Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-14T06:01:31.364Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

are you saying that because the definition of a heap is vague, there are multiple feasible definitions of a heap, so some people (using one definition) would call a candidate heap a heap and other people (using another definition) would say it isn't a heap?

Not that they are necessarily using multiple definitions, but the common definitions themselves do not specify an exact range in quantity in which a cluster of things could be considered a heap. Two people could disagree about whether something is a heap despite using the same vague definition of "heap". They may be comparing the candidate heap relative to things that they have experienced being called heaps in the past. I suppose you could still treat this as being a difference in their personal definitions of "heap". However, I don't think that if pressed to define "heap", that people would be likely to state an explicit quantity range. They would most likely give vague qualitative definitions. The same person may even use inconsistent definitions at different times or forget to include certain aspects that they would consider to be important defining characteristics. People don't normally think in terms of definitions when classifying things. They usually just classify based on what feels correct, and definitions are after-the-fact attempted explanations of their classifications.

Almost all terms introduce a simplification, not just the vague ones.

Doesn't the introduction of a simplification itself give a term some vagueness, because then you don't know the details of the relevant characteristic, just a qualitative judgment? For "heaps", the simplification is one that keeps the exact quantity obscured while providing a qualitative description instead. Even if you had a different quantity term that, unlike "heap", didn't have fuzzy boundaries, it could still be considered vague in a different sense if multiple quantities could fulfill its definition (assuming an exact quantity really did exist in reality). It would certainly at least be considered somewhat ambiguous. For example, the category "integers" has seemingly clear boundaries, but calling an unknown number an integer is still vague if it doesn't express all the relevant information.

vague terms have a wider array of meanings than non-vague terms

Yes, terms can be vague in that way too.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-13T20:42:40.075Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I could still call certain things heaps even if I had a sharp definition of a heap.

Sorry, what I meant was, "Heaps as they are currently defined can be said to exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap." They can also be said to not exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap. However, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for any definition to have absolutely no ambiguity at all, and even if that was possible, language can still be considered a social construct in the sense that linguistic terms are constructed socially. Vague terms have an extra layer of social construction though, because rather than just giving a term to a phenomenon, they also introduce a simplification. This makes the constructed aspect more obvious. I guess I didn't word my above quote very well, since I didn't mention that the social construction of all language itself is also enough to make "heaps" a social construct.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-10T20:00:33.204Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just using it to mean things that are constructed socially.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-10T07:58:49.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Social construct" implies an arbitrary choice -- our society decided to split humanity into races this way, but another society might do it in an entirely different way and all such ways are equally valid, which is to say, there are no underlying "real" differences.

Supposing someone wanted to split humanity into arbitrary races based on actual genetics (which is not how the concept of race originally started because genetics wasn't known at the time), it would make sense for most races to be African, since Africa has far more human genetic diversity than all the other continents combined do. The reason races are delineated the way they are now is due to social reasons. (It could possibly make sense when you consider the phenotype though, but due to the outgroup homogeneity bias, I have some doubts.)

Still, regardless of where you set the boundaries between races, there will be average biological differences between them (provided you don't do something biologically ridiculous like classifying whites and Asians as the same race but then classifying their half-white/half-Asian children as a different race).

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-07T05:46:44.596Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Part of the reason is that if you restrict to the population of the United States they are (more-or-less) a separate genetic cluster

Well, I wasn't restricting to the population of the United States. Anyway, race is still a socially constructed identity. This is apparent with mixed-race people who often identify with one race more than another based on how they were raised, how they look, how other people identify them, and whether they act more like a stereotypical member of one of their races than another. The race they identify most with might not be the one that makes up the largest proportion in their ancestry.

Only because anyone who dares to point out the obvious truth that it isn't gets called a "sexist transphobe" and unfit for polite society.

My understanding is that gender is specifically used to refer to the socially constructed identities. Biological sex differences get lumped under sex rather than gender, which is why people can believe in the social construct of gender while also believing that biology contributes in some degree to stereotypical gender roles. I'm not an expert on gender though, so I should probably leave it to someone else to debate you on this point.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-06T20:07:34.231Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-06T20:06:43.262Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

From what people have said, it seems that after the survey was posted a new question was added about our favorite LW post. Were there any others?

