For moderately well-resourced people in the US, how quickly will things go from "uncomfortable" to "too late to exit"? 2020-06-12T16:59:56.845Z
Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help? 2020-02-02T17:03:04.426Z
Dagon's Shortform 2019-07-31T18:21:43.072Z
Did the recent blackmail discussion change your beliefs? 2019-03-24T16:06:52.811Z


Comment by Dagon on How to Make Your Own Vaccine Passport (if you're a U.S. citizen) · 2021-04-22T23:01:58.878Z · LW · GW

I don't get it.  

Alice wants to go on a date with Bob. Bob wants her to prove to him that she's vaccinated.

Alice gets offended that Bob doesn't trust her, and no longer wants to go on that date.  Or if she's actually invested, she offers to show the CDC card or health portal screenshot or some other low-effort indicator.   Most likely outcome: Bob is lonely, Alice finds other dates.

In no case will there be an equilibrium where significant numbers of people ask for or perform the craziness you describe.

It's a difficult process. This is important

Important also because it limits who can demand it.  It's almost certainly going to be measurably discriminatory against protected groups, which makes it a non-starter to ask for such a thing for any public or regulated commercial purpose.

Comment by Dagon on How long should I delay my second shot? · 2021-04-17T17:30:30.969Z · LW · GW

You're overthinking this.  First Doses First would have been the better policy a few months ago, but in most places it just hasn't taken hold, and delivery has ramped up to the point that appointments are fairly easy to get for anyone who wants it.  They're often a few weeks out, but the optimization of delaying yours by X weeks to get someone else's X weeks earlier is not worth the effort.

Get your second shot.  Show everyone that getting the shots as recommended is the right general answer.  Encourage standardization and avoid contrarianism and confusion, except on topics where it's egregious and clearly needed.

Comment by Dagon on Most Analogies Are Wrong · 2021-04-17T14:35:16.619Z · LW · GW

I think this is simultaneously too weak a statement, and too harsh a judgement of analogies.  In truth, ALL analogies are wrong.  The entire point is that there are two distinct things/situations that you're comparing. There are going to be differences which your analogy ignores.  

However, this is just a subset of the fact that all models are wrong.  The entire discussion is about maps, not territory.  Reality is simply too complex to fully understand or communicate, so you internally use analogies and models to predict bits of it.  There's no avoiding that.

I take your point that arguing and convincing are generally indicators that you're moving away from truth-seeking.  In those cases, analogy isn't the problem; there's a more fundamental power dynamic that's getting in the way.

Comment by Dagon on What weird beliefs do you have? · 2021-04-14T17:52:58.834Z · LW · GW

None of my beliefs feel weird to me - I find it weird that many/most people seem to believe different things.  

For this site, I'll go with radical anti-realism.  All value is personal and relative - there is no objective view or measure about moral decisions.  Crowley had it right (on this point; he was wackadoo on others) "Do what thou wilt, and then do nothing else".

Comment by Dagon on On Falsifying the Simulation Hypothesis (or Embracing its Predictions) · 2021-04-13T22:40:06.457Z · LW · GW

I think you're missing an underlying point about the Boltzmann Brain concept - simulating an observer's memory and perception is (probably) much easier than simulating the things that seem to cause the perceptions.

Once you open up the idea that universes and simulations are subject to probability, a self-contained instantaneous experiencer is strictly more probable than a universe which evolves the equivalent brain structure and fills it with experiences, or a simulation of the brain plus some particles or local activity which change it over time.

Comment by Dagon on How long would you wait to get Moderna/Pfizer vs J&J? · 2021-04-13T14:31:16.818Z · LW · GW

A lot depends on how much personal control you have of when and what kind of vaccine you get.  If you knew for certain you could wait 3 weeks and get your preferred vaccine, that's probably better than taking J&J today.  But if there's a fair chance that you WON'T be able to - either you'll have to wait much longer or take J&J anyway, you're probably better off just taking it now.

