[LINK] "Scott and Scurvy": a reminder of the messiness of scientific progress 2013-02-14T02:02:26.421Z · score: 14 (14 votes)


Comment by hesperidia on Group Rationality Diary, February 15-28 · 2015-02-17T04:44:13.919Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Skincare Addiction is a subreddit dedicated to finding, and sharing tips on how to use, evidence-based skin products. If you are unsatisfied with the condition of your skin, the sidebar links are a good place to start. (I personally found good results from using "double cleansing" [oil cleansing and then water-soluble face cleanser] and an AHA-based exfoliator. I also use a moisturizer afterwards, but that was something I did already. Your results will probaby vary.)

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, Feb. 2 - Feb 8, 2015 · 2015-02-03T18:59:17.047Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting concept. I read about something similar in the book Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing The New Domesticity - the author recounts that when working at a dead-end job with no challenge her impulse for creativity got shunted into "DIY" projects of questionable value like stenciling pictures of frogs onto her microwave, and that once she got into a job that stretched her abilities the desire for "DIY" evaporated.

Comment by hesperidia on A forum for researchers to publicly discuss safety issues in advanced AI · 2014-12-22T08:06:28.003Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Out on my parts of the internet, a major reason to reject LWisms is because they are perceived as coming from a "Silicon Valley tribe" that does not share values with the majority of people (i.e. similar to the attitude of the newsblog (?) Pando, which regularly skewers tech startups). The libertarians claiming to be "apolitical", and the neoreactionaries, do not help this perception at all. (Although discussing more of this is probably unwise because politics SPIDERS.)

Comment by hesperidia on Training Reflective Attention · 2014-12-22T07:47:01.759Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is/was she a truth-shouter or a cutlery-loader?

Comment by hesperidia on Akrasia and Shangri-La · 2014-12-22T07:40:36.837Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I personally feel that doing abs help me feel less hungry because they kind of compress my stomach (but so does wearing higher-rise trousers and pulling their belt tighter)

This is also observed when wearing back-braces and corsets over the long term. In the corset-wearing/waist-training community particularly, some people have observed that without significant changes in behavior, corsets may decrease appetite; the actual effect is of course highly variable, but it's frequent enough to be conventional wisdom in that community, so.

Comment by hesperidia on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-29T07:28:21.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, you might be right about that. There's also the fact that the word "socialist" is extremely negative in the US (where I live), so it's something that I am leery about explicitly identifying with.

In this case I mean that they might work if implemented - and similar things have worked in the past on small scales - but there may be insurmountable problems in the scaling-up process, not all of them political. (Most of them are, though.)

Comment by hesperidia on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-29T06:26:28.959Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not on every single one, no. For example, I think that a basic income is both practical and achievable (relatively speaking) in a way that turning every single corporation into a worker-owned workshop is not. This is not seen as a "socialist" viewpoint in the places I frequent. In fact, it is seen as selling out by letting the capitalists pacify the working class by throwing them a few more table scraps. Issues like this are why I do not want 'socialist' in my identity.

Comment by hesperidia on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-29T06:20:02.219Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know many people who are properly Socialist, and for nearly all of them it is a massive part of their identity. I am trying to avoid sticking a political label to my identity. That just seems like it would only lead to bad things.

Comment by hesperidia on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-29T06:07:58.372Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like the term "libertarian socialist". It really confuses people.

Comment by hesperidia on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-28T06:32:33.169Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't help you directly, but TVTropes' You Know That Show is really good at finding these kinds of things.

Comment by hesperidia on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-26T19:29:20.648Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm honestly not sure what my political views are. When I vote I am left to far-left by default, but if I can find a candidate that is against corruption I will vote for them regardless of their other political views. However, I harbor substantial sympathy towards anarcho-communism/OWS/etc. even though I know it likely wouldn't work in practice. Keeping in contact with idealists is good for my mental health.

Comment by hesperidia on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-10-11T01:19:53.061Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Oromis asked, “Can you tell me, what is the most important mental tool a person can possess?”

