Saying "Everyone Is Biased" May Create Bias 2015-05-05T15:31:49.408Z
An Experiment In Social Status: Software Engineer vs. Data Science Manager 2014-07-15T20:24:22.563Z
[LINK] How Do Top Students Study? 2014-06-03T15:03:57.477Z
[LINK] Meditation Can Debias The Mind 2013-12-20T17:10:12.021Z
[LINK] What Can Internet Ads Teach Us About Persuasion? 2013-10-22T15:31:55.951Z
[LINK] Productivity Ninja: 5 Powerful Tips For Getting More Stuff Done 2013-10-16T16:45:41.940Z
[Link] Are Children Natural Bayesians? 2012-10-11T17:05:22.204Z
Yale Creates First Self-Aware Robot? 2012-09-28T17:43:27.803Z
Availability Heuristic and Getting Stranded: Stay With Your Car Or Seek Help? 2012-06-18T20:37:06.920Z
Teaching Bayesianism 2012-06-08T20:18:35.085Z
The Likelihood Ratio and the Problem of Evil 2011-12-13T16:28:25.803Z


Comment by JQuinton on When does heritable low fitness need to be explained? · 2015-06-10T17:01:49.975Z · LW · GW

Being a man greatly reduces reproductive fitness, compared to the reproductive success of women. E.g., at age 12, for example, the death rate for boys is 46 percent higher than the rate for girls. And there are probably other factors that add to less reproductive success among males besides death. Being both gay and male doesn't seem like that much of a difference.

Comment by JQuinton on Wild Moral Dilemmas · 2015-05-13T16:15:33.471Z · LW · GW

Most of the moral dilemmas I face in real life I've never read about in ethics or philosophy classes. Most of my real world experiences are more along the lines of decision theory/prisoner's dilemmas.

So for example, if someone has wronged me, what does moral philosophy say I should do? I'm not sure because I don't really know where to look or even if this question has been answered; to my knowledge it's never been addressed in any philosophy or ethics undergrad courses I took.

But from a prisoner's dilemma point of view, I have to juggle whether I should cooperate (let it slide) or defect (retaliate). If I let it slide, then I might be sending the signal that I'm a cooperate bot and future agents will think they can take advantage of me. But if I retaliate, then this might descend into an infinite loop of defect bot behavior. And from either of those nodes, I have to take into account the degree to which I cooperate or defect.

Comment by JQuinton on LW should go into mainstream academia ? · 2015-05-13T13:53:49.853Z · LW · GW

A lot of LW content is based on stuff already in academia.

Comment by JQuinton on Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015 · 2015-05-06T17:01:01.436Z · LW · GW

Here's my half-baked idea.

Since the world is becoming safer, we have less real threats to prevent general ennui and so petty status games start to take on more importance.

Comment by JQuinton on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-21T17:49:26.817Z · LW · GW

Slightly off topic, but I both program and play guitar and for the longest time I was wondering why I was getting an overwhelming feeling of the two bleeding into each other. While playing guitar, it would "feel" like I was also coding. Eventually I figured out that the common thread is probably the general task of algorithm optimization.

There's no way for me to tell if programming made me a better guitar player or vice versa.

Comment by JQuinton on [deleted post] 2015-04-10T20:39:14.385Z

It might be a more valuable use of cognitive resources to recognize where bias in general comes from.

Rote memory tasks are good for trying to, say, guess the teacher's password. But it's a lot more efficient if you know what cognitive biases feel like and correct for that feeling ahead of time. In general, anytime something just feels right, you should trust but verify. Hindsight bias feels right when we look at things that already happened. Confirmation bias feels right when we see information that confirms what we already believe. Motivated skepticism feels right when we encounter information that challenges our beliefs. It feels wrong to argue against our ingroup.

As an example of what I mean: I knew a mathematics grad student for a while. Once I asked him (because I had forgotten) what the quadratic equation was. Surely, he's in grad school for math and memorized all of that stuff right? Wrong. He didn't know, but he did know how to derive it from (I'm guessing) certain principles in math. He re-figured it out and showed it to me.

