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Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-01T20:12:08.739Z · score: 9 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.

  • David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Edit: Yup, apparently that's a famous quote by Bradley which I read for the first time in that book. Good catch.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-01T20:11:29.325Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

But although no ideal obliterates the ugly drudgery and detail of any calling, that ideal does, in the case of the soldier or the doctor, exist definitely in the background and makes that drudgery worthwhile as a whole. It is a serious calamity that no such ideal exists in the case of the vast number of trades and crafts on which the existence of the modern city depends.

  • G. K. Chesterton
Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-01T20:08:42.529Z · score: 36 (36 votes) · LW · GW

Politics, after all, is the art of persuasion; the political is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge this: it may be true that, if I could convince everyone in the world that I was the King of France, I would in fact become the King of France; but it would never work if I were to admit that this was the only basis of my claim.

  • David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Comment by matt_caulfield on Open Thread, December 1-15, 2012 · 2012-12-01T15:43:22.777Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

A couple of days ago, GiveWell updated their top charity picks. AMF is still on top, but GiveDirectly bumped SCI from #2 to #3.

They also (very) tentatively recommend splitting your donation among the three: 70% to AMF, 20% to GiveDirectly, and 10% to SCI. The arguments about this in the blog post and comments are pretty interesting. (But I wouldn't stress too much about it: harder choices matter less).

Comment by matt_caulfield on EY "Politics is the Mind Killer" sighting at Washington Examiner and Reason.com · 2012-09-28T21:33:05.329Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

But our atavistic Red/Blue tribalism...

It's Green/Blue. Noobs.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Open Thread, September 15-30, 2012 · 2012-09-15T16:22:40.826Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Now that I have read your answer, it seems obvious in retrospect. Very nice, thanks!

Comment by matt_caulfield on Open Thread, September 15-30, 2012 · 2012-09-15T15:27:45.264Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Kind of a stupid question:

It's a truism in the efficient charity community that when giving to charity, we should find the most efficient group and give it our entire charity budget; the common practice of spreading donations among groups is suboptimal. However, in investing it's considered a good idea to diversify. But it seems that giving to charity and investing are essentially the same activity: we are trying to get the highest return possible, the only difference is who gets it. So why is diversification a good idea for one and not the other?

Comment by matt_caulfield on The raw-experience dogma: Dissolving the “qualia” problem · 2012-09-14T05:33:12.972Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

A philosophers’ version is the “inverted spectrum”: how do I know you see “red” rather than “blue” when you see this red print?

That's a typo, right? It's blue print.

Comment by matt_caulfield on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-09-13T19:07:10.227Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Operant conditioning through guilt is a supremely effective conversion tactic.

It's worth an NB that conversion is not the only valuable outcome of guilt. Even if an oppressor is not converted outright, guilt-tripping can still make him uncertain, less confident, and less effective at achieving his goals, and since he is an oppressor, this outcome is valuable in and of itself.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Living accommodations for my possibly deconverted Mormon friend · 2012-09-12T21:16:48.013Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

You might try here:

http://www.reddit.com/r/atheisthavens

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-12T14:17:29.269Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would tend to disagree, and if no one had ever argued about identity politics on the internet before, I would be very interested in continuing this discussion. But as it is... I'll bow out here.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-12T12:00:49.261Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Christina is talking about the atheist movement, not the set of all atheists ("atheist" is used there as a shorthand for "member of the movement;" maybe we need different words?). And if you're talking about a movement, then a call to be more inclusive is not a non sequitur at all. A philosophy cannot be exclusive or inclusive, but of course a movement can.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-10T23:57:02.877Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Just a sidenote: If you are the kind of person who is often worried about letting people down, entertaining the suspicion that most people follow this strategy already is a fast, efficient way to drive yourself completely insane.

"You're doing fine."

"Oh, I know this game. I'm actually failing massively, but you thought, well, this is the best he can do, so I might as well make him think he succeeded. DON'T LIE TO ME! AAAAH..."

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T21:04:06.249Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I probably should've just said "I agree" in the grandparent and left it at that. But I would like to plead that I don't want to use power against anyone. I realize I have been treating this whole discussion more like a thought experiment (in which we are free to create and kill 3^^^3 people, tile the universe with paperclips, and negotiate with babyeating aliens) than a real-world issue. Maybe that was insensitive and I'm sorry.

If you can see your way clear to it, please try to take my comments as being the equivalent to saying "Well, it appears that egalitarian utilitarianism obligates us to give most of our money to the AMF and live lives of impoverishment, isn't that interesting," without having any real desire to take anyone's money.

