerances for installation and manufacture are small.
    • If you install an air conditioner six inches to the left, it probably won't work at all; the seal will be crap and you'll get worse results than you would have from leaving the window closed. At best you'll get 50% capacity.
    • Variants exist with better tolerances, (freestanding units with pipe) but they're more expensive and less efficient.
  • This also makes air conditioners fairly expensive. An AC unit can cover more ground than a space heater, but even if you want to evenly blanket your home with heat (usually not true, some rooms are much lower priority), it will take only two or three space heaters per AC unit, and AC units cost roughly 5x a space heater.
  • Because AC units are so complex, advanced variants are not a common product. The main descendant innovation is central air. This has all the drawbacks of a fireplace with regard to installation, though it does have higher efficiency.
  • Central air has another relevant feature: Even in really hot jurisdictions like Los Angeles or Phoenix, AZ, it almost always also has heat. Because once you've set up the ducting and control systems for central-air AC, it is trivially easy to support heat through that. So using it once a decade, or just the possibility that you might, someday, want to sell to an octogenarian with no thermoregulation who can't take the 'cold' of 65 F, is more than enough to justify the cost.

In conclusion: The fact that fireplaces are simpler than AC units has direct, obvious consequences for how difficult it is to keep your home warm vs. cool, regardless of whether using an actual fireplace is practical or even desirable. It is much easier to deal with Massachusetts winters than Massachusetts summers via technological means.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Mosh · 2021-01-05T20:31:10.147Z · LW · GW

Your personal blog tags this as terminal but not shell, which also exists. You may wish to merge those tags.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-04T04:08:22.678Z · LW · GW

That doesn't follow. The sun belt became habitable because it got easier to fix, but that wasn't asymmetric in difficulty, just asymmetric in relevance; the difference between 'pretty easy' and 'very easy' matters much less than the difference between 'really hard' and 'a little bit hard'.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-03T16:50:42.123Z · LW · GW

the cost and convenience of cooling relative to heating has changed massively as technology has improved

Not really, no. That's the point: the problems retain their natural relative difficulty. The complexity suggests certain properties about the relative situation, and those properties have remained true.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-02T22:14:21.138Z · LW · GW

No one is suggesting you install a fireplace, literally no one, so no, it is completely irrelevant whether you can do so.

The relative difficulty of solving the problems of excessive cold and excessive heat, however, is relevant. And that relative difficulty is cleanly and clearly illustrated by the relative simplicity of the simplest solutions to those problems, which are, respectively, a fireplace and an air conditioner. As I said before:

This has obvious practical consequences for the comparative difficulty of the problems; it’s much easier to fix ‘too cold’ than ‘too hot’.

The fact that a fireplace is simple has the obvious implication that heating is an easier problem to fix in theory, and that has the implication that it is probably also easier to fix in practice. And this is indeed the case.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-02T21:56:33.854Z · LW · GW

Why are you still hung up on the utterly irrelevant question of whether it is practical to install a fireplace? No one but you has claimed that matters.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2021-01-02T21:52:41.938Z · LW · GW

Cost and convenience are almost entirely determined by simplicity. The fact that a fireplace is much simpler than an AC is directly causally linked to the lower cost in money and inconvenience of fixing the respective problems they address. Whether you actually use a fireplace is immaterial.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T21:49:36.468Z · LW · GW

Well, if they see the obvious it won't be because you helped, since you still haven't, despite very clear step by step explanation. I am rude because you have ignored all polite explanation and obstinately insisted on discussing irrelevancies.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T18:34:18.689Z · LW · GW

What that primarily means, probably, is that you are not tasty to mosquitoes. This is an axis along which people differ but not the one you probably meant.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T18:32:24.575Z · LW · GW

Your objection was the non sequitur. My reply is not irrelevant to that objection, but that doesn't matter, because that question is itself irrelevant to the one at the top of the thread. No one cares, and it does not matter, "whether I can have a fireplace in my apartment or not".

The point is blindingly obvious, which is why I explained it in small words above, but I can excerpt the critical pieces for you:

Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers. [...] Fireplaces [...] are very simple. [...] Air conditioners [...] are very complex mechanisms. [...] This has obvious practical consequences[...]; it's much easier to fix 'too cold' than 'too hot'.

Fireplaces and ACs are the simplest available solutions to those problems, and their difficulty is vastly different. More sophisticated solutions exist, but the difficulty of practically implementing them is likewise determined by the massive disparity in difficulty of the underlying problem.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T01:19:37.933Z · LW · GW

Fireplaces are thousands of years old, because they are very simple. The most complex part is arranging air flow to not choke the room with smoke, and even that was present in prehistory. You can explain every aspect of their operation to a five year old, and if they're a bright five year old, you won't even have to repeat yourself later.