[Eragon makes a few wrong guesses, like determination and wisdom.]

“A fair guess, but, again, no. The answer is logic. Or, to put it another way, the ability to reason analytically. Applied properly, it can overcome any lack of wisdom, which one only gains through age and experience.”

Eragon frowned. “Yes, but isn’t having a good heart more important than logic? Pure logic can lead you to conclusions that are ethically wrong, whereas if you are moral and righteous, that will ensure that you don’t act shamefully.”

A razor-thin smile curled Oromis’s lips. “You confuse the issue. All I wanted to know was the most useful tool a person can have, regardless of whether that person is good or evil. I agree that it’s important to be of a virtuous nature, but I would also contend that if you had to choose between giving a man a noble disposition or teaching him to think clearly, you’d do better to teach him to think clearly. Too many problems in this world are caused by men with noble dispositions and clouded minds.”

-- Eldest, by Christopher Paolini

(This is not a recommendation for the book series. The book has Science Elves, but they are not thought of rationally or worldbuilt to any logical conclusion whatsoever. The context of this quote is apparently a "science is good" professing/cheering without any actual understanding of how science or rationality works.)

(I would love a rational version of Eragon by way of steelmanning the Science Elves. But then you'd probably need to explain why they haven't taken over the world.)

Comment by hesperidia on Group Rationality Diary, September 16-30 · 2014-09-23T22:24:44.818Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Low-hanging fruit: I increased my average intake of vegetables with minimal effort by acquiring microwaveable frozen vegetable bags, which have become my default "I want to eat something but don't want to spend effort preparing it" food. Each bag can be transferred directly from freezer to microwave and takes an average of five minutes therein, and then you cut open the bag and transfer to a serving dish (or, like me, just plop the open bag into a plastic tray and eat directly from it).

It's not perfect (for example, I cannot find green leafy vegetables in this packaging - then again, given the texture of frozen chopped spinach I probably wouldn't want to), but it's an improvement over most other foods that take similar amounts of preparation.

Comment by hesperidia on Three methods of attaining change · 2014-08-18T07:33:11.351Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Another method is, however, to create a reliable reputation/review system which, if they became widely sued, would guide students and patients to the best universities and hospitals

That seems like an odd method of drumming up publicity.

Comment by hesperidia on August 2014 Media Thread · 2014-08-02T20:17:00.254Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think Worm is better starting at 3.1 and doing 1-2 as flashbacks.

It is a rule of thumb in writing that many novels (especially those written by relatively inexperienced writers) will feel tighter and better-paced if one lops off the first two or three chapters. I find it interesting that it also applies to Worm.

Comment by hesperidia on August 2014 Media Thread · 2014-08-02T20:14:17.965Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would not recommend watching Persecuted in theaters. However, I would recommend later acquiring it, preferably in some fashion that does not pay the filmmakers (paying for it would just encourage more films of this type). It looks like it would be fun to invite some humanist/liberal friends over, make popcorn, and poke fun at it MST3K-style.

Note: film is about evangelical Christians persecuted by a Evil Liberal Establishment. If you are deconverted, please do not watch it alone. It will just make you angry.

Comment by hesperidia on January 2014 Media Thread · 2014-01-11T10:05:49.996Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The SCP Foundation is a wiki filled with short horror fiction (that has recently become more widely known because of several games produced based on its content). Most of the entries are written as fictional reports/MSDS data-sheet-like information handouts by a bureaucratic organization that is focused on, basically, shutting mind-blowing horrors away from the bulk of civilization for fear that people would implode if they realized the world did not run on math. The problem being that not everything they're shutting away is a mind-blowing horror.

The articles are (or at least should be, in most circumstances) readable in any order or no order at all. The index is a passable place to start, and the wiki has decent quality control so nearly all of the articles are at least readable and grammatical, and a substantial fraction are downright bone-chilling. This is both a recommendation and an anti-recommendation. If you are easily emotionally affected by fiction, it is probably not for you.