The driving factor is just how much COVID-19 sucks, and the cost of getting it during that voluntary gap.  If you're truly comfortable and truly locked down, then waiting longer is more reasonable, and it also lets people who need it more than you get it sooner.  In that case, delays of up to a few months may be justified.  If you're only mostly locked down (as I am - I still go out briefly a few times a week for things that can't easily be delivered), then delay is riskier and you should prioritize any vaccine, delaying no more than a week or two.

Comment by Dagon on Wanting to Succeed on Every Metric Presented · 2021-04-12T22:15:39.768Z · LW · GW

The flip side of this is tradeoff bias (a term I just made up - it's related to false dichotomies).  Assuming you have to give up something to get a desired goal, and that costs always equal rewards is a mistake.  Some people CAN get all As, excel at sports, and have a satisfying social life.  Those people should absolutely do so.  

I think the post has good underlying advice: don't beat yourself up or make bad tradeoffs if you CAN'T have it all.  Experimenting to understand tradeoffs, and making reasoned choices about what you really value is necessary.  But don't give up things you CAN get, just because you assume there's a cost you can't identify.

Comment by Dagon on On Falsifying the Simulation Hypothesis (or Embracing its Predictions) · 2021-04-12T03:16:11.170Z · LW · GW

Anthropic reasoning is hard.  It's especially hard when there's no outside position or evidence about the space of counterfactual possibilities (or really, any operational definition of "possible").  

I agree that we're equally likely to be in any simulation (or reality) that contains us.  But I don't think that's as useful as you seem to think.  We have no evidence of the number or variety of simulations that match our experience/memory.  I also like the simplicity assumption - Occam's razor continues to be useful.  But I'm not sure how to apply it - I very quickly run into the problem that "god is angry" is a much simpler explanation than a massive set of quantum interactions. 

Is is simpler for someone to just simulate this experience I'm having, or to simulate a universe that happens to contain me?  I really don't know.  I don't find to be that compelling as a random occurrence, but I have to admit that as the result of an optimization/intentional process like a simulation, it's simpler than the explanation that there has actually existed or been simulated the full history of specific things which I remember.

Comment by Dagon on niplav's Shortform · 2021-04-10T02:52:41.424Z · LW · GW

On self-reflection, I just plain don't care about people far away as much as those near to me.  Parts of me think I should, but other parts aren't swayed.  The fact that a lot of the motivating stories for EA don't address this at all is one of the reasons I don't listen very closely to EA advice.  

I am (somewhat) an altruist.  And I strive to be effective at everything I undertake.  But I'm not an EA, and I don't really understand those who are.

Comment by Dagon on [deleted post] 2021-04-08T04:20:21.611Z

Good insight, but I'm not sure if it's an error, or just a feature of the fact that reality is generally entangled.  Most actions do, in fact, have multiple consequences on different axes.  

One often ends up pulling multiple levers, to try to amplify the effects you like and dampen the ones you don't.

Comment by Dagon on Preventing overcharging by prosecutors · 2021-04-07T01:16:04.286Z · LW · GW

For something that's impossible to implement, this seems like a surprisingly small step toward EITHER futarchy and the embedding of good conditional predictions in more policy and behavioral decisions, OR to resolving the broken incentives of prosecutors (convictions, not truth).

Comment by Dagon on Raemon's Shortform · 2021-04-04T01:22:42.661Z · LW · GW

I was mostly reacting to "I'd previously talked about how it would be neat if LW reacts specifically gave people affordance to think subtler epistemically-useful thoughts. ", and failed my own first rule of evaluation: "compared to what?".

As something with more variations than karma/votes, and less distracting/lower hurdle than comments, I can see reacts as filling a niche.  I'd kind of lean toward more like tagging and less like 5-10 variations on a vote.  

Comment by Dagon on Raemon's Shortform · 2021-04-03T23:25:41.148Z · LW · GW

I don't participate in a very wide swath of social media, so this may vary beyond FB and the like.  But from what I can tell, reacts do exactly the opposite of what you say - they're pure mood affiliation, with far less incentive nor opportunity for subtlety or epistemically-useful feedback than comments have.