Comment by JQuinton on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-04T18:10:42.929Z · LW · GW

I think the "everybody" is really an American-centric thing. As far as I can tell, all of the New Atheist types are non-European, or who focus most of their polemics on American audiences.

I've never lived in Europe, but this was my experience growing up in the US:

  • "You don't believe in Jesus/God? I must not have raised you right"
  • "You've treated me better than all of my previous boyfriends/girlfriends, but you don't believe in Jesus so I'm breaking up with you"
  • "You're new to the area? Where did you move from? Oh, Nowhereville, Alabahoma? I'm from Otherplace, Nevexico. So what church do you go to?"
  • "How come you're not going to the prayer breakfast/luncheon?"
  • "You didn't get the job/your car broke down/lost your wallet/etc.? Don't worry, god has a plan for you"
  • "Can you believe these scientists and their evolution/global warming/sciency science talk? They'll say anything to reject god, right? My pastor says XYZ so therefore it's true"

I've lived in a lot of places in the US and in my experience the places where this sort of stuff doesn't happen are mainly large cities like NYC or San Francisco. And even then, it has to be the parts of those cities that are leaning on the more affluent side of things. It's not just a USA Bible-Belt phenomenon... I've actually never lived in or visited the Bible Belt so it must be a lot worse there.

Comment by JQuinton on ... And Everyone Loses Their Minds · 2015-01-21T21:07:03.881Z · LW · GW

Seems like the same sort of bias reference class as the status quo bias.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2015-01-02T22:53:58.506Z · LW · GW

Non-agents simply don't fit the definition of "god"

This is false. Not only does the LW wiki have a definition of "god" that is a non-agent, the study of theology points one to numerous gods that people believe in that are non-agents. There's a reason that many of the popular monotheisms refer to their god as a personal god; it stands in contrast to the heresy of a non-personal (i.e., non-agent) god.

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T17:53:13.435Z · LW · GW

Yes, when I was in high school, I would do about 20 push ups as soon as I got out of bed. After that, my heartrate is a bit too high to go back to bed. Of course, after a while the 20 push ups would get easy so I would increase the number until I was doing about 50-70.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-16T02:32:02.872Z · LW · GW

“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. … What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’”

Comment by JQuinton on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-08T20:11:57.558Z · LW · GW

Looking for some people to refute this recently hair-brained idea I came up with.

The time period from the advent of the industrial revolution to the so-called digital revolution was about 150 - 200 years. Even though computers were being used around WWII, widespread computer use didn't start to shake things up until 1990 or so. I would imagine that AI would constitute a similar fundamental shift in how we live our lives. So would it be a reasonable extrapolation to think that widespread AI would be about 150 - 200 years after the beginning of the information age?

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-11-26T18:53:14.359Z · LW · GW

I was at this entrepreneur dinner and I met Melissa, and she’s this brilliant, amazing entrepreneur. She was like, “Everyone I know wants me to write a book but I don’t have time and I’m not a good writer and publishing is this awful process … can you help me?” So, of course — I’d like to think that I’m not an elitist snob but of course I am — and I start lecturing her about hard work and writing and the writer’s life and all this shit and she rolls her fuckin’ eyes. And I’m like, “what?” and she’s like, “Are you an entrepreneur? I’m an entrepreneur, too, and in my job I have to solve problems. Can you solve my problem or are you just going to lecture me about hard work?”

Tucker Max

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014 · 2014-11-18T22:25:41.339Z · LW · GW

I think I understand what you're talking about.

I didn't get internet access until I was almost in my 20s. So I grew up with certain talents where friends/family would consistently tell me that I was the best at what I did. Nowadays, you can go to online discussion boards where people who are the best of the best in field X congregate and see just how "average" you are in that bigger pond.

Though I was good enough to get into specialized high school/colleges for that, I chose not to go that route. I'm guessing that the same sort of seeing how average I was in that larger pond where everyone is at the top of their game would have happened anyway had I gone to those specialized schools.

