Posts

How I changed my exercise habits 2015-04-13T22:19:50.506Z · score: 16 (17 votes)
Online Course in Evidence-Based Medicine 2011-12-02T00:22:54.456Z · score: 5 (8 votes)
[Link]: GiveWell is aiming to have a new #1 charity by December 2011-11-29T03:11:34.662Z · score: 19 (20 votes)
Rationality Quotes July 2011 2011-07-03T06:41:13.989Z · score: 2 (7 votes)
Introducing… The Less Wrong Forum! 2011-07-01T01:46:10.213Z · score: 2 (21 votes)
Help Request: Cryonics Policies 2011-06-18T18:58:20.786Z · score: 12 (13 votes)
Sequence Exercise: "Extensions and Intensions" from "A Human's Guide to Words" 2011-04-17T20:22:43.498Z · score: 11 (15 votes)
Sequence Exercise: first 3 posts from "A Human's Guide to Words" 2011-04-16T17:21:02.159Z · score: 30 (36 votes)
Link: Gizmodo discusses SIAI, matches donations 2011-03-31T20:35:50.058Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
Reading the Sequences before Starting to Post: Costs and Benefits 2011-03-31T02:01:56.175Z · score: 13 (14 votes)
Zendo-like Induction Game for Playing Online 2011-01-03T17:16:06.414Z · score: 10 (12 votes)
“Fake Options” in Newcomb’s Problem 2010-12-10T02:12:09.126Z · score: 0 (7 votes)

Comments

Comment by normal_anomaly on Rational Humanist Music · 2015-04-27T11:43:35.570Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Lisps, from the Album "Are We at the Movies".

Comment by normal_anomaly on How I changed my exercise habits · 2015-04-14T12:37:48.066Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the advice. I don't want to do alternating days, because doing the same thing every day makes it easier to have as a habit (for me, anyway). More weight with less reps/set and doing a circuit both make sense. I'm sort of combining weight maintenance and strength goals, and I should probably meet with someone who advises on these questions for a living instead of winging it.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How I changed my exercise habits · 2015-04-14T12:27:36.196Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, thank you! I'll add the link.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How I changed my exercise habits · 2015-04-14T12:24:52.948Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Step 1: I decided to find an activity, sport, hobby where fitness can actually be used. In my case climbing."

My intention was to give strategies that can be used to build any good habit, not necessarily physical fitness. But within the realm of fitness, you make a good point that a sport where you can see the gains provides additional motivation on top of the desire to be healthier.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How I changed my exercise habits · 2015-04-14T12:21:57.062Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I can now do at least two consecutive pull ups and sometimes three. Hardly world class, but I feel great about it. I also succeeded last December at the climbing route that, when I couldn't complete it, inspired me to start working out. With the cardio I started a few months ago, I've gone from panting for air and feeling awful after running a mile to being able to run two miles and start to enjoy it.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Are there really no ghosts in the machine? · 2015-04-13T22:52:25.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How would you suggest we find the right utility function without using machine learning?

If I find out, you'll be one of the first to know.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Are there really no ghosts in the machine? · 2015-04-13T22:24:31.689Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I never claimed that evolution did a good job, but I would argue that it gave us a primary directive; to further the human species.

No, it didn't. That's why I linked "Adaptation Executers, not Fitness Maximizers". Evolution didn't even "try to" give us a primary directive; it just increased the frequency of anything that worked on the margin. But I agree that we shouldn't rely on machine learning to find the right utility function.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-13T21:05:40.097Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's little I can change about my beliefs that would improve my mood, aside from becoming implausibly optimistic about my future.

How do you think you know that? Maybe some of your beliefs or aliefs are causing wrong actions that are making you sad. From what you say elsewhere in your comment, it sounds like your depression is triggered by romantic failure, so changes to beliefs that help you relate to people better probably could improve your mood. In fact, your particular case of wanting "a relationship . . . in which nobody's deceiving anybody" sounds like a good one for CBT. (Or rather for fixing with rationality-type changes in general, I don't know enough about CBT vs. other therapies to really say.)

Comment by normal_anomaly on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-13T20:55:37.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The reason in the past was probably disease and/or unintended pregnancy, and both of those can be fixed now. Also concerns about making sure women wouldn't cheat on their husbands and leave them raising someone else's kid, I think. The third reason, which is still applicable today, is that hiring a sex worker signals "can't get sex without paying, therefore undesirable" but that's probably not too big of a deal.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-13T20:46:14.032Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can confirm this. I stayed in a hostel in London for a week last month, and got way more social interaction than I was expecting and about as much as my introverted self could stand. Including one invitation to dinner that may or may not have been a date.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-13T20:41:09.127Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Going through in order:

1 is a confession of bad epistemology,

2 is an assertion with no bad epistemology but a wrong premise,

3 is a generic wrong assertion with a "and that's beautiful" tacked on the front,

4 is a true statement largely independent of religious questions,

5 is good epistemology applied to wrong premises.

