Comment by danfly on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2012-08-14T22:05:47.450Z · LW · GW

An old psychology professor of mine once gave an anecdote of a tiger that was kept in a cylindrical room during its early phases of development. It grew up to have a warped sense of spatial awareness and was unable to function properly for the most part. I don't know the details surrounding the story, so I can't confirm it right now, but I'll see if I can find the study (assuming it does exist).

Comment by danfly on Bargaining and Auctions · 2012-07-18T11:17:16.380Z · LW · GW

My knowledge of women's history in the high middle ages wouldn't be very good. However, as an Irish archaeologist, I can tell you that the chattel slavery of women in early medieval Ireland was so abundant that a female slave or cumal was treated as a unit of currency, being equivalent to 6 to 8 séoit (one of which is equal to the value of a three-year-old heifer). If I were still a student I would be able to find you more academic sources, but I've lost access to most of the journals I used to use. From what I remember, this practice did fall into decline after the arrival of Normans, though this generally attributed to a decline in economic significance rather than a shift in social conscience. If you can access J-Stor, "Lest the Lowliest Be Forgotten: Locating the Impoverished in Early Medieval Ireland" by JW Boyle will provide you with good background on this. I know it's not exactly what you were looking for, but it as an area which I am, to some extent, qualified to talk about.

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-18T09:31:03.302Z · LW · GW

Ah. I see what my mistake was now. It was just a recommendation by AngryParsley. It wasn't anything official. As I'm still something of a newbie here, I figured it was said by someone with a bit more clout.

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-09T19:28:33.476Z · LW · GW

Wasn't a temporary moratorium called on smac quotes recently? I have to admit this was one of my favourites from it though.

Comment by danfly on A (small) critique of total utilitarianism · 2012-07-07T11:08:14.627Z · LW · GW

Interesting point, but I would say there are areas of politics that don't really come under "ethics". "What is currently the largest political party in the USA?" is a question about politics and demographics, but I wouldn't call it a question of population ethics. I'd say that you could probably put anything from the subset of "population ethics" into the broad umbrella of "politics" though.

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-06T10:27:16.732Z · LW · GW

I just noticed how poorly written part of my above comment was. I think I've fixed it now. I'm glad to see a positive response to it at least, since it shows that people care more about substance than the clarity of writing, which seems more than a little apt when talking about Wittgenstein. It also indicates that I haven't been entirely misled in my interpretation of a notoriously difficult philosopher.

As much as it might be fun to pretend that my strange writing style was intended as a way of reaching people with "similar thoughts" in a truly Wittgensteinian sense, it was not. It was a boring old mistype. I am nowhere near smart enough to pull that off.

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-04T11:56:20.600Z · LW · GW

I'm by no means an expert on this, but I was under the impression that Wittgenstein meant that language was an insufficient tool to express the "things we must pass over in silence", e.g. metaphysics, religion, ethics etc., but that he nevertheless believed that these were the only things worth talking about. My understanding was that he believed that language is only good for dealing with the world of hard facts and the natural sciences and, while we cannot use it to express certain things, some of these things might be "shown" by different means, in line with his comment that the unwritten part of the tractatus was the most important part.

This conclusion from one of hist lectures largely sums up how I would understand his view of many of the "things we must pass over in silence".

"This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it."

This is largely the way I have been led to interpret it through reading other people's interpretations and it is probably wrong, but I thought that I'd try and express it here, because I do have a strong desire to expand my knowledge of Wittgensteinian philosophy. One thing which I do think is quite likely though, is that Wittgenstein would consider any written "interpretation" of his work to ultimately be "nonsense" insofar as any written part of it is concerned.

Comment by danfly on Are Your Enemies Innately Evil? · 2012-05-21T20:44:57.701Z · LW · GW

When you put it like that, it actually sounds a lot like the Kantian notion of heteronomy versus autonomy.

Comment by danfly on Configurations and Amplitude · 2012-05-08T17:29:38.176Z · LW · GW

If you were looking for a physics forum, this is probably more along the lines of what you were looking for.

Comment by danfly on Hindsight Devalues Science · 2012-05-02T12:59:02.276Z · LW · GW

This prompted a memory of something I read in one of my undergrad psychology books a few years ago, which is probably referencing the same study, though using two different examples and one the same as the above example (though the phrasing is slightly different). Here is the extract:

Hindsight (After-the-Fact understanding)

Many people erroneously believe that psychology is nothing more than common sense. "I knew that all along!" or "They had to do a study to find that out?" are common responses to some psychological research. For example, decades ago a New York Times book reviewer criticized a report titled The American Soldier (Stouffer et al., 1949a,1949b), which summarized the results of a study of the attitudes and behavior of U.S. soldiers during World War II. The reviewer blasted the government for spending a lot of money to "tell us nothing we don't already know."

  1. Compared to White soldiers, Black soldiers were less motivated to become officers.

  2. During basic training, soldiers from rural areas had higher morale and adapted better than soldiers from large cities.

  3. Soldiers in Europe were more motivated to return home while the fighting was going on than they were after the war ended.

You should have no difficulty explaining these results. Typical reasoning might go something like this: (1) Due to widespread prejudice, Black soldiers knew that they had little chance of becoming officers. Why should they torment themselves wanting something that was unattainable? (2) It's obvious that the rigors of basic training would seem easier to people from farm settings, who were used to hard work and rising at the crack of dawn. (3) Any sane person would have wanted to go home while bullets were flying and people were dying.

