Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-05T23:19:36.019Z · LW · GW

It is interesting. IME in real life and in OkCupid, female self-identification as bisexual correlates quite strongly with the geek/liberal/poly/kinky meme complex (edit: mirroring your experiences, didn't read carefully enough). Out of my top matches in OkCupid, over 80% of women interested in men seem to self-report as bisexual.

However, also IME, bisexual identification usually doesn't imply being biromantic! Many of those women have had, or would like to have, sexual experiences with other women, but still may prefer men in romantic relationships almost exclusively.

FWIW, I support adding a question about romantic orientation in the next survey.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014 · 2014-12-10T21:22:57.247Z · LW · GW

But Dick posits that “the density of Jupiter is little more than that of water, and that of Saturn about the density of cork.” Jupiter, therefore, would have a gravity only twice as great as Earth’s—not so terrible in the grand scheme of things...

Well, that's kind of close. The average density of Saturn is in fact less than that of water, and the gravity at its cloudtops is only very slightly higher than at Earth's surface. Jupiter's isn't that bad, either, at ~2.5g.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes: April 2011 · 2011-04-07T17:58:43.512Z · LW · GW

Some deep hypothermia patients, however, have been successfully revived from a prolonged state of practically no brain activity whatsoever.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-04T21:23:32.908Z · LW · GW

This is how Vetinari thinks, his soul exulted. Plans can break down. You cannot plan the future. Only presumptuous fools plan. The wise man steers.

—Terry Pratchett, Making Money

Although thought by a madman in the book, there seems to be truth in this quote. People often seem to think of the future as a coherent, specific story not unlike the one woven by the brain from the past events. Unpleasant surprises happen when the real events inevitably deviate from those imagined.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Slava! · 2010-10-04T12:41:51.151Z · LW · GW

African praise songs were sung not only to kings, gods, and heroes, but to plants and animals, who obviously cannot grant anything to those who praise them.

I'm not denying the powerful psychological effect of praise in these cases, but the animistic religions of a large number of indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures do assert that plants and animals (or, more accurately, their respective spirits) have agency, and that good fortune on future h/g excursions may be ensured by respectful behaviour towards the spirits in question.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Irrationality Game · 2010-10-03T22:29:52.427Z · LW · GW

You make the "metabolism first" school of thought sound like a minority contrarian position to the mainstream "genes first" hypothesis. I was under the impression that they were simply competing hypotheses with the jury being still out on the big question. That's how they presented the issue in my astrobiology class, anyway.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Irrationality Game · 2010-10-03T20:20:17.295Z · LW · GW

That was a fascinating article. Thank you.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T12:36:13.125Z · LW · GW

Well, elves were intelligently designed to specifically be attractive to humans...

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Frugality and working from finite data · 2010-09-04T20:58:58.783Z · LW · GW

But because the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, the apparent receding velocity caused by the expansion is increasing, and, for any object distant enough, will at some point become greater than c, causing the object to disappear beyond the cosmological horizon.

This, obviously, assuming that the current theories are correct in this respect.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Kevin T. Kelly's Ockham Efficiency Theorem · 2010-08-16T16:55:31.279Z · LW · GW

Obligatory XKCD

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Taking Ideas Seriously · 2010-08-16T15:00:22.952Z · LW · GW

In the worst case scenario, with very pathological propositions.

Even though the various important satisfiability problems are known to be in NP, there are known algorithms for those problems that are polynomial-time for almost all "interesting" inputs.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Forager Anthropology · 2010-07-29T07:50:22.104Z · LW · GW

AFAIK low body fat was not an attractive trait in the Western societies before the 20th century, either.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Contrived infinite-torture scenarios: July 2010 · 2010-07-24T21:31:54.091Z · LW · GW

FWIW, one way to solve this problem would be to postulate mermaids to be marine mammals (they do have a placental umbilicus and mammaries after all in most depictions...), so their bottom part would be more akin to that of a dolphin, not a fish.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-07T09:51:26.603Z · LW · GW

Drowning Does Not Look Like Drowning

Fascinating insight against generalizing from fictional evidence in a very real life-or-death situation.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-04T09:30:53.386Z · LW · GW

A good question.

I ended up writing a longer post than I expected; originally I just thought I'd just utilize the TV Tropes summary/review by linking there.

Also, the Tropes page provides links to both of the parts, and to both the original threads (with discussion) and the cleaned-up versions (story only.) I'll edit the post to include direct links.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-03T10:46:00.365Z · LW · GW

I'm a bit surprised that nobody seems to have brought up The Salvation War yet. [ETA: direct links to first and second part]

It's a Web Original documentary-style techno-thriller, based around the premise that humans find out that a Judeo-Christian Heaven and (Dantean) Hell (and their denizens) actually exist, but it turns out there's nothing supernatural about them, just some previously-unknown/unapplied physics.

