Comment by occlude on Keep Your Identity Fluid [LINK] · 2015-03-03T23:41:48.630Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've thought of this advice to keep identity small as installing a new executive-level program, "Monitor group affiliations with potentially mind-killing emotional attachments". Since I've done that, it seems like all my attachments have become a lot more gooey.

Comment by occlude on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T10:37:37.897Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One of the transfiguration safety rules: Never transfigure something into anything that might be eaten or breathed. Is it possible to demonstrate partial transfiguration (on, for example, his father's rock) while transforming much of its substance very temporarily into a breathable gas?

Comment by occlude on Podcasts? · 2014-11-09T02:18:12.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've found The Art of Charm Podcast valuable in helping me overcome mild social anxiety and in being more confident generally. The podcast has its roots in the pickup community (which is particularly evident in its early episodes), but has morphed into more of a "men's lifestyle" show.

Comment by occlude on Wanted: Rationalist Pushback (link) · 2012-12-24T07:46:24.941Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have written something that explain that evidence in more detail?

Clicked around out of curiosity and found what appears to be a cursory explanation for Aron's belief in Jesus' resurrection here. First impression is that he has treated NT accounts of Jesus as though they were written by several separate eyewitnesses (in other words, as they're represented in the Bible and by modern Christian churches) and may not be aware of alternative explanations of the origins of the gospels by historians. Lukeprog's journey might be illuminating.

Comment by occlude on September 2012 Media Thread · 2012-09-05T14:34:45.154Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're not alone. I also find her music strangely compelling.

Comment by occlude on Falsification · 2012-03-13T03:01:14.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Robin ultimately calculates that he is probably not a sim in this post. Much like the variables in the Drake equation, Robin's probability estimates are built on a number of unknowns, so we really can't do the calculation. But I have to admit that my own logic failed to take any of these variables into consideration, so please ignore that part of the grandfather.

Comment by occlude on Falsification · 2012-03-12T16:02:50.414Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Check out Occam's Razor. The Simulation Hypothesis requires that a real, physical universe exists, and that someone is simulating another universe within that "real" universe. P(our universe is a simulation within a "top level" universe) < P(ours is the "top level" universe), given no further evidence of simulation. The God hypothesis (typically) assumes the existence of a complex, sentient being -- not really a simple explanation when known physical laws can describe our observations.

Comment by occlude on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T05:27:59.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by occlude on Brain shrinkage in humans over past ~20 000 years - what did we lose? · 2012-02-21T16:58:14.403Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

.Please look around you. Does it look like we have got dumber in the last 20,000 years? I'd say this is tons of data. It may be hard to estimate in Bayesian terms, but certainly not less than +100 db of evidence against the alternative.

What I see when I look around is largely the product of millenia of cumulative invention and discovery.

Comment by occlude on Brain shrinkage in humans over past ~20 000 years - what did we lose? · 2012-02-19T20:36:49.499Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If all you know about two mammals is that they have different brain sizes, then it seems plausible to guess that the one with the larger brain (especially if the brain is larger by mass and as a ratio to body size) has greater overall functionality. This doesn't seem like a particularly privileged hypothesis, just the baseline observation.

Comment by occlude on Does functionalism imply dualism? · 2012-02-03T20:00:38.211Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This thing you call a "map", conscious experience, is part of the "territory" - part of reality - which itself is supposed to be coextensive with physics.

This is interesting, true, and really complicates any quest to maintain an accurate map.

Upvoted (the OP too). I think some of your interlocutors may be thinking past you here, in the sense that they have dismissed your central point as a triviality. But there are fundamental differences between interactions of particles in the open universe, the state changes that particle interactions cause in our sensory machinery, and what it feels like to be a brain having an experience. The suggestion that the experience of green might be illusory fails to consider that it is something occurring in a physical brain. In this sense, the most dismissive thing we might say about any quale is that it doesn't have the meaning we readily assign to it, but that's different from a claim of nonexistence.

