Comment by nonplussed on Justifiable Erroneous Scientific Pessimism · 2013-05-14T21:52:02.207Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, I'm not sure the thermometer can conclude that it's accelerating from seeing the black body radiation. I think it's equivalent to there being an event horizon behind it emitting hawking radiation (this happens when you accelerate at a constant rate). The thermometer can't tell if it's next to a black hole or if it's accelerating. Could be wrong though, but I vaguely remember something along these lines.

Comment by nonplussed on Help us name the Sequences ebook · 2013-04-15T21:36:24.313Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I like something with 'rationality' and 'less wrong' in it. I don't think it's helpful to have 'the sequences' in the title if an aim to to have non less-wrongers pick it up.

What are the odds of a physical book? Would make a great gift, and gifting an ebook still seems weird. I'm still undecided about whether I like my books made out of dead trees or not.

Comment by nonplussed on SMBC comic: poorly programmed average-utility-maximizing AI · 2013-04-14T22:08:34.241Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're all wrong — if the happiness of the utility monster compounds as the comic says, then you get greater happiness out of lumping it all into one monster rather than cloning.

Comment by nonplussed on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-12T20:34:25.148Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't gone through any of the supposed derivations, but I'm led to believe that the Born rule is convincingly derivable within many worlds. I have a book called "Many Worlds? Everett, quantum theory and reality", which contains such a derivation, I've been meaning to read it for a while and will get around to it some day. It claims:

An agent who arranges his preferences among various branching scenarios—quantum games—in accordance with certain principles of rationality, must act as if maximizing his expected utilities, as computed from the Born rule.

Which I think is a nice angle to view it from. At any rate, the Born rule is a fairly natural result to have, since the probabilities are simply the vector product of the wavefunction with itself, which is how you normally define the sizes of vectors in vector spaces. So I'm expecting the argument in the book to be related to the criteria that mathematicians use to define inner products, and how those criteria map to assumptions about the universe (ie no preferred spatial direction, that sort of thing). Maybe if I understand it I'll post something here about it for those who are interested — I'm yet to see a blog-style summary of where the Born rule comes from.

At any rate it doesn't come from anywhere in the way we're taught quantum mechanics at uni, it's simply an axiom that one doesn't question. So any derivation, however assumption laden and weak would be an improvement over standard Copenhagen.

Comment by nonplussed on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-12T20:16:31.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

meetups select for people outgoing enough to go out of the house in the first place

Excellent point, I know that effect makes a huge difference in other contexts, so that resonates with me. Ok, well I'll give it a shot. There are no meetups near where I am in Germany at the moment, but I'll be back in Melbourne later in the year where there seems to be some regular stuff going on.

Comment by nonplussed on Boring Advice Repository · 2013-04-10T23:32:41.225Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Surprised no ones mentioned this, but what's wrong with a phone compass app? They don't use GPS, they are actually measuring the local magnetic field, and they don't delay whilst 'getting a lock' or anything. And it's not like they use much battery power.

Agree that a compass is superior to GPS for orientation, but I'm not seeing why it can't be an app.

Comment by nonplussed on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-07T18:50:22.971Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Hi everyone, I'm Chris. I'm a physics PhD student from Melbourne, Australia. I came to rationalism slowly over the years by having excellent conversations with like minded friends. I was raised a catholic and fully bought into the faith, but became an atheist in early high school when I realised that scientific explanations made more sense.

About a year ago I had a huge problem with the collapse postulate of quantum mechanics. It just didn't make sense and neither did anything anyone was telling me about it. This led me to discover that many worlds wasn't as crazy as it had been made out to be, and led me to this very community. My growth as a rationalist has made me distrust the consensus opinions of more and more groups, and realising that physicists could get something so wrong was the final nail in the coffin for my trust of the scientific establishment. Of course science is still the best way to figure things out, but as soon as opinions become politicised or tied to job prospects, I don't trust scientists as far as I can throw them. Related to this is my skepticism that climate change is a big deal.

I am frustrated more by the extent of unreason in educated circles than I am in uneducated circles, as people should know better. For example, utilitarian morality should be much more widespread in these circles than it is. But moral issues are often politicised, and you know what they say about politics here.

I'm pretty social and would love to meet more rationalist friends, but I have the perception that if I went to a meetup most people would be less extroverted than me, and it might not be much fun for me. Also since I do physics and am into heavy metal, my social circles at the moment are like 95% male, and it seems pretty silly to invest effort in developing a new social group unless it does something about that number, which I'm pretty sure less wrong meetups will not. So I'm probably not going to look into this, even though I enjoy the communities writings online.

Though I find the writing style to sometimes be a bit dense and not self contained (requiring reading a lot of past posts to make sense of.) I find myself preferring the writing style of a rationalist blog like slatestarcodex (or its previous incarnation), and if the same issue is being discussed in two places I'll generally read it there instead because I prefer the more casual writing style.