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Comment by lordtc on Q&A with Harpending and Cochran · 2010-05-22T03:34:13.266Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It could also be communications.

Many high intelligence situations involve disorders that also have as an effect anti-social behavior. Academia is highly geared against this in some cases going so far as to evaluate people's chances for success in a PhD based on their ability to form working relationships with a peer group during their MSc. Travel is easier and correspondence is far more personal.

Would the mathematicians of the past have been as interested in this model? Perhaps some of them were the type of people that were happy to correspond by mail but found communicating face to face awkward. This wasn't a big barrier to success in the past, but it is very difficult in modern academia (particularly with most positions in most fields being teaching + research).

Comment by lordtc on Q&A with Harpending and Cochran · 2010-05-22T03:27:08.225Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think education not becoming harder in the earlier grades is a strong misnomer. My parents did punctuation symbols in their grade 5 curriculum, I did it in grade 3, It's currently done in Kindergarten or Grade 1, and many other topics have similar track records.

As for high school math programs, many parts of the world have had a shift from a 13 grade program to a 12 grade program which compresses a lot of material.

I think a bigger factor may be we are better at recognizing and marketing talent. The kids who find high school mathematics a complete joke in grade 8 are getting scholarships elsewhere.

Many of my peers in undergraduate mathematics had done work with a professor at a university in their home city during their high school years, a sizable number had private school scholarships based on their talents. So perhaps these individuals are seldom present in ordinary standard math programs.

Comment by lordtc on Blue- and Yellow-Tinted Choices · 2010-05-21T04:20:49.057Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you tilt your head sideways and look at the top faces simultaneously from below the plane of the top face you'll see that they are the same color (a very dark grey).

Comment by lordtc on What is bunk? · 2010-05-09T21:24:38.842Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/three-myths-about-scientific-peer-review/

is a post that I find relevant.

Peer-Review is about low hanging branches, the stuff supported by enough evidence already that writing about it can be done easily by sourcing extensive support from prior work.

As for the damage of ignoring correct contrarians, there was a nobel prize in economics awarded for a paper on markets with asymmetric information which a reviewer rejected with a comment like "If this is correct then all of economics is wrong".

There is also the story of someone who failed to get a PhD for their work presenting it on multiple seperate occasions, the last of which Einstein was in the room and said it was correct (and it was).

Comment by lordtc on Human values differ as much as values can differ · 2010-05-05T20:14:35.783Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"You may argue that the extremely wealthy and famous don't represent the desires of ordinary humans. I say the opposite: Non-wealthy, non-famous people, being more constrained by need and by social convention, and having no hope of ever attaining their desires, don't represent, or even allow themselves to acknowledge, the actual desires of humans."

I have a huge problem with this statement. This is taking one subset of the population where you can measure what they value by their actions, and saying without evidence that they represent the general population whom you can't measure because resources limit the ability of their actions to reflect their values.

You are assuming that the experience of being rich or being famous doesn't change ones values.

I suspect that the value of reclusion for instance is a direct result of being so famous that one is hounded in public, and that a relatively unknown middle class male wouldn't place near as much value on it.

Comment by lordtc on But Somebody Would Have Noticed · 2010-05-05T20:07:21.398Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agree, my previous post was very sloppy.

Often was a stretch and much of the factual information is a little off.

I guess my experience taking lower level complexity courses with people who don't do theory means what I often hear are statements by people who consider themselves computer scientist that you think no computer scientist would make.

I upvoted your post because I'm glad for the correction and read up about the problem after you made it.

Comment by lordtc on But Somebody Would Have Noticed · 2010-05-05T19:32:52.163Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Except this is an attitude that discourages people from working on a lot of problems and occasionally its proven wrong.

You could often here computer scientists being sloppy about the whole Prime Factorization is NP-hard argument with statements like "If NP is not equal to P one can't determine if a number is prime or not in polynomial time." And stuff like this is probably one of the more famous examples of things people are discouraged from working on based on "Somebody would have noticed by now".

Guess what, this was shown to be doable, and it shocked people when it came out.

Comment by lordtc on The Absent-Minded Driver · 2010-05-05T17:33:12.851Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

They really ought to be, what's the rational value in putting the time and effort into chess to become a world champion at it.

I played it semi-seriously when I was young, but gave it up when in order to get to the next level I'd have to study more than play. Most of the people I know who were good at a competitive intellectual game dropped out of school to pursue it, because they couldn't handle studying at that level for both.

I find it rather difficult to believe that pursuing chess over school is the rationally optimal choice, so I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find that those who get to that level are irrational or superstitious when it comes to non-chess problems.

Comment by lordtc on The Absent-Minded Driver · 2010-05-05T17:23:11.289Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The UBC is able to do a non-profit elections prediction market, and it generally does better than the average of the top 5 pollsters.

The popular vote market is you pay $1 for 1 share of CON, LIB, NDP, Green, Other, and you can trade shares like a stockmarket.

The ending payout is $1 * % of popular vote that group gets.

There are other markets such as a seat market, and a majority market.

The majority market pays 50/50 if no majority is reached, and 100/0 otherwise, which makes it pretty awkward in some respects. Generally predicting a minority government the most profitable action is to try and trade for shares of the loser. This is probably the main reason its restricted to the two parties with a chance of winning one if it were the same 5 way system, trading LIB and CON for GREEN, OTHER and NDP to exploit a minority government would probably bias the results. In this case in a minority the payout would be 20/20/20/20/20, but many traders would be willing to practically throw away shares of GREEN, OTHER and NDP because they "know" those parties have a 0% chance of winning a majority. This leads to artificial devaluation and bad prediction information.

By trading 1 share of CON for 5 GREEN and 5 OTHER, you just made 10 times the money in a minority government, and that's the payoff you're looking for instead of saying that you think the combined chances of Green and Other winning a majority is 1/6th that of the conservatives winning.

Of course they still have this problem with Liberals and Conservatives where trading out of a party at a favorable rate might just be betting minority.

I think the problem with a prediction market is you need a payout mechanism, that values the shares at the close of business, for elections there is a reasonable structure.

For situations where there isn't a clear solution or termination that gets much more complicated.

Comment by lordtc on Averaging value systems is worse than choosing one · 2010-05-05T00:14:22.579Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree with this.

I think a natural intuition about a moral values domain suggests that things are likely to be non-linear and discontinuous.

I don't think its so much saying the claim is wrong in simple cases, but its still correct in cases no one understands.

It's more saying the alternative claims being proposed are a long ways from handling any real world example, and I'm disinclined to believe that a sufficiently complicated system will satisfy continuity and linearity.

Comment by lordtc on The Red Bias · 2010-05-04T23:54:59.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The US is the unusual color scheme here though. Red is generally associated with the left, look at the flags of most communist countries, and party colors etc.

And I think it flipped only once not every four years, because when I look at the Reagan maps, he's blue in both of them!

Comment by lordtc on The Red Bias · 2010-05-04T23:51:40.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are those really the same colors, the red seems more orange in this one than the one up top, and the blue seems darker than the original.

Comment by lordtc on Eight Short Studies On Excuses · 2010-05-04T18:28:59.920Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Oxford types have a solution for this problem, it's a pronoun called "one".

I find it slightly amusing in a situation where you are highly critical of polite euphemisms, that are generally well understood (chance of error is far below 1%), you make your point with imprecise language by using an ambiguous pronoun "you" rather than the unambiguous "one". In my experience people make this error with ambiguous pronouns at a far higher frequency than not-graded vs grade of zero.