Posts

Meetup : Mountain View: More on Reinforcement 2013-04-22T03:18:09.010Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Mountain View: Reinforcement 2013-04-15T05:15:53.396Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Mountain View: Board Game Night 2013-04-04T06:33:39.313Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Mountain View: Cure Light Aversions 2013-04-01T05:02:55.120Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Mountain View: Invoking Curiosity 2013-03-26T08:54:44.095Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : South Bay Meetup: Be Specific 2013-03-18T07:27:26.606Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Meetup : Mountain View: Rough Numbers 2013-03-04T18:51:27.001Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Prospect Theory 2012-10-12T04:34:39.516Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Generating More Ideas 2012-09-23T19:20:35.283Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Reading Group, Seeing with Fresh Eyes 2012-09-12T02:56:36.033Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Cached Selves 2012-09-01T23:38:02.472Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Team Problem-Solving 2012-07-24T03:45:22.457Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Rough Numbers 2012-07-19T07:13:43.947Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison: Probability Calibration 2012-07-06T03:59:00.000Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2012-05-07T03:34:06.993Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2012-04-20T23:15:13.623Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Question: Being uncertain without worrying? 2012-04-17T13:56:30.274Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2012-04-06T04:40:48.798Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2012-03-30T04:35:26.443Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2012-03-22T04:59:04.865Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2012-03-10T01:29:09.258Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2012-02-10T05:12:56.563Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2012-01-27T20:55:38.039Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2012-01-12T07:14:20.742Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Examples of the Mind Projection Fallacy? 2011-12-13T15:27:12.733Z · score: 12 (13 votes)
Handling Emotional Appeals 2011-12-10T07:30:44.775Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2011-11-19T22:24:36.269Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup: Tegmark universes 2011-11-11T21:30:21.179Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2011-11-04T16:18:56.993Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison Monday Meetup 2011-10-20T16:24:04.538Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Monday Madison Meetup 2011-10-14T04:00:31.002Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison 2011-09-24T20:24:22.882Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison 2011-08-25T18:02:01.019Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Madison 2011-08-10T04:01:29.096Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Madison 2011-07-27T02:30:35.680Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Be Not Averse to Lost Purposes 2011-07-24T05:09:05.807Z · score: 4 (13 votes)
Madison Less Wrong Meetup: Wednesday, 16 Feb 2011-02-11T22:06:55.313Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Madison Meetup - Ideas, arrangements 2011-02-07T15:22:52.576Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
I Want to Learn About Education 2011-01-20T03:46:47.006Z · score: 7 (8 votes)

Comments

Comment by fiddlemath on Open and closed mental states · 2014-12-30T17:50:43.880Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've been collecting other analogues of open mode vs. closed mode. I have a strong suspicion that they're all facets of the same underlying mental stance.

  • In brainstorming, generating vs. filtering seem to be open and closed, respectively.
  • In writing, drafting vs. editing.
  • The believing game vs. the doubting game.
  • In social settings, vulnerability vs. filtered interaction
  • In improv acting, "yes and" vs. rejecting ideas

And maybe even relaxed vs. tensed muscles, though this seems more tenuous to me. On the other hand, dancing in closed mode is just kind of embarrassing, while dancing in open mode is really fun.

This keeps coming up in creative and performance settings, and they often need reinforcement and extra explanation. The analogue of open mode makes new ideas more possible, and the analogue of closed mode makes checking ideas more possible. Both are generally valuable, but they seem to interfere with each other. (For instance, in brainstorming, it's always tempting to generate and critically assess ideas at the same time, but it just doesn't work!)

Newbies at almost anything are tempted to stay in the closed mode, because they're afraid that they're going to mess up somehow; but only in open mode are you likely to make new mistakes to learn from. Improvisation is nearly impossible in closed mode.

In all of these cases, I find the analogue of open mode to be much more fun, though often hard to maintain.

Comment by fiddlemath on Mistakes repository · 2014-11-27T16:53:51.161Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I also second this mistake.

Comment by fiddlemath on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-12-04T18:50:22.914Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Census'd! And upvoted! But an upvote isn't really quite strong enough to demonstrate my appreciation for this work. Thank you.

Comment by fiddlemath on High School, Human Capital, Signaling and College Admissions · 2013-09-17T07:59:23.069Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Seconded. This seemed outrageous and unthinkable to me before I was in grad school; now that I've been to grad school, I recognize it as obviously true.