I'm not philosophically sophisticated enough to judge whether this observation implies dualism. I think perhaps we'd find a lot more common ground if we discussed our expectations rather than our definitions (especially given the theological baggage that the term dualism carries).

Comment by occlude on State your physical account of experienced color · 2012-02-02T17:13:52.977Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I only see three options. Deny that anything is actually green; become a dualist; or (supervillain voice) join me, and together, we can make a new ontology.

Sure I'll join you; what color is the supervillain sidekick's uniform?

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2012-01-09T05:05:52.436Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for being a completely reasonable comment given that you haven't read through the entirety of a thread that's gotten totally monstrous.

Ah, apologies if I've completely missed the point (which is entirely possible).

Comment by occlude on What Curiosity Looks Like · 2012-01-09T03:28:40.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I get exactly the same result.

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2012-01-09T03:26:56.568Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For the same reason that if I had a see-an-image-of-Grandpa button, and pushed it, I wouldn't count the fact that I saw him as evidence that he's somehow still alive, but if I saw him right now spontaneously, I would.

Imagine that you have a switch in your home which responds to your touch by turning on a lamp (this probably won't take much imagination). One day this lamp, which was off, suddenly and for no apparent reason turns on. Would you assign supernatural or mundane causes to this event?

Now this isn't absolute proof that the switch wasn't turned on by something otherworldly; perhaps it responds to both mundane and supernatural causes. But, well, if I may be blunt, Occam's Razor. If your best explanations are "the Hand of Zeus" and "Mittens, my cat," then ...

Comment by occlude on What Curiosity Looks Like · 2012-01-08T07:30:22.527Z · score: 29 (29 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not an expert, but with this in mind it should be a rather simple matter to apply a few strategies so that LW shows up near the top of relevant search results. At the very least we could create wiki pages with titles like "How to Think Better" and "How to Figure Out What's True" with links to relevant articles or sequences. The fact that rationality has little obvious commercial value should work in our favor by keeping competing content rather sparse.

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2012-01-07T17:57:14.584Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

"Ish," yes. I have to admit I've had a hard time navigating this enormous thread, and haven't read all of it, including the evidence of demonic influence you're referring to. However, I predict in advance that 1) this evidence is based on words that a man wrote in an ancient book, and that 2) I will find this evidence dubious.

Two equally unlikely propositions should require equally strong evidence to be believed. Neither dragons nor demons exist, yet you assert that demons are real. Where, then, is the chain of entangled events leading from the state of the universe to the state of your mind? Honest truth-seeking is about dispassionately scrutinizing that chain, as an outsider would, and allowing others to scrutinize, evaluate, and verify it.

I was a Mormon missionary at 19. I used to give people copies of the Book of Mormon, testify of my conviction that it was true, and invite them to read it and pray about it. A few did (Most people in Iowa and Illinois aren't particularly vulnerable to Mormonism). A few of those people eventually (usually after meeting with us several times) came to feel as I did, that the book was true. I told those people that the feeling they felt was the Holy Spirit, manifesting the truth to them. And if that book is true, I told them, then Joseph Smith must have been a true prophet. And as a true prophet, the church that he established must be the Only True Church, according to Joseph's revelations and teachings. I would then invite them to be baptized (which was the most important metric in the mission), and to become a member of the LDS church. One of the church's teachings is that a person can become as God after death (omniscience and omnipotence included). Did the chain of reasoning leading from "I have a feeling that this book is true" justify the belief that "I can become like God"?

You are intelligent and capable of making good rhetorical arguments (from what I have read of your posts in the last week or two). I see you wielding Gendlin, for example, in support of your views. At some level, you're getting it. But the point of Gendlin is to encourage truth-seekers desiring to cast off comforting false beliefs. It works properly only if you are also willing to invoke Tarski:

Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2012-01-07T05:50:54.263Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What is true is already so, Owning up to it doesn't make it worse. Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.

You're doing it wrong. The power of the Litany comes from evidence. Every time you applying the Litany of Gendlin to an unsubstantiated assertion, a fairie drops dead.

