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Comment by randolf on 2011 Survey Results · 2011-12-08T01:07:21.947Z · LW · GW

I think the main reason for this is that these persons have simply spent more time thinking about cyronics compared to other people. By spending time on this forum they have had a good chance of running into a discussion which has inspired them to read about it and sign up. Or perhaps people who are interested in cyronics are also interested in other topics LW has to offer, and hence stay in this place. In either case, it follows that they are probably also more knowledgeable about cyronics and hence understand what cyrotechnology can realistically offer currently or in the near future. In addition, these long-time guys might be more open to things such as cyronics in the ethical way.

Comment by randolf on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-25T10:39:06.573Z · LW · GW

Then maybe, instead of just downvoting, these persons should have asked him to clarify and repharse his post. This would have actually led to an interesting dicussion, while downvoting gave nobody nothing. Maybe it should be possible to downvote a post only if you also reply to that post.

Comment by randolf on Beyond the Reach of God · 2011-11-25T10:29:06.026Z · LW · GW

Personally I think that this call voting is indeed useless and belongs to places such as Youtube or other such sites where you can't expect a meaningful discussion in the first place. Here, if a person disagrees with you, I believe she or he should post a counter argument instead of yelling "your are wrong!", that is, giving a negative vote.

Comment by randolf on Existential Risk · 2011-11-23T14:45:36.707Z · LW · GW

The first picture is a dark image of a planet with a sligthly threatening atmosphere. It looks like the upper half of a mushroom cloud, but it could be also seen as the earth violently torn apart. This is why I think , given the context, that it symbolises the threat of a nuclear war, and more universally, the threat of a dystopia.

The last picture shows a beatiful utopia. I thought it's there to give a message of the type: "If everything goes well, we can still achieve a very good future." That is, while the first picture symbolises the threat of a dystopia, the last one symbolises the hope and possibility of an utopia.

Of course, this is merely my interpretation. There are very many ways one can inerprent these pictures.

Comment by randolf on The curse of identity · 2011-11-21T17:18:38.839Z · LW · GW

I'm afraid you are making a very strong statement with hardly any evidence to support it. You merely claim that people who pursue gratitude-free goals are often religious people (source?) and that such goals are a myth and absurd. (Why?) I for one, don't understand why such a goal would be necessarily absurd..

Also, I can imagine that even if I was the only person in the world, I would still pursue some goals.

Comment by randolf on Existential Risk · 2011-11-17T15:03:57.123Z · LW · GW

Strange enough. After all, while I am a transhumanist to some degree and also enjoy scifi, I am far from being a genious. Still the message of the pictures were immeditately obvious.This would suggest towards what you said: they maybe appealing to general people, while not necessarily as appealing to those already very familiar with scifi and transhumanism.

Comment by randolf on Existential Risk · 2011-11-17T14:47:14.746Z · LW · GW

I could indeed simply lie and play the role of an obeying soldier to get the position I were looking for. However, it is of course true that if I had born and lived in a country where people are continiously fed with nationalist propaganda, I would be less likely to disobey the rules or to think it's wrong to retalite.

Comment by randolf on Existential Risk · 2011-11-15T19:48:48.371Z · LW · GW

If I had been one of those persons with the missile warning and red button, I wouldn't have pressed it even if I knew the warning was real. What use would it be to launch a barrage of nuclear weapons against normal citizens simply because their foolish leaders did so to you? It would only make things worse, and certainly wouldn't save anyone. Primitive needs to revenge can be extremely dangerous with todays technology.

Comment by randolf on Outside the Laboratory · 2011-11-14T21:27:07.094Z · LW · GW

as interesting as picking up rocks and observing insects crawling under them, IMHO

What, insects are fascinating!

Comment by randolf on Drawing Less Wrong: An Introduction · 2011-11-14T00:40:21.047Z · LW · GW

Rationality can be useful when drawing. It allows you to avoid simple mistakes which you could otherwise make. I think this is especially true when you are for example inking your work, or doing some other other task which is mostly mechanical. However, sometimes following mere feelings can provide very interesting results. I am not a good drawer, nor do I actually know anything about drawing, but I draw a little bit every now and then. I find drawing most enjoyable when I draw quided by intuition, just letting the pen draw curve after curve the way it feels. I have found that when I do this, I achieve results more to my liking than when I actually think about what to draw and how. Maybe this is simply because I don't have much actual knowledge about drawing, I don't know.

Anyway, interesting post, thanks.

Comment by randolf on No Logical Positivist I · 2011-11-12T12:49:20.760Z · LW · GW

This is another sort of mistake. Because a hypothesis can't be tested by me does not mean that it is meaningless. Vereficationists would agree with this because they think verification works everywhere, even on the other side of the universe. If some alien race over there could have seen the spaceship, or seen something which made the probability of there being a spaceship there high, or not have, then the claim is not meaningless.

