Posts

How much COVID protection is gained from protecting your eyes? 2021-08-31T01:18:03.952Z
Dangerous Virtual Worlds 2021-08-11T12:53:26.778Z
Training Better Rationalists? 2021-08-05T11:13:16.743Z
[LINK] Luck, Skill, and Improving at Games 2021-04-11T14:35:59.602Z
Rationalists from the UK -- what are your thoughts on Dominic Cummings? 2020-11-21T10:00:27.762Z
Beware Experiments Without Evaluation 2020-11-15T08:18:33.830Z
Charisma is a Force Multiplier 2020-10-11T10:21:06.825Z
Don't Use Facebook Blocking 2020-04-21T15:50:43.769Z
Taking the Outgroup Seriously 2020-02-16T13:23:42.645Z
Why Do You Keep Having This Problem? 2020-01-20T08:33:56.577Z
Reversal Tests in Argument and Debate 2019-09-13T09:18:48.365Z
Davis_Kingsley's Shortform 2019-08-17T00:26:39.693Z
Beliefs Are For True Things 2019-08-15T23:23:33.175Z
The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here 2019-07-31T23:33:59.877Z
Schism Begets Schism 2019-07-10T03:09:41.562Z
Diversify Your Friendship Portfolio 2019-07-09T23:06:41.146Z
The Competence Myth 2019-06-30T18:55:49.014Z
Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully 2019-06-14T23:22:15.741Z
Asymmetric Weapons Aren't Always on Your Side 2019-06-08T08:47:49.675Z
Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations 2019-05-22T01:49:12.271Z
Go Do Something 2019-05-21T15:42:48.096Z
Where are the Benefits from Conversation? 2019-05-10T17:49:27.563Z
If You Want to Win, Stop Conceding 2018-11-22T18:10:31.439Z
Schools Proliferating Without Practicioners 2018-10-26T05:25:03.959Z
Isolating Content can Create Affordances 2018-08-23T08:28:52.961Z
Duncan Sabien on Moderating LessWrong 2018-05-24T10:12:26.996Z
Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information 2018-05-12T10:20:28.294Z
Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug" 2018-05-03T08:26:30.641Z
"Backchaining" in Strategy 2018-02-09T12:01:54.523Z
Adequacy as Levels of Play 2018-01-22T20:57:41.557Z
Levels of Play 2017-12-06T21:55:42.429Z

Comments

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on How much COVID protection is gained from protecting your eyes? · 2021-09-04T22:21:38.077Z · LW · GW

To be honest, my impression was that it was well known that the eyes were a potential infection route and that this didn't need much other evaluation -- as I understand it risk of infection via rubbing the eyes was one of the main reasons that "don't touch your face" was such prevalent advice early on.

I believe there are studies indicating glasses-wearers have a reduced infection risk (though obviously lots of potential confounds there), that face shields reduce risk if worn with a mask (though some of this may be blocking particles from making direct contact with a mask/filters), etc. but have not done an in-depth evaluation of that topic.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Dangerous Virtual Worlds · 2021-08-14T15:57:16.400Z · LW · GW

Interesting stuff, thanks for the info! Subjectively it felt like "this is one of the most intense experiences of my life, my heart is pounding" etc. etc.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Dangerous Virtual Worlds · 2021-08-14T15:55:50.292Z · LW · GW

Raw Data.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Dangerous Virtual Worlds · 2021-08-11T21:35:07.383Z · LW · GW

Yes -- I think that all of the examples you mentioned are things that can become a dangerous virtual world for at least some people.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Training Better Rationalists? · 2021-08-05T14:56:10.820Z · LW · GW

True, but the mechanisms that cause people to want to join the military (and elite military units in particular) are in my view in scope for this discussion. What would it look like for the rationalist community to be a thing that many intelligent, highly motivated people aspire to join?

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Seattle Robot Cult · 2021-06-08T15:16:11.508Z · LW · GW

I'm curious, did this meetup actually happen? How was it?

