Introducing Goalclaw, personal goal tracker 2017-10-21T20:10:13.410Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
Meetup : Rescheduled: Chicago Calibration Game 2014-05-06T18:11:44.980Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Chicago: Seeing with Fresh Eyes Review 2014-04-04T12:26:25.371Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Chicago Open Discussion 2013-10-02T01:58:51.428Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Chicago: Discuss Thinking, Fast and Slow 2013-07-25T03:03:40.490Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Fermi Estimates in Chicago 2013-05-21T13:47:11.736Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Chicago Organizational Meeting and Open Discussion 2012-11-14T01:45:56.555Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Zendo in the West Loop 2012-09-29T01:07:29.100Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Predictions Chi September 15 (September 8 -- cancelled) 2012-09-06T02:29:29.170Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Sapir-Whorf , Savings, and Discount Rates [Link] 2012-03-04T08:03:40.013Z · score: 1 (8 votes)
The Controls are Lying: A Note on the Memetic Hazards of Video Games [Link] 2011-12-19T05:25:26.835Z · score: 18 (27 votes)
Meetup : Chicago Meetup At State and Elm, August 27th 2011-08-18T23:01:32.268Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Topic Search Poll Results and Short Reports 2011-08-09T06:28:38.031Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Please vote -- What topic would be best for an investigation and brief post? 2011-06-30T04:50:40.316Z · score: 4 (7 votes)
New York Times on Arguments and Evolution [link] 2011-06-14T18:12:17.383Z · score: 7 (10 votes)
Proposal: Systematic Search for Useful Ideas 2011-06-01T00:09:43.010Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Schneier talks about The Dishonest Minority [Link] 2011-05-10T05:27:25.332Z · score: 6 (6 votes)
Scott Sumner on Utility vs Happiness [Link] 2011-01-12T20:14:50.158Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
The Long Now 2010-12-12T01:40:07.470Z · score: 14 (17 votes)
[LINK] Creationism = High Carb? Or, The Devil Does Atkins 2010-11-11T03:41:06.707Z · score: 2 (5 votes)
Rationality Power Tools 2010-09-19T06:20:05.481Z · score: 22 (25 votes)


Comment by nic_smith on Meetup : Rescheduled: Chicago Calibration Game · 2014-05-10T03:52:48.038Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This has been rescheduled as the previous date didn't work for some people.

Comment by nic_smith on Meetup : Chicago: Seeing with Fresh Eyes Review · 2014-04-05T01:26:47.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oops. Fixed.

Comment by nic_smith on Amanda Knox Redux: is Satoshi Nakamoto the real Satoshi Nakamoto? · 2014-03-23T07:21:44.702Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Only slightly; Bitcoin had awareness on Less Wrong when it was still fairly obscure, IIRC, but I have heard it discussed recently by people offline and far removed from LW (a coworker, "random" people on the street).

Comment by nic_smith on Amanda Knox Redux: is Satoshi Nakamoto the real Satoshi Nakamoto? · 2014-03-08T03:52:29.965Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The reporter began with the very questionable assumption that Satoshi Nakamoto was his real name*. Because of this, it is less surprising that they found someone with that name and some resemblance to "The" Satoshi Nakamoto. 0.05.

* "It was only while scouring a database that contained the registration cards of naturalized U.S. citizens that a Satoshi Nakamoto turned up whose profile and background offered a potential match." -- It's possible from this sentence they were doing an unrelated search and just saw the name, but I doubt it.

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-10T18:09:48.999Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yet, no one has been on the moon in decades. Environmental circumstances cannot be ignored. You can't go to the moon right now -- maybe in some years, most likely not. "What can a twelfth-century peasant do to save themselves from annihilation? Nothing."

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-10T15:09:09.335Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How would you move Mount Fuji?

Take some time. Think about it.

Got an answer?


Throw it away.

You can't move Mount Fuji.

-- Stefan Kendall

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-05T03:06:08.105Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Individual (or even social) benefit and reward do not necessarily follow from reproductive fitness; they could be utterly miserable but nonetheless have children* with the same beliefs.

*I am not certain how literally to interpret this from the quote.

Comment by nic_smith on November 2013 Media Thread · 2013-11-03T22:50:47.462Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anime: Shin Sekai Yori is essentially several layers of unintended consequences placed into a puzzling world. It has three arcs following Saki Watanabe's early life in a society with psychokinesis, lots of hidden rules, and somewhat questionable morality.