Air conditioners are less than two centuries old, because they are very complex mechanisms. No comparably-effective simpler technology exists, especially not for humid places. Many intelligent adults have some difficulty understanding their operation. (In hot, dry places adobe, for heat capacity, and windcatchers for active cooling, are pretty good low-tech tools, though still discovered well after the fireplace, definitely not explainable to a five year old, and maybe 20% as good as AC at best.)

Creating heat is so simple you can and will do it by accident. Moving heat is a difficult, precision operation. This has obvious practical consequences for the comparative difficulty of the problems; it's much easier to fix 'too cold' than 'too hot'.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-12-28T23:20:06.130Z · LW · GW

E. Large drawbacks

  • Boston has very cold winters.

F. Small drawbacks

  • Boston has summers that are hot, humid and swarming with mosquitoes.

These are backwards. Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers. (A fireplace is simpler than an air conditioner.)

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Truly Part Of You · 2020-12-03T19:40:47.879Z · LW · GW

I doubt this is feasible to regenerate from scratch, because I don't think anyone ever generated it from scratch. Euclid's Elements were probably the first rigorous proofs, but Euclid built on earlier, less-rigorous ideas which we would recognize now as invalid as proofs but better than a broad heuristic argument.

And of course, Euclid's notion of proof wasn't as rigorous as Russell and Whitehead's.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Circling · 2020-11-26T00:15:19.221Z · LW · GW

There may be a small minority of facilitators who do not have this problem. I do not think I, you, or anyone else can, before something goes wrong, pick them out from the crowd of seems-pretty-good facilitators who do have the problem. Especially since charismatic people are better at seeming trustworthy than trustworthy but uncharismatic people are. Individual evaluation, absent an actual record of past behavior to examine, is pretty worthless. And if they are following reasonable counselative ethics*, there will be no record; allowing such a record to be read by the public is itself an ethics violation.

Therapists are trained in counselative ethics, and if they violate them, can, and if it's discovered usually will, face severe consequences like revoking their license and making them unable to practice. I vaguely recall that there are somewhat-analogous pseudolicense-issuers who declare people "certified Circling facilitators". Even assuming, though, that those organizations put equivalent effort into investigating and assessing claimed violations and promulgating their conclusions (doubtful), they do not have real credibility. Revoking the certification might make it somewhat harder to continue to be a Circling facilitator; it's a very surmountable barrier, if it is a barrier at all. Those facilitators therefore do not have real skin in the game for the code of counselative ethics, because the issuing organizations just do not have the credibility to impose it. (They lack the right to be sued, in essence.)

*I'm using this to mean "the therapist code of professional ethics" except without the connotation that it is their profession. The correct ethical standard is not actually dependent on whether it is your job or a hobby. It is sufficiently hard to maintain this standard that most people are not willing to put in the effort for a hobby, which is one part of "professional". The other part is that requiring that someone maintain a certain code to retain their authorization to provide counseling for money is both morally and practically simpler (piggy-back it on top of contract law) than it is to require someone to maintain it for something they do as a hobby. (As an example, many people provide a similar informal service for their friends. Assume for the sake of argument that it would be net good to have all those people obey counselative ethics when they did. Even if so, it would be logistically horrendous, practically infeasible, and morally dubious to establish and enforce that norm.)

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-11-25T22:46:26.769Z · LW · GW

Yeah, that still annoys me. It did even more in the Pacific Northwest, which is even worse than the Bay.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-11-25T22:45:13.707Z · LW · GW

Seems plausible. I put

(This is a pretty significant adjustment for the other direction as well; my best friends on the West Coast have almost all been East Coast transplants.)

after the prudishness part but I could definitely be misentangling that. And, well, you are someone who is one of my best friends on the West Coast. (Well, was. RIP Delmarva.)

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-11-25T22:41:05.652Z · LW · GW

It is my experience that in Massachusetts cities (and even semi-urban towns), only attempting to cross if you will make it without the cars slowing down is only possible when waiting for the light. If you wait for the light, you then have the luxury of only attempting to cross if no car will interrupt you at its current speed and heading. Enough drivers treat red lights as guidelines that pedestrians must assume that all drivers will, so this is a nontrivial requirement. (I'd say 'imagine NYC except everyone's a taxi driver', but last I was in NYC that was nearly true already.)

