Group Rationality Diary, September 13-26 2015-09-13T08:27:02.294Z
Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12 2015-08-30T06:11:20.552Z
PSA: Eugine_Nier evading ban? 2014-12-07T23:23:12.678Z


Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-10-04T06:29:13.155Z · LW · GW

Seconded. I've read some stuff from Mark Manson and a lot of the stuff sounded very reasonable and insightful, didn't give me bad vibes. It goes to show that seduction does not have to be an adversarial process.

The second paragraph as well – tastes vary, and a certain typology may embody the ideal of some kinds of people, but fail to resonate with others. In particular, among people and especially among women who like to think of themselves as intellectuals, the loud-mouthed hunk is a bit of a shorthand for low intelligence, whereas less aggressively masculine features like a mild-mannered demeanour, introversion, glasses, long hair, and unassuming clothing can function as signals of high intelligence. The same thing for, let's say, bimbo types is code for wimp. (That's the judgment people pass before even having their first conversation with you.) In a sense, by projecting a certain outward appearance (including demeanour) you self-select for the kinds of people you have chances with.

More generally, it might be worth remembering that men's ideal masculinity is a bit, well, more masculine than women's. We factor in the features that make us respect another guy, whereas the same features might cross the border into indicators of threat, for women. (Or at least that's my anally extracted explanation of it.) This image exemplifies this (there's a female analogue of it too). In short: know thy market.

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-10-04T05:41:52.359Z · LW · GW

Like an engagement ring? "Oh, you don't want to marry me, that makes you the perfect wife!"

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-10-04T05:29:34.996Z · LW · GW

You surely are hoping that's what it means, eh?

No, I'm afraid someone's attractiveness doesn't take them out of the set of people whom it is immoral to emotionally abuse. From an outside perspective, you not getting laid is morally neutral. You reaching into your Jedi mind trick toolbox to get laid at the cost of lowering someone's life quality is very much not morally neutral. Why should she suffer more to get a worse deal? When she could enter a healthy relationship with someone who's attractive and ethical enough not to resort to dirty tricks to get her to stick around? Because it's you offering the deal, and I'm supposed to cheer for your side since I'm talking to you? No, I'm sorry, it doesn't work like that.

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-09-30T14:40:52.973Z · LW · GW

This is not that kind of country.

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-09-30T01:58:23.618Z · LW · GW

You're doing humanity, women, and your own immortal soul... ehh, moral character a disfavour by listening to that drivel. If you want to get laid, do what everybody else is doing – look good, have lots of friends of both genders, and go to parties where people get very drunk. Tried and trusted. Responsible for 100% of my sexual activity. Buy one today and get one free.

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-09-30T00:51:08.538Z · LW · GW

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, in which he said he didn't care about looking good for women or catering to them in general. Coupled with the fact that he often complained about not being able to get women, the whole situation seemed rather pathetic. Something about a lost license to complain, methinks.

When I look beyond my own grooming habits, the problem seems widespread. By contrast, and this is essential, there are industries upon industries dedicated to enhancing women's appearance, to which they are drawn irresistibly, often well past the point of diminishing returns. If this were an arms race of attractiveness, women won before the race even started. If we are to get even a little closer to the ideal of everybody being paired with someone in their "league", either both genders get preoccupied with enhancing their looks, or neither does. In fact, if we are to factor in the fact that men seem more needy, sexually, they should be the ones trying somewhat harder to look attractive. Remember, in most species ornamentation belongs to the male gender.

Looks matter. Whoever is telling you that the end-all-be-all of male attractiveness is position in a dominance hierarchy is bullshitting you and probably has an appetite for domination higher than is optimal or moral himself.

tl;dr Women's beauty industry has a distorting effect on average attractiveness for each gender, this might explain part of the discrepancy in standards, and men might need to pay more attention to their looks than the cultural standard if they want to "stay competitive".

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015 · 2015-09-29T23:31:20.337Z · LW · GW

You gawk a lot at people and develop an eye for what attractiveness means. Don't ask people, that's almost always useless, unless you happen to run into an expert on this. See what your eye responds positively to. Then evaluating yourself is as easy as keeping a reference feature in your mind up for comparison when you look at yourself. Keep in mind that attractive people are not all identical; there are attractive and unattractive versions and combinations of any trait.

