Comment by kenny on What are good resources for learning functional programming? · 2019-07-17T00:36:03.289Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a 'lowly practitioner' and I've only used functional programming languages a modest amount in my professional experience. Most of the other answers seem to be, mostly, focusing on newer functional programming languages, of which Haskell seems to be the 'coolest' one currently, and that's not one I've learned beyond very cursory 'skimming'.

One metric by which I'm judging this question as particularly great is that it bugs me – I'm not sure how to answer it, even 'in principle', for at least the 'what' and 'how' books. (For the 'why' book, I think SICP should be a great resource even tho it's not strictly functional programming.)

What would a good 'what' book or resource for functional programming look like? One reason I'm confused about this is that I'd expect a good 'what' resource to be specific to an individual programming language, but then would it still be a good 'what' resource for functional programming in general?

Similarly for any 'how' resource – what would one look like that isn't tied to a specific language? Or not tied to any language at all? I'm probably 'typically-minding' this, even from the perspective of an experienced programmer, but I'm struggling to think of enough 'how' material specific to functional programming to fill a book-sized resource. Working Effectively with Legacy Code is a great 'how' book (covering exactly what the title implies), but I can't think of, off the top of my head, how many 'how' questions there could be for functional programming specifically.

Comment by kenny on What are good resources for learning functional programming? · 2019-07-17T00:06:24.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I second SICP as a good 'why' book for this.

Comment by kenny on What are good resources for learning functional programming? · 2019-07-16T23:21:13.189Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Master as in 'physics' (or 'mathematics') versus 'engineering'? I'd be really surprised if the 'engineering' of functional programming wasn't well-covered by existing books. What's one main idea that you don't think could be mastered in any book? Or, if any one idea might be covered by some book, what are all the main ideas that you don't think any one book covers?

Comment by kenny on Book Review: Why Are The Prices So Damn High? · 2019-07-04T22:39:15.986Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like there are lots of other important facts about why housing is more expensive:

  • There's roughly twice as many people in the U.S. today than there were in 1950.
  • The 'cost floor', due to e.g. building codes, permitting, etc., is much higher.
  • Standards and preferences regarding sharing rooms and entire 'units' are much higher.

I suspect some significant component is in essence the Baumol effect, i.e. because lots of things are cheaper, e.g. food and clothing, people are willing and able to spend more bidding up the price of housing in particularly desirable locations.

Comment by kenny on Instead of "I'm anxious," try "I feel threatened" · 2019-07-04T18:06:46.417Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't obviously pertinent to the topics of this specific post, but the idea of chronic or frequent, and persistent, anxiety reminds me a lot of the ideas behind Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, namely that the anxiety is a strategy by which a 'protector', a cognitive and emotional part of you, is protecting one or more 'exiles', other parts that in a sense 'encapsulate' trauma.

The IFS practices seem, on their face, very different from CBT or (Buddhist) meditation traditions, but I suspect they're leveraging much of the same internal 'machinery' of the mind.

In a comment on this post you mention that you "replay the last few minutes, and usually I feel triggered again when I get to the original trigger.". That reads very much like IFS ideas about communicating with one's parts, at first protectors, e.g. a part that uses an "anxiety trance" to avoid exposing other traumatized parts to something negative, and then, with the 'explicit agreement' of the relevant protectors, the 'underlying' exiles.

Comment by kenny on Is it good practice to write questions/comments on old posts you're trying to understand? · 2019-07-04T01:01:30.406Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I really like the accepted practice of actively (if infrequently) maintaining questions and answers on Stack Overflow and the other Stack Exchange sites. It's great that people continually update them with new information, e.g. "This is unnecessary as-of version x.", and I think doing the same here is similarly awesome.

I reread a variety of online material, including the sequences, and I think it's great when I can contribute, if only in a small way, long after the material was first made available.

Comment by kenny on How much does neatly eating matter? What about other food manners? · 2019-06-24T22:09:11.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it matters very much if you're (roughly) within the 'acceptable' window for whatever social environment it is in which you find yourself.

I tend to eat in a pretty messy way

Do you get food on your clothes or parts of your body other than your mouth (or immediately around it) or hands? Do you get food on the table/surface at which you're eating? Do you get food on other nearby people? If not, you're almost certainly fine, either "in software" or any other field. You might suffer tho in fields with a relatively larger proportion of upper or upper-middle class people, but you probably already know now whether you even want to enter the relevant 'tournaments' to earn an opportunity to enter those positions (and I'm guessing you don't). If you did tho, an etiquette class might be worthwhile.

Comment by kenny on Integrating disagreeing subagents · 2019-06-24T18:58:56.294Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For cases where the equal weights are both 'positive' or 'negative', one can just 'flip a coin' (and notice any resistance to the outcome), and that's what I've tried to learn to do, particularly for relatively small weights.

But for relatively large weights or, worse, for 'opposing' weights, i.e. one 'positive' and the other 'negative', like a situation where one has to choose between escaping some large negative element but ay the cost of giving up another large positive element simultaneously, this 'akrasia' can feel very much like being (emotionally or psychically) torn in two. Often then the relevant consideration is something like a threshold, e.g. is the large negative element too negative?

