The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox 2011-09-05T17:07:16.928Z


Comment by FrF on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 3 · 2011-05-11T20:38:12.406Z · LW · GW

"As an aside" re: Mystery -- I admit to being fascinated with his contribution to a Neil Strauss seminar. (It distills Mystery's theories as found in his own book and in Strauss' bestseller.) Mystery's a skilled didactitian although I remember that when I watched the video a second time a couple of his points did lose a bit of their persuasiveness. The PU literature also shows how deeply Evolutionary Psychology has penetrated the popular consciousness, albeit with at least some degree of -- pun intended in this case -- vulgarizations. For those of you who are interested, the video I'm referring to can be found at YouTube with the following search: "Mystery Neil's Annihilation Method DVD".

Comment by FrF on Ethics and rationality of suicide · 2011-05-03T19:12:20.001Z · LW · GW

I had to smile because of Adelene's offer. This is a great idea! The ETA from above also made me aware that the lifestyle advice on Less Wrong is quite unique in its sophistication.

Comment by FrF on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2011-01-18T02:41:14.868Z · LW · GW

I remember the interview Josh did with Ben Casnocha as being very interesting. (Site contains links to streaming video and MP3 download + written interview summary.)

Comment by FrF on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T21:52:08.679Z · LW · GW

Then your mom is lucky in more than one regard! Because of medical progress it is very different to be diagnosed with MS today than it was in 1973, when my mother had her first MS episode at the age of 27.

You wrote earlier that a lot of what you don't like about your life is simply due to habits. Personally, I find the key to change is to persistently chip away at my mountain of bad habits (my main nemesis is procrastination) and to think more from day to day, to try to implement some (any!) positive difference in my life at a daily basis, and be it only to show a friendly face when you're not really feeling like it, or to do that one more household chore you try to avoid, or to confront another uncomfortable truth about yourself and verbalize it to (well-chosen!) friends and acquaintances.

I know, these strategies are so basic they almost don't qualify for Self-Help 101 but once you "really want to change" I found they work quite well.

Comment by FrF on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T18:25:15.955Z · LW · GW

You're right, wnoise, "village idiot" is part of an idiom but one I don't like at all and I don't think I'm particular in this regard.

I should have put my objection as "'Village idiot' is gravely anachronistic unless you want to be insensitive by subsuming a plethora of medical conditions and social determinants under a dated, derogatory term for mentally disabled people."

This may sound like nit-picking but obviously said intelligence graph is an important item in SIAI's symbolic tool kit and therefore every detail should be right. When I see the graph, I'm always thinking: Please, "for the love of cute kittens", change the "village idiot"!

Comment by FrF on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T16:25:26.863Z · LW · GW

With all respect to Eliezer I think nowadays the gravely anachronistic term "village idiot" shouldn't be used anymore. I wanted to say that almost every time when I see the intelligence scale graphic in his talks.

Comment by FrF on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T15:25:54.110Z · LW · GW

Hello CronoDAS,

You're story sounds somewhat similar to mine (but I'm considerably older than you). My mother had Multiple Sklerosis, too; I was her main caretaker until her death. It's strange that it didn't dawn on me how much my upbringing and my mother's illness has shaped my father's and my life - and furthermore I didn't really understand until recently how unusually withdrawn my life has been so far. Now, social isolation is a well-known danger when you're severely ill but I was (at least on a physical level) healthy and still I wasn't able to break out of the habits that I (to a certain degree) adopted because of my former circumstances and a general inclination towards shyness.

I have a very unoriginal proposition for you: Act as soon as possible and change your situation! Believe me, things don't get easier once you're ten years older than you are now. What about a "trial move"? The way you describe your parents I think you could always return if for one reason or another you can't cope with being "on your own".

I'm "in the process" (as vaguely as that may sound) to finally get my act together and make some serious, so-long-overdue-you-won't-believe-it life changes. I know some of the depressive symptoms you're describing: A general world-weariness, an enmity to my own body, avoidance of "boring" errands up to a point where it got seriously damaging, seeing no sense in dragging this carcass of mine through a pointless world etc pp. But somehow things begin to click for me a bit more. If it's "meant to be" that I'm going down, then at least I'm putting up a fight (i.e. trying to beat some amount of rationality into my skull which is thick with irrational believes and blocks)!

Take care!

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-05T21:43:28.855Z · LW · GW

I completely forget about spoilers! I used this particular quotation because I innocently thought it would be a "hook" to motivate people to read the story.

Should I rot13 the quotation for reasons of precaution?

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-05T20:49:45.163Z · LW · GW

The Final Now, a new short story by Gregory Benford about (literally) End Times.

