Comment by james_ernest on What degree of cousins are you and I? Estimates of Consanguinity to promote feelings of kinship and empathy · 2015-05-22T03:37:01.531Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Mathematical models of most recent common ancestry hide relevant historical details. Actual human phylogenetics is considerably more sparse. For instance (ten seconds of googling):

"They conclude that the ancestors of this Aboriginal man, and possibly all Aboriginals, are of similar distance from Africans as are other Eurasians, and that at about 62,000-75,000 BP the Aboriginal ancestors split from the gene pool that gave rise to all other populations of modern humans. The authors say their study supports the model of human evolution according to which the modern Australian Aboriginal people descended from an early wave of expansion into Asia about 62,000-75,000 BP. Their data also supports the substantial population admixing and replacement of populations of the first wave by the 2nd expansion wave, predicted by this model, though a few populations are descendants of the early dispersal, such as those in Australia and the highlands of Papua New Guinea and Aeta. According to the authors this is compatible with data from mtDNA that indicate they derived from the same few founder haplogroups shared by all populations outside Africa, though all haplogroups observed in Australia are unique to this area. The data also support the the suggestion that modern Aboriginal Australians have descended from the first humans that entered Australia at least about 50,000 BP."

Which is to say, it is easy to identify pairs of population groups which have had essentially zero genetic interaction with each other for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years, despite the existence of genetic clines that link their intermediary populations over shorter timescales.

Comment by james_ernest on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-21T09:17:08.165Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Physics lawyers definitely need to exist. I would strongly like to get an injunction against the laws of thermodynamics.

Comment by james_ernest on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-21T09:07:04.968Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I drink the equivalent of 1-2 bottles of wine per week (purchasing 2-3 bottles, some will be consumed by my girlfriend), mostly medium reds (shiraz, merlot; zinfandel and chianti when I can get them), some white aromatics (riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris), mostly 1-2 glasses at a time in the evening, for the purposes of relaxation and gustatory pleasure.

Beer is not good on my digestion, and I almost totally avoid it except for particularly tasty ones (prototypically, something like a Trappistes Rochefort 10). Even the thought of swilling a six-pack is enough to cause me pain.

When drinking socially (~biweekly), it will be whisky (Scotch, neat, naturally), neat Jäger, or possibly G&T or white/black russians if I'm mixing for other people, most usually not to the point of inebriation, just to maintain a comfortable level of sociable buzz. To this end, I adopt an approach informed by control theory, and deliberately front-load my consumption to give something close to an ideal dead-beat response when convolved with my internal alcohol-processing dynamics.

My palate is fairly typical, I have a (probably conditioned) liking for the taste of alcohol, a sweet tooth that I have a System II response against, and as far as I can tell, average-to-low bitterness tolerance (the only coffee I will drink is strong espresso, but I am very sensitive to improper extraction and the associated bitterness.

Comment by james_ernest on Open Thread, Feb. 2 - Feb 8, 2015 · 2015-02-04T23:18:47.502Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hello open thread!

I am going to be in San Francisco on the 8th of February, and I will have the rest of the day to spend in town before heading onward for a work trip. It will be my first time in the US (coming from New Zealand), and I would be delighted to get in contact with some LWers.

Unsure if I should post an email or something, but do leave a comment if you know of any happenings, or are just keen to meet up.

Comment by james_ernest on Negative polyamory outcomes? · 2015-01-13T10:36:01.412Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's almost like there's something qualitatively different about the tractability of interactions between two bodies and N>2 bodies... (sorry)

One could also make an extremely laboured analogy about circumbinary orbits, and the spontaneous ejection of one party into deep space.

Comment by james_ernest on Systemic risk: a moral tale of ten insurance companies · 2014-11-21T12:20:40.968Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting question. It is clear that the probability mass in excess of the reserves is equal in both distributions, yielding identical long-run numbers of industry-defaults-per-year, however the average magnitude of the unrecoverable losses is greater in the no-diversification model.

If you assume a linear cost function for the expected losses, and take the mean of the distribution past a variable reserve level, you will find a reserve level for a unified insurance agent which has the same expected loss-cost, a lower number of absolute industry-loss events, and a lower reserve requirement than the diversified case.

