Comment by grendelkhan on [deleted post] 2017-06-09T21:57:06.188Z

I strongly support this post.

It would be much better if it were less inflammatory. The last sentence, in particular, is reprehensible. But you respond to the substance of the criticism you get, not the criticism you might want or wish to have at a later time. Otherwise you might as well be slashing your own tires. The vast majority of the discussion below is simple tone policing. Someone's telling you that your house is on fire, and you're complaining that they're shouting.

It's correct that it's incredibly troubling that the author didn't even consider romantic drama in designing his bootcamp. It's correct that these are really not impressive outcomes. They're moderately-functional outcomes. Shouldn't there be some sort of control group where people attempt a similar level of life-changing upward momentum on their own and see if it was actually effective to cede their autonomy? It is correct that trying to LARP a bizarre combination of Ender's Game and Fight Club is perhaps not a sign that this person has any idea how grown-ups work.

And most troubling of all, why weren't these issues noted by anyone who Duncan ran this idea by first? Why does it take this level of willingness to break with social norms to notice the skulls? And no, intoning "I Have Noticed The Skulls" doesn't mean you've actually addressed the problem unless you actually address it. Twelfth virtue!

In a broader sense, what the hell happened? I read the Sequences roughly when they came out, commented here occasionally, moved over to SSC and, more often, the associated subreddit. I donate effectively and regularly, I do my best to tax people's bullshit with bets, and I do feats with spaced repetition. Apparently while I was doing that and not being directly involved in the community, it turned into... this. Scott Alexander is getting published in moderately prestigious outlets. AI risk is mainstream. Effective Altruism is considerably more mainstream than it was. But the community at the center of it has, if anything, regressed, from what I've seen here.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-04T22:35:24.631Z · LW · GW

We're doing politics? Cool.

In a very short-term sense, "death panels". We provide a terrible end-of-life experience for people; we keep people barely at great expense in states of pain and confusion as long as possible even when this is not something that they would want; finite healthcare dollars are thus spent torturing the dying rather than fixing treatable problems in otherwise healthy people.

An attempt to make a dent in this (by at least getting people to talk about advance-care directives, for example) was derailed in a failed attempt to score some political points. As a result, this will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future, because it's no longer a technical problem, it's a Red Team/Blue Team thing. Well done, politics.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-04T21:48:07.576Z · LW · GW

If it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid.

"Murphy's Laws of Combat"

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes August 2014 · 2014-08-18T18:45:56.127Z · LW · GW

Sometimes the biggest disasters aren't noticed at all -- no one's around to write horror stories.

Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep

Comment by grendelkhan on Dying Outside · 2014-08-04T18:43:15.983Z · LW · GW

Linkrot marches on; the summary is here and the full case report is here. (The former says that A-2435 is Alcor's 88th patient, the latter the 89th, which is a bit odd.)

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes July 2014 · 2014-07-23T00:35:23.000Z · LW · GW

HEALY: The doctor recommends a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
ROSA: Who doesn't love a surgery with "ooph" in it?
HEALY: Yeah, well, uh the, uh, DOC has set certain limits on invasive... It's not gonna happen. [pause] You're not out of options. We'll stick with the chemo.
ROSA: "We"? You got cancer in your ovaries, too?
HEALY: I'm your counselor. I'm here to help you through this.
ROSA: There is no "through this". I'm gonna die.
HEALY: Hey. Come on, now. You could live for years.
ROSA: That's a fucking lie.
HEALY: Language! Look, I know this is difficult for you. My cousin had lung cancer. It didn't look good for him, but he stuck with the chemo and now he's back fixing roofs in Oneonta.
ROSA: Lucky duck, your cousin. Me? Dead duck.
HEALY: You have to try to remain positive. No one knows the future.
ROSA: Doctors know the future. They think I need the surgery.

Orange is the New Black, 2x08, "Appropriately Sized Pots"

Comment by grendelkhan on 31 Laws of Fun · 2014-04-08T17:18:53.693Z · LW · GW


These theological symbols, heaven and hell, are not crudely understood as spatial dimensions but rather refer to the experience of God's presence according to two different modes.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2014-04-05T16:45:18.156Z · LW · GW

Relevant: Greg Egan, "Steve Fever".