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Why aren't we all using Taffix? · 2021-02-28T10:42:48.032Z · LW · GW

I use a P100 mask and have recently taken to stretching a cloth mask over the exhaust valve -- I figure that way my exhalations are filtered about as well as they would be with an ordinary cloth mask, while my inhalations are far more protected.

The quality of these filters is really good, by the way -- at one point I was standing near a small fire in a trash can and could not smell it in the slightest, to the point where I was quite surprised to smell the fire after pulling down the mask to be more clearly audible on a phone call!

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Group house norms really do seem toxic to many people. · 2021-01-12T02:01:06.671Z · LW · GW

I quite appreciate you writing this esp. given that it will obviously be unpopular with some. My own group house experiences have been broadly positive, but I nevertheless think it's important to see people pointing out things like this instead of just giving the "rose-colored glasses" view.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Centrally planned war · 2021-01-07T10:37:49.429Z · LW · GW

Having soldiers handle logistics for themselves existed for an extended period, but had major problems. In practice this often looked like soldiers foraging/looting for food, which can work in the short term but has major problems. Foraging parties are vulnerable to attacks, can provoke the populace against you, and eventually deplete easily available resources.

An army relying on foraging/looting could (and some did!) find itself unable to stay in one place for too long as a result of these dynamics, which would be awkward in a siege or similar (sure, you can go plunder the countryside around the castle, but you might run out of stuff to plunder before the guys inside the fort run out of their food stockpiles...). Similarly, if you're besieging the enemy but your guys won't be able to scavenge for food effectively once winter arrives, you might be forced to withdraw prematurely.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Epistemic Progress · 2020-11-21T09:54:53.081Z · LW · GW

Strongly agree and am excited to see this -- this area seems deeply neglected.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Beware Experiments Without Evaluation · 2020-11-17T21:57:18.408Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I should point out that not all cases of experiments without evaluation are "sneaking" by any means -- sometimes one might have a well-intentioned idea for a change and just not go about testing it very systematically. However, in some ways the negative consequences can be similar.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on John_Maxwell's Shortform · 2020-10-06T04:40:59.527Z · LW · GW

I've noticed a similar trend in a very different area. In various strategic games there has IMO been a major drop in quality of discussion and content thanks to the shift from "discuss strategy on old-style forums and blogs" to "discuss strategy on group chats (Skype/Discord/Slack) and Reddit".

The former was much better at creating "permanent information" that could easily be linked and referred to; the latter probably has a higher volume of messages sent, but information is much more ephemeral and tends to be lost if you weren't in the right place at the right time. It's a lot harder to refer to "that influential Discord conversation a few weeks ago" than it is to link to a forum thread!

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2020-10-05T22:29:14.097Z · LW · GW

Sure, here's the most recent completed one. I just used the same site I was familiar with from an old Netrunner league, it's trivial to do. (This doesn't show the tournament I ran at the end but that wasn't especially hard either, I just sent people their pairings on Discord etc.)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2020-10-05T03:25:20.764Z · LW · GW

One thing that perplexes me a bit is the weird veneration given to "content creators" these days, especially in gaming communities and similar. Does anyone have good insights into this? In particular, I've noticed that a lot of it is very easy to do (having done so myself), and also that people don't much do it.

An example:

There's a game that I play and do streams for sometimes. A while back I decided it would be cool to run an online ladder similar to the ones that I'd seen in a few other games. It was very easy to set up and probably took me a few hours of not-very-focused work, then once I ran it a bunch of people signed up and we had a tournament with streamed commentary for the top players at the end.

Recently I started playing another game, enjoyed it, and decided to duplicate my league format from the first game. This time it probably took me like 30 minutes to set up since I mostly just had to rewrite the rules from the first game. Already people are signing up, thanking me for organizing it, etc.

I don't get it. What's the big deal about stuff like this? I basically just copied a format that I'd seen others use successfully and adapted it a bit. It didn't take any technical skill whatsoever to do and many others could have done the same thing I did -- but nobody did.

Is the big thing about "content creators" just one of those "these are the people who bothered to show up" things, or what?

