Posts

How Pet Owners Can Help Wild Animals and The Environment 2018-06-01T21:57:36.466Z · score: 16 (7 votes)
Free Speech as Legal Right vs. Ethical Value 2017-11-28T16:49:38.540Z · score: 22 (8 votes)
A Day in Utopia 2017-11-22T16:57:26.982Z · score: 34 (19 votes)
Civility Is Never Neutral 2017-11-22T16:54:06.248Z · score: 81 (34 votes)
Hogwarts House Primaries 2017-11-20T17:56:34.504Z · score: 37 (17 votes)
Entitlement, Covert Contracts, Social Libertarianism, and Related Concepts 2017-11-17T19:00:34.485Z · score: 34 (14 votes)
Creating Welfare Biology: A Research Proposal 2017-11-16T19:06:11.492Z · score: 50 (24 votes)
Distinctions Between Natalism Positions 2017-10-19T01:06:30.630Z · score: 12 (7 votes)
NSFW Content on LW 2017-10-08T14:31:01.909Z · score: 23 (13 votes)
The Typical Sex Life Fallacy 2017-10-07T21:48:29.229Z · score: 103 (70 votes)
Infant Mortality and the Argument from Life History 2017-10-04T23:10:14.032Z · score: 21 (12 votes)
Deontologist Envy 2017-09-23T20:21:49.558Z · score: 21 (13 votes)
In Defense of Unreliability 2017-09-22T15:46:55.865Z · score: 15 (13 votes)
Why Attitudes Matter 2017-09-21T15:07:44.687Z · score: 23 (16 votes)
Against EA PR 2017-09-21T01:23:00.502Z · score: 40 (27 votes)
I'm Not An Effective Altruist Because I Prefer... 2016-12-28T22:39:36.688Z · score: 6 (8 votes)

Comments

Comment by ozymandias on In what ways are holidays good? · 2018-12-28T14:31:34.739Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that I typically get out of holidays is having experiences associated with my interests that I would otherwise not be able to have. For example: musicals on Broadway typically have more talented casts than musicals elsewhere in the United States; looking at artwork in person is generally more emotionally moving for me than looking at it online; I met some famous people, watched interesting panels, and went shopping at WorldCon; and Disneyland has rides and the opportunity to interact with costumed characters.

I assume if you had interests such that going on vacation would benefit you in this way it would have made your list of benefits of vacations. But that is definitely one thing some people get out of vacations that might not generalize to you.

Another advantage of vacations for me is that many of my closest friends live very far away, and if I'd like to see them in person either they have to visit me or I have to visit them.

Comment by ozymandias on Advances in Baby Formula · 2018-09-09T22:31:59.877Z · score: 21 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You can do an encouragement design similar to what was done in Belarus by randomizing some hospitals to adopt breastfeeding-friendly policies and some to not adopt them. Unfortunately, since not all parents in a breastfeeding-friendly hospital will breastfeed and not all parents in a control hospital will use formula, and since you're randomizing at the hospital level, your sample size has to be huge to detect any effect. And because many of the outcome variables you're interested in are long-term (IQ age seven, for example), you have to follow people for a long time. It's very very expensive and it takes forever.

The Belarus results are IMO the strongest results we have about the benefits of breastfeeding, and show a huge rise in IQ from three months of breastfeeding. Of course, as this post points out, the top formula brands have improved their product in the past decade, and modern babies may receive better milk than the babies of the Belarus study. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Comment by ozymandias on [Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future · 2018-09-09T04:06:28.799Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I really really enjoyed reading this blog post. Your thoughts about privileging the future were new to me, and I think that's a really insightful way of looking at it.

Comment by ozymandias on Isolating Content can Create Affordances · 2018-08-25T16:14:31.908Z · score: 32 (9 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, quarantine channels are a good choice if some participants want a particular kind of content, and it's agreed to be appropriate for the community, but not everyone wants to view it. For example, a writing discord I participate in has several NSFW channels. It's agreed upon that some people might want to write and talk about writing NSFW things, and that other people don't want to view NSFW content (because of age, religion, personal preference, etc.). I think it's a bad idea to create a quarantine channel for content that is actually inappropriate for the community: for example, I banned religion as a topic in my parenting discord, instead of creating a religion channel.

