Comment by ErikM on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-07-25T20:50:37.118Z · LW · GW

I think locking out anyone who might be a criminal, when you have the power to potentially stop them being a criminal and their home country doesn't, is morally negligent. (I'm your standard no-frills utilitarian; the worth of an action is decided purely by whether you satisfied people's preferences and made them happy. Forget "state's duty to the citizens", the only talk of 'duty' I really entertain is each of our duty to our fellow humans. "The White Man's Burden" is a really stupid idea because it's every human's responsibility to help out their fellow humans regardless of skin colour.) I think it doesn't matter whether you decreased or increased crime on either side of a border, since borders are neither happiness nor preferences and mean nothing to your standard no-frills utilitarian type. I just care about whether you decrease crime in total, globally.

Let me try to briefly convince you of why there should be a state's duty to citizens from a utilitarian perspective, also corresponding greater concern about internal than external crime:

1) A state resembles a form of corporate organization with its citizens as shareholders. It has special obligations by contract to those shareholders who got a stake on the assumption that they would have special rights in the corporation. Suddenly creating new stock and giving it to to non-shareholders, thereby creating new shareholders, would increase the utility of new shareholders and decrease the utility of old shareholders to roughly the same extent because there is the same amount of company being redistributed, but would have the additional negative effect of decreasing rule of law, and rule of law is a very very good thing because it lets people engage in long-term planning and live stable lives. (There is no such problem if the shareholders come together and decide to create and distribute new stock by agreement - and to translate back the metaphor, this means that immigration should be controlled by existing citizens, rather than borders being declared to "mean nothing" in general.)

2) A state is often an overlay on a nation. To cash those terms out: A governing entity with major features usually including a legal code and a geographically defined and sharply edged region of influence is often an overlay on a cluster of people grouped by social, cultural, biological, and other shared features. ("Nation" derives from those who shared a natus.) Different clusters of people have different clusters of utility functions, and should therefore live under differing legal codes, which should also be administrated by members of those clusters whom one can reasonably expect to have a particularly good understanding of how their fellow cluster-members will be happiest.

3) Particularly where not overlaid on nations, separate states function as testbeds for experiments in policy; the closest thing one has to large-scale controlled experiments in sociology. Redistributing populations across states would be akin to redistributing test subjects across trial arms. The utilitarian thing to do is therefore to instead copy the policies of the most successful nations to the least successful nations, then branch again on previously unexplored policy areas, which each state maintaining its own branch.

Comment by ErikM on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-07-22T15:29:20.891Z · LW · GW

No, I'm fairly confident the neoreactionaries, for whatever reason you brought them up, would happily join in the plan to strip out the objectionable bits of Pakistani culture and replace it with something better. Also, demanding more integration and acculturation from immigrants. What they probably wouldn't listen to is the apparent contradiction of saying we don't need to get rid of multiculturalism, but we do need to push a certain cultural message until it becomes universal.

Comment by ErikM on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-07-21T20:39:15.225Z · LW · GW

My intuitions say that specialism increases output, so we should have an all-controlling central state with specialist optimal-career-distributors and specialist psychologist day-planners who hand out schedules and to-do lists to every citizen every day which must be followed to the letter on pain of death and in which the citizens have zero say.

To me, this seems like a happy wonderful place that I would very much like to live in. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to strongly disagree.

I think there's an implicit premise or two that you may have mentally included but failed to express, running along the lines of:

The all-controlling state is run by completely benevolent beings who are devoted to their duty and never make errors.

Sans such a premise, one lazy bureaucrat cribbing his cubicle neighbor's allocations, or a sloppy one switching the numbers on two careers, can cause a hell of a lot of pain by assigning an inappropriate set of tasks for people to do. Zero say and the death penalty for disobedience then makes the pain practically irremediable. A lot of the reason for weak and ineffective government is trying to mitigate and limit government's ability to do terribly terribly wicked things, because governments are often highly skilled at doing terribly terribly wicked things, and in unique positions to do so, and can do so by minor accident. You seem to have ignored the possibility of anything going wrong when following your intuition.

Moreover, there's a second possible implicit premise:

These angels hold exactly and only the values shared by all mankind, and correct knowledge about everything.