Comment by JQuinton on Is this dark arts and if it, is it justified? · 2014-11-17T21:32:14.890Z · LW · GW

HPMOR is something that appeals to System 1 (an engaging story/narrative) to advertize for rationality. So I don't think appealing to System 1 per se implicates you as a dark arts practicioner.

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, Nov. 10 - Nov. 16, 2014 · 2014-11-10T17:37:42.322Z · LW · GW

A friend of mine recently succumbed to using the base rate fallacy in a line of argumentation. I tried to explain that it was a base rate fallacy, but he just replied that the base rate is actually pretty high. The argument was him basically saying something equivalent to "If I had a disease that had a 1 in a million chance of survival and I survived it, it's not because I was the 1 in a million, it's because it was due to god's intervention". So I tried to point out that either his (subjective) base rate is wrong or his (subjective) conditional probability is wrong. Here's the math that I used, let me know if I did anything wrong:

Let's assume that the prior probability for aliens is 99%. The probability of surviving the disease given that aliens cured it is 100%. And of course, the probability of surviving the disease at all is 1 out of a million, or 0.0001%.

  • Pr(Aliens | Survived) = Pr(Survived | Aliens) x Pr(Aliens) / Pr(Survived)
  • Pr(Aliens | Survived) = 100% x 99% / 0.0001%
  • Pr(Aliens | Survived) = 1.00 * .99 / .000001
  • Pr(Aliens | Survived) = .99 / .000001
  • Pr(Aliens | Survived) = 990,000 or 99,000,000%

There's a 99,000,000% chance that aliens exist!! But... this is probability theory, and here probabilities can only add up to 100%. Meaning that if we end up with some result that is over 100% or under 0% something in our numbers is wrong.

The Total Probability Theorem is the denominator for Bayes Theorem. In this aliens instance, that is the probability of surviving the disease without alien intervention, which is 1 out of a million. The Total Probability Theorem, meaning 1 out of a million in this case, is also equal to Pr(Survived | Aliens) x Pr(Aliens) + Pr(Survived | Some Other Cause) x Pr(Some Other Cause):

  • 1 in a million = Pr(Survived | Aliens) x Pr(Aliens) + Pr(Survived | Some Other Cause) x Pr(Some Other Cause)
  • 0.0001% = 100% x 99% + ??? x 1%
  • 0.0001% = 99% + 1%*???

If we want to find ???, in this case it would be Pr(Survived | Some Other Cause), we need to solve for ??? just like we would in any basic algebra course to find x. In this case, our formula is 0.000001 = 0.99 + 0.01x.

If we solve for x, it is -98.999, or -9899%. Meaning that Pr(Survived | Some Other Cause) is -9899%. Again, a number that is outside the range of allowable probabilistic values. This means that there is something wrong with our input. Either the 1 in a million is wrong, the base rate of alien existence being 99% is wrong, or the 100% conditional probability that you would survive your 1 in a million disease due to alien intervention is wrong. The 1 in a million is already set, so either the base rate or conditional probabilities are wrong. And this is why that sort of "I could only have beaten the odds on this disease due to aliens" (or magic, or alternative medicine, or homeopathy, or Chthulu, or...) reasoning is wrong.

Again, remember the base rate. And you can't cheat by trying to jack up the base rate or you'll skew some other data unintentionally. Probability is like mass; it has to be conserved.

Comment by JQuinton on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-29T15:04:19.454Z · LW · GW

Took it.

This is my second year taking the survey. I wish I remembered what my answers were last year so I could see how I've changed.