Comment by ozymandias on One night, without sleep · 2018-08-17T14:25:11.352Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"I normally have little regard for trigger warnings, but on this occasion, imagine that my words are prefaced with every trigger warning ever" is a very unhelpful warning. Taken literally, it implies you are warning for diet talk, pictures of spiders, sudden loud noises, people's faces, flashing gifs, sex, curse words, and a detailed description of how to commit suicide; zero of these things are in your piece. In general, I think trigger warnings should have a brief and non-vivid description of the potentially triggering content, in order to allow readers to make an informed decision. For example, you might say "trigger warning: vivid description of death and the suffering and thoughts associated with chronic illness."

Comment by ozymandias on Wirehead your Chickens · 2018-06-20T19:23:23.245Z · score: 42 (15 votes) · LW · GW

That's not a proxy for suffering; it is caring about more than just suffering. You might oppose making animals' brains smaller because it also reduces their ability to feel pleasure, and you value pleasure in addition to pain. You might oppose amputating non-essential body parts because that reduces the animal's capacity for pleasurable experiences of the sort the species tends to experience. You might oppose breeding animals that enjoy pain because of the predictable injuries and shorter lifespan that would result: physical health and fitness is conventionally included in many definitions of animal welfare. You might also be a deontologist who is opposed to certain interventions as a violation of the animal's rights or dignity.

Not being a negative utilitarian is not a bias.

Comment by ozymandias on Wirehead your Chickens · 2018-06-20T15:12:58.863Z · score: 18 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I think you have failed to address the issue of why these solutions are acceptable for chickens and not for humans. The obvious explanation for why people disagree with you on this point is not that they don't care about animal suffering, any more than people who don't want to amputate the non-essential body parts that might give humans discomfort later in life don't care about human suffering. It is that they think those actions are unethical for animals, just like they are for humans.

Comment by ozymandias on Problem Solving with Mazes and Crayon · 2018-06-19T20:17:20.778Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent post! Your explanations were interesting and intuitive for me, even though I don't know much of anything about computer science.

Comment by ozymandias on Three types of "should" · 2018-06-03T16:15:27.867Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that it makes sense, at our current level of knowledge of scrupulosity, to declare that anything is "the" cause of scrupulosity. I have no doubt that what you say is *a* cause of scrupulosity, but the term is deliberately quite broad. For example, clinical OCD can cause scrupulosity, but that's not related to internalized "shoulds", it's related to the mind's tendency to obsessively think about things it's trying not to think about.

Comment by ozymandias on Bay Summer Solstice · 2018-06-02T22:04:41.851Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I realize there are constraints because of when the summer solstice actually is, but this overlaps with Pride, which lots of rationalists (including me) probably want to go to. SF Pride is consistently the last weekend in June, and I am going to be pretty annoyed if I have to choose between Pride and Summer Solstice every year.

Comment by ozymandias on [deleted post] 2018-05-28T18:59:37.178Z

Dropping the metaphor because it's tedious to write around--

It is difficult to square men being harmed by seeing scantily clad women with the popularity of strip clubs, softcore porn, cheerleaders, Game of Thrones, etc. It's one thing to argue that men aren't aware that they're being harmed, and quite another to argue that they are deliberately seeking out something that harms them.

I think a useful point of comparison is evangelical modesty culture, which does have a real "there is no way to win" problem.

I do think it's pretty easy for people to distinguish feeding a baby from deliberately flashing people; for one thing, in only one version is a baby present.

The CDC collects sexual violence information. Women raping men is classified as "forced to penetrate," not "rape"; if you combine the statistics, you get ~25% of lifetime rape survivors being male and ~50% of past-year rape survivors being male. (No idea why the discrepancy.)

Comment by ozymandias on [deleted post] 2018-05-28T15:36:07.810Z

Some apple eaters enjoy apple brandishing and, in fact, some are willing to pay money and commit crimes for the privilege of viewing it.