There are also some things you could do to get an eye-opening perspective of yourself – ever looked at yourself through a second mirror forming an acute angle to the first mirror, so you can see yourself from the side view? I guarantee that the first time you do it you'll feel very surprised. Same thing when you're filmed talking and then watch the footage. Images that are flipped horizontally relative to your mirror image also help you notice asymmetries. The point is that the eye notices a lot more when the image is even slightly unfamiliar.

Comment by Dahlen on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2015-09-28T22:50:48.175Z · LW · GW

I know a lot less about it than you might expect. I'm able to recall various tidbits about people's life and culture in who-knows-what historical era, but the "big picture" is very low-res. I don't want to keep having surprises like, "oh, these peoples existed", "hey, Afrikaans sounds Germanic, what's up with that", "I've been listening to a song about this guy for months, but I don't know wtf he did" etc.

Comment by Dahlen on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2015-09-28T01:34:55.780Z · LW · GW

Here's, for example, a textbook I was looking into: World History by Duiker & Spielvogel. The table of contents looks pretty much like what I was seeking, though there's less focus on geopolitics and more on the civilisational "big picture" than I would have liked. (Edit: and perhaps if it were thrice the page count it would have been closer to the level of detail I was trying to get.) I was interested in getting a comparison between, for instance, this book and others of the same type.

What I'm trying to remedy is a very poor knowledge of the most basic, boring kind of historical data: who ruled when, what were the major battles and their dates and locations, what political entities and subdivisions existed and when were they founded and ended/conquered, what major reforms were made, what people produced and traded etc. I too have and can find books on very specific historical matters, and take pleasure in reading them, but they would fit better in an understanding of the hard facts and data relevant to those historical circumstances.

Comment by Dahlen on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2015-09-28T00:59:52.465Z · LW · GW

Does anyone have a recommendation for a comprehensive history textbook, covering ancient as well as modern history, and several geographical regions? Just something to teach me about major events and dates, wars, rulers & dynasties, interactions between civilisations, etc., without neglecting the non-geopolitical aspects of history. College-level, please. (A dumbed-down alternative to what I'm asking would be to start looking for my old high school textbooks, but obviously that wouldn't be very satisfactory.) Comprehensive accounts of single civilisations in a single period could work as well, but I'm looking for a book that is mainly didactic in purpose and with a broad subject matter.

Also: should I supplant whatever I'm studying with Wikipedia, so that I have the option of going in as much depth as I like? Or is it too unreliable even for basic learning purposes?

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 21 - Sep. 27, 2015 · 2015-09-23T13:36:47.834Z · LW · GW

What kind of phenomena are we talking about? You should specify if you're referring more narrowly to social and historical phenomena, because that's where the biggest gaps between what one can say on the surface about them and what actually drove them are. It's also a very murky area in regards to specifying causality.

The only reasonably effective method I've tried for this is to first read the Wikipedia article, to get an overview of the objective facts, events, numbers and so on, then try to find press articles about the topic, which are less objective but include more details.

Comment by Dahlen on Bragging thread September 2015 · 2015-09-21T20:28:36.285Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Real estate. Around here the market's just picking up, so hopefully this is a good time to enter the field.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 21 - Sep. 27, 2015 · 2015-09-21T20:14:30.264Z · LW · GW

... Do you ever talk about anything else other than your lack of sexual success? Alright, granted – I saw a few posts from you on cryonics. What would it take to steer you towards posting more of that and less of this? It's largely off-topic for LW, off-putting as well, and irrelevant to anyone who is not you. I get that it's something that concerns you deeply, but seriously, try getting advice on that one on a specialised forum.

Comment by Dahlen on Bragging thread September 2015 · 2015-09-21T19:32:20.378Z · LW · GW

Aced an interview for a high-paying job in a field in which I had no previous experience. A while ago I had asked what jobs that don't require domain-specific skills get a large boost from intelligence – well, it turns out getting interviewed is one of those "jobs". Spent some 2 weeks preparing a resume and answer sheet for the proposed questions, showed up to the interview very well-dressed and tried to put my best self on display without outright lying through my teeth.

