Suppose HBD is True 2016-04-21T13:34:14.001Z · score: -12 (30 votes)
Making My Peace with Belief 2015-12-03T20:36:05.673Z · score: 14 (24 votes)
Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare 2015-12-03T15:03:13.013Z · score: 4 (14 votes)
Omega's Idiot Brother, Epsilon 2015-11-25T19:57:41.351Z · score: 3 (11 votes)
The Winding Path 2015-11-24T21:23:54.682Z · score: 6 (9 votes)
In Defense of the Fundamental Attribution Error 2015-06-03T18:46:44.839Z · score: 9 (19 votes)
Visions and Mirages: The Sunk Cost Dilemma 2015-05-20T20:56:51.291Z · score: -8 (16 votes)
Subsuming Purpose, Part II: Solving the Solution 2015-05-14T19:25:14.510Z · score: 5 (8 votes)
Does the Utility Function Halt? 2015-01-28T04:08:46.047Z · score: 3 (5 votes)
Emotional Basilisks 2013-06-28T21:10:30.007Z · score: -2 (32 votes)
Morality should be Moral 2013-05-17T15:26:03.583Z · score: 9 (23 votes)
Personal Evidence - Superstitions as Rational Beliefs 2013-03-22T17:24:27.265Z · score: 3 (35 votes)
Why Politics are Important to Less Wrong... 2013-02-21T16:24:40.172Z · score: 6 (41 votes)
Politics Discussion Thread February 2013 2013-02-06T21:33:26.934Z · score: 1 (12 votes)
Politics Discussion Thread January 2013 2013-01-02T03:31:07.667Z · score: 6 (29 votes)
Politics Discussion Thread December 2012 2012-12-04T20:19:47.625Z · score: 5 (18 votes)
Subsuming Purpose, Part 1 2012-08-10T18:45:34.081Z · score: 1 (11 votes)
Politics Discussion Thread August 2012 2012-08-01T15:25:52.159Z · score: 0 (31 votes)
Is Politics the Mindkiller? An Inconclusive Test 2012-07-27T17:45:13.390Z · score: 14 (47 votes)
In Defense of Tone Arguments 2012-07-19T19:48:50.749Z · score: 24 (48 votes)
What are you counting? 2012-07-18T15:22:34.826Z · score: -14 (25 votes)
Rational Ethics 2012-07-11T22:26:40.730Z · score: -3 (17 votes)


Comment by orphanwilde on People who lie about how much they eat are jerks · 2016-08-12T17:01:59.692Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No it doesn't. You use up more calories when you weigh more. If you eat an apple a day you will reach an equilibrium where you have just enough extra weight to burn a number of calories per day equivalent to an apple. 95 calories in an apple will still get you to about 9.5 kilograms extra, which is a lot, but not near 50 pounds and it won't increase without limit.)

The information I have seen suggests a pound of fat requires 2-3 kilocalories per day to maintain itself, which implies a range of 30-47.5 pounds from a 95 kilocalorie deviation, which would be 13-20 kilograms.

I have no idea how accurate that is, but it doesn't matter too much, as the underlying point remains the same: People's expectations of food consumption necessary to be overweight are entirely inaccurate. Fat people think thin people must be eating almost nothing at all, thin people think fat people must be eating three hamburgers per meal, where the actual difference is quite small, relative to our out-of-whack expectations.

Comment by orphanwilde on People who lie about how much they eat are jerks · 2016-08-10T15:19:39.800Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's not just "harder", it requires skills and knowledge, which most people don't actually have.

The point is that "exercise" isn't helpful advice to lose weight. First, it's not terribly effective at it over short durations, and people need to know that what they're doing is working. Second, if somebody isn't already exercising, they're going to hurt themselves, have a six week recovery time, try again, hurt themselves, and give up on losing weight. Third, you're communicating something different than what you think you are; "Go for a walk every day" is good advice, by comparison to "exercise". The temptation is to object that that is exactly exercising - but it isn't what people think when you tell them to exercise.