The work opens in medias res into a modern-day situation where Yahweh has finally gotten fed up with those hairless monkeys no longer being the blind obedient slaves of yore, making a Public Service Announcement that Heaven's gates are closed and Satan owns everyone's souls from now on.

When commanded to lie down and die, some actually do. The majority of humankind instead does the logical thing and unites to declare war on Heaven and Hell. Hilarity ensues.

The work is rather saturated with WarmFuzzies and AwesomeMoments appealing to the atheist/rationalist crowd, and features some very memorable characters. It's a work in progress, with the second part of the trilogy now nearing its finale.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes: July 2010 · 2010-07-03T10:21:28.525Z · LW · GW

The Salvation War Web Original trilogy is based on this premise. And boy does it makes good use of it.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-03T09:11:56.880Z · LW · GW

Priming people with scientific data that contradicts a particular established belief of theirs will actually make them question the utility of science in general. So in such a near-mode situation people actually seem to bite the bullet and avoid compartmentalization in their world-view.

From a rationality point of view, is it better to be inconsistent than consistently wrong?

There may be status effects in play, of course: reporting glaringly inconsistent views to those smarty-pants boffin types just may not seem a very good idea.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Shock Level 5: Big Worlds and Modal Realism · 2010-05-27T20:59:15.800Z · LW · GW

Could you elaborate? It seems to me that because there exists a much greater number of complex computations than there are simple computations, we should expect to find ourselves in a complex one. But this, obviously, does not seem to be the case.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Psychological Diversity of Mankind · 2010-05-16T23:13:10.788Z · LW · GW

If Oceanians consider Eur...Eastasians, their mortal enemies, unworthy of human dignity, and Eastasians regard Oceanians, their hated antagonists, as little more than maggots to be crushed, then that is not an example of psychological diversity; instead, it's two different instances of underlying psychological unity - in this case, of the universal "Us vs. Them" heuristic.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Social Coprocessor Model · 2010-05-16T22:30:11.407Z · LW · GW

Later that night...

"So... you wanna come in for a cup of tea?"

"Ummm... okay, but just a cup of tea then."

"[mock relief] Phew, and here I was afraid you were trying to get into my pants!"

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Social Coprocessor Model · 2010-05-16T21:22:48.767Z · LW · GW

Finns (disclaimer: I am one) are probably the archetypal introverts.

When a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume that:

a. he is drunk

b. he is insane

c. he is American

d. he is all of the above

-- You know you've been too long in Finland when...

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts · 2010-04-01T09:01:25.704Z · LW · GW

It's just that if Eliezer changes what he wants to believe, the color of snow won't change to reflect it.

What?! Blasphemy!

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on It's not like anything to be a bat · 2010-03-29T22:10:24.139Z · LW · GW

The probability of a randomly picked currently-living person having a Finnish nationality is less than 0.001. I observe myself being a Finn. What, if anything, should I deduce based on this piece of evidence?

The results of any line of anthropic reasoning are critically sensitive to which set of observers one chooses to use as the reference class, and it's not at all clear how to select a class that maximizes the accuracy of the results. It seems, then, that the usefulness of anthropic reasoning is limited.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Levels of communication · 2010-03-23T22:22:20.473Z · LW · GW

I suspect that many people with rationalist tendencies tend to operate primarily on the fact level and assume others to be doing so as well, which might lead to plenty of frustration.

Also, it took me a while to realize that there have been occasions on which I was consciously trying to act on the level of facts, but my subconscious was operating on the level of status and got very defensive whenever my facts were challenged.

Usually what rationalists would want to do is to move the conversation to the level of facts.

Oh boy am I guilty of this. I've been trying to mend my ways after some frustration-inducing incidents, and this taxonomy brings some welcome clarity to my thoughts on the matter. Thanks.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-16T21:21:05.154Z · LW · GW

I wouldn't class most hobbies as attempts to overcome unnecessary obstacles either -- certainly not playing a musical instrument, where the difficulties are all necessary ones.

Oh, right. Reading "unnecessary" as "artificial", the definition is indeed as good as they come. My first interpretation was somewhat different and, in retrospect, not very coherent.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-16T16:04:19.045Z · LW · GW

This is, perhaps, a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. It is true of almost all hobbies, but I wouldn't classify hobbies such as computer programming or learning to play the piano as games.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Graviton as Aether · 2010-03-08T04:06:52.626Z · LW · GW

Woah, it really seems that Verlinde's insight is gaining momentum (and citations) in the academia. There may be a full-blown paradigm shift in the making...

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: March 2010 · 2010-03-07T23:43:02.007Z · LW · GW

Warning: Your reality is out of date


There are established facts that don't change perceptibly (the boiling point of water), and there are facts that change constantly (outside temperature, time of day)

Inbetween these two intuitive categories, however, a third class of facts could be defined: facts that do change measurably, or even drastically, over human lifespans, but still so slowly that people, after first learning about them, have a tendency of dumping them into the "no-change" category unless they're actively paying attention to the field in question.