Imagine someone with different values or beliefs in charge of that all-controlling state with the death penalty. For instance, I have previously observed that Boko Haram has a sliver of a valid point in their criticism of Western education when noting that it appears to have been a major driver in causing Western fertility rates to drop below replacement and show no sign of recovery. Obviously you can't have a wonderful future full of happy people if humans have gone extinct, therefore the Boko Haram state bans Western education on pain of death. For those already poisoned by it, such as you, you will spend your next ten years remedially bearing and rearing children and you are henceforth forbidden access to any and all reading material beyond instructions on diaper packaging. Boko Haram is confident that this is the optimal career for you and that they're maximizing the integral of human happiness over time, despite how much you may scream in the short term at the idea.

With such premises spelled out, I predict people wouldn't object to your ideal world so much as they'd object to the grossly unrealistic prospect. But without such, you're proposing a totalitarian dictatorship and triggering a hell of a lot of warning signs and heuristics and pattern-matching to slavery, tyranny, the Soviet Union, and various other terrible bad things where one party holds absolute power to tell other people how to live their life.

"But it's a benevolent dictatorship", I imagine you saying. Pull the other one, it has bells on. The neoreactionaries at least have a proposed incentive structure to encourage the dictator to be benevolent in their proposal to bring back monarchy. (TL;DR taxes go into the king's purse giving the king a long planning horizon) What have you got? Remember, you are one in seven billion people, you will almost certainly not be in charge of this all-powerful state if it's ever implemented, and when you do your safety design you should imagine it being in the hands of randoms at the least, and of enemies if you want to display caution.

Comment by ErikM on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-07-21T16:20:57.042Z · LW · GW

I think you missed what I see as the main point in "What they might have considered, however, was that there was no valve in their pipe. Aiming to purify the American state, they succeeded only in corrupting the American mind." Not surprising, because Moldbug (the guy quoted about the Mugwumps) is terribly long-winded and given to rhetorical flourishes. So let me try to rephrase what I see as the central objection in a format more amenable to LW:

The scientific community is not a massive repository of power, nor is it packed to the gills with masters of rhetoric. The political community consists of nothing but. If you try to run your new party by listening to the scientific community without first making the scientific community far more powerful and independent, what's likely to happen is that the political community makes a puppet of the scientific community, and then you wind up running your politics by listening to a puppet of the political community.

To give a concrete relatable figure: The US National Science Foundation receives about 7.5 billion dollars a year from the US Congress. (According to the NSF, they are the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities, which suggests 30 billion federal dollars are out there just for basic research)

The more you promote "Do what the NSF says", the more Congress is going to be interested in using some of those billions of dollars to lean on the NSF and other similar organizations so that you will be promoting "Do what Congress says" at arm's remove. No overt dishonesty needs be involved. Just little things like hiring sympathetic scientists, discouraging controversial research, asking for a survey of a specific metric, etc.

Suppose you make a prediction that a law will decrease the crime rate. You pass the law. You wait a while and see. Did the crime rate go down? Well, how are you measuring crime rate? Which crimes are you counting? To take an example discussed on Less Wrong a while ago, if you use the murder rate as proxy for crime rate over the past few decades, you are going to severely undercount crime because of improvements in medical technology that make worse wounds more survivable.

Obviously you can fix this particular metric now that I've pointed it out. But can you spot and fix such issues in advance faster and better than people throwing around 30 billion dollars and with a massive vested interest in retaining policy control?

When trying to solve something like whether P=NP, you can throw more and brighter scientists at the problem and trust that the problem will remain the same. But the problem of trying to establish science-based policy, particularly when "advocating loads of funding for science", gets harder as it gets more important and you throw more people at it. This is a Red Queen's Race where you have to keep running just to stay in place, because you're not dealing with a mindless question that has an objective answer floating out there, you're dealing with an opposed social force with lots of minds and money that learns from its own mistakes and figures out how to corrupt better, and with more plausible deniability.

Comment by ErikM on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2015-03-30T21:14:43.787Z · LW · GW

I know it's at least possible to have variant names; I am legally registered in different countries by parallell names analogous to "Venice" and "Venezia".

