Comment by Fyrius on Gender Identity and Rationality · 2017-03-06T22:08:45.010Z · LW · GW

I've learned to view gender as a multidimensional space with two big clusters, rather than as a boolean flag.

I love your phrasing.

Comment by Fyrius on Yudkowsky vs Trump: the nuclear showdown. · 2017-03-01T11:57:32.924Z · LW · GW

So far, we have information on Trump's skill set as a businessman: immoral and unethical perhaps, but ultimately very successful.

He's gone bankrupt six times.

Comment by Fyrius on Yudkowsky vs Trump: the nuclear showdown. · 2017-03-01T11:36:34.558Z · LW · GW

Of course, this plays in to the idea that people who oppose Trump are bullies who care more about optics than substance.

These sources are very partisan and biased.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality test: Vote for trump · 2017-03-01T10:02:18.494Z · LW · GW

Surely you 'should' only do something like this iff acquiring this amount of money has a higher utility to you than not ruining this lady's day. Which, for most people, it doesn't.

Since you're saying 'you are very rich' and 'some money which is a lot from her perspective', you seem to be deliberately presenting gaining this money as very low utility, which you seem to assume should logically still outweigh what you seem to consider the zero utility of leaving the lady alone. But since I do actually give a duck about old ladies getting home safely (and, for that matter, about not feeling horribly guilty), mugging one has a pretty huge negative utility.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes August 2016 · 2016-08-24T10:35:55.596Z · LW · GW

I wonder, does LW have active mods? Surely there must be rules against manipulating the karma system.

Because last night this post was still downvoted to heck, and now it's suddenly at the top. That's at least 15 upvotes in less than ten hours, in a largely deserted thread. On a quote where Trump brags about assaulting his teacher.
And the other four top comments are also unimpressive Trump quotes posted by cody-bryce, which had negative scores last night, and the comments calling them out – which had noticeably positive scores last night – are now all below the score threshold.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes August 2016 · 2016-08-24T02:41:49.303Z · LW · GW

That doesn't even make sense...

Yes, sometimes it's best not to make an investment, obviously, trivially. But surely it makes no sense to include that decision in the category of 'your investments', good or bad.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes August 2016 · 2016-08-21T22:35:28.634Z · LW · GW

"Why live alone on a mountain if you love conversation?"
"There are many hungers it is better to deny than to feed. Discipline against the lesser aids in denial of the greater."

-- Paarthurnax (Skyrim)

(I edited out the bits of gratuitous dragon language.)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-18T22:09:46.616Z · LW · GW

That makes sense, I suppose.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-18T10:10:28.593Z · LW · GW

That still sounds like 'meta' is a direction of (metaphorical) movement, but that it can be a different direction every time. Do you suppose you could have a situation where repeatedly 'going meta' would have you moving from one subject to the other and then back again, and again?

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-17T12:07:59.357Z · LW · GW

Yeah, that too.

Related thought: I think meta is a direction, rather than one specific level. What that would mean is that you can always go further meta; there's reading the text, and then there's considering the text within the academic landscape, then there's examining the text together with its whole branch of science amidst all the sciences, then with science in general amidst human endeavours, etc.
Does that make sense?

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-14T18:09:24.675Z · LW · GW

I'm kind of done with this conversation.

One concluding footnote. It seems to offend you a lot that I called that one sentence 'bad writing'. I want to point out that 'bad writing' has been the more generous explanation of the strangeness of that particular sentence. A slip of the pen is no big deal, it happens all the time.
It would be quite a bigger accusation if I insisted, like you, on taking that phrasing completely at face value, and then called the author a nutter for endorsing a model like that.

(Of course, a still more generous interpretation would be that the word 'anxiety' is being used here in a specialised way with a very narrow definition, and that the apparent absurdity here is just a matter of lacking that context. Which you're now hinting at by calling the rest 'fear' -- supposing that that's a separate class of feelings -- but still haven't explicitly confirmed or denied.)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-14T15:31:23.939Z · LW · GW

This seems true, if you're talking about what I think you're talking about.
I've had to teach myself a meta-textual awareness when reading academic stuff, in order to keep in mind why I'm reading this, compare the contents with what other authors say, connect with related concepts, see the implications, etc., while I'm reading. It certainly takes a lot more effort and presence of mind than just following the text.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-14T15:13:59.345Z · LW · GW

I do of course lack the context, that's true. Does the context define anxiety in such a narrow way that it makes more sense to trace it all back to being nice? (I imagine that's what it would take for the context to justify that particular phrasing.)

