Comment by Psychosmurf on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-15T02:42:33.226Z · LW · GW

Great job on the fic EY. If you were to promise to write Ch 123, I would let you out of the box.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-27T04:37:38.004Z · LW · GW

I believe that society should be organized so that people work collectively in a society focused on its own survival and power. My views are extremely collectivist, in that, the relationship between the society and its people would be a lot like the relationship between a body and its cells.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Is there a way to stop liking sugar? · 2014-06-14T17:57:47.523Z · LW · GW

For me, I stopped craving sugar after I stopped eating so much of it. Why did I stop eating it? Well, that's because I think I changed my identity from "Someone who eats whatever they want when they're hungry" to "someone who only eats what he has decided is optimal" (and sugary foods are often not in that category).

Comment by Psychosmurf on Political ideas meant to provoke thought · 2014-06-12T05:47:33.457Z · LW · GW

Actually, I like your idea. I am just not sure how big change could we make "merely" by studying the system and applying the advantages. More than zero, certainly, but we could still be kinda disappointed with the result, because we expected more. (Also, it may require us to sacrifice some other values.)

Well more than zero is still more than zero, right? I think if you expect to be disappointed by the results of an endeavor, then you may as well revise your expectations downward from the start, so I don't see that as much of an obstacle. (I also don't believe in the existence of values, so no problem there either).

This reminds me: many years ago, one of my friends expressed a strong political opinion that in capitalism you don't need any skills or work to get rich; you just have to start with some money and then it automatically makes more money. Thus people born in rich families get more rich, and others don't have a chance. I said that to make your money make more money, you still need some plan, and you need to execute it, which not literally eveyone can do. My friend objected that you just pay other people to do the work and the thinking for you, and that's all.

I actually agree with your friend that you don't need any special skills to get rich(er) (neither in capitalism nor in any other socioeconomic system), you just have to do the bare minimum required not to sink your business, (and yes you can pay other people to do the work and the thinking for you), but I would disagree with the notion that this will lead to automatic success.

Since there are many more poor people than rich people, it follows that not only is it difficult for poor people to become rich but also that it is easy for rich people to become poor. Some rich people get richer, but most get poorer. (Nonetheless, I do believe that the richer you are the harder it is to fall to a given level of wealth) Hence, it is my belief that the most successful businessmen are outliers and their success is mostly due to variables that are out of their control.

Ultimately, I think your friend's reluctance toward your plan was justified (though maybe not for the same reasons he had).

Comment by Psychosmurf on Political ideas meant to provoke thought · 2014-06-05T03:02:52.426Z · LW · GW

What we do think we know is that politics is a great way to bring out the irrationality in people.

Yes, and the irrationality comes in before the discussion even has a chance. In these kinds of discussions, almost without fail, people take their circumstances as a given, and then ask what set of policies would be optimal. The (mistaken) assumption being that their circumstances are immutable while policy is entirely malleable and controllable. The opposite is true. That is, we have the most control over our own situation, and the least control over public policy (effectively none).

Inevitably, people in different circumstances will have different preferences over policy outcomes, and so the discussion degenerates into people bickering about which set of policies is "best", i.e. everyone tells everyone else that their preferences are wrong (and then they try to rationalize their preferences in order to "prove" that they are the correct ones, and then arguments become soldiers and so on and so forth).

Virtually every single "debate" in politics is dissolved once one questions the assumption above. If we have almost no control over public policy, then is it even worth considering our preferences over them? To illustrate, a question like "should the government raise taxes?" is about as relevant as "should Jupiter be painted blue?" if I can do nothing to effect either case.