The LW reacts you've discussed in the past (not like/laugh/cry/etc, but updated/good-data/clear-modeling or whatnot) probably DO give some opportunity, but can never be as subtle or clear as a comment.  I wonder if something like Slack's custom-reacts (any user can upload an icon and label it for use as a react) would be a good way to get both precision and ease.  Or perhaps just a flag for "meta-comment", which lets people write arbitrary text that's a comment on the impact or style or whatnot, leaving non-flagged comments as object-level comments about the topic of the post or parent.

Comment by Dagon on Forcing yourself to keep your identity small is self-harm · 2021-04-03T17:46:39.001Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this - I mostly agree, but it's important to note that a lot of this is confusion about the metaphor(s) of identity such that "keep it small" actually means anything.  Let alone that it means to me what Paul Graham intended.  Let alone whether what works for him works for me or you.

I tend to think of "keep my identity small" as "keep my attachments to identity dimensions weak".  I am not my (current) identity - neither the salient points of a self-image at any point in time, nor the things that any friends or acquaintances use to summarize and predict me.  I am a collection of related identities across contexts and time.  I'm not sure if I'm more than that, but I'm at least that, not any given point-identity.

I've very happy to take your reminder that the best path (for most of us) to this is acceptance rather than denial or force.  Accept that your self-perception is incomplete, and that your experiences will be deeply impacted by self-image and the many many variations of others' image of you.  You CAN adjust these images and perceptions, but you probably CANNOT just declare them to be different.

Comment by Dagon on Would a post about optimizing physical attractiveness be fitting for this forum? · 2021-04-03T16:50:33.776Z · LW · GW

It's not a topic I expect to learn from or make much use of, and I think that variations in individual situation and definitions of "attractiveness" are great enough that it makes advice difficult to give or hear without getting tangled up in judgement and perceived judgement.

That said, there are very likely interesting discoveries and experiences you can share, and there's almost no topic that's not appropriate for this forum, if the focus is on experimentation, evidence, and structured approach to important-to-people topics. 

I'd say go for it.  It could help someone, it could get you useful feedback in your endeavors, it could be interesting or trigger side-discussions that are fun, and it's unlikely to do any harm.  Hmm, maybe move this paragraph to the start of my answer.

Comment by Dagon on People are gathering 2 million USD to save a kid with a rare disease. I feel weird about it. Why? · 2021-04-03T16:40:07.770Z · LW · GW

Weirder or less weird about this than about other things people do with their money?  Seems better than going on vacation or owning fancier houses, which are things nobody bats an eye at.

Is the conflict about how much social credit you give the donors for being generous, but inefficient?  You want to appreciate the generosity while bemoaning the inefficiency. Sounds like you are, at least a bit, Utilitarian in that.

I personally focus on the generosity - doing something uncoerced to help someone, at some cost to oneself, is laudable.  Yay them!   There are certainly some ineffeciencies and side-effects that would make the consequences negative or zero, and this would make me less supportive, of course.  But that doesn't apply here - I recognize that it's complicated what the actual effects are.  The $2M isn't being burned to keep the kid alive, it's going to fund professionals, equipment, and systems which will save the kid, but also be in place to save more kids and generally get better at saving people.

Comment by Dagon on [deleted post] 2021-04-03T16:23:27.417Z

You win!  You've proven Less Wrong to be unwilling to engage whatever point you were making.  Now why are you trying to chide the same closed-minded jerks about their failings?

Comment by Dagon on Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports · 2021-04-02T14:28:46.301Z · LW · GW

"Government incompetence" is a fully-general objection to almost anything.  I wish it weren't so often a CORRECT objection.  

And vaccine passports are exactly the sort of topic which we should expect such incompetence.  It's unclear what problems are being solved by them, what measurements can be used to adjust or kill the program if it's not working, or what the incentives are of any players involved.  

I don't have a good inside-view model of the large numbers of people going maskless in crowds without the vaccine, but my outside-view model of them makes it seem VERY likely that they'll just ignore it for most things, and forge or otherwise bypass it if actively enforced.  

Really, the blend of arguments adds up to "why bother?"