Now, all I have to do is not prove myself to act like a five-year-old burdened with adult responsibilities, while waiting for payday in my best Frito Pendejo impersonation. Okay, it's a little more complicated than that, of course – but for now I'm very glad to just get my foot in the door.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 14 - Sep. 20, 2015 · 2015-09-19T12:19:15.358Z · LW · GW

This is a good occasion for relying on natural rather than artificial intelligence. Here's a list of style suggestions that can be made by Word. It checks for a lot of things that can be considered bad style in some contexts but not in others, and to my knowledge it's not smart enough to differentiate between different genres. (For example, it can advise you both against passive voice – useful for writing fiction, sometimes – and against use of first-person personal pronouns, which is a no-no in professional documents. If it needs mentioning, sometimes you cannot follow both rules at once.) There's plenty of reason to doubt that a human who can't write very well can have an algorithm for a teacher in matters of writing style; we're not there yet, I think.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 14 - Sep. 20, 2015 · 2015-09-17T18:43:24.328Z · LW · GW

It happened to me only with people who were extremely, unreasonably cynical about people's rationality in the first place (including their own). People who couldn't update on the belief of people being unable to update on their beliefs. There's an eerie kind of consistency about these people's beliefs, at least for that much one can give them credit...

You have to engage in some extra signaling of having changed your own mind; just stating it wouldn't be as convincing.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Sep. 14 - Sep. 20, 2015 · 2015-09-17T14:01:40.345Z · LW · GW

Plausible deniability, dude. It's much easier to dispel the awkwardness of rejection if you can reasonably fall back on the claim that, hey, maybe coffee was all you wanted anyway. Successful courtship depends on making the other person feel comfortable around you; it's a human relationship, not resource extraction, and it has to be framed in appropriate terms. (Edit: oh, sorry, I thought I was replying to advancedatheist; removed a sentence that assumed this.)

In table format. The second strategy is much more likely to lead to (2,1) than to (2,2).

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread 7th september - 13th september · 2015-09-09T21:53:53.160Z · LW · GW

a copy of RAZ?

You say this as if it's supposed to score style points with people. Most would probably think you're a paid salesman for the authors. If you value the advice within this much, maybe you should just read it until you're familiar with most main points, rather than carry it around.

Edit: Also, people are pants at borrowing other people's standards for interpersonal evaluation. Seeing yourself on a camera improves things, but only somewhat; if you have a socially unacceptable aspect of yourself that's at the same time ego-syntonic, then by the gods that aspect is going to stay with you and hinder you.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread 7th september - 13th september · 2015-09-09T21:50:27.144Z · LW · GW

Superficially good looks and good manners, perhaps.

Advice: make sure the impression continues well after your first few hours/days with the person. I seem to have a 0% retention rate for friends. At some point after our first encounter, all seem to decide there's something off about me. Perhaps my mistakes include: using our newfound trust to reveal some true oddities (people seem to distinguish between normal quirks and odd quirks, as strange as that may be, and I ain't even very far into "odd quirk" territory), and not having a proper understanding of how relationships progress – therefore, keeping in touch either too much or not at all.

Comment by Dahlen on Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12 · 2015-09-03T14:12:17.252Z · LW · GW

met a girl, asked her out, got a date

I thought you said you had a wife?...

Comment by Dahlen on Should there be more people on the leaderboard? · 2015-09-03T01:38:43.527Z · LW · GW

That's something you might want to go by. Not me. I don't thrive in controversy nearly as much as you. The topics on which LessWrongers go hivemind-y about can very easily be sidestepped without incurring downvotes; medium to low karma percentages more often indicate that the poster has a penchant for getting himself into every controversial shit the site has to offer.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread August 31 - September 6 · 2015-09-02T14:15:35.898Z · LW · GW

I actually meant to ask at some point whether the Username account would have protection against people changing passwords willy-nilly, but I didn't because, you know... information hazards and all that. Didn't want to give people the idea. But now that it's happened, I suppose I could ask retrospectively: how come nobody ensured some protection against that?

Comment by Dahlen on Should there be more people on the leaderboard? · 2015-09-02T14:11:03.113Z · LW · GW

My impression is that prolific posters show up on the Top Contributors list more often than low-post-count, high-karma posters. And, of course, worst of all they don't get ranked by positive karma percentage, or by karma per post. Somebody posting a good article in Main seems to be a less common cause of showing up on the list than high output.

For that reason, I don't see it as having a positive motivational effect either. I pay loads of attention to my positive karma percentage, none at all to karma in absolute terms. If I wanted to be on the list, my best bet would be to chime in on everything no matter how low-value my opinion actually is – which appears to be a poor and occasionally frustrating use of my time. Quality, not quantity.