(Posted as a top-level comment at the request of TobyBartels)

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-06T03:07:41.073Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From what people have said, it seems that after the survey was posted a new question was added about our favorite LW post. Were there any others?

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-06T02:48:23.434Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-05T09:51:44.910Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I never said race wasn't a useful concept. I specifically said in my earlier post: .

I'm not saying that "heap" and "race" are not useful terms. They do correlate with actual differences,

I think my initial post that started this discussion may have been a source of misunderstanding. When I called race a social construct, I wasn't trying to say that race is a useless concept, but instead indicate that it could be useful as a cultural/identity concept. Initially when I talked about "mixed race" and "Hispanic" not technically being races, I was defining race according to the mainstream definition that treats race as a genetically distinct group of people, since that is my default. However, during the part where I talked about how Hispanics are often treated as if they were a race, I was undergoing a shift toward thinking about race as a cultural identity regardless of genetics, which then led me to the statement that race is a social construct. I meant it in a similar way to what people mean when they say that gender is a social construct. When people say that, they're not implying that gender is a useless concept, but that it is a personal subjective choice of identity. Significantly, I then spent the rest of my post talking about race as a personal choice of identity.

The idea that gender is a social construct is a pretty uncontroversial one, as far as I can tell. People seem to be somewhat less likely to say the same thing about race though, probably because "race" as a cultural term doesn't have a satisfactory parallel term to refer to biology the way "gender" has "sex". It didn't matter for me in practice though. I thought of race as a social construct regardless of whether it was approached from a biological or cultural perspective, which is why I didn't feel a need to distinguish between the two in my statement. However, subsequent comments drawing attention to its biological validity (e.g. would doctors agree?) pushed me to address my point underlying my passive implication that the biological aspect is also a social construct, which then skews the discussion in a way that buries much of my original meaning. The social construction of race as a biological concept is not itself adequate to explain why I would support including non-genetic race answers to a race question, but the social construction of race as a subjective personal identity is.

Earlier I was wondering why my comments were getting downvoted. What could possibly be so controversial about the idea that human genetic variation is a continuum, or that linguistic terms are socially constructed? Now I can see that if these are interpreted as if they are supposed to be arguments in support of including non-genetic answers to a race question or a lack of average differences between races, they might seem like bad arguments, but I wasn’t intending them to support those premises, and I didn’t think that people would think I was intending them to.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-05T08:20:08.740Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If "heap" is a social construct, so is all language, basically, and then everything is a social construct. Sigh.

It is true that all language is socially constructed, but I was trying to draw attention to how "race" is especially subjective. Many linguistic terms are much more precise. A "species" for example refers to related individuals who reproduce among themselves, producing viable offspring. There is still some room for ambiguity, but it is less than what you get with "race". Besides, what's wrong with the idea that all language is socially constructed? It is possible to believe that without falling prey to the fallacy of grey.

Then post-modernists go on to say that if someone in a different culture thinks that the sun is light glinting off the horns of the Sky Ox, that’s just as real as our own culture’s theory that the sun is a mass of incandescent gas a great big nuclear furnace.

I would personally prefer to use the term "better informed" rather than "more real". Hypothetically, if both theories turned out to be completely false, and supposing we learned of that but still had no idea what the actual truth was, it wouldn't be certain which of them is more "real", but it would be relatively clearer which one had stronger evidence supporting it at the time. To give a different example, if we knew that one of the two theories is 100% true but aren't told which one it is, it would be reasonable for us to think it is far more likely to be the theory based on scientific evidence (i.e. the theory that actually aligns with the scientific definition of a theory as being a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena:).

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-05T07:14:40.745Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're ignoring the part where I said human variation is a continuum. The fallacy of grey is where people deny the existence of the continuum.

Also, I did mention evidence about people's varying definitions of the "white race" to illustrate how people do in fact use arbitrary social reasons to decide the boundaries between races.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-04T12:29:54.127Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Heaps can be said to exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap. Race is the same way, which is why it is a social construct.

I'm not saying that "heap" and "race" are not useful terms. They do correlate with actual differences, but they are social constructs because they are convenient simplifications to help us describe phenomena.