Special mention, however, has to go to the recently created SCP-2333, which is an especially believable kind of horrifying when read through transhumanist eyes. (Jul vf vg gung rirelbar V qvfphff guvf negvpyr jvgu vf ubeevsvrq gung gur thl ng gur raq bs gur negvpyr unf gb yvir sberire, naq abar bs gurz ner ubeevsvrq jvgu gur snpg gung gur erfrnepuref nccneragyl pbqrq va gur bar-jrrx uneq yvzvg ba Fhcre Yvsrfcna ibyhagnevyl?)

Comment by hesperidia on January 2014 Media Thread · 2014-01-02T21:11:48.527Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Through the quote threads and references elsewhere on the site, I find I enjoy LW's taste in (short-to-medium-length) poetry. Can I have recommendations for more?

Comment by hesperidia on Undiscriminating Skepticism · 2014-01-02T06:30:29.485Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Although I accept this argument in the abstract, I oppose anyone actually trying to propose a policy like this in the real world because, historically, men have overvalued their feelings/utilons as compared to women's feelings/utilons. It's a simple ingroup bias, but similar biases in "amount of happiness"-evaluation have historically resulted in the stable maintenance of large pockets of unhappiness in societies (see also: slavery).

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013 · 2013-12-17T20:02:00.114Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, this actually sounds like it could be useful...

A therapist specializing in exposure therapy will be more useful than a cult for this purpose.

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, December 2-8, 2013 · 2013-12-11T18:29:11.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"No Safe Defense, Not Even Science" is close enough for the purpose I was using it for. Thank you!

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013 · 2013-12-11T18:27:32.002Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have trouble anticipating what will make someone feel better.

In this kind of situation, I usually just ask, outright, "What can I do to help you?" Then I can file away the answer for the next time the same thing happens.

However, this assumes that, like me, you are in a strongly Ask culture. If the people you know are strongly Guess, you might get answers such as "Oh, it's all right, don't inconvenience yourself on my account", in which case the next best thing is probably to ask 1) people around them, or 2) the Internet.

You also need to keep your eyes out for both Ask cues and Guess cues of consent and nonconsent - some people don't want help, some people don't want your help, and some people won't tell you if you're giving them the wrong help because they don't want to hurt your feelings. This is the part I get hung up on.

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013 · 2013-12-11T17:57:06.743Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Scientology uses semantic stopsigns:

Loaded Language is a term coined by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist who did extensive studies on the thought reform techniques used by the communists on Chinese prisoners. Of all the cults in existence today, Scientology has one of the most complex systems of loaded language. If an outsider were to hear two Scientologists conversing, they probably wouldn't be able to understand what was being said. Loaded language is words or catch phrases that short-circuits a person's ability to think. For instance, all information that is opposed to Scientology, such as what I am writing here, is labelled by Scientologists as "entheta" (enturbulated theta - "enturbulated" meaning chaotic, confused and "theta" being the Scientology term for spirit). Thus, if a Scientologist is confronted with some information that opposes Scientology, the word "entheta" immediately comes into his mind and he/she will not examine the information and think critically about it because the word "entheta" has short-circuited the person's ability to do so. This is just one example, of many, many Scientology terms.

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, December 2-8, 2013 · 2013-12-09T07:20:36.736Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am trying to find a post here and am unable to find it because I do not seem to have the right keywords.

It was about how the rational debate tradition, reason, universities, etc. arose in some sort of limited context, and how the vast majority of people are not trained in that tradition and tend to have emotional and irrational ways of arguing/discussing and that it seems to be the human norm. It was not specifically in a post about females, although some of the comments probably addressed gender distributions.

I read this post definitely at least six months and probably over a year ago. Can anyone help me?

Comment by hesperidia on Failing to update · 2013-12-03T20:38:33.347Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Given OP's complaint, I assumed OP would be unusually sensitive to even small amounts of discouragement (as magnifying small negatives is a frequent habit of people with depression/anxiety problems). As such, when I saw a -1 in the comment thread where I was directly conversing with the OP, I voted them back up to zero. This is because I do not want to discourage someone reaching out for psychological help, even if they are probably asking for help from a community that might not be focused on providing appropriate help.