(I feel similarly about "maker culture" -- but at least there there's often some more interesting technical skill involved!)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Rationality for Kids? · 2020-09-17T13:48:57.251Z · LW · GW

It's still around: https://thirdfoundation.github.io/#/main

I haven't read everything on the site and do not necessarily endorse it all, but the Inflection Point curriculum document might be especially relevant.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2020-06-09T12:16:11.207Z · LW · GW

Reference class forecasting would seem to indicate that we will soon experience a major "second wave" of coronavirus infections in many locations. This will likely be especially true in the US, which has many factors pointing towards significantly elevated risk soon (reopenings without proper infrastructure, Memorial Day celebrations, recent police brutality protests). Mostly just posting this to log the prediction, I suspect it isn't particularly novel for those who have been following these events.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Why isn’t assassination/sabotage more common? · 2020-06-04T22:54:44.998Z · LW · GW

I would really prefer people not talk about things like this on LW, or indeed in public at all.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Baking is Not a Ritual · 2020-05-26T23:26:13.265Z · LW · GW

Excellent post! I'd love to see more content like this on LW.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on What can currently be done about the "flooding the zone" issue? · 2020-05-20T03:10:20.389Z · LW · GW

So, to be clear, Vox is very much part of the problem. Vox co-founder Matt Yglesias has openly said that he wants "wrong right-wing ideas to be discredited while wrong left-wing ideas gain power" in order to shift the US policy status quo to the left. In other words, Vox wants to tell their own narrative, and the President is better at getting his narrative out there than they are.

This doesn't mean that what's going on here isn't a problem, it is. But a solution to these sorts of media issues and incentives is going to need to address Vox's own misbehavior and related concerns as well.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-14T13:03:38.975Z · LW · GW

I played this game a bit and then essentially just got bored and stopped. There wasn't enough depth to the gameplay in what I'd seen, and while the spell mana was sorta interesting it just wasn't really enough to grab my attention. The blocking also felt rather outmoded by modern standards, sort of like if a new game just straight up had MtG's mana system today.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-13T05:13:08.389Z · LW · GW

I believe it's obviously wrong and the stated methodology makes no sense. The fact that community transmission is occurring does not by any means mean that 1% of the population is affected. It's possible there's some other information that justifies this but I would be *extremely* surprised if it were actually the case that 100k people are infected in Ohio right now.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on How effective are tulpas? · 2020-03-10T16:50:04.286Z · LW · GW

Three that I can think of easily, probably more if I did some digging, it's a really bad sign IMO. In general I'm against "esoteric" methods and this one seems extra bad.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on How effective are tulpas? · 2020-03-10T14:04:49.143Z · LW · GW

This is an area that I think is so bad that it should probably be banned from the community. In practice, getting into "tulpamancy" strongly correlates in my experience with going into unproductive and unstable states -- it's at the point where if someone tells me that they have been looking into this area, I consider it a major red flag.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Taking the Outgroup Seriously · 2020-02-17T04:35:43.454Z · LW · GW

One interesting point is that arguments that people use internally with their own group are more likely to be truthful than arguments that people use in a public-facing context. If you suspect people might be advancing false arguments, it can be useful to do as Denton did and investigate their own internal communications as well as the outward-facing arguments. That said, I think these scenarios are comparatively rare.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Why Do You Keep Having This Problem? · 2020-01-20T22:01:03.374Z · LW · GW
I'm not sure that's at odds with what mscottveach is saying. To put it in different words, while the amount of feedback might vary, I don't think the ratio of positive vs. negative feedback varies. It's the very rare situation where the number of messages that say, "This was good, everything went as planned or intended," outnumbers the messages that talk about how something went wrong.

Oh, I quite disagree. I've often found it normal for people to give positive feedback only or for positive feedback to far outweigh negative. In fact, I'm a little surprised to hear you say this because my experience has often been the opposite -- that it can be rare and difficult to get people to give negative feedback or genuine criticism of something!

For instance, when I've helped organize parties or social events I've IIRC heard almost only positive things, which is not to say that my parties and events were astoundingly good but rather that the norms favor positive over negative feedback there.

Similarly, I recently started up an online ladder for players of a game that I like, and the feedback there has been quite positive as well. I don't think I did a superb job in doing that -- I actually released it months after I'd been planning to -- but people tend to give positive feedback on those sorts of projects.