Comment by kenny on Steelmanning Divination · 2019-06-24T05:23:22.439Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great post!

I think I get some kind of similar benefit just by reading a lot and from lots of different sources but would you recommend something like what you described doing with the I Ching to others as a habitual practice they should adopt?

I wonder if variations on the same thing might be similarly helpful, e.g. a service that emails you a random essay or an app that pings you to remind you to read a random LW post.

Comment by kenny on Does the Higgs-boson exist? · 2019-06-17T02:39:13.569Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't trying to attack you, or Sabine or shminux either, so I'm sorry if seemed that way to you.

I think I understand their position pretty well – all of the questions they supposedly face about whether the objects of study are 'real' or whether they 'exist' are almost certainly frustrating. Obviously all of those objects are real enough, or likely enough to exist, in the sense that a sufficient cumulative weight of evidence exists and is accepted, for it to be almost entirely uncontroversial for professional physics to study them. On one end of professional practice of their field, just studying the relevant mathematics is a perfectly accepted practice in and of itself. On the other end, there's sufficient observational evidence, especially given the corresponding (accepted) theoretical interpretations, that the study of these objects is by itself relatively mundane and unremarkable.

The annoying real/exists questions are almost certainly interpreted as critical, if not negative, judgements implying that the physicists at whom the questions are addressed are either stupid or naive, or maliciously deceptive, for believing the objects of study as being (sufficiently) real or existing. So I'd expect an almost overwhelming urge for them, the physicists, to want to avoid dealing with such questions or otherwise to be able to themselves imply or aver that such questions are stupid or naive, or even unanswerable (and thus not 'scientific', i.e. worthy of their consideration).

And I'm sure some (small) degree of ill will, on both the part of physicists and the real/exist questioners, is warranted. Asking whether the object of someone's studies are real or whether they exist is almost unavoidably derogatory. And surely some physics will turn out not to have been about or in search of anything that could reasonably be believed to be real or to exist, as has happened many times before.

Comment by kenny on Does the Higgs-boson exist? · 2019-06-15T21:36:31.963Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

These claims-to-accuracy are not beliefs in the sense that they are based on evidence and are subject to revision, and are therefore not certain.

That seems like a really tortured definition/interpretation/understanding of 'belief'. What's the motivation for that? To distinguish these "claims-to-accuracy" as different than religious belief? I'm confused why this rhetorical stance is useful or interesting given that even religious belief is based on evidence and subject to revision, and even very few religious believers claim total or complete certainty.

There may be some issues about the classification or demarcation of complex entities , but they are not necessarily the same as issues about the existence of entities.

I agree with respect to classification but not for demarcation – if it's unclear how to demarcate two entities isn't it unclear whether two entities exist (versus one or none)?

And generally, because of the seemingly inevitable issues with demarcating individual entities of a given class, it's less clear that they exist, or the reality of their existence (as entities of that class) seems less obvious, i.e. they are 'less real'.

I'm suggesting that 'is real' and 'exists' are not binary values but rather magnitudes. Unicorns seem pretty clearly 'not real' and that it is true that they 'do not exist' (and never existed). But the magnitude of their reality or non-existence is not perfectly un-real or non-existent, as even something folk tales that mention them is (very) weak evidence that they might be real or might have existed (or might still exist somewhere).

Here are two of my favorite examples of categories of entities that are somewhat unreal or less 'existential':

  • Tectonic plates
  • The species of dogs, wolves, and coyotes

For tectonic plates, it's not obvious how many exist, thus the existence of some possible plates is uncertain. Obviously the components of plates exist but, at least for some (possible) plates, it's not clear that they do exist or are 'real' – as tectonic plates.

And dogs, wolves, and coyotes can all interbreed, and produce sexually fertile offspring, and genetic evidence of existing (individual) dogs, wolves, or coyotes indicate that they are all genetically intermixed. Are those species real? Do those species exist? Surely, in general, the individual members of those species exist, but do the species themselves exist? Are those species 'real'? It seems clear to me that the 'reality' of those three species is strictly less than the reality of any members of those species.

Comment by kenny on Paper on qualitative types or degrees of knowledge, with examples from medicine? · 2019-06-15T21:14:40.634Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link!

The paper I'm thinking of is more about the differences in knowledge on the order of: (a) there's a single, cheap, known fix for your problem, so you should just do x (because we know (almost) exactly what the problem is and know how to solve it, 'mechanically'; versus (b) here's a guideline (because we don't really know what the problem is, in detail, or specifically).

I checked the comments on that post and no one seems to have linked to the paper I'm remembering. I wouldn't be surprised that it's linked in comments on another post on SSC tho as I'm pretty sure I've seen links to it on this site (or maybe Overcoming Bias, before Eliezer stopped blogging there, long ago).

Paper on qualitative types or degrees of knowledge, with examples from medicine?