Comment by occlude on New Year's Prediction Thread (2012) · 2012-01-03T05:08:14.551Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is that a worldwide prediction?

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-01-01T21:55:29.684Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I won't argue that newborns are people, because I have the same problem defining person that you seem to have. But until I can come up with a cogent reduction distilling person to some quality or combination of qualities that actually exist -- some state of a region of the universe -- then it seems prudent to err on the side of caution.

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-01-01T21:02:39.075Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Please let me know if I've missed a discussion of this point; it seems important, but I haven't seen it answered.

What is the particular and demonstrable quality of personhood that defines this okay to kill/not okay to kill threshold? In short, what is blicket?

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-01-01T11:12:51.516Z · score: 22 (28 votes) · LW · GW

Infanticide of one's own children should be legal (if done for some reason other than sadism) for up to ten months after birth. Reason: extremely young babies aren't yet people.

I would recommend against expressing this opinion in your OKCupid profile.

Comment by occlude on What are good apps for rationalists? · 2011-12-30T23:56:01.762Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Using Noom Weight Loss Coach for integrated food logging, workout tracking, and weight loss plan management. I'm more aware of the quality of the food I'm eating and of how calorie content and exercise are contributing to my weight loss goals. Highly recommended.

Comment by occlude on [LINK] Lincoln on Rationality · 2011-12-26T21:39:22.043Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I'm always looking for sneaky ways to reduce inferential distances with my Facebook friends. My subversive anti-faith sermon posted with this article was:

On Christmas day, 1861, Lincoln's ability to be skeptical of his own intuitions helped him avert war with Britain.

It is easy to assert, without evidence, what we believe, hope, or wish to be true. It is more difficult, as our human biases compel us to dismiss dissenting voices, to properly doubt, to give reality a fair hearing, and to come to a conclusion at odds with who we were the day before.

EDIT: Typo correction; Lincoln ≠ 1961.

Comment by occlude on What is your rationality blind spot? · 2011-12-20T19:49:24.464Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I find I have very little access to my own motivation algorithms, so that things I think I want to do and things I actually end up doing do not always align very well. External deadlines (as opposed to self-imposed ones) are some of the only things that consistently motivate me, but they don't work very well for personal goals.

Comment by occlude on Rational wart removal · 2011-12-19T01:31:28.100Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

but somehow miss the intended target site.

...and miss rather badly, at that.

Comment by occlude on Rational wart removal · 2011-12-18T23:50:32.021Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The Aliens solution seems a bit harsh, though probably effective. I estimate P(wart comes back|wart nuked from orbit) < .1

Comment by occlude on Rational wart removal · 2011-12-18T19:16:10.780Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Radical phalangectomy; it's the only way to be sure.

Comment by occlude on Request: Induction, Proof, Experimental mathematics · 2011-12-18T17:25:26.661Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking that the downvotes were a reaction to the last sentence, though like prase I had a hard time figuring out what you were asking for. I'm reading "capable of forming empirical conjectures for mathematics" as capable of using evidence to make reasonable guesses about the answers to math problems and "discover the principle of mathematical proof" as figure out that mathematics principles can be proven. Is this close to your intended meaning?

Comment by occlude on Meetup : Any Salt Lake City residents who might be interested in a meetup? · 2011-12-13T23:47:42.744Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My experience with similar groups bears this out, although I think I'd loosely construe "obviously useful" as things that make us better/stronger and things that are fun to do.

Comment by occlude on Where do you live? Meetup planners want to know · 2011-12-12T17:23:29.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

English isn't C++, a form is pretty much defined as acceptable by usage.

This is certainly true; primary considerations should be comprehensibility and consistency. They in this context is perfectly understandable, if not yet considered strictly "correct."

Frankly, I've forgotten what my intention was in pointing it out in the first place.

Comment by occlude on Meetup : Any Salt Lake City residents who might be interested in a meetup? · 2011-12-12T07:16:08.273Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I might be interested as well.