Based on evidence from other societies and subcultures, it is very likely that if apple holders stopped the behavior currently considered to be apple brandishing, apple eaters would merely feel taunted by something else. In some cultures, in fact, even the shadow of a leaf is considered to be taunting, while in others green apples are carried openly and only red apples are concealed, and apple eaters consider it laughable that they might be tempted by green apples. For this reason, many apple holders' rights activists are suspicious that this would never end and wind up a serious imposition on the freedom of apple holders.

Apple eaters need to take out their green apples in order to feed their infants. If you don't allow public display of green apples to feed infants, you are sentencing many apple eaters to seclusion while their children are young, or to the use of artificial green apples, which are generally less healthy for children and may cause an IQ drop of as many as seven and a half points.

While apple holders are less interested in oranges in general, some are as interested in oranges as any apple-eater is in apples. Indeed, some research suggests that, over the course of a year, orange-holders are exactly as likely to be victims of orange theft as apple-holders are to be victims of apple theft. Despite both the risk of crimes and (by stipulation) the suffering it causes to particularly hungry orange-eaters, few efforts have ever been made to limit the freedom of orange holders, and many walk around with their mandarins out for no reason other than it being a hot day.

Comment by ozymandias on Societal Growth Requires Rehabilitation · 2018-05-27T15:28:10.016Z · score: 28 (7 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, as a suicidal person, I found an emphasis on personal growth to be tremendously important in my recovery from suicidality. It was important to have the idea that my suicidality *could* change, and that it wasn't going to change if I sat on my butt and waited for someone else to magically fix it for me. I have no doubt that there is variation in how useful memes around personal growth are for different people, but I really don't think status and amount of suffering are the axes on which it differs.

Comment by ozymandias on Expressive Vocabulary · 2018-05-25T01:03:38.599Z · score: 28 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Politeness is often useful instrumentally in order to communicate efficiently.

I attempted to describe the central examples of a similarity cluster; not everything in a similarity cluster will have all the traits associated with that cluster. ("Ten fingers" is part of the human similarity cluster, but some humans have nine fingers.)

It might be silly to have a "I don't eat yellow food" diet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have the concept of yellow. Indeed, I would argue that there are far more concepts that do not provide good diet advice than concepts which do.

Comment by ozymandias on Expressive Vocabulary · 2018-05-24T16:58:12.210Z · score: 46 (11 votes) · LW · GW

One polite way to respond to people using words you prefer they not use is "[Word] upsets me for [Reason], can you use [Replacement Word] instead?" If they can't (because they're not a native English speaker, or they have a linguistic disability, or they are chronically sleep deprived, to name just three of the reasons that word replacement can be impossible), then you have to judge how important not being around people who use Word is for you.

You could also consider asking what they mean if you don't know what they mean. My rough sense is something like "a cluster of chemicals the central examples of which require industrial manufacturing processes to create, did not exist before the 20th century, are not part of any culture's traditional way of doing things, could not be manufactured in a home kitchen, and bear little resemblance to petroleum, corn, or soybeans in spite of being derived from them."

Comment by ozymandias on Expressive Vocabulary · 2018-05-24T16:04:11.082Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like the example for "loading definitions" does, in fact, strike a word from my vocabulary without suitable replacement. I would like a word for "the aspects of masculinity that are bad"; in order to prevent the conversation turning into a bunch of complaints about my use of a particular term, I instead have to just say "masculinity." I do not want to use "masculinity" to mean "the aspects of masculinity that are bad." I would like to distinguish between those two things.

(While I have no moderation power, I would personally really prefer that this conversation not turn into a conversation about the merits of that particular term.)

Comment by ozymandias on Co-Proofs · 2018-05-22T15:32:35.253Z · score: 21 (6 votes) · LW · GW

A piece of writing advice: even if Too Like The Lightning gave you the idea, The questions the readers have are "what does this idea mean?", "what are some examples?", and "how can I use it?", not "where did the author come up with this idea?" Too Like the Lightning is not illuminating about any of the former questions (i.e. you don't use it as a source of vivid examples), but it takes up nearly half your post.

Comment by ozymandias on Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug" · 2018-05-17T18:03:43.660Z · score: 30 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I would point to (the ethical parts of) the BDSM community as an example of useful norms about this.