Does that engage with what you were asking, or have I misparsed you completely?

Comment by normal_anomaly on Snape's knowledge of valence shells · 2015-04-13T20:34:02.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's an open thread once or twice a month. Also, IMO this post would go better in an open thread than a stupid questions thread; the stupid questions thread is for sharing advice.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Transhumanist Nationalism and AI Politics · 2015-04-13T20:31:26.985Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

IAWYC, but disagree on the last sentence: it's not an interesting question because it's a wrong question. Superintelligent AI can't have a "custodian". Geopolitics of non-superintelligent AI that is smarter than a human but won't FOOM is a completely different question, probably best debated by people who speculate about cyberwarfare since it's more their field.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Transhumanist Nationalism and AI Politics · 2015-04-13T20:24:58.455Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My reaction to the first quoted statement was a big "Huh?". The only reason it would matter where superintelligent AI is first developed is that the researchers in different countries might do friendliness more or less well. A UFAI is equally catastrophic no matter who builds it; an AI that is otherwise friendly but has a preference for one country would . . . what would that even mean?Create eutopia and label it "The United Galaxy of America"? Only take the CEV of Americans instead of everybody? Either way, getting friendliness right means national politics is probably no longer an issue.

Also: I did not vote for this guy in the Transhumanist Party primaries!

Comment by normal_anomaly on Are there really no ghosts in the machine? · 2015-04-13T20:10:42.738Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is at bottom a restatement of "determining the right goals with sufficient rigor to program it into an AI is hard; ensuring that these goals are stable under recursive self-modification is also hard." If I'm right, then don't worry; we already know it's hard. Worry, if you like, about how to do it anyway.

In a bit more detail:

the most promising developments have been through imitating the human brain, and we have no reason to believe that the human brain (or any other brain for that matter) can be guaranteed to have a primary directive. One could argue that evolution has given us our prime directives: to ensure our own continued existence, to reproduce and to cooperate with each other; but there are many people who are suicidal, who have no interest in reproducing and who violently rebel against society (for example psychopaths).

Evolution did a bad job. Humans were never given a single primary drive; we have many. If our desires were simple, AI would be easier, but they are not. So evolution isn't a good example here. Also, I'm not sure of your assertion that the best advances in AI so far came from mimicking the brain. The brain can tell us useful stuff as an example of various kinds of program (belief-former, decision-maker, etc.) but I don't think we've been mimicking it directly. As for machine learning, yes there are pitfalls in using that to come up with the goal function, at least if you can't look over the resulting goal function before you make it the goal of an optimizer. And making a potential superintelligence with a goal of finding [the thing you want to use as a goal function] might not be a good idea either.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Is my theory on why censorship is wrong correct? · 2015-04-13T20:00:44.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That was why I was curious: presumably they didn't get here through any of the usual channels, so LW's reputation has gone somewhere I wouldn't expect. Ah well, just as well they're gone, should've asked faster.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Is my theory on why censorship is wrong correct? · 2015-04-13T14:24:07.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The quality of argument in this post is awful, but the closest thing to a main point that I can extract from it is "there is no rational reason for human nudity taboos", which is amusing because it's probably true. Not important, but still true. Also, hoofwall, how did you even find this website? It's not the sort of website that people who haven't picked up a book since 8th grade usually find, let alone care to post on.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-03T00:46:05.483Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe sometime before I die of old age, if I'm very lucky, or sufficiently shortly afterward that it's worth getting cryonics and hoping. Probably sometime within the next 100-200 years, if something else doesn't make it unnecessary by then.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T22:47:00.371Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm taking a class in Haskell, and I'd really like to know this too. Haskell is annoying. It's billed as "not verbose", but it's so terse that reading other people's code and learning from it is difficult. (Note: the person I'm on a project with likes one-letter variable names, so that's a bit of a confounder.)

Comment by normal_anomaly on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T22:19:07.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wanted to do research that would have practical implications for the human condition, and I thought working on genetic diseases was the best way to do that. Various lesswrong memes convinced me that working toward uploading by advancing neuroscience was a better alternative. Also, the exposure to cognitive science on LW and the idea that human intelligence is the Most Important Thing made neuroscience seem a lot more interesting. I can't say much about the comparison, since I changed my plans while still in high school, but I'm glad I did it. For one thing, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have discovered how much I love to code.