That doesn't mean that we should encourage it (signal-to-noise ratio is a thing), but someone with depression may well see -1 as evidence that they should shut up and leave the world alone, because several other people may have read through the thread, decided that granting -1 karma for that post was appropriate, and didn't vote back up to zero. (For the record, I do not think that is what actually happened. Random downvotes from anon trolls are fairly common on the Internet.)

Comment by hesperidia on Failing to update · 2013-12-02T21:58:39.907Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly, a significant fraction of people working in public health are in the late stages of burnout, where they simply don't have any altruism left to spare and are only working in their jobs because of money/inertia/fear of unemployment/extrinsic rewards. People who are burnt out that profoundly will express suspicion of malingering as, I think, sort of a protective mechanism: "there cannot possibly have been this many people that need this much of my energy, so most of the people dropping by with sob stories are just trying to pull one over on me because I've proved myself to be an easy target". (This is a just-so story that has no citation. Salt as necessary.)

If you're worried about this, you can also try, for example, therapists-in-training-programs at colleges or universities, which are cheaper (because the people doing the therapy are paying tuition, so you don't really have to pay much to make it worth everyone's while) and have younger/fresher people that are much less likely to reject you because of burnout.

Comment by hesperidia on Failing to update · 2013-12-02T21:43:50.850Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

At least some social services agencies have a position called "case manager", which is a person who is specifically hired to help other people get through the bureaucracy and to services if they cannot get these services themselves (due to lack of resources whether physical or mental). It may be worth your time to inquire as to how you could be assigned one of those, and then you only need to approach one person and ask.

Comment by hesperidia on Failing to update · 2013-12-02T21:34:06.369Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

These are things I have done to deal with these kinds of feelings:

  1. Programs like Medicaid (in states that are expanding it to all low-income and not just disabled low-income people, at least) and food stamps are funded with the number of people who are expected to use the service. When you use low-income services like this, the people running the service can then mark you down and then use "we got more people using the service this year than we did last year" to ask for more funding. This also works for community clinics that get some or most of their money from private donors, who can make the same argument for the same reason.

  2. If you can't make the phone call, have someone sit next to you and dial the number and then press the phone to your ear. If you're selectively mute like I am, use text chat and someone else in the same room as a relay service. If you have phone anxiety, offer to book salon and pet care appointments for other people until you burn the phone anxiety out.

  3. Pay someone else gas money ahead of time to drive you to the appointment, and then walk you to the waiting room and sign you in. A firm hand on your elbow works wonders.

  4. Seconding this recommendation for using a workbook to get yourself over the initial hump.

  5. Most therapists will offer free initial phone or email consultations. Note your money problems upfront. If the therapist says that they can provide you help and is offering you a significant sliding scale discount out of their own pocket, it's rather harder to turn that down. Note that independently practicing therapists are basically sole proprietors and thus it is one person saying that you deserve help, rather than an agency, because you seem to be worried about agencies running out of money (though see #1).

  6. Once you are with the doctor, you can tell them you had trouble making the appointment for these reasons and need help. (If you think you may end up not saying these things aloud, write them down ahead of time and then make sure they get the paper.) Either they will prescribe you a relatively inexpensive medication or they will refer you to a different doctor or therapist. For help getting to that appointment, see #3.

  7. There is a lot of screening and paperwork involved when getting this kind of assistance. It is their job to determine whether you deserve to be helped, not yours. Even people you (probably) think do not deserve help, and/or who are costing far more than you would probably cost to treat in a lifetime, are getting help that you could at least be considered for. Be honest about how much of a problem you have with "deserving" help and they will be honest about what your chances are.

Comment by hesperidia on Reasons to believe · 2013-12-02T18:28:55.159Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with textbooks is that they are the "pink slime" of publishing. College textbooks are slightly better than grade school textbooks, in that they have slightly greater than zero market forces acting on them (not many, but some) and can assume an adult level of comprehension.