I've been both. My natural tendency, absent constant pressure, is to settle 40-50 pounds over my ideal weight - and it's relatively easy for me to lose weight now, but mostly because I know it's possible. The first time I lost weight, willpower had nothing to do with it - I had a minimum-wage job that kept me constantly active, and I didn't feel like I could afford to waste money on anything but the minimum sustenance of food. So I was dieting and exercising against my preferences. Since then, I've been able to lose weight - because I knew it was possible. Without the prior experience of having lost weight, it feels like an impossible achievement.

Comment by orphanwilde on People who lie about how much they eat are jerks · 2016-08-09T15:15:54.869Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't recommend having this argument. It's useless in almost every respect.

There are two fundamental issues. First, most people don't understand what a Calorie looks like, and think the difference between a healthy weight and an unhealthy weight is a large amount of food, rather than a small amount of food compounded over long periods of time. Want to lose weight in a sustained and sustainable fashion? Subtract a small amount of food over a long period of time. Instead, people crash-diet, then go back to normal eating habits.

An extra apple a day translates, over years, to up to 50 extra pounds. Looking at two people's daily diets, one is overweight, one is healthy, and most people couldn't tell the difference by looking at what they ate.

The second problem is that exercise is incredibly unpleasant if you're overweight. If you're currently in shape, try tossing 50 lbs of weights into a backpack the next time you exercise. Or better yet, don't, because you could hurt yourself pretty easily in exactly the ways overweight people injure themselves when doing things like jogging.

It takes physiological issues to gain serious amounts of weight in the first place; these won't stop you from losing weight, but they'll make it harder to maintain a steady weight. Normal people fidget or otherwise increase their base level of activity when they overeat, burning off excess calories. Overweight people have to be more deliberate and conscious of these things.

Comment by orphanwilde on Market Failure: Sugar-free Tums · 2016-07-01T13:10:44.471Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You think that an argument that ultimately boils down to "Look how capitalism is a failure at providing basic things" isn't going to provoke defensive reactions?

This doesn't even pretend very hard.

Comment by orphanwilde on Market Failure: Sugar-free Tums · 2016-06-30T14:05:26.738Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted: If we're going to have a ban on politics, let's have a ban on politics.

Comment by orphanwilde on Meme: Valuable Vulnerability · 2016-06-29T14:09:14.223Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That does not mean never ever having a single negative emotion, just as I presume that he was not speaking of never having any emotions of any kind.

I was, indeed, speaking of not having any emotions of any kind. Or rather, not qualitatively experiencing them; I'd get angry, for example, but I'd notice I was angry because my hands would start clenching of their own accord, not because I'd experience anything resembling an "anger" qualia, or have my thoughts actually influenced by my emotions. To such an extent that, because I didn't experience either lust or love or any of the variations on those two themes as an internal emotive force, I assumed for many years I was asexual.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-29T12:50:42.161Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely agreed. But it's about conflicts among preferred outcomes of a decision, not about preferences among disconnected world-states.

Less about two outcomes your preferences conflict on, and more about, say, your preferences and mine.

Insofar as your internal preferences conflict, I'm not certain ethics are the correct approach to resolve the issue.

If they're unaware because there's no reasonable way for them to be aware, it's hard for me to hold them to blame for not acting on that. Ought implies can. If they're unaware because they've made choices to avoid the truth, then they're ethically inferior to the version of themselves which do learn and act.

This leads to a curious metaethics problem; I can construct a society of more ethically perfect people just by construction it so that other people's suffering is an unknown unknown. Granted, that probably makes me something of an ethical monster, but given that I'm making ethically superior people, is it worth the ethical cost to me?

Once you start treating ethics like utility - that is, a comparable, in some sense ordinal, value - you produce meta-ethical issues identical to the ethical issues with utilitarianism.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-28T20:47:57.031Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ethics is solely and simply about decisions - which future state, conditional on current choice, is preferable.

From my perspective, we have a word for that, and it isn't ethics. It's preference. Ethics are the rules governing how preference conflicts are mediated.

