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Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-20T20:04:51.691Z · LW · GW

...That's a very Harry-like exclamation. But I don't think even HJPEV could manage to replace Mad-Eye Moody with a Polyjuiced and Time-Turned version of himself. But then again, this whole chapter was in distant third person, and we don't know what Harry knows or how he knows it...

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-19T23:11:52.238Z · LW · GW

I don't think we've seen evidence that normal minors can make and enter contracts - I think Harry's just been implicitly granted an exception to all the rules of normal minors because he's the Chosen One. But the bad thing about implicit agreements is that the ones with official power can revoke them when convenient and the other party has no recourse.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-19T01:21:28.556Z · LW · GW

Wait, even if he did write it in the meeting room, can't the Eye of Vance see through walls?

Now I want to know what exactly the limit of Moody's superpower is. How far can the Eye see in every direction? How many barriers can it see through? How far can it "zoom", if at all? To what resolution? Can the Eye read fine print from 1000 feet away?

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-19T00:57:56.823Z · LW · GW

I think you misunderstood. I wasn't claiming to be offended myself, I was trying to get at the cause of people's emotional reactions. Whether or not you believe those emotions are justified, they are almost always triggered by something.

I also specified that HPMOR values wit and scheming on its surface - that is, the scheming is what provides almost all the entertainment value and keeps people in their chairs long enough to hear the deeper ideology. What do we want from characters in a story at their most basic level? We want to have fun watching them. That's why most people read stories, and it's why most people read HPMOR. And the ones who are the most fun to watch are the male characters.

I didn't claim this was intentional, nor that it was wrong, just that it was probably the cause of feminist complaints. It was in part an answer to "But the female characters are good people". Being a good person is not always the same as being good in the story. In Disney movies, you have to be a wide-eyed dreamer. In Tarantino movies you have to be a stone-cold killing machine. In HPMOR (and Death Note) you have to be a hyperintelligent byzantine plotter. And then comes the ideology.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-19T00:49:18.892Z · LW · GW

Yes, but "The Defense Professor" and "anyone else who can rig the wards" shouldn't have the same probability in his mind. What with all the rest of Quirrell's strange behavior and the curse on the position, "The Defense Professor" should be allotted a massive probability, with a comparatively smaller piece left for "whoever else has the ability to do this." He should be suspect number one by far.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T04:34:12.936Z · LW · GW

That's true, and in this context it doesn't seem like Harry was being entirely fair. I liked that line better the first time around, when Harry applied it to how Quirrell used him. He was wrong, but I thought it was interesting that he chose to view it in that light.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T22:53:32.809Z · LW · GW

I don't know about the parent, but personally I liked this line because it debunks the cached thought that "using" someone is always wrong. Humans use one another all the time for all sorts of things, from a grad student using his mentor to advance his career to an overworked executive using her goofy laid-back friends to keep her blood pressure down. People tend to only consider one very narrow and destructive meaning of the word "use", and then come to the conclusion that you can't have a genuine caring relationship with someone if you pursue it for personal benefit. The grad student can still admire and love his mentor even though the main point of that relationship is so he can get a PhD. If you do care about the person, you'd try to arrange it so that your use will help them too.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:42:29.413Z · LW · GW

I would have loved to read a counterfactual HPMOR with Bones in the role of McGonagall (or McGonagall with the personality of Bones). It's true that her personality makes more sense in an Auror than a teacher, and that means we don't get to see her very much. But then again, virtually every major male authority figure in Hogwarts looks like he should belong in an elite war chamber rather than a classroom. Seriously, what are these people doing running a boarding school?

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T17:11:00.477Z · LW · GW

I'm concerned if, this late in the game, Harry's only reason for suspecting the Defense Professor is "just because he's the Defense Professor." It would seem that he has way too many excellent reasons to suspect Quirrell no matter what his title. The sense of doom. The fact that he was able to cast Avada Kedavra on a random guard. The fact that he carried Harry off on a disastrous plot to free Bellatrix Black. The fact that he happened to be there on time to save Draco's life when the wards were disabled. The fact that he is one of only a handful of wizards with the ability to disable Hogwarts' wards. The impassioned speech advocating benevolent fascism. The fact that no one knows who he really is and Harry can think of at least three different identities he's taken on. The weird zombie mode that seems to roughly correlate with Bad Things happening. The excessively harsh and sometimes downright abusive way he runs his class. The lack of empathy and inability to accept or even understand love.