In fact, I've thought before that this positive bias in feedback can often be an obstacle to progression, as flawed projects don't get corrected as easily if people don't point out the flaws -- note also Said's comment about how it can be difficult to get people to point out even egregious errors in software/web design!

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Why Do You Keep Having This Problem? · 2020-01-20T17:30:59.008Z · LW · GW

Interesting point! I think what tends to be voiced vs. not voiced varies a lot based on both the field and the culture involved. I've been in some environments where it seems like everyone loves to complain even when things are fine, but I've also been in some where people are very reticent to speak up even when there's a problem.

I wonder if there are useful statistics anywhere on how this applies to different areas, as this seems like something that might be helpful to take into account when thinking about how best to process feedback.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Deleted · 2019-10-26T02:57:36.681Z · LW · GW

I can tell you that I at least found it abhorrent! :P

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-09-24T09:38:44.689Z · LW · GW

This post is excellent. It is probably the best post I have read on LessWrong in a long time. Thank you for writing it!

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Timer Toxicities · 2019-09-22T14:27:30.978Z · LW · GW

Interestingly, even some respected games do stuff that violates this. For instance, Starcraft has queues but with several constraints that make them far worse than they could be:

  • Some types of things you might want to build cannot be queued (you cannot, for instance, queue your Barracks to build an addon, only unit production; if you're researching upgrades at your Engineering Bay, you cannot queue level 2 weapons while already researching level 1 weapons).
  • Adding something to the queue costs the entire cost that it would normally take to build that thing and does so up front rather than charging you the price once the queued item actually starts building. In other words, if I want to queue up three 50-mineral Marines, that will cost me 150 minerals up front even though only one will actually be building at first.

These constraints mean that using the queue penalizes you, as queuing a unit means that you are essentially wasting resources; if you want to build three Marines, it's much better to reselect your Barracks and build a new Marine after each completes than it is to add three Marines to the queue, as queuing them "wastes" 100 minerals on Marines not actually being built, which you could instead use on other things while waiting for the first Marine to build.

I consider this extremely annoying and essentially anti-competitive; Starcraft notoriously has a high barrier to entry in terms of pure APM (actions per minute), since the user interface issues mean that you have to take very many actions in order to play efficiently. I would be very interested to see what the game would look like in a version where the interface was designed to be as efficient as possible instead of adding extra constraints onto the player.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Who's an unusual thinker that you recommend following? · 2019-09-17T12:22:04.370Z · LW · GW

Dominic Cummings, a strategist who worked on Brexit. He is surprisingly rationalist-aligned and has very interesting thoughts at his blog.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Reversal Tests in Argument and Debate · 2019-09-14T10:05:53.416Z · LW · GW

I used this term because I think the fundamental move being pointed towards is fairly similar (although actually I think the Bostrom/Ord application of this method is incorrect, which maybe means I should have come up with a different name!).

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Raph Koster on Virtual Worlds vs Games (notes) · 2019-08-25T01:42:00.359Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link! I ended up reading a large number of his articles. His thoughts on UO and Galaxies were predictably the most interesting to me -- I definitely share his sense that the old "wild west" Ultima and the like was better and more alive than the more soulless modern games (though I didn't actually play Ultima and maybe I'd change my tune after being ganked repeatedly by PKs... :P).

I also find it interesting how successful Galaxies was despite the fact that the combat system apparently never worked as intended and was basically dysfunctional! It kinda makes me wonder, what if Galaxies had had the dev resources and budget of WoW? Would that be the new face of MMOs? (Sometimes I've had similar thoughts re: Netrunner and MtG...)

For me the most "wild west" exciting alive game right now is EVE Online, but the actual gameplay is something I'm profoundly uninterested in so I basically live vicariously through stories of interesting happenings.


Comment by Davis_Kingsley on [deleted post] 2019-08-24T08:52:14.510Z
Overall, it seems to me that there are people trying to do the kind of translational work Davis is asking for, but the community is not, as a whole, applying the sort of discernment that would demand such work.