1) You do not hit people who do not want you to hit them.

1a) Outside of the context of a relationship in which it can be assumed your partner generally wants you to hit them, you ask someone before hitting them.

2) You do not engage in consensual violence around nonconsenting individuals. (A light tap is not violence; punching someone is.)

2a) Bystander consent may be assumed if the bystanders are at a party or social event arranged for the specific purpose of facilitating people consensually hitting each other.

3) If you are going to be playing games where "no" doesn't mean "no" (for example, "you're not hitting me back so I guess you are playing punch bug!"), you establish a safeword ahead of time which means "no".

Comment by ozymandias on Personal relationships with goodness · 2018-05-15T04:07:20.724Z · score: 26 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I am not permitted to engage in morality for exactly the same reason an alcoholic is not permitted to have a drink-- I can never stop at just one.

By coincidence, when I try as solemnly as possible to figure out what I genuinely want to do, one of the things I want to do is to be St. Basil the Great. Of course, I want to do very many unrealistic and mutually contradictory things: in addition to being St. Basil the Great, I also want to go to Disneyland about once a month, cook three delicious meals for myself every day from scratch, read my son every board book in existence, and date every pretty person I come across. But for me my desire to go to Disneyland interfering with my desire to be St. Basil the Great is not actually any different from my desire to go to Disneyland interfering with my desire to cook all my meals from scratch. So I try to fulfill as many of my desires as best I can.

Also, I keep doing things I don't want to do instead of things I want to do.

When I adopted this policy I was concerned that not wanting to be good would mean I would end up doing some things I would feel upset about doing, but it turns out that the whole reason I feel upset about those things is that I don't upon reflection want to do them (although I might have impulses to do them at the time). Otherwise, it would be like "if you stop caring about being good then you might have gay sex!" Yes, and in fact that is a selling point of not caring about being good.

Comment by ozymandias on A tentative solution to a certain mythological beast of a problem · 2018-05-09T14:30:34.049Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think, in general, one should not write posts about the basilisk, particularly not as a first post. You shouldn't try to model future superintelligences in enough detail that they can blackmail you, and the entire topic makes both rationalists and AI risk look ridiculous. (You asked for brutal, I'm giving brutal.)

Comment by ozymandias on Eight political demands that I hope we can agree on · 2018-05-04T03:25:25.920Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the rationality community should become a political movement; there are ways to achieve things outside the government. I think putting controversial items like euthanasia and ending the war on drugs on the list risks alienating more conservative rationalists.

Comment by ozymandias on Survey: Help Us Research Coordination Problems In The Rationalist/EA Community · 2018-04-08T01:28:26.193Z · score: 23 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Potentially confusing aspect of the survey: "animal rights" and "animal welfare" refer to different things within the animal activism space. In general, animal rights activism seeks to end all human exploitation of animals, while animal welfare activism seeks to make sure all animals have a high quality of life. Since PETA is a very prominent animal rights organization and not particularly associated with effective animal activism, it's unclear to me whether you intended to specify animal rights activism in particular or whether you intended to include all animal activism but accidentally made a misleading question. If the former, I'd suggest adding "animal welfare (HSUS)" as a category; if the latter, I'd suggest making a single "animal activism" category and using an effective-animal-activism-associated charity such as the Humane League as an example.

It's unclear to me whether "mundane societal issues" is intended to be solely political issues or to include apolitical issues such as mentoring talented students. Regardless, I'd suggest replacing the Cato Institute with a less partisan organization, to prevent non-libertarians from feeling excluded.

There is no place to clarify which of the potentially three projects we're talking about when we say what skills are needed.

Comment by ozymandias on *Deleted* · 2018-03-28T15:43:08.864Z · score: 14 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Human babies require at least two and preferably more adults to take care of them. While we can expect some males to have a sexual strategy in which they don't provide caregiving and instead rely on e.g. the baby's grandparents, the mother's friends, or the mother's husband who has been deceived into thinking the baby is his, it is probably going to be way more common for human males to provide the caregiving themselves.

