Comment by furslid on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2015-05-18T18:59:15.190Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because religion cites their ancient texts as authority, their historical teachers as guides and examples to be emulated. And this is a necessary part of many religions which would not survive without it.

Trial by combat is gone, and no one cites the code duello as a legal text. Law firms don't cite a professional duelist as a respected founding member to be emulated.

The theory of the four elements is gone. Scientists no longer cite Aristotle as an authority on physics. "Ipse dixit," isn't used even when Aristotle was right.

The theories of colonialism and racial superiority are on the outs. No one publicly asks on a question of government policy "What would Cecil Rhodes do?" Much less assume that that's the right thing to do. Even if they like some writings of Thomas Jefferson, they don't claim they are right because Jefferson wrote them.

Christians cite old testament laws to condemn homosexuality or genesis as an actual text. They cite Moses or Paul as authorities on morality. As authorities on anything. They guide themselves by asking "WWJD?" Catholics even hold up the institution of the papacy as giving moral authority, and accept that the Borgias were legitimate moral authorities.

If a person doesn't view the bible as giving useful historical or scientific knowledge; If they don't accept the teachings of Moses, Paul or Jesus as being specially relevant; If they don't hold up Jesus as a paragon of virtue to be emulated; In what way are they still a Christian?

Comment by furslid on Desire is the direction, rationality is the magnitude · 2015-04-06T16:55:24.881Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I actually like that line. There are a lot of people and organizations that are portrayed as rational and evil. Walmart sacrificing all soft values to maximize profit and the robot overlords systematically destroying or enslaving humanity are also views of rationality. They can be used as objections as much as Spock can. This quick joke shows that problems like this are considered, even if they aren't dealt with in depth here.

Comment by furslid on Keep Your Identity Fluid [LINK] · 2015-03-03T21:00:26.524Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Funny that the first word of a post rejecting the concept of an identity is "I".

Try dialing down the ridicule. No arguments are made, but you manage to call the opposing ideas ludicrous and ridiculous.

Also try dialing up the empathy. There are some reasons for embracing any belief beyond being unable to accept one's own error. Try to understand why someone might believe or act in a different way.

Comment by furslid on Trying to Try · 2015-02-25T17:22:06.110Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Failure is always possible. However there are two responses to failure. One is to be happy with having made the attempt. This does not make failure less likely in the future.

The other is to actually engage with and analyze your failure. If you didn't flip the switch, your failure is a failure. You figure out why you came up with a plan that didn't work. If the switch needs to be flipped again tomorrow, you will have a better chance of flipping the switch tomorrow. If some button needs to be pressed tomorrow, you won't likely fail at button pressing for the same reason you failed at switch flipping.

Doing rather than trying is a commitment to the second response to failure.

Comment by furslid on Announcing the Complice Less Wrong Study Hall · 2015-02-21T01:19:53.458Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's asking for a password to join. What's the password?

Comment by furslid on Uncategories and empty categories · 2015-02-18T18:22:08.200Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Savory and spirit are two different types of uncategories. Savory starts by having a well defined and narrow category, flavor. Then it uses negation to eliminate a portion of that category. The color green isn't sweet, but that doesn't make it savory because green isn't a flavor. I have some other valid uncategorical definitions of this type.

A mongrel is a dog that doesn't belong to any recognized breed of dog. Manslaughter is the killing of one human by another human, without the intent of seriously wounding or killing. Health is the state of a living organism without significant disease or injury. Fiction is any story that does not represent actual events.

Spirit is a problem because it is an unanchored uncategory. It doesn't start with a known subset of thingspace, instead it starts with thingspace. To use older terms, a definition is generally genus and differentia. Spirit lacks a genus in the way that savory doesn't.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-16T03:15:55.789Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

First, is that because they are different things it's not a contradiction to what I said.

The second is that elasticity is not validly applied to long term supply curves, as they are not a function of supply in terms of price.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-11T17:08:30.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Long term supply curves are different than supply curves. They are similarly named, but different concepts.

Supply curves measure supply at a price.

Long term supply curves measure market equilibrium supply as demand changes over time.

The elasticity measurement is the derivative of supply with respect to price. It cannot be applied to long term supply curves.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-09T17:28:17.742Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry, that is correct. You were describing a supply curve that doesn't behave normally. So I can't say anything about demand curves. I apologize for the cheap shot.