Comment by grendelkhan on 31 Laws of Fun · 2014-03-04T18:11:04.923Z · LW · GW

I think you may have been giving them too much credit. Here's an adherent explaining that wireheading is a bad thing, but in heaven, wireheading is good because everything in heaven is good.

I don't think people don't always put much effort into critically considering their beliefs.

I had an idea for a sort of Christian fanfiction, in which people marked for heaven and people marked for hell both go into the same firey pit, but the former are wireheaded to be happy about it. It's a far more efficient construction that way. (I suppose you could also do the reverse, with the people marked for hell being reverse-wireheaded to find nice things agonizing, but that doesn't have the same tasty irony.)

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2014-02-04T23:29:01.965Z · LW · GW

Bitrot marches on; a copy at The Wayback Machine should be more durable.

Comment by grendelkhan on Eternal Sunshine of the Rational Mind · 2013-10-18T18:24:41.596Z · LW · GW

Even with memories that cause PTSD, it's not so much the forgetting that helps as the being able to reconsolidate the memories without them being hooked into trauma.

Comment by grendelkhan on Serious Stories · 2013-10-18T17:53:38.079Z · LW · GW

even if the rest of the story had made good on its promise of providing an interesting look at a posthuman world. (It doesn't. We don't even get to see anything of it.)

You may enjoy A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace--it's based in part on the author's history of card-counting--but then, you might not, as the Casinos don't seem like a very Fun place to go.

Comment by grendelkhan on Alcor vs. Cryonics Institute · 2013-10-17T22:27:00.032Z · LW · GW

I think I'm missing something here. As I understand it, you (Mike Darwin) have a great deal of experience and expertise in the actual practice of cryonics, as well as a lot of actionable recommendations. The current staff at Alcor (e.g., Max More) seem to take you seriously.

Is it a silly question to ask why you're not working for Alcor?

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-05T21:55:57.586Z · LW · GW

"You're like an infant!" Tosco sneered. "Still humming at night about your poor lost momma and the terrible thing men do to their cos? Grow up and face the real world."

"I have," Carlo replied. "I faced it, and now I'm going to change it."

Greg Egan, The Eternal Flame, ch. 38

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes May 2013 · 2013-05-25T23:56:37.429Z · LW · GW

I think the problem is that it should take more than one explicitly evil person per country to cause that much damage.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes May 2013 · 2013-05-25T19:50:06.853Z · LW · GW

PROF. PLUM: What are you afraid of, a fate worse than death?
MRS. PEACOCK: No, just death; isn't that enough?

--Clue (1985)

Comment by grendelkhan on Preparing for a Rational Financial Planning Sequence · 2013-05-24T23:44:42.992Z · LW · GW

a Rational (tm) Work Out sequence

Liam Rosen's FAQ, i.e. "the sticky" from /fit/, struck me as being an island of reasonableness in an ocean of bad advice and broscience.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2013-04-25T14:26:53.422Z · LW · GW

That's pretty much the plot of Quarantine, isn't it?

Comment by grendelkhan on [deleted post] 2013-04-22T17:14:25.482Z

Wow; that just reminded me of a bit from The Smartest Guys In The Room, where Enron partnered with Blockbuster to stream movies-on-demand over the internet in 2000. It was a scam, but clearly someone thought it was a real thing. (Netflix started streaming movies in 2007.)

And--yes, you said it. Projects like this and OpenWorm are particularly important because they help narrow down really uncertain things; OpenWorm, for instance, might be able to settle the "neurons are really complicated"/"neurons are accurately simulatable-in-bulk by simple models" dispute, as well as the "the connectome is/is not sufficient" thing.

Comment by grendelkhan on [deleted post] 2013-04-20T22:40:28.692Z

Well, a number of things have gone not-as-planned, but it did help to make a public commitment here, and I've (finally!) donated an order of magnitude more than I did last year, along with the corresponding employer match. Last year's donation drive is over, but I expect they'll still have science to do.

I look forward to seeing the results.