Comment by ozymandias on Naming the Nameless · 2018-03-23T00:53:26.162Z · score: 15 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Ask a libertarian "Why don't we have any good songs about our values?"

This is a tangent, but Sons of Liberty by Frank Turner.

Comment by ozymandias on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T20:10:02.443Z

I mean, I suspect I *am* one of the Chicken Littles, and here you are, engaging with me. :)

I would make a bet at fairly generous odds that no rattumb person who offered a negative opinion of Dragon Army will face social consequences they consider significant from having a negative opinion of Dragon Army.

Comment by ozymandias on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T15:05:06.613Z

I think a problem with this strategy is that the Chicken Littles don't particularly like you or care about your opinion, and so the fact that you disapprove of their behavior has little to no deterrent effect.

Comment by ozymandias on Misery Pits · 2018-03-21T03:30:01.009Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cognitive biases exist. Depressed people often feel like they have no value even though they obviously do. This and similar distortions are the premise of CBT.

Comment by ozymandias on Appropriateness of Discussing Rationalist Discourse of a Political Nature on LW? · 2018-03-15T18:40:26.303Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like an unfair criticism of Current Affairs. All magazines with a long history started out with a short history at some point, and presumably they do not generally change their names when the history is long enough. Also, how seriously you should take a magazine is not particularly well correlated with age: Cosmopolitan magazine is more than a hundred years old and played a key role in the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment, but that does not mean we should care deeply about the deep psychological insight of the Manthropology section.

Comment by ozymandias on The Jordan Peterson Mask · 2018-03-11T22:02:53.935Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW
its unusual antipathy to other religions -- I haven't seen anyone deploy the murder-Gandhi argument to explain why people shouldn't do drugs or make tulpas

The murder-Gandhi argument against drugs is so common it has a name, "addiction." Rationalists appear to me to have a perfectly rational level of concern about addiction (which means being less concerned about certain drugs, such as MDMA, and more concerned about other drugs, such as alcohol).

I am puzzled about how making tulpas could interfere with one's ability to decide not to make any more tulpas.

Comment by ozymandias on Misery Pits · 2018-03-11T07:08:39.014Z · score: 21 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I want to be clear that my comment was not intended to be a criticism of Alicorn or of this post.

Comment by ozymandias on Misery Pits · 2018-03-11T01:27:36.082Z · score: 86 (25 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to add the caution that not all depressed, romantically unsuccessful, or crisis-prone people are misery pits, particularly since many such people are likely to assume they themselves are. If you have friendships that extend for longer than a year or two, you are almost certainly not a misery pit.

From the perspective of a person who might be a misery pit: one key is to avoid overburdening any single person. Cycling between three or four support people can be helpful. For validation-seeking, I've found social media works well, since liking a sadpost is usually less stressful for most people than comforting a sad person. It's also helpful to prioritize learning how to create value for others. Try to have pleasant interactions with your support people (fandom, gaming, sharing jokes, talking politics, doing a hobby together, whatever) more often than you call on them for help. Consider learning a service-provision skill, such as cooking.

Comment by ozymandias on The Jordan Peterson Mask · 2018-03-05T01:16:28.898Z · score: 26 (7 votes) · LW · GW
What is your subjective probability that the most prolific mathematician of all time did half of his most productive work after going blind in both eyes?

That's surprising but not that surprising: Milton wrote much of his best poetry while blind, and Beethoven was famously deaf. Conversely, I cannot think of a single unambiguous example of a mythological motif encoding a non-obvious scientific truth (such as that nothing can go faster than light, or that all species evolved from a single-celled organism, or that the stars are trillions and trillions of miles away), so I think this is very very unlikely.

Comment by ozymandias on The Jordan Peterson Mask · 2018-03-04T19:43:18.706Z · score: 55 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Death of the Author, but iirc Scott mentioned the point of the Kabbalah in Unsong is the exact opposite-- you can connect anything to anything if you try hard enough, so the fact that you can is meaningless.

Of course, this shows the exact problem with using fiction as evidence.