In order to prevent humans sebz xvyyvat bar nabgure jvgu gurve cbjref, gurl unir orra trargvpnyyl zbqvsvrq gb frys-qrfgehpg hcba qbvat fb. Juvyr vg znxrf zheqre fbzrjung yrff pbairavrag va-fgbel, vg qbrf abg fgbc gur pbzzvggrrf gung eha gur fbpvrgl sebz ryvzvangvat crbcyr ivn pngf bgure bgure ebhaqnobhg zrnaf. The indirectness of the action gung pnhfrf fbzrbar'f qrngu can apparently be rather thin.

A subtly wrong word ends up being very important.

Comment by nic_smith on Weekly LW Meetups · 2013-08-21T04:04:50.441Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Chicago will have more Thinking, Fast and Slow meetups on the 24th, Sept 7, and Sept 21.

Comment by nic_smith on August 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-05T00:26:46.287Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agree, especially for "Flip" songs of the third game -- "EXEC_FLIP_ARPHAGE./" "EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/." and "EXEC_FLIP_FUSIONSPHERE/." The startup for my desktop is a small bit of EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/. For the most part, they are superbly dramatic.

Comment by nic_smith on June 2013 Media Thread · 2013-06-04T04:35:26.758Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A Hansonian might say that Madoka Magica is not about Madoka!

Three eps in is not really much; give it a bit more time.

Comment by nic_smith on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-25T03:43:41.208Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've personally found playing anime at 1.1x to be a difference which is barely even noticeable, but further speed increases to be somewhat annoying, and 1.5x+ to be unwatchable. It's likely low-hanging fruit for many, but YMMV.

Comment by nic_smith on May 2013 Media Thread · 2013-05-02T01:51:20.269Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Magical Diary -- it has puzzles, although they're only a small part of the game. Ellen reminded me of Less Wrong fairly quickly; I later found out that TV Tropes lists her subplot as a shout-out to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-05T02:47:59.205Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't the point of the article that Boeing may not have actually done at least the first two steps (design cell not to fail, prevent failure of a cell from causing battery problems)?

I am confused.

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-02T02:38:51.326Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's something to that, but it's not as if Varian's Microeconomic Analysis is going to have the cover of Spice and Wolf 1.

Comment by nic_smith on Update on Kim Suozzi (cancer patient in want of cryonics) · 2013-01-23T03:05:36.378Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A small correction: The Society for Venturism has been around for quite a while, although I have a vague impression they've been more active in the last year than in the past. I had a look at their site to see when they were founded (1986), and noticed they're currently raising funds for someone else, Aaron Winborn.

Comment by nic_smith on The "Friendship is Witchcraft" expectation test · 2013-01-16T02:24:06.465Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

So... does that mean that Phil saw what he was expecting to in the reactions he got? ;)

Comment by nic_smith on October 2012 Media Thread · 2012-10-02T01:26:34.877Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have mixed feelings about Casshern Sins, which I watched over the weekend. It has an excellent soundtrack, kind of neat figure-it-out plot, and a surreal dreamlike quality that reminds me (a lot!) of Squall's Dead. That said, the resolution to the puzzles don't really make any sense (it seems halfway plausible at the end that, in-universe, eating Casshern really would grant immortality -- it's certainly no stranger than the ruin being caused by nyy gur qrngu rfpncvat sebz Yhan jura fur jnf xvyyrq), and characters and perhaps the series over all are engure rkcyvpvgyl qrnguvfg, bs gur fvyyvrfg "qrngu tvirf zrnavat gb yvsr" glcr.

Comment by nic_smith on Less Wrong Polls in Comments · 2012-09-22T04:06:28.773Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was hoping the mode would be 2147483647 (my answer) to at least provide some humor, but 0 has it beat handily.

Comment by nic_smith on Weekly LW Meetups: Austin, Berlin, Portland, Urbana-Champaign IL, Vienna · 2012-09-22T03:17:06.009Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Tomorrow will most likely be the last Chicago meetup on a weekly basis; I've created a calendar for us on Meetup. The Google groups mailing list also remains active.

Comment by nic_smith on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:52:17.604Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by nic_smith on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-01T16:32:09.768Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A dramatic understatement -- I found this to be far superior to WAitW, as it's more concrete and offers reasonable advice to its readers. By being more systematic, it strikes me as a better illustration of WAitA than the actual WAitA article.

Comment by nic_smith on Magical Healing Powers · 2012-08-12T04:08:47.272Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I am reminded of a particular SMBC involving Superman.

Somewhat more seriously, I can't help but think that this post starts with far-mode idealization: would it really be difficult to turn people away for personal reasons if you had magical healing powers? Or is it merely uncomfortable, and perhaps usually bad signalling, to admit you would?