My Wolfram-fu fails me, but you would want to multiply the binomial PDF (or gaussian approximation) by x, and find the integral from y to 100 (or infinity) that is equal to the diverse expected loss, 1*10/200. For binomial distributions, y will be <90, so short answer, 'yes'.

Comment by james_ernest on Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary? · 2014-11-21T06:54:01.154Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

when the Neoreactionaries aren't busy reviving obscure archaic words for their own jargon, they're using Lesswrong-style jargon

I believe the fact that neoreactionaries make frequent use of LW jargon is down to more than a founder effect.

There are multiple aspects to the LW memeplex that perform significant legwork in laying an epistemological foundation to mug intelligent social liberals with reality, which is close to the defining trait of neoreaction. To wit,

  • Physicalism, determinism, a universe Beyond the Reach of God; the universe is capable of arbitrarily deviating from wishful standards of fairness and equality, there are no cosmic attractors towards justice, humans can be effectively damned beyond redemption by biological variables outside the loci of moral agency.
  • Generalised optimisation systems; once you understand these, the leap to criticism of democracy as a massive cybernetic failure mode is almost trivial.
  • Game theory, for the public choice extension to the above.
  • A deep epistemology of taboos, which form the Dark Matter of democracy, around which our governing narratives swirl otherwise inexplicably.
  • Beliefs as constraints on expectations, versus belief as attire; this in itself is sufficient to generate enough conflict with official truth to put one far beyond the Overton window.
Comment by james_ernest on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T09:57:42.919Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Was anybody else disappointed that the Sex Role Inventory wasn't nearly as raunchy as the name suggested?

Comment by james_ernest on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-07T01:39:58.490Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This should be an acceptable hypothesis to the LW population. c.f. "I'm considering getting my facial expressions analysed, so I'll know what I'm thinking".

Comment by james_ernest on "NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1) · 2014-09-07T01:28:26.831Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is his explanation at its most explicit:

Comment by james_ernest on Jokes Thread · 2014-08-20T00:04:42.106Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think so. None of the available potential coin-states would generate an expected value of 600 heads.

p = 0.6 -> 600 expected heads is the many-trials (where each trial is 1000 flips) expected value given the prior and the result of the first flip, but this is different from the expectation of this trial, which is bimodally distributed at [1000]x0.2 and [central limit around 500]x0.8

Comment by james_ernest on The insularity critique of climate science · 2014-07-13T10:45:02.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

complex thing with lots of variables and lots of uncertainty

The whole point of digital circuitry is that this form of uncertainty is (near)eliminated and does not compound. Arbitrary complexity is manageable given this constraint.

Comment by james_ernest on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-04T06:29:38.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Consider my priors for knowledge of Bayes-fu by wise predecessors to be significantly raised.

Comment by james_ernest on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-04T06:18:56.476Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Real probabilities about the structure and properties of the cosmos, and its relation to living organisms on this planet, can be reach’d only by correlating the findings of all who have competently investigated both the subject itself, and our mental equipment for approaching and interpreting it — astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and so on. The only sensible method is that of assembling all the objective scientifick data of 1931, and forming a fresh chain of partial indications bas’d exclusively on that data and on no conceptions derived from earlier and less ample arrays of data; meanwhile testing, by the psychological knowledge of 1931, the workings and inclinations of our minds in accepting, connecting, and making deductions from data, and most particularly weeding out all tendencies to give more than equal consideration to conceptions which would never have occurred to us had we not formerly harboured provisional and capricious ideas of the universe now conclusively known to be false. It goes without saying that this realistic principle fully allows for the examination of those irrational feelings and wishes about the universe, upon which idealists so amusingly base their various dogmatick speculations.

-- H.P. Lovecraft, Selected Letters, 1932-1934.