Comment by ozymandias on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T04:12:02.088Z · score: 40 (12 votes) · LW · GW

You might as well say that when you don't criticize people for saying the truth in an unproductive way, then you shift the Overton window of required politeness over toward the "maximally confrontational" side. Next time, you give a pass to someone who sprinkles their comments with irrelevant insults. You keep going until you're 4Chan.

Given that spaces other than 4Chan that have disagreements exist, I think it's possible to put a fence on the slippery slope.

Comment by ozymandias on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T03:23:43.082Z · score: 45 (12 votes) · LW · GW

PDV, I like you and often agree with you and am on your side about the circling thing, so I hope you will take this in the sense it is meant, but I agree with gworley. In particular, I think you often tend to escalate arguments you're part of, sometimes to the point of transforming them into demon threads even though they didn't have to be. That's a good trait to have sometimes: it's what lets you point out that the emperor has no clothes. But I get the feeling that you're not deploying it particularly tactically, and you'd probably do better at advancing your goals if you also deescalated sometimes.

Comment by ozymandias on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-26T04:42:35.003Z · score: 24 (6 votes) · LW · GW

They might be worth the attention of some subset of people. For example, I write rationalist-influenced posts about transness. These are no doubt very uninteresting to the vast majority of the cisgender population, but people who have specifically chosen to subscribe to my blog are probably going to be interested in the subject.

Comment by ozymandias on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-25T20:59:57.395Z · score: 21 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not if all rationalists start taking up woo.

Comment by ozymandias on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-25T16:27:31.220Z · score: 22 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is a tangent, but I feel like this comment is making the mistake of collapsing predictions into a "predicted Trump"/"predicted Clinton" binary. I predicted about a 20% chance of Trump (my strategy was to agree with Nate Silver, Nate Silver is always right when speaking ex cathedra), and I do not consider myself to have made an error. Things with a 20% chance of happening happen one time out of five. Trump lost the popular vote after an October surprise; that definitely looks like the sort of outcome you get in a world where he was genuinely less likely than Clinton to win.

Comment by ozymandias on Circling · 2018-02-21T04:32:47.560Z · score: 34 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like "don't circle at people without their consent" is meaningfully different from "do not express your feelings or let other people know what would make communication easier for you." Very few people have ever circled, but nearly everyone can express feelings and preferences.

That rule might exclude people who only have one script for expressing feelings and preferences, however, which is a particular concern in a community where so many people rely on scripts to communicate.

Comment by ozymandias on Rationalist Lent · 2018-02-14T17:57:28.365Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Leah Libresco gave up jaywalking for Lent and found it was very valuable.

Comment by ozymandias on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T04:46:00.705Z · score: 36 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't invest in Bitcoin because I don't invest in things that I don't understand well enough to be confident that the Efficient Market Hypothesis doesn't apply. I continue to believe this is a rational choice-- okay, sure, this one time I might have made a lot of money, but most of the time I would waste a bunch of money/time/other resources. And no one writes blog posts about how they could have lost a lot of money but didn't, so the availability heuristic is going to overweight successes.

Comment by ozymandias on introducing: target stress · 2018-01-15T22:10:09.376Z · score: -8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with Raemon. I want to read about lex's idea of target stress, not about lex's use of capital letters, and I have no idea how to obtain this goal except, perhaps, writing a defense of not using capital letters and hoping the derailment works backwards.

[downvotes self]

Comment by ozymandias on Demon Threads · 2018-01-07T05:32:18.425Z · score: 32 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If the demon thread has two to three participants who know each other, I wonder about the effectiveness of making repair attempts. If one participant says something like "I'm sorry, let me try to say that better," or "I agree with part of what you're saying," or (I don't know) links to a cat picture or something, does it tend to deescalate the situation? I'm not actually sure but I think it's worth trying.

I've found that certain topics predictably degenerate into demon threads (I had an example, but then reconsidered the wisdom of giving it). On my blog, when I'm writing about a topic tangentially related to one of those topics, I will often put up a commenting note like "no discussion of [TOPIC]," which nips that in the bud.

Another reason demon threads sometimes escalate is that there are antisocial persons like myself who really enjoy participating in demon threads. I am not sure what to do about us in the general case. Ideally there'd be some site where we could all argue with each other about extremely unimportant topics.