I'm not trying to compare a current world with poverty against a counterfactual current world without - that's completely irrelevant and unhelpful.

Then imagine somebody living an upper-class life who is unaware of suffering. Are they ethically inferior because they haven't made decisions to alleviate pain they don't know about? Does informing them of the pain change their ethical status - does it make them ethically worse-off?

Comment by orphanwilde on Meme: Valuable Vulnerability · 2016-06-28T13:52:22.802Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I followed a policy of strict emotional regulation, and it made me anhedonic for more than a decade. I'm actively working on feeling things, whereas previously, I would have described my emotional state almost entirely in terms of equanimity, although, since I didn't know the word, I used an artful description of same. (In an emotional state, I would describe myself as balancing on top of a very narrow tower, where emotions were winds attempting to knock me down.)

Which is to say - in my experience, you don't get to pick and choose which emotions you experience. If you start refusing some, you'll discover they all fade away. This is initially extremely attractive, if you're experiencing intense negative emotions, but in the long-term, I believe the term for the mental state this produces is "clinical depression".

It's better to learn to cope with your emotions than to attempt to refuse them.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-28T13:40:08.253Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are two problems.

In the first scenario, in which ethics is an obligation (i/e, your ethical standing decreases for not fulfilling ethical obligations), you're ethically a worse person in a world with poverty, because there are ethical obligations you cannot meet. The idea of ethical standing being independent of your personal activities is, to me, contrary to the nature of ethics.

In the second scenario, in which ethics are additive (you're not a worse person for not doing good, but instead, the good you do adds to some sort of ethical "score"), your ethical standing is limited by how horrible the world you are in is - that is, the most ethical people can only exist in worlds in which suffering is sufficiently frequent that they can constantly act to avert it. The idea of ethical standing being dependent upon other people's suffering is also, to me, contrary to the nature of ethics.

It's not a matter of which world you'd prefer to live in, it's a matter of how the world you live in changes your ethical standing.

ETA: Although the "additive" model of ethics, come to think of it, solves the theodicy problem. Why is there evil? Because otherwise people couldn't be good.

Comment by orphanwilde on Two kinds of Expectations, *one* of which is helpful for rational thinking · 2016-06-24T17:38:32.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The response on LW continues to be aversively critical


It's not the upvotes/downvotes, either. It's the comments.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-24T15:56:40.084Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay. Imagine two versions of you: In one, you were born into a society in which, owing to nuclear war, the country you live in is the only one remaining. It is just as wealthy as our own current society owing to the point this hypothesis is leading to.

The other version of you exists in a society much more like the one we live in, where poor people are starving to death.

I'll observe that, strictly in terms of ethical obligations, the person in the scenario in which the poor people didn't exist is ethically superior, because fewer ethical obligations are being unmet. In spite of their actions being exactly the same.

Outside the hypothetical: I agree wholeheartedly the world in which poor people don't starve is better than the one in which they do. That's the world I'd prefer exist. I simply fail to see it as an ethical issue, as I regard ethics as being the governance of one's own behavior rather than the governance of the world.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-23T17:27:36.924Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd classify it loosely as Both; nothing requires an ethical system to distinguish between the two cases, but I think it's a substantial divide in the way people tend to think about ethics.

I'm starting to think "ethics" is an incoherent concept. I'm a strict-negative ethicist - yet I do have an internal concept of a preference hierarchy, in terms of what I want the world to look like, which probably looks a lot like what most people would think of as part of their ethics system. It's just... not part of my ethics. Yes, I'd prefer it if poor people in other countries didn't starve to death, but this isn't an ethical problem, and trying to include it in your ethics looks... confused, to me. How can your ethical status be determined by things outside your control? How can we say a selfish person living in utopia is a better person, ethically, than a selfish person living in a dystopia?

Which isn't to say I'm right. More than half the users apparently include positive ethics in their ethical systems.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-22T17:21:40.847Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally, do we have anybody about who can answer a very specific question about meditation practice? (And if you don't know exactly why I'm asking this question, instead of asking the question I want to ask, you shouldn't volunteer to try to answer.)

