Comment by mosasaur on Being Rational and Being Productive: Similar Core Skills? · 2010-12-29T09:02:30.968Z · LW · GW

It is very likely you did not need glasses. But now that your eyes are used to them you probably need them. What was happening was your eyes adjusted to your way of life. If you would have reacted better to the signal your eyes were giving you, you would have started to focus more on things in the distance and then switch to things closer by, retraining your eyes. My eyes are not accommodating very well either, but one eye is in far mode and the other in near more, so I can see reasonably well at all distances. It is no surprise that for both eyes the optimal distance is the distance to a computer screen. A matter of adjustment. I need to go out more.

Your problem seems to be not with your eyes but with yielding to social pressure, even when that pressure is in the wrong direction. It is almost impossible to resist social pressure except by removing yourself from bad company. Since you're a student you probably spend a lot of time in an extremely bad social environment, academia. It has a medieval guild like hierarchical structure, where only those who have a title have the option of lowering or rising someone else's status. But the titles themselves mostly don't reflect the owner's capacities. They are the result of a process of elimination and backstabbing that leaves only the most narrow minded and socially inadequate, so that those then grab the positions of power. It is a shame this culture keeps on deranging our youth, makes it a prerequisite to do almost anything. I have a friend who thinks he has Asperger's syndrome, but in reality he is one of the very few I know of in academia who has a normally functioning social awareness. The bad environment has made him doubt his own mental disposition, though. This is how bad it gets.

If you'd follow my advice, remove yourself from unhealthy environments, environments that restrict your creativity by limiting your options to those that serve the status quo, however corrupt it is, you will suffer in other ways. Society has a way to exclude people and humiliate them by forcing them into useless activity, if people don't agree with the prevailing mentality. But what are the victories of the rulers and status seekers worth if they handicap the competition this way?

Whether you will continue to self-deceive in order to fit in and acquire status, or whether you will give that all up and try to attain clarity and vision, it is your choice. Both paths can be very hard.

Comment by mosasaur on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... · 2010-12-25T14:43:34.590Z · LW · GW

"What does you gut instinct say about a lawyer who is paid an average of a quarter of a million dollars for a year's work in which e puts an average of 2 innocent people in jail for six years each and donates on average 2% of er income (5000 dollars) to buying mosquito nets for third world children, saving on average 10 lives?"

You are forgetting the lawyer works to uphold the status quo. If that status quo ("the system") also makes arms dealers reach and invades third world countries or does other despicable things, the net effect of the lawyers actions can still be negative. Think about it as different math operators. You can name a number as big as you want but if I can change the sign of it, it will always be smaller than my small positive number.

"You seem to be considering the absolute worst case scenario, and adding in extraneous considerations to unfairly sway the argument to your side."

I was thrown a bit off balance by the pejorative "marxist propaganda". I don't want to post too much politics in this thread so this will be my last contribution.

Comment by mosasaur on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... · 2010-12-25T13:37:17.442Z · LW · GW

"I might be missing something, but this (and the rest of your post) reads basically like Marxist propaganda."

Thank you. Marx was a very intelligent person who unraveled much of the inner workings of capitalism. His error was -- I think -- that there is something like a collective will of the people (a CEV, maybe) and that there is an effective way of measuring and implementing it. We all know how badly it turned out. But maybe the idea of harnessing collective greed is even worse because it seems flawed already from the beginning.

"Just about the only way to make a lot of money is to do something that other people want doing, and which you do better than average."

This is quite wrong. There is also a very big effort to prevent other people from acquiring things, and I don't just mean WMD. Maybe you could read up on the concept of artificial scarcity.

"... you're going to stick with your gut instinct that working for a high-powered law firm can't possibly be as good as working for a nice fluffy non-profit, and damn the numbers"

My gut instinct tells me a lawyer who in his day job secures a quarter of a billion dollar settlement with an evil regime to prevent legal persecution of an evil politician involved with a major weapons manufacturer, cannot offset this with buying a few mosquito nets for children in that same third world country.

Comment by mosasaur on Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others... · 2010-12-25T10:14:27.206Z · LW · GW

"Wouldn't that depend on how much harm the lawyer might do by remaining at the high-powered law firm?"

Yes. This logical error is present in all the charity related articles. By the time you own the money it is too late. You have helped a corrupt system to become even more corrupt. No amount of money donated to charity -- not even a multiple of the money you earned -- can right that wrong. Not even with maximally effective charity.

If the leaders are wrong and can't be deposed it doesn't help to try and save their victims, because as soon as you help them, whatever they gain is taken from them and used to strengthen the rule of their oppressors. The victims can save themselves if they are ready to serve the oppressors, for example by listening to yvain's and other's feel good charity, and become high powered lawyers, but in that way they only spiral the system into more and more corruption. The fact that they try and make the ones not cooperating with corruption look like they are not helping doesn't make it OK to then make matters worse and claim you are doing good.

The new speak runs several levels deep here.

