Comment by Rhwawn on Constructing fictional eugenics (LW edition) · 2012-11-01T16:30:22.561Z · LW · GW

The benefit for you maybe - me, I like a ship with a lower Gini coefficient.

Comment by Rhwawn on Constructing fictional eugenics (LW edition) · 2012-11-01T16:20:04.632Z · LW · GW

You know, it's funny - before typing that I thought to myself 'didn't I read about one very obscure tribe in the whole world & history which had managed to not believe that men impregnate women?' but after thinking about it for a little while and doing some Google searches, all I could think of was that weird tribe in Patrick Rothfuss's Kvothe fantasy novels who don't believe in 'man-mothers'.

Like Randy, I'm always a little skeptical of these things lest there be another Mead/Samoa incident, and assurances like

That’s right. The islanders do not believe that sex causes pregnancy. They don’t believe in physiological fatherhood. Malinowski was incredibly skeptical about this, so he tried all sorts of ways to see if this was simply a story they told, while they actually the real deal. But no, they assured him that it was really true, that all the white people who insisted otherwise were being silly, that the spirits caused pregnancy, not sex.

Don't necessarily resolve the issue especially since the data was from so long ago. But looking in Wikipedia, I see nothing disagreeing and an interesting mechanism:

Although an understanding of reproduction and modern medicine is widespread in Trobriand Society, their traditional beliefs have been remarkably resilient. The real cause of pregnancy is always a baloma, who is inserted into or enters the body of a woman, and without whose existence a woman could not become pregnant; all babies are made or come into existence (ibubulisi) in Tuma. These tenets form the main stratum of what can be termed popular or universal belief. If you question any man, woman, or even an intelligent child, you will obtain from him or her this information. In the past, many held this traditional belief because the yam, a major food of the island, included chemicals (phytoestrogens and plant sterols) whose effects are contraceptive, so the practical link between sex and pregnancy was not very evident.[2]

So it sounds genuine. Still, one indigenous group out of the many thousands studied demonstrates the point: everyone understands the connection between sex & pregnancy.

Comment by Rhwawn on Constructing fictional eugenics (LW edition) · 2012-10-29T22:50:40.572Z · LW · GW

Giving dumb people cute robotic kids would not work. They would probably have sex anyway, which is the part we want to avoid here. It requires some intelligence to understand the relation between sex and reproduction, and even higher intelligence to remember it when the opportunity for sex becomes immediate.

Sex = pregnancy risk is pretty straightforward. You would have to be literally retarded to not appreciate it.

Pregnancy rates varying with IQ is more about culture and SES than "how girl get pragnant how is babby formed" - they get pregnant to hook their boyfriend, because the guy insisted on sex without protection, because unprotected sex is a sign of trust, because having a baby gives meaning to their life, because everyone else is, because they left contraception at home and the passion of the moment is too strong etc. (If these reasons are completely alien to you, well, that's an example of the culture thing. I found reading Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage really interesting.)

None of those are because they don't understand the "baby comes 9 months after sex with a man" theory; it's worth noting that even indigenous tribes suffering from iodine deficiency and endless infectious diseases and all sorts of problems like that all understand that sex causes pregnancy.

Comment by Rhwawn on Friendship is Optimal: A My Little Pony fanfic about an optimization process · 2012-10-29T22:38:42.779Z · LW · GW

You might as well. I doubt you are going to change the prologue a lot this far into the game, if you do it's not that hard to change the prologue page, and every day you wait you are forfeiting some readers.

So you are incurring a sure loss in the name of avoiding a smaller unsure loss.

Comment by Rhwawn on Constructing fictional eugenics (LW edition) · 2012-10-29T22:28:24.212Z · LW · GW

Changes made to future generations don't deprive you of conversational partners less than 20 years younger than you.

Changes don't guarantee one conversational partners, either. Do you see very many current retarded adults hanging around their kid peers all day? For that matter, the elderly hang around their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the modern world probably less than at any time in humanity's history...

Comment by Rhwawn on [Link] Offense 101 · 2012-10-29T22:27:39.462Z · LW · GW

He has probably memorized thousands of verses of poetry, for example.

Some Africans surely have - a specialist like a griot presumably would. But is that really comparable? Desrtopa presumably isn't a professional singer, storyteller/raconteur, comedian, or actor. He is, as far as I know, an ordinary person albeit a geeky and intelligent one.