I don't think I understand.. If it isn't possible to ever verify the existence of these aliens, what does it matter that they could have seen the spaceship? Essentially, how does it help that some being A could verify a phenomenon if I can't ever verify that this is indeed the case?

Comment by randolf on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-10T00:03:54.556Z · LW · GW

I left that field plank because I don't think the question is well defined. It has very little meaning to assign probabilities on the existence of something as vaque as a god. Maybe there is a god, maybe there isn't. It's entirely beyond my scope.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-11-08T16:07:20.852Z · LW · GW

Yes, I think you managed to put my thoughts into words very well here. Probably a lot more clearly than I.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-19T10:56:23.509Z · LW · GW

That's a bit differend from what I'm trying to say. My word choosing of intuition was clearly bad, I should have talked about mental experiences. My point is that when I do the mathematics, when I, for example, use the axioms and theorems of natural numbers to proof that 1+1 is 2, I have to rely on my memories and feelings at some point. If I use a theorem proven before, I must rely on my memories that I have proven that theorem before and correctly, but remembering is just another type of vaque mental experience. I could also remember axioms of natural numbers wrong, even if it would seem clear to me that I remember them correctly. I have to rely on the feeling of remembering correctly. This is why I define truth as what you truly believe. Once you have carefully checked that you used all the axioms and theorems correctly, you will truly believe that you made no mistake. Then you can truly believe that 1 + 1 is 2, and it's safe to say its the truth.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-19T10:45:01.291Z · LW · GW

Whetever it is a weaker statement or not isn't the point. I only brought it up because it made me change the way I think about mathematics and the world. While I don't know what you mean by "any story is as good as any other", I do not believe that it is possible to give truth a honest definition which would leave no open questions about the very nature of truth, while still being entirely objective.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-19T00:19:11.952Z · LW · GW

Yes, I agree, it doesn't work on this case. It was an interesting talk though, thank you for that. Now I must sleep over this..

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-19T00:08:35.167Z · LW · GW

Yes, that's pretty much what I would say. Also, a simple answer to the question would also be:

At least the part where you use feelings to verify you didn't make an error. After writing the proof, you remember that you checked every part carefully that you didn't make an error. But this remembering is a mere feeling.

My world view used to be differend until I read the following pharse somewhere. That moment I realised I can only be as sure as my feelings let me.

Not even mathematical facts necessarily hold since there could always be a magical demon blurring your mind, making you make errors and making you blind at them.

I still have a great interest in mathematics and am hoping my studies and everything goes well so I can bear the title of mathematican one day. Maybe my beliefs change when I get less green.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T23:48:36.915Z · LW · GW

No, I think you understood pretty well what I meant. However, even though I may not be a rationalist myself, I think I can still take part in rational debate by embracing the definition of rational truth during that debate. Same way a true Christian can take part in a scientific debate about evolution, even if he doesn't actually believe that evolution is true. Rational talk, just like any talking, can also change my feelings and intuitions and hence persuade me to change my subjective beliefs.

However, I now realise this wasn't exactly the right place to tell about my idea of subjective truth. Sorry about that.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T23:34:14.164Z · LW · GW

Hmm, well, if you truly believe that truth is subjective, then there's nothing I can do to dissuade you, by definition -- since my subjective opinion is as good as yours. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go build some hula-hoops, and then maybe take to the skies by will alone

Oh, you probably could. I'm not so fond on this definition. It's just something I have found most satisfying so far but it's still subject to chance (How ironic!).

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T23:09:55.839Z · LW · GW

I think he will have a strong feeling that pi is about 3.141... . Like I said, in my definition truth is subjective and may chance since it's tied to the person's beliefs / feelings. This may not seem beatiful to everyone, but I can live with that.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T22:45:42.227Z · LW · GW

Maybe he is able to construct some sort of an abstract hula-hoop in his mind, which he believes to have those properties, but of course he isn't able to do it in the physical reality. Strong intuition suggests that it isn't possible.

However, we should not forgot that mathematical models of physical reality and mathematics itself are separate things. We can use mathematics to understand nature, but nature cares very little about anyones mathematical truths. Well, I think it's safe to say so anyway.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T22:37:30.380Z · LW · GW

Yes, I believe that proof is just a well-formed finite string, but I take that a little bit futher because one can always ask that "what a well formed finite string is?". Basically, I tell that person to use his honest intuition to check which things are "well-formed finite strings".

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T22:30:39.809Z · LW · GW

Someone doing that still puts faith on the computer, and the person who made the computer program to check the rules. Essentially, he has strong feeling that A holds because the computer program said so. He still has to rely on his "intuition" or "belief" that the computer program gives true statements.