Comment by ErikM on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-08T19:01:10.137Z · LW · GW

And "Patriarchy/Rape culture", according to SJWs, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press, Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, the video games industry, the Ivy League, and so on.

This is not something I have ever seen asserted, and it sounds to me as though you are drawing a false parallellism here, so I'd be curious to see which SJWs that is according to. Moldbug points to a set of organizations when he says "Cathedral", and you could taboo the word into a list starting with the NYT. The descriptions of "Patriarchy" I've heard generally point to an institutional culture + its internalization in people's heads + the structure of power relations + male default on ungendered mentions of persons, etc.

(can we say that Fox News is neoreactionary?)

No. Or at least, please don't.

From the Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives:

"Where does this idea that, if NPR is wrong, Fox News must be right, come from? They can't both be right, because they contradict each other. But couldn't they both be wrong? I don't mean slightly wrong, I don't mean each is half right and each is half wrong, I don't mean the truth is somewhere between them, I mean neither of them has any consistent relationship to reality. [...] you and I and [conservatism] agree on the subject of the international Jewish conspiracy: there is no such thing. We disagree with [nazism], which fortunately is scarce these days. This can be explained in many ways, but one of the simplest is that if Fox News stuck a swastika in its logo and told Bill O'Reilly to start raving about the Elders of Zion, its ratings would probably go down. This is what I mean by "no consistent relationship to reality." If, for whatever reason, an error is better at replicating within the conservative mind than the truth, conservatives will come to believe the error. If the truth is more adaptive, they will come to believe the truth. It's fairly easy to see how an error could make a better story than the truth on Fox News, which is why one would be ill-advised to get one's truth from that source."

NR would like to distance itself from conservatism.

The point is that both SJWs and NRs perceive their "enemy" not limited to some specific people or organizations, but as a diffused cultural element,

Imagine you're kidnapped by inconvenient plot-driving aliens and dropped off a thousand years ago in, say, the Archbishopric of Trier, an ecclesiastical principality in the 1017 Holy Roman Empire. Conditional on you being a typical LessWrongian, I'm going to guess that you would object strenuously to living in a medieval theocracy, and not just because of the low level of technological development.

In one sense your "enemy" at this point might be the Archbishop, and secondarily the Pope who can appoint a replacement if you get rid of the Archbishop. In another sense your "enemy" might be the diffused cultural element that people around you generally accept that having one theocrat appoint another theocrat to make the rules for you is an acceptable form of government.

That's sort of how the neoreactionaries feel. In one sense there are wrongful people and institutions which are running the show, but making those magically disappear wouldn't help; because of the second sense in which there's a wide consensus that those people and institutions, or at least similar sorts of people and institutions, are acceptable ways of running the show. (Now, if the NRs could somehow get control over the NYT&co for a year and set the tone, that would be a different matter.)

which is thought to somehow "brainwash" the uninitiated into not seeing the obvious Truth of the One True Ideology.

Taboo "brainwash" and let's consider 1017 Trier again. The people of 1017 Trier believe very strange things. The people of 1017 Trier do not believe random things, but consistently similar sorts of strange things -- for example, they might believe that it is evil to take a census -- partly because someone has been teaching them those things. This is a pattern which happens. NRs believe it has happened to our countries, and is still happening today.

This is similar to the religious fundamentalists preoccupation with the Devil's influence, or the militant communists preoccupation with bourgeois propaganda. In fact, it could be argued that the defining trait of radical movements is a black-and-white morality that paints themselves as the morally righteous brave knights who fight a world of corruption.

This sounds like lazy thinking, specifically, rounding to the nearest cliche. I thought Yudkowsky had a post on this, but I can't seem to find it - the thing where journalists frequently describe AI research in terms of the Matrix/Terminator movies.

Furthermore, your use of "preoccupation" etc. sounds like loaded language to me, begging the question by implying that the preoccupation (or its target) is trivial or irrelevant, but that's part of what is under debate! For example, I don't think one would say that 1944 America had a "preoccupation" with nazi propaganda.

Comment by ErikM on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-08T10:03:41.540Z · LW · GW

"The Cathedral", according to Moldbug, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press (i.e. not the National Enquirer), Hollywood, the Ivy League, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc. It's not a way of explaining away anything; it's an attribution of blame for how present public opinion has turned out, combined with an assertion that these information organs form a natural group (left). Somewhere between Moldbug's rants about how the big universities should be torn down and their grounds sown with salt and their professors forbidden to teach ever again, there are some statements with a bit more gravitas.