Comment by Dagon on Eli's shortform feed · 2021-04-01T15:55:47.718Z · LW · GW

Most auto shops will do a safety/mechanical inspection for a small amount (usually in the $50-200 range, but be aware that the cheaper ones subsidize it by anticipating that they can sell you services to fix the car if you buy it).   

However, as others have said, this price point is too low for your first car as a novice, unless you have a mentor and intend to spend a lot of time learning to maintain/fix.  Something reliable enough for you to actually run the experiment and get the information you want about the benefits vs frustrations of owning a car is going to run probably $5-$10K, depending on regional variance and specifics of your needs.  

For a first car, look into getting a warranty, not because it's a good insurance bet, but because it forces the seller to make claims of warrantability to their insurance company.

You can probably cut the cost in half (or more) if you educate yourself and get to know the local car community.  If the car is a hobby rather than an experiment in transportation convenience, you can take a lot more risk, AND those risks are mitigated if you know how to get things fixed cheaply.

Comment by Dagon on Eric Raymond's Shortform · 2021-03-30T15:45:20.870Z · LW · GW

Just a note of thanks, for the essay (which I skimmed, and will read more thoroughly when I have more time), but more for all of your writing (and direct activity) regarding hacker culture.  

I hadn't really made the connection in my mind between the different domains of rational/skeptical/hacker thought until this - I'm between you and Eliezer in age, and have considered myself a hacker since the mid-80s, having read a different subset of historical thought - light on philosophy, very heavy on the SF that everyone references, but also Knuth and Hofstadter and Dijkstra which mixed philosophy of thinking with rigor of procedural execution.  

Anyway, thanks for this!  And for any other readers who aren't familiar with your work, check out the Rootless Root at

Comment by Dagon on Bureaucracy is a world of magic · 2021-03-29T16:13:21.191Z · LW · GW

"Ritual" and "magic" are related, but not identical.  You're correct that many of the participants don't know the full evolution behind the rituals, and many of the components make no sense to you or I.  The rituals that make things Official do somewhat well at the job of seeming important and making it less likely for an average person to think they can get away with cheating, and make it easier for an adjudicator to see whether things appear "standard" and they need only to verify actual details, or whether everything is haphazard and they have to examine process and provenance before even thinking about the details.

That feeling that these irrelevant processes are critical to get right, or un-defined Bad Things will happen, is a benefit of rituals.

Comment by Dagon on Making a Cheerful Bid · 2021-03-28T17:25:22.824Z · LW · GW

My cheerful price is sensitive, valuable information, and I won’t give it out to just anybody.

Wait, what?  That sounds less than cheerful to me.  My cheerful price is quite high for random tasks from strangers - on the order of $10K/day for non-dangerous, non-reputation-impacting work.  I suspect there aren't many cases where someone would want to pay it, but it's neither sensitive nor valuable information.  And of course, it's lower for some tasks, for some people, on some days (and much higher for some).

Some confusion may be coming in the (unstated) assumption that one's cheerful price is a fixed amount.  It's not - it's highly contextual - it depends on what else one has going on, what expected secondary (monetary or non-) costs or rewards might accrue, relationship effects if it's among people I expect to meet again, etc.  

Honestly, for me, in the financial situation I'm currently in, the concept of "cheerful price" isn't very useful.  My decision-making and happiness is far more impacted by non-monetary factors than payments among non-professional interactions.  It's a cute theory, but I expect there's not a lot of value in codifying it very completely.

Comment by Dagon on Making a Cheerful Bid · 2021-03-28T16:21:07.327Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand how this can possibly work.  There needs to be trust in both directions before any agreement (or pre-agreement or agreement to pay for discussion of agreement, or as many levels down as you choose to go).  And if this trust exists, It's often FAR more efficient to implicitly roll the bid/negotiation cost into the final contract.