My question is, do you think Harry has realized all this and is really strongly suspecting Quirrell for other reasons, and he only told Lucius that the only reason was the curse on the Defense Professor's position? Or do you think Harry is still reluctant to seriously entertain the possibility that it was Quirrell?

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T16:32:26.199Z · LW · GW

I think this is the heart of feminist complaints about this story. Yes, the female characters are honest, and levelheaded, and moral, and quite a bit more realistic than male characters. Yes, the male characters have massive, gaping flaws in their character, and if you tried to have a conversation with them in the real world they would appear unbearably pompous. Yes, clever repartee does not replace genuine kindness. I agree with all that.

But the thing is, this fic (on its surface) doesn't value kindness and morality nearly as much as suave, articulate word-poker and beautifully intricate schemes and counter-schemes and "I know that you know that I know..." insanity. I think you're going to get people accusing you of sexism even if you provide your female characters with traits that are valued and truly matter in the real world, as long as you still hold back the traits that are valued in-story.

In the original Harry Potter, Hermione was quite a bit more immature in her first year than in HPMOR - but the backbone of HP was bold derring-do and wandsmanship and remembering the right spell, and she (and McGonagall and Ginny) was essential in that environment. Intricate conversations and ingenious plots like this are the backbone of HPMOR, and we don't see any women involved there. That's what people are complaining about, I think.

I predict that if Hermione's death had come at the end of a long, complicated plot/investigation carried out by her, there would be far fewer complaints. As it is, she did not win anything other than Harry's increased resolve - didn't reveal any schemes, didn't execute any of her own, didn't discover any MacGuffins (as far as I know).

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T16:19:23.885Z · LW · GW

That line confused me - I think we were expected to draw a lot of subtle inferences to figure out why it would make sense in this context.

On a side note, it is really jarring not to know everything Harry knows this late in the game. I always just read the third-person point of view as a matter of convenience, and accepted that we were fully immersed into the head of the current speaker. This distant outsiders' perspective ("I've done some research", "I have a plan") is making it really hard for me to draw conclusions.

It's also showing me just how much I relied on Harry running me through all the steps of some ridiculously complicated deduction. I wonder - does having a character who is both very intelligent and very honest mean that the reader has to be significantly less intelligent and active to follow along?

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T16:09:26.355Z · LW · GW

I think for the time being Malfoy wants this to happen and chose to accept Harry's right to enter an agreement...but if something goes wrong, I wouldn't put it past Lucius to spin this into an invalid contract due to Harry's age. Or maybe Harry has done so many crazily adult things so far this actually feels perfectly normal, not only to the readers, but the characters.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T03:56:37.811Z · LW · GW

Thanks! I think I missed when Harry paid off the 40,000. Did he empty his vaults and give Lucius a 40,000 lump sum, leaving him with 60,000 to pay off over a few years?

Edit: I remember, that is what he did, which is why it was such a huge deal and Harry is broke on top of being in debt.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T03:39:50.725Z · LW · GW

I'm confused: why does the amount owed to the Malfoys seem to keep changing? I read first 58,203, then 100,000, then 40,000 Galleons.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-14T20:27:53.934Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I completely forgot that Apple has the "File" button the menu bar instead of on the application itself.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-14T08:16:49.529Z · LW · GW

Are there any users of the spaced repetition software Mnemosyne that could help me with a technical issue? I just got the software for my Mac, and I've read in multiple places that you can import plain text files as a card deck. But on my version of Mnemosyne, I see no button saying "import files," and in fact no way at all to add more than one flashcard at a time.

My text editor is Word, and while I can save my vocabulary as a .txt file with Unicode encoding, I don't see any way to export it to Mnemosyne from there. Just to test if I understood the download/import concept at all, I tried downloading one of the free flashcard decks on the site, chose Mnemosyne as the application to open it with, and just got an error message. What am I missing here? Do I need to download a plug-in for importing to work?

