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Comment by mc_escherichia on Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale · 2016-10-24T23:12:41.351Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

and they don't understand that there has never been a common ancestor of all and only the monkeys

This fact though -- that monkeys are paraphyletic -- argues in favour of (not against) the view that the common ancestor of monkeys and apes was itself monkey-like...

If you think about when the "ape traits" must have evolved, it would be after the new-world monkeys had already diverged away. The common ancestor of monkeys and apes wouldn't have had them, but must have had those traits common to both old and new-world monkeys. It itself has to be basically a monkey.

(I drew out a phylogenetic tree for this but couldn't get it to format, alas...)

Comment by mc_escherichia on Innate Mathematical Ability · 2015-02-18T18:36:05.443Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's also interesting... I think the two ways of looking at it are equivalent, i.e. any pattern that satisfies one should also satisfy the other. (Only because the XOR pattern works both vertically and horizontally.)

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-04T23:18:42.489Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The enemy of the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.

Harrap's First Law

Comment by mc_escherichia on The Empty White Room: Surreal Utilities · 2013-07-24T02:13:21.708Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What book?

Comment by mc_escherichia on Causal Diagrams and Causal Models · 2012-10-14T20:55:12.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

won't have the problem of being acyclic

Should that be "cyclic"? I take it from Richard's post that "acyclic" is what we want.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-14T15:32:09.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It should be pointed out here that biological genuses, families, orders, and so on do not exist.

Yes, this is true of course.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-14T12:36:50.741Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What I was saying is that humans are the only living member of the Homo family

So was the claim "Humans are the only single species mammal" simply a claim that humans are the only mammal with their own genus? That's certainly not true, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Monotypic_mammal_genera

The reproductive isolation can be genetic, or it can be simply geographical or habitual.

This is probably not relevant to our point, but Futuyma (2005) Evolution p356 defines reproductive isolation as "reduction or prevention of gene flow between populations by genetically determined differences between them" - i.e. it's not enough that they are geographically separated.

homo sapiens exist in one giant gene pool

This just seems to be a claim that the population size of our species is quite large. There are other species of mammal with large populations. Again, the relevance of any of this to sex-determination is rather doubtful.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-14T11:28:14.975Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

None of the things you mention are likely to affect the sex determination system.

the only single species mammal.

The only what?

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-13T23:35:35.602Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Could you direct me to the comparative analysis of Mammalian reproductive systems that discusses hermaphrodites in other species?

What I meant was that we can think about other mammals ourselves, and note that no other mammal species has hermaphrodites at significant frequencies. I had no specific research in mind.

there would be a decent size population of hermaphrodites able to develop a stable social station; if there were a stable hermaphrodite community their genes would spread

This depends both on a genetic cause, and also on hermaphrodites having equal fitness to males and females.

I think the intentional elimination of hermaphrodites has made a huge impact on the demographic of humanity, do you disagree?

Yes, I disagree, for the reasons I've stated. Other mammals have had no "intentional elimination", yet hermaphrodites remain at very low levels. So "intentional elimination" isn't the reason for the very low levels.

Also I don't think you can use the fact other gonochronistic mammals have not developed more sexes as a reason why humans would not.

Of course I can; humans aren't particularly special, at least not in relevant ways.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Parapsychology: the control group for science · 2012-02-12T15:19:14.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there's a prejudice against replying to old posts around here...

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-11T16:53:15.577Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that seems reasonable. There are four biologically possible scenarios I can think of to explain the numbers:

  1. It's developmental noise.
  2. Mutations that cause hermaphroditism arise at a certain rate and are eliminated by natural (or artificial) selection at a certain rate; this is mutation-selection balance.
  3. Multiple genes at different loci are required to produce a hermaphrodite (this is epistasis); natural selection doesn't act against these genes since it is rare for them to be found in the same invididual, and they may produce some benefit when apart.
  4. Hermaphrodites have reasonable fitness and are held at an equilibrium frequency in the population.

Four seems far and away the least likely; I'd be suspicious of an equilibrium that's so low, not only in our species but all our mammalian relatives. Perhaps there are answers in the literature; I don't have the time.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Can the Chain Still Hold You? · 2012-02-11T16:08:06.746Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

intentional out breeding [elimination] of more sexes

A comparative analysis of Mammalia shows this to be extremely doubtful, unless you think that only humans have these extra sexes. In all mammals the vast bulk of individuals can be cleanly assigned to male or female without ambiguity, and no such intentional elimination was required. [Note "outbreeding" means something else.]

You have to look at quite distantly related species before hermaphrodites show up at interesting frequencies. Certainly some fish can be hermaphrodite.