2019-06-15T00:31:56.912Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Comment by kenny on Does the Higgs-boson exist? · 2019-06-15T00:19:42.254Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what conceptions of 'belief' you have in mind in the first part of your reply. Are you claiming tho that Sabine, and other physicists, as shminux claims, don't have beliefs as would be commonly understood? Even about physics, or the accuracy of the mainstream theories in that field? I admit to being confused as to exactly what point shminux, or Sabine, are trying to make tho.

I would assume that what Sabine means by belief is some combination of certainty and not being based on evidence.

I find it hard to imagine what Sabine or shminux could have in mind if what you write is true. They, apparently, would claim that the some physics theories are accurate. In what sense do those claims not correspond to beliefs, e.g. that the theories actually are accurate?

Maybe you're on to something about this whole discussion being confusing because the participants, particularly Sabine or shminux, aren't explicitly discussing degrees of certainty or amounts and strength of evidence. For example, it certainly seems completely reasonable to reply to "Do black holes exist? Are they real?" with something like "They're predicted by our best theories of physics and we have pretty strong indirect evidence of their existence, in specific places (in space-time), so we're reasonably certain that they do in fact exist and are real. For one, we've generated an image of one that's relatively nearby and all the methods we used to do so seem, as far as we can tell, to be eminently reasonable based on everything else we know (and believe to be true).".

It's not obvious that being complex or a compound makes something less real.

Sure, if by "the Higgs-boson, quarks, black holes, let alone planets, species, individual people" we 'only meant' something like a (Vast) group of quantum field excitations (or similar). But, as far as I can tell, we mean very different things by each of those different words or phrases. It seems pretty obvious to me that the 'reality' of a species is a very different thing than the reality of an individual, and neither are always clear in every situation. During speciation, it's not clear when one species has become many – so the 'reality' of the species, one or many, seems less real to me, in that specific situation anyways. Similarly, victims of brain trauma are often described as 'like another person' – that seems to clearly infringe on the 'reality' of personal identity, which seems like a pretty important component of personhood. Generally, the degree to which a concept or category is nebulous seems to match how 'real' it is, or seems.

Comment by kenny on Litany of Instrumentarski · 2019-06-14T04:35:45.364Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's 'accuracy' without 'reality'?

Comment by kenny on Does the Higgs-boson exist? · 2019-06-14T02:33:42.227Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused:

In this post she sums up beautifully what I and many physicists believe, and is vehemently opposed by the prevailing realist crowd here on LW. A few excerpts:

Look, I am a scientist. Scientists don’t deal with beliefs.

Can you point out a specific an example of "the prevailing realist crowd here on LW" or, if you don't want to unfairly single out a specific example, concoct a charitable facsimile? (The fragment "is vehemently opposed by the prevailing realist crowd here on LW" seems hostile, I'd guess due to frustration, but I'm uncertain so I'm curious as to the relevant motivations for you to use it.)

Obviously scientists deal with beliefs. You're claiming (and I believe you) that both you and "many physicists" don't believe that philosophical realism is true (or 'true') or useful (or that it's a 'wrong question'). And, presumably, you and Sabine both believe that the theory that predicts that Higgs-bosons 'exist' is the best available theory for predicting anticipated experiences.

Maybe I've been drinking the Kool-Aid David Chapman's been giving away for too long, but obviously, being something inside { reality / the universe } I have no privileged access to whether any particular beliefs are ultimately or perfectly true or that the objects of those beliefs are likewise ultimately or perfectly real. But if sure seems like we've been able to get closer and closer to true beliefs about what's real. On the gripping hand, we also seem 'doomed' to run up against the inevitable nebulosity of our beliefs.

So, I'll try to answer the questions that both you and Sabine seem to find so frustrating:

  • Does the Higgs-boson exist? – Yes, it seems to exist (i.e. to be a real particle). We have pretty strong evidence that it's been detected and the evidence strongly suggests that its properties match our predictions.
  • Do black holes exist? – Yes, they seem to exist. We've even been able to recently generate an image of one (relatively) nearby!
  • Do quarks exist? – The best theory of particle physics suggests that they do but currently we don't expect to be able to observe them 'freely', i.e. not bound within other less elementary particles, with our available tools, so the evidence of their existence is more indirect than we may otherwise hope to someday have.
  • Does time exist? – Yes, in the sense that we don't have much of an ability to understand anything without, essentially, assuming it exists, tho we do know, and have strong evidence thereof, that it's weirder than our intuitions would otherwise lead us to believe (e.g. it can 'dilate', even in ways we can precisely measure, in certain circumstances). But there are somewhat plausible ideas by which time may not be 'ontologically primitive' relative to some deeper understanding of the (observable) universe, e.g. timeless physics.
  • Do gravitational waves exist? Yes, they same to exist, and we have evidence that's consistent with their existence according to our best theories of physics.

Sabine wrote:

Look, I am a scientist. Scientists don’t deal with beliefs. They deal with data and hypotheses. Science is about knowledge and facts, not about beliefs.

That's just wrong. There is no knowledge, there are no facts, there is no data, nor hypotheses, divorced from or somehow separate from beliefs. It's a belief that facts, or knowledge about them, exist, that statements of or about them are true. Indeed, I don't know what a fact is or what knowledge could be if they were not also true. A statement of fact can be false, i.e. not true, i.e. a statement of something that is not a fact.