See also this paper about common misrepresentations of evolution in textbooks and science literature.

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, November 1 - 7, 2013 · 2013-12-02T04:00:36.252Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Mental process like waking up without an alarm clock at a specific time aren't easy. I know a bunch of people who have that skill but it's not like there a step by step manual that you can easily follow that gives you that ability.

I do not have "wake up at a specific time" ability, but I have trained myself to have "wake up within ~1.5 hours of the specific time" ability. I did this over a summer break in elementary school because I learned about how sleep worked and thought it would be cool. Note that you will need to have basically no sleep debt (you consistently wake up without an alarm) for this to work correctly.

The central point of this method is this: a sleep cycle (the time it takes to go from a light stage of sleep to the deeper stages of sleep and back again) is about 1.5 hours long. If I am not under stress or sleep debt, I can estimate my sleeping time to the nearest sleep cycle. Using the sleep cycle as a unit of measurement lets me partition out sleep without being especially reliant on my (in)ability to perceive time.

The way I did it is this (each step was done until I could do it reliably, which took up to a week each for me [but I was a preteen then, so it may be different for adults]):

  1. Block off approximately 2 hours (depending on how long it takes you to fall asleep), right after lunch so it has the least danger of merging with your consolidated/night sleep, and take a nap. Note how this makes you feel.

  2. Do that again, but instead of blocking off the 2 hours with an alarm clock, try doing it naturally, and awakening when it feels natural, around the 1.5h mark (repeating this because it is very important: you will need to have very little to no accumulated sleep debt for this to work). Note how this makes you feel.

  3. Do that again, but with a ~3.5-hour block. Take two 1.5 hour sleep cycle naps one after another (wake up in between).

  4. During a night's sleep, try waking up between every sleep cycle. Check this against [your sleep time in hours / 1.5h per sleep cycle] to make sure that you caught all of them.

  5. Block off a ~3.5 hour nap and try taking it as two sleep cycles without waking up in between them. (Not sure about the order with this point and the previous one. Did I do them in the opposite order? I'm reconstructing from memory here. It's probably possible to make this work in either order.)

  6. You probably know from step 4 how many sleep cycles you have in a night. Now you should be able to do things like consciously split up your sleep biphasically, or waking up a sleep cycle earlier than you usually do.

I then spent the rest of summer break with a biphasic "first/second sleep" rhythm, which disappeared once I was in school and had to wake up at specific times again.

To this day, I sleep especially lightly, must take my naps in 1.5 hour intervals, and will frequently wake up between sleep cycles (I've had to keep a clock on my nightstand since then so I can orient myself if I get woken unexpectedly by noises, because a 3:30AM waking is different from a 5AM waking, but they're at the same point on the cycle so they feel similar). I also almost always wake up 10-45 minutes before any set alarms, which would be more useful if the spread was smaller (45 minutes before I actually need to wake up seems like a waste). It's a cool skill to have, but it has its downsides.

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread, September 16-22, 2013 · 2013-09-18T07:08:53.875Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm honestly not embarrassed by this story because it's "smug and disrespectful", I'm embarrassed because the more I stare at it the more it looks like a LWy applause light (which I had not originally intended).

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread, September 16-22, 2013 · 2013-09-17T19:55:34.634Z · score: 6 (20 votes) · LW · GW

A few years ago, in my introductory psych class in college, the instructor was running through possible explanations for consciousness. He got to Roger Penrose's theory of quantum computations in the microtubules being where consciousness came from (replacing another black box with another black box, oh joy). I burst out laughing, loudly, because it was just so absurd that someone would seriously propose that, and that other scientists would even give such an explanation the time of day.

The instructor stopped midsentence, and looked at me. So did 200-odd other students.

I kept laughing.

In hindsight, I think the instructor expected more solemnity.