Comment by nic_smith on [Retracted] Simpson's paradox strikes again: there is no great stagnation? · 2012-07-31T11:21:35.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Census Bureau has projects that they do between decades, even though "The" Census is only every decade.

Comment by nic_smith on Suggest alternate names for the "Singularity Institute" · 2012-06-20T17:13:37.993Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Good Future Research Center

A wink to the earlier I.J. Good Institute idea, it matches the tone of the current logo while being unconfining in scope.

Comment by nic_smith on Thwarting a Catholic conversion? · 2012-06-18T22:05:25.836Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean theists rather than deists about halfway through?

Comment by nic_smith on Free Kindle Textbook: The Cerebellum: Brain for an Implicit Self (FT Press Science) · 2012-06-08T07:18:34.367Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

B&N Nook version is also currently free.

Comment by nic_smith on Open question on the certain 'hot' global issue of importance to FAI · 2012-03-24T01:03:56.036Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And I trust it has been explained here that non-scientists are best off not trying to second guess the science, but relying on the expert opinion.

Not saying anything directly about the immediate topic, argument screens off authority and we really do have examples of experts getting things terribly off. Even if that weren't the case, "trust the experts" would still be a terrible heuristic as it's likely to be gamed.

Comment by nic_smith on Brain shrinkage in humans over past ~20 000 years - what did we lose? · 2012-02-19T01:12:11.289Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The palaeolithic humans did not seem to do any really insane religious stuff

Why? The first thing I checked has one anthropologist speculating cannibalism might have occurred during the paleolithic for religious reasons, and on the whole doesn't look very encouraging.

Comment by nic_smith on Ethics of piracy · 2012-01-18T18:50:00.792Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ideas are not rival in consumption and are therefore not private goods, nor does the implementation of an idea prevent re-implementation of it by someone else. They are also of questionable excludability.

Comment by nic_smith on Ethics of piracy · 2012-01-18T05:25:18.247Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ideas and their implementations, including software, are not private goods. Nonetheless, the current copyright system basically pretends otherwise; that supposing that something that is not nonetheless is leads to absurd results should be unsurprising.

Comment by nic_smith on What are you working on? December 2011 · 2011-12-13T20:44:09.387Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have been going through 4Clojure problems. My short-term goal is to rank in the top 100; I just made it to 197 today. I had been reading a bit about Lisp and find the style meshes well with my own thinking (e.g. in PHP, I have a tendency to use foreach loops a lot).

Various solutions (spoilers!):

Comment by nic_smith on All free Stanford classes, continually updated · 2011-11-29T22:03:34.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

@ML_class on Twitter pointed out that Information Theory starts two months later than the others -- "March rather than January".

Comment by nic_smith on [LINK] SMBC on Confirmation Bias · 2011-11-27T21:42:51.587Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for the spoilers don't spoil stories link -- that is incredibly useful. I can now write reviews without worrying about hiding plot details.

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-14T03:30:48.765Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Warrigal previously suggested "Perfection is lack of excess."

Comment by nic_smith on Planets in the habitable zone, the Drake Equation, and the Great Filter · 2011-10-02T06:36:27.870Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A thought I've wanted to bounce off of LW for a while -- could clothes be a great filter? They allow and encourage on-planet exploration as individuals are able to survive and thrive in climes they're not innately adapted to, and also allow for quick-switching of adaptation for different weather, which seems to aid long-distance communication and trade. While I think that Wikipedia exaggerates slightly when it says that "The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic" (hermit crabs?), it is nonetheless much rarer than even intelligence or tool-use (and like both of these traits, humans go to extremes). It might not occur to even a very intelligent species to wear something in order to go into space. The technology used just to move around the surface of their own planet might be really clunky and uncomfortable for several generations of development.

Comment by nic_smith on Content writing offer · 2011-10-02T02:53:25.806Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I recall similar talk on the Open Cures mailing list for the related topic of protofection. No idea if this is related somehow or not -- who is "we" for the OP?

Comment by nic_smith on What if we make better decisions when we trust our gut instincts? [Link] · 2011-09-25T16:07:38.181Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

if you use a correlated but sufficiently game-able proxy for quality, the market will "game" it and make it uncorrelated.

Goodhart's Law?