In the standard economic models, supply and demand curves have elasticity that is a positive, finite number. Infinitely elastic curves are not possible within the standard models.

The priors I start with, for any market, are that it behaves in a manner consistent with these economic models. The burden of proof is on any claim that some market is behaving in a different manner.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-09T06:56:58.885Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cumulative elasticity = Supply Elasticity/(Supply Elasticity - Demand Elasticity).

A cumulative elasticity factor of one means a demand elasticity of 0.

A completely inelastic demand curve is not to be expected in standard economics, and as such it is an inappropriate prior. Thanks for the math demonstrating my point.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-08T16:03:42.540Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What you are effectively claiming is that there are no suboptimal producers of chickens. Unless every producer of chickens is ideally located, ideally managed, ideally staffed, and working with ideal capital there are differences in production costs.

There is a reason, that economics assumes that the amount of a good supplied changes as price changes, and I haven't seen any argument that exempts the case of chickens.

Also, how does the market create less chickens as demand falls? If there are differences in cost, the highest cost producers leave the market as price falls. Easy to answer with the standard assumptions, but almost impossible with your nonstandard prior.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-07T18:03:00.868Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No. It's true long term as well.

What you have listed are forces that drive the cost of production down. However, they cannot flatten all costs. For example, some locations are better for producing chickens than others. Better weather, cheaper labor market, ease of transportation to slaughter, etc. These factors cannot be cloned.

It's only the marginal producers that have costs at or just below the price.

Comment by furslid on How much does consumption affect production? · 2015-01-06T19:48:24.879Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Basic economics that explains why the cost of chicken will drop. You are ignoring supply curves, and these exist because not all producers are identical. The drive in change of costs is competition among chicken producers.

There is a price for chicken, say 10$ per unit. To make a profit, each producer must produce chicken at less than that price. However, not all producers are making chicken at the same cost. Some are more efficient than others. Some spend 9$ making a unit, some spend 8$. Some could produce chicken for 10$ a unit and don't.. When demand for chicken drops, the business with 9$ cost lowers production or leaves the industry before the business with 8$ cost. The drop in production is concentrated in the marginal producers. Similarly if the price rose, the potential producer with 10$ costs would start producing.

There is a mirror process among consumers.

Comment by furslid on Knightian uncertainty: a rejection of the MMEU rule · 2014-08-31T03:02:51.005Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, the difference is that con artists are another intelligence, and you are in competition. Anytime you are in competition against a better more expert intelligence, it is an important difference.

The activities of others are important data, because they are often rationally motivated. If a con artist offers me a bet, that tells me that he values his side of the bet more. If an expert investor sells a stock, they must believe the stock is worth less than some alternate investment. So when playing assume that odds are bad enough to justify their actions.

Comment by furslid on Confound it! Correlation is (usually) not causation! But why not? · 2014-07-09T04:21:17.945Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pointing out that your list isn't complete, and not considering this possibility when we see a correlation is irresponsible. There are a lot of apparent correlations, and your three possibilities provide no means to reject false positives.

Comment by furslid on Confound it! Correlation is (usually) not causation! But why not? · 2014-07-09T03:53:53.676Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

You're missing a 4th possibility. A & B are not meaningfully linked. This is very important when dealing with large sets of variables. Your measure of correlation will have a certain percentage of false positives, and discounting the possibility of false positives is important. If the probability of false positives is 1/X you should expect one false correlation for every X comparisons.

XKCD provides an excellent example. jelly beans

Comment by furslid on The Evolutionary Heuristic and Rationality Techniques · 2013-11-10T20:02:46.891Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think that this is an application of the changing circumstances argument to culture. For most of human history the challenges faced by cultures were along the lines of "How can we keep 90% of the population working hard at agriculture?" "How can we have a military ready to mobilize against threats?" "How can we maintain cultural unity with no printing press or mass media?" and "How can we prevent criminality within our culture?"

Individual rationality does not necessarily solve these problems in a pre-industrial society better than blind duty, conformity and superstitious dread. It's been less than 200 years since these problems stopped being the most pressing concerns, so it's not surprising that our culture hasn't evolved to create rational individuals.