Falsifiable assertion: The New York Times and publications like it will report on (for example) the SPLC's assertions with a tone of "and we should do as the SPLC says", but will report on (for example) the Pope's assertions and the Vatican with a tone of "and isn't it strange how Catholics believe such funny things?" (Unstated premise creating relevancy: The NYT has higher status than Fox News. General form: Left-wing media outlets have higher status, and closer ties to high-status institutions, than right-wing media outlets.)

Particular example: Consider the effect noted at The Federalist where the violent treatment of one side's holy victim/martyr figure is called disgusting pointless brutality, but the violent treatment of the other side's holy victim/martyr figure is called an important moral message.

As LW has discussed, nonsense can serve as a rallying point and a signal for demonstrating group loyalty. Anyone willing to buy into a group's insane nonsense is probably going to be a devoted member of the group. NR learned and copied quite a lot from LW (in particular, More Right was spawned from Less Wrong) including this, so there's no need to explain it away. But even before LW was created, Moldbug wrote:

from the perspective of the security forces, it may be quite useful to have one or two questions for which the bad answer is true, and the good one is nonsense. Some people are just natural-born troublemakers. Others are naturally loyal. Separating the sheep from the goats gives the authorities a great way to focus on the latter.

Nonsense also gives a basis for arbitrary acts of power. Following the Principle of Explosion, once you've incorporated something nonsensical or contradictory into your ideology, you can use it to rationalize any action or outcome you want. Isn't that great for the group in power?

Comment by ErikM on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-08T09:30:29.798Z · LW · GW

Horseshoe theory seems to me like declaring North on a compass rose to be "middle", and saying as you go further "east" or "west" around the compass, the extreme east and extreme west gradually become more similar to each other. This is a mismapping resulting from the confusion of "east" with "counterclockwise starting from north" and west likewise - to restore the analogy to its origin, I think the political axis has here gotten mixed up with some other attribute or set of attributes.

To look at it another way: I could place the horseshoe so it's quasi-centered (middled?) on anything. Suppose I center it on, for example environmentalism, and declare the sides to be ordered by religion. Then I could argue that moderation is most compatible with environmentalism, while going towards the extreme end of the "religious spectrum" leads to the two sides becoming more similar to each other than to environmentalism - but this is really a feature of antitheists and fundamentalists both being non-environmentalists, which all look alike from the environmentalist position!

Comment by ErikM on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-08T07:04:17.697Z · LW · GW

That's like arguing that because the line between "dog" and "wolf" is socially constructed, there's no need to worry if one's chihuahua is replaced by a timber wolf, or saying that because the Greeks thought of water as a basic substance, "hydrogen" is actually a social grouping.

It's true in the trivial sense that every grouping humans refer to is in some sense a social grouping, but that doesn't alter the underlying biology. Think of it as lumpers and splitters in action - disagreements over where to draw the boundary of a group don't change the characteristics of group members.

Comment by ErikM on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-06T12:02:52.588Z · LW · GW

Why are you equivocating between the biological grouping and the social grouping?

Comment by ErikM on Every Paul needs a Jesus · 2014-08-11T11:18:12.677Z · LW · GW

Maybe Napoleon could be viewed as the Paul of the French Revolution, molding the French state into a highly successful military power while still keeping some of the principles like the overthrow of king and church? Rousseau and Robespierre seem to me like they were both charismatic radicals with impractical ideas.

Comment by ErikM on Rationality Quotes February 2014 · 2014-03-03T10:43:59.681Z · LW · GW

Tinfoil hats and air vents to blow away the pheromones, as I recall. But there's certainly some incompetence involved when the demons use highly outdated military intelligence in their choice of targets, resulting in a devastating attack on the Arsenal of Democracy.

