elharo feed - LessWrong 2.0 Reader elharo’s posts and comments on the Effective Altruism Forum en-us Comment by elharo on LW 2.0 Open Beta Live https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/SR8cqwbMLmKqR7p5s/lw-2-0-open-beta-live#J2LyWmnqdzpafiJDr <p>Sorry, but it is. Simple test: open a page and view source. Do you see HTML or do you see a big chunk of obfuscated JavaScript?</p> <p>Browsers today are wicked fast at rendering HTML. They are ungodly slow on anything that replaces HTML with JavaScript. A text-heavy site such as LessWrong is very well served by pure HTML with a small scattering of JavaScript here and there. LessWrong 1.0 isn't perfect markup (too many divs and spans, too little semantic markup) but it is much better designed for speed than 2.0. </p> elharo J2LyWmnqdzpafiJDr 2017-11-23T02:56:37.781Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes April 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/2iWhZ6Mc2fkbGyJLH/rationality-quotes-april-2016#YPyHZzn8JJXqwSNSt <blockquote> <p>What science gets wrong, more science sets right. (What religion gets wrong, by way of contrast, more religion rarely sets right.)</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Dan Savage, American Savage, p. 152</p> elharo YPyHZzn8JJXqwSNSt 2016-04-06T16:19:14.825Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread March 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pLkBuHuXKnzoYDFEe/rationality-quotes-thread-march-2016#nvw8ZYkFmGCzHqEr9 <p>The long term discussed in that article is multiple generations, and there's still evidence there that wealth does transfer to children and further (e.g. the Swedish doctors). It has little to say about the relative efficacy of social programs vs. direct cash grants in alleviating poverty today. </p> elharo nvw8ZYkFmGCzHqEr9 2016-03-06T17:11:04.244Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread March 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pLkBuHuXKnzoYDFEe/rationality-quotes-thread-march-2016#PDLpkRMeuy2oBDMiJ <blockquote> <p>It is comfortable for richer people to think they are richer because of the moral failings of the poor. And that justifies a paternalistic approach to poverty relief using vouchers and in-kind support. But the big reason poor people are poor is because they don’t have enough money, and it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem—considerably more cost-effectively than paternalism.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Charles Kenney, &quot;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-06-03/for-fighting-poverty-cash-is-surprisingly-effective">For Fighting Poverty, Cash Is Surprisingly Effective</a>&quot;, Bloomberg News, June 3, 2013</p> elharo PDLpkRMeuy2oBDMiJ 2016-03-06T01:08:28.963Z Rationality Quotes Thread March 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pLkBuHuXKnzoYDFEe/rationality-quotes-thread-march-2016 <div id="entry_t3_n98" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_n4s" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_n15" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mxs" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mu4" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> <li>Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo pLkBuHuXKnzoYDFEe 2016-03-05T18:44:48.980Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bnCzL5T7HCZ57i7Fw/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2016#57wdW6fk7imnv7C4p <blockquote> <p> If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so. Words and thoughts don’t change anything. Language and reality are kept strictly apart—reality is tough, unyielding stuff, and it doesn’t care what you think or feel or say about it. Or it shouldn’t. You deal with it, and you get on with your life.</p> <p>Little children don’t know that. Magical thinking: that’s what Freud called it. Once we learn otherwise we cease to be children. The separation of word and thing are the essential facts on which our adult lives are founded.</p> </blockquote> <p>--Professor Fogg in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=B002AU7MJU/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">The Magicians</a> by Lev Grossman, p. 248</p> elharo 57wdW6fk7imnv7C4p 2016-02-23T01:33:28.947Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bnCzL5T7HCZ57i7Fw/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2016#pY8WMsY9Loi3ZzM6w <p>I suspect the answer is that grading at U.S. colleges just isn't that important. </p> elharo pY8WMsY9Loi3ZzM6w 2016-02-06T13:34:01.097Z Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bnCzL5T7HCZ57i7Fw/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2016 <div id="entry_t3_n4s" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_n15" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mxs" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mu4" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> <li>Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo bnCzL5T7HCZ57i7Fw 2016-02-02T18:17:22.039Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/C8XRdyTvjp7Npqq63/rationality-quotes-thread-january-2016#Y4XzArE24L9LKxfqt <p>I've experienced this as well, in different contexts. It's depressing to watch birders and even more commonly bird photographers trample on protected habitat just to get a better look at a bird. That being said, there's perhaps a fallacy here. It is absolutely true that <em>some</em> people value their personal comfort and wealth over broader values like environmental protection or the general health of the population, at least some of the time. It is also true that <em>some</em> people pick broader values like environmental protection or the general health of the population, even at some cost to their personal comfort and specific wants, at least some of the time.</p> <p>Neither statement is true of all people, all of the time. The real questions we should ask are:</p> <p>1) How many people, how much of the time? 2) Which people? And why? 3) What can we do to require less specific sacrifice in favor of the general good? </p> <p>Both of these questions are better asked of very specific cases. For instance, you'll get different answers if you talk about, for example, reducing marine speed limits in Florida to protect manatees or installing smokestack scrubbers on coal-fired power plants.</p> <p>Talking in generalities often avoids the hard work of quantification on real world problems in favor of ideologically motivated displays of tribal allegiance. </p> elharo Y4XzArE24L9LKxfqt 2016-01-17T13:11:23.703Z Comment by elharo on Why CFAR's Mission? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bMXurpN9qj8NWZKDR/why-cfar-s-mission#EFirqCMn3iujeNn5F <p>I've learned useful things from the sequences and CFAR training, but it's almost all instrumental, not epistemic. I suppose I am somewhat more likely to ask for an example when I don't understand what someone is telling me, and the answers have occasionally taught me things I didn't know; but that feels more like an instrumental technique than an epistemic one. </p> elharo EFirqCMn3iujeNn5F 2016-01-11T12:02:00.852Z Comment by elharo on Why CFAR's Mission? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bMXurpN9qj8NWZKDR/why-cfar-s-mission#9zYdxhHDDo3yBw84i <blockquote> <p>Basically, because it seems to me that if people had really huge amounts of epistemic rationality + competence + caring, they would already be impacting these problems. Their huge amounts of epistemic rationality and competence would allow them to find a path to high impact; and their caring would compel them to do it.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree with this, but I strongly disagree that epistemic rationality is the limiting factor in this equation. Looking at the world, I see massive lack of caring. I see innumerable people who care only about their own group, or their own interests, to the exclusion of others. </p> <p>For example, many people give to ineffective local charities instead of more effective charities that invest their money in the developing world because they care more about the park down the street than they do about differently colored refugees in the developing world. People care more about other people who are closer to them and more like them than they do about different people further away. Change that, and epistemic rationality will take care of itself.</p> <p>Solutions for the problems that exist in the world today are not limited by competence or epistemic rationality. (Climate change denial is a really good example: it's pretty obvious that denial is politically and personally motivated and that the deniers are performing motivated reasoning, not seriously misinformed. Better epistemic rationality will not change their actions because they are acting rationally in their own self-interests. They're simply willing to damage future generations and poorer people to protect their interests over those of people they don't care about.) </p> <p>Anna's argument here is a classic example of the fallacy of assuming your opponents are stupid or misinformed, that they simply need to be properly educated and everyone will agree. This is rarely true. People disagree and cause the problems that exist in the world today because they have different values, not because they see the world incorrectly. </p> <p>To the extent that people do see the world incorrectly, it is because epistemic rationality interferes with their values and goals, not because poor epistemic rationality causes them to have the wrong values and goals. That is, a lack of caring leads to poor epistemic rationality, not the other way around.</p> <p>This is why I find CFAR to be a very low-effectiveness charity. It is attacking the wrong problem. </p> elharo 9zYdxhHDDo3yBw84i 2016-01-11T11:56:56.107Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/C8XRdyTvjp7Npqq63/rationality-quotes-thread-january-2016#iqNFDrsD2bpL4JmvD <blockquote> <p>Sometimes a writer has no choice but to hedge a statement. Better still, the writer can qualify the statement—that is, spell out the circumstances in which it does not hold rather than leaving himself an escape hatch or being coy as to whether he really means it. If there is a reasonable chance that readers will misinterpret a statistical tendency as an absolute law, a responsible writer will anticipate the oversight and qualify the generalization accordingly. Pronouncements like “Democracies don’t fight wars,” “Men are better than women at geometry problems,” and “Eating broccoli prevents cancer” do not do justice to the reality that those phenomena consist at most of small differences in the means of two overlapping bell curves. Since there are serious consequences to misinterpreting those statements as absolute laws, a responsible writer should insert a qualifier like on average or all things being equal, together with slightly or somewhat. Best of all is to convey the magnitude of the effect and the degree of certainty explicitly, in unhedged statements such as “During the 20th century, democracies were half as likely to go to war with one another as autocracies were.” It’s not that good writers never hedge their claims. It’s that their hedging is a choice, not a tic.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Steven Pinker, <a href="http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Academics-Writing-Stinks/148989">Why Academics Stink at Writing</a> (Behind Paywall)</p> elharo iqNFDrsD2bpL4JmvD 2016-01-08T11:14:36.615Z Monthly Bragging Thread January 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fdTe8hM4ap8bkaps5/monthly-bragging-thread-january-2016 <div id="entry_t3_mu5" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mf0" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpj" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div>Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining&nbsp;<strong>the most awesome thing you've done this month</strong>. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself&nbsp;<em>the coolest freaking person ever</em>&nbsp;because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that. <div><br /></div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">Remember, however, that this&nbsp;<strong>isn't</strong>&nbsp;any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread.&nbsp;<em>This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do." Not "are working on."</em> <strong>Have already done.</strong>&nbsp;This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods. For example:</p> <ul> <li>Published a new novel: Yes, brag heartily.