Meetup : Hiking in Vancouver, Canada 2011-08-07T09:59:22.784Z
Meetup : Vancouver meetup 2011-08-05T02:40:49.851Z
Meetup : Vancouver, Canada 2011-07-25T17:03:37.227Z
Anyone else going to the WorldFuture 2011 Conference in Vancouver? 2011-07-05T07:54:05.987Z


Comment by michaelkeenan on The Scout Mindset - read-along · 2021-04-24T19:05:31.988Z · LW · GW

Feeling embattled is one of two sources of identity that the book mentions, the other being pride. Re-reading just now, I see that her examples of identity through pride were also embattled ones (formula/breast-feeding activists, cryptocurrency proponents, polyamorists), but it doesn't seem necessary, so patriot and gymbro identities fit in the pride category.

Comment by michaelkeenan on What trade should we make if we're all getting the new COVID strain? · 2021-01-08T06:41:44.662Z · LW · GW

That screenshot is the Robinhood UI, so looks like he uses Robinhood.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Plague in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey · 2020-05-26T02:56:15.734Z · LW · GW

Interesting post! It makes me much more interested in trying the game. I didn't follow this sentence though:

If you also let them keep their money, you are told the plauge has spread throughout Greece.

Whose money is this? What's its connection to the plague spreading?

Comment by michaelkeenan on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-11T21:00:15.643Z · LW · GW

Robin Hanson wrote about similar experiments in 2010.

It seems that extreme generosity can be regarded as establishing an undesirable behavior standard. His post suggests a workaround, if your productivity/generosity greatly exceeds others: under-report your output and give credit to others.

Comment by michaelkeenan on "Just Suffer Until It Passes" · 2018-02-14T22:05:09.910Z · LW · GW

Not OP, but you might like Spencer Greenberg's list of 23 general purpose techniques for solving challenging problems.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, Apr. 24 - Apr. 30, 2017 · 2017-04-29T18:44:41.601Z · LW · GW

All the handymen I know are extremely intelligent

This is google-able - I found this chart. It's probably imperfect, but from a brief glance at the source I'd trust it more than anecdote or my own experience.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Rationality Quotes April - June 2017 · 2017-04-01T19:37:52.441Z · LW · GW

The answer to, "What idiot did this!?" is almost always, "A smart, well-intentioned person making tradeoffs you hadn't even considered." - Jason Specland

Comment by michaelkeenan on What's up with Arbital? · 2017-03-29T18:19:51.210Z · LW · GW

Debates didn't work because... well, it's a very complicated problem.

I'd love to hear about this in more detail. What have you learned about the problem? Do you know what good solutions would look like, but they're too hard or expensive to implement? Or have you learned that it isn't feasible?

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, March 13 - March 19, 2017 · 2017-03-13T21:15:13.824Z · LW · GW

Thank you!

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, March 13 - March 19, 2017 · 2017-03-13T18:02:49.656Z · LW · GW

I hope someone can help me find a blog post or webpage that I've seen before but can't find: it's someone describing a power law of scientists. There's a top level who have drastically more output than the level below, who are drastically more productive than the level below that. There's only a few at the top level, and a few hundred at level 2, and a few thousand at level 3. I think he mentions one scientist being level 0.5 - notably more productive than almost anyone else. It was on a relatively unstyled website, maybe Scott Aaronson's.

Anyone familiar with that?

Comment by michaelkeenan on Stupid Questions February 2017 · 2017-02-28T17:15:24.097Z · LW · GW

That sounds like Aella, who wrote about taking acid every week for a year. Here's her reddit post about it; it includes some art she made, and one poem.

Comment by michaelkeenan on The engineer and the diplomat · 2016-12-30T20:06:40.144Z · LW · GW

Oh, sorry!

Comment by michaelkeenan on The engineer and the diplomat · 2016-12-29T05:02:29.820Z · LW · GW

[I misinterpreted wubbles above; I retract this comment.]

I think we should reserve the "epistemic status" thing for authors to describe their own works. Using it to insult a work seems pointlessly snarky. The useful part could be communicated with just "Probably BS" or "I think this is probably BS". Leaving it at that would avoid the useless connotation about the author's thought process, which is unknowable by others.

