Personals, anyone? 2011-05-02T17:36:56.280Z
Spiritedness and docility 2011-04-23T04:12:20.162Z


Comment by Gray on How and Why to Granularize · 2011-05-18T00:04:40.499Z · LW · GW

The world is unfair and poor, and not everything is actually possible for everyone, even though a lot more is possible than people may expect. People shouldn't need to deceive themselves about the extent of what's possible, to do what is possible.

Upvoted for this. In fact, someone should right a post about this, to stamp out some of the almost naive optimism found elsewhere on the site.

Comment by Gray on What we're losing · 2011-05-16T21:38:13.139Z · LW · GW

The prefix 'meta' is incredibly overused...just saying.

Comment by Gray on The elephant in the room, AMA · 2011-05-15T03:13:22.602Z · LW · GW

You're right. Interpreting that text as meaning that God wants paperclips to multiply and have dominion over the earth is incredibly self-serving.

Comment by Gray on Schneier talks about The Dishonest Minority [Link] · 2011-05-12T19:29:20.658Z · LW · GW

This is basically the same thing as the noble lie that Plato discussed in The Republic.

Comment by Gray on The elephant in the room, AMA · 2011-05-12T19:12:19.965Z · LW · GW

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." King James Version, Genesis 1:28

Wait, God was talking about paperclips, right?

Comment by Gray on The elephant in the room, AMA · 2011-05-12T19:09:44.229Z · LW · GW

Personally, I don't have any problem with religious people. I know there's a sequence that makes the claim that "atheism = untheism + anti-theism", but I guess that has never been my interpretation, otherwise I'm an untheist. And I'll defend religious people from skeptical attacks when they are stupid, or perhaps not skeptical enough. own opinion, I don't want rationalism to become Christianity without the mythology, it's not the mythology that I object to. I object to the servility, and the docility (this was once considered a virtue according to theologians) that Christianity inspires, and has grown as a part of what Christianity has become over centuries. Christianity has a very long history, it's not wise to be naive to it. I'd suggest reading Nietzsche's Antichrist to understand some of what is going on.

Comment by Gray on Personal Benefits from Rationality · 2011-05-12T19:02:14.549Z · LW · GW

Djikstra said that computer science is as much about computers as astronomy is about telescopes, so it shouldn't be surprising that things like algorithms and data structures has relevance to even mundane reality. I think one way I look at myself is an extremely small and limited computer. On the fly, my brain is slow at performing operations, I have a hard time recalling information, and I do so with limited accuracy. Sometimes I make mistakes while performing operations.

So what are we doing when we try to organize ourselves and make plans but trying to compile a program for these very far from optimal circumstances? Obviously, if I make plenty of mistakes, I need to write in plenty of redundancy; and I have to employ "tricks" in order to achieve meta-cognition at the right times (something that goes beyond the computer analogy, I know).

This involves, as I see it, a further way of looking at yourself. You see yourself as both the machine executing instructions, and the programmer writing those instructions (as well as the compiler, trying to translate the program to machine language). Nietzsche wrote that we have to develop as both commanders and obeyers. I thought this was hogwash, but I've learned that there is a lot of truth to that.

Comment by Gray on Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently · 2011-05-11T02:34:28.679Z · LW · GW

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but one thing that I've started that seems to be useful to me is to write down a bunch of notes about the topic before, and while, researching. I think part of this is because I've become used to criticism, and I find I can criticize my own thoughts better after I have written them down, or while I'm writing them down. I just use a blank text editor (using org-mode) for this. It is also helpful dumping whatever preconceptions I might have about the subject matter, before I know what to search for. It also helps me clarify when and where the research is more, or less, superficial than my own understanding. Or maybe the research is only tangential to what I was actually looking for.

Comment by Gray on Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves · 2011-05-11T02:20:06.974Z · LW · GW

Just so you know, what you're advocating for LW are practices that have helped Christianity become a dominant and universalizing religion. Christians want everyone to be a Christian, that's basic to Christianity. Does, lets call it "rationalism", want everyone to be a rationalist? I guess that's a good question, and should be asked.

But lets also be mindful about how Christianity tries to attain a universal status:

"a strong focus on strengthening the family"

It is key that Christianity spreads within the family, and importantly, through generations. "Be fruitful and multiply" belongs here. You shouldn't have non-Christian members of the family.

"daily family prayer and scripture study"

Not just a strong family, but a strong Christian family. The ties of family should be used for religious purposes.

"sex only inside marriage"

Every natural human desire needs to be mediated with religious meaning and purpose, this makes people lustful for religion.