If Alice trusts Bob enough to pay $100 + 1.25/minute without any defined outcome (or duration; I presume "either party may terminate at any time"), and Bob trusts Alice enough that there's some future benefit to the conversation (not necessary if the money is sufficient and each minute is paid in advance), they should just do the normal dance: 10-minute elevator pitch to give a few more details and firm up the future-value hypothesis, then maybe an hour or two of negotiation of rates and responsibiities, then get to work.  Possibly with additional negotiation, paid or not, about long-term ownership stakes or contract terms.

Basically, with trust, it's inefficient to have the paid-bid phase.  And without trust, they can't even start the paid-bid phase.   There are probably some middle-ground situations where this works and is needed, but I'm not sure I can identify any.

Comment by Dagon on Why 1-boxing doesn't imply backwards causation · 2021-03-28T03:41:49.006Z · LW · GW

Fair enough.  I do like the idea that counterfactuals are just as reasonable (and useful) for the past as for the future - it shouldn't matter whether it didn't happen or it won't happen.  

Comment by Dagon on Why 1-boxing doesn't imply backwards causation · 2021-03-27T15:26:12.447Z · LW · GW

Are there real humans still arguing against this?  It seems so obvious that, once you accept that decisions have causes and are not independent things, CDT dies on the vine, and Newcomb has a simple model that the causes of your decision are the same as the causes of Omega's box-filling.  

The only arguments against this I've seen in the last N years are that maybe decisions are NOT completely determined by state that's accessible to any possible Omega (quantum uncertainty woo is the most common of such arguments).  But that's not an argument against anything in the Newcomb problem, that's just denying the setup itself).  

Comment by Dagon on The danger of error descriptions · 2021-03-25T23:51:49.224Z · LW · GW

I think you could shorten this quite a bit, be a little gentler about the value of logging, and retitle it "the danger of descriptions".  All reports of observations (and all observations) are suspect.  This is an unsolved problem.

Comment by Dagon on The best frequently don't rise to the top · 2021-03-25T19:03:31.066Z · LW · GW

Algorithms should minimize the chance that initial luck (bad or good) leaves a lasting effect on end popularity.

Why would algorithms care about that at all?  They're optimizing clicks, and I see no reason they'd want to give up any power to try to reverse the effects of luck.

Comment by Dagon on What are the best resources to point people who are skeptical of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 to? · 2021-03-25T17:41:07.961Z · LW · GW

This depends a lot on the individual in question.  My bubble is such that of the few thousand people I (indirectly, but individually) have any knowledge about their vaccination attitude, there is precisely one (the father of a friend) who has stated his intent not to get the shot.  And I suspect he'll change his mind at some point in the next 6 weeks.

"non-rationalist" isn't a precise enough descriptor to have any idea how to convince them, and you haven't specified what level of effort you're planning to put in to convincing any specific holdout or small, identifiable group.

Personally, I don't care what people say on surveys.  I care what they actually do, to the extent that it affects those of us who are vaccinated.  When there are no queues nor limits on vaccines (that is, when the bottleneck is willingness, not availability, worldwide), if there are enough non-vaccinated that it noticeably impacts transmission rates and effects the vaccinated, then I'll figure out how to encourage more of the idiots to get it.   My favored mechanism is vaccination patrols armed with dart guns.

But there's quite a way to go before everyone who's willing to get a shot worldwide has one.  Until then, I'm fine with self-deprioritization.  

Comment by Dagon on The best frequently don't rise to the top · 2021-03-25T17:16:44.297Z · LW · GW

Yup.  The modeling error here is that "quality" is a single dimension, and that it's both absolute and roughly linear in value.  All three of these are false.  What Dave Lindbergh is calling "metric", I'd call "dimension of value" (because the metric is an indicator of the value, not the value itself.  Also, because metric implies universality, and value is relative and marginal).

There are hundreds (or perhaps tens of thousands) of dimensions of value, which have different scales and weightings for different customers.  As pointed out, having experts agree that one is providing the values to the critics and high-end customers that make them a top restaurateur does not correlate terribly well to those that make for popular youtube videos.   

Comment by Dagon on Thirty-three randomly selected bioethics papers · 2021-03-23T15:50:40.388Z · LW · GW

I think it's totally nuts that people assert that nudges are, or even can be, per se unethical.