Comment by JQuinton on In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war continued by other means · 2014-10-21T20:34:14.520Z · LW · GW

I don't think PvE is necessarily scientific knowledge. It's more like experience (to expound on the analogy further). While we're currently in one environment -- Earth -- it might be possible for us to explore other environments in the future. But, like the analogy proposes, it would take an enormous amount of manhours/manpower to actually reach this new content.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes October 2014 · 2014-10-21T18:18:27.492Z · LW · GW

This is a quote from memory from one of my professors in grad school:

Last quarble, the shanklefaxes ulugled the flurxurs. The flurxurs needed ulugled because they were mofoxiliating, which caused amaliaxas in the hurble-flurble. The shakletfaxes domonoxed a wokuflok who ulugles flurxurs, because wokuflok nuxioses less than iliox nuxioses.

  1. When did the shaklefaxes ulugle the flurxurs?
  2. Why did the shaklefaxes ulugle the flurxurs?
  3. Who did they get to ulugle the flurxurs?
  4. If you were the shaklefaxes, would you have your ulugled flurxurs? Why or why not?
  5. Would you domonox a wokuflok who ulugles flurxurs instead of an iliox? Why or why not?

Notice how if you only memorize things, you can reasonably answer the first three questions but not the last two. But if you actually understand things, you can answer all five. Instead of memorizing things, you will get a lot further in life if you actually understand the reasoning behind them.

Comment by JQuinton on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-15T01:14:55.879Z · LW · GW

Do you think the survey should also take into account BMI + bodyfat % if it includes fitness questions?

Comment by JQuinton on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-15T00:52:55.800Z · LW · GW

What does it mean "studied it at university"? Do you mean something like "Took econ 101 and 102 as part of gen ed requirements" or "majored in economics"?

Comment by JQuinton on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions · 2014-10-14T20:55:48.666Z · LW · GW

A random comment.

This is the first time I've seen "anti-agathics". Based on what I know of biblical Greek, I read this as something that would be like "anti-good". If I had been in charge of making up an anti-aging drug, I would have called it something like anti-presbycs (maybe that wasn't chosen because it looks too much like "presbyterian"? Presbyterian does derive from the world meaning "elder"...).

This isn't a request to change the wording if that's what people who will be taking the survey are familiar with BTW, just something I noticed. Carry on.

Comment by JQuinton on Questions on Theism · 2014-10-10T15:10:48.191Z · LW · GW

Miracle claims are on shaky epistemic grounds. How do you confirm it was a miracle and not someone being mistaken about some phenomenon? Or more likely, that they don't have enough knowledge of the physical or cognitive sciences to know whether some phenomenon is possible or miraculous?

The proper use of humility is to take into account that we are human beings and we make mistakes and we have insufficient information, so we should try to anticipate our mistakes or lack of info and correct for them in advance. Meaning that one should have the prior for "I'm a flawed human being" higher than the prior that something was a miracle. Indeed, one should always take into account alternative explanations.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes October 2014 · 2014-10-07T16:41:37.326Z · LW · GW

When I was 16, I wanted to follow in my grandfathers footsteps. I wanted to be a tradesman. I wanted to build things, and fix things, and make things with my own two hands. This was my passion, and I followed it for years. I took all the shop classes at school, and did all I could to absorb the knowledge and skill that came so easily to my granddad. Unfortunately, the handy gene skipped over me, and I became frustrated. But I remained determined to do whatever it took to become a tradesman.

One day, I brought home a sconce from woodshop that looked like a paramecium, and after a heavy sigh, my grandfather told me the truth. He explained that my life would be a lot more satisfying and productive if I got myself a different kind of toolbox. This was almost certainly the best advice I’ve ever received, but at the time, it was crushing. It felt contradictory to everything I knew about persistence, and the importance of “staying the course.” It felt like quitting. But here’s the “dirty truth,” Stephen. “Staying the course” only makes sense if you’re headed in a sensible direction. Because passion and persistence – while most often associated with success – are also essential ingredients of futility.

That’s why I would never advise anyone to “follow their passion” until I understand who they are, what they want, and why they want it. Even then, I’d be cautious. Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, “Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.”

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, September 22-28, 2014 · 2014-09-29T13:08:23.442Z · LW · GW

Modus ponens can be demonstrated to be a valid assumption by drawing up a truth table. How do you demonstrate that "people are more likely to believe true things"?