Comment by furslid on Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime · 2013-11-09T19:11:10.698Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would more likely be user error. I believe 53 is prime. If it isn't then either mathematics is broken or I have messed up in my reasoning. It is much more likely that I made an error or accepted a bad argument.

53 not being prime while having no integer factors other than 1 and itself would break mathematics.

Comment by furslid on Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime · 2013-11-08T22:59:37.866Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oops, right. Non-contradiction.

Comment by furslid on Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime · 2013-11-08T20:51:01.223Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Your list actually doesn't go far enough. There is a fourth, and scarier category. Things which would, if possibly render probability useless as a model. "The chance that probabilities don't apply to anything." is in the fourth category. I would also place anything that violates such basic things as the consistency of physics, or the existence of the external world.

For really small probabilities, we have to take into account some sources of error that just aren't meaningful in more normal odds.

For instance, if I shuffle and draw one card from a new deck what is the chance of drawing the ace of spades? I disregard any chance of the deck being defective, any chance of my model of the universe being wrong, and any chance of laws of identity being violated. Any probabilities are eclipsed by the normal probabilities of drawing cards. (category 1)

If I shuffle and draw two cards without replacement from a new deck, what is the chance of them both being aces of spades? Now I have to consider other sources of error. There could have been a factory error or the deck may have been tampered with. (category 2)

If I shuffle and draw one card from a new deck, what is the chance of it being a live tiger? Now I have to consider my model of the universe being drastically wrong. (category 3)

If I shuffle and draw one card from a new deck, what is the chance of it being both the ace of spades and the two of clubs? Not a misprint, and not two cards, but somehow both at the same time. Now I have to consider the law of identity being violated. (category 4)

Comment by furslid on How sure are you that brain emulations would be conscious? · 2013-08-29T06:18:17.097Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely. I do too. I just realized that the continuum provides another interesting question.

Is the following scale of consciousness correct?

Human > Chimp > Dog > Toad > Any possible AI with no biological components

The biological requirement seems to imply this. It seems wrong to me.

Comment by furslid on How sure are you that brain emulations would be conscious? · 2013-08-24T21:42:40.675Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a thought experiment. It's not meant to be a practical path to artificial consciousness or even brain emulation. It's a conceptually possible scenario that raises interesting questions.

Comment by furslid on How sure are you that brain emulations would be conscious? · 2013-08-24T21:37:18.640Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That is probably the best answer. It has the weird aspect of putting consciousness on a continuum, and one that isn't easy to quantify. If someone with 50% cyber brain cells is 50% conscious, but their behavior is the same as as a 100% biological, 100% conscious brain it's a little strange.

Also, it means that consciousness isn't a binary variable. For this to make sense consciousness must be a continuum. That is an important point to make regardless of the definition we use.

Comment by furslid on How sure are you that brain emulations would be conscious? · 2013-08-24T18:22:02.517Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Very sure. The biological view just seems to be a tacked on requirement to reject emulations by definition. Anyone who would hold the biological view should answer the questions in this though experiment.

A new technology is created to extend the life of the human brain. If any brain cell dies it is immediately replaced with a cybernetic replacement. This cybernetic replacement fully emulates all interactions that it can have with any neighboring cells including any changes in those interactions based on inputs received and time passed, but is not biological. Over time the subject's whole brain is replaced, cell by cell. Consider the resulting brain. Either it perfectly emulates a human mind or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then what is there to the human mind besides the interactions of brain cells? Either it is conscious or it isn't. If it isn't then how was consciousness lost and at what point in the process?

Comment by furslid on The Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ · 2013-07-26T23:57:14.890Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Why are we talking about jobs rather than man-hours worked? Automation reduced man-hours worked. We went from much longer work weeks to 40 hour work weeks as well as raising standards of living.

AI will reduce work time further. If someone can use AI to produce as much in 30 hours as they did in 40, they could chose to work anywhere from 30 - 40 hours and be better off. Many people would chose to work less as they compare the marginal values of free time and extra pay.

Why are we seeing long term unemployment instead of shorter work weeks now? Is this inevitable or is there some structural or institutional problem causing it?

Comment by furslid on Singleton: the risks and benefits of one world governments · 2013-07-08T19:25:03.417Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's the relevant difference between forestry and fishing. Forestry can be easily parceled out by plot in a way that fishing can't. Forests can be managed by giving one logging concern responsibility for a specific plot and holding them responsible for any overlogging in that area and for any mandated replanting.