This is what you call "the basic package". The basic package has reasons for its existence, but not reasons that rationalists would necessarily agree with.

Comment by Gray on Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves · 2011-05-11T01:59:40.317Z · LW · GW

Hmm? Thomas Bayes was a Presbyterian minister, C. S. Peirce was Catholic and Newton was an unorthodox Christian described as "highly religious". I'd be more interested in seeing a list of esteemed rationalists who were not religious compared to such a list that were religious. In any case, it is pretty clear that it is possible to hold rationality and religion in your head at the same time. This is basically how most people operate.

Comment by Gray on Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently · 2011-05-11T01:43:53.846Z · LW · GW

Great post. With respect to your final statement, I was wondering if using the results of your research to contribute to Wikipedia isn't the obvious thing to do? Not speaking to you specifically, lukeprog, but concerning the general topic.

Also, it would be interesting if your post here inspires other people here to also pursue similar research enterprises, which makes me think that this will involve a lot of duplicated effort. This is against efficiency, which makes me wonder if there's a good place for people to correspond when they are involved in similar research topics. But then I think the answer to this is also Wikipedia.

Comment by Gray on Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently · 2011-05-11T01:26:59.396Z · LW · GW

Adding to the tangent, in my opinion, the concepts of scholastic philosophy are actually incredibly useful for rationality in general. They usually end up being logic terms, and they are employed well outside of their concept even in modern works. A lot of times, for example, when you read an argument and understand there is something wrong with the argument, but have a hard time putting your finger on what is wrong with the argument, there's typically some scholastic term that will nail it for you. The scholastics were incredibly subtle, and are typically the ones ridiculed when the expression "splitting hairs" comes to fore. But usually that ridicule is made by people who aren't subtle, and don't realize that the distinctions are incredibly important.

Comment by Gray on Personals, anyone? · 2011-05-06T06:26:48.460Z · LW · GW

Thank you.

Comment by Gray on Hollow Adjectives · 2011-05-05T15:55:25.111Z · LW · GW

Not really. Something "can be done" if some possible being, which may not be actual, can perform it. If there's a 500 pound barbell in front of me, and I can't lift it, this doesn't mean that the barbell can't be lifted, only that I can't lift it. If you're omnipotent, then you can lift it.

I guess I've always understood omnipotence as being so powerful that no possible being can be more powerful than you are.

Comment by Gray on Ethics and rationality of suicide · 2011-05-03T15:22:08.252Z · LW · GW

Yep, that's what I'm looking for doing at the moment. There are places around here for around $400/month; but first I'm trying to find a place with a somewhat higher wage.

Comment by Gray on Personals, anyone? · 2011-05-03T01:18:36.580Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your reply, and I think right now I would be a much better student than I was eight years ago, when I was twenty. Either I'll go back to college or, if I can't manage the funding, I'll try a more disciplined self-study approach. Not giving up.

Comment by Gray on Personals, anyone? · 2011-05-03T01:17:13.679Z · LW · GW

I guess I never tried this. It would be weird though. How do I message another guy, for instance, without that guy thinking that I'm hitting on him?

Comment by Gray on Personals, anyone? · 2011-05-02T20:16:09.880Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I've checked out before. Good idea, by the way, there is an atheist group near here, but their activity seems to have died off, and there only seems to be a few people who are active. But this is a good reminder to look into it further.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with, however, one of the most active groups local around here seems to be the Tea Party Patriots.

Comment by Gray on Personals, anyone? · 2011-05-02T20:14:03.028Z · LW · GW

I'm already on OKCupid, and I have been messaging someone on there. But I was more interested in looking for friends or even just intellectually interesting acquaintances. Doesn't have to be single or of the opposite sex :)

Comment by Gray on Ethics and rationality of suicide · 2011-05-02T17:45:31.008Z · LW · GW

I'm the same age, and in a similar situation to you. I'm not self-reliant yet, but I'm living in my grandfather's house who recently passed away, so now I'm going through the transition process of living on my own. My problem is trying to find a job and an apartment where I can sustain myself. This seems to be impossible without a college degree.

Comment by Gray on [Altruist Support] How to determine your utility function · 2011-05-02T16:34:12.767Z · LW · GW

I think you're technically correct, but especially on the internet, the term "awesome" has been used more and more loosely such that it nearly does have the super-general meaning that STL is talking about. To say that X is awesome is usually just a strong, emphatic way of saying that "I like X".

Comment by Gray on What is Metaethics? · 2011-04-27T16:52:17.801Z · LW · GW

And that's what morality always was in the first place. It's a way of getting other people to do otherwise than what they wanted to do. No one would be convinced by "I don't want you to kill people", but if you can convince someone that "It is wrong to kill people", then you've created conflict in that person's desires.