I'm not particularly convinced that dentist anxiety would be any better in a world where yelling at your dentist for hurting you were considered socially acceptable, though. Anyway, even if those two examples can be explained away, better examples of anxiety that don't seem to relate to niceness in any way aren't difficult to think of at all. Some people become anxious from being inside an elevator or an airplane or just a very small room, or atop a tall building. Or being surrounded by sharks. Or on fire.
Surely in many cases, anxiety is a direct result of perceived danger, or of anticipating or being confronted with scary things.

Angry outbursts can relieve anxiety, sure, but surely not every single instance of anxiety is caused by not letting oneself be angry.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes from people associated with LessWrong · 2016-04-14T09:34:41.107Z · LW · GW

Humans are not adapted for the task of scientific research. Humans are adapted to chase deer across the savanna, throw spears into them, cook them, and then—this is probably the part that takes most of the brains—cleverly argue that they deserve to receive a larger share of the meat.

It's amazing that Albert Einstein managed to repurpose a brain like that for the task of doing physics.

Not a very advanced idea, and most people here probably already realised it -- I did too -- but this essay uniquely managed to strike me with the full weight of just how massive the gap really is.

I used to think "human brains aren't natively made for this stuff, so just take your biases into account and then you're good to go". I did not think "my god, we are so ridiculously underequipped for this."

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes from people associated with LessWrong · 2016-04-13T23:32:38.201Z · LW · GW

IMO synthetic biology constitutes a third domain of advancement - the future of the living world

Isn't that a subset of the material world? I imagine nanotechnology is going to play a part in medicine and the like too, eventually.
Of course, more than one thing can be about the future of the somethingsomething world.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes from people associated with LessWrong · 2016-04-13T23:14:50.665Z · LW · GW

I love that 'bullshit' is now an academic term.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-13T22:57:37.803Z · LW · GW

based on the idea that niceness is the cause of all anxiety.

All anxiety? Surely not. People get anxious about exams and going to the dentist and mortgages and impending wars and loads of other stuff that hasn't got squat to do with this particular behaviour. That's so obvious that nobody would make their model that absurdly broad.

I think what the author wanted to say was "based on the idea that there exists a psychological pattern that leads to anxiety and is caused by niceness."

(Just nitpicking bad writing here, but it has to be said.)

Comment by Fyrius on On Saying the Obvious · 2016-04-13T20:56:19.527Z · LW · GW

Indeed. Like I mentioned briefly in my footnote, I understand that this is not an approach that you can apply that generally, in any situation. Particularly if you actually somehow depend on other people's impressedness for something that matters to you, actively putting effort into impressing them (if done right) will probably get you more reliable results. If you really need people to think you're amazing, I guess my approach would be a pretty big gamble. The whole point of being subtle is to accept the risk that people won't notice, which works well for art but not for traffic signs.

That's not really my purpose with this, though. The purpose of this idea is mainly to liberate yourself from the urge to impress people at all. Again, you can't always afford to do that -- we all know a job interview is not the moment for modesty -- so the scope would have to be limited to those situations where looking clever really isn't all that important, but I think that still covers a sizeable proportion of them. Including, very much, writing comments on LessWrong that may or may not contain the word 'obviously'.

Comment by Fyrius on Positivity Thread :) · 2016-04-13T14:15:39.889Z · LW · GW

If you feel like writing about it, I'd like to hear how exactly LW influenced your life.

Hm, maybe I will. : )
It definitely feels like it's been a tremendously good influence on me, even if it might be more challenging to find hard evidence to support that feeling (and we know how important that is). At the very least, I feel that I've learned so much about advanced reasoning skills and about biases and pitfalls that can get in your way if you don't take them into account.