Fishing has to be managed by enforcing quotas, this is a much more difficult problem even for a single government. I haven't done research in fishing, but do we see fishing being managed well in areas that are under the jurisdiction of one government or governments with good cooperation (like the great lakes)? Or for species that's habitat is within the coastal waters of one government?

Comment by furslid on Singleton: the risks and benefits of one world governments · 2013-07-06T20:29:19.554Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why is it legitimate to assume that a singleton would be effective at solving existential risks? A one world government would have all the same internal problems as current governments. The only problems that scaling up would automatically eliminate are those of conflicts between different states, and these would likely be transformed into conflicts between interest groups in one state. This is not a reduction to a solved problem.

There are wars of secession and revolution now. There are also violent conflicts among ethnic and religious groups within one state. There is terrorism. Why would a one world government ruling over a more diverse populace than any current government not have these problems? People won't automatically accept the singleton any more than they accept the current governments.

Even with unified powers, governments regularly mismanage crises. Current governments (even democratic first world governments) have problems dealing with such things as predictable weather and earthquakes along known fault lines. Why would a one world government be better able to handle much less predictable crises, like a pandemic?

Comment by furslid on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-13T22:15:54.888Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just pointing out the way such a bias comes into being. I know I don't listen to classical, and although I'd expect a slightly higher proportion here than in the general population, I wouldn't guess it wold be a majority or significant plurality.

If I had to guess, I'd guess on varied musical tastes, probably trending towards more niche genres than broad spectrum pop than the general population.

Comment by furslid on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-11T18:24:50.361Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because of the images of different musical genres in our culture. There is an association of classical music and being academic or upper class. In popular media, liking classical music is a cheap signal for these character types. This naturally triggers confirmation biases, as we view the rationalist listening to Bach as typical, and the rationalist listening to The Rolling Stones as atypical. People also use musical preference to signal what type of person they are. If someone wants to be seen as a rationalist, they often mention their love of Bach and don't mention genres with a different image, except to disparage them.

Comment by furslid on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-06T23:26:29.410Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Out of the price of a new car, how much goes to buying raw materials? How much to capital owners? How much to labor?

Comment by furslid on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-06T23:24:44.436Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Out of the price of a new car, how much goes to buying raw materials? How much to capital owners? How much to labor?

Comment by furslid on Fermi Estimates · 2013-04-06T23:15:34.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Different method. Assume all 300 million us citizens are served by a Wal Mart. Any population that doesn't live near a Wal-Mart has to be small enough to ignore. Each Wal-mart probably has between 10,000 and 1 million potential customers. Both fringes seem unlikely, so we can be within a factor of 10 by guessing 100000 people per Wal-Mart. This also leads to 3000 Wal-Marts in the US.

Comment by furslid on We Don't Have a Utility Function · 2013-04-03T17:54:18.262Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The difference between instrumental and terminal values are in the perception of the evaluator. If they believe that something is useful to achieve other values, then it is an instrumental value. If they are wrong about its usefulness, that makes it an error in evaluation, not a terminal value. The difference between instrumental and terminal values is in the map, not in the territory. For someone who believes in astrology, getting their horoscope done is an instrumental value.

Comment by furslid on We Don't Have a Utility Function · 2013-04-02T17:18:32.086Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Nyan, I think your freedom example is a little off. The converse of freedom is not bowing down to a leader. It's being made to bow. People choosing to bow can be beautiful and rational, but I fail to see any beauty in someone bowing when their values dictate they should stand.

Comment by furslid on We Don't Have a Utility Function · 2013-04-02T17:06:15.358Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think your definition of terminal value is a little vague. The definition I prefer is as follows. A value is instrumental if derives its value from its ability to make other values possible. To the degree that a value is not instrumental, it is a terminal value. Values may be fully instrumental (money), partially instrumental (health [we like being healthy, but it also lets us do other things we like]) or fully terminal (beauty).

Terminal values do not have the warm fuzzy glow of high concepts. Beauty, truth, justice, and freedom may be terminal values, but they aren't the only ones. They aren't even the most clear cut examples. One of the clearest examples of a terminal value is sexual pleasure. It is harder to argue it is instrumental to a higher value or more determined on other facts and circumstances than any of the above examples.