I propose that we turn politics on its side. Instead of asking "Given my circumstances, what policies are best?" we should ask "Given the current policies, what circumstances are best?". That is we should be engaging in is sociopolitical Munchkinism. We ought to be studying the sociopolitical system and taking advantage of its patterns and loopholes. The best political ideas are those that most improve the circumstances of a given person. There are many objective measures one could use to evaluate them. That would be the only way to have a rational discussion of politics.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Timeless Physics · 2014-05-08T03:49:48.121Z · LW · GW

I don't think this is anything really new. The principle of general covariance in GR says that the laws of physics should remain invariant under a diffeomorphism. Since coordinate transformations are diffeomorphisms, and since time is relative, the equations of GR do not depend on time. Indeed, I think the search for a background independent theory of quantum gravity is exactly the approach taken by Loop Quantum Gravity.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Discovering Your Secretly Secret Sensory Experiences · 2014-03-25T16:56:03.692Z · LW · GW

I doubt it. For me, 1, 3, 8, and 9, are all male, whereas 0, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all female.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Game Theory As A Dark Art · 2014-03-11T06:10:28.622Z · LW · GW

But the other person could anticipate this reasoning and then simply bid $3 knowing that his opponent has committed himself to not bidding beyond $2.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Pluralistic Moral Reductionism · 2014-01-03T19:32:14.595Z · LW · GW

The Yudkowskian response is to point out that when cognitivists use the term 'good', their intuitive notion of 'good' is captured by a massive logical function that can't be expressed in simple statements

This is the weakest part of the argument. Why should anybody believe that there is a super complicated function that determines what is 'good'? What are the alternative hypotheses?

I can think of a much simpler hypothesis that explains all of the relevant facts. Our brains come equipped with a simple function that maps "is" statements to "ought" statements. Thus, we can reason about "ought" statements just like we do with "is" statements.

The special thing about this function is that there is nothing special about it at all. It is absolutely trivial. Any "ought" statement can potentially be inferred from any "is" statement. Therefore, "ought" statements can never be conditioned by evidence. This explains not only why there is lots of disagreement among people about what is "good" and that our beliefs about what constitutes "good" will be very complicated, but also that there will be no way to resolve these disagreements.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-29T21:10:21.721Z · LW · GW

Look, dude. I'm not a doctor, and I can't really tell you what exactly happens to your body if you have an extreme calorie deficit. Nonetheless, every medical professional will tell you that you shouldn't do it.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-29T17:24:30.198Z · LW · GW

The heart is made of muscle tissue, and the digestive system is lined with it.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-29T02:33:23.166Z · LW · GW

Yes, an extreme caloric deficit would be dangerous to anybody. If the body can't make up the difference between the energy expended and energy eaten by burning fat, it will go into starvation mode, slow down, start eating muscle mass and eventually the internal organs.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-28T17:28:58.799Z · LW · GW

My suspicion is that she neither experienced ordinary discomfort nor does she have a faulty metabolism. Rather, it's possible that her weight loss strategy was far too extreme. A caloric deficit of more than 25% is considered very dangerous. If she did cut her calories that far, then it's little wonder why she went through hell. Add that to the random variation in her weight caused by water and then it's obvious why she'd given up on trying to lose weight.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-28T16:16:53.365Z · LW · GW

so she went lower, which naturally also failed to produce weight loss.

Now, you say "she", and that's important. For women, their weight fluctuates a lot more throughout the day simply due to water intake and excretion. I think it's possible that she was losing weight in the form of body fat but it failed to show up on her scale. What is recommended is that one measures their weight as a weighted moving average. There's an app on the hacker's diet site that does just that.

1200 cal/day sounds extremely low unless this person is very small. However, that doesn't really tell me anything unless you can also give me her height and weight at the time. The calorie deficit is what's important. Also, was she exercising on top of this 1200 calorie diet?

Comment by Psychosmurf on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2013-12-28T05:22:49.169Z · LW · GW

Just what kind of a calorie deficit were you running when you experienced this?

Comment by Psychosmurf on Some thoughts on relations between major ethical systems · 2013-11-29T19:53:03.280Z · LW · GW

I think that all ethical systems are just rationalizations, hence all the difficulties in using them consistently.

Comment by Psychosmurf on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2013-09-19T02:24:51.311Z · LW · GW

Your honesty is appreciated.

Personally, I would aim to change things so that the attainment of any goal whatsoever is possible for me to achieve. Essentially, to modify myself into a universe conquering, unfriendly super-intelligence.

But why rape? I mean, it just seems so arbitrary and trivial...