Comment by Rhwawn on Constructing fictional eugenics (LW edition) · 2012-10-29T22:25:26.831Z · LW · GW

But how shall we divvy up the gold? By backward induction, I infer you will give Multiheaded one coin and the rest of us will slaughter each other!

(I guess this is why our kind can't cooperate.)

Comment by Rhwawn on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-10-29T22:15:54.415Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I follow even with that explanation, but I've never really known what to make of the Nasuverse in the first place. ("This is so awesome!" "But also incredibly stupid." "But awesome!" "But stupid. And ad hoc. And ill-thought-out." "Aw, don't be like that, just enjoy the Rule of Cool.")

Comment by Rhwawn on Politics Discussion Thread September 2012 · 2012-10-29T22:13:03.850Z · LW · GW

You're welcome. It's an interesting topic for considering how ems might evolve: can a roughly human architecture work nonstop? Or will ems have to make tradeoffs between reloading a 'clean' brain every X seconds and being able to learn from work?

Comment by Rhwawn on Politics Discussion Thread September 2012 · 2012-09-05T15:51:53.810Z · LW · GW comes to mind. ( also includes some interesting links.)

Comment by Rhwawn on Politics Discussion Thread September 2012 · 2012-09-05T15:45:59.173Z · LW · GW

However, I think there's something massively wrong with a system that punishes success. What might need to be different to prevent that sort of outcome?

Letting founders remain permanently in control under all forms of incorporation is very far from profit-maximizing, sorry! The system is working as designed.

Comment by Rhwawn on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-05T15:37:56.728Z · LW · GW

No, that's never how I've seen anyone define 'world'. Maybe that quote makes more sense in context.

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-05T15:36:03.540Z · LW · GW

I don't think any of that addresses the main point: what has Eliezer done that is evidence of good moderating skills? Who has Eliezer banned or not banned? etc.

The question isn't: "can Eliezer spend years cranking out high quality content on the excellent Reddit codebase with a small pre-existing community and see it grow?" It is: "can Eliezer effectively moderate this growing community?" And I gave several examples of how he had not done so effectively before LW, and has not done so effectively since LW.

(And I think you badly underestimate the similarities of Wikipedia during its good phase and LW. Both tackle tough problems and aspire to accumulate high quality content, with very nerdish users, and hence, solve or fail at very similar problems.)

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-05T15:20:53.060Z · LW · GW

Probably. I've seen proposals for testing uploads (or cryonics) by learning simple reactions or patterns, but while this is good for testing that the brain is working at all, it's still a very long way from testing preservation of personal identity.

Comment by Rhwawn on How to tell apart science from pseudo-science in a field you don't know ? · 2012-09-05T15:19:13.561Z · LW · GW

Do you know that, or are you guessing?

Comment by Rhwawn on How to tell apart science from pseudo-science in a field you don't know ? · 2012-09-03T00:50:41.811Z · LW · GW

To the best of my knowledge (and I've looked) there is not a single scientific long-term randomized study showing the effectiveness of any type of treatment for autism.

Why isn't there? There would seem to have been more than enough time & funding for at least one. Is there some more subtle problem here?

(I'm thinking a scenario like "parents of autistic kids are constantly trying new approaches both quack and genuine, and would refuse to stop this, thereby making the results worthless; and this is foreseeable in advance by any would-be experimenters.")

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:44:34.284Z · LW · GW

An interesting analogy. If we were to apply it to uploads, one wonders whether the Googlers are more or less productive once inside the Google bubble...

Comment by Rhwawn on How to tell apart science from pseudo-science in a field you don't know ? · 2012-09-03T00:40:37.972Z · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm missing a point here, but when I look in Google Scholar there seems to be enough existing research on CBT & autism to say whether it helped or not.

Comment by Rhwawn on Preventing discussion from being watered down by an "endless September" user influx. · 2012-09-03T00:36:58.225Z · LW · GW

Second: Terms of surrender. When conditions X, Y and Z are met, LessWrong will fold or reboot.

That's an excellent idea, but I can't think of any clear metric of success or failure, short of really unlikely ones like 'during the annual poll, LWers majority vote for astrology'.

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:34:51.655Z · LW · GW

Also, he has a black belt in jiujitsu.

As martial artists have pointed out for a long time, holding a black belt is a fairly weak predictor of success in a true fight.