Comment by mc_escherichia on POSITION: Design and Write Rationality Curriculum · 2012-01-19T21:20:49.612Z · score: 35 (37 votes) · LW · GW

As an aside; the use of "Org" (i.e. Rationality Org) seems really unusual and immediately makes me think of Scientology (Sea Org); am I unusual in having this reaction?

Comment by mc_escherichia on Edinburgh LW Meetup Saturday April 16th · 2011-04-06T22:32:03.866Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I might come, though there's a conflicting Starcraft 2 tournament...

[Edit] But since I failed to qualify in a satelite tournament, I shall attend the LW meeting.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Verifying Rationality via RationalPoker.com · 2011-03-25T23:20:53.880Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've noticed lately a lot of websites seem to use some bizarre font that looks awful. But since they keep doing it, I'm beginning to wonder if it's just me that sees it looking awful. Does it look like this for anyone else?

http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/7224/fontyo.png

Comment by mc_escherichia on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-02-01T10:33:01.993Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Which is the case?

Your initial read off your calculator tells you with 99% certainty.

Now Omega comes in and asks you to consider the opposite case. It matters how Omega decided what to say to you. If Omega was always going to contradict your calculator, then what Omega says offers no new information. But if Omega essentially had its own calculator, and was always going to tell you the result even if it didn't contradict yours, then the probabilities become 50%.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-02-01T09:46:06.220Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still not following. Either the answer is even in every possible world, or it is odd in every possible world. It can't be legitimate to consider worlds where it is even and worlds where it is odd, as if they both actually existed.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-01-31T19:21:26.071Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ignoring Bostrom's book on how to deal with observer selection effects (did Omega go looking for a Wrong Calculator world and report it? Did Omega go looking for an Odd World to report to you? Did Omega pick at random from all possible worlds? Did Omega roll a four-sided die to determine which world to report?)

Actually, isn't this the very heart of the matter? In my other comment here I assumed Omega would always ask what the correct answer is if the calculator shows The Other Result; if that's not the case everything changes.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-01-31T19:03:19.284Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not following you.

Imagine this scenario happens 10000 times, with different formulae.

In 9900 of those cases, the calculator says , and Omega asks what the answer is if the calculator says .

In 100 of those cases, the calculator says , and Omega asks what the answer is if the calculator says .

So you are more likely to be in the first scenario.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Counterfactual Calculation and Observational Knowledge · 2011-01-31T18:45:08.305Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You can't conclude this

Yes you can. The real calculator in the real world had a 99% chance of being right. The counterfactual case is (in all probability) the 1% chance where it was wrong.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality Quotes: December 2010 · 2010-12-03T19:30:04.416Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That you are given three of the four letters for "lake" in correct, consecutive order.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality quotes: October 2010 · 2010-10-11T00:34:04.214Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

No, nobody would ever say that.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality quotes: October 2010 · 2010-10-10T15:23:53.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Overcoming" doesn't really work as an adjective.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality quotes: October 2010 · 2010-10-09T22:25:01.342Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone's snapped it up now: http://whois.domaintools.com/overpoweringfalsehood.com

Comment by mc_escherichia on Rationality quotes: October 2010 · 2010-10-05T16:42:23.993Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Either the prayer is answered, or not, so the odds must be 50%, right? :)

Comment by mc_escherichia on Bayes' rule =/= Bayesian inference · 2010-09-16T10:55:34.542Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If the null hypothesis was true, the probability that we would get 3 heads or less is 0.08

Is the idea that the coin will land heads 90% of the time really something that can be called the "null hypothesis"?

Comment by mc_escherichia on More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA · 2010-09-11T20:20:43.198Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

being convinced you deserve something that it's totally unreasonable (socially) for you to be granted

There's some sort of ambiguity in the word "deserve". I would say that every harmless person deserves to be loved, or deserves an enjoyable job, but that doesn't mean anyone owes anyone anything. The world is the way it is.

Comment by mc_escherichia on More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA · 2010-09-11T15:05:22.092Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

To rephrase komponisto's reply to this in a simpler manner, and minus the controversial bit:

I wish everyone would extend to the unattractive people of the world, of either sex, our right to feel bitter. This does not make us rapists. Thank you for your attention.

Comment by mc_escherichia on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread · 2010-05-27T21:15:11.809Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if Eliezer has or should read this review of Ender's Game (a book I never read myself, but the reviewer seems to provide a useful warning to authors).

Comment by mc_escherichia on The Psychological Diversity of Mankind · 2010-05-10T16:24:43.681Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are the words "women" and "men" reversed in your opening sentence?