Comment by occlude on Where do you live? Meetup planners want to know · 2011-12-12T04:31:40.760Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Though widely used, it's technically improper. In fact, English lacks a generic singular personal pronoun. The best way to get around this might be to make the subject plural:

If the moderators think this post is more appropriate for main they can move it there.

EDIT - removed irrelevant links and snarky comment about downvoters, plus:

Researched further, my judgement was hasty: Although some usage writers condemn the use of the "singular they" when the gender is unknown or unimportant, this is often used, both in speech and in writing (e.g. "If a customer requires help, they should contact..."). In fact, a consistent pattern of usage can be traced at least as far back as Shakespeare, and possibly even back to Middle English. It avoids awkward constructions such as he or she. This usage is authorised and preferred by the Australian Government Manual of Style for official usage in government documents. See Singular they. The use of the "singular they" can often be avoided by thinking ahead and rephrasing the whole sentence (e.g. "For assistance, customers should contact...").

From this Wikipedia article.

I am neither the grammar police nor the editor of an English language style guide.

Comment by occlude on The Gift We Give Tomorrow, Spoken Word [Finished?] · 2011-12-03T21:46:32.397Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not at the moment of reading, possibly because I had no standard of comparison. In retrospect, the line "Beyond the reach of God" doesn't reinforce the vision of transcendent humanity quite as powerfully as the original. I think it was the unexpected contrast of moving from the discussion of evolutionary psychology to this futuristic vision of humanity that gave the ending its power.

Comment by occlude on The Gift We Give Tomorrow, Spoken Word [Finished?] · 2011-12-02T19:43:58.991Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I read this version, then the comments, then Eliezer's version. I had a similar reaction to both.

Comment by occlude on The Gift We Give Tomorrow, Spoken Word [Finished?] · 2011-12-02T05:23:06.851Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Surprise, frisson, and tears; I'd never read the original.

Comment by occlude on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-11T04:01:19.327Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with your argument in the sense that you meant it, though I interpreted the question differently.

Comment by occlude on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-11T03:47:46.582Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That particular turn of phrase (configuration of quarks) was borrowed from Eliezer's description of reductionism in Luke's "Pale Blue Dot" podcast #88. It left an impression.

Comment by occlude on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-06T22:07:36.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Morality is a very real part of the universe as it can be observed in the functioning of the human brain.

I try, of late, not to create sections of map that don't correspond to any territory. What if we taboo the word morality? Is there brain function that corresponds to morality and that is distinct from preferences, beliefs, emotions, and goals? It seems that positing the existence of something called morality creates something additional and unnecessary.

Comment by occlude on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-03T05:22:28.094Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I had fun doing the background research to be able to give a number to the P(Aliens) questions.

I enjoyed this too. Tried to calibrate Aliens 1 with Aliens 2, and found that what seemed like a modest estimate for Aliens 2 (still a shot in the dark due to too many Drake unknowns, but what the hell) created an enormous probability estimate for Aliens 1. More convinced than ever that we are not alone.

Comment by occlude on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-03T04:15:52.815Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Survey complete. Had to answer "there's no such thing as morality" because I can't imagine a configuration of quarks that would make any of the other choices true. What would it even mean at a low level for one normative theory to be "correct?"

Comment by occlude on [SEQ RERUN] Conjuring an Evolution to Serve You · 2011-10-31T13:39:46.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Small edit needed:

"In the real world, sometimes you have more than one animal per farm."

Comment by occlude on [SEQ RERUN] Torture vs. Dust Specks · 2011-10-12T03:07:51.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I expect that more than one of my brain modules are trying to judge between incompatible conclusions, and selectively giving attention to the inputs of the problem.

My thinking was similar to yours -- it feels less like I'm applying scope insensitivity and more like I'm rounding the disutility of specks down due to their ubiquity, or their severity relative to torture, or the fact that the effects are so dispersed. If one situation goes unnoticed, lost in the background noise, while another irreparably damages someone's mind, then that should have some impact on the utility function. My intuition tells me that this justifies rounding the impact of a speck down to zero, that the difference is a difference of kind, not of degree, that I should treat these as fundamentally different. At the same time, like Vincent, I'm inclined to assign non-zero disutility value to a speck.

