Posts

Personal Experiment: Counterbalancing Risk-Adversion 2019-11-15T08:34:03.460Z · score: 26 (13 votes)
Indescribable 2019-11-10T13:31:45.298Z · score: 13 (9 votes)
Self-Keeping Secrets 2019-11-10T07:59:15.119Z · score: 34 (15 votes)
The Technique Taboo 2019-10-30T11:22:47.184Z · score: 36 (24 votes)
Prospecting for Conceptual Holes 2019-10-30T08:34:52.769Z · score: 40 (18 votes)
Mediums Overpower Messages 2019-10-20T05:46:19.339Z · score: 37 (13 votes)
Invisible Choices, Made by Default 2019-10-20T02:09:02.992Z · score: 21 (15 votes)
Integrating the Lindy Effect 2019-09-07T17:38:27.348Z · score: 15 (9 votes)
Zeno walks into a bar 2019-08-04T07:00:27.114Z · score: 24 (12 votes)

Comments

Comment by lsusr on Personal Experiment: Counterbalancing Risk-Adversion · 2019-11-16T01:41:36.557Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In every case the "scary" option was the riskier one, so I always had high confidence in what would happen if I chickened out. I compared that to what actually happened when I took what seemed like a riskier option.

Comment by lsusr on Personal Experiment: Counterbalancing Risk-Adversion · 2019-11-16T01:40:10.566Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I began this experiment 9 years ago. I only wrote down whether the decisions were right or wrong so I have no record of what the decisions are.

From what I remember, most of the decisions involved socializing. Perhaps half of the decisions involved starting conversations with people (I was afraid of bothering them). Many involved attending social events. I was in college at the time so some of them involved putting together study groups. At least one was whether to ask someone out on a date.

I consistently underestimated the rewards and overestimated the risks of reaching out to others. I wasn't too worried about personal embarrassment. Rather, I was worried that I would bother other people and worsen their days. This almost never happened. In the rare cases where I did bother someone a little the effect was small.

Comment by lsusr on Prospecting for Conceptual Holes · 2019-11-03T11:42:17.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I understand better now what you mean.

When I originally wrote kenshō I meant to ambiguously refer to both to the Japan-specific conceptual cluster itself and the underlying sector of the meditative map because both of them are orthogonal to the Western philosophical tradition.

I would be surprised if it wasn't possible to experience a kenshō state (under a different name, marked off with different conceptual clusters) in the West using a non-Japanese meditative tradition recently adopted from someone else like India.

Comment by lsusr on Prospecting for Conceptual Holes · 2019-11-03T11:07:08.786Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Japanese people didn't invent kenshō. People around the word (including Westerners) will experience kenshō randomly. The Japanese merely refined a system for identifying kenshō and fostering kenshō states. I can see how if the Western world discovered kenshō independently or if you don't believe in kenshō then we'd be getting into ontological territory. But it doesn't seem like you're coming from this direction.

So I guess "an idea is invented" is the wrong definition for "a concept to exist". I don't know how to define "existence" in the case of kenshō. I don't even know how to define kenshō itself without tautologies.

Comment by lsusr on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-03T08:26:40.809Z · score: 15 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I joined a few months ago. I've been happily surprised at how all the comments I've received have been constructive, respectful and written in good faith. It's nice to meet you all.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-31T19:56:51.187Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This might make for a good amateur science project. All you have to do is collect a bunch of programmers together and get them to answer a standardized set of tests and then measure their typing speed. Scatterplot the results. Admittedly it would measure correlation, not causation, but it'd be a start.

You could do even better by measuring the typing speed of an introductory computer science class and then compare it to the students' grades at the end of the quarter.

Comment by lsusr on Prospecting for Conceptual Holes · 2019-10-31T07:46:07.692Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"What does it mean for a concept to exist" is a deep philosophical question I'm not sure of the answer right now. For the purpose of this article I pretty much just mean an idea is invented and isn't fraudulent or pointless.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-31T07:36:07.107Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've never heard this one before. I like it!

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-31T07:31:40.982Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you so much for this. Writing about this kind of topic is inherently difficult because almost by definition a majority of people will disagree whatever contemporary examples I use. It's like documenting an antimemetic SCP.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T21:27:20.274Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most programmers I know a handful of commands but are not otherwise comfortable with the command line. I was teased for using it at my first software development job. I was once hired to privately tutor a computer science student how to use the command line (among other things) because her school never taught her how to use it and she failed out of her first Systems class due to this omission. I've taught basic Unix skills to a friend with a master's degree in computer science.

I'm focused on Vim for reasons complicated enough to deserve their own separate post and because Vim best illustrates the taboo I'm trying to elucidate.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T21:04:03.157Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I meant that a CS degree usually doesn't teach basic skills like how to use Vim and the command line. A CS degree teaches operating systems just fine.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T20:57:16.979Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I make a habit of fuzzing my personal information a little when I'm online as basic digital hygiene.