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-14T08:11:05.991Z · LW · GW

But they don't need to be. The point of starting off very small is that the damage they can do is proportionally small. When we let teens learn to drive, we expect them to be significantly worse than the average driver, and they are, but they have to start at some point.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-11T07:06:26.074Z · LW · GW

There's actually a gradualist solution that never occurred to me before, and probably wouldn't destroy the Schelling point. It may or may not work, but why not treat voting like driving, and dispense the rights piecemeal?

Say when you enter high school you get the option to vote for school board elections, provided you attend a school board meeting first and read the candidate bios. Then maybe a year later you can vote for mayor if you choose to attend a city council meeting. A year after that, representatives, and then senators, and perhaps each milestone could come with an associated requirement like shadowing an aide or something.

The key to these prerequisites IMO, is that they cannot involve passing any test designed by anyone - they must simply involve experience. Reading something, going somewhere - no one is evaluating you to see if you gained the "right" opinions from that experience.

When they're 18 they get full voting rights. Those people who chose not to go through this "voter training" process also get full voting rights at 18, no questions asked - kind of like how getting a driver's license at 16 is a longer process than getting one at 18 starting from the same driving experience.

This way, only the most motivated teens would get voting rights early, and everyone else would get them guaranteed at 18. There is likely potential for abuse that I may not have considered, but I believe with this system any prejudices or biases introduced in teens would be local, rather than the potentially national-scale abuses possible with standardized voter-testing.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-07T07:08:28.365Z · LW · GW

One relatively simple (but also easily gameable) criteria is education and/or intelligence. Only 18-year-olds with a high school/college/postgraduate degree, only 18-year-olds with an IQ score/SAT score >= X, etc. We don't want to try that because we know how quickly the tests and measurements would be twisted with ideology, and we worry that we would end up systematically discriminating against a class of people based on some hidden criterion other than intelligence/education, such as political views.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-07T07:02:12.365Z · LW · GW

The supposed reason for the 21 year old drinking age is that the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of impulse control, doesn't fully mature until the early twenties, and therefore alcohol use before 21 would a) result in more mishaps like car accidents than alcohol use after 21, and b) harm brain development during a critical period. Which would be perfectly sound reasoning if it applied to voting, military service, cigarettes, lottery tickets, etc. If alcohol use is too risky because of an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex, then surely voting is too? But if you raised the voting age to 21 you'd have to raise the draft age, too, because it would be barbaric to send people off to die without even a nominal say in the decision to go to war. It's far more practical to lower the drinking age.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-07T06:56:07.159Z · LW · GW

Wow, thank you. I'll check it out.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-02T00:07:24.935Z · LW · GW

I found a website that might be useful: connects tutors to teachers with live online lessons in areas like music and cooking.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T23:19:31.002Z · LW · GW

Because any experience requirement draws an arbitrary line somewhere, and 18 is a useful line because it's also the arbitrary line society has drawn for a lot of other milestones, like moving out of the house and finishing high school. Voting goes hand-in-hand with the transition out of mandatory formal education and the start of a new "adult life." I think it makes sense that the voting age should be set to whatever age formal education ends and most people move out, but what age those things should happen at is again debatable.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-01T05:46:27.260Z · LW · GW

You're right, I misunderstood - I thought it was 3^(3^27), or 3^7625597484987, but it's actually 3^^(3^27), or 3 to the power of itself 7625597484987 times, which is way bigger.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-07-31T22:47:37.402Z · LW · GW

This question bothers me so much that once I get to be a good enough programmer I actually want to build a website that will connect adult beginners with each other so that maximum learning can happen with minimal embarrassment and no interaction with children. A system where you can trade tutoring ("I'll teach you the violin if you'll teach me painting") or simply pay for classes, with some way to rate and view the quality of each person's teaching would be useful.

As long as there is no larger system like that, I'd suggest that your best bet is to find a friend or acquaintance who is good at whatever you want to learn and offer them something they want but wouldn't ask for, whether it's money or a favor. That way, you get to learn things at a personalized pace while building a friendship.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-07-31T22:33:26.083Z · LW · GW

I usually say "three to the three to the three to the three" even though that's not technically correct unless I pronounce the parentheses in the proper places.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T20:27:44.138Z · LW · GW

While sliding scales may more accurately represent reality, sharp gradations are the only way we can come up with a consistent policy. Abortion especially is a case where we need a bright line. The fact that we have two different words (abortion and infanticide) for what amounts to a difference of a couple of hours is very significant. We don't want to let absolutely everyone use their own discretion in difficult situations.