</li> <li>Wrote an outline for a new novel: No, please wait until the novel is finished. </li> </ul> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">(<a href="/lw/mu5/monthly_bragging_thread_october_2015/">Previous bragging thread</a>)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo fdTe8hM4ap8bkaps5 2016-01-01T16:14:15.640Z Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/C8XRdyTvjp7Npqq63/rationality-quotes-thread-january-2016 <div id="entry_t3_n15" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mxs" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mu4" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> <li>Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo C8XRdyTvjp7Npqq63 2016-01-01T16:00:57.019Z Rationality Quotes Thread December 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RFdAPGxyrN2nRKFcL/rationality-quotes-thread-december-2015 <div id="entry_t3_mxs" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mu4" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo RFdAPGxyrN2nRKFcL 2015-12-02T11:28:55.845Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LGpwNkwwiwwbgSH9F/rationality-quotes-thread-november-2015#howzHy3hEaaFELypi <blockquote> <p>I picked up the folders for the two courses required of every student at the school. Statistics and epidemiology. Epi—what? </p> <p>In the first lecture, we ‘reviewed’ all the major study types. For example, in the case-control study you find a group of people with a disease, and then look for people who are much the same but without the disease. You compare the two groups to see if they have different risks. It’s a relatively cheap method, but it doesn’t tell you much about the order in which things happen. I can’t remember all the examples used in the lecture, but let’s say you want to look at causes of depression in women. You start with 600 depressed women, find another 600 who match them in age, ethnicity and educational status, and then ask them all about their lives. Let’s say you find out that women who are depressed are six times more likely not to have had sex in the last year as women who are cheerful. That means if you’re not having sex you get depressed, right? But hang on, couldn’t it be that women who are moping around looking miserable don’t get laid much? </p> <p>Perhaps you’d be better off with a cohort study. You start off with several thousand women who are perfectly happy. Then you follow them over time, recording their behaviours, and see which of them get depressed. If you find that women who have sex are less likely to become depressed than women who aren’t getting any, it suggests it is the lack of sex that causes the depression, not the depression which stops you getting laid. You can throw out the ‘misery guts’ theory and recommend more good sex as an intervention to promote mental health.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Elizabeth Pisani, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0393337650/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">The Wisdom of Whores</a>, p. 16 </p> elharo howzHy3hEaaFELypi 2015-11-02T12:45:14.733Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LGpwNkwwiwwbgSH9F/rationality-quotes-thread-november-2015#egRFjaMNzwYunZva3 <blockquote> <p>The terror that took Baru came from the deepest part of her soul. It was a terror particular to her, a fundamental concern—the apocalyptic possibility that the world simply did not permit plans, that it worked in chaotic and unmasterable ways, that one single stroke of fortune, one well-aimed bowshot by a man she had never met, could bring total disaster. The fear that the basic logic she used to negotiate the world was a lie.</p> </blockquote> <p>Seth Dickinson, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=B00V351EOM/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">The Traitor Baru Cormorant</a>, p. 292</p> elharo egRFjaMNzwYunZva3 2015-11-02T12:36:20.826Z Rationality Quotes Thread November 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LGpwNkwwiwwbgSH9F/rationality-quotes-thread-november-2015 <div id="entry_t3_mu4" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo LGpwNkwwiwwbgSH9F 2015-11-02T12:30:33.213Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread October 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/uYNeKXJgumqvHQf2Z/rationality-quotes-thread-october-2015#fGBvvNXoRs54WsH9H <blockquote> <p>Your tactics are self-centered. You have forgotten that you are not the only player on the board, that inherent talent speaks for no more than experience, and that others around you seek to expand their authority and constrain yours. Your error is fundamental to the human psyche: you have allowed yourself to believe that others are mechanisms, static and solvable, whereas you are an agent.</p> </blockquote> <p>Purity Cartone, in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=B00V351EOM/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">The Traitor Baru Cormorant</a> by Seth Dickinson, p. 180</p> elharo fGBvvNXoRs54WsH9H 2015-10-29T16:01:26.375Z Monthly Bragging Thread October 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/XsPPFHm67DMDnafnx/monthly-bragging-thread-october-2015 <div id="entry_t3_mf0" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mpj" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 19.5px; text-align: justify;">Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining&nbsp;<strong>the most awesome thing you've done this month</strong>. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself&nbsp;<em>the coolest freaking person ever</em>&nbsp;because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">Remember, however, that this&nbsp;<strong>isn't</strong>&nbsp;any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread.&nbsp;<em>This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on"</em>.&nbsp;<strong>Have already done.</strong>&nbsp;This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">(<a href="/lw/mpj/bragging_thread_september_2015/">Previous bragging thread</a>)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo XsPPFHm67DMDnafnx 2015-10-03T13:27:09.622Z Rationality Quotes Thread October 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/uYNeKXJgumqvHQf2Z/rationality-quotes-thread-october-2015 <div id="entry_t3_mpe" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo uYNeKXJgumqvHQf2Z 2015-10-03T13:23:31.855Z Comment by elharo on On Walmart, And Who Bears Responsibility For the Poor https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/6jip9pdvAHQpKRhmE/on-walmart-and-who-bears-responsibility-for-the-poor#K5v2kG38gnXSG5pCt <p>The relative value of a job matters more than the absolute here. When a worker can walk across the street and get the same $15 an hour at McDonalds they do today at Burger King, then Burger King and McDonalds need to compete for employees based on work conditions. Managers get away with abuse only when the salary exceeds the prevailing wage for the skill set, or jobs are hard to find. </p> elharo K5v2kG38gnXSG5pCt 2015-09-22T10:17:08.436Z Comment by elharo on Bragging thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/uQDvSCXqKbXcHeLMm/bragging-thread-september-2015#R6dpZuj8zcbc6qgii <p>Crossed Genres published <a href="http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/033-ants-on-a-trestle/">Ants on a Trestle</a>, my first SFWA qualifying short story, in their 2065 themed issue. </p> <p>SF Comet published <a href="http://www.sfcomet.com/elliotte-rusty-harold.html">For Your Safety</a>, another near future, hard SF short story.</p> <p>Both are available online in their entirety.</p> elharo R6dpZuj8zcbc6qgii 2015-09-04T10:20:30.380Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad/rationality-quotes-thread-september-2015#2NhTPd239jtdeG7hD <p>In physics general relativity and quantum field theory are applied to different domains and at least one, possibly both, are widely recognized as mere approximations to the ultimate theory that subsumes them. </p> <p>I'll defer to Dr. Miller on this if he cares to weigh in, or any other professional economist, but my outsider's impression is that in economics as discussed by Romer the situation is more that contradictory theories are being applied to the same domain, without a serious effort to determine experimentally which (if either) is correct. </p> elharo 2NhTPd239jtdeG7hD 2015-09-04T10:14:20.194Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad/rationality-quotes-thread-september-2015#nWnu8h2n6wJBARuyR <blockquote> <p> if we want economics to be a science, we have to recognize that it is not ok for macroeconomists to hole up in separate camps, one that supports its version of the geocentric model of the solar system and another that supports the heliocentric model. As scientists, we have to hold ourselves to a standard that requires us to reach a consensus about which model is right, and then to move on to other questions.</p> <p>The alternative to science is academic politics, where persistent disagreement is encouraged as a way to create distinctive sub-group identities.</p> </blockquote> <p>--Paul Romer, NYU, &quot;<a href="http://paulromer.net/mathiness/">My Paper “Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth</a>”</p> elharo nWnu8h2n6wJBARuyR 2015-09-02T10:00:52.344Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad/rationality-quotes-thread-september-2015#ggfeTfBtjasqi7isY <blockquote> <p> if the Taj Mahal happens to be made of white tiles held to brown granite by tan grotte, there is nothing to prevent you from affirming that the Taj Mahal is white and the Taj Mahal is brown and the Taj Mahal is tan, and claiming both tan and brown to lie in the area of significance space we’ve marked as ‘nonwhite’—” </p> <p>“Wait a second: Part of the Taj Mahal is white, and part of the Taj Mahal is brown, and part of the Taj Mahal is—” </p> <p>“The solution’s even simpler than that. You see, just like ‘white,’ the words ‘Taj Mahal’ have a range of significance that extends, on one side, at least as far as the gates have set their boundaries around the same area. Treating soft-edged interpenetrating clouds as though they were hard-edged bricks does not offer much help if you want to build a real discussion of how to build a real house. Ordinary, informal, nonrigorous language overcomes all these problems, however, with a bravura, panache and elegance that leave the formal logician panting and applauding</p> </blockquote> <p>--Samuel R. Delaney, <em>Trouble on Triton, An Ambiguous Heterophobia</em>, 1976</p> elharo ggfeTfBtjasqi7isY 2015-09-02T09:55:07.434Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad/rationality-quotes-thread-september-2015#PXCEWNsLLv3s8fa7a <blockquote> <p>Our ideal in crafting an argument is a skeptical but friendly audience, suitable to the context. A skeptical audience is questioning of our observations, not swayed by emotional appeals, but not so skeptical as to be dismissive. The ideal audience is curious; humble, but not stupid. It is an idealized version of ourselves at our best,</p> </blockquote> <p>Max Shron, Thinking with Data, O'Reily 2014</p> elharo PXCEWNsLLv3s8fa7a 2015-09-02T09:51:20.551Z Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad/rationality-quotes-thread-september-2015 <div id="entry_t3_mki" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo CHqxRJA2sXypHp6ad 2015-09-02T09:25:19.804Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread August 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/JzKtt3KeWPmPXPncT/rationality-quotes-thread-august-2015#owDQ9q2WXkAEgM99d <blockquote> <p>Only in mathematics is it possible to demonstrate something beyond all doubt. When held to that standard, we find ourselves quickly overwhelmed.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Max Shron, Thinking with Data, O'Reilly 2014</p> elharo owDQ9q2WXkAEgM99d 2015-08-15T12:08:34.444Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/BAWgaZJh2ifKYKHHz/rationality-quotes-thread-july-2015#HE3t93G7gmNMRk2LN <blockquote> <p>Only in mathematics is it possible to demonstrate something beyond all doubt. When held to that standard, we find ourselves quickly overwhelmed.</p> </blockquote> <p>Max Shron, Thinking with Data, p. 32</p> elharo HE3t93G7gmNMRk2LN 2015-07-25T12:35:17.293Z Comment by elharo on Monthly Bragging Thread July 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NATB22fXTYyqL6eSy/monthly-bragging-thread-july-2015#R6otMCJ6xiKL4kWjH <p>I had two new short fiction pieces published in the last month. First, Third Flatiron released their <a href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/544282">Only Disconnect</a> anthology including my flash humor piece <em>Email Recovered from Genetech Debris, Lt. Jeffrey Abramowitz Investigating</em></p> <p>Second T. Gene Davis's Speculative Blog published <a href="http://freesciencefiction.com/tale/valediction/"><em>The Valediction</em></a>.