Quotation in rot13 for the spoiler-averse's sake. It's an interesting passage and, as FAWS, I also think it's not that revealing, so it's probably safe to read it in advance.

("Bar" vf n cbfg-uhzna fgnaq-va sbe uhznavgl juvpu nqqerffrf n qrzvhetr ragvgl, qrfvtangrq nf "Ur" naq "Fur".)

"Bar synerq jvgu ntvgngrq raretvrf. “Vs lbh unq qrfvtarq gur havirefr gb er-pbyyncfr, gurer pbhyq unir orra vasvavgr fvzhyngrq nsgreyvsr. Gur nfxrj pbzcerffvba pbhyq shry gur raretl sbe fhpu pbzchgngvba—nyy fdhrrmrq jvguva gung svany ren!”

“Gung jnf n yrff vagrerfgvat pubvpr,” Fur fnvq. “Jr pubfr guvf havirefr sbe vgf tenaq inevrgl. Infgre ol sne fvapr vg unf ynfgrq fb ybat.”

“Inevrgl jnf bhe tbny—gb znxr gur zbfg fgvzhyngvat fcnpr-gvzr jr pbhyq,” Ur fnvq, “Lbh, fznyy Bar, frrz gb uneobe gjva qrfverf—checbfr naq abirygl—naq fb cebterff.”

Bar fnvq, “Bs pbhefr!” Gura, fulyl, “. . . naq ynfgvat sbe rgreavgl.”

Fur fnvq, “Gubfr pbagenqvpg.”"

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-03T17:39:08.459Z · LW · GW

You're welcome, Andrew! I thought about forwarding your proposal to David Pearce, too. Maybe it's just my overactive imagination but your ideas about Superman appear to be connectable with his agenda!

Since your proposal is influenced by Grant Morrison's work, I remember that there'll be soon a book by Morrison, titled Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero. I'm sure it will contain its share of esotericisms; on the other hand, as he's shown several times -- recently with All Star Superman -- Morrison seems comfortable with transhumanist ideas. (But then, transhumanism is also a sort of esotericism, at least in the view of its detractors.)

Btw, I had to smile when I read PJ Eby's Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Supervillains.

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-01T20:14:53.230Z · LW · GW

I enjoyed this proposal for a 24-issue Superman run:

There are several Less Wrongish themes in this arc: Many Worlds, ending suffering via technology, rationality:

"...a highlight of the first half of this first year will be the redemption of Lex Luthor – in a forty-page story, set in one room, with just the two of them talking, and Superman using logic to convince Luthor to turn his talents towards good..."

The effect Andrew's text had on me reminded me of how excited I was when I first had read Alan Moore's famous Twilight of the Superheroes. (I'm not sure about how well "Twilight" stands the test of time but see Google or Wikipedia for links to the complete Moore proposal.)

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-01T19:49:34.066Z · LW · GW

"Why Self-Educated Learners Often Come Up Short"

Quotation: "I have a theory that the most successful people in life aren’t the busiest people or the most relaxed people. They are the ones who have the greatest ability to commit to something nobody else forces them to do."

Comment by FrF on Open Thread: February 2010, part 2 · 2010-02-17T22:38:53.215Z · LW · GW

After reading Kaj's pointer, I spent several hours at Steve Pavlina's site. It's fascinating for someone like me who's always in danger of falling apart at the self-discipline front if he's not very vigilant about it. As a lot of self-help authors, Pavlina is very analytic; plus he's open about his experiments in life style -- which he tackles with the same resolve as his other projects -- and Erin Pavlina is a "psychic reader" who apparently does consultations via telephone (preferably land line)!

Comment by FrF on A survey of anti-cryonics writing · 2010-02-08T04:00:32.136Z · LW · GW

Hint: Just in case you're not within reach of this issue of The New Yorker, a little bit of Google-fu turns up a scan of said article.

I found the piece not particulary exciting. It's certainly well-written but Jill Lepore obviously wasn't interested in digging too deeply re: the scientific or non-scientific foundations of cryonics. Instead we get a lot of impressionistic descriptions of Michigan (where the Cryonics Institute is located), slightly disdainful accounts of the CI's facilities and many synopses of SF stories .The latter isn't without reason, though, because Robert Ettinger was very influenced by Science Fiction.

Mrs. Lepore does her best to let Ettinger come across as grumpy, though I suspect that this "grumpiness" has to do with him knowing all to well what will very likely come out of it when a general interest magazine visits the CI. In other words, we are witness to a small culture clash: Of course it must be strange to a historian like Lepore that Ettinger has a completely different sensibility!

Comment by FrF on Proposal: Use the Wiki for Concepts · 2009-04-22T15:43:55.971Z · LW · GW

I have always at least a couple of Eliezer's OB posts on my pda. Today I went through some hitherto underexplored sections of OB -- meaning I only read them once -- and I have now dozens of posts on my trusty old Acer N30.