Agreed, yeah. This is maybe the main thing I'm getting at -- I'm trying to shock people into realizing "hey, everything isn't fine, things are going wrong" and applying more discernment to what's going on in the community.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on [deleted post] 2019-08-24T08:50:24.458Z

There's an important part missing in my current draft that has to do with the fact that much of the "esoteric" content is in fact not being openly pushed, but rather smuggled into the community via other methods; I think it's very difficult to translate/synthesize/ground concepts if you aren't being told about them until they've already taken over relevant parts of the community.

This is also why much of the post has a "sound the alarm" feeling. I think that if the community's institutions were operating more properly, it would be much more resilient to things being "smuggled in", which in turn would mean that people trying to spread these ideas would have to make a stronger/more reasoned case for them in order to get traction here.

As for the "list" format -- this post is somewhat based on a talk I gave at the CFAR alumni reunion last year which was much better-received than I'd anticipated. Several people told me they had similar concerns but wasn't sure if it was just them or what, and if we're trying to "get the shields back online" just warning people that this is going on may be sufficient to prompt at least somewhat more careful thinking.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Is LW making progress? · 2019-08-24T06:18:05.390Z · LW · GW

Bayes occupies a place of privilege in the Sequences and for some time had a place of privilege in the CFAR curriculum as well, but it didn't much work and so we stopped. I'm not saying it's bad in principle, I'm saying it empirically didn't work as a class for intro workshops despite our trying many different approaches.

You might dispute whether that's a positive change, but it's certainly a way in which I see "the state of the art" as having shifted over time.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Is LW making progress? · 2019-08-24T05:00:53.992Z · LW · GW

As someone who worked for CFAR full-time from early 2014 to mid-late 2016 and still teaches at CFAR workshops fairly regularly as a contractor, I can tell you that there has definitely been progress from the "Sequences era" style of rationality to what we are currently teaching. Earlier versions of the CFAR curriculum were closer to the Sequences and were also in my view worse (for instance, CFAR no longer teaches Bayes's Theorem).

Not all of this has been fully visible to the public, though at least some of it is -- for instance, here is Duncan's post explaining Double Crux, one of CFAR's "post-Sequences" innovations. I don't think there are posts for every new technique but I do quite think there's progress being made, some of which is reflected on LW.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-23T10:23:25.866Z · LW · GW

Interestingly that's actually quite disputed -- you linked to a reprint of the card that displays as being rated 5/5, but the original printing of the card is actually rated 3.455 out of 5.

(That said, it's certainly better than Book Burning!)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-22T22:05:27.852Z · LW · GW
Go after polyamory all you want -- if there is data about problems that are statistically likely to show up, I'd like to know about that, so that I can try minimizing the odds that we will experience them -- and we do experience some of the standard poly jealousy problems -- but if you are going to shoot a sacred cow, bring a high powered rifle, not a squirt gun.

I'll fully admit that I don't have formal statistical data, but I think the point is worth making anyway as a potential warning. My intent is mostly to warn newcomers about patterns I've seen rather than to shame people already in the community; I certainly do not claim that every poly relationship is abusive or the like.

(Part of the reason I posted this in shortform rather than as a top-level post is because I was hoping to just send a quick warning rather than posting something more formal and detailed!)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-22T22:01:07.468Z · LW · GW
Link?

The original site that the post was on has been taken down, but here's a pastebin of the relevant text (posted with the consent of the original author, one paragraph removed to preserve the author's privacy). I should add that my own view of poly is considerably more negative than that of this author, but even the linked post is significantly more negative than the Bay Area rationalist community norms tend to be.

Also, I slightly worry that what you're seeing is skewed because the kind of people who are willing to try polyamory are unusually open about their personal lives. That is, I think there's a lot of drama going on with monogamy, too, and it just happens that people who choose to be monogamous also have a culture that better keeps drama secret until it is too big to keep secret anymore, so it simply looks more common in polyamory because it is less hidden.

I think that there is certainly a lot of drama with monogamy as well, and I agree that some aspects of this can be under the surface. That being said, I think there are some aspects of poly that tend to exacerbate/lead to drama while there are some aspects of monogamy that tend to mitigate/avoid it.