I wonder, in the end, if people here truly want to "be rational" about morality. Myself, I'm not rational about morality, I go along with it. I don't critique it in my personal life. For instance, I refuse to murder someone, no matter how rational it might be to murder someone.

Stick to epistemic rationality, and instrumental rationality, but avoid at all costs normative rationality, is my opinion.

Comment by Gray on What is Metaethics? · 2011-04-27T16:39:28.393Z · LW · GW

This pretty much sums up a very large reason why I think metaethics itself is a diseased discipline. I don't even know why this site likes to talk about "metaethics" whenever it wants to moralize, other than, perhaps, saying the prefix "meta" makes it sound more technical and "rational", when it is really just another layer of obscurity.

I think, just like politics, this site should avoid the topic of ethics as much as possible. Most of the "science" of ethics is just post-Christian nonsense. Seriously, read Nietzsche. I don't trust any of this talk about ethics by someone who hasn't read, and understood, Nietzsche.

Comment by Gray on Build Small Skills in the Right Order · 2011-04-27T02:15:58.759Z · LW · GW

I somewhat relate to his comment, and for me it's because of how much persona, holding myself back, and not letting myself go it requires to be accepted by others. When, and if, it actually does work, it feels like here all I was trying to do was be a nice guy, and now the ruse worked? Now it's like you've committed yourself to it.

Comment by Gray on The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality · 2011-04-24T17:03:49.044Z · LW · GW

Let the people suppose that knowledge means knowing things entirely; the philosopher must say to himself: When I analyze the process that is expressed in the sentence, "I think," I find a whole series of daring assertions that would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to prove; for example that it is I who think, that there must necessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activity and operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause, that there is an "ego," and, finally, that it is already determined what is to be designated by thinking--that I know what thinking is. For if I had not already decided within myself what it is, by what standard could I determine whether that which is just happening is not perhaps "willing" or "feeling"?

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism 16

Comment by Gray on The Black Team - A Parable of Group Effectiveness · 2011-04-22T23:20:23.562Z · LW · GW

I agree entirely. I hate the idea that "rationality" is being identified with the way your dress and compose yourself. Also, I know there's a sequence post somewhere that basically says that being rational doesn't mean being dispassionate.

Comment by Gray on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-21T19:35:53.923Z · LW · GW

Maybe it would be useful to show a frequency score (karma points per week/day) on the main page next to your username, rather than your overall score. You can still get your overall score on your profile page.

Comment by Gray on How can I make money? · 2011-04-21T16:42:20.443Z · LW · GW

I know you guys are all well-credentialed, pretty solidly middle class people; but I was wondering, what would be the rational thing to do for someone without any sort of educational credentials, and doesn't make a high wage? At what income does "investment" begin to make sense, lets say if you're upper lower class or lower middle class?

Comment by Gray on Things That Shouldn't Need Pointing Out · 2011-04-21T04:28:14.704Z · LW · GW

That's a good point, which means that heat is too general to function as the hypostatic object. I would guess that it's a particular way in which heat is applied. The heat has to be applied to the surface, and it has to be transmitted through the air. And, at least relative the reflexes of the cook, the temperature can't be too high.

Makes you wonder if a marshmallow can be toasted with a hair dryer :D

Comment by Gray on Things That Shouldn't Need Pointing Out · 2011-04-21T04:12:40.078Z · LW · GW

I think I see where you're going with this, but to be more analytical than you intended, the answer to one of your questions is hypostatic abstraction. It's an immediate (and therefore deductive) logical inference that, in this case, goes like this:

  1. You can toast marshmallows with an open flame.
  2. There is some means/power/virtue/relationship by which you can toasts marshmallows with an open flame.

This relationship inferred is called the hypostatic object. It's a deductive inference, so if it seems like this hasn't actually added any information, you're right. But it is often a useful inference in that it brings out the hypostatic object which is latent in proposition (1) above, but isn't itself (yet) an object of thought. In this case, obviously, the hypostatic object is to be identified with heat. A lot of our scientific concepts were once nothing more than hypostatic objects: think of electrons (the whatever that produces electricity) and photons (the whatever that produces light); eventually more is learned about these objects, so that saying something like "electrons are responsible for electricity" is no longer tautological.

The point being, when you were associating roasting marshmallows with an open flame, you were thinking too concrete. So how do we stop and think about these daily, ordinary things, at a more abstract level? I don't know. There are probably all sorts of things like that which I'm hardly aware of. Maybe I should just go through a brainstorming sessions about ordinary things and try to think at a more abstract level.