Sabine's last paragraph:

Here is a homework assignment: Do you think that I exist? And what do you even mean by that?

You seem to be arguing that the correct answer is no, Sabine Hossenfelder doesn't exist. I know of no theory, and definitely no mathematical framework, that predicts (specifically or even in general possibility) that she does. According to the best theories of physics there are only quantum fields and space-time. QED

Except, that's silly – of course she exists (and is real), at least as far as I can tell!

I think I may have demonstrated that I'm not in fact a philosophical realist. But I think that's wrong too. I strongly suspect that the universe (reality) is ontologically independent of my, or anyone else's, consciousness, or any ideas, beliefs, facts, or knowledge we may have with regard to it. I'm pretty sure we haven't measured or observed any such ontologically primitive elements, and I'm agnostic as to whether we (or anything else in the universe) will ever be able to do so. I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually impossible to do so. But I do believe they're real and that they exist.

As to everything else tho, e.g. the Higgs-boson, quarks, black holes, let alone planets, species, individual people – obviously those are not ontologically primitive and so the degree to which they are 'real' and 'exist' is nebulous. (Unless of course Platonic realism/idealism, or mathematicism, is true (or maybe even also true), in which case everything imaginable (and more) 'exists' and is 'real'.)

Comment by kenny on Blackmail · 2019-03-14T04:45:28.369Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a little confused about how the burden of proof ended up as it is in this discussion.

Among people generally, the burden of proof is the opposite of what you perceived it to be in this discussion. But this post was responding to a blog post claiming the arguments for legally prohibiting blackmail aren't persuasive.

But in any case, the point of the discussion is to sharpen our intuitions, or even discard then if warranted.

Comment by kenny on Building up to an Internal Family Systems model · 2019-02-20T16:17:46.294Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great post; particularly in how you narrate bouncing off of it and then building a model by which it or something like it is plausible.

I actually had the luck of having an in-person demonstration of this (IFS-style therapy) from someone in the LW/rationalist community years ago and I've been discussing it and recommending it to others ever since.

Comment by kenny on Building up to an Internal Family Systems model · 2019-02-20T15:38:11.351Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've read that book. One thing I think it's missing, if I'm remembering it correctly, is any interplay between 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' sub-agents. That seems to be a key dynamic à la perceptual control theory.

Comment by kenny on How To Use Bureaucracies · 2018-08-10T20:15:29.032Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This example does not seem to match Samo's system very closely.

You yourself wrote why it does seem, to me at least, to match Samo's system well:

this would be an abandoned and ineffective bureaucracy

Comment by kenny on Toolbox-thinking and Law-thinking · 2018-07-10T21:02:48.741Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sure; any particular Toolbox Thinker might not have 'Law Thinking' in their toolbox for one.

Comment by kenny on Toolbox-thinking and Law-thinking · 2018-07-10T20:59:30.580Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think maybe you were thinking of this bit from the post "What they don’t teach you at STEM school":

By system, I mean, roughly, a collection of related concepts and rules that can be printed in a book of less than 10kg and followed consciously. A rational system is one that is “good” in some way. There are many different conceptions of what makes a system rational. Logical consistency is one; decision-theoretic criteria can form another. The details don’t matter here, because we are going to take rationality for granted.

Flagging/reporting spam *posts*?

2018-05-23T16:14:11.515Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Comment by Kenny on [deleted post] 2018-05-23T16:07:38.398Z


Comment by kenny on The Case Against Education · 2018-05-16T18:16:50.779Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, some people have wonderfully enjoyable experiences at school and some of them even learn things. Caplan doesn't dispute that.

There's nothing wrong with, e.g. lectures, for teaching people. The main problem with education, as a 'system', is that *most* of its function is signalling, e.g. providing credentials, by which people can be sorted and ranked by employers.

How do we instill an essential curiosity early on?

This seems kinda perverse. Are you trying to brainstorms ways to instill curiosity in people that don't have any real control over what they get to learn? How would that work? There are forms of 'schooling' that aren't structured in really any similar ways to the common versions of the U.S. education system, e.g. unschooling, but they're fundamentally opposed to the idea of *instilling* curiosity. Why instill something in someone when you can just *protect* what already exists?

I think this discussion can go in two directions. The first is just an ideal model of education. Without political constraints, how do you teach someone about the world and get them to care?

Caplan, and myself, and I suspect Zvi too, would claim that the idea of teaching anyone that doesn't want to learn is (almost always) just bad. The worst part of our current system is that it's compulsory. People already care, tho maybe not about the same things you'd choose for them. Why shouldn't they learn about whatever it is they already care about?

You should read Caplan's book. He's *very* thorough and considers every point mentioned here in the comments.

Comment by kenny on The Case Against Education · 2018-05-16T18:07:18.691Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, Caplan is aware of all of the considerations you've raised. It's a good read too.