Comment by Dahlen on Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12 · 2015-09-01T23:41:29.924Z · LW · GW

Might have gotten better at calibration. I've been bookmarking about 55 items of various prices on a wishlist, and wanted to figure out their total price. I could have made an Excel document with all the prices, but I lazed out of it and assumed their average price was 400 (of my local currency), and computed a total from that. Eventually I did make the spreadsheet. Lo and behold, the calculated average really was 400.48! It's probably my most accurate estimation to date. (Sure enough, n=1, but other instances of calibration haven't been so accurate as to be this memorable.)

Now, to actually get to earn the money for that total price...

Comment by Dahlen on Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12 · 2015-09-01T23:24:05.215Z · LW · GW

A more accurate impression is basically always one that notices more mistakes. Besides, after some time passes every flaw in my performance becomes painfully obvious to me, most likely because the piece is no longer in my recent memory and therefore probably no longer subject to this unconscious attempt to gloss over mistakes.

And of course, after a while, you just develop an intuition for this kind of thing.

Comment by Dahlen on Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12 · 2015-08-30T06:26:21.796Z · LW · GW

Bias in action: I practice my singing by doing voice recordings with my phone and then listening to them for feedback. (2 years and going, the improvement has been tremendous, I went from ashamed to somewhat proud of my singing voice.) I've been noticing myself physically clench up while listening to pieces of particularly... uncertain quality. It's a state of muscle tension that tends to accompany a mental state of defensiveness about my performance. As if I'm exerting effort in an attempt to squeeze every drop of appreciation from my perception. I certainly don't mean to get so insecure about it that I have to dupe myself into liking what I hear, but it happens outside of my control.

I notice this most of the time, and reminding myself to relax muscularly usually helps with perceiving the quality of my practice more accurately.

Does anyone else get this in various other contexts?

Comment by Dahlen on Manhood of Humanity · 2015-08-25T22:43:01.186Z · LW · GW

Assuming you're doing the book justice and it really can be summarized as such, it comes off as an instance of the STEM mindset overstepping its boundaries. Did the author have any familiarity with the social sciences? I understand that the whole idea was to import the hard-science paradigm into the study of how to ensure the success of societies, but I've read scientifically-minded commentaries on society that didn't seem this... off. It's like he doesn't even know how the other side of academia approaches the matter, which I find hard to believe given that he wrote a book on essentially their subject matter. I mean come on, he thinks mechanical engineers are relevant to basically any discipline and role in society.

Moreover, the perspective of the book is, if I can call it so, pan-STEM and that appears to render individual contributions from all sciences useless. You can make use of evolutionary biology to understand matters such as human sexuality and morality. You can employ cybernetics to design and improve social networks. You can use math to get precise answers to problems in micro- and macroeconomics. You can analyse biomolecules in the brain to draw inferences about how the mind works and how to alleviate its pathologies. But what baffles me is how, by viewing society through all of the sciences, you can negate the insights derived from any of them, and abandon all of social science on the way.

To give a few examples of what I mean when I say the author sounds like he doesn't know his Social Sciences 101: dividing people by class into the rich, the poor, and the intellectuals is not so much a categorization as it is a trivial game of "odd one out"; the analogy human:cube::animal:square is so bad it's not even wrong, and there was no point in bringing up dimensionality here aside from pushing this strange notion of "time-binding"; related, saying that humans are animals is not a category error, it's a truth yet not exploited to its full capacity; knowledge of nature and science is not a remedy from, but orthogonal to, the failure modes of capitalism and socialism; chapter 9 is totally not how you build institutions; ethics changes less than one may think; economics is mostly not a study of transgenerational endeavours; prehistory is not just like history but older, etc.

Maybe it's the age of the book, and maybe it sounded insightful at its time, but going by this summary, to a modern reader it might justifiably sound sophomoric. Then again, I haven't read it and do not know exactly what the author claims in the book.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-25T18:57:11.044Z · LW · GW

Hence the qualifier "basically". I'm aware of a few exceptions related to products marketed to the 18-25 (or even 18-35) age range.