Comment by grendelkhan on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2013-03-28T14:43:27.275Z · LW · GW

For fitness, I'd found Liam Rosen's FAQ (the 'sticky' from 4chan's /fit/ board) to be remarkably helpful and information-dense. (Mainly, 'toning' doesn't mean anything, and you should probably be lifting heavier weights in a linear progression, but it's short enough to be worth actually reading through.)

Comment by grendelkhan on SMBC: dystopian objective function · 2013-01-22T06:39:44.713Z · LW · GW

Could you expand on the 'chilling' bit? I thought it was touching, had a thumpingly ignorant bit about bisexuality, and did a reasonably good job of picking apart the feedback loop inherent in being able to choose what makes you happy.

Comment by grendelkhan on Female Test Subject - Convince Me To Get Cryo · 2012-10-24T03:12:14.161Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I don't mean the crazy-ministry people, I mean people connected enough to reality that they wouldn't say that sort of thing now, but who did right up to the point where normal human babies showed up and the position became unsupportable.

Maybe I'm looking too far into this, but I'm trying to understand how you could look at a person pretty much indistinguishable from other people and claim that they have all of these hilariously weird properties. I can see if happening if people conceived via IVF all had red hair or something, but people did know these would be, y'know, people conceived in-vitro, right?

Comment by grendelkhan on Female Test Subject - Convince Me To Get Cryo · 2012-10-22T11:18:22.836Z · LW · GW

It was argued that in vitro fertilization would cause soulless humans to be born (seriously) with all sorts of ramifications (from them destroying society, to their existence being constant agony).

Did someone actually suggest that? A cursory glance through some articles shows, for instance, the Pope expressing worry that women would be used as 'baby factories', but questions about IVF seem to have, historically, been tied up with worries about custom-designed people.

Comment by grendelkhan on Female Test Subject - Convince Me To Get Cryo · 2012-10-22T03:10:52.269Z · LW · GW

It's reinforced by a lot of talk. Historically, men do not save women in shipwreck situations. This is information that would be pretty surprising based on your previous beliefs. Shouldn't it change your mind?

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes October 2012 · 2012-10-15T17:40:26.013Z · LW · GW

It's all fine and good to declare that you would have freed your slaves. But it's much more interesting to assume that you wouldn't have and then ask, "Why?"

--Ta-Nehisi Coates, "A Muscular Empathy"

Comment by grendelkhan on [deleted post] 2012-08-29T18:52:25.889Z

I've donated a relatively small amount, and will donate more when my finances allow (that's not open-ended; I'm expecting a small windfall in a few months). It should go without saying, but if you have a good employer, check to see if they match charitable donations! Mine turned my donation from a pitifully small one into a just plain small one.

Wouldn't it be weird if it turns out that there's an excellent and durable method of preserving brains, but it's not the one that's been used for the last half-century or so? Horrifying, obviously, but profoundly weird as well. The two positions I've seen on the topic have been "it never has and never will work", and "it's worked since some possibly-specified time in the past". A world in which people who sign up for preservation avoid death if and only if they're lucky enough to have signed up after, say, 2030, feels weirder than a world where the rational are rewarded, the irrational punished. The zog, I suppose.

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes August 2012 · 2012-08-29T18:20:50.849Z · LW · GW

The math here is scary. If you spitball the regulatory cost of life for a Westerner, it's around seven million dollars. To a certain extent, I'm pretty sure that that's high because the costs of over-regulating are less salient to regulators than the costs of under-regulating, but taken at face value, that means that, apparently, thirty-five hundred poor African kids are equivalent to one American.

Hilariously, the IPCC got flak from anti-globalization activists for positing a fifteen-to-one ratio in the value of life between developed and developing nations.

Comment by grendelkhan on Serious Stories · 2012-06-05T20:23:39.203Z · LW · GW

I'm surprised that none of the other commenters suggested "What if you just invert the human sense of pain, causing it to become a new form of pleasure, and then write stories about that?"

I think you'd get Crossed. It makes sense, at least through the first book (I haven't read the others), that the infection makes every experience pleasurable, and since painful or horrific experiences are more intense and memorable than good ones, it makes people into Reavers, pretty much.