I hypothesize this taboo applies to any prosperous liberal city in the USA.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T20:49:41.989Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good, complicated question. It deserves its own post.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T20:36:45.266Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a useful datapoint. Thank you so much! Having not gone to art school myself, my information about it is all secondhand. What I know comes from books by art instructors and YouTube videos by art school graduates.

Perhaps I am mistaken, this period ended within the last decade and/or you went to a statistically unusual school. It might be possible to get a statistical measure of the prevalence classical drawing within art schools by examining public course catalogs and graduation requirements.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T20:26:10.747Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I intended to refer only to typing quickly without looking at the keyboard. I did not intend to imply the superiority of specific traditional typing techniques beyond how well they achieve this.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T20:11:36.467Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I meant that math is still math at the academic research level. Math has lots of problems at the primary school level. In my experience as a mathematics major, it's barely possible to discuss advanced math without a basic foundation in the intermediate stuff.

You make a good point about strength training. I wish I had gyms like yours in my neighborhood.

While magicians tend to avoid discussing technique with the public, the opposite is true within the magical community. Magicians love showing off technique to each other behind closed doors. The best of us are practically fetishists for it. We're open to accepting earnest newcomers into our community and once inside all the important doors are unlocked.

The Mind Illuminated absolutely goes against this trend and I like the online community surrounding the book. In my personal offline experience talking to people in meatspace, The Mind Illuminated's systematic approach is not representative of the majority of Western meditative practice. However, meditation is inherently a private affair so I am highly uncertain how representative my sample is.

Meditation is indeed additionally muddled by the fact that at after trying really hard to achieve results you have to let go of your intention to achieve results. I do not intend to misconstrue this particular phenomenon as evidence for a taboo against technique.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T19:55:03.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A prosperous liberal tech-centric city.

Comment by lsusr on The Technique Taboo · 2019-10-30T19:48:12.650Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Officially it's about "don't sit on the machine and play with your phone". However, this gym has many other systems in place to actively discourage people who take lifting seriously. For instance, powerlifting and olympic lifting are physically impossible at this gym despite a gigantic quantity of weights and weightlifting equipment.

Another motivation is that this chain gets most of its revenue from members who don't show up.

I love powerlifting and admire olympic lifting precisely because they run opposite to this trend. But they're relatively unpopular compared to running, cycling, traditional sports and so on. (At least in my social circles. It might be different for those who grew up in violent neighborhoods.)

Comment by lsusr on Prospecting for Conceptual Holes · 2019-10-30T19:43:26.797Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a little. :)

The word "apropos" is new to me. I like it.

Comment by lsusr on The Missing Piece · 2019-10-30T09:08:18.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But, once again, it's hard to say what the missing piece could possibly be.

This statement took me a long time to untangle.

The Central African Republic is located in the poorest, most war-torn region of the globe. Switzerland is in the middle of the European Union. If the Central African Republic was transposed into the middle of Western Europe and assimilated into the European Union then it'd a prosperous country in no time. In this sense, it's easy to say what the missing piece is.

But it's not well-defined which parts Europe are essential to Switzerland's continuous existence. That's because "which parts Europe are essential to Switzerland's continuous existence?" isn't even a well-defined question. There are many different combinations of features of Europe you could remove to trigger Switzerland's internal collapse.

I think that the original statement is intended to mean something along the following lines.

A self-perpetuating system includes its environment. Part of the self-perpetuating system is encoded in its environment. Exactly which bits of the self-perpetuating system are encoded in its environment is often not a well-defined question and therefore difficult to state.

Comment by lsusr on Mediums Overpower Messages · 2019-10-30T05:57:17.399Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I mostly read questions on Stack Exchange. Answering questions falls into the [OKAY] category for me and asking questions rates the [GOOD] category. In practice, the more time I spend on Stack Exchange, the more I fall into bad habits interacting with it.

I'm with you all the way on blogs. Reading blogs is neutral. Writing blogs is in the [GOOD] category. I'm not sure yet where commenting on blogs goes. That may depend on the medium.

Comment by lsusr on Mediums Overpower Messages · 2019-10-30T05:51:45.676Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You make a good point about YouTube. In my personal experience, even educational YouTube tends to make me dumber, holistically. The reasons for this are complicated and I might write a topic on the subject specifically.

"Books (fiction)" could arguably go in the "[GOOD]" category. When I read fiction I tend to read pulp sci-fi. If I read Jane Austin then "Books (fiction)" would solidly fall into the "[GOOD]" category. Very good sci-fi like "Ready Player One" and "The Martian" easily falls into the "[GOOD]" does too, but books like this are few and far between.