Comment by Dahlen on Group rationality diary for July 12th - August 1st 2015 · 2015-08-25T17:58:32.306Z · LW · GW

Well, that's quite the coincidence – so did I! My German has been in need of revision for many years, and I was pretty surprised to see just how much I had forgotten. Also signed up for a project on teaching my own language through English; waiting to see what comes out of it.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-25T17:50:52.252Z · LW · GW

This whole subthread stinks of Dunning-Kruger. Youthful savvy? Cultish following? Guilt about not using Facebook? Putting internet sales on par with a revolutionary movement spanning several countries? That doesn't sound like you know what you're talking about.

I don't know exactly who you're supposed to persuade, but your track record so far on LessWrong shows that you barely manage to break even with your karma, and that you lack the level of self-awareness of a socially well-adapted person. Whoever you successfully persuade would have to be even more oblivious than you, which is saying something. Given what you said here you'd use Facebook for, I for one am glad neither I nor you are using it.

I don't mean for this to be a pointless ad hominem attack; the reason I'm responding this way is for you to take this as a prompter that you need to get out of your own head and think more clearly about matters involving yourself, or how you come off as. Because the way you think about this whole business is a huge red flag. The fact that self-promoters, salesmen, and slacktivists on FB tend to piss off people more than anything else, and the fact that youth is basically never an indicator of "savvy" are two things that should be obvious to everyone who has even a modicum of experience with the internet or life in general.

... Just out of curiosity, how old are you?

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-24T14:24:50.336Z · LW · GW

Is the imperative mood the new way to convince people of an ethical theory on LessWrong these days, or something?

Comment by Dahlen on Instrumental Rationality Questions Thread · 2015-08-24T14:18:01.785Z · LW · GW

Pick something from the context that has potential to lead to an interesting conversation, and start talking a little more passionately about it. Alternately, splinter the group into one-on-one conversations.

Comment by Dahlen on List of common human goals · 2015-08-24T14:01:45.165Z · LW · GW

It's an okayish exercise in brainstorming, one that, if nothing else, should drive home the point that there is a plurality of goals which can be pursued, and that they're not necessarily commensurable on a single good-bad scale.

I was trying to do something similar, but under the broader umbrella of values rather than just goals – in that from values derive not just goals, but also virtues, vices and worldviews. The other difference is that values can be of maintenance rather than of maximization or change. Another thing I was working on compiling (but for a far more casual purpose) is a list of aspirations in life that define one's role in the world, which might be closer to what you're trying to do here.

By comparing your posts to my lists, here's what I can tell you from my perspective: don't neglect the more... ignominious things that humans can value. One thing that jumped out to me about your list is that it's very feel-good and unobjectionable for the most part, fit for a self-help book. This may obscure the fact that there are some goals which people pursue in a very real sense but don't admit to as readily. To many people here this probably sounds very Hansonian, and indeed, status can be listed here, but I also mean things like hedonism or sex, or reckless risk-seeking, or a class-based understanding of advancement in life, or even laziness. If you're trying to follow this list as a mindfulness or productivity exercise, an invisibility of such goals can hinder you if you're not aware you're pursuing them instead.

Another thing: meditating upon a list of goals is weaksauce in terms of emotional salience. You'd need more elaborate related rituals and perhaps some communality in order to get really inspired to work on them. In other words, you'd need to get a bit religious about it. I don't have any good suggestions as to how to act upon this observation (without having to swallow up a whole lot of accompanying bullshit), but it's just something I thought I should throw out there.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-24T13:15:14.951Z · LW · GW

That's fine, but could you please change the font to the default one? Comic Sans is... ehh, not the best choice for most things.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015 · 2015-08-11T10:35:29.652Z · LW · GW

Possibly, but how about any job at all?

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015 · 2015-08-11T09:38:06.208Z · LW · GW

What examples are there of jobs which can make use of high general intelligence, that at the same time don't require rare domain-specific skills?

I have some years of college left before I'll be a certified professional, and I'm good but not world-class awesome at a variety of things, yet judging by encounters with some well and truly employed people, I find myself wondering how come I'm either not employed or duped into working for free, while these doofuses have well-paying jobs. The answer tends to be, for lack of trying on my part, but it would be quite a nasty surprise if I do begin to try and it turns out that my most relied-upon quality turns out not to be worth much. So, better to ask: how much is intelligence worth for earning money, when not supplemented by the relevant pieces of paper or loads of experience?

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015 · 2015-08-11T09:06:58.952Z · LW · GW

Oh, I wasn't suggesting that; I was just hoping that whoever has been exclusively posting from that account can take a hint and consider using LW the typical way. It's confusing to see so many posts at once by that account and not know whether there's one person or several using it.