</p> elharo R6otMCJ6xiKL4kWjH 2015-07-01T11:12:01.872Z Monthly Bragging Thread July 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NATB22fXTYyqL6eSy/monthly-bragging-thread-july-2015 <p>Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining&nbsp;<strong>the most awesome thing you've done this month</strong>. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself&nbsp;<em>the coolest freaking person ever</em>&nbsp;because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">Remember, however, that this&nbsp;<strong>isn't</strong>&nbsp;any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread.&nbsp;<em>This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on"</em>.&nbsp;<strong>Have already done.</strong>&nbsp;This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em;">So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?</p> elharo NATB22fXTYyqL6eSy 2015-07-01T11:07:07.666Z Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/BAWgaZJh2ifKYKHHz/rationality-quotes-thread-july-2015 <div id="entry_t3_m9x" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <div id="entry_t3_m4n" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;">Another month, another rationality quotes thread.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 19.5px;">The rules are:</span></p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify; line-height: 19px;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo BAWgaZJh2ifKYKHHz 2015-07-01T11:04:44.958Z Comment by elharo on Bragging Thread March 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Bz3jmqsvpk26hJcyX/bragging-thread-march-2015#vf987FEENrdk6K4yu <p>Third Flatiron has published my hard SF short story <em>Net War I</em> in their Spring anthology, <a href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520739"><em>The Time It Happened</em></a>. (Also available from <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Happened-Third-Flatiron-Anthologies-Volume/dp/0692398201">amazon</a> for kindle and paper). </p> <p>This story is deliberately opaque, but I suspect LessWrong members will be more likely than most to figure out what is really going on. </p> elharo vf987FEENrdk6K4yu 2015-03-22T10:35:17.457Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/wxqkWqE9J6LQvQjGe/rationality-quotes-thread-march-2015#DWhuY5qheieCDqb6x <p>Feynman knew physics but he didn't know ornithology. When you name a bird, you've actually identified a whole lot of important things about it. It doesn't matter whether we call a Passer domesticus a House Sparrow or an English Sparrow, but it is really useful to be able to know that the male and females are the same species, even though they look and sound quite different; and that these are not all the same thing as a Song Sparrow or a Savannah Sparrow. It is useful to know that Fox Sparrows are all Fox Sparrows, even though they may look extremely different depending on where you find them. </p> <p>Assigning consistent names to the right groups of things is colossally important to biology and physics. Not being able to name birds for an ornithologist would be like a physicist not being able to say whether an electron and a positron are the same thing or not. Again it doesn't matter which kind of particle we call electron and which we call positron (arguably Ben Franklin screwed up the names there by guessing wrong about the direction of current flow) but it matters a lot that we always call electrons electrons and positrons positrons. Similarly it's important for a chemist to know that Helium 3 and Helium 4 are both Helium and not two different things (at least as far as chemistry and not nuclear physics is concerned).</p> <p>Names are useful placeholders for important classifications and distinctions. </p> elharo DWhuY5qheieCDqb6x 2015-03-13T22:35:28.728Z Comment by elharo on The Truth About Mathematical Ability https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/AXXaXJvf7WcTessog/the-truth-about-mathematical-ability#coT9cticWtK2LMgQ9 <p>I'll let you in on a secret: almost everyone hits the limit in Calculus 2. For that matter, most people hit the limit in Calculus 1 so you were ahead of the curve. That doesn't mean no one understands calculus, or that you can't learn it. It just means most students need more than one pass through the material. For instance, I don't think I really <em>understood</em> integration until I learned numerical analysis and the trapezoidal rule in grad school. </p> <p>There's a common saying among mathematicians: &quot;No understands Calculus until they teach it.&quot;</p> elharo coT9cticWtK2LMgQ9 2015-02-14T17:57:16.985Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fGjpNKweauLNzDtqF/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2015#n7frb86cjKXXHq7BL <p>In the case of superluminal neutrinos, pretty much nobody including the people who made the announcement believed it; and the real announcement was more along the lines of &quot;we've got some problematic data here; and we can't find our mistake. Does anyone see what we've done wrong?&quot;</p> elharo n7frb86cjKXXHq7BL 2015-02-13T12:01:08.707Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fGjpNKweauLNzDtqF/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2015#8EFoexZF237FivgwC <blockquote> <p>If you want to use google instead of science to &quot;prove me wrong&quot; then I am happy to call you an imbecile as well as misinformed.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Jennifer Hibben-White, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jennifer-hibbenwhite/anti-vaxxers_b_6661014.html">&quot;My 15-Day-Old Son May Have Measles&quot;</a>, 02/11/2015</p> elharo 8EFoexZF237FivgwC 2015-02-13T11:54:48.548Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/fGjpNKweauLNzDtqF/rationality-quotes-thread-february-2015#vpzDw2vTRwWigWpZv <p>Absent context, I notice I'm confused about which sense of the word &quot;values&quot; she's using here. Perhaps someone can elucidate? In particular is she talking about moral/ethical type values or is she using it in a broader sense that we might think of as goals?</p> elharo vpzDw2vTRwWigWpZv 2015-02-01T18:08:19.283Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#R7SajbShFh5BJkHnJ <p>That's pretty much exactly what the article, and the quoted selection, said. The improved performance of teams with more women is attributed to from gender disparity on the test for &quot;Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.&quot;</p> elharo R7SajbShFh5BJkHnJ 2015-01-20T12:37:38.404Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#KEusFBnYTeqXwuqEr <blockquote> <p>We next tried to define what characteristics distinguished the smarter teams from the rest, and we were a bit surprised by the answers we got. We gave each volunteer an individual I.Q. test, but teams with higher average I.Q.s didn’t score much higher on our collective intelligence tasks than did teams with lower average I.Q.s. Nor did teams with more extroverted people, or teams whose members reported feeling more motivated to contribute to their group’s success.</p> <p>Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics.</p> <p>First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.</p> <p>Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.</p> <p>Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.</p> </blockquote> <p>--Anita Wooley, Thomas W. Malone. and Christopher Chabris, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/why-some-teams-are-smarter-than-others.html">Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others</a>, New York Times, January 16. 2015</p> elharo KEusFBnYTeqXwuqEr 2015-01-19T12:57:08.628Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#veHRGqZKmGQNe3eLD <p>Update: JSTOR does not appear to include RUSI Journal. If anyone has access to a library that does have it, please do us a favor and look it up. </p> elharo veHRGqZKmGQNe3eLD 2015-01-04T13:03:29.369Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#qE6sfbrDnnB62CbFF <p>You're vastly overstating the criticisms of S. L. A Marshall. He did not just make up his figures. His research was not an invention. He conducted hundreds of interviews with soldiers who had recently been in combat. The U.S. Army found this research quite valuable and uses it to this day. Some people don't like his conclusions, and attempt to dispute them, but usually without attempting to collect actual data that would weigh against Marshall's. </p> <p>The Wikipedia article's claim that &quot;Professor Roger J. Spiller (Deputy Director of the Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College) demonstrated in his 1988 article, &quot;S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire&quot; (RUSI Journal, Winter 1988, pages 63–71), that Marshall had not actually conducted the research upon which he based his ratio-of-fire theory&quot; appears to be false. Spiller's article criticizes Marshall's methodology and points out a number of weaknesses in his later accounts. However it does not claim that the interviews Marshall described did not take place. Rather it suggests that Marshall intentionally or unintentionally sometimes inflated the number of interviews he had conducted, though it still allows for hundreds to have taken place. The RUSI article doesn't seem to be online, (I'll try and see if JSTOR has a copy) but some relevant portions are quoted <a href="http://warchronicle.com/us/combat_historians_wwii/marshallfire.htm">here</a>.</p> <p>I agree that Marshall's evidence is not perfect. I'd be interested to see better evidence, and if it came to different conclusions than he did, using better research techniques, then I would update my beliefs accordingly. Until I am see such research, though I am very wary of poorly sourced ad hominem attacks. </p> elharo qE6sfbrDnnB62CbFF 2015-01-04T12:59:29.001Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#JXPoPXk3brwwmytNf <p>Maybe. However many scholars and other authors (Isaac Asimov comes to mind) have criticized this tendency in Tolkien. There's an extent to which Middle Earth post-War and the Shire in particular are wish fulfillment. This is what Tolkien wants the world to be. For one recent take see <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/anti-tolkien">The Anti Tolkien</a> in the latest issue of the New Yorker which gives Michael Moorcock his say:</p> <blockquote> <p>Moorcock thinks Tolkien’s vast catalogue of names, places, magic rings, and dwarven kings is, as he told Hari Kunzru in a 2011 piece for The Guardian, “a pernicious confirmation of the values of a morally bankrupt middle class.”</p> </blockquote> elharo JXPoPXk3brwwmytNf 2015-01-02T12:36:50.385Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes January 2015 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RpM9uExiaiQypdux6/rationality-quotes-january-2015#GASKEXNxzcquBAsLx <p>That is a really clever mixup of different argumentation modes. That being said, Mr. Cochran strangling one of his opponents would still be only weak evidence that it is not so difficult for humans to psych themselves up to kill another human.</p> <p>First of all, he hasn't actually done it (I presume).</p> <p>Secondly, we know it's difficult, not impossible. </p> <p>Thirdly, we know there are sociopaths and psychopaths who can do this without much thought, as well as perhaps normal people who have become desensitized to killing. Fortunately these are a small percentage of the populace.</p> <p>There is, in fact, a large amount of research that has gone into studying the minds of people who kill: in wartime, in criminal activity, in law enforcement, and so forth; and there is a strong consensus that for most people intentional killing is hard. For example,</p> <blockquote> <p> In World War Two, it is a fact that only 15-20 percent of the soldiers fired at the enemy. That is one in five soldiers actually shooting at a Nazi when he sees one. While this rate may have increased in desperate situations, in most combat situations soldiers were reluctant to kill each other. The Civil War was not dramatically different or any previous wars.</p> <p>In WW2 only one percent of the pilots accounted for thirty to forty percent of enemy fighters shot down in the air. Some pilots didn't shoot down a single enemy plane.</p> <p>In Korea, the rate of soldiers unwilling to fire on the enemy decreased and fifty five percent of the soldiers fired at the enemy. In Vietnam, this rate increased to about ninety five percent but this doesn't mean they were trying to hit the target. In fact it usually took around fifty-two thousand bullets to score one kill in regular infantry units! It may be interesting to not that when Special Forces kills are recorded and monitored this often includes kills scored by calling in artillery or close air support. In this way SF type units could score very high kill ratios like fifty to a hundred for every SF trooper killed. This is not to say these elite troops didn't score a large number of bullet type kills. It is interesting to note that most kills in war are from artillery or other mass destruction type weapons.