Comment by orphanwilde on Open thread, June 20 - June 26, 2016 · 2016-06-22T15:12:11.652Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A thought occurred to me on a divide in ethical views that goes frequently unremarked, so I thought I'd ask about it: How many of you think ethics/morality is strictly Negative (prohibits action, but never requires action), a combination of Both (can both prohibit or require action), or something else entirely?

ETA: First poll I've used here, and I was hoping to view it, then edit the behavior. Please don't mind the "Option" issue in the format.


Comment by orphanwilde on Review and Thoughts on Current Version of CFAR Workshop · 2016-06-10T13:37:35.791Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If somebody downvotes an entire chain of content you've posted, you're probably expressing an idea they disagree with, rather than making a mistake. (Not always true, but usually.)

Comment by orphanwilde on Who are your favorite "hidden rationalists"? · 2016-06-09T20:20:09.088Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Highly recommend kazerad, for Scott-level insights about human behavior. Here's his analysis of 4chan's anonymous culture. Here's another insightful essay of his. And a post on memetics. And these aren't necessarily the best posts I've read by him, just the three I happened to find first.

I gave him/her a shot.

After five or six pages of angry ranting about Gamergate, which was four or five pages too many, I quit. I have no dog in that fight, and I find the notion of arguing about specific people's specific lives as if they were culturally or socially significant to be a really misguided enterprise. It's tribal superstimulus, and it is both addictive and socially self-destructive.

Comment by orphanwilde on Morality of Doing Simulations Is Not Coherent [SOLVED, INVALID] · 2016-06-07T14:23:14.044Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

You've encrypted a brain, and maybe salted it a bit to boot. You're still running the brain's "consciousness" program, it's just encrypted, and the brain is still experiencing exactly the same things, on account of it is running exactly the same program it would otherwise. The fact that the brain is cryptographically entangled with other data doesn't make the brain not exist.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open Thread May 30 - June 5, 2016 · 2016-06-03T18:51:27.984Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Something I and my local group of conversational partners noticed (I don't have a better word for it) over the weekend: Greek philosophy was a matter of law; Theseus' Ship had tax consequences, and shifting conventions in philosophy had legal ramifications. Greek philosophy was argued in court; Sophists were lawyers who were paid to argue your case, and would argue any side whatsoever, as that was what they were paid to do. Socrates had to die, not because he was annoying important people (which he was), but because he insisted on a "pure" philosophy, and was causing all kinds of legal havoc.

It's an observation which probably isn't particularly unique, as all the clues are in just about every philosophy book I've ever read, but it's an interesting part of the history of the divergence between instrumental and epistemic rationality.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T23:30:25.371Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Given your own charge that other people are mindkilled it's interesting that you see that charge as an insult and not as a factual description.

It is a claim of irrationality; yes, it should be taken as insulting.

I didn't intent to insult, but to state a hypothesis. A hypothesis that I stated with the word "maybe" to mark uncertainty. Don't generalize from one example.

I hypothesize you may be an idiot. (Do you see the issue?)

The opposite of fighting the hypothetical is to avoid critical thinking and not challenge it's assumptions.

Reversed stupidity isn't intelligence. Something can be poor rationality, and its opposite can be poor rationality as well.

The problem with the hypothetical is that it ignores how beliefs in a society actually form. That's a process that's vital to the topic at hand. At a core it assumes that a society has beliefs about a war hold 50 years ago that have nothing to do with propaganda.

No it doesn't. It makes it clear that there's motivated reasoning - and thus propaganda - going on on both sides of the equation.

What does "conspicuous" mean here? That you should treat people as being an enemy tribe? That's tribal thinking.

No. It means there are clear and obvious problems with the article that COULD have been criticized, but weren't, in favor of dumb tribal things to criticize.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T23:24:50.469Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Real-world hypotheticals are often made with hidden purposes in mind. It may end up being a good idea to fight the hypothetical, when faced with the tactic of stating claims about real things as "hypotheticals" in order to get the audience to avoid questioning them.