A nudge is an imposition of cost on the non-nudged action.  I think it's pretty easy to argue that intentional imposition of cost/difficulty is unethical by default.  Specific nudges can still be positive, if there is evidence that they provide more moral value in the prevention of error than in the friction they bring.

Comment by Dagon on Burmese Days, Mar 22; Rules of the Game and Preference Falsification in the Army · 2021-03-22T21:19:39.458Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this analysis!  What is the involvement and impact of foreign actors?  I'd naively expected that Myanmar is an interesting size, big enough that it has neighbors and trading partners with very strong preferences, and small enough that relatively sane amounts of support (via aid, refugee tolerance, trade boycotts of one side or the other, etc.) could swing things.

Comment by Dagon on Conspicuous saving · 2021-03-22T16:39:20.397Z · LW · GW

People are ranked according to the school/job they are at, and the grades they got.

Watch out for in this.  There may be some groups for which this is true, but it hasn't been my experience in any of the US or UK work or social subcultures I've been part of.  Those things are inputs to evaluation and discussion, but are only very weakly correlated with any dimension of ranking.

In my experience, there is a very wide range of jobs (and former jobs!) that contribute to high status, and outside of academia, I don't know anyone who cares about schools a small number of years past graduation/exit.  I don't recall anyone EVER caring about grades after school is done.

Comment by Dagon on Gossip · 2021-03-21T17:56:06.997Z · LW · GW

This seems a hard-to-unravel mix of positive and normative, and it's unclear what data about what culture(s) are used as a basis.  Some things are framed as advice, without much tie to theory as to why this is the best way to gossip, and others are framed as truth (or useful models) without the observations or measurements for why this is the right takeaway.

Overall, it didn't go deep enough in any direction for me to update on. 

Comment by Dagon on Conspicuous saving · 2021-03-21T17:05:35.650Z · LW · GW

I think there are a few glaring problems with this model, though I like the direction of analysis.

  • First and foremost, There are no universal, externally-published data that make good social signals.  And there can be none - they will be quickly gamed and perverted to no longer be a credible signal.
  • Many cultures/subcultures have a complex interchange between respect and envy for many otherwise-positive attributes.  Uncontrolled publication of such attributes can attract family or social demands or undesired attention.
  • Counter-signaling is a thing.  The attitude "I'm so confident in my future that I don't need to save money" is probably not what you're hoping to see.

Basically, signaling and group behavior is way more complicated than this acknowledges, and for policy (or even nudge/assistance/charitable) planning there are a lot of elements of human behavior that need to be treated as adversarial rather than just a bad random equilibrium.  Unfortunate behaviors have many causes, and are "sticky" when culturally reinforced, almost as if there were an opposing player keeping you in the least convenient world. 

Comment by Dagon on Voting-like mechanisms which address size of preferences? · 2021-03-19T18:59:39.059Z · LW · GW

I suspect the problem is unsolvable, as long as there is private information about preferences and beliefs.  Even the relatively strong weighting mechanisms of ( conditional prediction betting, where correct predictions get promoted because they pay out ) are very susceptible to adversarial choice of proposals to vote on.  

Some systems can be strategy-proofed to elicit true beliefs on a few chosen topics, but whoever chooses the topics is going to have oversized influence in how it plays out.  Quadratic systems (and any directed-vote mechanism) can be EASILY gamed by aggregating decisions into a bunch of small, independent issues that one group prefers, and a few large bundles that another prefers.  In wargaming, we'd call this "soaking off" the damage - letting the opposition waste their votes on less-important things.


Comment by Dagon on "Objective vs Social Reality" vs "Simulacra 1/3" · 2021-03-18T15:12:52.793Z · LW · GW

Agreed!  I get hung up on the numbering of levels and the implication that they are exclusive and "better" or "worse".  Finding ways to talk about and model social expectations and interactions that don't have such biases is a pure good.