Also, in case you're wondering, the reason I didn't object to "mixed race" being treated as a race wasn't because I thought mixed-race people are genetically distinct enough to be put in a separate category, but because the phrasing in the survey (asking about what we identify as, not to mention including "Hispanic" as an option) implies that the survey-writers are mainly interested in race as an indicator of self-identity and/or culture rather than genetics. Race is still a social construct even when you use a cultural/identity definition, for reasons that might be more obvious. This was a definition I had in mind (alongside the biological one) when I said "race is a social construct anyway". By default I do tend to use the biological definition though, simply because this is what most people seem to do, e.g. an Asian girl adopted as a baby and raised by whites in an all-white community is still considered Asian.

Also, "other" isn't necessarily going to feel like a satisfactory answer for all of us. Including "mixed race" as an option to a race question is like including "atheism" as a result to a religion question. Atheism is not technically a religion, but it's nice to include an option to account for it anyway. The data wouldn't be as informative otherwise.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-04T06:40:07.044Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It depends on how much they've thought about it. For instance, consider the "white race". A neo-Nazi on Stormfront would likely say that "white" refers only to people of 100% European ancestry, excluding Jews. On the other extreme, some people use it interchangeably with "Caucasian", which, according to its dictionary definition, refers to people of European, North African, Middle Eastern, or Indian ancestry.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-04T05:56:26.984Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure doctors (of the medical kind) agree?

My point is that the human population doesn't divide neatly into discrete categories called "races". There are of course genetic differences, but human variation is a continuum. The way people decide boundaries between races is an arbitrary social one.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-04T05:09:27.875Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I identify with being "mixed race" far more than any individual race

Not technically a race, but then again neither is "Hispanic", which keeps getting treated as if it was a race. Race is a social construct anyway, so might as well.

I'm a bit surprised "mixed race" didn't occur to me as an option to suggest. It is true that I don't emotionally identify with either of my races, but I don't emotionally identify with "mixed race" either, probably because I wasn't raised in a community of mixed-race individuals and don't know that many mixed-race people. I feel like there isn't really a unique shared culture to unite us. Upon reflection, I've decided that if "mixed race" became available as an option on a future LW survey, I would continue to pick "other", because I really do identify with the human race more than anything else. The word "identify" is key though. If it simply asked what race I am, I would defer to the general consensus for how people should be classified, because I'd assume that's how the survey-writers want us to answer.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-03T14:21:37.244Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've been doing that too actually, although I am somewhat tempted to upvote some of the recent survey-takers just to make the playing field more equal for people whose other time commitments made them unable to take the survey very early.

I thought about suggesting to Yvain to edit his post by including a suggestion for people who have finished the survey to check back again later to upvote new survey-takers, but I get the impression he may prefer having this incentive against people procrastinating on taking the survey. It does at least mean that on average, the more heavily involved LWers are going to be awarded more karma since they're more likely to notice the survey as soon as it's posted.

This however has to be weighed against the disincentive for latecomers to take the survey if they didn't see or were otherwise unable to take the survey early. (Yvain has also on occasion made little changes to the survey after it's been posted, but I don't think that's enough to be a good incentive to take it later.)

Comment by elund on New "Best" comment sorting system · 2014-11-03T02:42:15.910Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I found a Reddit thread explaining the different comment sorting systems. Does LW use the same algorithms for each method?

Missing from their list though are "popular" and "leading" (and "old", but that's pretty self-explanatory). I'm guessing "popular" is the same thing as "hot", judging based on what appears in my address bar when I sort that way. "Leading" is listed as "interestingness" in the address bar, which leads me to think it adds weight to comments that inspire a lot of discussion. My observations suggest that it also factors in votes though. Could someone please clarify further on what these algorithms do?

Comment by elund on New "Best" comment sorting system · 2014-11-03T02:00:38.197Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to be a much worse way of achieving what "Best" shoots for.

Not necessarily. Someone who has already seen the best comments and returns a while later to see what new but good comments have been posted may have a use for it.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-02T23:14:51.415Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That is interesting! I think some of Gwern's upvotes are coming from people who agree with his "Basilisk" comment / found it because of the discussion it generated

It didn't seem self-evident to me that his mention of the basilisk would help his comment's score overall. I don't personally believe in the basilisk and I do think it would make an interesting survey question, but I thought many LWers considered it a dangerous idea to discuss? They may think that even if they don't believe in it either. Or maybe Eliezer was just weird in his reaction to it. Judging based on Gwern's comment's 99% positive rating, that's certainly what it looks like.

I think there's also a factor of people not loading all the comments- otherwise we wouldn't expect the oldest comment to be lower than the early bulk of comments.