Work your way up to emailing / calling them, but an introduction from a professor that likes you will go far.

Well-known professors get cold-emailed pretty frequently by prospective students, and are largely ignored. An introduction from a professor that likes you, in a related field of study, will get you pretty far.

Of course, you won't get those introductions without having a professor that likes you; the easiest way to get a professor to like you is to demonstrate interest, and start to build expertise, in the field you want to do work in. Start reading papers, ask your professors questions about research, or just pointers to relevant research. If you want to do math or CS or theoretical X, make serious attempts at solving interesting problems. If you're in a lab science, ask to help with relevant experiments at your university.

I did not do these things when I was an undergrad. Doing them would have made a serious difference; I've seen that difference in grad students since then. If you seriously want to do graduate research, this stuff is at least as important as your grades. It's good practice and good signaling.

Comment by fiddlemath on Games for Rationalists · 2013-09-16T05:48:03.344Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, just terrible editing. :j Thanks.

Comment by fiddlemath on Games for Rationalists · 2013-09-14T00:25:23.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd actually argue that Zendo is simpler than Clue, just less familiar. Specifically, the gameplay mechanics themselves are about as simple as they can be, while still supporting the idea of "be a game of induction".

Is there anywhere it can be played online?

Actually, forums work out pretty well, and chat rooms (IRC, say) work excellently... because you can just use a family of text strings as koan space, instead of physical configurations. It's lacks some visual and tactile satisfaction, but it works online and is free. (Examples: on lw, on Board Game Geek, on the DROD forums.)

Comment by fiddlemath on Games for Rationalists · 2013-09-12T06:29:50.174Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Zendo is often described as "Science: The Game." (More discussion here)

Lots of biases come up. You quickly learn to avoid positive bias if you play this often. You start to deal with confirmation bias and illusory correlation and neglect of sample size. Almost any bias that affects hypothesis generation and testing affects how well you play Zendo, and you can run through single rounds in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you're serious about using it for didactic purposes, have players work together, collaborating aloud. This way, you can cover some of the social biases, and have a clearer record of what people were thinking and when they thought it. (If you're really serious, record the play session, and show insight-generating clips as you go. When you play as the master, you get to see these all the time.)

Comment by fiddlemath on The Ultimate Newcomb's Problem · 2013-09-10T03:18:01.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Problem lacks specification: ought we assume that Omega also predicted TNL's number? Or was that random both to me, Omega-past, and TNL? Omega predicting correctly in 99.9% of previous cases doesn't determine this.

(eta: Ah, was answered on the Facebook thread; Omega predicted the lottery number. Hm.)

Comment by fiddlemath on Confidence In Opinions, Intensity In Opinion · 2013-09-07T09:30:12.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, one should vigorously enact risky, positive-expectation plans. I think that's clear to this audience.

How do you vigorously enact risky plans while acknowledging their uncertainty? This is psychologically much more difficult.

Things described around LW as productivity hacks will help. But the feeling of optimism and the acknowledgement of a risk are different things. I experience optimism as pleasant, motivating, and an aid to focus. It'd be awesome to feel optimistic about positive-EV risky plans, in general. Do you know ways to do this?

Comment by fiddlemath on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-09T04:59:38.443Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

It struck me last night that, if you really wanted to get good predictions on what will happen in the rest of the story, you can just reread the whole thing, look for any potential plot devices that haven't already been triggered in some central way, and figure out how those things might be used. There's not a lot of story left; Eliezer said this arc, a couple of intermediate chapters, and one final plot arc.

I haven't got the time to do this myself, but it seems doable. If you want to really solve everything, set up a collaborative spreadsheet or something, and start hacking away. :)

Comment by fiddlemath on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-09T04:56:21.651Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, there it is!

Harry time-turned to just before the troll attack. (In the one-and-a-half minutes when he went into Hermione's room.) This is probably pretty clear -- he's been keeping everyone else out of that room, and the centrality of the time-turner in this story more or less demands that Harry do so. Harry would have done this even if he couldn't come up with a plan in his previous six hours, just so he'd have another six hours to think, or do what he deemed needful to preserve Hermione's body.