As I recall, the justification for this in the story is that the demons are really long-lived, and human civilization has historically been very slow to change, so by demon standards decades-old intelligence on humans is recent and it's reasonable to expect that Detroit would still be a very important target. I have difficulty buying this - partly because it feels like a post hoc excuse for incompetence rather than the incompetence being logically extrapolated from the lifespan, partly because of the amount of secondary incompetence involved in not noticing that things have changed, and partly because rapid massive change in the power distribution of human societies isn't even all that new: e.g. Alexander the Great conquered his way from Greece to India in about fifteen years.

Comment by ErikM on Open Thread for February 18-24 2014 · 2014-02-27T09:47:53.080Z · LW · GW

I think this could be generalized into a model with predictions: If we suppose that it's easier to get people to nominally than actually abandon one of Haidt's moral axes (from Wikipedia, to save people some lookups: Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, Liberty/oppression, Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation), we should expect that people who disclaim one of the axes will find ways to relabel violations of that axis to make it sound like it's violating a professed axis.

To be specific, if you have a group that officially disclaims the fairness/cheating axis, I expect they'll be quick to explain how cheating is a form of harm. Or drop the care/harm axis, and we'll probably hear about how harm is a form of oppression. And so forth.

Comment by ErikM on Rationality Quotes February 2014 · 2014-02-16T23:19:27.053Z · LW · GW

Ehh, The Salvation War has some interesting moments about facing down existential threats and not giving up and building a bright future for humanity across the corpses of eldritch horrors, but you have to be willing to slog through a lot of drek. I read the first book of The Salvation War and it can't seem to make up its mind just to what extent it's supposed to be following any particular cosmology, mythology, or theology. I get the impression that it wants to be a chronicle of the moment when humanity cast down the Hordes of Hell, but it's executed more like a chronicle of the moment when humanity engaged in massive amounts of gun porn against acid-blooded fire-spitting lightning-throwing ogres, that happened to be called demons. I say ogres because they're large, brutish, stupid, and generally fill much the same niche as ogres do in Dungeons&Dragons. Whereas many of the classical demonic attributes like temptation, seduction, offering forbidden knowledge, reading the hearts of men to know your dark secrets and embarassing desires, or confronting you with a litany of your sins, have been left more or less by the wayside.

Comment by ErikM on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-19T18:48:15.896Z · LW · GW

Short answer: questions contain hidden complexity and words with multiple interpretations.

Long answer:

  • You are free to enter into an agreement to meet at the pub that is non-binding, unilaterally severable, has no damages because there is no consideration specified, or for one of several other reasons will not get the police involved. You are also free to enter into a contract where, for instance, you and your friend will meet at the pub today and you will buy a round for the pair, and tomorrow you and your friend will meet at the pub and he will buy a round for the pair, and in that case I expect you could involve the police if your friend fails to perform. Perhaps I'm reading too much into single words when I read your "agree" and respond with a contrast between "agreement" and "contract", but I think there's a relevant point here about the amount of binding-ness and expectation involved and to what extent one is willing to be compelled by a contract one signs, because "agree to meet at the pub" conveys to me a sense of general intent, which has less force and fewer sanctions (social, legal, or otherwise) for violations than "promise to meet at the pub" which in turn is weaker than "contract to meet at the pub".
  • In America, I would lean towards answering yes, with significant caveats about how "relationship" is to be interpreted. I refer you to the Diosdado case, where a man and a woman got married with some concern about the possibility of adultery, and therefore entered into a contract imposing certain penalties (a monetary fine; and to be considered at fault in an eventual divorce) upon an eventual adulterous party. Then one party committed adultery and convinced the court to throw the contract out of court in favor of granting a no-fault divorce and ending the marriage at no cost (except that paid to the lawyers). To make an analogy, the precedent here is that you can't be free to have monogamous relationship any more than you can free to have an abusive relationship, because any such relationship rests on an illusory promise (general term for promises of the form "I promise to do X if I feel like it", which have no force, and don't function as promises) as the counterparty can terminate it without warning, without cause, and without penalty. American courts don't expect an abused person to remain abused, and the American courts don't expect a married person to remain faithful, regardless of what either person signed.
  • I would say you're free to be on a diet in that case.

Tapping out.

Comment by ErikM on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-16T17:28:29.972Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what your point here is. Please clarify?