</p> <p>If one studies history and is able to cut through the hype, one will find that man is often unwilling to kill his fellow man and the fighter finds it very traumatic when he has to do so. On the battlefield the stress of being killed and injured is not always the main fear.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- William S. Frisbee, <a href="http://www.military-sf.com/Killing.htm">The Psychology of Killing</a></p> <p>If you want a more detailed look at this, including lots of references to the original Defense Department research, there are a number of good books by army officers including <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0316330116/warcatslair">On Killing</a> by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. One of the originals is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sharpening-Warriors-Edge-Psychology-Training/dp/0964920506">Men Against Fire</a> by World War I Officer S. L. A Marshall. Bruce Siddle's work, more focused on law enforcement, is also worth a look. E.g. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sharpening-Warriors-Edge-Psychology-Training/dp/0964920506">Sharpening the Warrior's Edge</a>.</p> <p>None of these are perfect or irrefutable evidence. For instance, the research I'm aware focuses primarily on U.S. and British troops and police officers. It's certainly possible that this is culturally conditioned and the results might be different elsewhere. However, I've yet to see any strong critiques of the general consensus about the difficulty of killing in war. The best evidence we have is that killing is in fact difficult for most people, most of the time, even in war. </p> elharo GASKEXNxzcquBAsLx 2015-01-01T13:46:48.793Z Comment by elharo on Help us name the Sequences ebook https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Hmc2NE6oTipCvuZdN/help-us-name-the-sequences-ebook#p7cagz2MzQhMEC4bL <p>Drop the dates in the title. They just make the book seem old and outdated.</p> elharo p7cagz2MzQhMEC4bL 2014-12-10T13:10:10.977Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes December 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DCQmStPDtwKFy33Nv/rationality-quotes-december-2014#SBzQezMuwjedEkkB8 <blockquote> <p>We're similarly shocked whenever authority figures who are supposed to know what they're doing make it plain that they don't, President Obama's <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/21/obama-healthcare-website-problems-live">healthcare launch</a> being probably the most serious recent example. We shouldn't really be shocked, though. Because all these stories illustrate one of the most fundamental yet still under-appreciated truths of human existence, which is this: everyone is totally just winging it, all the time.</p> <p>Institutions – from national newspapers to governments and politicial parties – invest an enormous amount of money and effort in denying this truth. The facades they maintain are crucial to their authority, and thus to their legitimacy and continued survival. We need them to appear ultra-competent, too, because we derive much psychological security from the belief that somewhere, in the highest echelons of society, there are some near-infallible adults in charge.</p> <p>In fact, though, everyone is totally just winging it.</p> </blockquote> <p>-- Oliver Burkeman, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/may/21/everyone-is-totally-just-winging-it">The Guardian, May 21, 2014</a></p> elharo SBzQezMuwjedEkkB8 2014-12-09T12:30:01.196Z Comment by elharo on Stupid Questions December 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/mSc3i4zNF6m6idnDs/stupid-questions-december-2014#EhJtNaMY6oJ7y4TcY <p>Possible, but unlikely. We're all <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/may/21/everyone-is-totally-just-winging-it">just winging it</a> and as others have pointed out, impostor syndrome is a thing. </p> elharo EhJtNaMY6oJ7y4TcY 2014-12-09T12:26:23.331Z Comment by elharo on December 2014 Bragging Thread https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/8XHbvNZ7KXMbCft54/december-2014-bragging-thread#omaAi3Dvd7WG7xBYX <p><a href="http://www.themysteryplace.com/ahmm/">Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine</a> has published my flash piece &quot;To the Point&quot; in their January/February issue. It's short (250 words) but at 10 cents a word, it's my first <a href="http://mysterywriters.org/how-to-become-a-member-of-mwa/membership-active-status/">Mystery Writers of America</a> qualifying sale. </p> elharo omaAi3Dvd7WG7xBYX 2014-12-03T12:51:33.101Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes December 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DCQmStPDtwKFy33Nv/rationality-quotes-december-2014#WRbr9R4xhpd3ypyWL <p>It strikes me that the original Franklin quote really identifies a specific case of the availability heuristic. That is, when you're focused on safety, you tend to adopt policies that increase safety, without even considering other values such as liberty. </p> <p>There may also be an issue of externalities here. This is really, really common in law enforcement. For example, consider civil asset forfeiture. It is an additional legal tool that enables police to catch and punish more criminals, more easily. That it also harms a lot of innocent people is simply not considered because their is no penalty to the police for doing so. All the cost is borne by people who are irrelevant to them. </p> elharo WRbr9R4xhpd3ypyWL 2014-12-03T12:39:07.979Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes November 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW/rationality-quotes-november-2014#7xb98EEtrbLYQbvz7 <p>That someone has never experienced some state X does not imply that they do not have a vision for the state X they wish to achieve in the future. If you want to know what someone's positive vision for the future is, ask them, &quot;What is your vision for a better future?&quot;; not &quot;Have you experienced something better than this in the past?&quot; These are two very different questions. </p> <p>Most people grow up in some status quo.* That doesn't mean they can conceive of no alternative to that status quo.</p> <ul> <li>What qualifies as &quot;status quo&quot; is of course very local to some time, place, and subculture. The status quo described in the article quoted isn't remotely close to anything I've ever seen, but that doesn't mean it isn't an accurate reflection of the status quo at one particular English-speaking university in Montreal in the early teens. </li> </ul> elharo 7xb98EEtrbLYQbvz7 2014-11-27T23:15:18.062Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes November 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW/rationality-quotes-november-2014#CYo69KLJbxLLABQDH <p>I'm reminded of Eisenhower: </p> <blockquote> <p>I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of &quot;emergency&quot; is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.</p> </blockquote> <p> -- From a speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (November 14, 1957) ; in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, National Archives and Records Service, Government Printing Office, p. 818 : ISBN 0160588510, 9780160588518</p> elharo CYo69KLJbxLLABQDH 2014-11-27T20:01:57.684Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes November 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW/rationality-quotes-november-2014#JH4uw7mG4QLBxxWr4 <p>SJs? Can you elaborate? I'm not sure what you're referring to. </p> elharo JH4uw7mG4QLBxxWr4 2014-11-27T19:58:59.647Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes November 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW/rationality-quotes-november-2014#NjijHuEheu4PNLwGQ <p>This strikes me as a common failing of rationality. Personally I've never really noticed it in politics though. People arguing politics from all corners of the spectrum usually know exactly what they want to happen instead, and will advocate for it in great detail.</p> <p>However, in science it is extremely common for known broken theories to be espoused and taught because there's nothing (yet) better. There are many examples from the late 19th/early 20th centuries before quantum mechanics was figured out. For example, the prevailing theory of how the sun worked used a model of gravitational contraction that simply could not have powered the sun for anything like the known age of the earth. That model wasn't really discarded until the 1920s and 30s when Gamow and Teller figured out the nuclear reactions that really did power the sun. </p> <p>There are many examples today, in many fields, where the existing model simply cannot be accurate. Yet until a better model comes along scientists are loath to discard it. </p> <p>This irrationality, this unwillingness to listen to someone who says &quot;This idea is wrong&quot; unless they can also say &quot;and this alternative idea is right&quot; is a major theme of Thomas Kuhn's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0226458083/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">The Structure of Scientific Revolutions</a>. </p> elharo NjijHuEheu4PNLwGQ 2014-11-27T14:43:18.451Z Comment by elharo on November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HTZS6Q72EHneWCyeq/november-2014-monthly-bragging-thread#YW4ZpkDw3aBzxuhM9 <p>You did. Demand for computer professionals is noticeably higher than the supply. It therefore is much easier to become a highly paid computer professional than a successful doctor/lawyer/teacher/writer/police officer/scientist/musician/real estate agent/salesperson/etc.</p> <p>Unlike WoW and other MMORPGs, nothing in the real world requires different character classes to be balanced in leveling, power, and effort. Being a computer professional in the early 21st century is like playing the game on easy mode. </p> elharo YW4ZpkDw3aBzxuhM9 2014-11-23T19:00:43.603Z Rationality Quotes November 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW/rationality-quotes-november-2014 <p>Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:</p> <ul> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so <a href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.</li> </ul> elharo DAKaAoeKGjCnwZ9cW 2014-11-07T19:07:11.917Z Comment by elharo on November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HTZS6Q72EHneWCyeq/november-2014-monthly-bragging-thread#tdsjC36zkhJfZGGM5 <p>Third Flatiron has published my short story <em>Refusing the Call</em> in their winter anthology, <a href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/478247"><em>Abbreviated Epics</em></a>. (Also available from <a href="http://t.co/P5tcduPgl4">amazon</a> for kindle and paper). </p> <p>This story isn't explicitly rationalist fiction, but I do expect readers will find my protagonist to be a tad more compos mentis than the usual fantasy hero in the <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SummonEverymanHero">Harold Shea/Richard Blade/John Carter/Tarl Cabot/Wiz Zumwalt/Thomas Covenant/Adam Strange/Pevensie</a> mold. </p> elharo tdsjC36zkhJfZGGM5 2014-11-01T21:02:47.166Z November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HTZS6Q72EHneWCyeq/november-2014-monthly-bragging-thread <p>Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining <strong>the most awesome thing you've done this month</strong>. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself <em>the coolest freaking person ever</em> because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.</p> <div> <p>Remember, however, that this <strong>isn't</strong> any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. <em>This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on"</em>. <strong>Have already done.</strong> This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.</p> <p>So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?</p> </div> elharo HTZS6Q72EHneWCyeq 2014-11-01T20:49:50.375Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes October 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/94SFae4PQNJLdrdTP/rationality-quotes-october-2014#pKyeuYZNC3j3wKSyy <blockquote> <p>if people use data and inferences they can make with the data without any concern about error bars, about heterogeneity, about noisy data, about the sampling pattern, about all the kinds of things that you have to be serious about if you’re an engineer and a statistician—then you will make lots of predictions, and there’s a good chance that you will occasionally solve some real interesting problems. But you will occasionally have some disastrously bad decisions. And you won’t know the difference a priori. You will just produce these outputs and hope for the best.