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread, September 9-15, 2013 · 2013-09-12T08:00:35.469Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nikon cameras in certain generations are basically racist. They don’t see certain Asian faces. They’ve got a certain software inside them that breaks what they’re supposed to be doing in this case. And in fact this reveals the limitations, but essentially, the different way of seeing. Of course the camera isn’t racist, but it’s been programmed in a certain way that is meant to emulate the way we see, just as this is meant to emulate the way we see. The camera does not have the same interests that we do. Technology has subtly different interests to the ones that we do. And this is becoming increasingly important.

Most of the rest of the article is not worth reading, unless you like reading about a movement in philosophy and art that may be eclipsing postmodernism.

Comment by hesperidia on [deleted post] 2013-09-09T19:09:15.289Z

I went to an online high school. Without going to an online high school, I would not have graduated at all. Here are some intermediate steps and questions that suggest alternative options that may be more palatable to both you and your parents:

  • Would your interests best be served by a school, or schooling, that is designed to get you through the minimum requirements with as little and as flexible work as possible, or a school, or schooling, that is designed specifically to challenge your intelligence to the very limit of its ability?
  • Would your interests be better served by an online high school program? How difficult is it to get in once you apply? Is the school you want to go to accredited? (Read about national and regional accreditation for both high schools and colleges.) If the school requires you to pay tuition, can you and your parents afford it?
  • What kind of paperwork would you need to complete to convince people who are supposed to keep you in school that you're still going to be learning? How difficult/tedious is the paperwork to complete? If you withdraw and "homeschool", will you still need to take the standardized state tests (US)? Will you have to make alternate arrangements for things like AP tests and the SAT tests because you are no longer going to your "neighborhood high school"?
  • Are you old enough to get a GED and skip straight to community college classes? How about Bard College At Simon's Rock? Are you exceptional enough that a college's admissions board would overlook your (presumed not very good) academic record and admit you anyway?
  • Can you take community college classes in place of some of your high school classes and get a dual high school diploma and Associate's degree, or get an Associate's degree in less than two years because of the credit you have already accrued in high school?
  • Would your interests better be served by psychiatric treatment, including but not limited to depression or ADHD medication?

Good luck, whatever you end up doing.

Comment by hesperidia on Open thread, September 2-8, 2013 · 2013-09-08T03:22:28.262Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  1. If you do not have a preexisting tendency for depression as a result of taking ideas seriously, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you are already a reductionist materialist, you also probably have nothing to worry about. Millions of college students have taken courses in existentialism. Almost all of them are perfectly fine. Even if they're probably pouring coffee right now.

  2. In LW terms, it may be useful to brush up on your metaethics, as such problems are usually most troublesome about these kinds of ideas in my social circle. Joy in the Merely Real may also be useful. I have no idea how your instructors will react if you cache these answers and then offer them up in class, though. I would suggest not doing that very often.

  3. In the event that the material does overwhelm you beyond your ability to cope, or prevents you from functioning, counseling services/departments on college campuses are experienced in dealing with philosophy-related depression, anxiety, etc. The use of the school counseling services should be cheap/free with payment of tuition. I strongly suggest that you make use of them if you need them. More generally, talking about the ideas you are learning about with a study group, roommate, etc. will be helpful.

  4. Eat properly. Sleep properly. Exercise. Keep up with your studying. Think about things that aren't philosophy every once in a while. Your mind will get stretched. Just take care of it properly to keep it supple and elastic. (That was a really weird metaphor.)

Comment by hesperidia on August 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-16T05:54:07.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I first read Metagame by Sam Landstrom around 2008. At the time, I was an effectively broke high school student who had decided that I liked AIVAS from the Pern series and wanted more of that, which got me pointed to science fiction, despite the school library making it impossible to tell science fiction from the literary kind by shelving them in the same place. Which meant that, by default, I ended up wandering the Internet looking for long science fiction. Metagame was, at the time, available on the author's website as full text, and I came out the other end of the novel most of a day later with my mind blown. And then I reread it...