I'll give a basic example. Let's say that there is a couple in a committed relationship, and one member of the couple starts getting closer to a third party. They become more and more emotionally close until eventually this bond seems stronger than the original relationship and the original couple splits up.

Now, this could easily happen either in monogamy or in polyamory -- you could say that it's the story of an "emotional affair" that turns into a real affair and splits up a monogamous couple; you could also say that it's the story of a secondary relationship in a polyamorous situation that turns into a primary relationship and splits up an old primary relationship. In point of fact I have seen cases that seem to fit this description in both monogamous and polyamorous situations.

The key difference, though, is that monogamous norms tend to work against such things, while polyamorous norms tend to encourage and even directly support such things (until perhaps things go too far and it may be too late). The person who starts to form a close bond with someone already in an established monogamous relationship may be chided or discouraged by the community; the person who starts to form a close bond with someone already in an established polyamorous primary relationship is less likely to be chided and may even be supported.

In some cases I believe I have seen this lead to major strife or even divorce in a way that I suspect people would have disendorsed and tried to avoid if they were better equipped to predict; unfortunately, they were dealing with polyamory norms that made them extra vulnerable to this sort of thing.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-21T00:08:52.936Z · LW · GW

An interesting example of a related thing is "charm" effects, where you pick between multiple things you can do with a card, all of them are sort of bad for the price, but the flexibility makes it worth it overall. Sometimes people focus a lot on "raw efficiency", but when it's between you picking the best of several inefficient options or your opponent picking the worst of several highly efficient options, the former tends to be much better.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-21T00:04:52.815Z · LW · GW

My experience has been somewhat different. I think that if you look at the actual results of what's going on re: poly in the rationalist community it's fairly evident that things are going wrong -- there are large amounts of drama and problems, well beyond that in other communities that I currently participate in (even other communities in the Bay Area etc.).

The most obvious example is that one of the people who was most involved in bringing polyamory to the early rationalist community ended up getting divorced after a lot of poly drama, left the community, and wrote a post about how poly is actually contrary to long-term romantic goals. Unfortunately, since the author had left the community, most people didn't read the post.

However, most people are not actually looking back at the evidence IMO -- it's just become an installed and unexamined norm.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-20T23:24:51.048Z · LW · GW

There are a pair of things in the rationalist community which I like to call "The Two Bad Polys" -- polyphasic sleep and polyamory. Both seem appealing to many people and have been experimented with pretty widely in the community despite being quite harmful; I strongly advise against trying either. In practice they seem to lead to lots of problems for most people who try them.

(Attribution note: I'm not sure whether I was the first to come up with this term to describe the pair -- I think the two were first referred to as a dangerous pair by someone else but I might have come up with this particular name for them.)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-20T01:18:14.084Z · LW · GW

Strategy mini-post:

One thing that tends to be weak in strategy games is "opponent's choice" effects, where an ability has multiple possible effects and an opponent chooses which is resolved. Usually, each effect is stronger than what you would normally get for a card with that price, but in practice these cards are often quite weak.

For instance, the Magic: the Gathering card "Book Burning" looks quite strong in theory, as it either does 6 damage or mills 6 cards (both strong effects that might well be worth more than the card's cost, since this was a set where having cards in your graveyard was quite relevant). However, in fact it is quite weak, because in practice you will always get the effect that is less relevant; if the opponent has life to spare they'll take damage, and if the mill is no longer relevant they'll let you mill instead.

This pattern holds true across multiple games. In Legend of the Five Rings, Levy is similarly weak despite the fact that a card that did only one of its effects would likely be overpowered, as one effect or the other is likely to be much less relevant at any point in the game and the opponent can always choose the less relevant effect.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-17T00:26:39.835Z · LW · GW

One concept people talk about in game design is "pendulum swing", where something that is too powerful or too weak is overcorrected in balance patches and becomes the opposite -- something too powerful becomes too weak, while something too weak becomes too powerful.