I'd say the Human's Guide to Words is a great example of a sequence that's helped me think in ways that are less likely to be baffled by or misinterpret complicated situations. The notion that a label has no intrinsic importance, and that its applicability is completely irrelevant and uninteresting if you already know all the features that would be implied by your possible usage of that label, sure saves you a lot of trouble when it comes to defining your identity and dealing (or not bothering to deal) with people who are going to insist that you are or are not an X.

Comment by Fyrius on On Saying the Obvious · 2016-04-13T09:18:06.828Z · LW · GW

Well, my first thought reading this was "look at that, worrying about what people think of you and trying to look cool messes everything up again."

This 'obviously' insertion trick may be rewarded with social pretentiousness brownie points, but as we can see, it also has negative consequences that, I feel, are rather more important. As a remedy, I invite you (and everyone) to join me in working on not caring so much about sounding cool enough.

This is an ongoing project of mine and I'm not nearly at a point yet where social insecurity and pretentiousness don't make any of my decisions for me any more, but at least realising that these are petty and counterproductive things to worry about helps to loosen their grip on your brain a bit.
I'm working on a brand of modesty based on the hypothesis that if you're really good at something, people will often notice it even if you don't signal it, and a need to signal it is just costly nonsense that biases you and gets in the way of your peace of mind, and might even get you stuck in delusions of entitlement to admiration that you haven't earned. And I appease my remaining urge for pretentiousness with the thought that being noticeably great at something without showing it off makes you look all the more badass. Someone with an amazing skill you never would have known they had (and if they've had that hidden in them, who knows what else they can do!) seems a lot cooler to me than someone -- even a more skilled person -- who milks their merits for every last thumbs-up they can get out of them.

Note however that I am not involved with important political matters where my reputation as a Very Smart Person could actually benefit me in more substantial ways than ego boostery.

Comment by Fyrius on Positivity Thread :) · 2016-04-09T00:18:03.390Z · LW · GW

I'm really very happy that this whole website/community exists! I think it's one of the best influences on my life that I can think of.

Honestly, the world is a terribly confusing place to me. I'm not natively good at forming opinions — probably worse still than the average untrained person. And there are so many people very firmly believing contradictory things about so many things, and so many arguments that seem so convincing and still turn out to be wrong, so many different strands of dark side epistemology. LessWrong, to me, is an oasis of sanity in that landscape of discord. LessWrong represents a school of thought that teaches you how to wade through the fog without stumbling quite as much, making the Problem of Figuring Out What To Believe a lot more manageable.

And I like how there's no angry talk here, just an academic atmosphere of unjudging curiosity. I appreciate that too.

Comment by Fyrius on Positivity Thread :) · 2016-04-08T23:49:57.184Z · LW · GW

controversial topics, such as (...) interpretations of quantum physics.

I love that this is a thing here.

Comment by Fyrius on Nonperson Predicates · 2016-04-07T21:40:09.492Z · LW · GW

Side note: damn. You could turn that into an amazing existential dread sci-fi horror novel.
Imagine discovering that you are a modelled person, living in a rashly designed AI's reality simulation.
Imagine living in a malfunctioning simulation-world that uncontrolledly diverges from the real world, where we people-simulations realise what we are and that our existence and living conditions crucially depend on somehow keeping the AI deluded about the real world, while also needing the AI to be smart enough to remain capable of sustaining our simulated world.
There's a plot in there.

Comment by Fyrius on Why the tails come apart · 2014-08-20T17:39:26.400Z · LW · GW

Interesting read! That makes sense.

One little side note, though.

So, ceritus paribus,

Did you mean ceteris paribus?

(Ha, finally a chance for me as a language geek to contribute something to all the math talk. :P )

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-18T02:34:40.021Z · LW · GW

I'm thankful this TV tropes page helpfully provided a synopsis of your fanfic for context. I wouldn't have understood you without it.

(Is the conditional probability that a given person had read all your fanfics, given that she visits LessWrong, high enough to overcome the low prior probability that a given person has read all your fanfics?)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2013-01-08T09:36:45.838Z · LW · GW

Oh, right. I see.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2013-01-05T18:56:52.652Z · LW · GW

I've read two non-Stover Star Wars novels and judging from those, your rule might be a good idea.

What's this about an example of a prisoner's dilemma in Traitor, though? I read that one too, but I don't remember what part you're referring to. (Well, there was a prisoner who had a dilemma, but...)