The short version of the premise is that some sort of almost-Friendly AI has taken over the world, attached everything a human can do to a point system, and offers immortality (by brain transplant; there's no uploading, apparently) to the people who "win" the game by amassing massive point totals (keep in mind this is 2008, well before "gamification" hit mainstream thought) - but the Game also has zones and rules about how to kill people, and thus "losing" and "dying" are the same concept. Also, there are clones that are morally equivalent to "expensive pieces of furniture" and with ~95% human genetics but are clearly sentient and sapient at human-like levels. These concepts collide (sometimes awkwardly); plot ensues.

Metagame is very clearly a book written in service of its worldbuilding, rather than the other way around, and this shows as occasionally excessively "tellish" prose, occasional protagonist idiot-balls, and a general sense that the book does not actually pick up until Act/Part II (did I mention it was divided up into parts that exactly match modern interpretations of Greek three-act structure?) It is also an interesting read when interpreted as a almost-FAI weirdtopia where the original AI seed value programmers still retained the idea that human meat was special and privileged, thus preventing a) uploading and b) nonhumans with human-level intelligence from being recognized as moral agents.

Comment by hesperidia on July 2013 Media Thread · 2013-07-07T21:26:37.821Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is it acceptable to post a "someone else recommended this book, but I did not find it compelling because of these reasons" on the current thread instead of the thread on which the recommendation was originally made?

Comment by hesperidia on How to Write Deep Characters · 2013-06-24T06:48:28.974Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the reason people say they couldn't write a time travel plot is because they think about time travel for five seconds and don't come up with a plot right there.

It's rather easy to come up with plots that require backwards causality and time travel (and psychologically realistic characters, for that matter) if you devote only slightly more cognitive effort to it, such as making it into a hobby or pastime rather than a once-off throwaway thought. It looks Impressive, in the same way that memorizing an algorithm to solve a Rubik's Cube is Impressive.

Comment by hesperidia on How to Write Deep Characters · 2013-06-23T19:49:39.395Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have heard that the decline in the compelling qualities of literary fiction is due to classes in writing taught by literature professors, who know how to identify things like themes but who have no idea how to write compelling writing. Does this seem like a plausible statement to you?

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, June 16-30, 2013 · 2013-06-23T18:29:37.358Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Just after the PRISM scandal broke, Tyler Cowen offered a wonderful, wonderful tweet:

I’d heard about this for years, from “nuts,” and always assumed it was true.

There is a model of social knowledge embedded in this tweet. It implies a set of things that one believes to be true, a set of things one can admit to believing without being a “nut”, and an inconsistency between the two. Why the divergence? Oughtn’t it be true that people of integrity should simply own up to what they believe? Can a “marketplace of ideas” function without that?

It’s obvious, of course, why this divergence occurs. Will Wilkinson points to an economy of esteem, but there is also an economy of influence. There are ideas and modes of thought that are taboo in the economy of influence, assertions that discredit the asserter. Those of us who seek to matter as “thinkers” are implicitly aware of these taboos, and we navigate them mostly by avoiding or acceding to them. You can transgress a little, self-consciously and playfully, as Cowen did in his tweet. If you transgress too much, too earnestly, you are written off as a nut or worse. Conversely, there are ideas that are blessed in the economy of influence. These are markers of “seriousness”, as in Paul Krugman’s perceptive, derisive epithet “Very Serious People”. This describes “thinkers” whose positions inevitably align like iron filings to the pull of social influence, indifferent to evidence that might impinge upon their views. Most of us, with varying degrees of consciousness, are pulled this way and that, forging compromises between what we might assert in some impossible reality where we observed social facts “objectively” and the positions that our allegiances, ambitions, and taboos push us towards. Individually, there is plenty of eccentricity, plenty of noise. People go “off the reservation” all the time. But pub[l]ic intellectualizing is a collective enterprise. What matters is not what some asshole says, but the conventional wisdom we coalesce to. When the noise gets averaged out, the bias imposed by the economy of influence is hard to overcome. And the economy of influence pulls, always, in directions chosen by incumbent holders of wealth and power, by people with capacity to offer rewards and to mete out punishment.