Comment by Dahlen on Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015 · 2015-08-10T14:27:29.504Z · LW · GW

Meta: How come there have been so many posts recently by the generic Username account? More people wanting to preserve anonymity, or just one person who can't be bothered to make an account / own up to most of what they say?

Comment by Dahlen on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-07-22T00:39:59.196Z · LW · GW

You know, you don't have to jump on him and demand that he defends his socialist stance merely because he expressed it and tried to discuss it with someone else. It's not like he's answerable to you for being a socialist. And this is not the first time I've seen you and others intervene in a discussion (that otherwise didn't involve or concern them) solely for calling out people on leftist ideas. What the hell are you doing that for?

Comment by Dahlen on Rational vs Reasonable · 2015-07-21T19:59:13.660Z · LW · GW

Setting out to do so is the first and hardest step to take, so congrats! But, of course, the work doesn't end here. As I understand it, someone who's reasonable means one who can be reasoned with, i.e. someone who accepts and occasionally yields to persuasion attempts, and doesn't shut others off through obstinacy or abrasive, uncooperative treatment. In some ways it's the antonym of intransigence. It can also mean someone who possesses enough common sense to facilitate interactions based on a shared view of how the world works.

You may reduce your likelihood of showing such tendencies if you reframe social interactions that involve arguing in a way such that being (acknowledged as) right is less important than maintaining harmony. What some people, the kind who drag out arguments in the name of truth or rightness, don't understand about arguing is that the interaction of arguing takes place in a social context, is awarded limited time and patience (!) before it starts getting on people's nerves (so no, it cannot be prolonged indefinitely until truth finally prevails, however long that may take), and may not be worth the hostility most of the time. Developing some more empathy and thinking about what the other person seeks in the interaction, and whether you're giving it to them, may be of help.

There's a kind of trick that may be of help, but it has to be culturally shared for it to work. You know how LessWrong has some local proverbs such as the Litany of Tarski or Tsuyoku Naritai that people can invoke, but only to other LessWrongers, to remind them of shared values that should prompt an improvement in their behaviour? It would be nice if there were some appeal to being understanding or reasonable that carried the same tone of solemnity. Something that essentially means "I know I can get biased and unreasonable occasionally, but I am committed to the values underpinning collective truth-seeking, and I pledge to allow others to remind me of my commitment, and to attempt to yield when they do so". But in a pithier form.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jul. 20 - Jul. 26, 2015 · 2015-07-21T13:04:25.167Z · LW · GW

Wasn't there a less passive-aggressive way of expressing this complaint, or a more appropriate context for it?

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-17T21:25:33.716Z · LW · GW

I suppose it depends on how different the second language is from your native language. As in, Dutch may not offer a big boost in new ways of framing the world for a native German speaker, for instance, since they're closely related languages. (This depends on what you mean when you say "cognitive benefits"; I'm assuming here some form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.)

In my case, I have found English especially adaptable (when compared to my native language) when it came to new words (introduced, for example, for reasons of technological advancement -- see, for example, every term that relates to computers and programming), since it has very simple inflexions and a verb structure that allows the formation of new, "natural-sounding" phrasal verbs. Having taught my own language to an American through English, I wouldn't say the same about it expanding your way of conceptualising the world, unless you're really fond of numerous and often nonsensical inflexions.

I'm not sure I could recommend specific languages that may help in this regard, but I think I could recommend you to study linguistics instead of one specific language, and use that knowledge to help you decide in which one you want to invest your time. I've studied little of it, but the discipline seems full of instances where you put the spotlight, so to speak, on specific differences between languages and the way they affect cognition.

Comment by Dahlen on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T21:23:45.102Z · LW · GW

Is this a revival of the Munchkin Ideas thread?

Comment by Dahlen on Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics · 2015-07-01T17:35:05.910Z · LW · GW

Your preferences are quite welcome as well; I personally enjoy your posts and would like to encounter them on Omnilibrium. I remembered the website having had a Philosophy category, but since then apparently the categories got re-organised.

It's often difficult to draw the line between object-level and meta-level, so I don't think such a re-categorisation would be meaningful or achieve much, but if we could play around with existing categories to include political philosophy in a more general sense, over time it will probably fill up with the sort of meta-level articles and discussions that you find interesting.