Comment by FrF on The Sin of Underconfidence · 2009-04-20T10:57:45.789Z · LW · GW

Eliezer should write a self-help book! Blog posts like the above are very inspiring to this perennial intellectual slacker and general underachiever (meaning: me).

I certainly can relate to this part:

"It doesn't seem worthwhile any more, to go on trying to fix one thing when there are a dozen other things that will still be wrong...

There's not enough hope of triumph to inspire you to try hard..."

Comment by FrF on BHTV: de Grey and Yudkowsky · 2008-12-13T16:09:47.000Z · LW · GW

I'm very much looking foward to this!

Incidentally, I received my paperback of "Ending Aging" today. For those of you who have the EA's hardback edition: The paperback has an additional 40-page afterword. (This gets probably mentioned in the above interview but I thought it couldn't hurt if I give this comment at least a bit of weight.)

[EDIT in March 2010 for clarity.]

Comment by FrF on You Only Live Twice · 2008-12-13T09:32:00.000Z · LW · GW

"You Only Live Twice" is a beautiful, moving post, Eliezer.

Two sentences that stand out:

"If you've been hurt enough, you can no longer imagine healing."


"And it [the capital "F" Future] may have a concept of sentient dignity that values your life more than you dare to value yourself."

Comment by FrF on Bloggingheads: Yudkowsky and Horgan · 2008-06-08T09:01:37.000Z · LW · GW

I'd like to read/hear an interview with Eliezer where he talks mainly about SF. Sure, we have his bookshelf page but it is nearly ten years old and by far not comprehensive enough to satisfy my curiosity!

Or how about a annotated general list from Eliezer titled "The 10/20/30/... most important books I read since 1999"?

Comment by FrF on If You Demand Magic, Magic Won't Help · 2008-03-22T21:47:18.000Z · LW · GW

I like quoting this passage from Joyce Carol Oates' profile of H.P. Lovecraft (King of the Weird):

Readers of genre fiction, unlike readers of what we presume to call "literary fiction," assume a tacit contract between themselves and the writer: they understand that they will be manipulated, but the question is how? and when? and with what skill? and to what purpose? However plot-ridden, fantastical, or absurd, populated by whatever pseudo-characters, genre fiction is always resolved, while "literary fiction" makes no such promises; there is no contract between reader and writer for, in theory at least, each work of literary fiction is original, and, in essence, "about" its own language; anything can happen, or, upon occasion, nothing. Genre fiction is addictive, literary fiction, unfortunately, is not.

By the way, that was a wonderful post. It's nice that Overcoming Bias is trying to bring abatement to the temperamentally challenged. It could be argued, though, that falling in love with reality is preciously hard when the economic grindstone tries its best to make the life of a lot of, if not most, people depressing. Maybe for them the allure of having not to think about a "crushing mortgage" would be quite enough to easily befriend a World of Magic.

Comment by FrF on Mind Projection Fallacy · 2008-03-11T12:35:30.000Z · LW · GW

I'm sure the historians of the recent "Imagining Outer Space, 1900-2000" conference would have a good time with analyzing the various pop cultural strands that came together to produce rote images such as the above cover.

Comment by FrF on Why I'm Blooking · 2007-09-15T20:28:08.000Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link, TGGP. You're right with your objection.

According to the Pournelle chart, Libertarians and, for example, Socialists have at least a common methodology (rationality), if hardly common goals.

It's you as an "right-wing extremist" who should then have problems with Overcoming Bias. Just joking :-)

Comment by FrF on Why I'm Blooking · 2007-09-15T20:09:21.000Z · LW · GW

And I hardly think rationality or evolutionary psychology is the property of the non-left

This is my opinion, too, Nick!

It's just that sometimes I'm under the impression that Evolutionary Psychology and irrationality (and of course insufficiently open markets) tend to be the sole explanatory models on Overcoming Bias for things that are going wrong.

Comment by FrF on Why I'm Blooking · 2007-09-15T19:26:41.000Z · LW · GW

Blogs-turned-books: It worked quite well for the Language Log and its "Far From The Madding Gerund".

Comment by FrF on Why I'm Blooking · 2007-09-15T18:46:30.000Z · LW · GW

This, my 100th Overcoming Bias post...

And I think that I've read them all. If I missed one it could have been only unintentionally.

Although several things separate me from him, I've become a fan of Mr. Yudkowksy's.

(In fact I wonder what other readers who are more or less politically left of the center think about Overcoming Bias with all its focus on a rationalism and biology.)

But I don't want to derail the topic of this particular blog post. Thanks for your writings, Eliezer!