Comment by Gray on Learned Blankness · 2011-04-19T18:59:21.814Z · LW · GW

I don't think that it is "old way" versus "new way"; but it seems clear to me that someone has to know the recipe. If you buy a pre-made can of mushroom soup, obviously the manufacturer must have used the recipe. And then there's the issue if none of the brands of mushroom soup are of adequate quality for your purposes.

It's like the difference between a programmer writing his own routines or using a pre-packaged library. I think, in order to be considered a competent programmer, you should be able to write your own routines, even if you don't have to in the majority of cases. A cookbook is open source for food. "Buy 3 cans of Kraft spaghetti sauce" is cheating.

Comment by Gray on Build Small Skills in the Right Order · 2011-04-19T18:50:44.424Z · LW · GW

I gotta admit that he has a point. I don't know that published studies should be the only way of producing rationalist self-help; I think the way is open for sound DIY empirical studies (but hasty generalization is an inductive fallacy). But look at it this way--you can imagine a lot of really bad advice being given front page status, and the problem is that there is no threshold, no point at which enough is enough.

I think your post is interesting as an abduction instead, and should probably be in the discussion pages. This should be a way of describing your experiences, and indicating what possible explanations and hypotheses could explain those experiences. By no means should we discount our experiences, that would be anti-empirical. The problem is unsound generalization of those experiences.

That said, I find your post valuable as abductive material, and the discussion it resulted in was stimulating.

Comment by Gray on Learned Blankness · 2011-04-19T18:34:04.813Z · LW · GW

It's like falling and missing the ground. Happens all the time. For some reason people don't let me borrow their computers anymore.

Comment by Gray on Learned Blankness · 2011-04-19T16:41:49.130Z · LW · GW

I was going to ask where the constant for the exponent came from, but with a calculator and the Wikipedia page on exponentiation, I figured it out myself. This site is good for me.

Comment by Gray on Learned Blankness · 2011-04-19T15:52:02.299Z · LW · GW

I think a lot of learned blankness comes about because of fear of being wrong, or more correctly, fear of someone else blaming them for being wrong. In certain social strata, you aren't supposed to think about a problem, or let others know you're thinking about a problem, unless it is your job to think about it. If you think about a problem, and get it wrong, then you are irresponsible for not going to an expert with the problem.

So that's where learned blankness gets it's traction, in my opinion, and this is the reason why you'll find people spending an incredible amount of money, for example, going to Best Buy and having them install an operating system for you. (I'm sure this site could come up with numerous similar examples of this.)

But the alternative to this is inevitably being wrong time and again, but this needs to be understood as a part of learning, and as a part of the process of inquiry. We need to learn how to make mistakes, how to know when you're making a mistake, and how to learn from it. But you'll inevitably hear "Why didn't you call the X-man!"

Comment by Gray on Build Small Skills in the Right Order · 2011-04-19T15:34:47.946Z · LW · GW

I think what you say is plausible. But I also think that it is also plausible that a "likable impression" isn't just an appearance, but the effect of you actually starting to like the guy. I think that's the sort of thing that concerns me, that at a certain point our social instincts take over and we lose the ability to detach ourselves from the situation.

Comment by Gray on Build Small Skills in the Right Order · 2011-04-19T04:15:57.081Z · LW · GW

I wonder about this idea that knowing how someone will be manipulating you is any defense at all from being manipulated by that person. It sounds plausible, but is there any evidence at all that knowledge can have this affect?

Or is knowledge not wholly intellectual, and can be considered a species of manipulation, but not manipulation of the dark arts variety. Maybe even "light arts manipulation"? Sorry, had to throw this last paragraph in there because I thought it was interesting.

Comment by Gray on Build Small Skills in the Right Order · 2011-04-19T04:03:06.544Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your post, but this is the first time I've heard of what sounds like practical mind-hacking at all. Where's the good mind-hacking stuff? I mean, the page you link to make it sounds like all of this brainwashing/mind manipulation stuff is standard understanding, but is it only standard in the dark arts sense, or is there a more general understanding about this sort of thing that can be used for good as well as for evil?

Comment by Gray on Meaning of the word "the" · 2011-04-11T15:04:22.590Z · LW · GW

Hmm. If "the wife of John" is the null set, it seems false, rather than meaningless, to predicate "red hair" on the null set.