It's not so far off that I feel the difference can simply be attributed to people not loading all the comments. At the time of my writing this, the oldest comment has the same score as the third and fourth comments.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-02T20:55:01.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gwern (79) and Vaniver (66) show significantly more upvotes than the next in line

Thanks. That's interesting. I hadn't noticed that. They even score higher than some people who posted earlier, and with similar quality posts.

If upvotes are handed out according to the rule and logically in order of occurrence the vots should roughly read n, n-1, n-2,

...At first I was going to say I think it would be more of an exponential decrease since most people take the survey in the first few days and I doubt many people diligently keep track of new comments, but then I remembered that the rate of new "I took the survey" comments themselves decrease exponentially, probably at a similar rate, which cancels out much of the effect. Oh well. This does make the situation less unfair.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-02T18:36:30.802Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

At first I thought this person would only downvote short comments that have little content beyond saying that the user took the survey, but I've since noticed that even "I took the survey" comments with very detailed critiques are getting the single downvotes. My guess is this person doesn't like the idea of some people getting 100% positive ratings through posting only survey comments, as survey comments would be the easiest way to attain that otherwise, or thinks that the amount of karma awarded by other users for these comments (even the detailed ones) is too much, and that karma should mainly be reserved for quality discussions.

Personally I think the amount of karma awarded for the short and simple survey comments should be based on the difficulty, time commitment, and benefit from having people take these surveys, but I think the amount of karma being awarded already is in line with that. Sure, there might be a few people lying by saying they took the survey when they in fact didn't, but I suspect that's pretty rare. I would like it though if there were some users who prioritized quality in deciding whether to upvote comments, so that it would be easier for people to quickly locate the most useful comments when they choose the "Sort by: Best" option.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-02T18:13:48.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand. I wasn't able to find explanations by typing "upvote" into the search either. Can you please clarify?

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-02T18:04:56.705Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, this line of reasoning comes up pretty regularly (especially in response to that survey question), so if the surveyors fail to realize the associated difficulties, it's not through failure to have it pointed out. I suspect they realize it just fine.

Continuing to complain about it may still have an effect though. I personally think they should post the definition they're using for "supernatural" in the description for the question, maybe right below their current description.

Comment by elund on Rational Humanist Music · 2014-11-02T04:07:33.944Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Something that's bothered me a lot lately is a lack of good music that evokes the kind of emotion that spiritually-inspired music does, but whose subject matter is something I actually believe in.

I've had the exact same problem. Thank you for creating this post. :-)

For music that evokes a sublime atmosphere and lacks religious lyrics, I recommend the ambient electronic artist Stellardrone. You can download all the albums for free on his official website. (There is one album called "Invent the Universe", but that could refer to a programmer creating a simulated universe. There are no lyrics IIRC and the song titles are quite innocuous, so you are relatively free to interpret the songs as you wish.)

Also, how would you feel about listening to sublime music based on intentionally fictitious deities? I'm thinking in particular about a song from a video game, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. The song in question is Child of Chaos, the theme song for Yune, the in-game goddess of chaos. (There are no lyrics, in case that's relevant.) I really love this song. Don't be fooled by its name. The song is actually very serene.

I love your song lyrics by the way. :-) I think it's fine that they draw attention to the bright side of technological development. For the record, I like futuristic dystopian music as well. There's a time and place for both, depending on my mood.

It's been a few years since your post was published. Do you now have audio versions of your song that you can link?

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-01T19:05:10.306Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

To me "occasionally" is rarer than "sometimes".

I think so too. I found that part odd.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-01T18:50:11.601Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I first saw that there was going to be a digit ratio question, my first thought was that the survey was going to ask us to estimate our digit ratios, estimate our confidence in our estimates, and then measure the true ratios to see how far off we were. :P