Somewhere in there, he talked to the twins, and poorly obliviated them. Evidence:

  1. Why does Harry know about the Marauder's Map? When else has Harry learned plot-significant information off-camera?
  2. Obliviation, and Memory Charms in general, and Harry's horror of them, are repeatedly mentioned in the story, and haven't really been used that much yet.
  3. Harry has just learned that he has access to learn obliviation.
  4. Quirrell suggests that obliviation is within his abilities, but barely -- and so Harry is likely to botch it if he attempts it.
  5. Who else in the story is likely to have performed a botched obliviation on the Weasley twins -- such that they have vague memories of having the map, but no complete ones? Every potential foe is powerful enough to perform obliviation properly.

Besides, it'll be a narratively nice, dark moment when Harry uses a spell whose existence he abhors on two of his best remaining friends and allies...

Comment by fiddlemath on How to Write Deep Characters · 2013-07-08T02:03:25.575Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I found this deeply amusing. And made an audio version. I do not fully understand, myself.

Comment by fiddlemath on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-07T08:14:25.071Z · score: 10 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, right! I actually did the comute time vs. rent computation when I moved four months ago! And wound up with a surprising enough number that I thought about it very closely, and decided that number was about right, and changed how I was looking for apartments. How did I forget that?

Thanks!

Comment by fiddlemath on Game for organizational structure testing · 2013-04-07T03:09:47.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This would avoid camaraderie, team spirit and reputation management being organisational factors.

Er, why would you want to do this? Do you have a specific management domain in mind, where these things actually don't matter?

If not, perhaps you can just watch what happens in carefully-selected, massively-multiplayer games? Eve, maybe?

Comment by fiddlemath on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-06T21:33:13.743Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I've run meetups on this topic twice now. Every time I do, it's difficult to convince people it's a useful skill. More words about when estimation is useful would be nice.

In most exercises that you can find on Fermi calculations, you can also actually find the right answer, written down somewhere online. And, well, being able to quickly find information is probably a more useful skill to practice than estimation; because it works for non-quantified information too. I understand why this is; you want to be able to show that these estimates aren't very far off, and for that you need to be able to find the actual numbers somehow. But that means that your examples don't actually motivate the effort of practicing, they only demonstrate how.

I suspect the following kinds of situations are fruitful for estimation:

  • Deciding in unfamiliar situations, because you don't know how things will turn out for you. If you're in a really novel situation, you can't even find out how the same decision has worked for other people before, and so you have to guess at expected value using the best information that you can find.
  • Value of information calculations, like here and here, where you cannot possibly know the expected value of things, because you're trying to decide if you should pay for information about their value.
  • Deciding when you're not online, because this makes accessing information more expensive than computation.
  • Decisions where you have unusual information for a particular situation -- the internet might have excellent base-rate information about your general situation, but it's unlikely to give you the precise odds so that you can incorporate the extra information that you have in this specific situation.
  • Looking smart. It's nice to look smart sometimes.

Others? Does anyone have examples of when Fermi calculations helped them make a decision?

Comment by fiddlemath on Programming the LW Study Hall · 2013-03-18T23:09:38.559Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Later. Keep the project requirements small until it's working well. Get it to serve one desired purpose very well. Only then look at extending its use.

This is true for any coding project, but an order-of-magnitude more true for a volunteer project. If you want to get a programmer to actually volunteer for a project, convince them that the project will see great rewards while it's still small. In fact, you basically want to maximize intuitive value, while minimizing expected work. It feels so much better when your actual, original goal is achieved with a small amount of work than it feels when your tiny, first step is only the start of achieving your goal.

Comment by fiddlemath on Tutoring Small Groups of Children (for money) · 2013-02-22T11:12:16.333Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Have lots of problems prepared over a wide range of difficulty. Start with problems you're pretty sure the student can solve, and turn up the difficulty slowly.

Comment by fiddlemath on LessWrong help desk - free paper downloads and more · 2013-02-14T18:41:56.684Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I have the whole thing now, and seed it when I can. My, the internet's a powerful thing when used properly. :)

Comment by fiddlemath on Memetic Tribalism · 2013-02-14T04:03:27.514Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Well put! Have some internet status points!

Comment by fiddlemath on LessWrong help desk - free paper downloads and more · 2013-01-27T21:48:55.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know it's old, now, but can you seed the latter again? The swarm's missing about 9% right now.