Comment by grendelkhan on Serious Stories · 2012-06-05T20:09:09.790Z · LW · GW

At one point it was thought that it would be a good idea to shut off pain, replacing it, perhaps, with some sort of warning message. Then it was discovered that pain was the warning message, and to remove it carried the danger of apparent invulnerability. The best that could be done was to make the message less... distracting.

--Sam Hughes, Fine Structure

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2012-05-31T16:54:10.114Z · LW · GW

The earliest known citation of the anecdote is from 1935, quoting Canadian William Aberhart. Milton Friedman certainly told the story, and may have invented the somewhat snappier form quoted here. (Interestingly, William Aberhart was speaking for the Social Credit Party, which was hardly libertarian.)

Comment by grendelkhan on [Book Suggestions] Summer Reading for Younglings. · 2012-05-22T23:28:05.948Z · LW · GW

I didn't notice the Christian allegory (I wasn't brought up Christian) until I had it explicitly pointed out to me, and even then, it struck me as being so off-base that I couldn't imagine being convinced by it. (The dwarves with their eyes shut--the people who refuse to integrate readily available empirical evidence when it might change their minds about something, those are supposed to be atheists?)

Comment by grendelkhan on Existing Absurd Technologies · 2012-05-04T12:06:12.689Z · LW · GW

For me, the one-way functions weren't the impressive part of public-key crypto; it was the idea that you can stand in a crowded room full of people who desperately want to eavesdrop on you, hold a shouted conversation with someone you've never met before or spoken with privately, and keep everything secret. I mean, wow, y'know?

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-15T21:30:42.372Z · LW · GW

Okay, but if not everyone graduates from college, and the point of admissions is to weed out people who'll succeed in school rather than wasting everyone's time, then how does a college degree mean anything different for a standard graduate, a legacy graduate, and an affirmative-action graduate? (Note that the bar is lowered for legacy graduates to the same degree as affirmative-action graduates, so if you don't hear "my father also went here" the same way as "I got in partly because of my race", then there's a different factor at work here.)

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-15T21:25:03.979Z · LW · GW

Has anyone ever claimed that any criticism of Obama is racist by definition? I only ever see this claim from people who want to raise the bar for racism above what they've been accused of. It's not like targeting welfare to play on racism is a completely outlandish claim--I hope you're familiar with Lee Atwater's very famous description of the Southern Strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-15T15:04:24.320Z · LW · GW

Um, Affirmative Action. Also tail ends of distributions.

I was under the impression that AA applied to college admissions, and that college graduation is still entirely contingent on one's performance. (Though I've heard tell that legacy students both get an AA-sized bump to admissions and tend to be graded on a much less harsh scale.)

Additionally, it seems that there's a lot of 'different justification, same conclusion' with regards to claims about black people. For instance, "black people are inherently stupid and lazy" becomes "black people don't have to meet the same standards for education". The actual example I saw was that people subconsciously don't like to hire black people (the Chicago resume study) because they present a risk of an EEOC lawsuit. (The annual risk of being involved in an EEOC lawsuit is on the order of one in a million.)

Comment by grendelkhan on Limitless, a Nootropics-Centered Movie · 2012-03-30T01:36:58.363Z · LW · GW

I noticed--I was very surprised indeed. (I also appreciated the "I can't think my way out of a knife!" bit--the power of intelligence, indeed.) It's more unambiguously positive than the original ending, even--definitely not what I was expecting. This kind of story is inevitably going to end up being about someone who changes the whole world, and hey, that's what the movie fades out on. I'm impressed.

Comment by grendelkhan on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2012-03-30T00:49:00.659Z · LW · GW

The "black names" were not high status

From the paper: "We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names." Section 5 deals with this; "Carrie" and "Neil" (low-status white) do just as well as "Emily" and "Geoffrey", while "Kenya" and "Jamal" (high-status black) do just as poorly as "Latonya" and "Leroy".

A minor nitpick - this isn't just about perfectly competent people

Absolutely--I should have said "equally competent" or "reasonably competent".