He also doesn't push "demolishing all schools" but cutting government subsidies. He's also confident that that's not going to happen. Even in the event that substantial cuts in subsidies *were* realized, he doesn't imagine *no* schools, just significantly fewer. He also 'supports' subsidized grade school (as a form of daycare). His conclusions are most directed at graduate school, college, and, to a lesser extent, high school.

And maybe it's not clear, but Caplan's book is about the benefits of education, in its current forms, being weak *relative to their costs* (e.g. other opportunities).

Comment by kenny on The Case Against Education · 2018-05-16T17:57:49.979Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are the kind of person for which school, especially schools like the one you attended, *least* fails. But that kind of person is one which least *needs* school. I'm confident you could have had much of the same experience doing anything with a group of similarly intelligent people.

I'll grant that it's possible and likely that you in fact did enjoy it.

You wrote (down-thread):

The claim is that the system is just terrible, for basically everyone, and that it would be best to just burn it down wholesale.
And that’s silly.

I think the claim *still* stands. You're an outlier. You're not a member of the set "basically everyone" and therefore hurting you or people like you to "just burn it down wholesale" is probably *still* warranted. Or are you claiming that your enjoyment of school, or anyone else's, is sufficient to justify school in *exactly* the form it takes now (and at the same cost)?

Comment by kenny on Naming the Nameless · 2018-04-20T19:07:14.295Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I feel the same way about Brooklyn and NYC that you express here about the Bay. If you ever find somewhere better to live, with suitable aesthetics of course, let me know!

Comment by kenny on Book Review: Consciousness Explained · 2018-04-05T21:27:48.403Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you haven't read his other book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, I strongly recommend you do!

Comment by kenny on A useful level distinction · 2018-03-26T23:52:44.336Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A question then for both of you – isn't the object in this case exactly one that exists in both *reality* and our map of reality? It's not obvious to me that something like this *isn't* objective and even potentially knowable. It's information, it must be stored somewhere in some kind of physical 'media', and the better it is as a working component of our map the more likely it is that it corresponds to some thing-in-reality.

Interestingly, it just occurred to me that stuff like this – 'information stuff' – is exactly the kind of thing that, to the degree it's helpful in a 'map', is something we should expect to find more or less as-is in the world itself.

Comment by kenny on Contra double crux · 2018-03-06T14:59:57.182Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't think your comment was too long, nor would it even if it was twice as long. Nor did I find it rambly. Please consider writing up portions of your thoughts whenever you can if doing so is much easier than writing up your full thoughts.

Comment by kenny on Paper Trauma · 2018-03-04T16:34:41.762Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Businesses also push this anti-paper propaganda. I'll cop to pushing an anti-paper agenda too at work, tho in my case it's because my job should be to provide them with better tools that would obviate them from needing to continually print spreadsheets to visualize whatever.

Comment by kenny on Paper Trauma · 2018-03-04T16:31:50.163Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I want to push back on text not being good for diagrams; this isn't necessarily true. Consider Markdown. It's very readable raw and almost any diagram can be represented as a tree, i.e. a list with nested lists.

Comment by kenny on Paper Trauma · 2018-03-04T16:25:49.718Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm jealous you're going to such high-quality meetings! I'd expect tho, that if I was attending meetings that generated actual details and action items, that someone would be (explicitly) responsible to email everyone in the meeting afterwords with all of the details and action items.

Comment by kenny on Paper Trauma · 2018-03-04T16:21:07.505Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Or, instead of just throwing paper away, take a photo of it with your handiest (digital) camera (probably your phone) and convert the problem of managing paper to the problem of managing (digital) photos. I often just email myself ad-hoc photos of things like this and I use Gmail for most of my email active accounts. I haven't (yet) needed to explicitly manage my Gmail storage tho.

Comment by kenny on Arbital postmortem · 2018-02-28T20:39:17.514Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sad I didn't think of it before, but hosting LW content on Arbital might just be amazing. In particular, I'd like some kind of way of keeping track of networks of related claims with community ratings and counter-claims clearly visible.

Comment by kenny on Conflict Theorists pretend to be Mistake Theorists · 2018-02-27T20:20:32.854Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[I kinda feel like I have a post in me about this, but I'll start with a comment here first.]

Aren't we all conflict theorists? Of course we're also 'mistake theorists', i.e. we all agree that there are lots of 'first-order mistakes' being made.

But Robin Hanson has been beating the X is not about Y drum now for ... decades?

David Chapman (of the site Meaningness) was the person I most remember at making me feel the emotional truth that conflict is inevitable. Any specific conflict may not be, and probably isn't. But some conflict is inevitable; if for no other reason that even our one species has such a large diversity in apparent values.

I consider it to be an open question whether there is a single set of values that human beings would agree to, even among a superintelligent version of everyone alive today (let alone alive ever). Conflict just is an inextricable aspect of existence.

We (for any particular instance of 'we') should try to win conflicts by pointing out the mistakes being made. We should also win via other means (i.e. 'politics') when the cause is sufficiently important.

Comment by kenny on "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast" · 2018-02-23T20:36:41.954Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe situations that involve (or require) 'hysterical strength' are good counter-examples to this idea.

But those situations also seem like exactly those for which one can't train anyways.