Comment by fiddlemath on Value-Focused Thinking: a chapter-by-chapter summary · 2013-01-23T04:19:06.791Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

VFT appears primarily targeted at facilitators and contains much focused material not in VFT

er?

Comment by fiddlemath on [SEQ RERUN] Changing Emotions · 2013-01-23T03:59:44.644Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

._.

Comment by fiddlemath on My simple hack for increased alertness and improved cognitive functioning: very bright light · 2013-01-23T00:19:10.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Um - why not get a control group? I'd happily volunteer.

I mean, it might not be perfectly randomized, but you can at least watch for confounders from just being in this community, or introspecting for data collection, or whatnot.

Comment by fiddlemath on Group rationality diary, 1/9/13 · 2013-01-12T09:59:33.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, agreed! Still, journaling in the morning has been rather more useful than failing to journal in the evening.

Comment by fiddlemath on Group rationality diary, 1/9/13 · 2013-01-11T03:00:22.603Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Consider modifying the habit -- maybe journaling at night is harder for you to maintain than in the morning, or around lunch, or something like that? (This was my experience - I tried journaling at night for years and repeatedly failed; now I journal in the morning, and it's been easy and pleasant. I don't know any special reason why this would work for you, but it's cheap to share the idea.)

Comment by fiddlemath on Course recommendations for Friendliness researchers · 2013-01-09T19:13:45.154Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

How is the distinction between functional and imperative programming languages "not a real one"?

"Not a real one" is sort of glib. Still, I think Jim's point stands.

The two words "functional" and "imperative" do mean different things. The problem is that, if you want to give a clean definition of either, you wind up talking about the "cultures" and "mindsets" of the programmers that use and design them, rather than actual features of the language. Which starts making sense, really, when you note "functional vs. imperative" is a perennial holy war, and that these terms have become the labels for sides in that war, rather than precise technical positions.

I mean, I am somewhat partisan in that war, and rather agree that, e.g., we should point new programmers to Scheme rather than Python or Java. But presenting "functional" vs. "imperative" as the major division in thinking about programming languages is epistemically dirty, when there's so many distinctions between languages that matter just as much, and describe things more precisely.

(Jim: fair rephrasing?)

Comment by fiddlemath on January 2013 Media Thread · 2013-01-09T09:07:09.447Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I maintain a spotify playlist, here. If you have spotify, this should be a direct link: spotify:user:fiddlemath:playlist:6Iv5fSaguXWHta0Iu80i2N

A few game and movie soundtracks. Instrumental or nearly-instrumental, some odd, kind-of-jangly loud stuff occasionally.

Probably not as good as musicForProgramming(); is, but you can pick among the tracks a lot more easily.

Comment by fiddlemath on [deleted post] 2013-01-09T08:46:05.002Z

I try to write my journal for me, about ten years from now. So, I don't spend much time explaining who people are that I know very well, or what my overall situation is -- but I do spend quite some time trying to express mental states, because I know that how I think now differs vastly from my thinking ten years ago, and I expect similar changes into the future.

On the other hand, I've had lots of experience with trying and failing to understand what I've written in programming and mathematics, so I've internalized the fact that future-me might not even understand an explanation of things I think are obvious right now. ymmv.

Comment by fiddlemath on You can't signal to rubes · 2013-01-02T05:15:44.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Influencing" is pretty neutral, if not very specific. "Exploiting the halo effect" is too long, but precise.

Comment by fiddlemath on [Link] The Collapse of Complex Societies · 2013-01-01T02:32:17.436Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My reading of the given quote is the same as buybuy's. Maybe you're talking about a more general process? Your comment here is tantalizing, but I don't have any particular reason to believe it; can you give examples, or explain it further, or something?

Comment by fiddlemath on Against NHST · 2012-12-30T05:33:12.654Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If they deserve any credibility, scientists must have some process by which they drop bad truth-finding methods instead of repeating them out of blind tradition.

Plenty of otherwise-good science is done based on poor statistics. Keep in mind, there are tons and tons of working scientists, and they're already pretty busy just trying to understand the content of their fields. Many are likely to view improved statistical methods as an unneeded step in getting a paper published. Others are likely to view overthrowing NHST as a good idea, but not something that they themselves have the time or energy to do. Some might repeat it out of "blind tradition" -- but keep in mind that the "blind tradition" is an expensive-to-move Schelling point in a very complex system.