Comment by lsusr on Anti-counterfeiting Ink - an alternative way of combating oil theft? · 2019-10-20T21:21:49.793Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What are some example substances you could use for chemical compounds A and B?

Comment by lsusr on Invisible Choices, Made by Default · 2019-10-20T21:04:09.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Spaced repetition is inherently difficult because it requires a period of intense focus. It you're doing it efficiently it's hard on a minute-to-minute level. In my personal experience, it's the most intense form of study I can scale up. When I'm using Anki, it's the hardest 10-15 minutes of my day.

Comment by lsusr on Invisible Choices, Made by Default · 2019-10-20T20:55:06.251Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anki might not be suitable for anything other than vocabulary extension (and medical school). I'm not really sure. I've only ever successfully used it for vocabulary extension.

I may be biased because I use Anki to study Chinese, an unusually difficult language. The relative merits of Duolingo vs. Anki may be less clear-cut for easier languages like Romance languages where it's not necessary to learn the language so systematically. In the case of Chinese, grammar is so simple and vocabulary is so hard that vocabulary extension is pretty much the entire game, so optimizing for anything other than vocabulary acquisition can cause you to fail in the long intermediate slog.

What language(s) are you studying?

I find Duolingo way better for getting a feel for grammar.

This makes sense. I prioritize vocabulary over grammer for a couple reasons. [1] You can communicate effectively with vocabulary and without grammar (but not vice-versa) and [2] the difficulty of learning a language's grammar is far outweighed, in the long run, by the difficulty of learning vocabulary.

It may make sense for someone to start learning with Duolingo and then transfer to Anki (for hard languages) or just reading material in the language (for easy languages). I'm happy to hear that Duolingo works for you.

Comment by lsusr on Mediums Overpower Messages · 2019-10-20T20:38:02.470Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Reading Less Wrong might be the same but writing LW posts isn't. On certain kinds of websites you don't have to replace the website itself as long as you flip around the direction content flows. What's SSC?

Good catch with the the online course exception. I missed it because I don't personally use online courses. I think writing any sort of book is an exception to the rule too, since both reading and writing books make you smarter.

Comment by lsusr on Anti-counterfeiting Ink - an alternative way of combating oil theft? · 2019-10-20T03:09:23.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose you have two chemical compounds A and B, the exact formula of which you keep secret.

The fundamental problem with this proposal is that it relies on "security through obscurity". If criminals figure out how to identify and synthesize chemical compounds A and B then the entire system no longer works. The best security systems usually have a key that's easy to change when enemies crack it. In this case, we'd have to replace the chemicals, the chemical manufacturing systems and the detection systems. That's very expensive.

Criminals synthesizing the chemical compounds is virtually guaranteed because it's very difficult to distribute a chemical to every gas station in the country and keep it secret. At the same time, criminals are good at synthesizing weird substances. For example, they'll often make small chemical modifications to addictive drugs to make them legal. Even if criminals are incapable of making the chemical domestically, it'd be easy to smuggle in the chemical in from a foreign country.

Has it (or something similar) ever been implemented anywhere?

You might be interested in denatured ethanol. When a government wants to legalize ethanol for non-drinking (and therefore lower-tax) purposes it is made undrinkable.

If we had a chemical that turned un-burnable oil into burnable oil then your proposed system might be more robust, but I do not know of such a substance that would be economically viable.

Comment by lsusr on Social Class · 2019-10-18T22:40:02.804Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like we're in agreement too. Thanks for your comments, by the way. I find this subject very interesting and it's nice to have someone to discuss it with.

I think the problem of getting this hypothetical working class guy onto the white-collar ladder is the same reason it's hard for you (G3) to jump to the elite ladder. That is, while working full-time to support a family it's not responsible to take the huge amount of risk involved in trying to jump a ladder. While some people have what it takes to do this safely (involving personality traits, personal finances, geographic location, etc.) most do not. English alone can be a disqualifier. I had already written off anyone without fluency.

I think whether or not you have kids is more important than the safety net. If we go broke, you and I can both easily get jobs writing software for <insert company here>, but if you go broke your family suffers whereas if I go broke I've merely lost my savings and can fall back on my educational capital. (This advantage is in addition to the lack of free time you mention.)

I think that for someone in the position of supporting a family a more reasonable goal would be to climb one rung within a ladder rather than trying to jump ladders. This is what most of my friends (of all classes) seem to be doing and what you're doing as well. Of course, it's often possible to put your kids on the lower rungs of the next ladder. (This is what my blue-collar parents did for me.)

the competition [for G1] is very strong.

Yes it is, far more so than E3.

What is an upper-class trait? Dominance?

