Comment by Eric5 on The Thing That I Protect · 2009-02-07T20:01:05.000Z · LW · GW

I'm both excited for and somewhat disappointed with the return to rationality.. I've enjoyed many of the posts on other topics, but the rationality posts are also immensely useful to me in everyday life. Maybe you can toss in some more fiction now and then? (Of course, I'll probably get speared by other commenters for saying that...)

Comment by Eric5 on BHTV: de Grey and Yudkowsky · 2008-12-14T22:18:20.000Z · LW · GW

Every time I see Aubrey de Grey talk, I'm struck by how at a gut level it seems appropriate for a guy who works for a place called the Methuselah foundation to have a beard like that. I mean seriously - if the guy can grow a beard like that, why wouldn't you trust him to help you live forever?

Comment by Eric5 on Observing Optimization · 2008-11-21T13:18:14.000Z · LW · GW

I kinda like this whole back and forth between Robin and Eliezer. At the same time... The blog post v. blog post style almost feels like being a child stuck between two divorced parents who are ignoring each other but keep saying things very loudly so the other one can hear ;-)

Comment by Eric5 on Today's Inspirational Tale · 2008-11-04T18:07:56.000Z · LW · GW

I have linked to and directed people to Stop Voting for Nincompoops I-don't-know-how-many times in the last few weeks, as well as the other two in that series. I'm amazed at how few people take the time to read them, and not so amazed at how many people come out of reading them with a different perspective on things.

Comment by Eric5 on Mundane Magic · 2008-10-31T17:17:46.000Z · LW · GW

...schiavo, or "dead while breathing"...
A nice touch.

Comment by Eric5 on The Ritual · 2008-10-13T12:49:45.000Z · LW · GW

Psy-Kosh, I think the point is that you should flush your cache and reload everything from scratch - if the thought that you calculated before is still valid, you'll produce it again, and can then take it in a different direction.

TGGP, I don't see this as sci-fi necessarily... but I have to say, I really enjoy the beisutsukai series of posts. They are perhaps some of my favorite to read, even if they're not necessarily as useful as a direct statement of the principle behind them. (Then again... maybe they're more useful because they're easier to relate to. Hmm.)

Comment by Eric5 on The Level Above Mine · 2008-09-26T13:14:12.000Z · LW · GW

I definitely see the "levels" phenomenon very often. Most people I meet who see me play a musical instrument (or 5 or 10 different ones) think I must be a genius at music - unless they're a musician, then they recognize me as an amateur with enough money to buy interesting instruments and enough skill to get a basic proficiency at them quickly.

And even with standard measures of intellect like rationality or math... I don't know that many of my friends who have read any of this blog would recognize you as being smarter than me, despite the fact that you're enough levels above me that my opinion of you is pretty much what "Not You" said above.

I can keep up with most of your posts, but to be able to keep up with a good teacher, and to be that good teacher, is a gap of at least a few levels. But aspiring to your level (though I may not reach it) has probably been the biggest motivator for me to practice the art. I certainly won't be the one who zips by you, but you've at least pulled me up to a level where I might be able to guide one who will down a useful path.

Comment by Eric5 on My Naturalistic Awakening · 2008-09-25T13:45:14.000Z · LW · GW

I guess these "how stupid I have been" posts are a welcome change to the "how smart I am" posts. I personally find the "how stupid I have been" posts useful because they demonstrate one path from stupid to smart, which is useful when knowing that I will probably run into similar realizations in the future. But I learn a lot more from the "how smart I am" posts because.. well, I'm not going to learn much by seeing that someone else made mistakes similar to the ones I used to (or still do) make, without seeing what they do about instead. This post wouldn't mean much to me without having actually learned about optimization processes, or knowing what the Outcome Pump was, etc. Like Eliezer said - "This may seem like an obvious point, if you've been following Overcoming Bias this whole time..." In other words - if you haven't read all the "how smart I am" posts, the "how stupid I have been posts" won't be nearly as useful.

That said... I do find myself in more suspense waiting for the next post in this series than the average post, though I suspect that's due more to the story-like nature of it than the actual material. And really, I don't know that I can say I look forward to the next installment in this series all that much more than posts in other long series like the quantum series or the series on words.

Comment by Eric5 on That Tiny Note of Discord · 2008-09-23T17:15:30.000Z · LW · GW


Maybe you should embrace the fact that the maker of all these mistakes was in fact you, and not some strange entity distant in time and intellect. The consequence of not doing so would seem to be overconfidence in the positions that now seem so obviously correct.

It seems to me that there's a difference here between looking back on opinions which you now disagree with, and looking back on methodologies which you now see as unreliable. Yes, I was as confident in the past about my religiosity as I am now about my rationality, and yes I look back on that time as though it were a completely different person (which, though there is a continuous progression from that person to the one I am now, is very true in a sense). But that's because I can see how prior methodologies led me to wrong conclusions, not just that I disagree with conclusions I once agreed with. The phrase occurs to me: "The wheel of science turns, but it doesn't turn backward." This seems to be a similar situation. (I wish I had slept better last night so my brain wasn't so foggy and I could elucidate better, but hopefully the concept comes through.)

Comment by Eric5 on Why Quantum? · 2008-06-04T13:40:48.000Z · LW · GW

I third botogol's comment. I've tried to direct people to the QM series (as well as other ones, such as the one on words), and it can be difficult. "Here, start at this post, and then use the links at the top to go forward, but you'll have to skip some of them because they're by a different author, so you can recognize them by looking for the "Followup to" or "Previously in Series" links at the top..."

It'd be a lot easier to just give them one link to a table of contents.

Comment by Eric5 on That Alien Message · 2008-05-22T13:08:51.000Z · LW · GW

I spent half this story going, "Okay... so where's the point... good story and all, but what's the lesson we learn..."

Then I got to the end, and was completely caught off guard. Apparently I haven't internalized enough of the ideas in Eliezer's work yet, because I really feel like I should have seen that one coming, based (in hindsight) on his previous writings.

Comment by Eric5 on Decoherent Essences · 2008-04-30T15:03:20.000Z · LW · GW

I can't say that I've understood everything in the series on QM, but it has been immensely useful for me in beginning to understand it. And, in general, most of what I've read of OB I've found useful - especially the comments, because I find myself "catching up" with a lot of these ideas, and I have a tendency when I'm catching up to the ideas of someone more intelligent than me to not find fault where I would if I had a better grasp of the ideas. Though I'm still not very far along on the path to being a rationalist, I know that it's a path I've been trying to walk my whole life, despite the fact that much of it was spent stumbling and tripping through religion, popular politics, and arguments that were more about proving who was "right" rather than finding out what was right. I'm glad to have found yet another resource for walking the path, especially one as useful as this one. I haven't commented here before, but I just thought I'd toss in that I really appreciate the writing you do here (and yours as well, Robin) and I'm glad that I stumbled across this blog.