Comment by nickih on Pooling resources for valuable actuarial calculations · 2012-02-16T09:40:26.013Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I am an (almost qualified) actuary, working for a life insurance company.

I would love it if I had data of a very high quality. However, most insurance companies can't use population statistics because of differences with underwriting standards (we don't cover the very bad risks), target markets (we advertise in the Daily Slum, so only cover low socioeconomic classes, for example), and claim definitions (what is a disease in the population might not be a claim for the insurance company). So we use our own experience to modify the population stats. Very large companies might use entirely their own data.

Generally, there is not enough of it to be sure that it's totally credible, especially when it comes to fine differences such as how much you smoke or drink. And that's ignoring problems like non-disclosure. Age and Sex are easier, but there's not much you can do about changing those, so it doesn't help with the question at hand.

Of course, for some types of insurance, such as compulsory car insurance, there is more data to work with - I've never worked in general insurance, so I can't comment on that.

Comment by nickih on Type 2 as an aggregation of Type 1 processes · 2012-02-13T22:30:24.147Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is interesting. But I'm not sure I followed it properly. Is there a post about Type 1/Type 2 mental processes? It might be good to link to it for those of us who need a refresher.

Comment by nickih on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2012-02-07T20:53:34.969Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This explains why so many text books are so badly written. The authors were aiming too high.

Comment by nickih on Illusion of Transparency: Why No One Understands You · 2012-02-02T18:52:49.782Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is an interesting read. Specifically, their work suggests what could be a potentially very useful way of reducing miscommunication.

One of the experiments the authors ran tried to reduce the overconfidence they saw in predicting whether people would understand or not. They asked people to write sarcastic sentances, and then read them back, out loud, in a tone of voice which made them sound completely serious. They also did serious read in a sarcastic way. They found that people were then less confident that the email would be understood in the way it was intended, because they had changed the way they "heard" it in their head.

I propose that this could be useful in the following way: if you write an email, read it aloud to yourself in the opposite tone of voice. If you are still confident that it will be taken the way you originally thought it should, it's probably safe to send. But if you can now see how it might be misunderstood, redraft it. Repeat until you feel ready to send.

There are times in my past when this advice would have been very useful to me.

Comment by nickih on The problem with too many rational memes · 2012-01-31T18:34:16.327Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I utterly failed my art.

You did not fail. It took you only one week, and a simple question from your friend, to break out of a mindset that some people never break out of. What's more, you learnt a lesson from it. I would count that as a win.

Comment by nickih on The problem with too many rational memes · 2012-01-30T18:20:19.179Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

if people are afraid their contributions will be criticized, they'll be less likely to share them

And if people think that their opposing contributions will be taken as criticism, they'll be less likely to share them, as demonstrated by the OP.

Comment by nickih on Existential Risk · 2011-11-22T16:39:26.868Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would count myself among "general people". I didn't get it at all. In fact, having read the comments, I'm still not sure I get it. It's a pretty picture and all, but why is it there?

Comment by nickih on Rationality Quotes: April 2011 · 2011-04-05T20:10:20.090Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

what is so special about the program which makes up a human, that it would be morally wrong to shut off the program?

We haven't figured out how to turn it back on again. Once we do, maybe it will become morally ok to turn people off.

Comment by nickih on Are Your Enemies Innately Evil? · 2011-04-05T20:01:58.059Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From the point of view of the bomber, faith in God is not itself unjustified. It is in fact a vital part of his psychology.

The original point was the difference in the psychologies of bombers and soldiers. They are both doing it because they were told to, but their confidence in the judgement of the one telling them to is different. So the one with the higher confidence feels more "justified". That's what I thought you meant, anyway. If it's not, could you please clarify?

Perhaps I should have said "the bomber thinks he has more justification than the soldier".

Comment by nickih on Are Your Enemies Innately Evil? · 2011-04-04T20:17:16.020Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Given that people who believe in god tend to really believe in god, and people who trust governments do so usually with a number of reservations, does that mean that the bomber has more justification than the soldier?

Comment by nickih on Rationality Quotes: April 2011 · 2011-04-04T20:07:03.219Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It depends what your work is. If you're doing data entry then surfing the net is lazy. If you're driving a train and surfing the net on your phone then that's irresponsible.

Comment by nickih on Are Your Enemies Innately Evil? · 2011-04-03T15:48:45.046Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Soldier: The government told me to. They've been elected by us, so they must be right, yeah? Everyone else is doing it - think how my friends would look down on me if I said no! I'm going to be a hero! Heroes get all the girls.

Bomber: My God told me to... can't argue with God, right? My friends are doing it - I don't want to look like a coward! Mmm, virgins. (Or other heavenly reward of choice).

Hmmm... that was originally going to be a list of differences in their viewpoints, but the more I think about it, the more similar they appear. Now I'm not sure what I think any more!

Comment by nickih on Being a teacher · 2011-03-19T10:29:01.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had a similar experience learning to do back flips in gymnastics. My coach was always there to catch/support me while I was upside down, until the day he wasn't.

No shock and fear, though; I didn't even notice that he hadn't caught me until I was already the right way up again.

Comment by nickih on Ability to react · 2011-03-06T13:54:52.078Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your difficulty with martial arts sounds like it's mostly because that particular martial art doesn't agree with you. There's an immense variation in the styles of martial arts, and it's very important to try several and find the one that works best for you. But then you said you've been doing it for about 10 years, so you probably know that.

You sound like you would benefit from one of the ones that puts a lot of emphasis on pair work, like Shorinji Kempo (it's quite obscure everywhere except Japan). It does have katas, but not many, and they all have pair-form versions, which helps with figuring out why you're doing each particular move.

Comment by nickih on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-12T15:51:14.921Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this site:

It includes advice, examples, a forum to ask advice/share stories, and the weekly "Ask Unclutterer" column. Not to mention some hilarious examples of unitaskers.

Comment by nickih on Taboo Your Words · 2011-01-16T18:20:28.645Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As g mentions, your description also describes rounders. Even if you defined all the words in your description ever more precisely, you could still be thinking of a different game.

Presumably at some point you would discover that, when your expectations of what was going to happen differed. Depending on what you're discussing, that could happen very soon, or not for a long time.

How does the rationalist in the game know when to stop defining and start adding characteristics/keywords?

Comment by nickih on Anki deck for biases and fallacies · 2011-01-16T12:44:27.958Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Like nazgulnarsil, I didn't know Anki existed. Having looked at it, I realise that it is a program that works exactly the way I think, which is great!

Thank you!

Comment by nickih on Say Not "Complexity" · 2010-12-18T17:32:28.685Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're right, and I think that this is a mistake a lot of people make when thinking about AI - they assume that the fact that they're intelligent means they also know a lot. Like the child, their specific knowledge (such as the fact that there is something to solve), is something they have to learn, or be taught, over time.