</p> </blockquote> <p>--Michael I. Jordan, Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, <a href="http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/artificial-intelligence/machinelearning-maestro-michael-jordan-on-the-delusions-of-big-data-and-other-huge-engineering-efforts">Machine-Learning Maestro Michael Jordan on the Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts</a></p> elharo pKyeuYZNC3j3wKSyy 2014-10-21T20:54:44.689Z Comment by elharo on On Caring https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ur9TCRnHJighHmLCW/on-caring#eZCz7EPwyuAeBQzpR <p>As usual, the word &quot;better&quot; hides a lot of relevant detail. Better for whom? By what measure?</p> <p>Shockingly, in at least some cases by some measures, though, it works better for us if I pay your debt and you pay my debt, because it is possible for a third party to get much, much better terms on repayment than the original borrower. In many cases, debts can be sold for pennies on the dollar to anyone except the original borrower. See <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/strike-debt/">any of these articles</a></p> elharo eZCz7EPwyuAeBQzpR 2014-10-19T10:16:26.858Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes October 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/94SFae4PQNJLdrdTP/rationality-quotes-october-2014#fMDfnSjwhJp2jqZ3S <p>I understand the sentiment and why it's quoted. In fanboy mode though, I think Gryffindor and Ravenclaw are reversed here. I.e. a Gryffindor might sacrifice themself, but would not sacrifice a friend or loved one. They would insist that there must be a better way, and strive to find it. In fiction (as opposed to real life) they might even be right.</p> <p>The Ravenclaw is the one who does the math, and sacrifices the one to save the many, even if the one is dear to them. More realistically, the Ravenclaw is the effective altruist who sees all human life as equally valuable, and will spend their money where it can do the most good, even if that's in a far away place and their money helps only people they will never meet. A Ravenclaw says the green children being killed by our blue soldiers are just as deserving of life as our own blue children; and a Ravenclaw will say this even when he or she personally feels far more attached to blue children. The Ravenclaw is the one who does not reject the obvious implications of clear logic, just because they are unpopular at rallies to support the brave blue soldiers.</p> elharo fMDfnSjwhJp2jqZ3S 2014-10-05T22:07:15.292Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes October 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/94SFae4PQNJLdrdTP/rationality-quotes-october-2014#yRdKKK3F7bbRftjok <p>I'm not sure that's the real reason a soldier, or someone in a similar position, should obey their leader. In circumstances that rely on a group of individuals behaving coherently, it is often more important that they work together than that they work in the optimal way. That is, action is coordinated by assigning one person to make the decision. Even if this person is not the smartest or best informed in the situation, the results achieved by following orders are likely to be better than by each individual doing what they personally think is best.</p> <p>In less pressing situations, it is of course reasonable to talk things out amongst a team and see if anyone has a better idea. However even then it's common for there to be more than one good way to do something. It is usually better to let the designated leader pick an acceptable solution rather than spend a lot of time arguing about the best possible solution. And unless the chosen solution is truly awful (not just worse but actively wrong) it is usually better to go along with the leader designated solution than to go off in a different direction. </p> elharo yRdKKK3F7bbRftjok 2014-10-04T14:39:49.951Z Comment by elharo on Rationality Quotes September 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/GosJZhy9LNBG5XDqr/rationality-quotes-september-2014#r39RQ6ELNLwr2Q8L6 <p>Thinking back to my own religious high school education, I realize that the ethics component (though never called out as such, it was woven into the curriculum at every level) was indeed important; not so much because of the specific rules they taught and didn't teach; as simply in teaching me that ethics and morals were something to think about and discuss.</p> <p>Then again, this was a Jesuit school; and Jesuit education has a reputation for being somewhat more Socratic and questioning than the typical deontological viewpoint of many schools. </p> <p>But in any case, yay for personal finance. </p> elharo r39RQ6ELNLwr2Q8L6 2014-09-30T11:15:27.954Z June Monthly Bragging Thread https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Bojke9JYNMTyam6ch/june-monthly-bragging-thread <div id="entry_t3_k6i" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div>Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining <strong>the most awesome thing you've done this month</strong>. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself <em>the coolest freaking person ever</em> because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that. <div> <p>Remember, however, that this <strong>isn't</strong> any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. <em>This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on"</em>. <strong>Have already done.</strong> This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.</p> <p>So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo Bojke9JYNMTyam6ch 2014-06-15T13:26:10.079Z Rationality Quotes May 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/BnNZgzC3GAsQh3tSF/rationality-quotes-may-2014 <div id="entry_t3_jsm" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 15.600000381469727px; text-align: justify;">Another month has passed and here is a new rationality quotes thread. The usual rules are:</p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 15.600000381469727px; text-align: justify;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name. </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> elharo BnNZgzC3GAsQh3tSF 2014-05-01T09:45:45.166Z Rationality Quotes April 2014 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/c3JNnsXcgEKvzFfPN/rationality-quotes-april-2014 <div id="entry_t3_jsm" class="content clear"> <div class="md"> <div> <div> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1em; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 15.600000381469727px; text-align: justify;">Another month has passed and here is a new rationality quotes thread. The usual rules are:</p> <ul style="padding: 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 15.600000381469727px; text-align: justify;"> <li>Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)</li> <li>Do not quote yourself.</li> <li>Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so&nbsp;<a style="color: #8a8a8b;" href="/r/discussion/lw/i6h/rationality_quotes_from_people_associated_with/">here</a>.</li> <li>No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.</li> </ul> <p>And one new rule:</p> </div> <ul> <li>Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name. </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> elharo c3JNnsXcgEKvzFfPN 2014-04-07T17:25:18.273Z Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/bMxxf7Wtic298LcNx/harry-potter-and-the-methods-of-rationality-discussion-8 <p>This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/">Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality</a></em>&nbsp;and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing&nbsp;<a href="http://hpmor.com/chapter/94">chapter 94</a>. <a href="/r/discussion/lw/hws/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">The previous thread&nbsp;</a>has passed 200 comments.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is now a site dedicated to the story at&nbsp;<a href="http://hpmor.com/">hpmor.com</a>, which is now the place to go to find the&nbsp;<a href="http://hpmor.com/notes/">authors notes</a>&nbsp;and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.evernote.com/pub/adelenedawner/Eliezer">archive of Author&rsquo;s Notes</a>. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.)&nbsp;</p> <p>The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the&nbsp;<a href="/tag/harry_potter/">harry_potter tag</a>.&nbsp; Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the&nbsp;<a href="/r/discussion/tag/harry_potter/">discussion section</a>&nbsp;using its separate tag system. Also:&nbsp;<a href="/lw/2ab/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">1</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/2ie/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">2</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/2nm/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">3</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">4</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/30g/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">5</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/364/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">6</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/3rb/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">7</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/797/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">8</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/7jd/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">9</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/ams/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality">10</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/axe/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">11</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/b5s/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">12</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/b7s/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">13</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/bfo/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">14</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/bmx/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">15</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/bto/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">16</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/fyv/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">17</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/lw/g1q/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">18</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/huq/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">19</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/hvg/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">20</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/hwf/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">21</a>,&nbsp; <a href="/r/discussion/lw/hws/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/">22</a>.</p> <p><strong>Spoiler Warning</strong>: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13.&nbsp;<a href="/lw/2tr/harry_potter_and_the_methods_of_rationality/2v1l">More specifically</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).</p> <p>If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it&rsquo;s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that &ldquo;Eliezer said X is true&rdquo; unless you use rot13.</p> </blockquote> elharo bMxxf7Wtic298LcNx 2013-07-08T12:04:37.740Z A New Interpretation of the Marshmallow Test https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CHdsSaQGAvtkXBzmJ/a-new-interpretation-of-the-marshmallow-test <p>I've begun to notice a pattern with experiments in behavioral economics. An experiment produces a result that's counter-intuitive and surprising, and demonstrates that people don't behave as rationally as expected. Then, as time passes, other researchers contrive different versions of the experiment that show the experiment may not have been about what we thought it was about in the first place. For example, in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictator_game">dictator game</a>, <span class="st">Jeffrey<em> </em>Winking<em> </em>and<em> </em>Nicholas Mizer </span><a href="http://www.epjournal.net/blog/2013/05/are-all-dictator-game-results-artifacts/">changed the experiment</a> so that the participants didn't know each other and the subjects didn't know they were in an experiment. With this simple adjustment that made the conditions of the game more realistic, the "dictators" switched from giving away a large portion of their unearned gains to giving away nothing. Now it's happened to the marshmallow test.