Comment by Rhwawn on Preventing discussion from being watered down by an "endless September" user influx. · 2012-09-03T00:31:49.093Z · LW · GW

What about Methods of Rationality? September 2011 is mid-way through its upswing. I see no easy way to quantify reviews, though, short of manually going through the thousands on

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:24:08.511Z · LW · GW

Rats even seem to have IQ of sorts. Truly, our fuzzy little friends are often underestimated.

Comment by Rhwawn on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:20:30.057Z · LW · GW

Reminds me of Patton:

No man ever won a war by dying for his country. Wars were won by making the other poor bastard die for his. You don't win a war by dying for your country.

Comment by Rhwawn on Dragon Ball's Hyperbolic Time Chamber · 2012-09-03T00:08:13.179Z · LW · GW

Downvoted; too reliant on personal anecdote (if we can call such speculation that).

Comment by Rhwawn on Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012 · 2012-09-03T00:07:48.011Z · LW · GW

I suggest everyone to think for a moment about the fact that Eliezer somehow created this site, wrote a lot of content people consider useful, and made some decisions about the voting system, which together resulted in a website we like. So perhaps this is some Bayesian evidence that he knows what he is doing.

There's also plenty of Bayesian evidence he's not that great at moderation. SL4 was enough of an eventual failure to prompt the creation of OB; OB prompted the creation of LW; he failed to predict that opening up posting would lead to floods of posts like it did for LW; he signally failed to understand that his reaction to Roko's basilisk was pretty much the worst possible reaction he could engage in, such that even now it's still coming up in print publications about LWers; and this recent karma stuff isn't looking much better.

I am reminded strongly of Jimbo Wales. He too helped create a successful community but seemed to do so accidentally as he later supported initiatives that directly undermined what made that community function.

Comment by Rhwawn on How do we really escape Prisoners' Dilemmas? · 2012-09-03T00:04:14.114Z · LW · GW

One potential confound is that the rewards may not scale right: the older you are, often the wealthier you are. A kindergartner might be thrilled to defect for $1, while an old person can barely be troubled to stoop for a $1 bill.

Comment by Rhwawn on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-09-02T23:52:25.680Z · LW · GW

It is not as if we have no half-baked evopsych theorizing here; and there's Hanson, who is particularly guilty. Who can read some of his wilder posts and not regard it was a wee bit discrediting of evopsych?

Comment by Rhwawn on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-08T00:11:27.695Z · LW · GW

Unfortunately, neurons are about as efficient in most species - they're already as optimized as you get. For that and other interesting facts, see

Comment by Rhwawn on Where to Intervene in a Human? · 2012-07-08T00:07:21.211Z · LW · GW

Perhaps it's the expense? I looked into it very briefly, and apparently professional neurofeedback costs thousands of dollars!

Comment by Rhwawn on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-08T00:04:27.837Z · LW · GW

That reduces the value of the example, IMO. Political conspiracy stuff relies on so much contextual material and government records that it's hard for a foreigner to make a good appraisal of what went on. It would be like a monolingual American trying to make heads or tails of that incident decades ago (whose name escapes me at the moment) where a high-level Communist Party official died in a airplane crash with his family; was it a normal accident, or was he fleeing a failed coup attempt to Russia, as the conspiracy/coverup interpretations went? If you can't even read Chinese, I have no idea how one could make a even half-decent attempt to judge the incident.

Comment by Rhwawn on What have you recently tried, and failed at? · 2012-07-08T00:01:38.052Z · LW · GW

I'd like to hear more about what results you've derived from analyzing the data, FWIW.

Comment by Rhwawn on To Learn Critical Thinking, Study Critical Thinking · 2012-07-08T00:00:57.487Z · LW · GW

Downvoted; rather obvious result, as you yourself point out.

Comment by Rhwawn on Transparency in Insurance (Edit: Solution found) · 2012-07-07T23:59:49.961Z · LW · GW

Adverse selection is a problem for all kinds of insurance, so I'm not sure that is sufficient to explain a bias against the young in particular.

Comment by Rhwawn on Should you try to do good work on LW? · 2012-07-07T23:59:20.508Z · LW · GW

I don't know, given the harm bad data collection can do, I'm not sure being a clinical sociopath is much worse.

Comment by Rhwawn on Announcing the Quantified Health Prize · 2012-07-01T15:54:10.830Z · LW · GW

I think they may be. Weren't they planning on holding some more contests? It's been a while.

