Posts

Meetup : Stockholm meetup 2011-10-02T23:01:02.843Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
IBM's "Watson" program to compete against "Jeopardy" champions tonight 2011-02-14T15:28:39.168Z · score: 10 (13 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 2010-11-02T18:57:29.702Z · score: 6 (11 votes)

Comments

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-04T03:30:26.591Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer edited out his explicit resolution at some point before these updates began.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-04T03:25:28.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harry would have to maintain the transfiguration for the rest of Hermione's life, or until they find a replacement solution. Given the extent of the injuries that may not be within his strength.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T22:13:54.345Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A prominent pop-culture example is the Mass Effect sci-fi game series. Unless Commander Shepard's gender is directly relevant (such as during romantic subplots), he/she will say the exact same lines whether man or woman.

Over five years and three lengthy and ambitious games, I've probably read hundreds of pages of people discussing every aspect of the series and its narrative. The single time I can remember anyone saying that 'FemShep' felt a bit off was in direct response to the above observation; outside of that, she was wildly popular and often named as a positive model for the writing of female protagonists.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T21:55:56.977Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, if I come out of this planet alive I'm probably not going to be fazed by much after that

My opinion of you has ebbed and flowed a lot, Eliezer, but one thing for which I doubt I will ever stop loving you is the way you can talk like a science fiction character with the most perfect nonchalance.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T21:20:02.189Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, since Plasmon brought up chapter 62: can we assume that whenever the fic resumes, there's going to be a scene of Harry's parents visiting Hogwarts?

(I post this less in order to get an answer than to prevent the off-chance you forget about it and end up having to squeeze in a hasty explanation for the missing visit.)

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T20:53:16.111Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, he didn't say "she's not going to appear until later", he said "that's not going to be apparent until later". This suggests that the character has already appeared, doesn't it?

(I might have guessed that the androgynous Voldemort could have been a female character in this fic, but I believe Eliezer has already flat-out stated that he's sticking to Quirrell = Voldemort.)

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T20:46:04.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fawkes is male in HPMOR.

e: unless the "that's not going to be apparent until later" means that he will be revealed to have actually been female all along later on.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2012-12-22T05:29:01.997Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would say a small edit is probably in order, because "as obvious to him as a Thestral" definitely doesn't come across as an ability that requires any concentration.

But I think Karl's explanation is a much better one and should be canonical.

Comment by nihilcredo on Rationality Quotes November 2012 · 2012-11-04T19:37:34.976Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The great thing about reality is that eventually you hit it.

Source: Andrew Sullivan in an otherwise fairly bland political post

Comment by nihilcredo on Quote on Nate Silver, and how to think about probabilities · 2012-11-04T19:34:09.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd first look for a multi-millionaire to whom to make the offer.

Comment by nihilcredo on Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations · 2012-07-06T19:14:12.655Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you can choose, French shutters work miles better than roller shutters at blocking light.

Comment by nihilcredo on Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations · 2012-07-05T03:44:34.195Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't this what curtains and shutters are for?

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-06-02T09:43:23.077Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In Ch. 7, the Harry-and-Draco conversation needs to be toned down even further because multiple parents have announced their intention to have their children read this fanfic – and I know that revision is going to be controversial, but Draco’s current conversation is also a little out-of-character by the standards of the Draco in later chapters.

This is an explicit statement that the concern about kids reading MoR is what is prompting the revision, with minor considerations about Draco's character being secondary.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-06-02T08:36:16.653Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agree with this.

I have no problem with making Draco's character more consistent, and if Eliezer honestly feels that that should mean removing or altering his casual dehumanisation of peasants, so be it.

But I urge Eliezer to seriously ask himself, with all his strength as a rationalist, about this and any other changes: "Would this be sacrificing the quality of the narrative for the sake of making a very, very mature story superficially more marketable to children?"

And yes, I feel those apparently charged words are wholly appropriate: removing a rape reference is just a terribly superficial way of making the story 'kid-friendly', because it isn't kid-friendly in much, much deeper ways. If a kid isn't ready to know what 'rape' means, would you want him to read Chapter 82? Or the Bellatrix chapters? If anything the rape reference in Ch. 7 works as an excellent gatekeeper, filtering the audience before the really disturbing stuff begins to kick in.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-04-18T03:45:25.741Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Those are very valid objections, but since the phrase "great works of literature like Hamlet or Fate/Stay Night" constantly causes hilarious overreactions whenever I link Three Worlds Collide around, I'm entirely supportive of Eliezer taking liberties for this purpose.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-15T18:49:19.103Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upon further reflection, I think the question of "how much of the pain/suffering/unpleasantness/etc. from a given even happens on the spot, and how much lingers on in the memory?" has an answer that wildly varies, even for the same individual.

The worst physical pain I ever felt involved a certain surgical operation, but it causes me no discomfort whatsoever to remember it; conversely, I once got stung by an unknown insect while still half-asleep, and the thought still makes me twitch and clutch at my neck. On a more mental level, there are a few seemingly random subjects that make me flinch and feel burning shame whenever brought up, because almost a decade ago I happened to make a fool of myself in conversations that involved them; yet those were by no means the most sorrowful moments of my life, or even the most embarrassing.

