Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Three Worlds Decide (5/8) · 2009-02-04T01:40:00.000Z · LW · GW

I'm surprised the Super Happy People are willing to allow pre-sentient Baby Eaters to be eaten. Since they do not distinguish between DNA and synaptic activity, they might regard the process of growing a brain as a type of thought and that beings with growing brains are thus sentient.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Building Weirdtopia · 2009-01-13T07:14:31.000Z · LW · GW

Food Weirdtopia: We see the same type of taboos or enthusiasms that we see about sex in this world. The Catholic Church declares that artificial sweeteners are a perversion; there are pro-starvation articles at feministing; the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate weighs 300 pounds...

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Qualitative Strategies of Friendliness · 2008-08-31T04:56:29.000Z · LW · GW

How does a nation ensure that in several generations its government will pursue current values.

I'm reminded of the openining of Leviathan, which sounds like it's about AI, but is actually about government: "For what is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but so many wheels, giving motion to the whole body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that rational and most excellent work of Nature, man."

The things that can go wrong with an AI (behaving in accordance with the rules as written instead of the will of the designer) even resemble things that can go wrong in a legal system.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Quantum Mechanics and Personal Identity · 2008-06-12T16:48:57.000Z · LW · GW

On the other hand, the "no-cloning" theorem might imply that exact duplicates cannot be created.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Einstein's Speed · 2008-05-21T06:07:15.000Z · LW · GW

If we take a statistical analysis of the scientists who tried using Einstein's method, what percentage would have been right? Aristotle was mentioned earlier. You can make a case that Marx and Freud tried using a similar style of reasoning without much success.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Heat vs. Motion · 2008-04-01T15:46:50.000Z · LW · GW

Of course it's possible to have heat that's unrelated to molecular motion. Just consider frozen mustard or red peppers.

Question: How much of today's psychology will look to future scientists like attempts to measure the hotness of jalapeno peppers by thermometers?

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on The Allais Paradox · 2008-01-20T05:29:10.000Z · LW · GW

This may be related to the phenomenon of overconfident probability estimates. I would not be surprised to find that people who claim a 97% certainty have a real 90% probability of being right. Maybe someone who hears there's 1 chance in 34 of winning nothing interprets that as coming from an overconfident estimator whereas the 34% and 33% probabilities are taken at face value.

On the other hand, the overconfidence detector seems to stop working when faced with asserted certainty.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on The Amazing Virgin Pregnancy · 2007-12-25T21:35:00.000Z · LW · GW

One way to look at the Christmas story is to compare it to another story (Easter) in the same religion. The Easter story looks coherent even when the serial numbers are filed off. The experiment was done by C. S. Lewis, who was able to write a coherent story (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) that included a disguised version of the Easter story. As far as I know, that hasn't been done for Christmas. This makes the Christmas story look less coherent.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Guardians of the Gene Pool · 2007-12-17T15:32:12.000Z · LW · GW

There are, of course, many different future visions that could be guarded.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Guardians of the Gene Pool · 2007-12-17T05:29:30.000Z · LW · GW

The example of Communism shows that being future-oriented will not always eliminate the "Guardians of Truth" syndrome. Sometimes it will produce people who guard a specific view of the future.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Stranger Than History · 2007-09-02T02:37:59.000Z · LW · GW

It might be worthwhile to list statements about present-day society that would have seemed incredible to me at various times in the past. For example:

  1. That nobody has been to the moon since 1972.

  2. That the Soviet Union no longer exists and there has been no nuclear war. (One or the other would have been plausible but not both.)

  3. That we're still using fossil fuels on a large scale.

  4. President Ronald Reagan.

  5. That there is a major communications network that is not run by any single organization.

  6. That there would be a high-quality computer operating system based on free software.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2007-08-05T05:29:01.000Z · LW · GW

I've recently been trying to think of how to explain non-Euclidean geometry (or, what's worse, Cantorian set theory) to ancient Greek mathematicians. Is today's mathematics the same as their mathematics? After all, ancient Greek mathematics made falsifiable claims about actual measurements.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Bayesian Judo · 2007-07-31T20:35:39.000Z · LW · GW

Meanwhile, over at the next table, there was the following conversation:

"I believe science teaches us that human-caused global warming is an urgent crisis."

"You mean if it's either not a problem or can be fixed easily, it proves science is false?"

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Two More Things to Unlearn from School · 2007-07-13T03:11:35.000Z · LW · GW

One problem with a professor telling students "I may be wrong." is that many of the students will hear that as "You must be right."

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Third Alternatives for Afterlife-ism · 2007-05-08T21:20:53.000Z · LW · GW

Why would cryonics etc. be incompatible with a traditional view of an afterlife? Physical immortality is supposed to be limited to Aleph_0 years and there are much larger cardinalities.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger) · 2007-03-28T05:09:08.000Z · LW · GW

On the one hand, Judaism (and other traditional religions) accumulate experience that is post-dated to the origin of the religion. On the other hand, when parts of a traditional religion admit that experience can accumulate, the fact that change is actually possible frequently turns into a belief that change is possible at will and you eventually wind up with a "trendier-than-thou" religion.

You can compare this phenomenon to fiat currencies. Gold (or whatever the standard happens to be) might be an arbitrary sign of value, but it's a mistake to think that currency can be changed at will.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Archimedes's Chronophone · 2007-03-23T18:39:23.000Z · LW · GW

Some of Archimedes most potentially-important research involved things he regarded as trivial toys. So if we advise him to get interested in Rubik's cube...

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Just Lose Hope Already · 2007-02-25T07:55:04.000Z · LW · GW

It might make sense to ignore evidence that you are likely to fail if it is a competitive situation and the evidence comes from a rival who is likely to gain if you give up.

As far as Casey Serin was concerned, that didn't apply. The evidence came from a bank that stood to gain if he succeeded.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on Outside the Laboratory · 2007-01-21T05:06:06.000Z · LW · GW

But when it comes to the actual meat of the religion, prophets and priests follow the ancient human practice of making everything up as they go along. And they make up one rule for women under twelve, another rule for men over thirteen; one rule for the Sabbath and another rule for weekdays; one rule for science and another rule for sorcery...


I thought those rules were the outcome of competition between different factions. The factions with the better rules were more likely to win. For example, a century or two ago, part of the Jewish community decided to try ignoring the requirement to not eat shrimp etc. It looks like that isn't working very well. As far as Jews are concerned, God really does hate shrimp.

Comment by Joseph_Hertzlinger on A Fable of Science and Politics · 2006-12-26T04:45:49.000Z · LW · GW

I suspect some Greens will take a spectral analysis of cerulean, point out that it differs from standard blue paint and that there's some green in it, and argue that the sky really is green after all. A new debate might start on the proper definitions of "blue" and "green."

BTW, what happens if the sky is overcast and gray?