Comment by k3nt on A Voting Puzzle, Some Political Science, and a Nerd Failure Mode · 2013-10-12T01:00:52.199Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Muchas gracias. Probably should have been able to figure that out myself.

Comment by k3nt on A Voting Puzzle, Some Political Science, and a Nerd Failure Mode · 2013-10-11T22:20:35.550Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is the Duncan Black who wrote the article cited ("On the Rationale of Group Decision-Making") the same Duncan Black who writes "" (the very liberal blog)? It seems unlikely, but how many politically interested Duncan Blacks can there really be?

Comment by k3nt on Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back · 2013-07-19T17:45:54.330Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Just a caution: using the Notes program on iphone (the default program that the iphone and ipad come with, with the little yellow and brown icon) can be dangerous. Mine seems to randomly delete notes for no known reason. I stopped using this program entirely after it happened to me once. (In my case, it may have been due to taking too many large-ish videos that were sent to my 'photostream' and overloaded it, but I'm not certain of that.)

Obviously if that's not the program you're using then disregard.

Comment by k3nt on New study on choice blindness in moral positions · 2012-09-22T19:29:23.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you read the study, they say that the "specific" questions they are asking are questions that were very salient at the time of the study. These are things that people were talking about and arguing about at the time, and were questions with real-world implications. Thus precisely not "trolley problems."

Comment by k3nt on New study on choice blindness in moral positions · 2012-09-22T19:22:32.731Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But the study said:

"The statements in condition two were picked to represent salient and important current dilemmas from Swedish media and societal debate at the time of the study."

Comment by k3nt on Identity Isn't In Specific Atoms · 2011-10-19T05:54:23.036Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Well I've finally gotten to this point in the series and I have to say how strange it is to have worked through a ton of very hairy quantum physics (which I still don't fully understand, not really, not by a long shot) ... only to have it utilized to bring down a hammer on a thoroughly stupid philosophical argument. Feels a little like using a car crusher to pop a balloon. But the ride has been enjoyable. Thanks.

Comment by k3nt on Risk-Free Bonds Aren't · 2011-08-16T22:50:31.750Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by k3nt on Consistently Inconsistent · 2011-08-06T18:16:14.179Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link. I read the free chapter. The rest of it ... $15+ for a kindle version? Seriously?

Here's a line that spoke to me, toward the end of chapter 1:

"if you like the metaphor of your mind as a government, then “you”—the part of your brain that experiences the world and feels like you’re in “control”—is better thought of as a press secretary than as the president."

For those who haven't paid attention to too many press conferences, the job of the press secretary is to be a lying sack of s**t who will justify anything done by the administration, no matter how repugnant, stupid, immoral or illegal.

Which of course does seem to be the job of our 'rational' selves, way too much of the time.

Comment by k3nt on Prospect Theory: A Framework for Understanding Cognitive Biases · 2011-07-12T05:09:38.275Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's probably an interesting point in there but I can't quite parse the text. Can you give an example?

Comment by k3nt on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2011-03-14T20:11:17.521Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Me, too.

Comment by k3nt on Make your training useful · 2011-02-15T01:05:08.030Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Let me break this down and see if I understand you.

Every ideological movement makes specific factual predictions. I think I agree with that. Conservatives will tell you that if we don't do X, disaster will result. Liberals ditto. Marxists ditto. Gun control fanatics and gun nuts ditto. OK.

Those predictions are less likely to be correct than we tend to believe (conjunction fallacy). Agreed.

So I want to agree with you here.

But I don't see how the conclusion can be correct, because being moderate (avoiding the ideologues) is also a form of political ideology that makes specific predictions. "If we continue to muddle through and ignore the ideologues on all sides, things will be more or less ok" is also a prediction, isn't it?

Comment by k3nt on Optimal Employment · 2011-02-11T05:03:10.956Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry so late on the reply.

Comment by k3nt on Optimal Employment · 2011-02-03T00:37:30.713Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

"-7.65% of your income into Social Security good luck getting that back"

The "Social Security will be eliminated before you collect any benefits" line is one of the great myths of USA politics. It's being intentionally propagated by one political party (hint: the one that voted against SS and has been fighting against it ever since.) SS's finances are in fine shape and the program can continue with minimal or no modification for many years to come.

Your link goes to a very brief piece arguing that most people don't think they will get Social Security benefits. Which is true! People have been told this so often they are starting to believei it! But that is a very different question from whether folks will actually get Social Security benefits.

Anyway I know this is only orthogonal to your main point, but I had to object. Spreading misinformation doesn't belong on a rationality blog.

Comment by k3nt on Study: Making decisions makes you tired · 2010-02-23T04:20:20.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a bit baffled. What counts as "making a choice?" Is it the same as making a decision?