But again, the error is mine; this is a near problem and shouldn't be treated like a far idea. Apologies.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T20:41:22.940Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I probably was not clear enough. What I mean is: let's assume creeps want to stay and everyone else wants them to leave. Then any argument made by the creeps that tries to dissuade others from evicting them is self-serving. (You say, well of course). The problem is that most arguers in favor of creep-tolerance don't acknowledge those competing interests, instead they try to assert that higher intolerance for creeps would be bad for the group as a whole somehow. I am tentatively of the opinion that these arguments are bullshit, in the Frankfurt sense. People who argue this way are like those who claim they are buying an expensive TV to stimulate the economy, or those who claim they don't give to charity because handouts only hurt poor people in the long run. Of course, those are not the real reasons; the real reasons are much more simple and selfish.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T20:15:16.281Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I meant self-serving from the creep's point of view.

It's the worst thing for them, but it's probably the best thing for everyone else.

I agree. It seems to me that the best, most straightforward solution to creepiness is to have very low tolerance for it, and eject anyone who violates with extreme prejudice. A lot of the discussion in this thread is about how to compromise with creepers, which seems a little shameful, like negotiating with terrorists.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T01:33:53.933Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure, I'm still thinking it through. The point is that it is not immediately obvious to me that we should reject a result just because it seems unattractive. Maybe our intuitions are just wrong. See the Repugnant Conclusion and Torture vs. Specks.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T01:03:38.765Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but I'm not so much interested (right now) in what are the optimal rules to impose on people; I'm asking what is the right thing to do, which is a subtly different question. Your argument that eviction leads to problems in other places is clearly true. Analogously, it would be a very bad idea to impose a 80% marginal tax rate on top earners to fund the Against Malaria Foundation, because most of them would work less and there would be huge deadweight loss. However, Peter Singer and people like that argue persuasively that very wealthy people should as a matter of principle voluntarily give a high percentage of their income to efficient charity. And this causes no deadweight loss if they make sure to work as much as before.

Similarly, if there are creeps in your group, don't you wish they would just leave, and not try to infiltrate another innocent group? Then that is what they should do.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T00:40:41.213Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The world. Find highest possible total utility, act accordingly.

Of course that result may not work out great for some particular person, and that's interesting, but that's not the question I'm asking right now.

Comment by matt_caulfield on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-07T23:35:35.277Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

And it actually offers a concrete solution to the problem of feeling creepy: hang out with more women.

Even if hanging out with women makes you grow less creepy over time, you're still inflicting your creepy self on them at the beginning. Being willing to do this for your own benefit is... creepy.

I'm still not convinced there's an ethical way out of the creepy trap. Is there any sound (not self-serving) argument against the idea that the best thing for creepy males to do is just go away?

Comment by matt_caulfield on SIA doomsday · 2012-09-07T04:38:08.152Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Were you born on Earth before interstellar spaceflight? Enlist in the Confessor corps today! Service guarantees citizenship!"

Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-03T22:27:36.762Z · score: 50 (62 votes) · LW · GW

Your contrarian stance against a high-status member of this community makes you seem formidable and savvy. Would you like to be allies with me? If yes, then the next time I go foraging I will bring you back extra fruit.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-03T17:40:36.598Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

But many people do benefit greatly from hoarding or controlling the distribution of scarce information. If you make your living off slavery instead, then of course you can be generous with knowledge.

Comment by matt_caulfield on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-03T15:55:04.863Z · score: 15 (27 votes) · LW · GW

It may be of course that savages put food on a dead man because they think that a dead man can eat, or weapons with a dead man because they think a dead man can fight. But personally I do not believe that they think anything of the kind. I believe they put food or weapons on the dead for the same reason that we put flowers, because it is an exceedingly natural and obvious thing to do. We do not understand, it is true, the emotion that makes us think it is obvious and natural; but that is because, like all the important emotions of human existence it is essentially irrational.

  • G. K. Chesterton
Comment by matt_caulfield on What are useful skills to learn at university? · 2012-08-26T02:03:56.007Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You should work in a lab or machine shop, for pretty much the same reasons you give for learning to program. Those skills tend to be under-emphasized in the undergraduate curriculum compared to how useful they are in the real world, so you'll have to seek out opportunities on your own. But if you do, that means you'll be rare and valuable.

Comment by matt_caulfield on [Link] Social interventions gone wrong · 2012-08-20T16:02:31.100Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

So out of this sample, the only two interventions that had positive effects were based on one-on-one relationships. Any wisdom we can draw from this, or is it just a coincidence?