Comment by normal_anomaly on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T00:13:41.407Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I changed my intended college major from biomedical engineering to neuroscience+compsci.

I give more money to better charities than I probably would have otherwise.

I have a regular exercise habit that I cultivated with ideas I got from LW.

I might never have read Gödel, Escher, Bach if not for LW.

LW recommended Good and Real, the book that convinced me to become vegetarian and then vegan.

I've picked up various other good habits of thought, and a much better understanding of metaethics, but those are the concretely visible ones.

ETA: also, LW convinced me that I should sign up for cryonics, but I haven't yet because I'm still in school and don't have the money, so I don't know if it counts.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice" · 2015-03-29T23:43:23.264Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most atheists do think that there something wrong with rape and murder.

I think the problem is that Robertson doesn't know that.

Comment by normal_anomaly on HPMOR Wrap Parties: Resources, Information and Discussion · 2015-03-12T23:04:31.848Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you're the guy organizing the London party, you did a great job making it easy for me to find the time and venue despite my unbooked face. Thank you for all the effective effort you've put in!

Comment by normal_anomaly on Outside the Laboratory · 2015-03-09T00:07:14.724Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the tip! The only Turkish delight I remember having was bright-colored and came in a box.

Comment by normal_anomaly on HPMOR Wrap Parties: Resources, Information and Discussion · 2015-03-06T23:13:01.787Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! I can see the Facebook event, and I have RSVP'd via the survey.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Open thread, Mar. 2 - Mar. 8, 2015 · 2015-03-05T15:39:45.440Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a thought experiment. Omega offers you tickets for 2 extra lifetimes of life, in exchange for a 1% chance of dying when you buy the ticket. You are forced to just keep buying tickets until you finally die.

This suggests buying tickets takes finite time per ticket, and that the offer is perpetually open. It seems like you could get a solid win out of this by living your life, buying one ticket every time you start running out of life. You keep as much of your probability mass alive as possible for as long as possible, and your probability of being alive at any given time after the end of the first "lifetime" is greater than it would've been if you hadn't bought tickets. Yeah, Omega has to follow you around while you go about your business, but that's no more obnoxious than saying you have to stand next to Omega wasting decades on mashing the ticket-buying button.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-04T22:10:49.577Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone here wear makeup regularly? I'm considering starting, but I don't know if it's worth it. If it is, what sort of makeup makes sense as "light makeup"? Does that mean eyeshadow? Eyeliner? Something else?

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-04T21:16:38.526Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that might have been Harry making a mistake on purpose. At least that's how I interpreted it when I read it.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-04T21:12:21.589Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Last time I donated to the Against Malaria Foundation, I got a thank-you email that referred to me by name and said the amount of the donation. If you need people to prove to you that they donated, they could forward you the email. GiveDirectly also sends thank-you emails, but they don't say the amount, so pointing the donations at AMF would probably be better for your purposes.

Comment by normal_anomaly on HPMOR Wrap Parties: Resources, Information and Discussion · 2015-03-04T20:58:26.516Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to request that when the date and time of a meetup is finalized, that somebody post as much on LW. I don't have a facebook and would prefer to keep it that way, but I also don't want to miss the London party. Please and thank you.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T11:32:17.653Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, right, him and the time turner.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-03T21:38:15.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The math and machines and even software and Linux part: this is IMHO only partially true. I know many non-STEM nerds. Most STEM nerds have some interest in fantasy but not the other way around and IQ may be one of the factors.

This sounds plausible and I'll take your word for it. I know primarily (exclusively?) STEM nerds, so my typical mind fallacy may be inflating the percentage of Star Wars and LOTR fans who also like STEM.

What escapist-nerdiness perhaps correlates with is not IQ as such but more like family background where reading books and related activities are respected and pushed by parents.

To whatever extent escapist-literature-fandom is caused by either high IQ or intellectual parents, it's not caused by self-hatred, bullying, or lack of manly courage.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-03T21:26:29.605Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you believe everybody is fat and it's not because of self-hatred, why did you list neckbeards' weight as evidence of their self-hatred?