Most policy arguments are about where to draw the bright line, not about whether we should adopt a sliding scale instead, and I think that's actually a good idea. Admitting that most moral questions fall under a gray area is more likely to give your opponent ammunition to twist your moral views than it is to make your own judgment more accurate.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T19:53:01.244Z · LW · GW

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that pure experience - just raw data in your long-term memory - is a plausible criterion for a good voter. It's not that intelligence and rationality is unimportant, since rational, intelligent people may well draw more accurate conclusions from a smaller amount of data.

What does matter is that everyone, no matter how intelligent or unintelligent, would be better off if they have a few elections and a few media scandals and a few internet flame wars and a few nationally significant policy debates stored in their long-term memory. Even HJPEV needs something to go on. The argument is not just that 18-year-olds as a group are better voters than 12-year-olds as a group, but that any given 12-year-old would be a better voter in 6 years, even if they're already pretty good.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T19:47:58.228Z · LW · GW

"Maturity" is pretty much a stand-in for "desirable characteristics that adults usually have and children usually don't," so it's almost by definition an argument in favor of adults. But to be fair, characteristics like the willingness to sit through/read boring informational pieces in order to be a more educated voter, the ability to accurately detect deception and false promises, and the ability to use past evidence to determine what is likely to actually happen (as opposed to what people say will happen) are useful traits and are much more common in 18-year-olds than 12-year-olds.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T19:40:46.120Z · LW · GW

I don't find arguments against letting children vote very convincing either, except the argument that 18 is a defensible Schelling point and it would become way too vulnerable to abuse if we changed it to a more complicated criterion like "anyone who can give informed consent, as measured by X." After all, if we accept the argument that 12-17 year olds should vote (and I'm not saying it's a bad argument), then the simplest and most effective way to enforce that is to draw another arbitrary line based on age, at some lower age. Anything more complex would again be politicized and gamed.

But I think you're misrepresenting the "influenced by parents" argument. 22-year-olds are influenced by their friends, yes, but they influence their friends to roughly the same degree. Their friends do not have total power over their life, from basic survival to sources of information. A physical/emotional threat from a friend is a lot less credible than a threat from your parents, especially considering most people have more than one circle of friends. The same goes for the 75-year-old - they may be frail and physically dependent on their children, but society doesn't condone a live-in grandparent being bossed around and controlled the way a live-in child is, so that is not as big a concern.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-31T04:17:08.963Z · LW · GW

I have a question about the first logic puzzle here. The condition "Both sane and insane people are always perfectly honest, sane people have 100% true beliefs while insane people have 100% false beliefs" seems to be subtly different from Liar/Truth-teller. The Liar/Truth-teller thing is only activated when someone asks them a direct yes or no question, while in these puzzles the people are volunteering statements on their own.

My question is this: if every belief that an insane person holds is false, then does that also apply to beliefs about their beliefs? For example, an insane person may believe the sky is not blue, because they only believe false things. But does that mean that they believe they believe that the sky is blue, when in fact they believe that it is not blue? So all their meta-beliefs are just the inverse of their object-level beliefs? If all their beliefs are false, then their beliefs about their beliefs must likewise be false, making their meta-beliefs true on the object level, right? And then their beliefs about their meta-beliefs are again false on the object level?

But if that's true, it seems like the puzzle becomes too easy. Am I missing something or is the answer to that puzzle "Vs lbh jrer gb nfx zr jurgure V nz n fnar cngvrag, V jbhyq fnl lrf"?