Comment by Rhwawn on Call for volunteers: Publishing the Sequences · 2012-07-01T15:51:57.728Z · LW · GW

I think you are being very silly. On the other hand, now I wish one of the SFers would go and establish a geocache at/near that spot...

Comment by Rhwawn on Hope Function · 2012-07-01T15:50:10.389Z · LW · GW

Upvoted; the math may not be hard, but the curves are still not obvious.

Comment by Rhwawn on Hedonic vs Preference Utilitarianism in the Context of Wireheading · 2012-07-01T15:48:24.570Z · LW · GW

People with Down syndrome are generally very happy, what's about inducing it?

Don't quite follow - you mean, 'Would it be ethical to induce Down syndrome, given that people with Down syndrome are often very happy?'

Well, maybe. On the other hand, my impression is that as much as caregivers may want to deny it, a Down child imposes major costs on everyone around them. Inducing high IQ would not be obviously worse even in the cases where they flame out, would be a lot cheaper, and would pay for itself in inventions and that sort of thing. So there are lots of better alternatives to Down's, and given a limited population, the optimal number of Down syndrome may be zero.

Comment by Rhwawn on Quantified Self recommendations · 2012-07-01T15:44:38.482Z · LW · GW

I think you underestimate simple self-ratings. You could just do those, and yes, there are automated ways. For example, you could turn on a Web browser plugin like RescueTime but disable any blocking functionality - so it's just tracking time spent. Randomize intervention X for a few months, pull the RescueTime logs, and voila! A (non-blind) randomized experiment.

Comment by Rhwawn on The Craft And The Community: Wealth And Power And Tsuyoku Naritai · 2012-07-01T15:43:20.233Z · LW · GW

but being a pure artist usually seems to lead to a very miserable life.

And yet scores of thousands of people still want to do it each year, which suggests that the intangibles must be incredible.

Comment by Rhwawn on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2012-05-19T00:16:35.159Z · LW · GW

Are there no server logs or database fields that would clarify the mystery? Couldn't Trike answer the question? (Yes, this is a use of scarce time - but if people are going to keep bringing it up, a solid answer is best.)

Comment by Rhwawn on I Stand by the Sequences · 2012-05-19T00:11:44.120Z · LW · GW

nor the social incentives to change."

...not leave me worse off?


Comment by Rhwawn on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-05-19T00:09:44.860Z · LW · GW

I cannot help but find that quote hilarious.

Comment by Rhwawn on Quantified Self recommendations · 2012-05-19T00:04:20.618Z · LW · GW

Have you considered randomizing your exercises so you could begin drawing causal inferences?

Comment by Rhwawn on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2012-05-18T23:56:03.167Z · LW · GW

I'd also point out that if you read the investigative Hubbard biographies, you see many classic signs of con artistry: constant changes of location, careers, ideologies, bankruptcies or court cases in their wake, endless lies about their credentials, and so on. Most of these do not match Eliezer at all - the only similarities are flux in ideas and projects which don't always pan out (like Flare), but that could be said of an ordinary academic AI researcher as well. (Most academic software is used for some publications and abandoned to bitrot.)

Comment by Rhwawn on The Craft And The Community: Wealth And Power And Tsuyoku Naritai · 2012-05-18T23:52:12.377Z · LW · GW

By definition, that seems guaranteed to prevent one from living the life of a poet, unless I have been grossly misled by the media about what titans of industry do in their offices and boardrooms!

Comment by Rhwawn on Value of Information: 8 examples · 2012-05-18T23:50:54.231Z · LW · GW

Downvoted; not enough math and some of these seem to make leaps for figures.

Comment by Rhwawn on Living Forever is Hard, part 3: the state of life extension research · 2012-04-23T18:24:01.100Z · LW · GW

Upvoted; very interesting.

Comment by Rhwawn on Learned Blankness · 2012-04-23T18:23:53.891Z · LW · GW

Specialization is fantastic, but there is real value to cross-training in other disciplines. It's hard to predict what insights in other fields might assist with your primary.

Indeed, but the field still needs to be somewhat 'close' to yours. See Innocentive where they make much of being outsiders - but it's not like the humanities are sweeping the industrial chemistry problems.

Comment by Rhwawn on The Craft And The Community: Wealth And Power And Tsuyoku Naritai · 2012-04-23T18:21:33.807Z · LW · GW

Reminds me of Thoreau:

"This spending of the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet. He should have gone up the garret at once."