Simply: I disagree.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T23:23:12.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the article could have done just fine with about half the quantity of incidental details. I am guessing that in fact you agree, given your description of it as "overextended".

Quite, yes. I don't think it's a perfect article - indeed, my primary issue with the criticisms of it are that they are criticizing the wrong things.

What about it do you believe I failed to understand?

I have no idea. But you've indicated, if not in those exact words, you found it difficult to read.

Comment by orphanwilde on June 2016 Media Thread · 2016-06-01T17:59:16.445Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The ending is kind of unsatisfactory, though, as a result of relatively poor plot pacing; it feels like the author got bored.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T17:55:02.163Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My post on the other hand addresses what you are writing and asks for the evidence that you have for your beliefs. That's a standard rhetorical move. Engaging in it is no signal for being mindkilled.

No, but suggesting I am "influenced by tribal motivations" while asking for evidence is. You're mixing an insult with a request for information; you've already decided I am wrong.

As for evidence, it is provided by the exceptionally poor quality of the criticisms. Fighting the hypothetical, fighting the hypothetical, fighting the hypothetical, suspicion of hidden purpose, a claim that an article whose title is its thesis statement has no thesis statement, and another suspicion of hidden purpose. There are real criticisms to be made, and their absence is quite conspicuous given the strongly negative tone of the commentary.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T17:38:18.524Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So, there are two possibilities. One is that casebash has simply written a tedious and overextended article out of mere incompetence. That's certainly possible. Another is that the article is tedious and overextended because it is in fact trying to do something else besides arguing for the very obvious thesis contained in its title.

Personally, I suspect casebash might be Russian, and that's why it is written this way.

What other thing might it be doing? Well, the conflict it describes seems like it pattern-matches tolerably well to various hot-button issues of exactly the sort that people sometimes try to approach obliquely in the hope of not pushing people's buttons too hard. Hence the conjecture, made by more than one reader, that there was some somewhat-hidden purpose.

Given that it's a parable describing a common fault mode of human political interactions, it could easily be pattern-matched onto a dozen different situations. Indeed, pretty much any situation in which there are historical grievances; I doubt there's a European country around to which one side or the other could not apply.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T17:35:05.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Except that most of the article makes rather little contact with the idea stated in the title, and instead concerns incidental details of the squabble between the As and the Bs.

The incidental details are the point of the article, however; they're an in-depth example of how the incentives of the two groups interact and intersect.

The article reads very much like other articles I have read before that have a hidden purpose. So I think there may be one. Why is that unreasonable?

Instrumentally, it detracted from your understanding of the article.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T17:31:43.407Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll merely point at the title, which says exactly what the article is about and what it is conveying.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T14:35:02.968Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It takes about one paragraph to figure out whether or not a piece is worth finishing, with or without a thesis statement.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T14:33:08.858Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if you mean that you think the original article killed my mind... then I invite you to show me some evidence for that.

You read a perfectly clear and frankly rather tediously overexplained article and apparently find it murky and ambiguous. More, you think there's a hidden political agenda in a piece about fictional politics in which the author went to some length to state that both sides are guilty of motivated reasoning, which would make it a failure as a political hit piece if it named any names.

Read it again. Read the title first. Everything in the article is in support of the title. It is, in fact, extremely boring in its tedious repetition of the same basic principle, over and over again, and it is in fact quite balanced in its attacks on both parties. If it helps, imagine it's talking about, say, communist-era Chinese atrocities against some of their modern holdings.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T14:25:30.909Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Aside from that -- does anyone actually "think formulaic writing is good writing"?


What I do see is some people saying "this article was hard to read and would have been improved by more indication of where it's going, the sort of thing that writing-by-formula tends to encourage". I hope you can see the difference between "formulaic writing is good" and "this specific element of one kind of formulaic writing is actually often a good idea".

The title tells you exactly what the article is about and where it was going.