Comment by Psychosmurf on Privileging the Question · 2013-04-30T01:13:05.019Z · LW · GW

I believe they would term it "manufactured consent." Although, I think the two ideas are slightly different. The idea behind manufactured consent is that, in order to answer a question one way or another, you must implicitly accept its premises. It is a special, politicized case of privileging the question.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Visual Mental Imagery Training · 2013-02-27T03:15:01.452Z · LW · GW

For example, if I'm imagining a room full of people, I'll have a mental model of everyone's positions in the room, which I'll then update if the story mentions that someone is stood at the left of the room and I'm imagining them at the right. However, I don't have a picture of the room in my head while I'm doing this, there's no image of where the people are stood - it's just something I 'know'.

That's very strange. I don't see how you can keep track of their positions without visualizing the room and labeling their locations visually in at least some rudimentary way. I would honestly be very surprised if you actually kept track of every visual detail verbally. Barring this bizarre possibility, It seems to me like your visual cortex is processing the "picture" but for some reason you aren't experiencing it directly...

Comment by Psychosmurf on Random LW-parodying Statement Generator · 2012-09-26T03:39:40.914Z · LW · GW

Inside Harry Potter's pineal gland is not an immortal soul, but the level five Tegmark multiverse.

Hmmm... makes sense...

Comment by Psychosmurf on Is Politics the Mindkiller? An Inconclusive Test · 2012-07-30T17:41:12.270Z · LW · GW

It's interesting that the only proposed alternative to Azathoth in this discussion so far is government intervention of one form or another (the government itself is just another creation of Azathoth). But there exist many more such as changing the fundamental institutions of our society, including our very notions of property and democracy.

Comment by Psychosmurf on [deleted post] 2012-07-29T22:44:13.577Z

As to the question for why it works, it seems to me that it's because it takes into account the rationality of each participant (by using the accuracy of their prediction about how many people will agree with them) and then gives the more rational participants' answers greater weight.

If that's the case, then any rationality test could be used as a truth serum. If you want to know whether or not string theory is true, you're probably better off asking people who don't believe that the Earth is flat.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-21T19:50:06.946Z · LW · GW

Will somebody please tell me why this is being downvoted so heavily? I was just making a joke...

Comment by Psychosmurf on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-18T02:47:48.764Z · LW · GW

2 deep 4 u

Comment by Psychosmurf on The Quick Bayes Table · 2012-04-20T01:31:19.237Z · LW · GW

I'd give most people who even attempt to assign probabilities to their beliefs in the first place enough credit that they can perform very simple arithmetical operations.

Comment by Psychosmurf on The Quick Bayes Table · 2012-04-19T07:36:11.659Z · LW · GW

You can shorten the table by about half if you eliminate the negative logarithms by using the laws of logarithms.

For example, -20 decibles in terms of probability is just 100% - (The probability corresponding to +20 decibles), and the odds ratios simply occur in reverse order. That is 20 db = 100:1 and -20 db = 1:100

Comment by Psychosmurf on Acausal romance · 2012-02-26T16:00:34.452Z · LW · GW

Who says we have to restrict our choice of mates to Less Wrong?

Comment by Psychosmurf on Shit Rationalists Say? · 2012-01-26T16:52:14.714Z · LW · GW


Oh man, had me laughing for a good while with this one. Nice job! ^_^

Comment by Psychosmurf on The Ethical Status of Non-human Animals · 2012-01-10T07:30:02.191Z · LW · GW

I don't think self-awareness and sentience are the only dimensions along which minds can differ. The kinds of goals a mind tries to attain are much more relevant. I wouldn't want to ensure the survival of a mind that would make it more difficult for me to carry out my own goals. For example, let's say a self-aware and sentient paperclip maximizer were to be built. Can killing it be said to be unethical?

I think the minds of most non-human animals (with maybe the exception of some species of hominids) and human sociopaths are so different from ours that treating them unequally is justified in many situations.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Just another day in utopia · 2011-12-25T07:26:12.058Z · LW · GW

Makes me take the warnings not to be seduced by my imagination far more seriously. Excellent work.