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T03:22:10.427Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why was I downvoted? Was that from you, jdgalt? Were you hoping to have the Singularity discussion here instead of below another post? If so that wasn't clear to me from your above comment, since you were asking about whether it was welcome on LW, and you seemed to be going off on a tangent (particularly with your latter two points). Also, you didn't seem like you possessed much of the background knowledge regarding intelligence explosion and friendly/unfriendly AI, so I thought you would find it helpful for me to point you toward some relevant sources that might answer your questions, not to mention provide more general information on the topic. Of course, if you're not interested in general information I'd be willing to address your specific questions.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just want to understand what I did wrong so that I can better improve the quality of my comments, as well as clear up any misunderstandings.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T02:23:10.510Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I assumed you'd already factored in those other choices and still weren't leaning more for or against it relative to all the other possibilities combined. By "leaning one way or another", I meant along a hypothetical axis of "strongly believe" or "strongly disbelieve" for the given proposition. You have a good point about availability bias though. You can self-correct for that to some extent by decreasing your assigned probabilities, and we'd have to take availability bias into account while interpreting the probabilities given by other people.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T23:27:39.671Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to participate in a deeper discussion of the idea of the Singularity, but don't know if that's welcome on LW.

You should be able to find a lot of info about the Singularity (and proposed ways to influence its outcome) in MIRI publications and LW posts. If you want to have further discussions about the Singularity you can comment below the relevant LW posts.

I didn't do the finger length questions; not sure what "the bottom crease" is, or maybe I don't have them. (Do you mean the crease at the base of the fingers, or one farther down on the hand?)

It's supposed to refer to the crease at the base of the fingers.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T21:18:02.233Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the description provided in the survey doesn't preclude it, as long as that person is not currently cryonically frozen (the question says living at this moment). My guess is that the intent was to discover the likelihood we assign to anti-agathic drugs being developed during the next 1000 years, in which case they probably should have used a more precise description.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T19:53:03.110Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Though maybe in terms of analysis "I do not identify with any race," which I imagine may be more common here than other places since people choose not to identify with other variables for which it is a more radical statement, is uninteresting to the survey.

It might be uninteresting from the standpoint of someone who only wants specific racial information, but it still might be interesting for other reasons to see what other qualities correlate with someone who picks that kind of answer. The thing is, I wasn't sure Yvain had the capability to create checkboxes that allow selecting more than one answer choice, as I didn't see them anywhere on the survey. The "I don't primarily identify with one race" was meant to be a catch-all for mixed-race people who don't want to pick sides between their races, but I agree it would be more useful to subdivide that even further to "I identify with more than one race" and "I do not identify with a race". I personally got around this by selecting "other" on the grounds that I identify with the human race.

If we're the only two a racial people on the site I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

It looks like for the 2013 survey, 51 people answered "other" and 22 people left it blank, so I think there are enough people for further distinctions to be worthwhile. There were other race options that even fewer people selected. I feel like "other" is best reserved for people who do identify with an ethnicity that wasn't represented in the answer choices, and leaving the question blank is best reserved for people who dislike the question/answers, want to be more anonymous, etc.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T07:48:11.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the statement could still be true in the context of the simulation. You may not have bones that exist in the universe outside the simulation, but you still have "bones" within the simulation. The name "bone" as well as the names for specific bones would be accurate if those are the agreed-upon names within your simulated culture. Whether the bones need to physically exist in the most fundamental level of reality in order to be considered bones seems like an argument over semantics. They still possess the other typical characteristics of bones that our culture has decided bones are supposed to possess. In everyday practice, people assign objects to linguistic categories based on resemblance to a prototypical example, not by making sure they fulfill a list of necessary criteria.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T06:09:07.930Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically, ‘odds’ refers to expressions like ‘5 to 3 against’

Oh right, I forgot about that definition. The main probability conversions that I was aware of involved converting between fractions and percentages, sometimes expressed instead as probabilities between 0 and 1. Theoretically, it makes sense that odds can also be converted to or from probabilities, now that I think about it. Thanks for your explanation.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T04:05:23.793Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, if you gave the same test to a representative sample of LWers and to a representative sample of the general population, you could calibrate IQ scores across them. I still expect it to be less reliable than proctored IQ tests though, not because I'm worried about people lying about their scores, but because of a higher incidence of confounding factors such as distracting noises, internet connection failures, and even the presence of daylight from a nearby window.