Here's where my question comes from. I play poker online. Last night, in fact, for the first time ever I opened 8 different tables, and then I played at all 8 for almost 5 hours straight. My software says I played over 2,000 hands of poker. Each hand represents at least one decision, and often a series. Decision 1, fold or play this hand from this position. Decision 2, if play, raise or call. Decision 3, if still in the hand on the flop, bet/raise/call. And so on. So I probably made between 5,000 and 10,000 different decisions ("choices"?) in one evening.

The study would imply that I had massively reduced self-control after that, I assume. I went to bed pretty shortly thereafter, so I can't speak to that one way or the other.

But it would also seem to imply that I must have played very bad poker during the last hour or so -- my self-control must have been dead, and a critical part of playing good poker is self-control: folding hands that need folding can be a very difficult effort, especially when you have a good hand but your instincts are telling you it's second-best. It's so, so easy to talk yourself into a call "just to see," but that habit costs real money.

Now it's true that sometimes I do play worse poker as a session goes on, but sometimes I don't. Last night, despite playing more hands in one session than I ever have before, I don't think I fell apart toward the end.

Am I missing something very basic here? Probably so.

Can someone explain what it is? Thanks.

Comment by k3nt on Babies and Bunnies: A Caution About Evo-Psych · 2010-02-23T03:10:40.168Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My baby boy was at or near the top of all the images for cuteness for about 1 year. Or I would have said so at the time.

Comment by k3nt on You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof · 2010-02-21T05:48:12.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is all very well said. The site is clearly an attempt to argue one position on AGW, rather than to weigh the evidence that comes in. More than that, all evidence to the contrary is held to be deeply stupid and/or dishonest. The result is .... I don't quite know how to put it. But the result is disturbing. It feels like one has stumbled into a strange single-person cult.

Comment by k3nt on You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof · 2010-02-21T05:39:50.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But when will it push back at you? Before or after it has triggered a mass extinction event?

There is evidence that there have been multiple mass extinction events in the planet's history, some of which may have been caused by the earth getting too hot or too cold.

Comment by k3nt on You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not (That Particular) Proof · 2010-02-21T05:37:01.556Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe he had better things to do than hang out on your web site on your timetable?

Comment by k3nt on A survey of anti-cryonics writing · 2010-02-12T21:16:06.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know i'm a dumbass sometimes. Re-reading I found the link at the top of the page even! Sigh.

I have bookmarked the blog now.

Comment by k3nt on A survey of anti-cryonics writing · 2010-02-12T21:14:44.702Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Love love love this article! A ton of interesting questions to chew on as I wrestle with this problem.

Thanks very much for the link. I bookmarked it and will return to it.

Comment by k3nt on A survey of anti-cryonics writing · 2010-02-12T20:54:29.300Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For those of us who are relatively newcomers to the site, please provide a link to your blog. Thanks.

Comment by k3nt on Deontology for Consequentialists · 2010-02-02T03:09:55.398Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was making a silly foolish joke and didn't even think about how obviously I would be opening myself up to charges (by myself if not others) of implicit sexism. Sigh. I'm so busted.

Comment by k3nt on Deontology for Consequentialists · 2010-02-02T02:55:25.857Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I very much appreciated reading this article.

As a general comment, I think that this forum falls a bit too much into groupthink. Certain things are assumed to be correct that have not been well argued. A presumption that utilitarianism of some sort or another is the only even vaguely rational ethical stance is definitely one of them.

Not that groupthink is unusual on the internet, or worse here than elsewhere! Au contraire. But it's always great to see less of it, and to see it challenged where it shows up.

Thanks again for this, Mr. Corn.

Comment by k3nt on Deontology for Consequentialists · 2010-02-02T02:50:40.877Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

tl;dr to me indicates something you say about somebody else's post (which you didn't bother to read because you found it too long). Used w/r/t one's own post it's very confusing.

I use "Shorter me:"

for what that's worth.

Comment by k3nt on Are wireheads happy? · 2010-01-05T05:23:39.575Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link. I live in Madison and had no idea that this interesting stuff was being done here.

Comment by k3nt on Are wireheads happy? · 2010-01-05T05:21:48.665Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Agree 100%. I just played a flash game last night and then again this morning, because I "just wanted to finish it." The challenge was gone, I had it all figured out, and there was nothing left but the mopping up ... which took three hours of my life. At the end of it, I told myself, "Well, that was a waste of time." But I was also glad to have completed the task.

It's probably a very good thing that I've never tried any drug stronger than alcohol.

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-18T15:08:59.402Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do you extend this distrust of statements made about people who disagree with you on politics, to the field of religion as well? Do you expect creationist Christians to be as rational as scientific atheists who accept evolution?