Comment by ozymandias on Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts · 2017-12-18T18:57:48.887Z · score: 28 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I strongly agree and have messaged the organizers about personally arranging this.

Comment by ozymandias on Examples of Mitigating Assumption Risk · 2017-11-30T16:15:30.108Z · score: 29 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Don't deceive yourself even if it seems like a really really good idea.

Don't falsify data, frame people for bad things they didn't do, or hide bad things your allies are doing even if it seems like a really really good idea.

Prepare ahead of time for disasters. Learn first aid. Know what to do in the event of nuclear war. Keep essential first aid and disaster preparedness supplies on hand.

Assume every new sex partner is fertile and has HIV, and decide your safer-sex risk tolerance based on that.

Build slack. Have fuck-you money. Build extra time into your schedule in case something goes wrong.

Charge your phone and your laptop before leaving the house. Always take more books (or whatever your preferred form of entertainment is) than you think you'll need.

When hanging out privately with a stranger, tell a friend when you expect to return and when they should start freaking out.

Always have an exit plan for your job, relationship, and intentional community.

Comment by ozymandias on Security Mindset and the Logistic Success Curve · 2017-11-27T23:21:17.027Z · score: 33 (12 votes) · LW · GW

As someone with time that is relatively valueless compared to Elizer's and Oliver's, I'd like to second this comment. As much as I'd love to respond to every person who has a criticism of me, it would take up a lot of mental energy that I'd rather use for writing. That doesn't mean that I don't read criticisms and take them to heart.

Comment by ozymandias on List of civilisational inadequacy · 2017-11-24T14:54:28.879Z · score: 16 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I personally very much enjoyed Expecting Better, Debunking the Bump, the Informed Parent, and the Science of Mom.

Comment by ozymandias on A Day in Utopia · 2017-11-23T17:51:46.644Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There are certainly various sorts of sports and games, which I didn't talk about because I don't like sports. I'd imagine both a Baseline Human and a Transhuman league, depending on your preferences. There are also the normal human status games about trying to be the best scientist or artist or writer or whatever; it's just that if you choose to opt out, you can still do what you love without starving.

Comment by ozymandias on A Day in Utopia · 2017-11-23T17:49:35.391Z · score: 27 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I think that American society makes it very difficult to have friends (television, absence of third places, giant houses with individual yards so you have to drive to see people, stigmatization of men having intimate nonromantic friendships, etc). The vast majority of the change is not doing that. I'd also imagine programs intended to help friendless people meet other friendless people (perhaps a community center with book groups, sports teams, knitting circles, and so on): in many countries there are already such programs aimed at elderly men that are quite successful. You'd probably have friend-matching websites. In the worst case "be a friend to lonely people" is probably a common volunteer opportunity, although of course people who are volunteering to be your friend because they want to help others are not the ideal sort of friend.

"Everyone" is probably not precisely true but I think these policies could easily make the number of friendless people maybe a thousandth of what they currently are, which I would be pretty comfortable calling "everyone has friends".

Comment by ozymandias on List of civilisational inadequacy · 2017-11-23T15:26:05.156Z · score: 39 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Advice for pregnant people is really bad. The advice is so risk-averse that it generally doesn't clearly distinguish between "this is moderately risky," "this is a very small risk," and "we have not conclusively proven that a risk does not exist," which means that there are far more pieces of advice than anyone can remember and people quite often end up doing moderately risky things. The FDA continues to recommend limiting fish consumption in spite of the epidemiological evidence that eating fish increases IQ. Cleaning litter boxes is actually a very uncommon way of transmitting toxoplasmosis; it is most likely to come from undercooked meat. Even though gaining too much in pregnancy is only twice as common as gaining too little, and gaining too little has far more serious health consequences, the vast majority of the messaging is about the dangers of gaining too much.

An odd example of civilizational adequacy and inadequacy at the same time: food fortification has made folic acid deficiency one of the least common nutritional deficiencies, but pregnant people are still advised to take a folic acid supplement, even though they are almost certainly not deficient. (I suppose the idea is that extra folic acid is harmless.)