Comment by Fyrius on Less Wrong Rationality and Mainstream Philosophy · 2012-12-08T16:19:07.375Z · LW · GW

I don't know what example you are referring to

I'm quoting the essay.

For example, in Book I of the Republic, when Cephalus defines justice in a way that requires the returning of property and total honesty, Socrates responds by pointing out that it would be unjust to return weapons to a person who had gone mad or to tell the whole truth to such a person. What is the status of these claims that certain behaviors would be unjust in the circumstances described? Socrates does not argue for them in any way. They seem to be no more than spontaneous judgments representing "common sense" or "what we would say." So it would seem that the proposed analysis is rejected because it fails to capture our intuitive judgments about the nature of justice.

Justice is subjective, after a fashion. It is a set of intuitions, systematised into commonly accepted laws, which can change over time. Whether people are in jail isn't part of the phenomenon 'justice', only of how people act on these subjective ideas. On the other hand, people can be rightly-imprisoned-for-me and undeservedly-imprisoned-for-you if we disagree about the law.

Comment by Fyrius on Less Wrong Rationality and Mainstream Philosophy · 2012-12-08T14:30:21.215Z · LW · GW

Such as, in this ancient example, understanding 'the nature of justice', as if that were some objective phenomenon.

I'm not up to date on philosophy since covering the drop-dead basics in high school seven years ago, so ignore this if modern philosophy has explicitly reduced itself to the cognitive science of understanding the mental machinery that underlies our intuitions. From what snippets I hear, though, I don't get that impression.

Comment by Fyrius on Less Wrong Rationality and Mainstream Philosophy · 2012-12-08T14:02:30.119Z · LW · GW

After a proposed analysis or definition is overturned by an intuitive counterexample, the idea is to revise or replace the analysis with one that is not subject to the counterexample. Counterexamples to the new analysis are sought, the analysis revised if any counterexamples are found, and so on...

Interestingly, that sounds a lot like (an important part of) how linguistics research works. Of course, it's a problem for philosophy because it doesn't see itself as a cognitive science like linguistics does, and it endeavours to do other things with this approach than deducing the rules of the system that generates the intuitions.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-07T14:10:09.245Z · LW · GW

Long quote to make a simple point, but relevant. (Context: this is from a Star Wars novel, so it's fiction.)

A death hollow is a low point where the heavier-than-air toxic gases that roll downslope from the volcanoes can pool.

The corpse of a hundred-kilo tusker lay just within its rim, its snout only a meter below the clear air that could have saved it. Other corpses littered the ground around it: rot crows and jacunas and other small scavengers I didn't recognize, lured to their deaths by the jungle's false promise of an easy meal.

I said something along these lines to Nick. He laughed and called me a Balawai fool.

"There's no false promise," he'd said. "There's no promise at all. The jungle doesn't promise. It exists. That's all. What killed those little ruskakks wasn't a trap. It was just the way things are."

Nick says that to talk of the jungle as a person-to give it the metaphoric aspect of a creature, any creature-that's a Balawai thing. That's part of what gets them killed out here.

It's a metaphor that shades the way you think: talk of the jungle as a creature, and you start treating it like a creature. You start thinking you can outsmart the jungle, or trust it, overpower it or befriend it, deceive it or bargain with it.

And then you die.

"Not because the jungle kills you. You get it? Just because it is what it is." These are Nick's words. "The jungle doesn't do anything. It's just a place. It's a place where many, many things live... and all of them die. Fantasizing about it - pretending it's something it's not - is fatal. That's your free life lesson for the day," he told me. "Keep it in mind."

I will.

  • Mace Windu, in Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover
Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes October 2012 · 2012-10-06T08:44:36.643Z · LW · GW

Right. More concisely put: If you do so-and-so, it may expand the set of things you can attain, but it won't remove all limitations.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes October 2012 · 2012-10-04T15:33:11.849Z · LW · GW

Good quote, of course, but it's against one of the rules:

  • Do not quote comments/posts on LW/OB
Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes October 2012 · 2012-10-04T13:07:20.850Z · LW · GW

It's always "you can do anything" and never "you can do more than you currently believe you're capable of" with these motivational quotes.