</p> <p>In the original <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment">Stanford marshmallow experiment</a>, children were given one marshmallow. They could eat the marshmallow right away; or, if they waited fifteen minutes for the experimenter to return without eating the marshmallow, they'd get a second marshmallow. Even more interestingly, in follow-up studies two decades later, the children who waited longer for the second marshmallow, i.e. showed delayed gratification, had higher SAT scores, school performance, and even improved Body Mass Index. This is normally interpreted as indicating the importance of self-control and delayed gratification for life success.</p> <p>Not so fast.</p> <p>In a new variant of the experiment entitled (I kid you not) "<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010027712001849">Rational snacking</a>", Celeste Kidd, Holly Palmeri, and Richard N. Aslin from the University of Rochester gave the children a similar test with an interesting twist.</p> <p>They assigned 28 children to two groups asked to perform art projects. Children in the first group each received half a container of used crayons, and were told that if they could wait, the researcher would bring them more and better art supplies. However, after two and a half minutes, the adult returned and told the child they had made a mistake, and there were no more art supplies so they'd have to use the original crayons.</p> <p>In part 2, the adult gave the child a single sticker and told the child that if they waited, the adult would bring them more stickers to use. Again the adult reneged.</p> <p>Children in the second group went through the same routine except this time the adult fulfilled their promises, bringing the children more and better art supplies and several large stickers.</p> <p>After these two events, the experimenters repeated the classic marshmallow test with both groups. The results demonstrated children were a lot more rational than we might have thought. Of the 14 children in group 1, who had been shown that the experimenters were unreliable adults, 13 of them ate the first marshmallow. 8 of the 14 children in the reliable adult group, waited out the fifteen minutes. On average children in unreliable group 1 waited only 3 minutes, and those in reliable group 2 waited 12 minutes.</p> <p>So maybe what the longitudinal studies show is that children who come from an environment where they have learned to be more trusting have better life outcomes. I make absolutely no claims as to which direction the arrow of causality may run, or whether it's pure correlation with other factors. For instance, maybe breastfeeding increases both trust and academic performance. But any way you interpret these results, the case for the importance and even the existence of innate self-control is looking a lot weaker.</p> elharo CHdsSaQGAvtkXBzmJ 2013-07-05T12:22:59.433Z Preparing for a Rational Financial Planning Sequence https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/uJ7gdQ8ZRnn9M9zTE/preparing-for-a-rational-financial-planning-sequence <p>What follows is a rough outline for a possible rational financial planning sequence that was inspired by some other <a href="/lw/h9b/post_ridiculous_munchkin_ideas/8zkf">recent</a> <a href="/lw/hfw/why_is_it_rational_to_invest_in_retirement_i_dont/">discussion</a> here. I'm not sure how useful this would be to how many people. I know there are some LessWrongers who would enjoy and learn from this; but I don't know if there are 5, 50, or 500. If you'd like to read it, let me know. If 500 people tell me they can't wait for this, I'll probably write it. If 5 people say maybe they'll glance at it, then probably not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Part I: Preliminaries:<br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Financial Rationality<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Multiplying uncertainties<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The inside and outside views<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Interpolation is reliable; extrapolation isn't<br /><br />Part II: This is important:</p> <ul> <li>Why to save for retirement</li> <li>Dying alone in a hole: the story of Jane.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Why compound interest is cool</li> <li>65-year old you will not want to live like a grad student</li> <li>65-year old you will not want to work like 35-year old you</li> <li>Existential risk does not defeat personal risk</li> <li>Existential success does not defeat personal risk</li> </ul> <p><br />Part III: Analyzing Your Life<br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (This section needs a lot more fleshing out, and thought) <br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Personal satisfaction and happiness: do what you love, and adjust your financial expectations accordingly<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How much do you need to retire?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; When do you want to retire?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How much do you need to live on today?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Big expenses you need to plan for<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Increasing Income<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; College the best financial decision you'll ever make or the worst?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Choosing a career: what is your comparative advantage?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Switching careers<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Career Decisions<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; equity vs salary; steady singles or home run hitter<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; employee or owner<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Career Tactics<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Salary negotiation<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; promotion<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; when to change jobs<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Cutting Expenses<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Save more tomorrow<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Inheritance<br /><br />Part IV: The Practical How-to Advice:</p> <p>Emergency Cash<br />Credit cards: the good, the bad, and the criminal<br />Banking<br />Where to save (tax advantaged accounts)<br />The importance of fees<br />401K matching: the highest return you'll ever see<br />Social Security<br />Pensions<br />What to invest in (index funds)<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; diversification<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; stock vs bond funds<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; domestic vs. international<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; target retirement funds<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Comic books are not a retirement plan (but a comic book store might be)<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Avoiding hucksters and doomsayers <br />Investment Advisors<br />What if the shit hits the fan?<br />Can smart, rational investors beat the market?<br />Good debt; bad debt<br />Cars and other expensive purchases<br />Cutting out the middleman: making money on Craig's list, amazon, eBay and AirB&amp;B<br />Buying a house<br />Renting vs. owning a house; rental parity<br />Student loans<br />Health Insurance<br />Life Insurance<br />Auto Insurance<br />Your Spouse: the most important financial decision you'll ever make<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Diamonds are forever, but most women would rather have a house.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; One or two incomes?<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Live longer, be happier, get married</p> <p>Children<br />Charity</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>If there are any topics you'd like to see covered that aren't here (wills? lawyers? the financial press?), let me know. Similarly, if you think there's a section that doesn't belong and should be dropped, let me know that too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One caveat: while some sections are fairly generic, others will be very U.S. centric. The most specific advice will not be applicable to non-U.S. citizens and residents. That does limit the audience, but there's not too much I can do about that. Perhaps if it's successful I can seek out co-authors to do UK, Canadian, or other country editions.</p> <p>A question for people who are interested in financial planning material: If this were available as a complete book (electronic and paper) today, how likely do you think it is that you would buy this book instead of one of the other available books on the subject? What would you pay for such a book?&nbsp; If this were available as both a book and a sequence on LessWrong, how might that change your decision?</p> <p>For now, this discussion thread is just a minimum viable product (MVP) to find out if a sequence is worth the time it would take me to complete. If the MVP pans out, I'll write and post one or two of these chapters to further gauge interest. If the MVP doesn't look promising, I'll drop it and move on to my next book idea.</p> elharo uJ7gdQ8ZRnn9M9zTE 2013-05-22T11:48:38.291Z The Unselfish Trolley Problem https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/3xhrqxNAwHZYjNj7C/the-unselfish-trolley-problem <p>By now <a href="http://www.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm">the Trolley Problem</a> is well known amongst <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem">moral philosophers</a> and <a href="/lw/383/the_trolley_problem_dodging_moral_questions/">LessWrong readers</a>. In brief, there's a trolley hurtling down the tracks. The dastardly villain <span class="st">Snidely Whiplash</span> has tied five people to the tracks. You have only seconds to act. You can save the five people by throwing a switch and transferring the trolley to another track. However the evil villain has tied a sixth person to the alternate track. Should you throw the switch?</p> <p>When first presented with this problem, almost everyone answers yes. Sacrifice the one to save five. It's not a very hard choice.</p> <p>Now comes the hard question. There is no switch or alternate track. The trolley is still coming down the tracks, and there are still five people tied to it. You are instead standing on a bridge over the tracks. Next to you is a fat man. If you push the man onto the tracks, the trolley car will hit him and derail, saving the five people; but the fat man will die. Do you push him?</p> <p>This is a really hard problem. Most people say no, they don't push. But really what is the difference here? In both scenarios you are choosing to take one life in order to save five. It's a net gain of four lives. Especially if you call yourself a utilitarian, as many folks here do, how can you not push? If you do push, how will you feel about that choice afterwards?</p> <p>Try not to <span class="st"><em>Kobayashi Maru</em> </span> this question, at least not yet. I know you can <a href="/lw/2xh/the_problem_with_trolley_problems/">criticize the scenario and find it unrealistic</a>. For instance, you may say you won't push because the man might fight back, and you'd both fall but not till after the trolley had passed so everyone dies. So imagine the fat man in a wheelchair, so he can be lightly rolled off the bridge. And if you're too socially constrained to consider hurting a handicapped person, maybe the five people tied to the tracks are also in wheelchairs. If you think that being pushed off a bridge is more terrifying than being hit by a train, suppose the fat man is thoroughly anesthetized. Yes, this is an unrealistic thought experiment; but please play along for now.</p> <p>Have your answer? Good. Now comes the third, final, and hardest question; especially for anybody who said they'd push the fat man. There is still no switch or alternate track. The trolley is still coming down the tracks, and there are still five people tied to it. You are still standing on a bridge over the tracks. But this time you're alone and the only way to stop the train is by jumping in front of it yourself. Do you jump? If you said yes, you would push the fat man; but you won't jump. Why?