Comment by michaelkeenan on What's the most annoying part of your life/job? · 2016-10-26T00:10:27.247Z · LW · GW

This is probably not the biggest annoyance, but it's recurring and it affects a lot of people (especially the approximately 9% with hyperacusis): many buses and garbage trucks have horrible screeching brakes. This is bad in general, but especially bad at 7am before I want to be awake.

Presumably it can be solved with some kind of regular maintenance. I doubt municipalities are interested in spending that money, but if somehow the affected residents could coordinate to pay (maybe with some kind of crowdfunding), and someone would organize the whole thing, then something could be done.

Comment by michaelkeenan on What's the most annoying part of your life/job? · 2016-10-26T00:06:07.911Z · LW · GW

Not what you were asking for, but: have you encountered Eliezer's list of sleep interventions? It's the last section of this author's note at HPMOR. There might be a different helpful intervention there.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes · 2016-08-07T16:33:30.706Z · LW · GW

Should we worry that if Trump supports eradicating mosquitoes, that will cause Trump opponents to oppose it?

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, December 7-13, 2015 · 2015-12-08T23:16:49.259Z · LW · GW

It looks like you're going to rather than CFAR doesn't have a SSL certificate (but maybe should get one through Let's Encrypt).

Comment by michaelkeenan on ClearerThinking's Fact-Checking 2.0 · 2015-10-29T03:20:59.248Z · LW · GW

Yes, you'd want to use the International Crime Victims Survey. It's the standard way to compare crime rates between countries.

Comment by michaelkeenan on ClearerThinking's Fact-Checking 2.0 · 2015-10-29T03:19:24.546Z · LW · GW

The anti-vax thing is one of the hardest cases. More often, people are just accidentally wrong. Like this exchange at Hacker News, which had checkable claims like:

  • "The UK is a much more violent society than the US, statistically"
  • "There are dozens of U.S. cities with higher per capita murder rates than London or any other city in the UK"
  • "Murder rates are higher in the US, but murder is a small fraction of violent crime. All other violent crime is much more common in the UK than in the US."

There would also be a useful effect for observers. That Hacker News discussion contained no citations, so no-one was convinced and I doubt any observers knew what to think. But if a fact-checker bot was noting which claims were true and which weren't, then observers would know which claims were correct (or rather, which claims were consistent with official statistics).

If these fact-checkers were extremely common, it could still help anti-vaccine people. If you're against vaccines, but you've seen the fact-checker bot be correct 99 other times, then you might give credence to its claims.

Comment by michaelkeenan on ClearerThinking's Fact-Checking 2.0 · 2015-10-26T23:23:37.842Z · LW · GW

I'd prefer the framing that it's not a fact-checker, but rather an inconsistency-detector. Rather than "this bot detected the claim that vaccines cause autism, which is wrong", it'd say "this bot detected the claim that vaccines cause autism, which is in conflict with the view held by The Lancet, one of the world's most prominent medical journals". Or in 1930, it might have reported "this bot detected the claim that continents drift, which is in conflict with the scientific consensus of leading geology journals".

Comment by michaelkeenan on ClearerThinking's Fact-Checking 2.0 · 2015-10-26T23:22:05.184Z · LW · GW

It would still be helpful to have automatic fact-checking of simple statements. Consider this Hacker News thread - two people are arguing about crime rates in the UK and USA. Someone says "The UK is a much more violent society than the US" and they argue about that, neither providing citations. That might be simple enough that natural language processing could parse it and check it against various interpretations of it. For example, one could imagine a bot that notices when people are arguing over something like that (whether on the internet or in a national election. It would provide useful relevant statistics, like the total violent crime rates in each country, or the murder rate, or whatever it thinks is relevant. If it were an ongoing software project, the programmers could notice when it's upvoted and downvoted, and improve it.

Comment by michaelkeenan on The Triumph of Humanity Chart · 2015-10-26T22:49:42.007Z · LW · GW

This comment seems aggressive and rude, so I doubt it will be persuasive to Lukas. As Yvain wrote in How To Not Lose An Argument, we should beware of status effects during arguments. If Lukas agrees with you now, then Lukas agrees he is a weasel-word-using rationalizing entitled infantile fake-victim, which is very difficult to accept. Without the insults, Lukas would have had the opportunity to make an easier update - that he misunderstood, or the text was unclear, or that he'd prefer Dias to have clarified but reasonable people could disagree, or something like that.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Politics: an undervalued opportunity to change the world? · 2015-08-14T06:08:19.176Z · LW · GW

80,000 Hours has investigated the expected effects of changing the world through party politics.