Comment by Gray on [deleted post] 2011-04-11T05:22:13.942Z

Looking at some of this, I wonder if people are biased towards thinking that the more concrete statement is more likely? Somehow, in my mind, "feminist" is more abstract than "feminist book keeper". The latter seems closer to being a person, whereas the former seems to be closer to a concept. The more descriptive you are about a subject, the more concrete it sounds, and thus the more likely it is, because it sounds closer to reality. The less descriptive, the more abstract it sounds, and therefore the less likely it is, because it sounds more hypothetical or "theoretical".

Of course, the more descriptive account is going to have more conjunctions, and therefore has lesser or the same probability. I just wonder if this has been taken into account.

Comment by Gray on Rationality Quotes: April 2011 · 2011-04-11T05:02:59.731Z · LW · GW

Not a big fan of this. Seems like you could replace the word "think" with many different adjectives, and it would sound good or bad depending on whether I think the adjective agrees with what I consider my virtue. For instance, replace "think" with "exercise", and I would like if I'm a regular exerciser, but if I'm not I'd wonder why I would want to waste my life exercising.

Comment by Gray on Rationality Quotes: April 2011 · 2011-04-11T04:59:15.451Z · LW · GW

Ouch. There is too much truth to this. Dangerous stuff.

Comment by Gray on How would you respond to the Philpapers "What are your Philosophical Positions" Survey? · 2011-04-11T04:48:33.295Z · LW · GW

Glad to see some respect for Nietzsche around here. I don't think most people truly understand what this philosopher was about.

Comment by Gray on Meaning of the word "the" · 2011-04-11T04:17:58.017Z · LW · GW

This is your answer.

Comment by Gray on What is wrong with "Traditional Rationality"? · 2011-04-09T02:25:37.708Z · LW · GW

I apologize, I edited my after submitting it. I did realize the issue of relevance, and I also think that my criticism was unfair in that I think the critique of "Traditional Rationality" is meant to be a methodological critique. I think the critique is very much in terms of valuing process (even a particular scholarly process) over results; which was also part of your point.

I guess I'm very much used to the scholarship process, and I'm not entirely clear on what "Traditional Rationality" ultimately is meant to imply, other than finding clues on various pages. I shouldn't have expressed my confusion as disagreement.

Comment by Gray on What is wrong with "Traditional Rationality"? · 2011-04-09T02:00:40.985Z · LW · GW

Hmm...I had something else written here, but had a thought causing me to be less certain of what I wrote. I do think Popper should be criticized by someone on this site, to point out what is wrong with his epistemology.

Comment by Gray on A Sense That More Is Possible · 2011-04-09T00:27:36.396Z · LW · GW

Good post, except I disagree with your first point. I think when you say that "social life is a war" but qualify that it's a polite war, and a positive-sum war, I think you're stretching the analogy to the point of breaking.

In my opinion, I think economics is the better model, if you look at social interaction as a sort of market, and people are trading back and forth. People don't like the idea of sex being a commodity, but in a very important sense, it is. Friendships and family are also commodities in this way. Acting out of duty corresponds, as I see it, as investing in your relationships with other people. There's always disutility in acting out of duty, but it's an important part of any relationship.

Comment by Gray on Meta: Karma and lesswrong mainstream positions · 2011-04-08T21:44:13.274Z · LW · GW

Ahah, that certain aids in understanding your statement.

Comment by Gray on Meta: Karma and lesswrong mainstream positions · 2011-04-08T04:30:48.384Z · LW · GW

I think I heard an excellent answer, somewhere, that suggested that upvotes/downvotes merely represent "I want more people to see this" or "I want less people to see this". This is implied in the system that will reorganize the posts such posts with higher scores will be put in a more conspicuous on the page.

As excellent as that answer is, however, I do wonder if it misses something. As much as we might prefer votes to have a consistent interpretation, I think this bends to the idea that the meaning of a vote on a post depends on the nature of the post. Sometimes it is a method of voting on whether the argument is sound, sometimes it is voting on whether you like the post, sometimes it voting on whether you like the poster, and sometimes it is voting on the rhetorical style of the post. Someone could even make a post saying "vote me down if you like this post", whereby votes are unparsably ambiguous.

Comment by Gray on Meta: Karma and lesswrong mainstream positions · 2011-04-08T04:03:42.637Z · LW · GW

I was just trying to think of what obnoxious means in this context because, well, who of us wants to come across as obnoxious? And I think it means, with some latitude, that the writer suggests that he or she is aiming at something different than what the other participants are aiming at. This could be egotism/narcissism, persuading others towards a pet belief system, or taunting others/trollishness.

The other alternative could be issues concerning rhetorical style. Either the rhetoric of the writer is uncomfortable to what the reader is accustomed to, or the emphasis of the posts makes it difficult for readers to pierce the arguments for substance.

Or other meanings I'm not aware of.