Comment by randolf on Math is Subjunctively Objective · 2011-10-18T22:13:40.421Z · LW · GW

Personally I believe that mathematics is little else but text with rules. One of these rules is that when a certain rule is satisfied, we are allowed to write that something is true. But when do we know that a rule is satisfied? What does that even mean? Well, I believe that in the end we have to trust our intuition. That is, when we have a strong enough, honest feeling that something satisfies our rule of "being true", we say that it is true. This definition makes mathematical truths very vaque and even subjective, which is unfortunate, but so far no other philosophy has satisfied me.

Comment by randolf on On the Openness personality trait & 'rationality' · 2011-10-15T19:01:51.873Z · LW · GW

Yes, indeed. The ratio open/closed may be higher in scifi books than in fantasy books, but there are still many open fantasy books and closed scifi books. In the end it only depends on the invidual book. This is why I don't think it's really safe to label fantasy as a closed genre.

Comment by randolf on Rationality Drugs · 2011-10-12T23:27:50.218Z · LW · GW

What I'm pointing out is that all of these drug ideas are bound to be something that evolution has at some point tried out, and thrown away. And they are really unsophisticated ideas compared with those the brain has actually adopted.

Well there could be many reasons why evolution has" thrown them out". Maybe they are harmful in the long term, maybe their use consumes precious energy, or maybe they just aren't "good enough" for evolution to have kept them. That is, maybe they just don't give any signifigant evolutionary advantage.

Evolution doesn't create perfect beings, it creates beings which are good enough to survive.

Comment by randolf on Concepts Don't Work That Way · 2011-10-03T22:29:29.797Z · LW · GW

Eagles are lonely hunters who don't spend much time with other birds, are quite rare in numbers and only live in the wilderness. Robins however, are often seen near other birds, basically live everywhere and are also large in numbers. So mayhaps people choose Robin as the better disease spreader simply because Robin probably is the better disease spreader.

There are very many factors that may affect this kind of a test.. What do you think about the following?

If you were told that planktons had caught a disease, how likely would you think it would spread among other sea species? Now suppose fish had caught the disease?

Now, plankton definitely isn't the most obvious sea species, while fish is. Yet I dare suspect that people would select plankton as the better disease spreader simply because they are everywhere. I'm not certain though.

So, mayhaps, because people know how a disease spreads best among large populations, they tend to select a species which is large in numbers, or which they think to be large in numbers. Maybe people select the typical member of the group as the better disease spreader (when asked to choose between two), simply because such typical member is also likely one that people see often and hence they also believe it is great in numbers.

In essence, my point is: Maybe, when people are asked which one of two species of a given group are better disease spreaders, they select the one which is typical in the group of potential disease spreaders of species, and leave the one which is more atypical out.

Comment by randolf on Feeling Rational · 2011-10-02T22:45:43.950Z · LW · GW

I think that the saying "What can be destroyed by truth, should be" is a little bit too black and white to work well in all aspects of life. For example, a clumsy and fat person who thinks he is actually rather agile, might be a lot happier with this false belief than if he were aware of the truth*. Of course it could be said that if he knew the truth, he would start to exercise and eventually become healthier, but that's not necessarily the case. Another example would be, that if a not-so-good-looking person thinks he looks good, he might be encouraged by that false belief to ask someone he likes for a date.

*Here when I talk about truth, I mean that how things are in the physical reality. ( whatever that may mean. )

Comment by randolf on Value is Fragile · 2011-09-16T22:45:58.860Z · LW · GW

I don't think you can call such a world good or perfect, but I don't think it's all bad either. I quess you could call it neutral.

I mean, I don't see that world as a big failure, if a failure at all. No civilization will be there forever*, but the one I mentioned had at least achieved something at it's time: it had once been glorious. While it left it's statues, it still managed to keep the world habitable for life and other species. (note how I mentioned trees and plants growing on the ruins). To put it simple, it was a beatiful civilization that left a beatiful world.. It isn't fair to call it a failure only because it wasn't eternal.

*Who am I to say that?

Comment by randolf on Value is Fragile · 2011-09-15T22:35:51.294Z · LW · GW

I don't know, or maybe I don't understand your point. I would find a quiet and silent, post-human world very beatiful in a way. A world where the only reminders of the great, yet long gone civilisation would be ancient ruins.. Super structures which once were the statues of human prosperity and glory, now standing along with nothing but trees and plants, forever forgotten. Simply sleeping in a never ending serenity and silence...

Don't you too, find such a future very beatiful in an eerie way? Even if there is no sentient being to perceive it at that time, the fact that such a future may exist one day, and that it can now be perceived through art and imagination, is where it's beauty truly lies.