I do expect that serious scientific fields will, eventually, throw out NHST in favor of more fundamentally-sound statistical analyses. But, like any social change, it'll probably take decades at least.

Do you believe scientific results?

Unconditionally? No, and neither should you. Beliefs don't work that way.

If a scientific paper gives a fundamentally-sound statistical analysis of the effect it purports to prove, I'll give it more credence than a paper rejecting the null hypothesis at p < 0.05. On the other hand, a study rejecting the null hypothesis at p < 0.05 is going to provide far more useful information than a small collection of anecdotes, and both are probably better than my personal intuition in a field I have no experience with.

Comment by fiddlemath on Narrative, self-image, and self-communication · 2012-12-24T15:46:30.508Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An important aspect of self-image is whether people consider themselves "successful" or "losers", based on their previous successes and failures. But we have a bias here: the feeling from a successful or failed task is not proportionate to its difficulty. So people can manipulate their outcomes by only doing easy tasks, which have high success ratio. When used strategically, this can be helpful; but doing it automatically all the time is harmful. Learning new things requires trying new things, but that has a risk of failure, which can harm self-image with possible bad consequences such as learned helplessness. On the other hand, protecting self-image all the times means never learning anything. Updating means admitting you were (more) wrong. How to deal with this?

When you practice or learn, ensure that each session ends on a high note. Either push yourself to accomplish something for the first time and then stop immediately, or end with an exercise that you find difficult but now comfortably within your abilities. This is, apparently, commonly used in animal training -- see the "laws of shaping".

I suspect this works because of the peak-end rule -- even if you've been working above your comfortable difficulty for most of the session, you'll remember the session as if you did difficult things, and became more competent by the end. You won't remember the session as frustrating or painful if the end is especially satisfying.

Comment by fiddlemath on Against NHST · 2012-12-23T21:08:50.219Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

NHST has been taught as The Method Of Science to lots of students. I remember setting these up explicitly in science class. I expect it will remain in the fabric of any given quantitative field until removed with force.

Comment by fiddlemath on [Link] Anti-Groupism · 2012-10-23T15:06:45.988Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I get all this, I think. I didn't realize you were equating "socially useful" and "socially true."

I guess those might feel very similar; that one's experience of the social use of a belief could feel a lot like truth. In fact, a belief seeming socially useful, a belief seeming not to cause cognitive dissonance, and a belief seeming epistemically true might be the same experience in other people's heads - say, a belief feeling "right."

Comment by fiddlemath on [Link] Anti-Groupism · 2012-10-22T20:55:49.508Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not confident I know what you mean by "social truth". Can you break that apart?

Comment by fiddlemath on Meetup : Madison: Reading Group, Seeing with Fresh Eyes · 2012-09-14T12:56:49.652Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn't be "barging in", new folks are welcome!

On the other hand, if it's uncomfortable for you to first show up when someone's hosting it at their apartment, that's pretty understandable. For exactly that reason, some next weeks' meetups are at a public place - usually Michelangelo's coffee shop on State St. Next week, for instance.

Also, go ahead and sign up for our mailing list; some local stuff is posted there that doesn't make its way to the main LW page.

Comment by fiddlemath on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-12T01:39:50.771Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oops, yes. Edited in original; thanks!

Comment by fiddlemath on Checking for the Programming Gear · 2012-09-09T18:19:48.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

it has no syntax.

I've usually heard that as the reason to give Lisp to a new programmer. You don't want them thinking about fine details of syntax; you want them thinking about manipulations of formal systems. Add further syntax only when syntax helps, instead of hinders.

What's the argument for preferring a more syntax-ful language?

Comment by fiddlemath on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T16:16:36.817Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Certainly! As such, we should figure out how to turn geekdoms into ask cultures, when they aren't already. Putting even marginally socially-awkward people in situations where they have to guess other people's intentions, when everyone is intentionally avoiding making their intentions common knowledge, well, that's sort of cruel.

So, this become a problem we can actually try to solve. In a relatively small environment, like a group of a dozen or so, what can one do to induce "ask culture", instead of "guess culture"?

(This should probably be a discussion post of its own... hm.)

Comment by fiddlemath on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T16:06:36.796Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Understood - but essentially no humans consider their own status hits as of extremely low importance. this is so strong that directing other people to lower their status - even if it's in their best long-term interest - is only rarely practical advice.