It's unwise and uncommon to go full Schelling - i.e. performatively blindfolding yourself and then walking backwards into traffic - and it is normal and advisable to leave substantial safety margin, probably 3x-5x the technical minimum stopping distance, rather than assume they will detect it instantly. But you essentially must have to dare them to blink first, or you'll never get to cross.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Failed Utopia #4-2 · 2020-11-25T22:24:11.921Z · LW · GW

Posted January 21, 2009

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a Harry Potter fan fiction by Eliezer Yudkowsky. It adapts the story of Harry Potter by attempting to explain wizardry through the scientific method. It was published as a serial from 28 February 2010 through to 14 March 2015.

Wish granted.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-10-23T16:16:57.644Z · LW · GW

In what way is the prudishness a benefit?

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Changing the size of Congress · 2020-10-23T16:15:33.693Z · LW · GW

I think the implications of enlarging the House are more interesting. Jump it up to a round 1000 and things look good for the Dems. Plus, what effect would that have on the Popular Vote Interstate Compact?

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Charisma is a Force Multiplier · 2020-10-13T04:41:17.240Z · LW · GW

[4] In my view the stereotype that exists in some nerdy circles of charismatic people as inherently slimy/manipulative/otherwise not to be trusted has been very negative, both because I do not consider it to be accurate and because I think it discourages people in those communities from themselves developing charisma or related skills.

People who are a little bit charismatic are often slimy. People who are very charismatic are easily able to conceal whether they are slimy, whether or not they are. People without charisma are unable to conceal it and generally unable to do anything slimy even if they want to. Charisma is in fact Bayesian evidence towards sliminess.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Charisma is a Force Multiplier · 2020-10-13T04:38:01.237Z · LW · GW

I agree with your claims of fact, but I don't think you're thinking through the consequences enough. Charisma is a force multiplier, a.k.a. a symmetric weapon. However, there are a couple traits about it that justify the suspicion it gets.

  • It is particularly good at tasks which involve changing the minds of others. This is also the realm where the most effective known* asymmetric weapon, logical argument, is most effective. Directly counteracting the best known asymmetric weapon makes it unusually dangerous.

  • It is mostly involuntary. Charismatic people generally don't have volitional control over whether they're exercising it. (True sociopaths are a notable exception, IIUC.) They can dial it back, but charisma is a habit of mind more than an explicit skill, so a very charismatic person trying not to push is probably still exerting more charisma than an uncharismatic one trying their best to be convincing. E.G. Eliezer trying not to trade on his reputation would probably still accidentally pull pretty hard on the audience of a debate, substantially more than I could even trying my hardest.

  • It's a serious trap for the elephant in the brain. Charisma is directly playing on the level of the mind that is optimized for surviving personal drama in a tribe of hunter-gatherers. This is what people are talking about when they talk about the "reality distortion field" that Steve Jobs, Michael Vassar, and any number of other charismatic people exude. Sufficiently charismatic people can't convince you that you're a yellow-footed rock wallaby; I think the better analogy is to the Asch conformity experiment; a very charismatic person counts as several people. And they won't necessarily even realize that they're doing it, either; the first person they convince is usually themself.

These make charisma pretty hazardous to the goal of group rationality, since it can easily shove a group's collective beliefs towards a viewpoint which isn't truth-tracking and interfere with attempts to get them back on track. Which substantively validates the outsider/nerd view of charisma as inherently suspect.

*[Citation Needed], I know

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Charisma is a Force Multiplier · 2020-10-13T03:58:33.170Z · LW · GW

Unspoken? There's an SSC post explicitly about this.

Logical debate has one advantage over narrative, rhetoric, and violence: it’s an asymmetric weapon. That is, it’s a weapon which is stronger in the hands of the good guys than in the hands of the bad guys...

The whole point of logic is that, when done right, it can only prove things that are true.

Violence is a symmetric weapon; the bad guys’ punches hit just as hard as the good guys’ do...