Also, how does identifying terminal values help us make choices? We must still chose between our values. If we split our values into terminal and instrumental it will still be rational to chose instrumental values over terminal values sometimes. I'd rather make a million dollars (instrumental value) than a painting short of a masterpiece (terminal value). Identifying values as terminal does not prevent us from having to chose between them either.

Comment by furslid on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-05T10:37:05.805Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A couple of assumptions that you did not state. You assume that your favored candidate's budget contains truly optimal uses of charitable dollars. You need a step down function unless your preferred charity is funding government programs.

You assume that the opposition candidate's spending is valueless. Otherwise you need to consider the relative merits.

You assume that there is no portion of the opposition budget that is preferable. If you believe that each candidate has some portions right, you need to be subtracting this spending from the value of your contribution.

You assume that the proposed budget will be implemented. Given the track record of campaign promises, this is an iffy assumption. As this probability is necessarily less than 100% it should reduce the value of your contribution.

These assumptions are the mind killing biases of politics.

Comment by furslid on Logical Pinpointing · 2012-11-04T20:00:01.334Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not quite. They don't go all the way to completing an ought statement, as this doesn't solve the Is/Ought dichotomy. They are logical transformations that make applying our values to the universe much easier.

"X is unjust" doesn't quite create an ought statement of "Don't do X". If I place value on justice, that statement helps me evaluate X. I may decide that some other consideration trumps justice. I may decide to steal bread to feed my starving family, even if I view the theft as unjust.

Comment by furslid on Logical Pinpointing · 2012-11-02T17:38:32.394Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Justice, mercy, duty, etc are found by comparison to logical models pinned down by axioms. Getting the axioms right is damn tough, but if we have a decent set we should be able to say "If Alex kills Bob under circumstances X, this is unjust." We can say this the same way that we can say "Two apples plus two apples is four apples." I can't find an atom of addition in the universe, and this doesn't make me reject addition.

Also, the widespread convergence of theories of justice on some issues (eg. Rape is unjust.) suggests that theories of justice are attempting to use their axioms to pin down something that is already there. Moral philosophers are more likely to say "My axioms are leading me to conclude rape is a moral duty, where did I mess up?" than "My axioms are leading me to conclude rape is a moral duty, therefore it is." This also suggests they are pinning down something real with axioms. If it was otherwise, we would expect the second conclusion.

Comment by furslid on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2012-10-02T07:53:36.079Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Counter-example. "There exists at least one entity capable of sensory experience." What constraints on sensory experience does this statement impose? If not, do you reject it as meaningless?

Comment by furslid on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2012-10-02T07:50:27.370Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Internal consistency. Propositions must be non self-contradictory. If a proposition is a conjunction of multiple propositions, then those propositions must not contradict each other.

Comment by furslid on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T21:18:47.141Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Of course I do try to help people read cues better. However, the problem is behavior. Misreading cues can lead to bad behavior, but someone can know they are making someone else uncomfortable and still act that way. I make no assumption about why someone does something. I only ask that they stop.

My point were that accepting creepiness is not cool and that low status is not what makes the behavior wrong. They were not meant to help people avoid being creepy, and naturally are not helpful.

Comment by furslid on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T20:52:38.793Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No, I am not saying that you condemn someone. Simply saying something neutral is perfectly fine. Something like, "I didn't notice him being creepy." is OK. Saying that they are wrong to be creeped out or that they must accept creepy behavior is not.

Comment by furslid on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T20:45:40.799Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

No, I am not saying that being a mind reader is required. Obviously we use physical and verbal cues. The point is that there is a goal to be achieved. The goal is not making people uncomfortable. It is not controlling the behavior of low status males.

The example was meant to provide a clear counterexample to "Don't do X when low status." That implies "X is acceptable when high status." It isn't. In fact, we often view high status creepers as much worse. It's worse if the boss is touchy-feely at work than if a coworker is.

Comment by furslid on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T20:11:10.090Z · score: 3 (15 votes) · LW · GW

No, it is not don't do X with low status. It is don't do X when unwanted. Status may influence what is wanted, but it does not excuse unwanted physical contact. It is just as wrong for the alpha male to do this as the omega male. For instance, I know someone with OCD who really does not like being touched. Are you saying it would be ok for some high status person to leave her uncomfortable with an unwanted hug?