In the end, users make an online community what it is, so if you'd like to see it moving in a certain direction, cast your vote through participation.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-30T21:06:49.511Z · LW · GW

It is about sticking with it when a) you have a long and sequential thing to write, such as a book, b) you're in people's RSS feed or something and they expect to see stuff from you, and c) you haven't yet hit diminishing returns in writing skill.

I strongly suggest experimenting with a dialogue rather than authorship format for expressing your ideas for the time being. Many people are better debaters than they are writers, and the nature of dialogue pushes you to explore an idea more fully (before you can expect the other to accept it), gives you ready-made discussion topics and food for thought, and provides feedback in every form, all the time. For me it's been first forums, then offline journals and logs, then the occasional article here and there.

Don't feel guilty for just consuming media! It's generally good to have a proper balance of speakers and listeners. Too many people producing content often translates into too few people giving a proper reading to the content being produced. Nevertheless, it's generally good to develop your writing skill, so don't let your final interpretation of your desire to write consist of that. Pursue this activity through ways that help with your inspiration and place a smaller burden on you.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-30T18:13:48.362Z · LW · GW

You can't really write for the sake of writing as a process, especially on a blog. A lot of the motivation to write arises out of the desire to... express, or to do service to some idea. It's an act of communication, and the message is paramount. If there is no message compelling you to communicate it, then maybe you should consider that writing too little is not your main problem here -- rather, not having enough or sufficiently strong interests.

There are times when one would be better advised not to write, such as when one is still a novice student of the subject, that hasn't done the required amount of reading in order to deserve a readership of one's own. However, only you know whether you are in this position with respect to what you mean to write about (other people would have to first see you open your mouth to say something silly before they're in a position to judge).

On the contrary, I seem to have problems getting myself to shut up and not write anything online. After a bout or two of prolonged and especially of hostile debate, I get burned out and consider taking an online "vow of silence" for the time being. And what do I do then? Respect it for a day or two, and then I'm back to my old ways. I have to consciously find fault with what I want to say in order to restrain myself from writing about it -- "oh, this article is half-baked and poorly researched", "this comment is a reply to someone with whom discussion is not usually fruitful", "the central point in this article may turn out to be wrong", "it's not strategic for me to publicly write about this topic, here and now" etc. All of this, without caring a lot about the process of writing; it's just what I do in order to get a message out there.

What do you usually like to think about (that would be of interest to strangers)?

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-29T16:53:57.478Z · LW · GW

No, the subject expects the experiment to end with him being able to make a meaningful choice, but unbeknownst to him it is scheduled to take a different turn. He doesn't know that an option will be taken away, much less which one and on what criterion.

The "demo" time is included to help him decide which one he would then take home.

Comment by Dahlen on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-29T02:29:54.899Z · LW · GW

Suppose an agent has to choose between two main options. He can choose neither or either, but not both. His preference for each of the options is unknown, probably even by the agent himself (behaviour during the experiment signals indecision). Picture the experiment akin to a subject getting to make a pick between two useable objects such as toys, cars, gadgets etc. He is allowed to play/experiment with both of them during the experiment. Throughout the experiment, he exhibits a moderate preference for one of them, and spends more time using it.

Then, the experimenter removes the other choice from the setup, and subsequently interviews the subject on his preferences for both options, while asking him to disregard the fact that his preferences do not matter anymore in the outcome. So, he's only left with one, presumably the favourite so far, but has to express opinions on both, after the fact.

  1. Based on your model of human choice, how likely is he to irrationally exhibit a higher preference for the removed option and a decreased preference for the remaining one, on the grounds that the choice was no longer "his" to make?

  2. How does this compare to the somewhat opposite "sour grapes" irrational tendency?

  3. Has such an experiment been made, to confirm or disprove the existence of this bias?

(P.S. I'm aware there's a design flaw in that the first preference is observed and the other is self-reported. If that's a no-no, let's introduce a step where the subject is interviewed with both options still available, and measure increases or decreases relative to that.)

Comment by Dahlen on Is Greed Stupid? · 2015-06-29T00:14:41.696Z · LW · GW

This got fixed in the meantime.

Comment by Dahlen on Is Greed Stupid? · 2015-06-26T14:46:58.716Z · LW · GW

I tried to engage with the title question, but something in my mind was rebelling against receiving the discussion already framed in these terms.

What's the larger point here? Once you know whether it is or is not stupid, what does that say about greed?