</p> <p>Do you have a moral obligation to jump in front of the train? If you have a moral obligation to push someone else, don't you have a moral obligation to sacrifice yourself as well? or if you won't sacrifice yourself, how can you justify sacrificing someone else? Is it morally more right to push someone else than jump yourself? I'd argue the opposite...</p> <p>Realistically you may not be able to bring yourself to jump. It's not exactly a moral decision. You're just not that brave. You accept that it's right for you to jump, and accept that you're not that moral. Fine. Now imagine someone is standing next to you, a skinny athletic person who's too small to stop the train themselves but strong enough to push you over into the path of the trolley. Do you still think the correct answer to the trolley problem is to push?</p> <p>If we take it seriously, this is a hard problem. The best answer I know is <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rawls">Rawlsianism</a>. You pick your answer in ignorance of who you'll be in the problem. You don't know whether you're the pusher, the pushed, or one of the people tied to the tracks. In this case, the answer is easy: push! There's a 6/7 chance you'll survive so the selfish and utilitarian answers converge.</p> <p>We can play other variants. For instance, suppose Snidely kidnaps you and says "Tomorrow I'm going to flip a coin. Heads I'll put you on the tracks with 4 other people (and put a different person on the bridge next to the pusher). Tails I'll put you on the bridge next to a pusher." Should the pusher push? Actually that's an easy one because you don't know where you'll end up so you might as well save the four extra people in both scenarios. Your expected value is the same and everyone else's is increased by pushing.</p> <p>Now imagine <span class="st">Snidely</span> says instead he'll roll a die. If it comes up 1-5, he puts six people including you on the track. If it comes up 6, he lets you go and puts the other five people on the track. However if you agree to be tied to the track without a roll, without even a chance of escape, he'll let the other five people go. What now? Suppose he rolls two dice and they both have to come up 6 for you to go free; but he'll still let everyone else go if you agree. Will you save the other five people at the cost of a 1/36 chance of saving your own life? How about three dice? four? How many dice must Snidely roll before you think the chance of saving your own life is outweighed by the certainty of saving five others?&nbsp;</p> <p>Do you have your answers? Are you prepared to defend them? Good. Comment away, and you can even <span class="st"><em>Kobayashi Maru</em> </span>the scenario or criticize the excessively contrived hypotheticals I've posed here. But be forewarned, in part 2 I'm going to show you an actual, non-hypothetical scenario where this problem becomes very real; indeed a situation I know many LessWrong readers are facing right now; and yes, it's a matter of life and death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Update</strong>: It now occurs to me that the scenario can be tightened up considerably. Forget the bridge and the fat man. They're irrelevant details. Case 1 is as before. 5 people on one track, 1 on another. Pull the switch to save the 5 and kill the 1. Still not a hard problem.</p> <p>Case 2: same as before, except this time you are standing next to the one person tied to the track who will be hit by the trolley if you throw the switch. And they are conscious, can talk to you, and see what you're doing. No one else will know what you did. Does this change your answer, and if so why?</p> <p>Case 3: same as before, except this time you are the one person tied to the track who will be hit by the trolley if you throw the switch.</p> <p>Folks here are being refreshingly honest. I don't think anyone has yet said they would throw the switch in case 3, and most of us (myself included) are simply admitting we're not that brave/altruistic/suicidal (assuming the five people on the other track are not our friends or family). So let's make it a little easier. Suppose in case 3 someone else, not you, is tied to the track but can reach the switch. What now?</p> <p> <hr /> </p> <p><strong>Update 2</strong>: Case 4: As in case 3, you are tied to the track, five other unrelated people are tied to the opposite track, and you have access to a switch that will cause the trolley to change tracks. However now the trolley is initially aimed at you. The five people on the other track are safe unless you throw the switch. Is there a difference between throwing the switch in this case, and not throwing the switch in Case 3?</p> <p>This case also raises the interesting question of legality. If there are any lawyers in the room, do you think a person who throws the switch in case 4--that is, saves themselves at the cost of five other lives--could be convicted of a crime? (Of course, the answer to this one may vary with jurisdiction.) Are there any actual precedents of cases like this?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> elharo 3xhrqxNAwHZYjNj7C 2013-05-17T10:51:56.068Z The Power of Pomodoros https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/4iLk2rxTguFqHHs3Y/the-power-of-pomodoros <p>Until recently, I hadn't paid much attention to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique">Pomodoro</a>, though I've heard of it for a few years now. "Uncle Bob" Martin seemed to like it, and he's usually worth paying attention to in such matters. However, it mostly seemed to me like a way of organizing a variety of tasks and avoiding procrastination, and I've never had much trouble with that.</p> <p>However after the January CFAR workshop suggested it in passing, I decided to give it a try; and I realized I had it all wrong. Pomodoros aren't (for me) a means of avoiding procrastination or dividing time among projects. They're a way of blasting through <a href="/lw/21b/ugh_fields/">Ugh fields</a>.</p> <p>The Pomodoro technique is really simple compared to more involved systems like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0142000280/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">Getting Things Done (<acronym>GTD</acronym>)</a>. Here it is:</p> <ol> <li>Set a timer for 25 minutes</li> <li>Work on one thing for that 25 minutes, nothing else. No email, no phone calls, no snack breaks, no Twitter, no IM, etc.</li> <li>Take a five minute break</li> <li>Pick a new project, or the same project, if you prefer.</li> <li>Repeat</li> </ol> <p>That's pretty much it. You can buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1934356506/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">book</a> or a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=B006TVTER4/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">special timer</a> for this; but there's really nothing else to it. It takes longer to explain the name than the technique. (When Francesco Cirillo invented this technique in the 1980s, he was using an Italian kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. <em>Pomodoro</em> is Italian for <em>tomato</em>.)</p> <p>I got interested in Pomodoro when I realized I could use it to clean my office/desk/apartment. David Allen's <acronym>GTD</acronym> system appealed to me, but I could never maintain it, and the 2+ days it needed to get all the way to a clean desk was always a big hurdle to vault. However, spending 25 minutes at a time, followed by a break and another project seemed a lot more manageable.</p> <p>I tried it, and it worked. My desk stack quickly shrunk, not to empty, but at least to a place where an accidental elbow swing no longer launched avalanches of paper onto the floor as I typed.</p> <p>So I decided to try Pomodoro on my upcoming book. The publisher was using a new authoring system and template that I was unfamiliar with. There were a dozen little details to figure out about the new system--how to check out files in git, how to create a section break, whether to use hard or soft wrapping, etc.--and I just worked through them one by one. 25 minutes later I'd knocked them all out, and was familiar enough with the new system to begin writing in earnest. I didn't know everything about the software, but I knew enough that it was no longer averting. Next I used 25 minutes on a chapter that was challenging me, and Pomodoro got me to the point where I was in the flow.</p> <p>That's when I realized that Pomodoro is not a system for organizing time or avoiding procrastination (at least not for me). What it is, is an incredibly effective way to break through tasks that look too hard: code you're not familiar with, an office that's too cluttered, a chapter you don't know how to begin.</p> <p>The key is that a Pomodoro forces you to focus on the unfamiliar, difficult, aversive task for 25 minutes. 25 minutes of focused attention without distractions from other, easier tasks is enough to figure out many complex situations or at least get far enough along that the next step is obvious.</p> <p>Here's another example. I had a task to design a <a href="https://developers.google.com/web-toolkit/">GWT</a> widget and plug it into an existing application, and I have never done any work with GWT. Every time I looked at the frontend application code, it seemed like a big mess of confused, convoluted, dependency injected, late bound, spooky-action-at-a-distance spaghetti. Now doubtless there wasn't anything fundamentally more difficult about this code than the server side code I have been writing; and if my career had taken just <a href="http://www.elharo.com/blog/personal/2013/01/31/domains-of-knowledge-ive-never-gotten-around-to-learning/">a slightly different path</a> over the last six years, frontend GWT code might be my bread and butter. But my career didn't take that path, and this code was a big Ugh field for me. So I set the Pomodoro timer on my smartphone and started working. Did I finish? No, but I got started, made progress, and proved to myself that GWT wasn't all that challenging after all. The widget is still difficult enough and GWT complex enough that I may need several more Pomodoros to finish the job, but I did get way further and learn more in 25 minutes of intense focus than I would have done in a day or even a week without it.</p> <p>I don't use the Pomodoro technique exclusively. Once I get going on a project or a chapter, I don't need the help; and five minute breaks once I'm in the flow just distract me. So some days I just do 1 or 2 or 0 Pomodoros, whatever it takes to get me rolling again and past the blocker.</p> <p>I also don't know if this works for genuinely difficult problems. For instance, I don't know if it will help with a difficult mathematical proof I've been struggling with for months (though I intend to find out). But for subjects that I know I can do, but can't quite figure out how to do, or where to start, the power of focusing 25 minutes of real attention on just that one problem is astonishing.</p> elharo 4iLk2rxTguFqHHs3Y 2013-05-14T10:36:25.710Z Rationality Habits I Learned at the CFAR Workshop https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ymwyTDc96uaAqZ48e/rationality-habits-i-learned-at-the-cfar-workshop <p>Recently Leah Libresco asked attendees at the January <a href="/lw/g6g/applied_rationality_workshops_jan_2528_and_march/">CFAR Workshop</a>, "<span id=":11e" class="hP">What habits have people installed after workshops?" and that got me thinking that now was a good time to write up and review what I learned (or learned and already forgot). </span>I thought that might be of some interest to folks here, and this is what follows.</p> <h3>What I Learned and Implemented<br /></h3> <p>The most immediately useful thing I learned was the <em>Pomodoro Technique</em>, as I've <a href="/lw/gp4/the_power_of_pomodoros/">written about here before</a>. In addition to that, there were a number of small items that I'm continuing to work on.</p> <p>First, I've become quite fond of the question "<em>Does future me have a comparative advantage?</em>" Especially for small items, if the answer is "No" (and it's no far more often than it's yes) then just do it right now. The more trivial the task, the more useful it is. For instance, today I asked myself that while standing in the bedroom wondering whether to take 30 seconds to move my <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=B0043EW1S8/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">ExOfficio Bugproof socks</a> from the dresser to the correct box in the closet. (Answer from a few minutes ago:&nbsp; if I don't take my dog for a walk <em>right now</em>, he's going to pee all over the floor. Future me does have a comparative advantage of not having to clean up pee on the floor. The socks can wait.)