Comment by kenny on "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast" · 2018-02-23T20:31:08.771Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can think of lots of situations in which "pushing to the limit" has exactly the opposite effect, of producing maximum output, beyond the "micro level". I can't think of any situations that match what you describe. It seems like it really might be generally true that when you want maximum output right NOW, you need to first be relaxed or calm enough to be able to act fluidly ('smoothly').

Comment by kenny on Some Dynamics around Project Organization · 2018-02-09T15:23:03.016Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This was very mildly interesting but not I think suitable for the front page. Also, if you continue to post about this stuff you're going to de-anonymize yourself (to anyone that cares anyways).

Comment by kenny on Moderator's Dilemma: The Risks of Partial Intervention · 2018-02-08T19:26:46.283Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for the downvote (because I'm guessing you weren't trying to needlessly debate the specific example you mention), but it seems pretty obvious that any 'formal' policy (i.e. 'laws') will create an opportunity for 'lawyering', e.g. arguing about the definition of specific formal terms.

Comment by kenny on Superhuman Meta Process · 2018-02-02T12:34:27.971Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The "Don't write up anything on a computer that would be bad if the wrong people knew, eventually." heuristic is pretty impractical for any of your three cases too tho.

Comment by kenny on Maps vs Buttons; Nerds vs Normies · 2018-01-31T12:25:19.216Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This very much reminded me of this anecdote (which I'm pretty sure has been referenced in at least one LW post previously):

- Richard Feynman on education in Brazil

Key excerpt:

After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn’t know what anything meant. When they heard “light that is reflected from a medium with an index,” they didn’t know that it meant a material such as water. They didn’t know that the “direction of the light” is the direction in which you see something when you’re looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So if I asked, “What is Brewster’s Angle?” I’m going into the computer with the right keywords. But if I say, “Look at the water,” nothing happens – they don’t have anything under “Look at the water”!
Comment by kenny on Methods of Phenomenology · 2018-01-29T22:10:53.741Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
There’s another sense in which meditation is the practice of entering trances and other altered states of consciousness, possibly associated with spiritual experiences, and while this is interesting because it may produce qualia not otherwise generated, it’s not a phenomenological technique so much as [a source of capta](

What's "capta"?

Comment by kenny on Melting Gold, and Organizational Capacity · 2018-01-11T19:35:18.815Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The variant I most often use is: if you're not planning on arriving (to some event or meeting or whatever) early then you're almost certainly going to be late.

It's probably also worth mentioning that achieving a perfect Goldilocks equilibrium, that's stable for more than a brief period, is much harder than sustaining small, but non-zero growth (or just allowing things to fall apart naturally).

Comment by kenny on Excluding the Supernatural · 2017-04-20T23:13:19.367Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely a side point, but thanks for the info anyways!

Comment by kenny on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-04-16T23:03:35.054Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interested and have a child.

Comment by kenny on Excluding the Supernatural · 2016-12-14T20:37:59.268Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Prinicpally that its truth doesn't depend on arbitrary assumptions.

I'm still confused. If a truth doesn't depend on "arbitrary assumptions" what makes it different than an "arbitrary assumption"? If you're familiar with mathematics, what would a sketch of a 'constructive proof' of an absolute truth look or seem like?

There are any number of areas of knowledge where the axioms aren't at all obvious.

It's not clear to me how your reply is relevant. But by your own criteria, in what sense do these areas consist of 'knowledge' if there are no obvious axioms? In what sense is something known if it's not true? Do you mean knowledge in a sense that I would accept?

Regardless of the obviousness of axioms for a particular area of knowledge – doesn't an area of knowledge accept – at least implicitly – a number of axioms? It sure seems to me that, in practice, every area of knowledge simply accepts many claims as axioms because it's impossible to reason at all without assuming something. For example, every area assumes that people exist, that the relevant object(s) of study exist, that people can gather evidence somehow of the objects of study, that the universe is not arbitrary and capricious 'magic', etc.

And there's nothing distinctive about God's existence other than it's being the opposite of God's non-existence. You seem to be associating momentousness with complexity.

That's not true (ha)! Certainly God's existence is incredibly distinctive in so far that God has definite attributes and there is some correlation between those attributes and the universe we can observe. If there is no such evidence it's not clear in what sense God 'exists'.

What I've yet to glean from your comments is how 'absolute truth' is any different than 'green sound'. They're both short phrases but neither seems to refer to anything.

You haven't provided any means of distinguishing 'absolute truth' from any other kind other than claiming that the former is the complement of the latter among the set of all truths (or something similar).

The means of distinguishing them is just the kind of argument we are having now. Of course, that is not particularly algorithmic. If you are running on the implicit assumption that nothing is meaningful unless it has very precise, algorithmic truth conditions, then that could do with being made explicit.

The argument in which I've been participating is whether 'absolute truth' is coherent in principle. A means of distinguishing it from some other potential kind of 'truth' would certainly help me better understand what you seem to be trying to communicate.

The means of distinguishing them is just the kind of argument we are having now. Of course, that is not particularly algorithmic.