I'm arguing that segregation is forbidden in America and similar countries; it seems to me that calling segregation "strictly voluntary" clouds the issue. It's almost a fully general argument to say that X is strictly voluntary because you can do it if none of several million people stop you doing it.

Comment by ErikM on Should people require a mandatory license for parenting? · 2014-01-16T14:36:36.248Z · LW · GW

This sounds like to me as though it's essentially a giant recapitulation of the trolley problem - you have one side claiming that the opposition doesn't understand 5 > 1 and isn't trying to maximize utility and should be pushing the fat man onto the tracks, and you have the other side not wanting to violate obvious moral norms such as "Don't push people onto train tracks where they will die" for the sake of hypotheticals that are not merely unlikely but unrealistic. (How is that man so fat that he'll block a trolley going fast enough to crush five other people, anyway?)

Then the first group argues that sometimes you need to be able to engage rational overrides when the situation is different from what you're used to (or adapted to) and in this case we're stipulating that the man is fat enough to stop the trolley if you push him onto the tracks, and the second group argues that you want bright-line ethical rules and guards against corrupted hardware and con artists trying to convince you to do evil deeds "for the greater good".

In this case a bit less freedom would guarantee a lot less distress.

If this statement is to be taken as a hypothetical stipulation similar to that of the trolley problem, I agree with the hypothetical breeding license.

As a real-life policy suggestion, though, it sounds like a terrible idea due to violating a lot of people's moral norms (which will cause distress), having implementation difficulties (who will make/mark the tests for getting a license), being prone to frighteningly nasty abuse, and underspecification. Please do not take my support of the hypothetical stipulation as being in any way supportive of the actual policy suggestion.

Comment by ErikM on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-16T07:42:37.488Z · LW · GW

By analogy: Private property also includes (must include, in my opinion) the freedom to "impose" it on those who don't want it - If Alice has a bicycle which she considers to be her private property and Bob tries to take the bicycle because Bob doesn't believe in private property and doesn't respect the notion of "Alice's bicycle" in the first place, I'm damn well going to side with Alice in telling Bob to go away, and if necessary, threatening violence against Bob.

If you try to form a concept of "strictly voluntary private property" which only applies to those who want it, you hardly have private property at all - you have a standing invitation for people who disagree with you to take your stuff.

Back to the previous topic, the "strictly voluntary segregation" one has in America and most of the West is that if a hundred white people move to the middle of nowhere to establish a segregated whites-only village and build it from the ground up, they're only allowed to have that segregated village as long as every black person in America refrains from moving there. As Eugine notes, it's illegal for one race to take legal measures to keep the other race out. To generalize, members of one race need functionally unanimous, ongoing, unilaterally revocable permission from all members of the other race in order to be segregated at present. (I gather some ghettos, trailer parks etc. have this by being so unappealing that nobody wants to move there.)

The interpretation of "strictly voluntary" as requiring the agreement of the exact people one wants to avoid in the first place strikes me as a questionably high bar, similar to calling a lifetime imprisonment "strictly voluntary" on the grounds that you can leave as long as the warden gives you permission.

Comment by ErikM on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-14T09:10:19.794Z · LW · GW

Well, you can adopt an ideology that members of the other race find more or less universally detestable and put up posters for it all across the neighborhood, but this has the consequence of filling your neighborhood with an ideology that lots and lots of people find detestable.

Comment by ErikM on [Link] Social Psychology & Priming: Art Wears Off · 2013-02-17T17:00:22.532Z · LW · GW

Something similar goes for phrenology (the prediction of mental attributes from head shape): Science can discover where phrenology works and which traits it can predict and where it stops working. The sheer number of possible traits and populations one can correlate makes me confident you'd find something scientific if you looked. But if science discovers that elongated heads predict high extraversion among Swedes, and is otherwise largely wrong or unpredictive, would you say that phrenology is science?

Steven Kaas quipped something I find applicable: "Yes, I was wrong, but that only makes me falsifiable which makes me scientific which makes me right."This should be taken as general truth about the path towards becoming right - not a post hoc defense of something specific that didn't replicate.

Comment by ErikM on Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013 · 2013-01-17T21:10:14.295Z · LW · GW

You're still in the 2012 thread.

Edit: No, wait, this is apparently posted in 2013 but labeled 2012. Bah.