Comment by james_ernest on Meetup : Christchurch, NZ Inaugural Meetup · 2014-04-18T01:07:27.539Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Comment by james_ernest on Open Thread, November 23-30, 2013 · 2013-11-27T00:18:39.443Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My own attempt at a limited view of moral progress has the following features:

  • Economic growth, largely driven by secular trends in technology, has resulted in greater surpluses that may be directed towards non-survival goals (c/f Yvain's "Strive/survive" theorising), some of which form the prerequisites of higher forms of civilisation, and some of which are effectively moral window-dressing.
  • As per the Cathedral hypothesis, with officially sanctioned knowledge only being related to reality through the likely perverse incentives of the consent factory, this surplus has also been directed towards orthogonal or outright maladaptive goals (in cyclical views of history, Decadence itself).
  • We no longer have to rationalise the privations of older, poorer societies. This is the sense in which linear moral progress is the most genuine (c/f CEV).
  • The interaction between the dynamics of holier-than-thou moralising and the anticipatory experience of no longer having to rationalise poverty is complicated. Examination of history reveals the drive for levelling and equalisation to be omnipresent, if not consistently exploitable.
Comment by james_ernest on Solve Psy-Kosh's non-anthropic problem · 2013-07-21T01:48:25.293Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Shouldn't the expected value be $1000 (10p)*(1-p^10) or $1000 (10p - 10p^11) ? (p now maximised at 0.7868... giving EV $7.15K)

Comment by james_ernest on Rationality Quotes April 2013 · 2013-04-23T07:17:45.284Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Somehow managed 16-8-5 versus the veteran computer, by using the articles own text as a seed "Computers mimic human reasoning by building on simple rules..." and applying a-h = rock, i-p = paper, q-z = scissors, I think this is the technique I will use against humans (I know a few people I would love to see flail against pseudo-randomness).

Comment by james_ernest on Reflection in Probabilistic Logic · 2013-03-29T00:11:01.016Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think this was how the heretic Geth got started. #generalisingfromfictionalevidence

Comment by james_ernest on Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.] · 2012-11-22T23:16:15.005Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There is an interesting diversion to be made along these lines. Nick Land, who has written up a series (The Dark Enlightenment) about Moldbug and the neo-reaction in general, has just written this, in which he posits the politically-assisted decoupling from reality as a progressive eschatology:

"The unforgivable crime is to accept that there are consequences, or results, other than those we have agreed to allow."

This meme, a seriously morbid distortion of epistemology, is common to many adaptive belief systems, but I would propose that it is more crucial to progressivism than any other.

Comment by james_ernest on Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.] · 2012-11-22T09:14:23.535Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's also worth noting that (particularly in the context of ideological assumptions about democracy that are not generally perceived to be ideological) there are many forms that bias in the media can take while not even coming close to setting off any warnings of partisan bias.

It is in the basic function of conveyance of seemingly apolitical news that the media continuously privileges the null hypothesis.

Comment by james_ernest on Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.] · 2012-11-22T03:03:10.587Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, the is/ought distinction is omnipresent in the complete Moldbug thesis, as espoused in his, uh, sequences. Hence the reformulation of politics as an amoral engineering challenge.

There's a lot of deliberately inflammatory language present, as well as a relatively high inferential distance, to which the inflammatory language mostly serves to filter the audience for, or at least a positive affect.

Translated into English, all that statement says is "Here is a presentation of classical or Austrian economics. This is not practised at large anywhere on earth today (for reasons which will be divulged elsewhere)."

Comment by james_ernest on Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.] · 2012-11-20T23:54:50.975Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that this statement was not an endorsement of libertarianism, but rather a sop to libertarian readers, based on my knowledge of his style.

Moldbug draws a clear distinction between libertarian policies, which he believes meet straightforward criteria for effectiveness and sanity, and would (not ought to, but would) be implemented by a Responsible Government (see: neocameralism), and libertarianism as a political philosophy and movement.

He identifies the fundamentally Sisyphean nature of advocacy for libertarian politics within a democracy, and also the untenable assumptions of the Rothbardian non-aggression theory of natural rights, which, barring some bizarre change in the present technological-military détente, makes the absence of a geographically-based state with a monopoly on violence equivalent to 'money on the table'.

Comment by james_ernest on Why is Mencius Moldbug so popular on Less Wrong? [Answer: He's not.] · 2012-11-20T06:14:42.061Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am also a long-time LW lurker, and this thread finally made me open an account. I've read most of the main Moldbug sequences (Cathedral/neocameralism/economics) over the past few months.

I was very pleased to find that this thread existed, particularly in the context of the phenomenon identified in that essay which coined the term 'insight porn'. I had previously expended many brain-hours pondering the nature of this set of closely affiliated ideas, and I still don't think I have entirely satisfactory answers.