Did your explanations resemble these? If so, they are perfectly reasonable. There is one catch, however. The results of the actual study were the opposite of the preceding statements. in fact, Black soldiers were more motivated than White soldiers to become officers, city boys had a higher morale than farm boys during basic training, and soldiers were more eager to return home after the war ended than during the fighting. When told these actual results, our students quickly found explanations for them. In short, it is easy to arrive at reasonable after-the-fact explanations for almost any result.

Source:Pass, M. W. & Smith, R.E. (2007) Psychology:The Science of Mind and Behavior (Third Edition). McGraw HIll: Boston, pages 31-32

In hindsight, I guess I must have known that it would be a good idea to hang on to my undergrad textbooks. Or did I?

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes May 2012 · 2012-05-01T12:33:07.581Z · LW · GW

The full entry for November 8th is shown on pages 120-123 here. The real entry is much longer than that small excerpt would suggest.

Edit: But the quote is there alright. Clear as day (page 123).

Comment by danfly on A sense of logic · 2012-04-27T23:17:16.596Z · LW · GW

Given the timeframe involved, I think it's likely we were typing at the same time...

Comment by danfly on A sense of logic · 2012-04-27T23:10:32.314Z · LW · GW

I got the impression that Dave was asking what is the response that you get if you simply say "I reject the premise that all laws are constructed by some intelligence?". Was that not the case?

Comment by danfly on Be Happier · 2012-04-16T07:55:17.424Z · LW · GW

Sorry. I probably should have linked happy and sexy. I was saying that the "happy" component fit well with the topic. Sexy was just an added bonus.

To summarize:

If you take a number, sum the squares of its digits to make a new number, then do the same with the next number and it eventually reaches one through that process, it is a "happy" number. "Happy prime" just refers to those prime numbers which are happy.

Demonstration: 3^2+1^2=10 and 1^2+0^2=1

a sexy prime differs from another prime by 6 (in this case; 37).

Comment by danfly on Be Happier · 2012-04-15T18:05:38.501Z · LW · GW

Upvoting to 31, which is quite a fantastic number, since it is both (aptly) a "happy" prime, as well as a "sexy" prime.

Comment by danfly on Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences) · 2012-04-14T11:23:45.381Z · LW · GW

(1) has come out of my mouth on a few occasions, albeit not in those exact words. It's normally after a few beers and I feel like playing the extreme skeptic a la David Hume, just to annoy everyone. I think the best way around it is to resort to the empirical argument and say that, in our experience, it is always right: Essentially the same thing Yudkowsky does with PA arithmetic here. Trying to find an argument against it which is truly "rationalist" in the continental sense has been a dead end in my experience.

(2) sort of depends on the pragmatics and what "tolerance" actually means to the persons involved in a given context. If you define tolerance as simply being tolerant of other viewpoints, then you can still be tolerant of the intolerant viewpoints. However, if you define it as freedom from bigotry, then that could indeed be called "intolerant" by the standards of the first definition.

I hope I'm making sense here.

Comment by danfly on Bayesian Judo · 2012-04-12T12:52:52.953Z · LW · GW

Data accumulated using the scientific method perhaps? Once you have the data, you can make inferences to the best explanation. If the theory held to be the best explanation is falsified, that becomes part of the data. It then ceases to be the be the best explanation.

Comment by danfly on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-09T17:40:21.540Z · LW · GW

But only liberals and those who think like them seem prone to thinking "Everyone is full of EVIL PREJUDICE except my tribe"

When I saw this, I could not help but think what an apt demonstration it was of a green accusing the blues of holding a uniquely prejudiced point of view because they are blues, while he, being a green, is of course immune to any such sentiment.

Comment by danfly on Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points · 2012-04-09T17:18:45.618Z · LW · GW

I'll take a wild stab in the dark and say that he probably meant that the method of reasoning was not as sophisticated back then. You could call the Aristotelean method of reasoning from empirical observation a "strengthening" of science. Nevertheless you could still say that "science" was much weaker back then compared to Popper's critical rationalism, with its emphasis on falsification.

Nevertheless, I'm sure I will be informed if this interpretation is wrong, which will hopefully help me be less wrong in the future.

Comment by danfly on Fallacies as weak Bayesian evidence · 2012-04-09T09:45:58.475Z · LW · GW

"Just as language and auditory centers must work together to understand the significance of speech sounds, so both deductive and inductive centers must work together to construct and evaluate complex inferences".

I have to ask. Am I the only one who really liked this footnote?

Comment by danfly on Fallacies as weak Bayesian evidence · 2012-04-01T17:12:44.438Z · LW · GW

"One needs to somehow gauge the 'fallaciousness' of opposite fallacies."

Isn't that exactly what the Hahn-Oaksford paper does? I doubt I'm as intelligent as most people on this site, but I was under the impression that this was all about using Bayesian methods to measure the probable "fallaciousness" of certain informal fallacies.

Comment by danfly on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2011-08-12T21:02:23.848Z · LW · GW

There are certainly many cases where Aristotle's definition of envy would adequately describe instances of zero-sum biases. In particular, when one observes the suffering of others in contrast to those with immense wealth. This can often be seen in comparisons to the west and the third world, as well as in the concepts of "core" and "periphery" in world systems theory. The problem with using the word envy, as I see it, is that the word in its currently accepted form leads people to assume that dissatisfaction is on behalf of the agent alone and not on the behalf of others. It would only reduce the clarity of language surrounding the subject.