Comment by furslid on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-07T21:45:38.804Z · score: 8 (24 votes) · LW · GW

I think the most important advice is not "Don't be a creep." It is "Do not tolerate creepiness in others."

If someone is accused of being a creep do not back them up or dismiss their accuser unless you are damn sure they weren't being creepy. If someone looks creepy based on social cues (ex. is focusing on someone much more intently than it is returned.) consider creating a break in the conversation that would allow for a graceful exit. If someone is consistently creepy, especially with touching or gross innuendo and will not stop they should not be welcome in your group.

Comment by furslid on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-09-07T21:12:15.028Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So, telling if the argument is an example of the worst argument in the world requires telepathy and precognisence. We cannot observe the intentions of an actor, only their actions. We also cannot tell the total results of an action. In fact there may be disagreements on intention and likely results.

Someone may believe that "Martin Luther King JR was a criminal" is not the worst argument in the world. They may believe that he acted out of a desire to overturn valuable social norms and that the results of civil disobedience would be further disrespect for legitimate authority. I cannot disprove either of these claims.

It seems that the only reason why my examples are not TWAitW is that you believe what they argue against is bad. This makes labeling something as TWAitW a rhetorical dark art. It is not the form of the argument that is objectionable, but that it argues against your position.

Comment by furslid on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-31T07:43:18.275Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

All of the arguments are of the form A is an X, when A is not a typical example of X. Here are some arguments that are of that form.

-"Having sex with an passed out stranger is rape."
-"Sleep deprivation/sensory deprivation/stress positions is torture."
-"Writing and cashing bad checks is theft."

Are these all instances of the worst argument in the world? If they aren't examples of the worst argument in the world, why not?

If the main reason that these arguments are acceptable is our disapproval of A, then your worst argument in the world is not a valid. It is just a way to discount rhetoric you don't like.

Comment by furslid on Tips for Starting Group Houses · 2012-07-18T19:34:56.448Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Make sure that you don't just have an agreement on what everyone wants. It is inevitable that either someone will not meet the house's expectations or will interpret the expectations in a different way. You also need some sort of a process for resolving whatever issues may come up.

Comment by furslid on SotW: Avoid Motivated Cognition · 2012-05-29T16:21:09.946Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of the key markers of rationalization I've seen is rationalizations ignore tradeoffs and other option. This is obviously true only about the rationalizations about actions and policies. For instance "I want to eat the whole cake to help the sugar industry..." never finishes "...and this help to the sugar industry is worth any ill health effects." or "...and this is more efficient than other ways to help the sugar industry,"

One activity that might help is to give people a plausible proposition to argue for in their own life that they do not follow. So "Veganism is the optimal dietary option." could be given to someone who eats meat. Have them argue for it, telling them that they will only be evaluated on the persuasiveness of the argument. After this is done, ask them what costs and tradeoffs are for that position. Also ask them what other alternatives there are to achieve the goals and values they hoped to achieve.

This can provide an example to the participants of what rationalization and the results of rationalization looks like. It also provides a demonstration of the efficacy of a couple of questions to catch rationalization.

Comment by furslid on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2012-05-16T15:21:51.292Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Would you mind explaining how what I have said is ahistorical nonsense?

Yes, at the end of the 18th century there was transatlantic trade. However, it was not cheap. It was sail powered and relatively expensive compared to modern shipping. Coal was generally not part of this trade. Shipping was too expensive. English industry used English mined coal. Same with American and German industry. If shipping coal was too expensive, why would charcoal be economical? You have jumped from "transportation existed" to "the costs of transportation can be ignored."

As for why industries weren't located by sources of wood. I can think of several reasons.
First is that they were sometimes located by sources of wood, and that contributed to the deforestation.

The second is that there aren't sources of wood as geographically concentrated as sources of coal. There is 10 mile square of wood producing district that can provide as much energy consistently over time as a 10 mile square of coal mining district.

Third is that timber was inconveniently located. There were coal producing areas that were better located for shipping and labor than timber producing areas. Are you seriously suggesting that an English owned factory with English labor might have set up in rural Sweden rather than Birmingham as an almost as good alternative?

I thought that we would have been total idiots to leave a resource like coal unused.