Edit: Another thought occurred to me about sane vs. insane - it's specified that the insane people have 100% false beliefs, but it doesn't specify that these are exact negations of true beliefs. For example, rather than believing the sky is not-blue, an insane person might believe the sky doesn't even exist and his experience is a dream. For example, what would happen if you asked an insane patient whether he was a doctor? He might say no, not because he knew he was a patient but because he believed himself to be an ear of corn rather than a doctor.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on July 2013 Media Thread · 2013-07-31T00:43:31.683Z · LW · GW

I just blew through six or seven of Ted Chiang's short stories, and when I finished "Hell Is the Absence of God" I had to stop. I was physically shaking, my knees went weak and I was reduced to gasping and making inarticulate sounds for the next several minutes. I don't know if that was a fluke, but I would really like it if someone would point to similarly horrifying stories or books.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Why I'm Skeptical About Unproven Causes (And You Should Be Too) · 2013-07-29T19:34:06.847Z · LW · GW

I think it might be more for a select group of people. In the LW community, I have gotten the impression that existential risk is higher status than global poverty reduction - that's definitely the opinion of the high status people in this community. And maybe for the specific kind of nonconformist nerd who reads Less Wrong and is likely to come across this post, transhumanism and existential risk reduction has a "coolness factor" that global poverty reduction doesn't have.

You're definitely right about the wider world, but many people might only care about the opinions of the 100 or so members of their in-group.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-07-27T01:14:20.697Z · LW · GW

I'd be curious if women actually did complain more than men do, or if that's a myth, or if women are more likely to express displeasure in ways that are labeled "complaining" (as opposed to "arguing" or "debating")? I know that the plausible-sounding and widely believed claim that women talk more than men do but the effect seems to be either very small or nonexistent.

It'd be interesting to see a study on this using a similar soundbite capturing device to find out if women did actually complain more. Even though there'd be issues with defining "complaining," it could be useful. I'd predict that Hanson is coming up with an explanation for an effect that doesn't really exist.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-07-27T01:03:55.816Z · LW · GW

I think this is very important for putting questions like "Why aren't there more women interested in X?" into context. Even restricting it to people who regularly participate in online communities as opposed to using the Internet solely for Wikipedia and Google and funny YouTube videos and Facebook (maybe 15% of the population?), how many people total would be interested in LW? Maybe 0.1% of the men, and maybe 0.05% of the women?

There's no reason to expect those people to be typical along any given dimension, even gender dynamics.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-07-27T00:50:18.168Z · LW · GW

I'm a young female and like some other women in the comments, I'd like to say that I in general approve of high barriers to entry for a community like Less Wrong. Well, that might be too much of a simplification - I prefer optimal barriers of entry, and in the case of LW, I think it should be pretty high, and if that can be achieved purely psychologically, then that's great. But I think warmth/fun/kindness (which we're seeing a lot more of recently and which Eliezer always had to begin with IMO) isn't going to bring down that barrier enough to justify being cold just to keep up high standards. In short, I don't think there's a need to fear that we're becoming too nice, even though we are becoming way nicer and posts like LW_Women encourage us to be even more nice.

It is a good idea to have a screening process so that only people who would enjoy and contribute to the community eventually join it, and if it's self-selecting rather than explicit, all the better. And as sad as it might be, it is likely that the set of people who could genuinely help Less Wrong achieve its goals and become more effective is skewed male, and it's likely that the reasons for this can't be solved through social campaigns. Probably biology's a bitch as usual and higher male variance in IQ means that smart people are disproportionately male (it's a horrible tragedy that mentally impaired people are also disproportionately male).

That doesn't mean that the set of potential LWers has the same degree of gender skew as the set of actual LWers though - at a guess I'd say the percentage of women in physics, math, and CS, while low, is higher than the percentage of women here at LW. So we could and probably should be doing more not to put off the kind of women who could contribute meaningfully. But the way LW goes about attracting women shouldn't involve strict taboos on controversial topics or greater inclusiveness in general - it should be more targeted than that. After all, not-quite-as-insane-as-everywhere-else discussions about controversial topics are a big part of why we keep coming back here!

I know that when I first came to LW, I was considered "amusing", "immature", and "charming," which I probably was, since I was 15 at the time. I didn't comment for years afterward, and rarely comment now, since I rarely have much to contribute. But what put me off of LW for a while was not nastiness - I actually see very little of that, and very often see overt racism and sexism downvoted to oblivion. What put me off was massive walls of text. People digging through academic literature to prove a minor side point in a tangential discussion that spawned from an unrelated topic. People writing comments with corrections longer than the posts themselves. Throwaway jokes that required advanced mathematics to understand (at levels that women are less likely to reach, too). That's what put me off of LW, and that is probably what puts off most people who think to join, men or women. And I don't believe that's a bad thing. People are less likely to litter in a beautiful and pristine neighborhood.