A similar concept can be present in other sectors as well -- often, noticing one problem can lead to an overcorrection that brings you the opposite problem. For instance, an early stage organization might notice that they aren't systematic enough in their processes, overcorrect, and become too rigid and doctrinaire.


(Duncan Sabien uses this concept of pendulum swing a lot, and while I was aware of it prior to his use he's done a lot to bring it to attention as a relevant rationality concept.)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Beliefs Are For True Things · 2019-08-16T00:23:11.110Z · LW · GW

Yeah, that's why I said it addressed this point "among others" -- my summary of the poem's message would be something like "There are timeless principles of morality and common sense that are fundamentally true; when what's fundamentally true becomes unfashionable and people believe what's popular or sounds good instead, disaster ultimately ensues."

My post refers primarily to the second part of that message (beliefs are for true things, reject this at your peril) rather than the first part.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here · 2019-08-05T08:31:29.295Z · LW · GW

Re: reversals -- there are definitely situations where it is better to in fact just focus on a local group - Paul Graham, having seen many startups fail because they built something that nobody actually wanted, advises building something that you yourself want if you're planning to make a startup company.

Re: case 4 -- agreed that it is not totally helpless, but at times friends can make worse advisors than disinterested observers do.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Diversify Your Friendship Portfolio · 2019-07-12T21:45:17.364Z · LW · GW

The title is mostly like that because it's funny. I strongly believe that people should cultivate closer friendships than is the default in modern society -- but I also believe one shouldn't put "all their eggs in one basket" in terms of who all you cultivate those friendships with.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-11T12:12:14.332Z · LW · GW

I think of the change from Judaism to Christianity as too significant to be viewed as merely a schism. Similarly, it would seem strange to classify Islam or Mormonism as "Christian schisms" in the same way that one would classify, say, the Old Catholic Church as a schism from the main Catholic Church -- it's certainly true that Islam and Mormonism both take Christianity and then add a new prophet and his book on top of it, but that seems too significant to qualify as just a schism. To me, schisms are often notable for the relatively small nature of the differences that they are splitting over, and by the time you're adding new holy books and substantially reinterpreting the past teachings you've gone beyond that phase.

(To give a nonreligious example, I would say "we're going to make a new forum with exactly the same purview, target audience, and board structure as the old forum but with different moderators" is a schism, while "we're going to make a new forum that addresses substantially different topics while still including some of the old stuff" is not.)

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T21:50:52.537Z · LW · GW
Sometimes things are bad or (or much worse than they could be) in some group or community. When that's the case, one can 1) try and change the community from the inside, or 2) get a group of his/her friends together to do [thing] the way they think they should do it, or 3) give up and accept the current situation.
When you're willing to put in the work to make 2 happen, it sometimes results in a new healthier group. If (some) onlookers can distinguish between better and worse on the relevant axis, it will attract new members.
It seems to me that taking option 2, instead of option 1, is cooperative. You leave the other group doing it their way, in peace, and also create something good in the world in addition.

I agree that option 2 can be cooperative, but I want to point out that taking option 1 is also cooperative. If the other group or community is, as you say, much worse than it could be, helping to improve it from the inside makes things better for the people already involved, while going and starting your own group might leave them in the lurch. In general I think you should probably at least initially try to reform things, though if it doesn't work well there's a point where you might have to say "sorry, the time has come, we're making our own group now".

Granted, I think the situation may be importantly different in online communities, specifically because the activation energy for setting up a new online group is comparatively small. In that case, it is too easy to found a new group, and accordingly they splinter to regularly for any single group to be good.

Yeah, I think online the cost of just creating another site is importantly too low. On Discord it takes like 10 seconds to make a new server, these days you can set up a basic web forum very quickly without even having to pay for hosting, and so on. In real life it's harder to create new organizations, events, etc. in a way that can actually help avoid splitting communities.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:52:13.475Z · LW · GW

There's a significant difference between "open disagreement" and "open disagreement, refusal to cooperate with the mechanisms for settling this, denunciation of the legitimacy of authority, and calling for others to leave the group". LessWrong can deal with open disagreement, but if the front page constantly had people denouncing the moderators and calling others to go and join their new community that would be something else.