I suppose it might be interesting to include some IQ questions anyway, as it might still turn up some interesting results. We'd just have to keep the limitations in mind while analyzing the results.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T01:25:05.259Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it will mess up the algorithms. My guess is that most people probably rounded most calibration answers to the tens place due to lack of enough confidence to be more precise, but since people are giving different values, the average across all respondents is unlikely to fall on an increment of ten, and should be a reasonably accurate measure of the respondents' collective assigned probability for a question.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T01:18:55.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you using "odds" to refer to percentages and "probabilities" to refer to fractions? I don't think there is actually any difference in meaning between the two terms.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T01:00:33.627Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can click "select your monitor dimension" to resize the ruler. The default they gave me was wrong. I actually suggest making the ruler even smaller than the authentic size, so that the distance between millimeters will be shorter and thus the ratio will be more precise.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T00:13:54.591Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Putting 0 is misleading. It implies that you're confident there is no chance at all. If you're really not leaning one way or another, your best bet is to just put 50, or perhaps even skip the question if you really don't want to give a probability.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T22:45:49.896Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe the corresponding fingers on your other hand really are different in length. Mine are. Whenever I press my fingers against each other such as to line up their bottom creases (keeping the orientation of the fingers as straight as possible), the middle and upper creases and fingertips don't line up. My right fingers are slightly shorter.

Good point about the photocopier. Hopefully these issues won't add too much noise to the results and obscure any significant results.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T22:18:00.259Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Even then your subjective probability wouldn't have been exactly 0. You could have put 0.00000000001 or something like that. The instructions didn't forbid you from using long decimals. Even so, I think it would have been fine to put 0 if your subjective probability really was 0 or you felt like rounding down to it.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T22:11:58.561Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it means largest volume without counting the volume enclosed.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T22:02:18.956Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it should be fine to just hold a ruler up to your finger. The only potential problem might be that the highest tip of your finger wouldn't actually touch the ruler, but if you don't want to estimate by sight you can hold another flat surface perpendicular to it to see where that touches the ruler. I get consistent measurements this way.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T21:50:37.350Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. Most rulers don't give measurements more precise than millimeters.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T21:46:19.644Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're supposed to measure from the middle of the bottom crease to the middle of the tip. Also, since the bottom crease itself can be about a millimeter or two wide, I measured from the middle of that crease by its width in addition to its length. When I do that I get consistent results even on repeated measurements.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T20:12:13.565Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That would seem kind of redundant as it's already not necessary to answer every question, even the ones that don't say they're extra credit or skippable. Maybe Yvain could have made that clearer at the beginning?

I personally wouldn't have minded a longer survey either. I'm just worried that making it longer would deter others from completing as many questions or even taking the survey in the first place. It might be a good idea to have a poll (perhaps within the survey itself) asking for the amount of time we'd be willing to spend on such a survey.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T10:03:16.522Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thirded. I was momentarily stumped by that question, not being sure whether a simulator living in a universe with different natural laws than our own counted as "supernatural". I ended up deciding no. The simulator's universe might be a different kind of natural, but not "supernatural". Still, including a clarification in the question would have reduced errors due to misunderstanding, not to mention saved us time. The survey is already quite long as it is.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T08:37:04.812Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

My worry is that taking an IQ test online (even timed with reliable questions) cannot duplicate the exact same experience as taking an IQ test in a proctored setting. There are likely to be more confounding factors that throw off the scores relative to proctored tests, since the environments cannot be as strictly controlled.

Comment by elund on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-26T08:09:23.326Z · score: 39 (39 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey.

I have a few suggestions though.

For the race question, I recommend allowing people to pick more than one option, or creating an extra option saying "I don't primarily identify with one race".

For profession, I feel like it was unclear what people who aren't currently students or employed are supposed to pick. What they most recently worked in or studied in a formal setting? What about students who haven't declared a major yet? The field of study they're leaning toward?

For the time in community question, I suggest clarifying whether that includes lurking. My guess was no, but I think it was sufficiently vague to where a significant number of people wouldn't have guessed that.

I would also be interested in seeing a question relating to use of artificial cognitive enhancement techniques such as tDCS and nootropics.

Thanks for working on the survey. :)

Comment by elund on Objections to Coherent Extrapolated Volition · 2014-10-25T22:13:32.921Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

CEV is supposed to aim for the optimal future, not a satisficing future. My guess is that there is only one possible optimal future for any individual, unless there is a theoretical upper limit to individual utility and the FAI has sufficiently vast resources.

Also, if the terminal goals for both humans and dogs are to simply experience maximum subjective well-being for as long as possible, then their personal CEVs at least will be identical. However, since individuals are selfish, there's no reason to expect that the ideal future for one individual will, if enacted by a FAI, lead to ideal futures for the other individuals who are not being extrapolated.