One brain, two modules, two incompatible judgements. I'm willing to entertain the possibility that this is a bug. But I'm not ready yet to declare one module the victor.

Comment by occlude on [SEQ RERUN] Torture vs. Dust Specks · 2011-10-11T21:43:45.414Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If Omega tells you that he will give either 1¢ each to 3^^^3 random people or $100,000,000,000.00 to the SIAI, and that you get to choose which course of action he should take, what would you do? That's a giant amount of distributed utility vs a (relatively) modest amount of concentrated utility.

I suspect that part of the exercise is not to outsmart yourself.

Comment by occlude on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2011-10-10T01:20:27.073Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Hello everyone, it's so great to be here. I was introduced to LessWrong by a post left by C. Russo on back in late July, which dumped me right into How to Actually Change Your Mind. Since then, I have found myself spending progressively more of my free time here, reading both old and new content.

Over the last several years, I've made a habit of spending my evenings online, blown by the winds of curiosity. While this has led me to the vague sense that I needed to make some adjustments to my map, I didn't have a good sense of the tools I needed to edit it.

I grew up in a religious (Mormon) family (was even a white-shirt-wearing, door-knocking, Book-of-Mormon thumping missionary for two years), but gave up my belief in my mid-twenties after searching for -- and failing to find -- a convincing argument for my belief. I had been taught to identify a specific and powerful feeling with "The Holy Ghost," but when I reflected on my experiences, I realized that I had felt that feeling on many occasions that seemed inconsistent with the idea that God was giving me information in those moments. I have, furthermore, felt that feeling many times since my apostasy, which seems (to quote Cyan), like icing on the coffin of that false belief. A few days ago, I read a comment on A Rationalist's Tale by summerstay which gave my feeling a name (frisson), and a scientific explanation.

I manage a small group of analysts at a large corporation, and have of late been on the lookout for ways to infuse LW concepts into our group discussions. On a related note, I read Raising the Sanity Waterline today, and wondered whether anyone has thought about or attempted to actually create a Youtube series corresponding to Eliezer's four-credit undergraduate course with no prerequisites, designed to secretly make people more rational.

Sorry for the ramble; again, it's a pleasure.

Comment by occlude on . · 2011-10-08T01:43:22.755Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Whether it should or shouldn't, I don't believe it does.

A great point, concisely made. I meant this as a bit of a joke, but I see that I should have chosen my words more skillfully anyway. Upvoted.

Comment by occlude on . · 2011-10-06T07:03:59.939Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I hereby invoke Crocker's Rules. Go nuts.

Shouldn't the act of posting on LW automatically imply an acceptance of Crocker's Rules?

Anyhow, to the list!

Most interesting-sounding: Xander's lament, Concrete language, and Mind map of ugh field (very dangerous; you go first). I wouldn't skip over the other posts, either.

Comment by occlude on Sweet Unconsciousness · 2011-10-02T06:29:04.984Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Have you experimented with sleep posture? A cursory search turned up a 2000 study showing that sleeping in a supine position might contribute to lucid dreams. Some of the subjects suffered from hypnopompic sleep paralysis:

Dahmen N; Kasten M. REM-associated hallucinations and sleep paralysis are dependent on body posture. Journal Of Neurology, 2001 May; Vol. 248 (5), pp. 423-4

Comment by occlude on Planets in the habitable zone, the Drake Equation, and the Great Filter · 2011-10-01T19:57:44.937Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

There are plenty of other constraints.

Many of these factors seem, with high probability, like genuine constraints (e.g. a second generation star). But I wonder whether others might be examples of anthropic generalizing from one example (e.g. availability of a specific ratio of elements). Presumably alien life would adapt to whatever conditions actually exist in their world.