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, September 22-28, 2014 · 2014-09-26T16:09:37.342Z · LW · GW

People are more likely to believe true things

How do you know this?

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, September 22-28, 2014 · 2014-09-24T20:22:57.721Z · LW · GW

People tend not to believe things because they're true, but for some other reason.

Pr(People Believe | True) < Pr(People Believe | Some other explanation)? I would hazard to guess that the number of untrue things people have believed all throughout human history overshadows the number of things they (we) have believed that were actually true.

It's a bit of an ad hominem, but logical fallacies can be viewed as weak Bayesian evidence.

Comment by JQuinton on Overcoming Decision Anxiety · 2014-09-12T16:16:41.257Z · LW · GW

In the military, we had sort of ready-made memes for dealing with decision anxiety. In leadership schools it is taught with more seriousness, but in the field (so to say) we would just refer to it as "making a (fucking!) command decision". Since being in the military you have to be prepared for making a decision in a life or death situation, time is critically important. So it was drilled into us to make any decision if we have significant and/or crippling anxiety about the choices to be made. If a bad decision is made, so what? Suck it up and press on (another military turn of phrase). You can correct for it later.

One vivid example was when I was in charge of the military ceremony for a somewhat well publicized funeral. An airman had been killed in Afghanistan (funerals for active duty members pretty much get the full production for a funeral, like what you would see in some epic war movie). We had a plan for where everyone would be during the funeral, where and how we would carry the casket, etc. Of course, like the greatest plans of mice and, well, you know, the hearse pulled up in a place where we completely did not expect it to. This was no time to sit down patiently and redraw our plan, so I had to make a command decision and change things at the last minute to make sure it looked like we knew what we were doing.

A takeaway from this would be to give yourself a time limit for making a decision. People seem to refuse to make a decision if they have too many options; time should be factored in as a sort of 4th dimension of decision options. Paring down possible options should also include trimming the time limit to make the decision. That might make the decision process easier.

Comment by JQuinton on Anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed Cold · 2014-08-27T16:29:37.424Z · LW · GW

...and that's why anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed cold.

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-08-26T15:51:21.990Z · LW · GW

The motivating practical problem came from this question,

"guess the rule governing the following sequence" 11, 31, 41, 61, 71, 101, 131, ...

I cried, "Ah the sequence is increasing!" With pride I looked into the back of the book and found the answer "primes ending in 1".

I'm trying to zone in on what I did wrong.

If I had said instead, the sequence is a list of numbers - that would be stupider, but well inline with my previous logic.

My first attempt at explaining my mistake, was by arguing "it's an increasing sequence" was actually less plausible then the real answer, since the real answer was making a much riskier claim. I think one can argue this without contradiction (the rule is either vague or specific, not both).

I think of it in terms of making a $100 bet.

So you have the sequence S: 11, 31, 41, 61, 71, 101, 131.

A: is the "bet" (i.e. hypothesis) that the sequence is increasing by primes ending in 1. There are very few sequences (below the number 150) you can write where you have an increasing sequence of primes ending in 1, so your "bet" is to go all in.

B: is the "bet" that the sequence is increasing. But a "sequence that's increasing" spreads more of its money around so it's not a very confident bet. Why does it spread more of its money around?

If we introduced a second sequence X: 14, 32, 42, 76, 96, 110, 125

You can still see that B can account for this sequence as well, whereas A does not. So B has to at least spread its betting money between the two sequences presented A and X just in case either of those are the answer presented in the back of the book. In reality there are an untold amount of sequences that B can account for besides the two here. Meaning that B has to spread its betting money to all of those sequences if B wants to "win" by "correctly guessing" what the answer was in the back of the book. This is what makes it a bad bet; a hypothesis that is too general.