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T21:23:57.374Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you count Quirrell, he has five parents, two and a half of whom happen to be dead. In fact, the half-death of Quirrell brought his Parental Survival Rate down to 0.5, so of course Draco's had to go down to stay ahead of him.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T19:50:18.548Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Chaos General gets the Stone, Sunshine General gets superpowers, Dragon General gets No Parents.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-03T19:37:18.198Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You keep mentioning overweight/obesity as evidence that "neckbeards" don't care about their bodies or see themselves as worth improving. Given the current state of our knowledge on obesity, eg this I think there are much better explanations for why some nerds are fat. It's possible to love yourself and think you deserve to look great and still have a slow metabolism. Also, do we even know that being nerdy correlates with being fat?

Comment by normal_anomaly on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-03T19:28:10.329Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So your thesis is that kids who get hated on by other kids become interested in SF and DnD for escapist reasons, rather than already being predisposed to those hobbies. This is testable/falsifiable and potentially interesting.

Observations that support your theory:

  • fiction is a really excellent way to escape and lots of people do use it for that.

  • all the stuff you say in your post: nerdier, more outcast people like weirder and more magical fictional worlds

Observations that don't support your theory:

  • escapist-nerdy interests correlate with other interests that aren't useful for escapism, like math and taking machines apart. What these sets of interests do have in common is that they use the same abilities.

  • Dungeons and Dragons is actually a highly social activity. You need at least four people, one of whom is confident enough to extemporize an interactive story.

Other questions that would be good evidence:

  • Do children whose lives really suck (poor kids, kids from abusive families, kids with disfiguring illnesses) become bookish/gamers/nerds more often? If so, evidence for escapism. If not, evidence for predisposition. I would bet on no, but don't have a source.

  • Do nerdy interests correlate more with IQ, or with what you call courage? Again, I would bet on IQ.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T18:41:46.069Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I love how close we collectively got. Both that we came up with a solution close to the canon one, and that the canon one was just that bit more polished and elegant thanks to longer prep time.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T18:39:23.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Shotgun plotting: sometimes one hit is all you need.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-02T21:18:27.354Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Make sure you post this in a review, even if it doesn't end up being directly relevant to the solution you post. And mention that this fact should be considered in the judging of everyone else's solutions.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-02T21:12:48.311Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I don't care if it's a mistake or a clue. Writing a book of this sort, and then dropping this test on us, makes him 100% fair game for treating all mistakes as clues, poking at them, and generally getting any advantage we can out of their existence.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-02T20:40:46.659Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re the no kids thing: as of the latest survey, LW is 81% childless but with a median age of 27.67. It's possible that a lot of the people on here today will be parents in 10 years.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T19:24:27.163Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can people who have posted their solutions to FFN state as much in their comments so we don't have to wade through the FFN reviews?

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-27T16:41:55.047Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Warning for minor grossness: Harry can Transfigure bits of his body hair/skin into things, without appearing to move his wand. I don't currently see any particular use for this, but I wanted to mention it just in case.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-27T14:00:25.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From the minutes after Trelawney's interrupted "he is coming" prophecy:

"If someone's going to tear apart the Sun we're really in trouble!" That seemed rather unlikely to Harry, unless the world contained scary things which had heard of David Criswell's ideas >about star lifting.

Harry, you are the scary thing. (And I really hope Harry ends the world as we know it.)

Comment by normal_anomaly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-27T13:35:52.533Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a possibility. Harry is currently in a pretty bad position, perhaps the worst part of which is that anything he can think of, Quirrelmort can think of. He needs an advantage Quirrelmort won't expect. Meanwhile, a fairly intelligent, highly motivated and nearly impossible to kill young woman, who Quirrel thinks of as totally safe and harmless, is right over there. I'm not ready to predict that Hermione will at some point wake up and do something really useful, but it would be really cool if she did.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Outside the Laboratory · 2015-01-23T18:05:48.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The physical evidence indicates atheism is probably true

Only atheists can honestly assert that statement.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Outside the Laboratory · 2015-01-23T17:41:29.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Anecdote time! There was a period when I loved pasta but wouldn't eat pizza because I had not yet grasped that Tomatoes Are Awesome. Also that book made me classify Turkish Delight as a drug, and Drugs Are Bad don'tcha know. And then when I finally got some I realized it also tastes bad.

Comment by normal_anomaly on Just another day in utopia · 2015-01-06T20:28:39.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So you'd be happy with this world if it all existed inside a small piece of the galactic computronium-pile, and there was lots more of it? I actually hadn't considered that, because I just assume all post-Singularity futures are set inside the galactic computronium-pile unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Comment by normal_anomaly on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2014-02-09T02:07:45.388Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Update: I kept the gym habit, but stopped posting on LW and never bothered writing the post. mild embarassment