Comment by fiddlemath on How to tell apart science from pseudo-science in a field you don't know ? · 2012-09-02T23:01:24.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To try to answer the title's question, rather than directly answer the post's problem:

For the general problem of discerning pseudo-science from science, there's Massimo Pigliucci's Nonsense on Stilts. What I've read (and heard) by him seems like pretty sound stuff, but I haven't read the book itself. Does anyone have strong opinions about this book?

Comment by fiddlemath on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-02T22:48:28.746Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I think so. It surely depends on exactly how I extrapolate to my "transhuman self," but I suspect that its goals will be like my own goals, writ larger

Comment by fiddlemath on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-02T22:44:58.104Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Not quite so! We could presume that value isn't restricted to the reals + infinity, but say that something's value is a value among the ordinals. Then, you could totally say that life has infinite value, but two lives have twice that value.

But this gives non-commutativity of value. Saving a life and then getting $100 is better than getting $100 and saving a life, which I admit seems really screwy. This also violates the Von Neumann-Morgenstern axioms.

In fact, if we claim that a slice of bread is of finite value, and, say, a human life is of infinite value in any definition, then we violate the continuity axiom... which is probably a stronger counterargument, and tightly related to the point DanielLC makes above.

Comment by fiddlemath on Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012) · 2012-08-15T15:07:47.950Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In that case, it sounds very, very similar to what I've learned to deal with -- especially as you describe feeling isolated from the people around you. I started to write a long, long comment, and then realized that I'd probably seen this stuff written down better, somewhere. This matches my experience precisely.

For me, the most important realization was that the feeling of nihilism presents itself as a philosophical position, but is never caused or dispelled by philosophy. You can ruminate forever and find no reason to value anything; philosophical nihilism is fully internally consistent. Or, you can get exercise, and spend some time with friends, and feel better due not to philosophy, but to physiology. (I know this is glib, and that getting exercise when you just don't care about anything isn't exactly easy. The link above discusses this.)

That above post, and Alicorn's sequence on luminosity -- effective self-awareness -- probably lay out the right steps to take, if you'd like to most-effectively avoid these crappy moods.

Moreover, if you'd like to chat more, over skype some time, or via pm, or whatever, I'd be happy to. I'm pretty busy, so there may be high latency, but it sounds like you're dealing with things that are very similar to my own experience, and I've partly learned how to handle this stuff over the past few years.

Comment by fiddlemath on Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012) · 2012-07-29T14:11:25.651Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It has also been depressing, though, because I've since realized many of the "problems" in the world were caused by the ineptitude of the species and aren't easily fixed. I've had some problems with existential nihilism since then and if anyone has any advice on the matter, I'd love to hear it.

You describe "problems with existential nihilism." Are these bouts of disturbed, energy-sucking worry about the sheer uselessness of your actions, each lasting between a few hours and a few days? Moreover, did you have similar bouts of worry about other important seeming questions before getting into LW?

Comment by fiddlemath on Notes on the Psychology of Power · 2012-07-29T05:01:31.820Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did, at first; and rethought it before I posted. And I figured that the same response was also roughly correct if it was a "dig at Alicorn." Doing useful drudgery despite bystander effects is remarkable and surprising, so arch comments about someone not doing so would be silly.

Given that everyone around here is usually pretty reasonable, if prone to fallacies of transparency, I therefore assume that Eliezer's actually giving straightforward applause, rather than being ironic. (If I'm wrong ... well, that'd be useful to learn.)

Comment by fiddlemath on Notes on the Psychology of Power · 2012-07-28T23:43:36.845Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

If it is a dig, it ought not be. Doing useful drudgery despite bystander effects is remarkable and surprising, and should be applauded!

Comment by fiddlemath on Meetup : Madison: Team Problem-Solving · 2012-07-28T23:39:51.984Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wear comfortable shoes and, if you have one, a watch!

Comment by fiddlemath on [link] Prepared to wait? New research challenges the idea that we favour small rewards now over bigger later · 2012-07-21T20:18:17.505Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have examples in mind? I'd very much like them - those would be highly valuable places to double-check assumptions.

Comment by fiddlemath on Meetup : Madison: Rough Numbers · 2012-07-21T20:09:07.340Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

NGR?