Comment by ErikM on Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013 · 2013-01-16T23:37:04.453Z · LW · GW

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Comment by ErikM on 2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2012-11-18T21:13:25.384Z · LW · GW

Deeply amused by the section "Alternative Alternative Politics: Okay fine, knock yourself out identifying with as tiny and finely-grained a subcategory as you want" still missing my desired response. :-) (I put Other:Authoritarian as distinct from Totalitarian. My view of these is that the former concerns the power of the ruling body to hypothetically put its fingers in any given pie, while the latter concerns the propensity of the ruling body to have its fingers in a great many pies.)

Comment by ErikM on Please don't vote because democracy is a local optimum · 2012-11-16T15:15:32.972Z · LW · GW

And as a less tone-related complaint, sam0345 grossly overgeneralizes. (And if he's the J that I think he is, I suspect he's not much interested in being more nuanced, for much the same reason he's not interested in consensus.)

Comment by ErikM on Rationality Quotes November 2012 · 2012-11-14T18:58:50.262Z · LW · GW

I think this is the source you want.

See the section Consequences of Artificial Methods, subheading 17.

Comment by ErikM on Any existential risk angles to the US presidential election? · 2012-09-20T17:42:12.269Z · LW · GW

The problem with non-compulsory voting is it means that only the people who care strongly enough about the elections to get off the internet and drive to a polling booth are the ones who have their voices heard. This means that you lose a lot of moderate, sane, rational voters but keep all of the rabid nutjobs.

OTOH, you lose a lot of ignorant, clueless, or just lazy voters who have no basis for forming an opinion, and the ones who have the voices heard are the ones who cared enough to study the issues, even if their study was one-sided.

Push the problem a step back, and my thought here is compulsory political study rather than compulsory voting.

Comment by ErikM on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-09-12T20:20:11.431Z · LW · GW

This has traditionally been a very divisive point within radical feminism, and it typically divides the discussion into transphobic social-constructionist radical feminists (like the source of my original infographic) and neo-essentialist post-feminists.

Comment by ErikM on Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story · 2012-09-10T13:28:58.770Z · LW · GW

Here's one: less jockeying for power. Monarchs don't need to pander to interest groups to get elected.

Comment by ErikM on Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts · 2012-09-10T06:35:20.905Z · LW · GW

That appears to be a malware site. Is it the same as ?

Comment by ErikM on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-07T18:08:30.004Z · LW · GW

Hard problem.

"Change your behavior if a significant fraction complains" fails to protect isolated victims, who are likely to be the most common targets of bad behavior and also the ones in most need of support. "Change your behavior if one person complains" is grossly abusable, and the first-order fix to complain about frivolous complaints spirals off into meta. Appealing to common sense, good judgment etc. seems to me like passing the buck back to the situation that created a need for this discussion in the first place.

As a secondary consideration, there's the spectrum between an ex-Muslim requesting that all women present cover up for a few meetings while acclimatising, and a nudist showing up to a meeting and being requested by others to wear clothing while present. At what point does one's apparel start to constitute "behavior" that other people may complain about as creepy?

On thinking about this (five minutes by the clock!) I start to suspect that trying to write rules about creeping is too high-level and abstract, and it would be better to codify rules on what specific behaviors are tolerated or not, and this ruleset could vary by group. Such as:

  • You must accede to requests of the form "Don't ask me to do that again".

Edit: oops, list syntax

Comment by ErikM on Failed Utopia #4-2 · 2012-05-09T20:22:13.560Z · LW · GW

I suppose he will be thinking along the same lines as a wirehead.

Comment by ErikM on Is friendly AI "trivial" if the AI cannot rewire human values? · 2012-05-09T19:57:38.316Z · LW · GW

"Finally, we will also assume that the AI does not possess the ability to manually rewire the human brain to change what a human values. In other words, the ability for the AI to manipulate another person's values is limited by what we as humans are capable of today."

I argue that we as humans are capable of a lot of that, and the AI may be able to think faster and draw upon a larger store of knowledge of human interaction.

Furthermore, what justifies this assumption? If we assume a limit that the AI won't manipulate me any more than Bob across the street will manipulate me, then yes the AI is safe, but that limit seems very theoretical. A higher limit that the AI won't manipulate me more than than the most manipulative person in the world isn't very reassuring, either.