Comment by Psychosmurf on How is your mind different from everyone else's? · 2011-12-05T22:43:47.132Z · LW · GW

I experience numbers as being on a line that runs left to right, swerves to the left at some number, continues upwards, and then returns to running from left to right. My experience of temperatures, people's ages, and the days of months is similar, but with different patterns of where the turns are. However, I think it may actually go right to left somewhere in the millions, though I'm not sure. Negative numbers run to the left forever, as far as I can tell. Calendar years are slightly different, in that they take more rounded turns and seem to be capable of going in any direction. The months of the year are very different. They make a letter "D" curve with January at the top and December at the bottom, but the link between January and December seems to be "pinched" rather than connected by a straight line. Also, the days of the week have different shades, Monday-Friday are all slightly grayish, while Saturday and Sunday are bright.

I also experience the letters of the alphabet, numerals, punctuation marks, months, days of the week, and various mathematical symbols as having genders and personalities.

I seem to be unable to think without internal monologue and visualization both being active. Whenever I imagine something, my internal monologue is describing it, and whenever I think verbally I visualize what I'm "talking" about.

I have an exceptional memory for auditory information.

I am usually almost completely indifferent to adult suffering.

I can get lost in deep thought such that I may forget where I am or the time of day or what I'm doing, etc. In these episodes, it may be quite difficult to get my attention.

I can hardly look at an object or person without them having a strong influence on my line of thought.

I conceptualize manipulations of mathematical expressions as movements consisting of slides and "flips".

Comment by Psychosmurf on How did you come to find LessWrong? · 2011-11-21T20:44:03.350Z · LW · GW

Someone recommended HPMOR on another forum. Then I found LessWrong by googling the author's name.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Naming the Highest Virtue of Epistemic Rationality · 2011-10-24T23:30:04.154Z · LW · GW

Why don't we start treating the sum of log_2 of the probability — conditional on every available piece of information — you assign to every true sentence, as the best measure of your epistemic success?

Wait. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something here, but how are we going to decide what a true sentence is independently of all of our available information?

Comment by Psychosmurf on [LINK] Why did Steve Jobs choose not to effectively treat his cancer? · 2011-10-13T04:04:43.872Z · LW · GW

Simple google search yielded surprisingly interesting answers:

The tendency is that people are more likely to use alternative treatments the more educated they are. The level of education a person has attained is probably the the best indicator that a person is likely to use some form of alternative treatment.

Being intelligent or well educated does not mean that a person is going to think more logically; in fact, it often results in them becoming better at defending and justifying their irrational beliefs.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine is not perfect; people do have bad experiences with it. This can lead people to distrust conventional medicine and sometimes shun it. This is only true of a small proportion of people, but the big danger for them is that they are more likely to use alternative remedies as their primary source of healthcare. These people often decide to take full control of their own, and possibly also their family's, health. The consequences of this may be damaging, even fatal.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Just a reminder, for everyone that signed up for the intro to AI class, it's started. · 2011-10-12T20:59:53.573Z · LW · GW

Go to this site:

and sign up.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Just a reminder, for everyone that signed up for the intro to AI class, it's started. · 2011-10-12T20:24:27.877Z · LW · GW

Probably, but I'd try anyway.

Comment by Psychosmurf on The self-fooling problem. · 2011-10-11T00:18:52.545Z · LW · GW

Are you allowed to use someone else's brain? If so, you could ask them to hide it.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Just a reminder, for everyone that signed up for the intro to AI class, it's started. · 2011-10-10T20:09:57.163Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the reminder.

For anyone still interested, it's not too late to sign up.

Comment by Psychosmurf on 1001 PredictionBook Nights · 2011-10-10T19:01:35.712Z · LW · GW

This detachment itself seems to help accuracy; I was struck by a psychology study demonstrating that not only are people better at falsifying theories put forth by other people, they are better at falsifying when pretending it is held by an imaginary friend!

I think we've just derived a new heuristic. Pretend that your beliefs are held by your imaginary friend.

Comment by Psychosmurf on Thinking in Bayes: Light · 2011-10-10T06:27:12.084Z · LW · GW

Remember that "H causes e" and "H implies e" are two very different statements. The map is not the territory.

In order to show that H causes e you would have to show that the probabilities always factor as P(e & H) = P(H)P(e|H) and not as P(e & H) = P(e)P(H|e).

For example, rain causes wet grass, but wet grass does not cause rain, even though the Bayesian inference goes both ways.