This is a very high-potential, though very competitive and high-risk path that can enable you to make a big difference through improving the operation of government and promoting important ideas. If you’re highly able, could tolerate being in the public eye and think you could develop a strong interest in politics, then we recommend learning more about this career to test your suitability.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-10T21:33:13.503Z · LW · GW

Fair enough. My thinking is that voting has severe effects on others, while one's choice of consumer product mostly affects oneself. Maybe a particular well-marketed beer can make one feel strong and virile; a well-marketed approach to foreign policy might do the same, but with worse consequences for others.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-10T00:14:07.998Z · LW · GW

My thinking with that - not that I've thought about it very hard or actually endorse this beyond "interesting crazy idea" - was that one's emotions about a product can genuinely affect one's enjoyment of it.

Maybe a certain food or other product is designed to evoke a cowboy's frontier life, or an archetypal grandmother's cooking, or something like that. Music would help create that association. Overall the effect might still be pernicious but I'm not sure about that.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-09T17:22:41.409Z · LW · GW

Ban music in political campaign advertisements. Music has no logical or factual content, and only adds emotional bias.

Here's an example of an ad with music intended to give two different emotional tones (optimistic/patriotic in the first six seconds, then sinister in the rest).

Comment by michaelkeenan on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-01T19:07:05.236Z · LW · GW

This strikes me as careful cherrypicking of "absurd" results to pick only the non-absurd "absurd" ones...not all absurd conclusions from the past turned out to be okay in hindsight

I don't think Ozy is claiming that all absurd conclusions are correct. Rather, Ozy claims that some absurd conclusions are correct. When you just need an existence proof, there's no cherry-picking - you just pick your example/s and you're done.

People who say "it is okay if my moral reasoning produces absurd results" generally don't personally think "that sounds absurd, but I'll accept it anyway"

Maybe they should! My impression is that Ozy does.

Go tell a vegetarian that he should support exterminating all wildlife to end wild animal suffering, and see what response you get

Ozy's a vegetarian, and their position on wild animal suffering is:

short version:

  • wild animal suffering v bad

  • currently unfixable because we don’t understand the environment well enough yet to not destroy everything

  • am much more sympathetic to wild-animal antinatalism than human antinatalism but am still not convinced

Seems pretty open to absurdity to me.

Rejecting reasoning that produces absurd results even if we can't find a flaw in the reasoning is an important way we avoid errors

I'd prefer the framing of applying an absurdity penalty to one's estimated probability, rather than "rejecting" it in a binary way, but yes: absurdity could be a useful thing to weight in one's estimated probability of a conclusion being correct.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-01T13:58:51.764Z · LW · GW

Efficient Outrage Hypothesis: if you're hearing about it, it's probably already a dogpile. The return on marginal outrage will be low or negative.

-- Egregore Peck (source)

Comment by michaelkeenan on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-01T13:57:21.910Z · LW · GW

If your moral reasoning doesn’t produce conclusions that seem absurd on the face of it… why are you bothering? I want to be the sort of person who would have come up with the absurd conclusion that slavery is wrong, or the absurd conclusion that women should have rights, or the absurd conclusion that sodomy shouldn’t be illegal.

-- Ozy Frantz (source)

Comment by michaelkeenan on Signalling with T-Shirt slogans · 2014-12-21T12:15:41.909Z · LW · GW

Please note that Rational Attire was not run by MIRI. It was always completely separate from MIRI.

Comment by michaelkeenan on First(?) Rationalist elected to state government · 2014-11-09T18:04:28.641Z · LW · GW

Maybe one could influence malfunctioning government-run services to behave better. If some DMV office or post office is notoriously slow or broken, one could send a letter with official letterhead saying that your constituents are complaining and you'd like to speak to the manager to find out what the problem is. Then actually find out what the problem is, have them work out a plan to solve it, and report back to you on their progress. If necessary, mention that there's currently a big push in the Senate to cut back for poorly-performing services.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:23:16.252Z · LW · GW

Steven Kaas:

You are not the king of your brain. You are the creepy guy standing next to the king going "a most judicious choice, sire".