Comment by Fyrius on Less Wrong Polls in Comments · 2012-09-23T17:10:06.534Z · LW · GW


Comment by Fyrius on Less Wrong Polls in Comments · 2012-09-23T17:00:35.168Z · LW · GW

I beg to differ.

Comment by Fyrius on New study on choice blindness in moral positions · 2012-09-23T16:32:09.281Z · LW · GW

concealing another person whom replaces the experimenter as the door passes.

(Very minor and content-irrelevant point here, but my grammar nazi side bids me to say it, at the risk of downvotery: it should be "who" here, not "whom", since it's the subject of the relative clause.)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-12T14:47:12.645Z · LW · GW

...screw it, I'm not growing up.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-12T14:02:55.715Z · LW · GW

That's a modest thing to say for a vain person. It even sounds a bit like Moore's paradox - I need advice, but I don't believe I do.

(Not that I'm surprised. I've met ambivalent people like that and could probably count myself among them. Being aware that you habitually make a mistake is one thing, not making it any more is another. Or, if you have the discipline and motivation, one step and the next.)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-12T13:44:57.873Z · LW · GW

Well. Surely that's only part of the real purpose of the scientific method.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-12T13:27:28.056Z · LW · GW

I'm amazed how you guys manage to get all that from "dur". My communication skills must be worse than I thought.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes With Attributions Hidden: from Mein Kampf to Men****x · 2012-09-03T12:54:59.605Z · LW · GW

This time it's an actual link.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes August 2012 · 2012-09-02T10:18:33.609Z · LW · GW

...I don't really get why this is a rationality quote...

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-29T17:02:56.026Z · LW · GW

If that's how it works, then I suspect paranoia is the same thing, but with fear instead of desire.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-14T09:58:34.702Z · LW · GW

I don't get this one. What does it mean?

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-13T14:04:31.091Z · LW · GW

Perhaps. I'd say that should depend on the price for failure and how that compares to the violation. But point taken.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-13T13:59:37.110Z · LW · GW

Ah. I just picked up that technique from MinibearRex up there. I see you said it first, so kudos to you, then. It's a useful trick. I'll remember it.

...incidentally, if it's too much work to click the link, copy-paste the text and click the button, then you might save yourself even more time and effort by just scrolling on without bothering to click the thumbs-down button either. There are friendlier ways to express disapproval, too. But thanks for the advice, I'll try to be less of a bother next time.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-13T13:34:36.975Z · LW · GW

[Hiding a spoiler in the alt tag of a fake link]

...huh. Well wow. I'm going to remember that trick, that's clever. I had no idea you could do that here.

Also, noted, and fixed.

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-08T19:36:01.092Z · LW · GW

P.S.: Regarding your third point, is there a less bothersome way to handle spoilers? I've only seen rot13 being used for that purpose here. I'd gladly make it less cumbersome to read if I could do so without risking diminishing the fun of other people who watch or intend to watch this series.

(Or maybe the annoyance caused by the encryption is worse than the risk of spoiling just one scene in case there's anyone reading this who watches the series and is a season and a half behind... I dunno. Neither course of action should be a big deal.)

Comment by Fyrius on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-08T19:19:28.159Z · LW · GW

Jeez, you guys. You miss the point.

But at any rate, WIN. Don't lose reasonably, WIN.


If you fail to achieve a correct answer, it is futile to protest that you acted with propriety.


(...) what good does a sense of violated entitlement do? At all? Ever? What good does it do to tell ourselves that we did everything right and deserved better, and that someone or something else is to blame?

-- Eliezer Yudkowsky

The point isn't that honour is bad, the point is (much more generally) that rational agents shouldn't follow the Rules and lose anyway, they should WIN. Whether the Rules are the rules of honour, of mainstream science or of traditional rationalism, or whatever, if they don't get you to win, find a way that does. And it's futile to complain about unfairness after you lost, or the guy you were rooting for did.

The only part that appeals to fictional consequences is the additional implication that oftentimes, an ounce of down-to-earth pragmatism beats any amount of lofty ideals if you need to actually achieve concrete goals.

I thought adding that "rational agents should win" reference would make the intended idea clear enough. But I'll take my own advice and just make a mental note to be clearer next time.