This is a simple mathematical way you can compare the two "bets" via conditional probabilities:

Pr(B | S) + Pr(B | X) + Pr(B | ??) = 1.00 and Pr(A | S) + Pr(A | X) + Pr(A | ??) = 1.00

Pr(A | S) is already all in because the A bet only fits something that looks like S. Pr(B | S) is less than all in because Pr(B | X) is also a possibility as well as any other increasing sequence of numbers, Pr(B | ???). This is a fancy way of saying that the strength of a hypothesis lies in what it can't explain, not what it can; ask not what your hypothesis predicts, but what it excludes.

Going by what each bet excludes you can see that Pr(A | ??) < Pr(B | ??), even if we don't have any hard and fast number for them. While there is a limited amount of 7 number patterns below 150 that are increasing, this is a much larger set than the amount of 7 number patterns below 150 that are increasing by primes ending in 1.

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-08-25T20:42:59.858Z · LW · GW

I'm guessing that the rule P(A & B) < P(A) is for independent variables (though it's actually more accurate to say P(A & B) <= P(A) ). If you have dependent variables, then you use Bayes Theorem to update. P(A & B) is different from P(A | B). P(A & B) <= P(A) is always true, but not so for P(A | B) viz. P(A).

This is probably an incomplete or inadequate explanation, though. I think there was a thread about this a long time ago, but I can't find it. My Google-fu is not that strong.

Comment by JQuinton on Anthropics doesn't explain why the Cold War stayed Cold · 2014-08-25T13:20:14.845Z · LW · GW

You can make an anthropic reasoning argument using any almost-wiped out ethnicity.

For example, Native Americans. Someone born to a Native American tribe is more likely to live in a world where Europe didn't successfully colonize the Americas than the current timeline. It's the same anthropic reasoning, but the problem is that it's fallacious to rest an entire argument on that one piece of evidence.

Unless I'm missing something, this version of anthropic reasoning seems to be making this argument: Pr(E | H) = Pr(H | E).

Comment by JQuinton on What is the difference between rationality and intelligence? · 2014-08-13T14:15:43.299Z · LW · GW

Using a car analogy, I would say that intelligence is how strong your engine is. Whereas rationality is driving in a way where you get to your destination efficiently and alive. Someone can have a car with a really powerful engine, but they might drive recklessly or only have the huge engine for signalling purposes while not actually using their car to get to a particular destination.

Comment by JQuinton on Open thread, July 21-27, 2014 · 2014-07-21T21:34:31.771Z · LW · GW

Question about Bayesian updates.

Say Jane goes to get a cancer screening. 5% prior of having cancer, the machine has a success rate of 80% and a false positive rate of 9%. Jane gets a positive on the test and so she now has a ~30% chance of having cancer.

Jane goes to get a second opinion across the country. A second cancer screening (same success/false positive rates) says she doesn't have cancer. What is her probability for having cancer now?

Comment by JQuinton on Bragging Thread, July 2014 · 2014-07-14T17:00:08.987Z · LW · GW

I made a heavy metal cover of the final boss' theme from the arcade version of Strider

I've submitted it to the OCRemix webpage so hopefully it will get accepted sometime this... year?

I was also noodling around with Java and made a Bayes Theorem ex jar with neat little slidy-bars.

I've also started a Master's program in Compsci.

Comment by JQuinton on How do you notice when you are ignorant of necessary alternative hypotheses? · 2014-06-24T21:43:38.527Z · LW · GW

You should probably be skeptical when presented with binary hypotheses (either by someone else or by default). Say in this example that H1 is "emergence". The alternative for H1 isn't "mind-stuff" but simply ~H1. This includes the possibility of "mind-stuff" but also any alternatives to both emergence and mindstuff. Maybe a good rule to follow would be to assume and account for your ignorance from the beginning instead of trying to notice it.

One way to make this explicit might be to always have at least three hypotheses: One in favor, one for an alternative, and a catchall for ignorance; the catchall reflecting the little that you know about the subject. The less you know about the subject, the larger your bucket.