What's not "particularly algorithmic"? I don't think you've provided a means of distinguishing between absolute truth and other truths. Did I miss it or miss them? I'd be curious if you could offer any potential means in any form.

You haven't offered any reason to care about 'absolute truth'

I have in fact explained why the non existence of absolute truth would turn the world upside down for billions of people.

You did? You simply asserted that most people conflate 'truth' and 'absolute truth' but I disagree. For one reason, I can't distinguish between people believing something to be an 'absolute truth' and believing something to be an 'axiom'.

But let's assume that most people believe things to be 'absolutely true' and yet, somehow, someone convinces them of the non-existence of absolute truth. What exactly causes the 'world to be turned upside down' for these people? That, because they think all truth is 'absolute truth' and that they're now convinced that the latter doesn't exist that therefore nothing is true? If they think nothing is true would that also include the belief or claim that 'absolute truth does not exist'?

Consider use of arbitrary axiom in arguments with real-world implications:

Axiom1: You owe me a whole number sum greater than $99. Axiom2: You owe me a whole number sum less than $101. Conclusion: You owe me $100.

So.. do you owe me that money? Arbitrary axioms are relatively safe in mathematics, because it is abstract..they are pretty disastrous when applied to the real world.

Your entire argument seems like an attempt at a 'sophisticated' justification of radical skepticism. So I'm not sure how I can possibly accept or decline either of those axioms. On what grounds would I do so or not do so?

What you seem to be trying to sidestep tho is a number of claims or beliefs that are required for the scenario you described above to even be sensible:

  1. There is a thing 'you'.
  2. There is a thing 'me'.
  3. That there are things 'the natural numbers'.
  4. There are things 'dollars' quantified using 'natural numbers'.
  5. That the things 'you' and 'me' could possibly be related such that one of us 'owes' the other some number of 'dollars'. x. ...

Those claims, those beliefs, are what seem like required axioms. Because without assuming they're true it's not clear in what sense one can believe anything, let alone engage in written communication about something.

It's pretty clear you're acting as-if you believe I exist and that I can engage in an argument or discussion with you. It's pretty clear that there is a 'you', tho the details of your person are largely unknown to me, e.g. whether you're really a number of distinct people.

There is no "ideal philosophy student of perfect emptiness" on which 'absolute truth' could possibly be bestowed. By the way, that post to which I just linked covers all the reasons why the idea of 'absolute truth' is not even wrong.

You and I were both bootstrapped as minds with already existing 'axioms', tho really none of them are incapable of being revised or replaced.

Mathematics does not "compeltely" sidestep the Munchausen Trillema, because completely sidestrepping it would not involve a compromise nature of truth!

Okay, everything completely sidesteps the Münchhausen trilemma because it's not actually a trilemma, because there is no absolute perfect truth of which anyone is capable of knowing.

Or, nothing involves a "compromise nature of truth" – because there's only one 'truth', it's built on evidence, and it's all bootstrapped by evolution and history.

From the end of the linked post, A Priori:

Perhaps you cannot argue anything to a hypothetical debater who has not accepted Occam's Razor, just as you cannot argue anything to a rock. A mind needs a certain amount of dynamic structure to be an argument-acceptor. If a mind doesn't implement Modus Ponens, it can accept "A" and "A->B" all day long without ever producing "B". How do you justify Modus Ponens to a mind that hasn't accepted it? How do you argue a rock into becoming a mind?

Brains evolved from non-brainy matter by natural selection; they were not justified into existence by arguing with an ideal philosophy student of perfect emptiness. This does not make our judgments meaningless. A brain-engine can work correctly, producing accurate beliefs, even if it was merely built - by human hands or cumulative stochastic selection pressures - rather than argued into existence. But to be satisfied by this answer, one must see rationality in terms of engines, rather than arguments.

The Münchhausen trilemma has been around for awhile and yet truth is just as true as ever. No one is bothered by it in practice. It's an empty argument.

Comment by kenny on Excluding the Supernatural · 2016-12-05T19:50:36.204Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is the label not pejorative? Is it not intended to exclude the substance to which it refers by mockery?

No and no.

That seems unlikely. Describing something as 'game-playing' seems to be clearly implying that it's not serious, and therefore unworthy of serious consideration. How do you know it's not pejorative? Or were you merely asserting that you are not using it pejoratively?

I don't know why this would be interesting in and of itself. Assuming anything could be "true in a full-strength sense" and something was 'true in that sense', what would that mean?

Prinicpally that its truth doesn't depend on arbitrary assumptions.

I'm still confused. If a truth doesn't depend on "arbitrary assumptions" what makes it different than an "arbitrary assumption"? If you're familiar with mathematics, what would a sketch of a 'constructive proof' of an absolute truth look or seem like?

Presumably, something "true in a full-strength sense" would not depend on "arbitrary assumptions". If it depends on no other truths it seems equivalent to an axiom. Do you disagree? If you do disagree, can you help me understand how a truth like this could exist? Could you describe anything about such a truth that would be different than other truths?

I pronounce the Trilemma dissolved by virtue of the 'axiomatic argument' not being a bad method for justifying truth, actual mundane truth not 'absolute truth'.