Violence itself... if anything, [decreases asymmetry] by giving an advantage to whoever is more ruthless and power-hungry.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-10-12T07:02:50.249Z · LW · GW

Like most of Graham's essays on non-startup topics, he extrapolates well beyond his data and confuses his map for the territory. I like the essay and the framework, but it's mostly bunk; you could make similar arguments completely shuffled around by examining a different subculture of each city and cherry-picking different examples.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-10-12T06:59:04.302Z · LW · GW

The second-best place to be is much less good than the best place. Because everyone who thinks it's important to be in the best place and can be, is, as are everyone who thinks it's important to be seen as one of the people who can be in the best place. So you only get people/organizations which either can't move to the best place, or don't think it's important to be in the best place and don't mind that other people will largely infer that they can't move to the best place. Since most things are two-sided markets and which place you are in is a quality signal in those markets, this cuts off a lot of upside potential for the ambitious.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-10-12T06:52:16.329Z · LW · GW

If you have a weird case, the prestigious teaching hospitals are very good for your outcomes. I probably owe 30% or so of being alive to the fact that Emerson Hospital didn't dismiss my self-reports of stabbing pain the night before I was supposed to get a hernia fixed as being a weird patient self-reporting about the hernia badly. As a result, they checked for and found appendicitis, and a serious case of it, which I was told (afterward) was probably life-threatening. However, if you check into the hospital without anything seriously wrong with you, you run a decent risk of them finding something less serious wrong with you, which can be pretty bad for your quality of life. (This led to my great-grandmother's rapid decline between age 100 and 105.)

In general, New England's culture is very much "nanny state". Experts are presumed to know what's good for you better than you do, whether they're doctors or legislators. (New Hampshire mostly excepted.) I'd expect this to interact poorly with the high level of education in the state, but it seems stable so I guess not.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Why Boston? · 2020-10-12T06:42:03.735Z · LW · GW

As another Massachusetts native (from the exurbs, not the Hub of the Universe), currently living in SF, I agree with most of this. However, you're seriously underrating the significance of blizzards. Even in ordinary times without global warming driving the extremes higher, blizzards sufficient to shut down the subway for a day or two were roughly annual. Now you get even worse storms every year or three, and that may increase. Hurricanes also have increased in severity and frequency IIRC (nope, checked, that's false; neither severity nor frequency has increased.)

Other drawbacks over the West Coast:

  • Boston summer sucks. Firstly, mosquitos; if you've lived there your whole life you are underrating how nice it is to have no mosquitos, and also probably underestimating how mosquito-free the West Coast is. Secondly, humidity. On the West Coast you can step into the shade and have the temperature instantly drop ten degrees or more (°F). No such luck in New England; you can't escape the heat from a Boston summer without air conditioning or a properly-enclosed basement. Open a window and you're hosed.

  • Prudishness. Norms around public intimacy are way more restrictive. None of it is given legal force, but the Puritan culture is still around. "Do what you want, but don't make me pay attention to it" is the puritanical liberal ethos and it's still the prevailing view in New England. (Probably less bad in the big city than in the subdivisions or in Worcester, where I spent most of my time, but it's still there.) This also means that the 'weirdness point budget' is lower, but I'm unsure quite how much lower due to urban/rural confounders on the anecdata I have. (This is a pretty significant adjustment for the other direction as well; my best friends on the West Coast have almost all been East Coast transplants.)

  • Rudeness. I am pretty certain this is substantially, though not entirely, a result of the previous point. In Massachusetts, it's considered impolite to waste stranger's time with pleasantries, rude to involve yourself in stranger's problems or conversations, and generally normative to assume other people are looking out for themselves and won't appreciate you getting involved. At its more extreme, this produces the terrifying pedestrian dynamics, where the accepted way to cross in a crosswalk is to look carefully for speeding cars and if none of them look like they're speeding too much to be capable of stopping for you, walk out into the crosswalk and dare them to blink first. This is a hard cultural shift to navigate and will probably produce isolation in people who are used to West Coast norms. (This is actually one where I still prefer the East Coast norms after a decade on the Left Coast, but it's a flaw for most people considering the move.)

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Circling · 2020-08-06T17:58:03.735Z · LW · GW

Therapists are the only group with structures to get systematic feedback on whether their assessments are correct; in the absence of such structures, I see no reason to believe self-reports of effectiveness. To paraphrase an -adjacent friend's recent FB post: "Everyone I've met who considered themself a 'people person' skeeved me out and eventually alienated me and many people around me. Everyone I've met who considered themself an 'empath' spent a lot of time telling me what my emotions were and not much time being correct about it." Someone who tells you they are good at this kind of skill, without reference to a structure they have in place which would detect them instead being very bad at it, is not giving you evidence that they are good at this skill. In practice, they are giving you (very weak) evidence they are very bad at it.

Therapists are not always useful; I've had - six? I think six - and only the most recent one has been helpful. But therapy training is training in the skills required to "first, do no harm". Circling facilitators and similar things do not have those skills and generally don't actually try to investigate what skills they need to acquire in order to do no harm, nor to acquire those skills.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Circling · 2020-08-05T02:51:03.895Z · LW · GW

Black swan events are not something I'm meaningfully including in my assessment of the risks. If there's risks from black swans, and there do seem to be from e.g. bgaesop's case, that's on top of the risk from standard cases which is already substantial.