Comment by hesperidia on The Centre for Applied Rationality: a year later from a (somewhat) outside perspective · 2013-05-31T17:07:19.603Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Jitsi is also relevant to this question, and I will concur that network effects are very frustrating.

Comment by hesperidia on The Centre for Applied Rationality: a year later from a (somewhat) outside perspective · 2013-05-31T17:05:49.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cryptocat is an OTR implementation that happens to run as a browser plugin and has developers trying to work out how to have cryptographically secure group conversations. The cross-compatibility should be high.

Comment by hesperidia on [LINK] Climate change and food security · 2013-04-14T17:36:53.938Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I heard (though I'm not entirely sure how to cite or quantify, so salt as necessary) that the weather patterns that will be inspired by climate change will tend towards extremes: either drier deserts or more damaging monsoons/hurricanes/flooding rains, not "bringing more rain to places that don't get rained on much today".

Comment by hesperidia on LW Women Submissions: On Misogyny · 2013-04-14T16:27:22.988Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Related TED talk: Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why Domestic Violence Victims Don't Leave

Comment by hesperidia on [LINK] "Scott and Scurvy": a reminder of the messiness of scientific progress · 2013-02-14T03:10:34.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for finding those; I searched for the title of the article but was unable to find previous posts about it.

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, December 16-31, 2012 · 2012-12-23T23:47:31.970Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if there's a consensus, but this sounds vaguely like the concept of "intentional communities".

Comment by hesperidia on Open Thread, December 16-31, 2012 · 2012-12-20T23:47:38.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On luminosity

With extensive observation of myself, I finally understood that familial dynamics were reinforcing maladaptive thoughts in myself that I was actively trying to remove. Thinking very carefully about what my situation would look like from someone else's perspective bolstered my suspicions that my situation was likely emotionally abusive. As such, I (with extensive assistance from my own social circles) have managed to remove myself from my childhood home.

While not necessarily useful in a carve-reality-at-the-joints sense (1), I have found the concepts of PTSD and C-PTSD to be useful, both in literature search and in understanding that many of my impairments stem from adaptation to the situation I was in (i.e. rather than from any inherent genetic/neural wiring (2) or personal failings). Furthermore, I seem to have been practicing a form of CBT on myself for years as a direct result of my luminosity practice, which has kept me far more sane and functioning than would be expected given my situation.

Incidentally: rationalist practice of believing that which is true, regardless of how comfortable you are with it (3), turns out to be very good practice for the processing and manipulation of traumatic memories. The fact that I already know I can stare into the void and not claw my eyes out makes it easier to withstand the kind of associations my own brain is generating.

While my life thus far is not full Winning as the community (4) would likely use the word, I am doing extremely well given my background and I have every reason to believe these mental habits will facilitate further recovery.

(1) But neither are most other psychiatric diagnoses.

(2) Thank the blind idiot god for adult neuroplasticity, I am in desperate need of it.

(3) I was going to talk about compartmentalization and dissociation here, but could not think of a coherent way to phrase the perceived similarity/difference.

(4) I have noted before that most of the reason that I consider myself a LW-type is because I was already practicing a form of luminosity on my own, and was extremely pleased to find that I was not alone.

Comment by hesperidia on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-02T17:37:54.945Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This explanation is clear. Thank you.

Comment by hesperidia on Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 · 2012-08-02T04:52:16.692Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What are the positive and negative effects of income inequality, not "redistributing" income, etc.?

Most of the answers I've received on this issue veer far through the line of color politics and come out the other side spray-painted with logos and other such blatant advertising that the viewpoint in question is the only reasonable one. I'd like to get a rather straighter answer.

Comment by hesperidia on The Failures of Eld Science · 2012-07-10T01:36:44.974Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a series of textbooks for grade/high school math called Art of Problem Solving that focus heavily on deriving one's own solution to the problem given evidence and maybe a hint or two. Not useful for those of us who are already out of school but could be used to train young'uns.