I don't have a particularly strong opinion on your example, though; I've rolled it around in my head a bit and can't quite see how to fit it into the same framework. There are, I believe, organizations and affinity groups advocating for better treatment of fat people, at least. I don't perceive 'ugly' or 'fat' as being the same sort of grouping as race, though, and I'm not sure where the difference comes from, exactly.

Comment by grendelkhan on [deleted post] 2012-03-30T00:34:58.006Z

You should have taken your own advice and remembered the bit about Politics being The Mind-Killer. Yes, this is a reasonably good illustration of your point about the size of mind-design-space, but it generated a lot more heat than light, and I think it's more illustrative of the ways in which even careful work in this area can fly off the rails with ease.

if you think that women don't take the initiative enough in sex
the men with harems of synthetic sex slaves, and the women with romantic sensitive robots

(I'm aware the second is you quoting someone else's opinion, not your own.) It's received wisdom that women are much more discerning than men, and that this is inherent and unchangeable and totally biological. It's reported this way in the popular press; the Clark and Hatfield study (an stranger of the opposite sex propositions you out of the blue; do you accept?) showing marked disparity between men and women is interpreted as reflecting a deep and abiding inherent truth.

Except, no. Women's reluctance to accept that kind of proposition is less about being inherently wired for romance and more about perceiving unknown men as dangerous. Remove the perception of danger, and the difference in receptiveness to casual sex shrinks to the point of becoming noise.

The difference is, historically, moot; women never really had the level of freedom from violence it would take to distinguish between results implying "women are inherently keen on romance" and those implying "women fear unknown men". But it should serve as a giant flaming caution signal for anyone who wants to write about inherent differences between the sexes: even if you think you are, you're probably not treading lightly enough.

I know I grew up much too late to appreciate the efforts of feminists: nobody has ever tried to sell my sister, my mother has always been able to vote, and Hillary Clinton running for President didn't strike me as the slightest departure from what I think of as a normal universe.

If you'd grown up in the 1950s, you'd have said the same thing about women being able to vote, you know. Great moral changes don't look obvious before they happen. Shouldn't this be obvious from the whole 'Making History Available' idea?

And I know this post is almost four years old at this point, but wow was this ever a failed opportunity to do outreach.

Comment by grendelkhan on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2011-12-24T22:18:50.867Z · LW · GW

I'll try to unpack that, especially since the original post was so sloppy.

The original post said "But why is it that the rest of the world seems to think that individual genetic differences are okay, whereas racial genetic differences in intelligence are not?". This is incorrect. "The rest of the world" seems to think that individual genetic differences in intelligence exist and are meaningful, whereas racial genetic differences do not. (Does Yudkowsky really think that anti-racist activists believe that black people are inherently less intelligent and that that fact should be ignored? I'm not sure how else to read that.)

The unfairness of individual differences in intelligence is that, well, it happens and it's unfair. The unfairness of racial differences in intelligence is that they don't exist, but people act as though they do, and it's that second part that's unfair. These are two different kinds of unfairness. For the first, changing people's minds won't do a darned thing; it's like trying to persuade water to run uphill. For the second, changing people's minds will, following the above logic, reduce the amount of unfairness in the world, because the source of the unfairness is in those people's minds.

So, treating able-bodied people differently from disabled people is... well, it depends. If you treat someone in a wheelchair like they can't walk, that's the first kind. (They actually can't walk; it's not anyone's fault.) If you treat someone in a wheelchair with no obvious signs of mental impairment like they have impaired intelligence, that's the second kind. (They're just as clever as anyone else; the unfairness is entirely in the way you're treating them.)

Does that clear things up a bit?

Comment by grendelkhan on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2011-12-24T18:54:27.937Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what I was going for there; the whole point of the Chicago resume study was that racist outcomes happened even when nobody involved set out to do racist things. I think I meant "unfair things that people do", as opposed to unfair things that simply happen.

Comment by grendelkhan on Book trades with open-minded theists - recommendations? · 2011-11-30T04:54:31.575Z · LW · GW

In retrospect, that was really what did it for me. I held on to various forms of wishful thinking for a long time, because it seemed to me that minds and matter were fundamentally separate things, I couldn't see how it could be any other way--though I knew at that point that religious claims tended to be laughable, so I had some kind of vaguely half-assed do-it-yourself wishing-makes-it-so I believed in--and that implied the whole universe of dualism. Somehow I came away from it having relinquished that idea, and it, more than any other one book I'd read by that age, set the course for my intellectual journey.