You would not notice most cases of harm, and I'm not sure why you think you would. I'd guess that only half or so of cases of harm (large error bars, roughly 5:1 to 1:5) are noticed by the person affected in a way that allows them to connect the emotional damage to the Circle (probably as a merely substantial contributor rather than a sole contributor; many causes is the norm for this kind of thing), and even those aren't necessarily noticed immediately. The rest are likely to manifest as unease or nonspecific feelings of wrongness around the Circle, the people who were in it, that day, etc.; as misgivings about something tangentially related; or in no internally-legible way at all, just low-level anxiety/depression or worsening of issues that already existed. In other words, I would expect harm to present exactly like a mild social trauma, because that's precisely what it is.

And the people most likely to be willing to try Circling are those who least need it and in fact need the opposite.

This feels like a fairly strong claim that I don’t think you’ve justified.

I guess it's a strong claim, but it's the standard prior on advice, cf. All Debates Are Bravery Debates, The Loudest Alarm is Probably False, and leverage points in systems analysis. People's biases for psychological interventions tend to be anticorrelated with how much they're needed.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Circling · 2020-08-01T19:45:42.161Z · LW · GW

I agree that they're unlikely to be globally optimal, but it is unlikely that anyone* other than Bob has a better idea than Bob of where the optimal boundaries/defense mechanisms are relative to where Bob has placed his boundaries. Many people - myself probably included - have defense mechanisms which are too strong, but many others have defense mechanisms which are too weak. It's a bravery debate, strongly susceptible to typical-minding. And the people most likely to be willing to try Circling are those who least need it and in fact need the opposite.

*Excepting therapists and other forms of trained professional boundary/defense-mechanism-optimality-assessors, whose training also includes a number of required secondary skills like maintaining confidentiality and the virtue of silence which are required to provide that expertise in an ethical and positive-EV way.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on Circling · 2020-07-31T19:29:06.903Z · LW · GW

5 years ago, I was very pro “giving people an excuse to be more vulnerable than they’d normally feel comfortable being.”

People generally have good reasons for picking the degree of vulnerability they pick. They are comfortable with it, and would not be comfortable with more, due to real things in the world, not personal quirks. Giving an 'excuse' to be more vulnerable always has a serious risk of pushing people to be more vulnerable without actually addressing the reasons they are uncomfortable with being more vulnerable. When it's social risk they're being vulnerable to, it is necessarily a social environment and therefore has substantial implicit social pressure to avail yourself of the 'excuse', so that risk becomes a certainty. Every time you Circle, you are pushing people to be vulnerable whether or not it's good for them, and they generally know better than you whether it's good for them. And communicating those boundaries, in this kind of setting, is a risk of the exact type they're trying to limit their exposure to.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on More Right · 2020-07-31T19:09:28.320Z · LW · GW

Well, you've already gone off-target from that goal, because what you said here makes even less sense. I can't tell what you mean by "X feels like Y, feels as if Y is Z", even so far as to judge it true or false.

Do you mean that "X feels like a situation in which Y is Z"?

Do you mean "The way X feels like Y is similar to the way Y feels like Z"?

Do you mean "X makes me feel like Y is like Z"?

None of these interpretations actually makes your comment make sense, because none of them are analogous to the original positive-humility/truth-blade simile, but I can't even tell which of these you intended.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on More Right · 2020-07-30T17:54:57.192Z · LW · GW

That is the opposite of what you said.

But being "positively" humble, actively trying to not just not-sidestep but go forward… feels weird. As if the truth is a blade to be looked at only as it descends for the kill and never before; at the moment when whatever you do, it won’t matter.

Do you see how this phrasing is specifically claiming that positive humility is analogous to ignoring the blade?

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on More Right · 2020-07-28T02:23:05.215Z · LW · GW

You are definitely not understanding the analogy made above, nor my confusion. The analogy was meant to illustrate a failure mode of having only positive humility. EDIT: This apparently correctly understood what was meant, but not what was said.

Comment by Czynski (JacobKopczynski) on "Should Blackmail Be Legal" Hanson/Zvi Debate (Sun July 26th, 3pm PDT) · 2020-07-26T22:10:07.660Z · LW · GW

It seems pretty unlikely that this debate will have anything novel to add. Zvi is obviously in the right, and Robin hasn't displayed the ability to generate new ideas in five years.