Examples of these so-called mesofacts include the total human population (6*10⁹? No, almost 7*10⁹ nowadays) and the number of exoplanets found (A hundred? Two hundred? More like four hundred and counting.)

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on The Graviton as Aether · 2010-03-05T23:35:55.427Z · LW · GW

It seems to be a common view among phycisists that SR someone else would have come up with sooner or later (probably sooner), but GR required a critical insight so rare that had Einstein not existed, we might still not have an adequate theory of gravitation.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality quotes: March 2010 · 2010-03-01T23:41:50.518Z · LW · GW

Oops. I do feel a bit embarrassed for just assuming that the strip in question was recent enough not to have been posted to last month's thread. Voted in favor of the proposed norm.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality quotes: March 2010 · 2010-03-01T18:32:23.633Z · LW · GW

You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right.


Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-23T16:50:57.827Z · LW · GW

Selection bias. Those of us (including myself) who agreed with Alicorn probably didn't feel a need to reply just to signal their agreement.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-22T20:24:08.156Z · LW · GW

Point conceded; I wrote hastily. It does seem, though, that horse meat has quite favorable cholesterol values and an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-22T18:56:04.620Z · LW · GW

Thin slices of Mettwurst, made at least partially of equine meat, are quite a popular sandwich filling in most of Central and Northern Europe. It's not uncommon for adolescent boys to tease their (usually female) horse-aficionado peers with jokes built around this fact.

(Incidentally, horse meat is apparently very high quality - high-protein, low-fat. And of course, equines - gazelles and others - were an important part of our ancestors' cuisine.)

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-22T18:19:06.101Z · LW · GW

We don't, for some memetic reason, I guess, but many cultures do. New evidence suggest that dogs were actually first domesticated for livestock purposes (but see also this).

Incidentally, returning from the South Pole, Amundsen and his team did slaughter their dogs one at a time, as they had planned to do from the beginning, and used them for feeding both themselves and the remaining dogs. Scott's expedition considered killing their trusty companions immoral (not to mention ungentlemanly), a stance that ultimately cost the lives of both the humans and their dogs.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-22T16:07:38.538Z · LW · GW

You can kill someone with a pencil.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-22T15:50:01.557Z · LW · GW

Eating one's offspring is an adaptive strategy at times of scarcity, especially for species at the r end of the selection spectrum. Of course, still more adaptive would be to eat the offspring of other, genetically-distant individuals, but for herbivores that is usually much harder to arrange.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes January 2010 · 2010-01-07T22:05:35.798Z · LW · GW

Matter flows from place to place

And momentarily comes together to be you

Some people find that thought disturbing

I find the reality thrilling

—Richard Dawkins quoted in Our Place in the Cosmos

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Open Thread: January 2010 · 2010-01-02T17:24:37.725Z · LW · GW

Well, Charles Babbage was alive back then...

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Fundamentally Flawed, or Fast and Frugal? · 2009-12-25T02:08:06.325Z · LW · GW

Surely there is a known way to play chess and go optimally (in the sense of always either winning or forcing a draw). You just search through the entire game tree, instead of a sub-tree, using the standard minimax algorithm to choose the best move each turn. This is obviously completely computationally infeasible, but possible in principle. See Solved game

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - August 2009 · 2009-08-07T19:29:07.138Z · LW · GW

There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.

-- Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - August 2009 · 2009-08-07T19:28:35.364Z · LW · GW

The trouble was that he was talking in philosophy, but they were listening in gibberish.

-- Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - August 2009 · 2009-08-07T19:27:52.485Z · LW · GW

"Now we've got a truth to die for!" "No. Men should die for lies. But the truth is too precious to die for."

-- Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Why Real Men Wear Pink · 2009-08-06T19:44:27.745Z · LW · GW

I think a lot of people don't care if their mate is fashionable after they're married?

They might still care for signaling reasons: to show off their mate, raising their status in the eyes of both sexes.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Sayeth the Girl · 2009-07-22T21:04:15.402Z · LW · GW

Please do. It deserves to be top-level.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Media bias · 2009-07-05T21:37:41.459Z · LW · GW

I'm quite sure that many people in academia just find it much easier and less time-consuming to write quick'n'dirty cue notes to themselves, then speak about the given subject for two hours at the time, than to render the same information in written form in easy-to-follow, clean language.

(Not to mention the fact that you'd probably have to do both; you're expected to lecture, after all.)

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - July 2009 · 2009-07-04T18:32:55.254Z · LW · GW

There is no concept of "evil" or "crazy" in objective reality, but there is a concept of "people". The quote reminds us that understanding human behaviour begins by accepting that people do what they do exactly because they are people -- that is, instances of a very specific mental architecture forged by blind evolution in very specific circumstances on this specific planet.

Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - July 2009 · 2009-07-03T13:04:47.876Z · LW · GW


Comment by JohannesDahlstrom on Rationality Quotes - July 2009 · 2009-07-02T22:02:28.567Z · LW · GW

The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.

-- Terry Pratchett, 'Hogfather'