Maybe in this case, your ignorance allocation (i.e. prior probability for ignorance) is 50%. This would leave 50% to share between the emergence hypothesis and the mindstuff hypothesis. I personally think that the mindstuff hypothesis is pretty close to zero, so the remainder would be in favor of emergence, even if it's wrong. In this case, "emergence" is asserted to be a non-explanation, but this could probably be demonstrated in some way, like sharing likelihood ratios; that might even show that "mindstuff" is an equally vapid explanation for consciousness.

Comment by JQuinton on Questioning and Respect · 2014-06-10T16:14:30.773Z · LW · GW

Yes, "Tell me more" is certainly more effective than saying something like "I don't think that's true". Even if you don't think it's true, following a Socractic dialog will probably be more useful at uncovering untruth without being overtly offensive.

Comment by JQuinton on [meta] Policy for dealing with users suspected/guilty of mass-downvote harassment? · 2014-06-06T20:55:10.120Z · LW · GW

I suggested in another thread that successive downvotes on (1) one person's account (2) over a certain number of downvotes (3) within a set period of time should prompt the system to tell the user that they have to sacrifice personal karma until (x) days later in order to use up/downvotes.

Something like this is already in place, where a person has to sacrifice karma in order to comment on a post that itself is below a certain karma threshold.

Comment by JQuinton on AI is Software is AI · 2014-06-04T14:51:09.803Z · LW · GW

We don't judge dogs only by how human they are

No, but we do judge dogs by how intelligent they are. And there are certain dogs that are more intelligent than others. Intelligence != human intelligence. Furthermore, most software only interacts with other software/hardware/firmware. To the extent that it interacts with meatspace that interaction is mediated by a person. AI would be software that interacts efficiently with meatspace directly without human intervention.

If AI is software is AI, then human intelligence is DNA is human intelligence. An obvious non-sequitur.

Comment by JQuinton on [LINK] Utilitarian self-driving cars? · 2014-05-14T21:32:54.297Z · LW · GW

I wonder if they're actually using a utility function as in [probability * utility] or just going with [aim for safe car > unsafe car] unilaterally regardless of the likelihood of crashing into either. E.g., treating a 1% chance of crashing into the safe car and a 80% chance of crashing into the unsafe car as equal to 99% chance of crashing into the safe car and a .05% chance of crashing into the unsafe car; choosing in both cases to crash into the safe car.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-14T17:03:25.078Z · LW · GW

I would think that believing Jesus didn't exist would be just as absurd as thinking that all or almost all of the events in the Gospels literally happened. Yet the latter make up a significant number of practicing Biblical scholars. And for the majority of Biblical scholars who don't think the Gospels are almost literally true, still have a form of Jesus-worship going on as they are practicing Christians. It would be hard to think that Jesus both came back from the dead and also didn't exist; meaning that it would be very hard to remain a Christian while also claiming that Jesus didn't exist, and most Biblical scholars were Christians before they were scholars.

The field both is biased in a non-academic way against one extreme position while giving cover and legitimacy to the opposite extreme position.

Comment by JQuinton on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-14T16:29:14.542Z · LW · GW

Yes, either X happens or X doesn't happen. P(X) + P(~X) = 1, so therefore P(X | A) + P(~X | A) = 1. Both formulations are stating the probability of X. But one is adjusting for the probability of X given A; so either X given A happens or X given A doesn't happen (which is P(~X | A) not P(X | ~A)).

Comment by JQuinton on What do rationalists think about the afterlife? · 2014-05-14T13:40:09.644Z · LW · GW

And finally, since we have no data, what can we say about the likelihood of our consciousness returning/remaining after we die? I would say the chances are 50/50. For something you have no data on, any outcome is equally likely

I don't think that's true. It's not that we have no data; we still have prior probability. And with that, all of our background knowledge that goes into that prior which function as data. Theories aren't argued in isolation!