Most people think of mundane truth as absolute truth. The relative truth offered by GPF is a rather idiosyncratic taste.

Let's ignore most people. I don't think of mundane truth as absolute truth. If you're not arguing that they're the same, what are you arguing?

I agree and I freely admit that nothing is true in an absolute sense. I don't even know what that would mean. What could possibly be true – and expressible in a language made and used by humans – "in an absolute sense"?

It's meaning is a straightforward reversal of "in a relative sense". If the one is comprehensible, so is the other.

So there's nothing else distinctive about absolute truth other than it 'not being relative'? That seems pretty uninteresting.

Of course, you might be using "I can't see what absolute truth would mean" to mean "I can't see how absolute truth can be obtained"....

Of course you might have written:

Mathematics doesn't escape the Munchausen do you justify your axioms?

but you didn't actually mean anything by it. You haven't committed to claiming that mathematics is false; just that they're not 'absolutely true'. You haven't provided any means of distinguishing 'absolute truth' from any other kind other than claiming that the former is the complement of the latter among the set of all truths (or something similar).

You haven't offered any reason to care about 'absolute truth' or any ideas about the benefits acquiring such truths would render; nor any constructive, even-minutely-specific details about how one would acquire them.

I never used the phrase "mundanely true". As I have explained, the popular notion of truth is absolute, not relative, so the Munchausen Trilemma, if irresolvable, has the momentous implication that people can't have the only kind of truth they believe in.

I'm not arguing for any popular notion of truth. I claim truth is not absolute and cannot be.

Is there anything left to discuss?

Note that my original comment to which you replied was about mathematics being reducible, not absolutely true (or otherwise).

Comment by kenny on Double Crux — A Strategy for Resolving Disagreement · 2016-12-05T19:21:56.192Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ooh, I hope you're not upset because I disagree with you! Your examples, numbered for easier reference:

  1. When there is a power disparity between the two disagreeing (e.g. arguing with cops is generally a bad idea)
  2. When you make yourself a target (see e.g. this)
  3. When it's just unnecessary (imagine two neighbours who get along quite well until they discover that one is a Trumper and one is a Clintonista)

I'm not sure what disagreement you had in mind with respect to [2]; maybe whether 'forking someone's repo' was a sexual reference?

For [1], I can think of counter-counter-examples, e.g. where a copy suspects that you've committed a crime and you know you haven't committed that crime. If you could identify a shared crux of that disagreement you might be able to provide evidence to resolve that crux and exonerate yourself (before you're arrested, or worse).

For [3], I can also think of counter-counter-examples, e.g. where because both neighbors got along well with each other before discovering their favored presidential candidates, they're inclined to be charitable towards each other and learn about why they disagree. I'm living thru something similar to this right now with someone close to me. I agree with Jess and think that discovering disagreement can be a generally positive event, regardless of the overall negative outcomes pertaining to specific disagreements.

Saying 'water is good to drink' doesn't imply 'you can't hurt or kill yourself by drinking too much water'.

Comment by kenny on Double Crux — A Strategy for Resolving Disagreement · 2016-12-05T19:12:22.038Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are parallels of getting to the crux of something in design and product discovery research. It is called Why Laddering. I have used it when trying to understand the reasons behind a particular person's problem or need. If someone starts too specific it is a great way to step back from solutions they have preconceived before knowing the real problem (or if there is even one).

In programming, we call that The XY Problem.

Comment by kenny on Excluding the Supernatural · 2016-12-05T18:56:47.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

our best physics tells us that the universe does not have Euclidean geometry

How do you know that? How could I know that? Is either of our knowledge of this 'true'?

I don't understand how we're having this conversation if we don't both consider some things true and even agree that some of the same things are true.

Again, you seem to be agreeing with the substance of GPF while rejecting the label.

Yeah, that seems to be the case. Is the label not pejorative? Is it not intended to exclude the substance to which it refers by mockery?

If it were true in a full-strength sense, that would be an example of something that has evaded the Muchausen Trilemma.

I don't know why this would be interesting in and of itself. Assuming anything could be "true in a full-strength sense" and something was 'true in that sense', what would that mean?

I think you are missing something important. The Trilemma doesn't just mean you have to choose between three methods of justification, it means you have to choose between three bad methods.

It seems like you're trying to push some kind of imagined reductio ad absurdum but I refuse to play your game! I pronounce the Trilemma dissolved by virtue of the 'axiomatic argument' not being a bad method for justifying truth, actual mundane truth not 'absolute truth'.

If you can only say that something is true relative to some arbitrary axioms, then you can't say it is true in an absolute sense.

I agree and I freely admit that nothing is true in an absolute sense. I don't even know what that would mean. What could possibly be true – and expressible in a language made and used by humans – "in an absolute sense"?

Could you explain to me what the difference would be between something that is merely 'mundanely true' and something that is 'absolutely true'?

What would be different about the world if something was 'absolutely true'? What would be different if we knew that something was 'absolutely true'? And even if something was absolutely true how could we ever trust that we could know it was 'absolutely true'?