So I would consider the question "would you take X pre-memory wipe, or Y post-wipe?" highly dependant on X and Y. And yes, I find myself agreeing that X='condemn a stranger to torture' would be exactly the kind of event that inflicts the majority of its suffering through memory and regret.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-15T04:54:28.262Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just because your memory is going to get wiped afterwards does not mean that your on-the-spot preference is worth any less than post-memory-wipe-You's. If you had a choice between being memory wiped, then stubbing your toe; versus taking a powerful kick to the balls now, then being memory wiped, I doubt you would sigh and spread your legs.

If you are gifted (or, in this particular case, cursed) with enough empathy that the very act of deciding to condemn a stranger to torture causes you pain, then I'm not sure you can concoct a hypothetical scenario wherein you can ignore said empathy while retaining your agency and/or identity.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-11T18:00:04.413Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

DISINTEGRATING LIVE KITTENS is standard spell practice for schoolchildren in the Potterverse

Which spell would that be?

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-11T17:54:40.172Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally, are there no Author's Notes for chapter 84?

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-11T04:42:40.017Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

V guvax ur jebgr vg va gur grkg rdhvinyrag bs fubhgvat va fbzr rneyvre Nhgube'f Abgrf, npghnyyl.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-11T04:30:27.660Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Same. The part about disappearing in Albania is from canon-Quirrell's backstory - that's where he ran into Voldemort's wandering ghost, so it's interesting that in MoR he supposedly went there before the war. The rest of the background recounted by Bones and by Quirrell himself don't really ring a bell with me, the closest thing I can think of is him needing "reconciliation" with the Lady of the House being reminiscent of Sirius Black and his spat with his family, but Sirius already exists in MoR and had a different history.

It might be possible that in MoR the house of Gaunt (the one canon!Voldemort is from) did not fall into poverty and retained their household and Wizengamot influence? If the general 'powering up' of characters can go that far back it would be plausible. And now that I think of it, Quirrell initiated talk about witch-on-Muggle magical seduction during the SPHEW arc, which could suggest that that part of his family background was carried over from canon.

(One of the things that annoy me about HPMoR is that when I can't quickly figure out what a certain passage might be hinting to, I have to assign a frustratingly high probability to the event that it's simply a reference/homage/in-joke to one of the myriad HP fanfictions.)

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-05T09:37:16.584Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

1) Those numbers are about American finance in 2011. British finance in 1991 probably did not have salaries quite that ridiculous. But more importantly:

2) As Dumbledore explains, it's not this rescue price that is the problem, so much as all the cumulative rescue prices Harry's enemies will now expect him to pay for each of his friends (not necessarily once, either... Hermione could well be attacked again).

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T20:29:17.052Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, Harry has just shown that he is both able and willing to overcome Dumbledore's refusal to offer concessions.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T19:33:05.396Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If Dumbledore believes that Harry's action told Voldemort that blackmailing will be effective again, shouldn't he now proceed to move Harry's parents to safety at Hogwarts, as Harry suggested when the issue was raised after Azkaban?

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T13:36:24.431Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to dismiss this hypothesis because I don't think Eliezer would be happy to have HPMoR's discussion threads taken over by the inevitable "How many Galleons is Person X worth?" disputes.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-04-02T10:15:10.274Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just a bad film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110216/

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-28T15:55:36.167Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45lXXiLbTxM

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-28T15:54:56.187Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Worst comes to worst, he asks Dumbledore to cure some rich muggles with cancer who are willing to pay.

I think that the can of worms of why wizards don't immediately go cure world hunger etc. is best left to be opened near the end of the fic, if at all.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-28T14:23:12.159Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The next time Eliezer puts up an omake page, he definitely needs to include this.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-28T14:07:16.495Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The math here depends entirely on what the "certain rights" Lucius has over Harry are. Were the debt a purely financial issue, saving Hermione would be a no-brainer. Did those rights allow Lucius to realistically cripple Harry's efforts to fix the world, not saving Hermione would be a no-brainer.

We still don't know, although the fact that Dumbledore ultimately went along with it suggests that it's closer to the former than the latter.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12 · 2012-03-27T12:14:05.900Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. Also, sigh.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12 · 2012-03-26T11:04:27.022Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Re-posting it so you see it in the inbox:

Eliezer, could you please confirm / deny / decline to answer whether the fic is past its halfway point? Anubhav and I have a persistent memory that you did at one point state that it was, but I can't find that statement so I'm wondering if I just crossed a couple of brain-wires.

Comment by nihilcredo on Is my name deceptive? · 2012-03-24T10:55:19.150Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Well it does mislead, but since it's not intentional and the misunderstanding isn't going to cause any harm, you have no real reason for changing it - unless you find it bothersome you to clarify when it happens to come up.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-24T01:23:48.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, he stated very early on (at least a year ago, I think?) that he had only read up to book 3 or 4, tried to pick up the later books, couldn't get into them, and so relies on the wiki and other references to know how the plot develops.