And indeed, I was reading the twentieth anniversary edition, which even warned me up front: "In a word, GEB is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter. What is a self, and how can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle?"

(Also, come to think of it, I'd have skipped ahead a long way on the philosophy of uploading if I'd read A Conversation with Einstein's Brain a few years earlier.)

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-08T03:54:08.389Z · LW · GW

Jerky-of-the-month club?

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-07T15:35:44.901Z · LW · GW

Whether their motives were righteous or venal, highminded or base, noble or ig-, in retrospect the obvious verdict is that they were all morons--yes, even the distinguished fellows and visiting scholars at think tanks and deans of international studies schools. They were morons because the whole moral, political and practical purpose of their scheme depended on its going exactly according to plan. Which nothing ever does. The Latin phrase for this logical fallacy would be Duh. Some of them were halfway intelligent; some of them may even have been well-intentioned; but they lacked imagination, and this is a fatal flaw. What we learn from history is that it never turns out like it's supposed to. And the one thing we know for sure about the future is that it won't be like we think.

Tim Kreider, Artist's Note for The Pain

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-07T15:29:50.055Z · LW · GW

The least evil is still evil. The least monstrous is still monstrous

When, as will happen, you are yourself forced to choose between two bad things, then choose the lesser of the evils and choose it boldly. That will be the right choice and, if circumstances are truly as circumscribed as you believe them to be, that will be the right thing to do in that situation.

But it still won't be a good thing. It isn't a good thing and cannot be made good.

Fred Clarke, August 9

Comment by grendelkhan on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-07T15:24:34.096Z · LW · GW

If something doesn't make sense, one of your assumptions has to be wrong, because if something doesn't make sense, it can't be real.

House, episode 2x24, "No Reason"

Comment by grendelkhan on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2011-09-30T21:46:47.334Z · LW · GW

It's more that racism is unfair in a different way than people simply being different from each other. People don't get upset that some people are cleverer than others because it's fundamentally different from the unfairness of perfectly competent people having their opportunities crushed because of unfair things that people actually do on purpose. They're fundamentally different kinds of unfairness, and that's why they provoke fundamentally different responses in people.

I'm confused that this wasn't more obvious when this was posted. I'm usually not struck by how obviously wrong something in the Sequences is, and I'm unsure of exactly where the fault lies.

Comment by grendelkhan on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2011-09-30T21:40:56.285Z · LW · GW

It's potentially misleading to quote a statistic like that in isolation without describing the base rate. A quick scan seems to imply that nine men whose ancestry is predominantly West African have ever run 100m in less than ten seconds... which certainly seems to support your point anyway, since less than nine elevenths of the Olympic talent pool is from West Africa.

Comment by grendelkhan on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread · 2011-04-29T15:08:29.067Z · LW · GW

I read it in middle school, and, though I know there's a tendency to see my earlier self as having the benefit of hindsight, I swear that while I really enjoyed the cathartic nerd-violence, I also had an awareness that there was something creepy and wrong with the whole thing, even if I couldn't put my finger on it. I was both attracted to and horrified by the book. I had a faint sense that feeling that self-righteous is a very dangerous sign.

I then largely forgot about it (it seems to have strongly influenced a lot of people who read it at that age, but not me) until I reached adulthood and stumbled on criticism from Kessel and Radford, whereupon it all fell into place and I congratulated myself on having seen that there was at least something there to criticize.

Comment by grendelkhan on Limitless, a Nootropics-Centered Movie · 2011-03-22T17:53:38.665Z · LW · GW

Well, egg on me; that's definitely the sort of thing I should have checked on first. Thanks for pointing it out.

I'll attempt to save face by claiming that "technothrillers" are pre-watered-down, in that they're written in a format which is conducive to world-changing stories, and include technology that would indeed be world-changing, but shy away from their conclusions the same way that mainstream movie adaptations shy away from the conclusions of their source material.