That being said, even though diluting the group too much and reaching out too far is a bad idea, based on what I've read from the Overcoming Bias days, this community has improved a whole lot at being less nasty and shutting up about how to manipulate people into sex, and hasn't suffered nearly as much in terms of how thoughtful and intelligent the regular posters are. I'd buy that the average IQ has dropped since then, probably since the average age has also dropped - but even though we don't want a community with the same demographics as the general population, ten geniuses is also not much of a community. And if the community does start off being run by geniuses, the high standard of discourse combined with some judicious moderation should be enough to attract and retain only those who can meet that high standard. Being nasty to people on top of that is too much of an impediment and may keep the community too small, too insular, too stagnant.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-26T21:34:03.587Z · LW · GW

I've heard "deathist" used to describe the opposing side more often than "lifeist" for the supporting side. "Lifeist" just sounds a bit awkward and silly, and "deathist", while funny, seems too much like typical Dark Arts tarring.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T19:44:11.834Z · LW · GW

I think it's kind of the video game concept of "the final boss." Every other enemy is lesser, you have to build up your strength in order to defeat Death. "The last enemy to be defeated" doesn't mean "Death is the last thing you should ever fight" or "Death has the lowest priority of all our enemies", but rather "Death is the ultimate enemy, the worst of all, such that when we defeat it our task is done."

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T19:37:17.581Z · LW · GW

The first definition of "falsifiable" means that it's easy to fake - if a Patronus is falsifiable under this definition, you don't get much information when you see a Patronus, since it could easily be something else and you couldn't tell the difference.

The second definition of "falsifiable" means that it's easy to prove that it's not fake - if a Patronus is falsifiable under this definition, you get a lot of information when you see a Patronus, since it is very difficult for something that looks like a Patronus to actually be a fake.

Because the two defintions are pretty much opposites, between them they cover everything - the ones that are easily fakeable and the ones that are not easily fakeable.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T19:25:30.957Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I think it's just the fact that a lot of people who never really got into the canon are reading MOR, so plot points that can pretty much go unstated in regular fanfiction have to be re-introduced here. I know a lot of implications/references are lost on me because I'm reading fanfiction without actually being, well, a fan.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T18:28:42.709Z · LW · GW

Harry seems to have been aware of the Peverell brothers and the Deathly Hallows before all of this happened, and now it clicked for him that they made the Hallows in an attempt to defeat Death. But what I don't understand is, when exactly did Harry learn this story? If he ever heard the full story about the three Hallows, wouldn't that have been a big deal? He would have thought about it for a while and it would have been a major plot point right? EY has been really good about placing Chekhov's Guns long in advance of when they're fired, but I don't recall when Harry learned about the Peverell brothers for the first time.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T17:31:14.185Z · LW · GW

Even if that were the case, a Patronus delivers its message in the exact voice of the person who spoke to it, and as far as I know, that can't be falsified. This means that not only will we find out if it's Draco (almost certainly is), but we'll also know if he's in trouble or under duress (pretty likely; he's Harry's second best friend).

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T17:10:09.764Z · LW · GW

"Resurrection" has been taken for 2000 years, but for a few decades there we had a chance with "pro-life." :(

Quick! Grab the third best word and trademark it!

Seriously though, I think "transhumanism" is too long and jargon-y, not to mention understanding it requires some knowledge of both humanism and Latin roots. The ideology deserves a word that is as pure and simple as the emotions behind it.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T17:01:10.066Z · LW · GW

I don't have trouble believing that Harry is Death's equal, but this doesn't explain how he was marked by Death as his equal. The Killing Curse bouncing off for whatever reason might be the best explanation. The scar is Death's mark, not Voldemort's. That seems a bit...forced, but it does explain why Quirrellmort hasn't done anything besides kill Rita Skeeter and free Bellatrix Black only to never speak of her again. Death has struck many times, and has been the focus of Harry's rage and obsession, Voldemort has more than once faded into the background and seemed ambiguously an ally. Another reason to believe that the enemy is Death and not Voldemort is that Voldemort was defeated, as far as we know - he's not the Lord of anything anymore - while Death most certainly still reigns.