And your own articles on LW, thesis statements or no, seem to me to have the key property BBDD is complaining casebash's lacks: it is made clear from early on where the article's going, and there are sufficient signposts to keep the reader on track.

The article isn't ambiguous, however. If anything, it's overextended and overwritten in support of that point - yes, we get it, everybody in the construction is suspicious of everybody else's incentives and for genuinely good reasons, and everybody is engaging in motivated reasoning.

The only "confusing" aspect is if you read the body of work looking for a hidden purpose.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T14:14:22.797Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You find it helpful for the following cases: 1.) You're not going to agree no matter what evidence is presented, so it's not worth reading their evidence. 2.) They might have interesting things to say. 3.) They might be right, and you might be wrong.

The issue, of course, is that you can't actually distinguish between these three cases from the thesis statement; a properly-constructed thesis statement offers no information to actually tell you which attitude you should come into reading the work with, it only states what conclusion the body of evidence reaches.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-06-01T14:00:06.925Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People said as much? And your own impulse to treat my praise as tribal impulse, rather than its facial reasoning. You're motivated.

I did notice the effect when I was reading it. The difference is that I treated it as practice in dealing with mindkilling.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-05-31T14:55:31.903Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Politics is 95% incentives.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-05-31T14:52:12.085Z · score: -6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Considering the responses I observe, I'm going to say - well done. You've made people deeply uncomfortable without giving them a specific reason to be uncomfortable. Granted, in typical Less Wrongian fashion, they'd rather criticize you than take an opportunity to observe their own minds.

Other readers: If you're trying hard to figure out which side you should take based on the real-world analogue you think this could be representing... well, you're mind-killed. Take this as a learning opportunity in how to be less mind-killed. The correct stance is not the stance you already hold, and by trying to find a real-world analogue, you're admitting that your view is being informed, not by rationality, but by tribal politics.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-05-31T14:47:47.980Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm puzzled as to why people think formulaic writing is good writing.

Thesis statements tell the reader whether they agree with the work or not in advance. I disagree firmly with their use, as they encourage a lazy style of reading in which you decide before you begin reading whether or not you're going to discard the evidence before you, or consider it.

Comment by orphanwilde on When considering incentives, consider the incentives of all parties · 2016-05-31T14:44:46.381Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

So you noticed your defensive reflexes rising up, and spent effort trying to decide what you should be defensive about, instead of taking the opportunity to try to analyze and relax your defensive reflexes?

"Politics is the mindkiller" is a problem, not an excuse.

Comment by orphanwilde on Iterated Gambles and Expected Utility Theory · 2016-05-26T20:29:28.564Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Imagine a machine that created $100 every time you (and only you, you can't hire somebody to do it for you, or give it to somebody else) push a button; more, this is a magical $100 imbued with anti-munchkin charms (such that any investments purchased never gain value, any raw materials transformed or skills purchased remain at most the same value (so research is out), and any capital machines purchased with it provoke the same effect on any raw materials they themselves process, and so on and so forth; and no, burning the money or anything else for fuel doesn't subvert the charm, or even allow you to stop the heat death of the universe). Assuming you can push it three times per second, fifteen minutes of effort buys you a really nice car. An hour buys you a nice house. A solid workday buys you a nice mansion. A week, and you could have a decent private island. A few months and you might be able to have a house on the moon - but because of the anti-munchkin charms, it won't jump-start space exploration or the space industry or anything like that.

You have, in effect, as much personal utility as you want.

There are three things about this scenario:

First, you consume utility in this process, you don't create it. The anti-munchkin charms mean you are a parasite on society; the space travel you purchase is taking resources away from some other enterprise.

Second, even without the anti-munchkin charms wrt capital goods, money is a barter token, not utility in and of itself. This machine cannot be used to make society better off directly, it merely allows you to redistribute resources in an inefficient manner. Insofar as you might be able to make society better off, that is dependent on you being about to distribute resources more efficiently than they already are - and if you can recognize global market inefficiencies with sufficient clarity to correct them, there are more productive ways for you to spend your time than pushing a button that dispenses what is relatively chump change.