Coulter is not only "conservative," she's also a creationist.

My problem with Coulter is not that she's conservative. It's that she doesn't think about issues independent of her ideology. There are those on the left who are similar.

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-18T15:08:47.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course. It's an exceedingly limited heuristic and valuable only in rare circumstances.

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-18T05:46:31.265Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I want to thank you (and Dan, below) for making me think a little more carefully about this.

I now think that the constant wrongness of Ann Coulter isn't an accident. She is an almost perfect example of a pure anti-rationalist: someone who will always and only believe things that accord with her ideology. You can predict what she will say about many issues via a simple process.

For instance, take the sentence "Muslims are bad," and apply it simplemindedly to any issue involving Muslims, and you will be able to predict her beliefs. She insists that Muslims had nothing to do with the advance of knowledge; that Islam has never been a religion of peace or tolerance; that Sirhan Sirhan was a Muslim (he wasn't). She writes: "Muslims ought to start claiming the Quran also prohibits indoor plumbing, to explain their lack of it." And on, and on.

Similarly with "liberals are bad." She believes that liberals are always wrong. Among the conclusions she draws: liberals believe in evolution, therefore evolution is false.

I don't know, it's a pretty impressive record she's got going. She will, no doubt, be right about things on occasion, by accident. But I'm starting to feel better about the reliability of my "shortcut to truth." :)

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-18T05:20:45.893Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. All that I have is a highly unscientific impression based on my own personal experiences with her. So far she's batting pretty close to 1.000 though.

The fact that the consensus of this community is contrary to Coulter's conclusion I'm counting as one more data point.

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-18T05:19:14.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh jeez you're asking a lot. Too many to count. Google her if you feel up to it.

And honestly, I don't really believe this is a serious guide to truth and falsehood. Every time I test it, it comes out right. But I can't run enough tests to know for certain.

Comment by k3nt on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-15T21:23:44.309Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No prior familiarity; thus I started with no information and no particular beliefs about their guilt or innocence either way.

The first thing I saw was that Ann Coulter is convinced that Amanda and Raffaele are guilty. I immediately moved my belief in their guilt way down. When Ann Coulter takes a strong position on a controversial issue, she is almost always wrong.

From there it was mostly downhill for the prosecution, as far as I could tell.

"Later, when a airtight alibi forced the authorities to release Lumumba, they substituted Guede as the third participant in the alleged sex game, even though he had no known connection to either Amanda or Raffaele." That's just stupid. I don't trust the Italian police, or any police, when it comes to high-profile cases. The political pressure to get a guilty verdict is strong. Then, clear evidence that their original theory of the case was wrong came in, and they didn't significantly revise the theory. Not good.

The pro-guilt side keeps promising links to the "evidence," but I'm not finding it. Very irritating.

I don't care at all that their statements were confused. "She was kept up all night, claims to have been hit, and was denied a lawyer and professional translator" -- or so says the pro-innocence site. Sounds like standard operating procedure when you want to get someone convicted, regardless of the truth.

The physical evidence is confusing. I would need to know a lot more about DNA and luminol and so on to evaluate the claims and counter-claims here.

Total time spent, 45 minutes. My conclusion is maybe 10% guilty for these two, but it's a very tentative conclusion and I know that much of it is based on my belief in Ann Coulter's wrongness ... which is the sort of appeal that shouldn't be reliable -- although based on experience it appears to be.

Comment by k3nt on Post Your Utility Function · 2009-06-28T14:51:51.773Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I embody one! I'm not sure that I don't just do whatever seems like the next thing to do at the time, based on a bunch of old habits and tendencies that I've rarely or never examined carefully.

I get up in the morning. I go to work. I come home. I spend more time reading the internets (both at work and at home) than I probably should -- on occasion I spend most of the day reading the internets, one way or another, and while I'm doing so have a vague but very real thought that I would prefer to be doing something else, and yet I continue reading the internets.

I eat more or less the same breakfast and the same lunch most days, just out of habit. Do I enjoy these meals more than other options? Almost certainly not. It's just habit, it's easy, I do it without thinking. Does this mean that I have a utility function that values what's easy and habitual over what would be enjoyable? Or does it mean that I'm not living in accord with my utility function?

In other words, is the sentence "I embody a utility function" intended to be tautological, in that by definition, any person's way of living reveals/embodies their utility function (a la "revealed preferences" in economics), or is it supposed to be something more than that, something to aspire to that many people fail at embodying?

If "I embody a utility function" is aspirational rather than tautological -- something one can fail at -- how many people reading this believe they have succeeded or are succeeding in embodying their utility function?