Comment by Dagon on just_browsing's Shortform · 2021-03-15T23:40:19.354Z · LW · GW

When at all possible, wired >> wireless.  I use BT earphones for my phone, because listening while walking/riding is desirable and wires really do suck while moving.  Even with a fairly portable laptop, I don't move enough while using it to be willing to put up with wireless.  

Comment by Dagon on Against neutrality about creating happy lives · 2021-03-15T21:28:56.175Z · LW · GW

It's interesting to consider whether this should be simplified to "against neutrality".  On what topics does it seem likely that the current instantaneous state is the perfect desirable quantity of anything?  

One could just allow "neutral" to mean "acknowledge and respect the forces in equilibrium at the current level.", which moves the question from "would we want more or would we want less" to "what would we want to change about the environment that would generate more or less".  But it still seems vanishingly unlikely that the answer is "nothing; it's perfect".

Comment by Dagon on Feedback calibration · 2021-03-15T15:24:24.497Z · LW · GW

This applies to all aspects of life and work.  Figuring out the mix of direct and behavioral feedback that lets you learn about your interactions with others (and predict/manipulate future ones) is perhaps the single task that has selected for human thinking potential over the millennia.  

One key is looking for objective behavioral data, and using that to guide your discussions/interviews about what the feedback-givers tell you.  How many times have you listened to it?  Did the lyrics get repetitive, or was there enough depth to keep you interested?  Do you listen to the end, or play just a segment?  What takes you out of the moment when you listen?  Etc.

Comment by Dagon on Predictions for future dispositions toward Twitter · 2021-03-15T15:19:52.428Z · LW · GW

I currently only use Twitter to the extent that tweets are forwarded or posted somewhere I happen to see them.  And I'm fully with on this - "twitter" isn't a single thing - it's a combination of how you use it and what bubbles you're in/following.  For me (and I suspect many others), it's even less of a thing - it's an adjunct to other communication channels.

My prediction is counter to mike_hawke's (maybe).  I have no clue if it'll be called "twitter", or if it'll share the same naming or posting mechanisms.  But I'd wager that attention-oriented interactive media will continue to be an important part of human lives until humanity changes in fundamental ways.  Call it 2 generations (50 years) minimum.

Comment by Dagon on How do you estimate how much you're going to like something? · 2021-03-14T18:51:44.087Z · LW · GW

One part of this is understanding how much you LIKED things.  How do you compare your previous experiences in relevant reference classes to each other, and to your priors (based on others' reported experiences)?  Your model of how to map outside views to actual predictions is differential, not standalone.

For a WHOLE LOT of such things, don't worry too much about prediction, instead just try it and focus on evaluation.  How much are you enjoying this moment?  How much did you enjoy whatever you did yesterday?  What specific parts would you like to repeat, or change?

Comment by Dagon on On Changing Minds That Aren't Mine, and The Instinct to Surrender. · 2021-03-14T15:36:18.313Z · LW · GW

There are individuals that will play truth-seeking games with you, which will enable both you to improve your beliefs (change your mind) and them theirs.  Neither of these are "one person changing the other's mind", it's more like "both seeking to understand the truth, and to change their own minds to model reality better".

This gets less likely in larger groups, and less likely on far-mode topics of values and signaling.  Chatting with individuals to find and resolve very specific disagreements on near-mode choices (what to eat tonight or what's important about this book we're co-studying or whatnot) is often very successful.  And some of those techniques can apply in small groups on medium-term topics (who to support on city council among 3-5 close friends).  

The majority of humans are unreachable as a group, and very very difficult as individuals.  This is true even of fairly elite, high-IQ groups.  Unless you have some reason to believe you have a comparative advantage in politics (and are willing to work your ass off for things that are dressed as rationality, but are more often about negotiation and compromise than about actual intellectual agreement and changing minds), I'd stay away from such things.

Comment by Dagon on Why is rhetoric taboo among rationalists? · 2021-03-14T15:24:47.912Z · LW · GW

Modifying someone else's type 1 systems is the sin.  Improving one's own (typically by identifying things with type 2 and reinforcing them to make them smoother in type 1) is mostly good.