Third, the first thousand times you push the button will make a substantively larger difference in your life than the second thousand times. Each iterative $100 has diminishing returns over the previous $100, even without taking the inflationary effect this will have on society into account.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-16T20:59:28.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What kind of causality is this, given that you assert that the correct thing to do in smoking lesions is refrain from smoking, and smoking lesions is one of the standard things where CDT says to smoke?

Recursive causality.

"A causes B, therefore B causes A" is a fallacy no matter what arguments you put forward.

Perfect mutual correlation means both that A->B and that B->A.

CDT asserts the opposite, and so if you claim this then you disagree with CDT.

No it doesn't.

You don't understand what counterfactuals are.

A counterfactual is a state of existence which is not true of the universe. It is not a contradiction.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-16T19:20:13.676Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You said "you shouldn't smoke", which is a decision-theoretical claim, not a specification. It's consistent with EDT, but not CDT.

No it isn't, it's a statement about the universe: If you smoke, you'll get lesions. It's written into the specification of the universe; what decision theory you use doesn't change the characteristics of the universe.

In other words, you're denying the exact thing that CDT asserts.

No. You don't get to specify a universe without the kind of causality that the kind of CDT we use in our universe depends on, and then claim that this says something significant about decision theory. Causality in our hypothetical works differently.

Which is what a counterfactual is.

No it isn't.

Whatever your theory is, it is denying core claims that CDT makes, so you're denying CDT (and implicitly assuming EDT as the method for making decisions, your arguments literally map directly onto EDT arguments).

No it isn't. In terms of CDT, we can say that smoking causes the gene; this isn't wrong, because, according to the universe, anybody who smokes has the gene; if they didn't, they do now, because the correlation is guaranteed by the laws of the universe. No matter how much work you prepared to ensure you didn't have the gene in advance of smoking, the law of the universe says you have it now. No matter how many tests you ran, they were all wrong.

It may seem unintuitive and bizarre, because our own universe doesn't behave this way - but when you find yourself in an alien universe, stomping your foot and insisting that the laws of physics should behave the way you're used to them behaving is a fast way to die. Once you introduce a perfect predictor, the universe must bend to ensure the predictions work out.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-16T18:30:43.048Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This implicitly assumes EDT.

No it doesn't. It assumes a "perfect predictor" is what it is. I don't give a damn about evidence - we're specifying properties of a universe here.

But that's not what CDT counterfactuals do.

CDT assumes causality makes sense in the universe. Your hypotheticals don't take place in a universe with the kind of causality causal decision theory depends upon.

You cut off previous nodes. As the choice to smoke doesn't causally affect the gene, smoking doesn't counterfactually contradict the prediction.

In the case of a perfect predictor, yes, smoking specifies which gene you have. You don't get to say "Everybody who smokes has this gene" as a property of the universe, and then pretend to be an exception to a property of the universe because you have a bizarre and magical agency that gets to bypass properties of the universe. You're a part of the universe; if the universe has a law (which it does, in our hypotheticals), the law applies to you, too.

We have a perfect predictor. We do something the perfect predictor predicted we wouldn't. There is a contradiction there, in case you didn't notice; either it's not, in fact, the perfect predictor we specified, or we didn't do the thing. One or the other. And our hypothetical universe is constructed such that the perfect predictor is a perfect predictor; therefore, we don't get to violate its predictions.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-16T18:14:01.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Trial problem:

Omega appears before you, and gives you a pencil. He tells you that, in universes in which you break this pencil in half in the next twenty seconds, the universe ends immediately. Not as a result of your breaking the pencil - it's pure coincidence that all universes in which you break the pencil, the universe ends, and in all universes in which you don't, it doesn't.

Do you break the pencil in half? It's not like you're changing anything by doing so, after all; some set of universes will end, some set won't, and you aren't going to change that.