</p> <p>I've begun to <em>notice my confusion and call it to conscious attention</em> more often, though I suspect I learned this first from <a href="http://www.hpmor.com/">HpMOR</a> and the sequences before the workshop. Example: when <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox">Leonard Susskind states that conservation of information</a> is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics, I notice that I am confused because A) I have never heard of any such fundamental law of physics as information conservation B) Every definition of information I have ever heard indicates that information most certainly can be destroyed. So just what the heck is he talking about anyway? I am now making a conscious effort to research this topic rather than letting it slide by.</p> <p>The workshop introduced me to the concepts of System 1 and System 2. System 1 is the faster, reactive, intuitive mind that uses heuristics and experience to react quickly. System 2 is the slower, analytical, logical, mathematical mind. I didn't immediately grok this or see how to apply it. However the workshop did convince me to read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0374275637/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow</a>, and I'm beginning to follow this. It could be useful going forward. I particularly like the examples given at the end of each chapter.</p> <p>Similarly I completely did not understand the concepts of inside view vs. outside view at the workshop; and worse yet I don't think that I even realized that I didn't understand these. However now that I've read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0374275637/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">Thinking Fast and Slow</a>, the lightbulb has gone on. Inside view is simply me deciding how likely I (or my team) is likely to accomplish something based on my judgement of the problem and our capabilities. Outside view is a statistical question about how people and teams like us have done when confronted with similar problems in the past. As long as there are similar teams and similar problems to compare with, the outside view is likely to be much more accurate.</p> <p>During conversation, Julia Galef and I came up with the idea of *********.&nbsp; It turned out it already exists, and I'm planning to start attending these events locally soon. I've also joined my local LessWrong meetup group.</p> <p>Stare into <a href="/lw/21b/ugh_fields/">Ugh fields</a>. Difficult conversations are an Ugh field for me. Recognizing this and bringing it to conscious attention has made it somewhat easier to manage these conversations. Example: when I went to the workshop I had been putting off contacting my dentist for months, not because of the usual reasons people don't like going to the dentist, but simply because I was uncomfortable telling her that the second (and third) opinion I had gotten on a dental issue disagreed with her about the proper course of treatment. Post-workshop, I finally called her (though it still took me two more weeks to do this. Clearly I have a lot of work left to do here.)</p> <p>Consider whether the sources of my information may be correlated and by how much. I.e. Evaluating Advice. For instance, if two dentists who share an office give me the same advice, even assuming no prior disposition to agree with each other simply out of friendship, how likely is it that they share the same background and information that dentists in a different office do not?</p> <p>COZE (Comfort Zone Expansion) exercises have pushed me to talk more to "strangers" and be intentionally more extroverted. On a recent trip to Latin America, I even made an effort to use what little Spanish I possess. I've had some small success, though this has led to no obvious major improvements in my life yet.</p> <p>Thought experiments conducted at the workshop were very helpful in untangling some of my goals and plans. Going forward though this hasn't made a huge difference in my day-to-day life. That is, it hasn't led me to seek different paths than what I'm on right now.</p> <h3>What I Learned and Forgot</h3> <p>Going over my notes now, there was a lot of material; some of it potentially useful, that has fallen by the wayside; and may be worth a second look. This includes:</p> <ul> <li>Geoff Anders introduced us to <a href="http://www.yworks.com/en/products_yed_about.html">yEd</a>, a nice open source diagram editor. I still prefer StencilIt or Omnigraffle though. He also used it to show us a really neat way of graphing, well, something. Goals maybe? I remember it seemed really useful and significant at the time, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what it was or what it was supposed to show us. I'll have to go back to my notes. This is why we write things down. (Update: I suspect this was about <em>Goal Factoring</em>.)</li> <li>Anticipation vs. Profession (though from time to time I do find myself asking what odds I'd be willing to bet on certain beliefs)</li> <li>The Planning Kata.</li> </ul> <h3>What I Learned But Didn't Implement<br /></h3> <p>Value of Information calculations seem too meta and too wishy-washy to be of much use. They attempt to put quantitative numbers based on information that's far too imprecise to allow even order of magnitude accuracy. I'm better off just keeping things I need to consider in my GTD system, and periodically reviewing it.</p> <p>Similarly opportunities for Bayesian Strength of Evidence calculations, just don't seem to come up in my day-to-day life. The question for me is more commonly "Given that the situation is what it is, what actions should I take to accomplish my goals?" The outside view is useful for this. Figuring out why the situation is what it is rarely seems to be especially helpful.</p> <p>Turbocharging Training may be helpful but the evidence seems to me to be lacking. I'd like to see some strong proof that this works in particular areas; e.g. foreign languages, sports, or mathematics.&nbsp; Furthermore, it's not clear that it's applicable to anything I'm working on learning at this time. It seems very System 1 focused, and not especially helpful with the sort of fundamentally System 2 tasks I take on.</p> <p>I have begun to declare "Victory!" at the end of a meeting/discussion. it's a bit of fun, but has limited effect. Beyond that I don't seem to reward myself for noticing things, or as a means of installing habits.</p> <h3>What I Didn't Learn</h3> <p>Getting Things Done (GTD), Remember the Milk, BeeMinder, Anki, Cultivating Curiosity, Overcoming Procrastination, and Winning at Arguments.</p> <p><em>GTD</em> I didn't learn because I've used it for years now or at least the parts of it that really work for me (lists and calendars mostly, and to a lesser extent filing).</p> <p><em>Remember the Milk</em> because my employer's security policy prohibits us from using it, and too much of my life happens at my day job to make maintaining two separate systems worthwhile.</p> <p>BeeMinder and Anki because I just don't have anything that seems it could benefit from being stored in those systems right now. All of these might be more beneficial to someone in different circumstances.</p> <p><em>Cultivating Curiosity</em> because I am already a very naturally curious person, and have been for as long as I can remember. I don't need help with this. Indeed if anything I need to tamp down on this tendency and focus more on accomplishing things rather than merely learning them.</p> <p>Similarly, <em>Overcoming Procrastination</em> didn't help a lot because I don't have a big procrastination problem, at least not compared to what I had when I was younger. Of course, I do say that in full knowledge that right this minute writing this article is a form of <a href="http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/">structured procrastination</a> to avoid doing my taxes. :-)</p> <p><em>Winning at Arguments</em>, I am already very, very good at when I want to be, which is rare these days. It took me many years too realize that even though I "won" almost every argument I cared about, winning the argument wasn't usually all that useful. Winning an argument is the wrong goal to have for almost any purpose, and rarely leads to the outcomes I desire.</p> <h3>Unofficial ideas from fellow attendees:</h3> <p>Polyphasic sleep: I'm going to let the younger, more pioneering attendees experiment with this one. Even if it does work (which seems far from obvious) I don't see how one could integrate it into a conventional day job and family.</p> <p>At breakfast one morning, a fellow attendee (Hunter?) suggested putting unsalted butter in my coffee to add more fat to my diet. It's not as crazy as it sounds. After all butter is little more than clarified cream, which I do like in my coffee. I tried this once and I still prefer cream, but I may give it another shot.</p> <p>Finally, I've referred two workshop attendees to my employer as potential hires. If anyone else from the workshop is looking for a job, especially in tech, sales, or legal, drop me a line privately. For that matter if any Less Wronger is looking for a job, drop me a line privately. We have hundreds of open positions in major cities around the world. Quite a few LessWrongers already work there, and there's room for many more.</p> <h3>What the workshop didn't teach</h3> <p>There were a few techniques that were conspicuous by their absence. In particular I think the CFAR/LessWrong and Agile/XP communities have a lot to teach each other. I was surprised that no one at the workshop seemed to have heard of Kanban or Scrum, much less practice it. Burndown charts and point-based estimation are a really interesting modification of the outside view by comparing your team to your team in the past, rather than to other teams.</p> <p>Pairing is also a useful technique beyond programming as at least Eliezer (not present at the workshop) <a href="/lw/fc3/checklist_of_rationality_habits/">has discovered</a>. Pairing is an incredibly effective way to overcome akrasia and procrastination.</p> <p>In reverse, I am considering what the craft of software development has to learn from CFAR style rationality, more specifically epistemic rationality. I have begun to notice my confusion during conversations with users, product managers, and tech leads and call it to conscious attention. I less frequently let unclear specs and goals pass without comment. Rather, I ask for examples and drill down into them until I feel my confusion has been conquered.</p> <p>So far these techniques seem very useful in analysis and requirements gathering. I've found them less obviously useful (though certainly not harmful in any way) during coding, debugging, and testing. In these stages there's simply too much to be confused by to address it all, and whatever I'm confused by that's relevant to the task at hand rapidly calls itself to my attention. For instance, when a bug shows up in a production system, the very first and natural question to ask&nbsp; is "How the hell did the system do that?!" On the other hand, the planning kata may be very helpful with the early stages of system design, though I haven't yet had an opportunity to try that out.</p> <h3>Was it Worth $3900?<br /></h3> <p>Overall, I found the workshop to be a worthwhile experience, if an expensive one; and I recommend it to you if you have the opportunity and resources to attend. There are a lot of practical techniques to be learned, and you only need one or two of them to pay off to cover the cost and time. Even if the primary value is simply introducing you to books and techniques you explore further after the workshop such as <a href="/lw/gp4/the_power_of_pomodoros/">Getting Things Done</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0374275637/ref=nosim/cafeaulaitA">Thinking Fast and Slow</a>, that may be enough. Most knowledge workers are operating far below the level of which we're capable, and expanding our effectiveness can pay for itself.</p> <p>Before attending, it is worth asking yourself whether there's an opportunity to learn this material at lower cost. For instance, did I really need to spend $3900 and 4 days to learn about&nbsp;<a href="/lw/gp4/the_power_of_pomodoros/">Pomodoro</a>? Apparently so, since I'd heard about Pomodoro for years and paid no attention to it until January. On the other hand, a <a href="/lw/gp4/the_power_of_pomodoros/">$20 book</a> I read on the subway was fully sufficient for me to learn and implement Getting Things Done. You'll have to judge this one for yourself.</p> elharo ymwyTDc96uaAqZ48e 2013-03-10T14:15:51.757Z