Think about how many things need to be true in order for consciousness to "return" after we die, and if any of those things are false then the entire model fails (this is why Occam's Razor is a useful heuristic) Where does it go after we die? How does it get there? What contains it? What is the energy source for this non-bodied consciousness? How does this fit in with our current understanding of physics like laws of thermodynamics (most people who posit non-bodied consciousness unwittingly propose that consciousness is a perpetual motion machine)? Is it even accurate to call it "consciousness" if it cannot receive any sensory input? In other words, we need ears to hear, eyes to see, etc. but this consciousness would be without the brain structure necessary to process vibrations in the air into what we know as "sound". Is this model of consciousness specific to humans or to any of the higher primates (or even other intelligent species like dolphins or elephants), and why?

On the other hand, we don't need to suggest other laws of physics / theory of evolution for our current model of consciousness, and it has a satisfactory answer for all of the questions I asked above. So Occam's Razor is the mode of thought until we actually get more evidence in the non-bodied consciousness direction.

Comment by JQuinton on Meetup : Montreal - How to be charismatic · 2014-05-13T18:21:29.541Z · LW · GW

I did a lot of research into this for my youtube channel

Where is your YouTube channel? I'd be interested in looking at the charisma stuff you've posted.

Comment by JQuinton on Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014 · 2014-05-13T18:15:21.849Z · LW · GW

If you ask her a direct question, I would take into account that this would more than likely engage her press secretary and might not get the logical answer you are looking for.

Comment by JQuinton on Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014 · 2014-05-13T13:57:57.452Z · LW · GW

If it were me, I would just assume she was lightheartedly teasing. If that's the case, the course of action would be to tease back, but also in a lighthearted way. Either that, or reply with an extremely exaggerated form of self-deprecation; agree with her teasing but in a way that exaggerates the original intent. Even if that's not the case, and she's being vindictive, I think responding as though she were teasing would be ideal anyway.


"I tripped and almost fell on you. Oh but you would be happy if I accidentally fell on you, right?" (tease back): "Clumsy people don't really do it for me" (exaggerate): "That's because I have never had a woman touch me before in my life"

"Oh no, you're going to need a triple X size." (tease back): "I think you just like saying 'triple X'. Get your mind out of the gutter, thanks" (exaggerate): "I'm going to cry myself to sleep over my size tonight "

If she laughs and/or plays along with these responses, she's probably just teasing. If she gets even more cruel in her response, then she's probably being intentionally vindictive.

Comment by JQuinton on Questions to ask theist philosophers? I will soon be speaking with several · 2014-04-29T15:52:41.650Z · LW · GW

You can probably ask them a variant of the Monday/Tuesday game, but for different religious traditions.

Comment by JQuinton on How do you approach the problem of social discovery? · 2014-04-23T12:57:10.748Z · LW · GW

I would like to go to a meetup, but I'm usually out of town on the weekends. One of these days, I'll make it out :)

I usually go to the dances in Baltimore on either Monday or Friday night, and head to DC to dance blues on Wednesday or Thursday. Every now and then I've gone to the swing dance in DC on Tuesday nights (I think that's the one on U. St. called Jam Cellar). There's actually a really big swing dance event this weekend in DC so I'll be around for that.

Comment by JQuinton on How do you approach the problem of social discovery? · 2014-04-22T16:39:09.519Z · LW · GW

Probably not. I used up a lot of my vacation time due to all of the snow earlier this year and I'm going to Brazil next week. I'm attempting to save up some vacation days in time for an exchange in Germany in the fall.

Comment by JQuinton on How do you approach the problem of social discovery? · 2014-04-22T04:13:24.237Z · LW · GW

I'm part of the swing and blues dance scene in the Baltimore/DC area. There are a lot of nerdy/intellectual types in this scene so there's really no shortage of finding intelligent people to talk to. And the people I know who fit that type isn't limited to Baltimore/DC; I travel around a lot for dancing (Las Vegas, Montreal, London, etc.) and a lot of the same type of people are in the scene internationally.

I've been doing this for about 10 years so I'm also somewhat well connected. There's almost always some dance party to go to on the weekend in some city that I can drive to.