Comment by ErikM on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T16:56:44.563Z · LW · GW

Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.

ADBOC and that's somewhat beside the point, because it seems to me that things are necessarily somewhat controversial to be taboo. As Paul Graham said:

No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. [...] If Galileo had said that people in Padua were ten feet tall, he would have been regarded as a harmless eccentric. Saying the earth orbited the sun was another matter. The church knew this would set people thinking.

Now, James Watson and Stephanie Grace might want a word with you. (Larry Summers could file an amicus brief.) Chanting "Racist, racist, cow porn, racist, racist, cow porn" seems to fairly closely match Multiheaded's description that "society would instantly slam the lid on it with either moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a black mark" for at least some parts of society. This is moral panic and ridicule despite the speaker barely tiptoeing near controversy and hedging everywhere with statements such as:

This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic

I also don't think that there are no cultural differences

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility

I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables

I am merely not 100% convinced that this is the case.

Comment by ErikM on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T16:26:45.946Z · LW · GW

I am surprised and confused. I would have thought that the analogy to evolution would be the one objected to first, as I think of social institutions first as things instituted by someone and second as things subject to vaguely evolution-like processes. (They are modified over time, imperfectly replicated across countries, and a lot more fail than survive.)

Comment by ErikM on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T15:56:17.949Z · LW · GW

Colonialism was a good system with significant beneficial impact for colonized countries, which are now failing mostly due to native incompetence rather than colonial trauma. It would be a win-win position to reinstitute it competently.

Comment by ErikM on Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story · 2012-01-26T12:45:59.031Z · LW · GW

The distant: I am diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder). I was unpopular at school, I understood poorly how to fit in, but I understood well how to get smarter. I took high school completion mathematics exams in primary school, university exams in high school, and while I never bit a teacher like in HPMoR, I did punch a student one time and demand that the teachers back me up.

As I remember it, said student was talking about a "tirus" which was supposedly like a next-generation virus which would eat up your computer unless you washed your motherboard properly with soap and water. Being a nerd with some technical aptitude, I told him that he was a bullshitting liar and he was to show me what he was on about or stop it immediately. He continued, so I told him to shut up or I'd hit him. He still continued, so I punched him in the stomach, which winded him and made him shut up. The student was surprised that I had carried through my threat, the teachers were surprised that I was unapologetic, and I was surprised that the teachers (this was at a religious school) were putting a distinctly man-made and exception-deformed rule about limits to hitting over a clear and obvious divine commandment against lying.

In retrospect I think I was somewhat lucky here. I was a youth in an argument turning violent, which is hardly a rational state to be in at the best of times, and in the process of trying to excuse myself for committing violence, I happened to take a stupidly defiant stance on the ground of "He was lying!" and got this bound up with my identity, the boy who really hates lies, for the next few years.

The local: I was arguing on Civilization Fanatics' Center in the Off Topic forum some years ago when a poster named Integral gave me a link to 'applause lights' at Overcoming Bias. I then read OB a lot, read the posts that would eventually get moved to Less Wrong, and ended up here.

Comment by ErikM on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T11:46:35.170Z · LW · GW

Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. [...]

While I agree, I disapprove because my impression is that this is not an opinion suppressed much in the outside culture. I can well imagine it being an unpopular one here at Less Wrong, but in the world at large I see widespread support for similar opinions, such as among "conservatives" (in a loose sense) complaining about how "intellectuals" (ditto) were and are overly supportive of Communism, and complaints against "technocrats" and "ivory towers" in general. I also see disagreement with this, but not tabooing of it.

My agreement is based on the opinion appearing to be congruent with the quip "Evolution is smarter than you are", or the similar principle of "Chesterton's Fence".

I also get the impression that this is often because smart people don't see the value of the institutions to smart people. (This may be because it doesn't have such value.) For instance:

A case of this especially relevant to Less Wrong is "Evangelical Polyamory".

I'm fairly confident LessWrongers could engage in polyamory this without significant social dysfunction or suffering, let alone death on a massive scale. (BTW: I couldn't find any articles here by that title. Are you referring to a general tendency, or did I fail at searching?)