I do not know if this has since changed.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-23T10:48:46.962Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer, could you please confirm / deny / decline to answer whether the fic is past its halfway point? I have a persistent memory that you did at one point state that it was, but I can't find that statement so I'm wondering if I just crossed a couple of brain-wires.

e: while I'm here, I was rereading random chapters and spotted a typo in Ch. 14: "Good heavens, Mr. Potter, do you think these would be allowed to students".

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-23T10:42:33.960Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone who isn't likely to be Veritaserum-proof is probably a better candidate for this plan.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-23T10:12:10.939Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Reveal to everyone the secret of Dementors so that their animal patroni are no longer effective. Wait until the Dementor has taken out most of the room (Harry has already managed to resist Dementors without his patronus), while either protecting Hermione himself or encouraging Dumbledore to grab her and phoenix-flee.

Quirrell said that the best strategy against a Dementor is just to Apparate away, which suggests that, if the Wizengamot room has an anti-Apparition defence like Hogwarts, everyone who has neither a phoenix nor a Patronus (and isn't Harry) is screwed.

I don't think this is going to be Harry's solution, but I think it might be the best of the violent solutions.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-23T10:05:17.284Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

About Harry's darkside. It seems new and weird that his darkside can be hurt by Hermione's plight. Last time he went over to his darkside strongly (after dementor exposure), he ended up in a state where he hated everyone he cares about and only came out because he didn't know how to respond to her kissing him, not because he cared.

This is in fact exactly what happened:

Without even thinking he was trying to flee inside himself, flee into his dark side, pull the cold rage over himself like a shield. It took too long, he hadn't tried to go fully into his dark side since Azkaban. And then when his blood was something like cold, he looked up again, and saw Hermione in the chair again, and discovered that his dark side knew nothing about how to deal with this type of pain, it pierced through the coldness like a knife and didn't hurt less in the slightest.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-23T10:03:23.370Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've come to think that the 500 comment limit may be unnecessary. Sorting comments by "New" seems to be pretty efficient at putting the interesting stuff (i.e. the reaction to the latest chapter) in highlight.

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-18T07:37:10.557Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Here

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-16T11:16:23.622Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Is Harry's guess at the twins' prank on Rita the correct one, and by corollary, are we supposed to believe that Quirrelmort couldn't come up with a hypothesis that basic, and/or that it had been that easy for the twins to successfully brainwash an adult witch? (And on a meta level: was it worth it to make such a hubbub with such a supremely, well, boring answer?)

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-16T10:42:02.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Speaking of funnelling, am I remembering correctly that Eliezer recently said that the story was past the halfway point, or is my memory misattributing that statement?

Comment by nihilcredo on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-16T10:37:48.093Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It has been said that Hagrid would just be allowed to get a new wand, so if Hermione's wand is snapped she could later do the same.

Comment by nihilcredo on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-08T09:14:34.224Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Mustapha Mond evil?

Comment by nihilcredo on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T19:21:03.840Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Which statement?

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

Comment by nihilcredo on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T15:17:13.695Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming by highest likelihood that you're German, my reading of the relevant section of the criminal code suggest that it's OK for you to debate in Internet fora:

(3) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or downplays an act committed under the rule of National Socialism of the kind indicated insection 6 (1) of the Code of International Criminal Law, in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine.

(4) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims by approving of, glorifying, or justifying National Socialist rule of arbitrary force shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than three years or a fine.

Unless it can be argued that you'd be "disturbing the public peace". But as I understand it, in Germany (and France) it's legal to visit Stormfront, you just cannot promote it.

Comment by nihilcredo on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T15:09:38.907Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

butthurt

Expressing a controversial opinion doesn't condone being immature or disrespectful.

Beyond that, I have two questions for you:

1) How much confidence do you place in your statement on the impact of female rape in first-world countries?

2) If the answer to (1) is greater than "very little", on what sort of direct or indirect knowledge of the phenomenon do you base this confidence?

Comment by nihilcredo on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T14:55:36.540Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

there are better justified and less harmful ways to accomplish this than intellectual property law.

Such as?

Comment by nihilcredo on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-01-26T14:53:35.301Z · score: 26 (32 votes) · LW · GW

How many cetera can you require to be paria before you're creating an implicit No True Scotsman?

It's quite possible, and indeed I find the idea highly persuasive, that while dictatorships may not necessarily cause all sorts of unpleasant things (oppression, civil war, corruption, etc.), they do make those unpleasant things much more likely due to more hidden structural flaws (e.g. lack of an outlet for dissatisfaction).

That proposition sounds to me a bit like saying "ceteris paribus, driving at 230km/h will get you to your destination much faster".

Comment by nihilcredo on The Singularity Institute's Arrogance Problem · 2012-01-20T21:46:18.030Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have read about half of his book and skimmed the rest, and I pretty much share that impression. To put it succinctly, that man works a 4-hour workweek only if you adopt a very restrictive definition of what counts as "work".