You're just deciding which set of universes you happen to occupy. Which implies something.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-16T16:03:10.792Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I may be misunderstanding something, but isn't the standard LW position on smoking to smoke even if the gene's correlation to smoking and cancer is 1?

If the mutual correlation to both is 1, you will smoke if and only if you have the gene, and you will have the gene if and only if you smoke, and in which case you shouldn't smoke. At the point at which the gene is a perfect predictor, if you have a genetic test and you don't have the gene, and then smoke - then the genetic test produced a false negative. Perfect predictors necessarily make a mess of causality.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-13T17:33:05.158Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Either you misunderstand the smoking lesions scenario and the importance between the difference between a correlation and a perfect predictor, or you're just trolling the board by throwing every decision theory edge case you can think of into a single convoluted mess.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-13T15:34:19.784Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For the case that dust specks aren't additive, assuming we treat copies of me as distinct entities with distinct moral weight, 3^^^3 copies of me is either a net negative - as a result of 3^^^3 lives not worth living - or a net positive - as a result of an additional 3^^^3 lives worth living. The point of the dust speck is that it has only a negligible effect; the weight of the dust speck moral issue is completely subsumed by the weight of the duplicate people issue.

If we don't treat them as distinct moral entities, well, the duplication and the dust speck doesn't enter into it.

I don't think your conceptual problem sufficiently isolates whatever moral quandary you're trying to express; there's just too much going on here.

Comment by orphanwilde on Newcomb versus dust specks · 2016-05-12T17:25:05.522Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

3^^^3 dust specks in everybody's eye?

So basically we're talking about turning all sentient life into black holes, or torturing everybody?

I mean, it depends on how good the torture we're talking about is, and how long it will last. If it's permanent and unchanging, eventually people will get used to it/evolve past it and move on. If it's short-term, eventually people will get past it. So in either of those cases, torture is the obvious choice.

If, on the other hand, it's permanent and adaptive such that all life is completely and totally miserable for perpetuity, and there is nothing remotely good about living, oblivion seems the obvious choice.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open Thread May 9 - May 15 2016 · 2016-05-11T18:36:33.300Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But, here is my question. Does MWI limit itself to alternate universes with the same universal constants, or does it predict also the existence of universes with different universal constants?

As far as I know, we don't know why we have the physics constants we have now. There are hints that the constants may be a product of the structure of the universe (and that the constants have changed over time as the structure of the universe has developed), in which case MWI would predict universes with different constants. But there are a lot of unknown unknowns in all of this.

Insofar as MWI might predict universes with completely different physical laws - I'm unaware of any evidence for this proposition.

Comment by orphanwilde on Improving long-run civilisational robustness · 2016-05-11T18:28:49.178Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mars has the potential to carry the sort of civilization we have now; it's another planet, we make it like Earth, we get another Earth, we colonize it and live like we do on Earth.

Space stations have the capacity to carry an entirely new sort of civilization. The resources are out there, too - more scattered, yes, but your processing plant and drilling equipment are far more mobile in space. More, once you have industry running, gravity wells are a substantively smaller problem.

Comment by orphanwilde on Improving long-run civilisational robustness · 2016-05-11T17:54:03.171Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why would we colonize another gravity well? This one is already 90% of our problem with colonizing space.

Comment by orphanwilde on Improving long-run civilisational robustness · 2016-05-11T17:48:52.162Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How widely held, and how well supported, is the theory that the Roman empire failed because of overregulation and overtaxation? It's not a claim I've heard before, but I am about as far from being an expert in late Roman history as it is possible to be. In particular, how widely accepted is this theory outside circles in which everything is blamed on overregulation and overtaxation?

Overtaxation is a standard reason given for the fall of the Roman Empire, and I'm surprised you haven't heard of that before. I've never heard of overregulation being a reason; I've never looked into the Roman regulatory state, and have no idea how burdensome it was, or even if it substantively existed.

Comment by orphanwilde on Open Thread May 2 - May 8, 2016 · 2016-05-06T17:59:22.388Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Granted. I guess I'm puzzled as to why its use or non-use ultimately matters?