I'm not really sure as I'm not part of the upper class but those that I've met seem to suggest that intellectualism isn't it.

"Dominance" isn't exactly wrong but I feel like it misses the target a little. I suspect the difference is that the upper class values power over education. That is, to the upper class, running a company while unqualified is more respectable than being intellectually qualified to run a company but lacking the connections to do so.

And of course, getting to the level of a 12-year old is not enough to give him a job, so it's still all expense and no gain.

One interesting thing about the three ladders model is that skills acquired in one ladder are optimal for that ladder and only partially transfer to another ladder. So the skills a blue-collar worker acquires have only marginal utility for the white-collar ladder. The older you get, the more your skills become specifically effective toward the ladder(s) you've been climbing.

Comment by lsusr on Social Class · 2019-10-17T10:34:03.958Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think Church's 3-ladder system (linked to in the original article) offers a good foundation to think about this question because Church's system has 12 classes instead of the 3-class system pixx uses.

How to go up a class depends not only on where you come from but also what you're aiming for. Getting from lower to middle class is a different process than getting from middle class to upper class. Even getting from lower middle class to upper middle class is a different process than getting from lower lower class to upper lower class.

So the first question to ask is which class are you from?

Using Church's system, I expect that most of the lesswrong readership is in G3/G2, the middle rungs of the middle class (which is well-above the median class). There are two places you can go up from here: into the top of the middle class and into the bottom of the upper class. There is a different route to each of these places. Getting to the top of the middle class is about getting famous in certain kind of way. Getting into the upper class is about amassing money and power. (Also, if you're G3 then you can aim for G2, which has a whole different set of criteria.)

There is some intersect between fame and money/power, but it's hard to optimize for both simultaneously. The fastest way to fame is to start a YouTube channel, a webcomic or some similar Internet media. The fastest way to wealth and power for lesswrong readers is probably to start a tech startup. There's plenty of tutorials and other instructional material for how to do these things. In my experience, the limiting factor seems to be the quantity of people willing to do the legwork despite the risk of failure. Of the many people I know in G3, most of them (besides myself and my business partner) appear uninterested in taking any of these paths. Only a handful of G3s I know even aspire toward G2. This behavior mystifies me, but they seem happily comfortable.

How can we hack this?

I'm not sure as I'm not an insider on the classes I want to break into.

maybe all rationalists are middle-class

We are. Intellectualism is a middle-class trait. Therefore lesswrong is a middle-class website. Intellectualism isn't important to the elite (or to labor) the way it is to the middle class, because intellectualism doesn't advance you within the elite (or within labor).

Comment by lsusr on Social Class · 2019-10-17T10:13:17.308Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you especially for the link to Church's ladders. I've never seen that before. It was helpful and interesting.

Comment by lsusr on [deleted post] 2019-10-15T22:34:08.702Z

That is deliberately obfuscated.

Comment by lsusr on [deleted post] 2019-10-15T22:26:02.103Z

"ML tooling" adoption doesn't follow efficient market dynamics in at least one respect.

This is exactly what I mean.

I think that the ML community is open to switching certain kinds of tools (including the examples you listed) but that other kinds of tools are so far off the community's radar that data scientists aren't even aware of their value. This is hard to explain without getting into specifics and I'm not ready to talk about the details yet.

Comment by lsusr on [deleted post] 2019-10-15T22:01:34.295Z

From what I wrote, your reply makes complete sense. The situation for these tools in particular is surprisingly non-self-correcting. The wider ecosystem is only just starting to self-correct to the right general direction and even that process is going slowly. We are working on monetizing this stuff, but the process can be expected to take several years. Our goal isn't to change minds. We'd prefer to maintain a competitive advantage.

Comment by lsusr on Finding Cruxes · 2019-10-05T23:50:52.741Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like the flip-side to the guideline "Write your true reasons for believing something, not what you think is more likely to persuade others...and note what would change your mind". Just as the guideline is a method of getting yourself to the crux of an issue, this essay is about how to quickly get someone else to the crux of an issue.

Comment by lsusr on Integrating the Lindy Effect · 2019-09-30T17:57:34.101Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fixed! Thank you.

Comment by lsusr on Integrating the Lindy Effect · 2019-09-07T19:48:00.456Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. This helps. I've edited my post to fix.

Comment by lsusr on Integrating the Lindy Effect · 2019-09-07T17:56:47.723Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not quite 100% sure if I can write or if I have to write or if there's some other scaling factor I'm missing. Please check my math.

Comment by lsusr on Against Tulip Subsidies · 2019-09-07T16:47:15.042Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the idea to make "'college degree' a protected characteristic" is an interesting thought experiment. It brings up an array of fascinating questions.

Comment by lsusr on Zeno walks into a bar · 2019-08-05T07:17:57.325Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Your guess is correct.