Mason Hartman made a great typographic meme of this at Pretty Rational.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:15:01.028Z · LW · GW

Catharine G. Evans (aristophy):

This immortal galactic supermind is a stub. You can help expand it by providing the proper technology and averting human extinction.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:10:02.609Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel:

Some of the people who earn thousands of times your income don't deserve it, which is bad; and some of them do, which is worse.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:08:59.308Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel:

Our collective delusion that we can fix most problems appears to be one of the many problems that we cannot fix.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:08:21.178Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel:

Being bad at math does not make you good at art.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:06:56.420Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel (sorry, can't find the link):

A grudging willingness to admit error does not suffice; you have to cultivate a taste for it

Mason Hartman made a typographic meme of this at Pretty Rational.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:05:56.209Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel (sorry, can't find the link):

There is no universally acclaimed institution with a more dismal track record than marrying for love.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:03:28.897Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel (sorry, can't find the link):

Better that X guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted. Solve for X.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:02:13.346Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel:

Guilty pleasure: something you are afraid your inferiors might like.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:01:25.960Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel (sorry, can't find the link):

Even the most disinterested truth-seeker is angling for a world of greater rewards for disinterested truth-seekers.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T05:00:39.312Z · LW · GW

Aaron Haspel (sorry, can't find the link):

Once you start to view human interaction as a contest to signal mating fitness, it becomes hard to view it as anything else.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T04:59:42.951Z · LW · GW


You are the moon of my life. Once unattainable, then I was on you a few times, then I lost interest and ignored you and feel sorta guilty.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T04:59:11.580Z · LW · GW


Plominism: The Christian heresy that salvation is neither by faith nor by works, but 50% hereditary and 50% based on non-shared environment

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T04:58:34.041Z · LW · GW


All the world's a stage - the larval stage of a galactic supercivilization.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T04:55:51.413Z · LW · GW


Had a patient today whose past medical history included "hit by trolley". Resisted urge to ask if the other ten people were okay.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Tweets Thread · 2014-09-30T04:53:45.893Z · LW · GW

I can't currently find this but I'm pretty sure it was from Peter De Blanc (spaceandgames):

I don't know why we're here, but since we are, we might as well take over the universe.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, September 15-21, 2014 · 2014-09-16T19:06:50.341Z · LW · GW

There is the line "thinking of the system as an agent throws into relief the degree to which the system isn’t an agent" so I see what you mean. But I think that just means that there's no sane agent to deal with, no law of the universe that says we can appease Moloch in exchange for something.

But anthropomorphizing Moloch, perhaps poetically, is different, and there's plenty of anthropomorphizing Moloch in the essay:

"But if we have bound Moloch as our servant, the bonds are not very strong, and we sometimes find that the tasks he has done for us move to his advantage rather than ours."

"We will break our back lifting Moloch to Heaven, but unless something changes it will be his victory and not ours."

"In the very near future, we are going to lift something to Heaven. It might be Moloch. But it might be something on our side. If it is on our side, it can kill Moloch dead."

"Moloch is exactly what the history books say he is. He is the god of Carthage. He is the god of child sacrifice, the fiery furnace into which you can toss your babies in exchange for victory in war. He always and everywhere offers the same deal: throw what you love most into the flames, and I will grant you power. As long as the offer is open, it will be irresistable. So we need to close the offer. Only another god can kill Moloch. We have one on our side, but he needs our help. We should give it to him."

My frail human mind is more motivated by war on a hated enemy than by abstractly maximizing utility, so I like the idea of frustrating a raging Moloch.

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, September 15-21, 2014 · 2014-09-16T06:47:44.904Z · LW · GW

If you liked Scott Alexander's essay, Meditations on Moloch, you might like this typographic poster-meme I made. It was a minor success on Facebook.

(If you haven't read Scott Alexander's essay, Meditations on Moloch, then you might want to check it out. As Stuart Armstrong said, it's a beautiful, disturbing, poetical look at the future.)

Comment by michaelkeenan on Open thread, September 8-14, 2014 · 2014-09-11T23:35:58.978Z · LW · GW

Paul Graham wrote about that in A Student's Guide To Startups:

For nearly everyone, the opinion of one's peers is the most powerful motivator of all—more powerful even than the nominal goal of most startup founders, getting rich...So the best you can do is consider this force like a wind, and set up your boat accordingly. If you know your peers are going to push you in some direction, choose good peers, and position yourself so they push you in a direction you like.