But to look at counterarguments - what if the mark we're talking about is not the scar at all? If the Dark Lord really is Voldemort, it's a bit silly to think that Voldemort would acknowledge a baby as his equal. Once Harry came to Hogwarts, Quirrell certainly recognized his rationality and intelligence, and marked him, if only psychologically, as his intellectual equal. "We're not like the rest of them, you and I..."

I'm still leaning toward the interpretation of Death as the Dark Lord, if only because I have no idea what Voldemort can pull in the next seven to ten chapters that would make him definitively the most important enemy presence in the story.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T16:49:18.606Z · LW · GW

That was what frustrated me the most - how canon could preach to us about accepting death as inevitable while giving its main character the power to defeat death. It's sad that the narrative just accepts it as okay that the main character and the subject of the prophecy gets to be resurrected, but for anyone else to seek that would be folly.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T16:47:48.426Z · LW · GW

No I know - that's why it would have been interesting to know about the inscription and consider how HJPEV would obviously interpret it differently :)

Sorry, just realized "That was just beautiful" was ambiguous - not the inscription, but Harry's reaction to it. The inscription could not possibly have had such a humanistic meaning in canon, I know.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on MIRI's 2013 Summer Matching Challenge · 2013-07-25T07:10:18.020Z · LW · GW

This does make me feel better - thanks. I'm just entering college and don't even have a bank account yet, but your post inspired me to get one fast so I can donate whatever I can afford within the matching window :)

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T06:56:53.438Z · LW · GW

Wow, this was awesome! I wish I had read the canon so I would have had a chance to think about/predict what would happen when Harry read that inscription. This was just beautiful - a reminder of the heritage that transhumanists often forget we have. True, we have precious little tradition or precedent to fall back on - but in every generation in every era in every part of the world, there have been people who knew death for what it was and loathed it.

HPMOR is starting to be one tear jerker after another. I hope we'll get to see a couple more moments of levity, or - ideally - a moment of euphoria, when Hermione joins millions and millions of others we thought lost to history.

Edit: I really wish the word "pro-life" were available to describe this position.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-25T01:59:24.475Z · LW · GW

This seems like a really good concept to keep in mind. I wonder if it could be applied to other fields? Could you make a pot that remains a pot the whole way through, even as you refine it and add detail? Could you write a song that starts off very simple but still pretty, and then gradually layer on the complexity?

Your post inspired me to try this with writing, so thank you. :) We could start with a one-sentence story: "Once upon a time, two lovers overcame vicious prejudice to be together."

And that could be expanded into a one-paragraph story: "Chanon had known all her life that the blue-haired Northerners were hated enemies, never to be trusted, that she had to keep her red-haired Southern bloodline pure or the world would be overrun by the blue barbarians. But everything was thrown in her face when she met Jasper - his hair was blue, but he was a true crimson-heart, as the saying went. She tried to find every excuse to hate him, but time and time again Jasper showed himself to be a man of honor and integrity, and when he rescued her from those lowlife highway robbers - how could she not fall in love? Her father hated it of course, but even she was shocked at how easily he disowned her, how casually he threw away the bonds of family for the chains of prejudice. She wasn't happy now, homeless and adrift, but she knew that she could never be happy again in the land she had once called home. Chanon and Jasper set out to unknown lands in the East, where hopefully they could find some acceptance and love for their purple family."

This could be turned into a one page story, and then a five page story, and so on, never losing the essence of the message. Iterative storytelling might be kind of fun for people who are trying to get into writing something long but don't know if they can stick it out for months or years.

Comment by OnTheOtherHandle on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-21T19:07:39.090Z · LW · GW

I'd guess it's a bit vaguer than that; from what I've seen there aren't sharp distinctions. I can't speak for the original poster, but in my case, I have a little bit of motivation to improve myself - enough to ask people for suggestions, enough to try things, but I wish I had a lot more motivation. Maybe they percieve themselves as having less motivation than average, but it's still some motivation (enough to ask for help increasing motivation)?