Rhetoric is other-directed: how to "win" a debate.  There are elements of truth-seeking in there, especially if done with steelmanning and rigorous humility.  But that's rarely where it comes from, or goes.

Comment by Dagon on "Beliefs" vs. "Notions" · 2021-03-13T03:52:00.629Z · LW · GW

In everyday life, "notion" implies low-confidence.  Often derogatory - low-confidence for the speaker, and a further implication that the holder/object of discussion doesn't even have the idea of confidence.

You might just use "proposition" or "claim" to mean the specific thing that a probability belief applies to.

Comment by Dagon on Killing Moloch with "Nudge tech"? · 2021-03-12T18:17:53.583Z · LW · GW

Specific questions I hope to answer:

Is that a typo?  Those are in no way specific.  A specific question would be to fill in the mad-lib of "I notice a common X behavior in Y situation, and I hypothesize that Z would interrupt the thoughtless process and lead to a different equilibrium".  What parts of this should I test first, and how?

Comment by Dagon on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-12T15:49:49.764Z · LW · GW

Strong upvote.  And it's reversable too!  Hairdressers are the motte of reducing regulatory hurdles, the huge spectrum of trivial to important is the bailey.

Plumbers are a good example of the middle ground - someone untrained and unfamiliar with code can do a lot of damage, and will be long gone before it's discovered.  Requiring a bond is just delegating the regulation to a bonding company.

Comment by Dagon on Are dogs bad? · 2021-03-11T21:16:31.625Z · LW · GW

I think this boils down to the How similar is this novel situation (a distinct quantum configuration than has ever existed in the universe) to whatever you've used to come up with a prior?

Are you thinking "are dogs good", or "are dogs I have encountered on this corner good" or "are dogs wearing a yellow collar that I have encountered on this corner at 3:15pm when it's not raining good", or ...  And, of course, with enough specificity, you have zero examples that will have updated your universal prior.  Even if you add second-hand or third-hand data, how many reports of good or bad interactions with dogs of this breed, weight, age, location, and interval since last meal have you used to compare?

This doesn't make Bayes useless, but you have to understand that this style of probability is about your uncertainty, not about any underlying real thing.  Your mental models about categorization and induction are part of your prediction framework, just as much as individual updates (because they tell you how/when to apply updates).  Now you get to assign a prior that your model is useful for this update, as well as the update itself.  And update the probability that your model did or did not apply using a meta-model based on the outcome.  And so on until your finite computing substrate gives up and lets system 1 make a guess. 

Comment by Dagon on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-10T22:54:16.857Z · LW · GW

Yeah!  I don't want a surgeon who's wasted YEARS in supervised (and unpleasant/difficult to be sure) conditions.  Let them pass the test and pick up a scalpel!

A better reform would be "do away with occupational licensing entirely for many non-critical professions.  For those with high risk, replace it with liability/insurance and reputation mechanisms (which will end up looking like accreditation, or they will be unable to get insurance, but there's at least a chance at diversity of types of accreditation)".  

Comment by Dagon on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-10T21:18:10.815Z · LW · GW

The model of "applying" discoveries to society, or things "we" could do is at best misleading here.  Society is mostly self-regulating, not controlled by outside.  And even more not controlled by any "we" that I'm knowingly part of.

EMH isn't perfect, but it does apply here, in the sense that truly low-hanging fruit has already been incorporated.  Anything society is doing wrong or suboptimally (which there are PLENTY of) have pretty strong forces maintaining the inefficiency.

The fact that some equilibrium is inadequate does not imply that the adequate equilibrium is reachable.

Comment by Dagon on supposedlyfun's Shortform · 2021-03-10T16:33:15.472Z · LW · GW

Counterpoint: I get value from being notified of votes/karma changes.  Especially when someone bothers to vote on an old post, it's nice to revisit it and update my mental model of which comments of mine will be popular or not.  As a result, I've changed my target from 80% upvotes to 90% - If I don't get some downvotes, I'm likely over-editing and over-filtering myself, but people are kind enough that I have to be pretty bad to get many downvotes.

Definitely try it on or off for a week or two every year, and optimize for yourself :)