Comment by Jake_NB on No One Can Exempt You From Rationality's Laws · 2021-07-12T08:14:47.706Z · LW · GW

While the general argument is valid, I'm not sure how these accusations of socially-derived rules making up traditional rationality. There were many mathematicians and scientists before Bayes was born, and they derived their beliefs from logic and evidence, not social norms. Take Galileo as an extreme and famous example. Is there any evidence behind these unflattering descriptions of traditional rationalists?

Comment by Jake_NB on Superhero Bias · 2021-06-15T09:40:06.438Z · LW · GW

This "if" embodies the decrease of risk from being part of a crowd. In a protest of 5000, 20 may be pulled in, but the leader is much more likely to be one of them than any one person in the crowd.

Comment by Jake_NB on The Virtue of Narrowness · 2021-06-02T13:48:43.889Z · LW · GW

I agree with the benefits of narrowness, but let's not forget there is a (big) drawback here: science and math are, in their core, built around generalizations. If you only ever study the single apple, or any number of apples individually, and not take the step of generalizing to all apples, or maybe all apples in a given farm, at least, you have zero predictive power. The same goes for Rationality, by the way. What good is talking about biases and Bayesianism, If I can only apply it to Frank from down the street?

I'm arrogantly confident you agree with me on this to some level, Eliezer, and just were not careful with your phrasing. But I think this is more than semantic nitpicking - there is a real, hard trade-off at play here between sticking to concrete, specific examples on which we can have all the knowledge we want, and applying ideas to as many problems as possible, to gain more predictive power and understanding of the Laws of Reality. I think a more careful formulation is to say "do not generalize irresponsibly". Don't abandon the specific examples, as they anchor you down to reality and details, but do try to find patterns and commonalities where they appear - and pinpoint them in precise, well defined, some-result-subspaces-excluding manners.

Comment by Jake_NB on Dark Side Epistemology · 2021-05-31T15:07:00.710Z · LW · GW

Eliezer also mentions it here, saying that if you're willing to lie to someone, you should be willing to slash their tires or lobotomize them. But I want to point out the Fallacy of Gray here - there are different degrees of lying, of its implications, and of the implications. I may hide the truth from my teacher about my friend cheating on a test (trying to stop the friend is a different discussion, but I would), but I wouldn't go so far as to outright violence in order to protect the secret.

Comment by Jake_NB on Of Lies and Black Swan Blowups · 2021-05-30T07:29:51.294Z · LW · GW

That would seem to make sense, but in practice you don't see too many people who set out to be liars and it didn't pan out. Unless we count criminals who received harsh punishment, but there's a whole other story there, one thing bring that they often end up imprisoned again. Overall, the percentage of ex-convicts among honest folk doesn't seem to be that high.

I think honest people usually start out as honest, since it's a culturally valued quality, and thereby don't get much experience at lying. People who lie regularly usually get more skilled (or constantly caught) at more benign lies, and don't raise the stakes to prison-order right off the bat.

Comment by Jake_NB on Reversed Stupidity Is Not Intelligence · 2021-05-21T16:53:40.893Z · LW · GW

I'm reserved as to the corollary that only winning against the strongest advocate of an idea holds ANY meaning to disprove the idea.

For one, there could be a better arguer. If there is a better advocate of the intelligence explosion than Eliezer, unlikely as they may seem, who just won't go public and keeps to private circles, would it do nothing to win against the former? Taken another step further, if it is likely there ever will be such a proponent, does that invalidate all present and past efforts?

For another, the quality of an arguer can only be made after they effect. So to have any standing on any idea, one must win against every single advocate of the opposing view. Has anyone here tried that on, say, theism?

I think it's more accurate to say that winning an argument against sub-optimal advocates of an idea doesn't give enough basis to discredit the idea reliably. Indeed, since in complicated issues there is often no advocate who can exhibit all arguments favoring a position, one cannot completely discredit the idea even after defeating the champion of advocates. This frame seems more Bayesian Rationalistic, too, as it does not deal with probabilities of 0 or 1.

Comment by Jake_NB on 0 And 1 Are Not Probabilities · 2021-05-17T08:30:13.796Z · LW · GW

I agree with this one. Without probabilities of 0 and 1, it's not merely that some proofs of theorems need to be revised, it's that probability theory simply doesn't work anymore, as its very axioms fall apart.

I can give a statement that is absolutely certain, e.g. "x is true given that x is true". It doesn't teach me much about real life experiences, but it is infinitely certain. Likewise with probability 0. Please note that the probability is assigned to the territory here, not the map.

The fact that I can't encounter these probabilities in real life has to do with my limits of sampling reality and interpreting it, being a flimsy brain, rather than the limits of probability theory.

You may not want to believe that probability theory contains 0 and 1, but like many other cases, Math doesn't care about your beliefs.

Comment by Jake_NB on Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger) · 2021-05-08T11:02:25.196Z · LW · GW

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but even in Judaism the (widely accepted) lesson is to improve as an individual, even if the overall trend is a decline. In another phrasing - the individual should try to diminish the generational degradation of virtue as much as possible. And the penance comes inevitably because we will inevitably sin SOME, because we're imperfect humans. Even so, a very real danger remains of taking this penance as a goal in its own right, and forgetting that we primarily need to improve. All that said, I enthusiastically committed to "Tsuyoku Naritai", and to be as Science rather than as Torah :)

Comment by Jake_NB on The Simple Truth · 2021-05-05T18:25:27.960Z · LW · GW

Never have I been so confused with anachronisms in methods of reasoning. The characters can't explain counting or equal quantities, but can explain the scientific method, fitness metrics, advanced demagogic methods, etc. Trial and error procedures can lead you down quite a few wrong paths if you don't understand statistics and causal relations, and it would be interesting to see how it would make the argument develop.