Comment by nic_smith on Bayesian exercise · 2011-09-21T22:24:21.538Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A few people have said things that are similar while I was typing this up, but hopefully this still helps: I think the problem is that you're implicitly assigning a probability of 0 to anything other than that one rate. In usual Bayesian analysis, you could imagine the launches as being analogous to a "biased coin." Often success/failure scenarios are modeled as binomial, with a beta distribution describing our degrees of belief for what the "coin" will do. But for simplicity's sake, let's suppose we know that either 1% or 10% of the launches will fail, and we have no further information on what will happen, so we assign a probability of 0.5 to both rates of failure. Because either one or the other has to be the case (by the unrealistic setup of this problem), the unconditional probability of a failure is P(F) = 0.5(0.01) + 0.5(0.10) = 0.055

Now, we see a successful launch. Intuitively, this is more likely if the rate of failure is lower, so this should favor, for the rate R, the hypothesis R = 0.01 and decrease the probability that R=0.1:

P(R = 0.01|S) = P(S|R =0.01)P(R = 0.01)/P(S) = 0.99(0.5)/0.945 = 0.524 And since it has to be one or the other, P(R = 0.1|S) = 1 - 0.524 = 0.476

Comment by nic_smith on [LINK] Want to Sway Climate Change Skeptics? Ask About Their Personal Strengths (And Show Pictures!) · 2011-09-15T17:57:55.803Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I mostly agree but with severe caveats.

Comment by nic_smith on [LINK] Want to Sway Climate Change Skeptics? Ask About Their Personal Strengths (And Show Pictures!) · 2011-09-15T05:14:44.599Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Two ideas are present here, one good, and one especially bad.

The good: You can be more open minded with self-affirmations before looking at politically controversial issues.

The bad: You can maneuver people into agreeing with you by having them go through self-affirmations and then presenting your argument. Note in the original article where they mention previous research doing this to "both" sides regarding the death penalty*. This is bad because it's a fully generalizable rhetorical technique that relies on filtering arguments (yes, a perfect reasoner would just adjust for the filtering, as the current sequence reruns emphasize, but if humans were perfect reasoners, the affirmations would not have any effect in the first place). The practicality of this attack is pretty questionable in most circumstances**, but it's something to watch out for.

* The first cite on the topic says that fabricated evidence was presented, but this doesn't seem to be the case for the second

** Beyond some obvious difficulties, and that this is a probably a marginal effect, they write "However, unlike previous studies, we find little evidence that affirmation increases the persuasive power of corrective information."

Comment by nic_smith on Prisoner's Dilemma Tournament Results · 2011-09-06T15:59:47.257Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sort of. When I wrote it and sent it in, it was exactly as you described. Prase noticed and asked if that was actually what I meant, and I said to keep it that way since it sounded interesting, and I thought it had the potential to be a "good bad bug."

Comment by nic_smith on Prisoner's Dilemma Tournament Results · 2011-09-06T08:56:02.226Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Worried way too much about L, among other mistakes. Then again, since it made the simulation run slowly, maybe it's for the best.

Comment by nic_smith on Hacking on LessWrong Just Got Easier · 2011-09-04T09:17:12.197Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My kudos! It is persnickety software to get fired up initially.

Comment by nic_smith on What is the most rational view of Peak Oil and its near term consequences? · 2011-09-04T06:19:47.338Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't read the Wikipedia article like you asked; it seemed unnecessary for checking a few numbers

There is some brief discussion on the Wikipedia talk page asking why the article is full of projections from 2005 that haven't been updated. I've removed the contradicted EIA statement from Wikipedia since it'd be strange for someone to claim that the EIA in early 2010 had a better estimate of 2010 production than it did in 2011, and put an update tag at the top for the rest.

Comment by nic_smith on . · 2011-09-02T02:43:33.335Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't want to link inside LW, so here's an example from outside of what I'm talking about; the apparant attempt to combine generalising from one example with deduction from first principles, and from this find a theory of relationships.

You're pointing to Curi as an example of LW thought?!

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes September 2011 · 2011-09-01T17:06:34.514Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There is actually a pre-split thread about this essay on Overcoming Bias, and the notion of "Keep Your Identity Small" has come up repeatedly since then.

Comment by nic_smith on Prisoner's Dilemma as a Game Theory Laboratory · 2011-08-26T07:05:59.825Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I hope the strategy I wrote in PHP is not too obscure. That was quite fun.

Comment by nic_smith on Call for volunteers: clean up the LW issue tracker · 2011-08-07T18:18:33.933Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A quick status update -- the tracker is down to 52 open issues right now. Roughly half of these look okay to me, and the other half consists of issues that I can't evaluate at a glance. I'll go over my notes again and see if I can do anything with these to find out if they're still relevant, and tag them somehow if not.

Comment by nic_smith on Rationality Quotes August 2011 · 2011-08-02T20:35:08.068Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"[Y]ou should be able to kick your own ass in ten minutes or less." - Diana Hsieh, "Modern Paleo Principles"

In addition to the general interest around here in Paleo-style diets, compare to my similar August 2010 quote.