Comment by mosasaur on What topics would you like to see more of on LessWrong? · 2010-12-15T09:54:58.355Z · LW · GW

So all my comments (and those of the people replying to me too!) are now beneath a visibility threshold. Contrary to popular opinion I believe this reflects badly on this site, not on me.

Even you don't react to my content, only to my attitude.

We're now both invisible because a few people prevent all others from seeing us.

"testosteron driven fools"?


Comment by mosasaur on What topics would you like to see more of on LessWrong? · 2010-12-15T08:24:38.459Z · LW · GW

You'd like to hear more? According to all the down votes there aren't many like you.

Unfortunately you won't like what I have to say either, I think. I hate your life tracking idea. Too many attempts to maintain my weight by calorie counting and weighing my food. Even when I was successful it destroyed my motivation and killed my intelligence. I believe many overweight people are really eating and eating because there are not enough vitamins and other nutrients in their food, especially vitamin D.

I also hate the fact that I up voted the GP when his "save the world" idea, using money and mathematics is total crap. As stupid as Kaj-Sotala's career post. How can academia save the world when it is the root of corruption? Any one succeeding in such an environment is at most an idiot savant, not smart or anything, it doesn't matter how much math they know.

I like the idea that you want to avoid ads because they damage people. But what is worse is they damage your message, by showing you to affiliate with corruption. You still want to make some money even though the money flow and supply is almost totally controlled by evil banks and corporations.

What to do if the fight is so hard? For one thing, everything helps. I almost deleted my post here because of the downvotes. Now I know there is at least a little controversy. So I'll try and give some ideas.

My main idea is acquiring independence. Just like Wikipedia freed our knowledge from commercial and academic lock in, Wikileaks and other such organizations are now freeing our news and information sources. Next we need to free ourselves from commercial manufacturing, for example by having three D printers in our garden sheds. Another form of independence would be freeing the physical basis of Internet itself by organizing ourselves into wireless mesh networks. Most handhelds are now physically capable of functioning as network nodes that relay signals to other handhelds. If you would write an app for that it would help.

Myself, I am interested in freeing the world from commercial energy providers by trying to get myself off the grid, using solar energy or wind energy or by finding some other small scale energy generating technology. The fact that I haven't been able to do so yet doesn't change the path I am planning to take.

What we have to do is nothing less than to rebuild the word from the ground up, using open source and small scale user controlled technology. We even have to invent our own money system. It feels a little like implementing a computer language in itself, like the python pypy project. Except that the new world is not controlled by the corrupt entities of commerce, academia and government that control it now. Luckily, I think it is possible to do this step by step.

So let the downvotes begin. Is there a way to delete this account in case I get fed up again with the downvotes and want to protect myself against further misguided self damaging attempts to help you ungrateful and hostile testosteron driven fools?

By the way, EY has turned into a dictator. Or maybe he always was one.

Comment by mosasaur on What topics would you like to see more of on LessWrong? · 2010-12-14T14:43:32.777Z · LW · GW

Just like certain drugs can trick the human brain into thinking they are beneficial, economic incentives are making us admire billionaires and corporations. But they are evil. They influence our media to make them report positively on them. Non cooperative individuals or organizations receive no money, no ads. But ads interrupt our thinking, turn us all into attention disorder cases. I agree with the points you offer, but I very much disagree with the idea that because such biases distort our minds and our economies they are therefore not worth discussing. To the contrary, the economy drives technological development which in turn leads to AI and further technology. If the biases in our thinking are present at such a basic level this can not be ignored. I would go as far as saying that your comment addresses one of the most important topics I have seen here in a long time.

Comment by mosasaur on Individual vs. Group Epistemic Rationality · 2010-03-03T10:58:11.495Z · LW · GW

Good point Somehow I've always been attracted to taking the road less taken. Maybe there is a group level reason for that, it would be nice if it turns out my actions are not entirely egoistic. I don't make much of a distinction between processes inside humans and processes between humans. For me, pjeby's akrasia theory about conflicting motor programs can be explained in a similar way as you are doing now for scientific progress that uses differences between scientific theories as a way to generate enough diversity for an optimization process to work with. In that light I am a bit skeptical about the negative attitude about akrasia I often find here (even the term itself seems a bit hostile). In fact, observing different motor programs or scientific theories battling it out amongst themselves can be a way to gain knowledge, it should not be something to be fought. Even if the desired outcome is one of coherent action, it matters a lot which action, and we need to keep that pool of optional actions alive as much as we need to effectively handle a current situation. Maybe it would be possible to find a balance between exploration and solidification (does anyone know a better term?) with a mathematical or theoretical basis. It could be akin to the heuristics used in programming genetic algorithms.

Comment by mosasaur on Sorting Out Sticky Brains · 2010-01-18T09:20:04.767Z · LW · GW

Few people officially approve of flaunting their proteans. If one's gender forces one to have this specific kind, one has got to have a place to stash them and then let them come out "unexpectedly". The other way is to do it knowingly, but that is normally coupled to the affirmative kind. Flaunting uncertainty is therefore necessarily trans-gender, which can indicate an extra strong display, in case of attractiveness, or a warning to back off, in case of craziness.