Posts

Born Again: Disconnected Psychology, Martian Science, and the Order of the Phoenix 2021-09-17T14:23:00.333Z
Blind Spots in Science and Culture 2021-09-02T00:02:02.826Z
Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) 2021-08-19T16:21:57.482Z
Pedophile Problems 2021-08-15T18:23:54.424Z
The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? 2021-08-08T18:55:53.414Z
The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius 2021-08-02T20:55:33.412Z
Eponymous Laws Part 3: Miscellaneous 2021-07-13T19:56:15.889Z
Eponymous Laws Part 2: Laws of Programming and Software Development 2021-06-28T12:46:21.718Z
Eponymous Laws Part I: Laws of the Internet 2021-06-17T12:22:31.426Z
The Cult Deficit: Analysis and Speculation 2021-06-13T05:33:06.602Z

Comments

Comment by rogersbacon on Blind Spots in Science and Culture · 2021-09-06T17:09:33.189Z · LW · GW

You wouldn't have got this at all from what I wrote but, we are definitely not saying that it will be easy to integrate "blind spot" research into academia or that it will happen overnight. A significant portion of the paper is spent providing examples of amateur psychology work (from the past and the present, we reference some of the work on LW), discussing why it is difficult to integrate this knowledge into modern academia, how academia might benefit from doing so, and how we might actually accomplish this over the long run. Certainly we are under no illusions that academics will wake up to all of the valuable intellectual work that happens outside of the confines of academia, but maybe at the very least they will become a little more aware of the limitations of their own work and the value that can be added by engaging with these outsiders. 

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-25T13:25:47.031Z · LW · GW

I just don't really see it as that problematic if a small percentage of scientists spend their time thinking about and working on the paranormal/supernatural because (1) scientists throughout history did this and we still made progress. Maybe it wasn't necessary that Newton believed in alchemy/theology but he did and belief in these things is certainly compatible with making huge leaps in knowledge like he did, (2) I'm not sure if believing in the possibility of ghosts is more ridiculous than the idea that space and time are the same thing and they can be warped (I'm not a physicist :). UFOs would probably have been lumped into these categories as well and now we know that there are credible reports of anomalous phenomenon. Whether they are aliens or not who knows, but it is possible that studying them could lead to an understanding of new phenomenon (I think it already has led us to understand new rare forms of lightning but I'm forgetting the specifics). 

Look, I don't really believe in these things and I don't behave as if I did, but I am open to the possibility. The main argument here is that being open to the possibility, having a sense of mystery and epistemic humility, does make a difference in how we think and do science. This kind of goes back to the discussion of paradigm-shifting science/normal science. If absolutely no believes that a paradigm shift is possible then it will never happen. I'm of the opinion that it's important for us to maintain a kernel of doubt in the hard-headed materialist atheist perspective. In truth, I think we are pretty closely aligned and I am just playing devil's advocate :)

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-25T12:49:49.520Z · LW · GW

certainly the authoritarian link is highly speculative, but I think in general we underestimate how politics/culture/psychology influence what we care about and how we think in science. A more extreme version of the question is: how similar would we expect alien science to be to ours? Obviously it would be different if they were much more advanced, but assuming equal levels of progress, how would their very different minds (who knows how different) and culture lead them to think about science differently? In an extreme version, maybe they don't even see and use something like echolocation - how would this influence their scientific investigation? 

"Certainly, we see many example of both theoretical and applied work in many sciences, showing that in this regard the diversity is enough.

About the unifying theory of physics, I'm not that sure about the link with authoritarian culture. But once again, in actual science, there are so many viewpoints and theories and approaches that it would take days to list them for only the smallest subfield of physics. So I'm not convinced that we are lacking diversity in this regard."

I don't see how you can make this conclusion, we don't know what the counterfactual is. Obviously there is a lot of diversity of theories/approaches but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't have different theories/approaches if science was born in a different cultural background. 

Again, I think these are all open questions, but I think it is reasonable to conclude that it might make a difference on the margins. Really we are asking - how contingent is scientific progress? The answer might be "not very much" but over the long-run of history it may add up. 

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-25T12:40:32.078Z · LW · GW

So little actual knowledge that almost everyone was a "Renaissance man" (and so they literally all shared the same sources)”

Interesting thought - now everyone has to specialize, there are less people who have different combinations of know in a given discipline. Like i talked about with education, i think its worth thinking more about how our education systems homogenize our mental portfolio of people. 

Re: tenure - its a good point and certainly we do have some diversity of scientific niches. Its an open question whether we have enough or not, i think my point more anything is just pointing out that this form of diversity also matters.

Radical proposal: we need scientific monasteries, isolated from the world, with celibate science monks dedicating to growing knowledge above all else :) 

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-20T16:29:11.972Z · LW · GW

One point of confusion that I think is running through your comments (and this is my fault for not being clear enough) is how I am conceiving of "mind". In my conception, a mind is the genetics and all of the environment/past experiences but also the current context of the mind. So for example, yes you would still have the same mind in one sense whether you were doing science in a university or were just an independent scientist, but in another sense no because the thoughts you are willing and able to think would be different because you are facing very different constraints/incentives. Hope this helps.

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-20T15:50:24.043Z · LW · GW

I actually would disagree with your last point. Certainly cultural/political diversity will matter more for psych/social sciences but I think it will have an effect on what kinds of topics people care about in the first place when it comes to harder sciences and math. I can imagine a culture which has a more philosophical bent to it leading to more people doing theoretical work and a culture which has a greater emphasis on engineering and practicality doing more applied work. I could also imagine a more authoritarian culture leading to people doing physics in a certain style - perhaps more of a search for unifying "theory of everything" type ideas vs. a more democratic and diverse culture leading to a more pluralistic view of the universe. Not saying these would be huge effects necessarily but on the margins it could make a difference. 

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-20T15:46:12.369Z · LW · GW

Hmm yea I see your point. I guess what I was saying is that there are certain thought patterns and styles of cognition which may be more likely to stumble on the kind of ideas or do the kind of work that can potentially lead to paradigm shifts. Whether or not we are less able to think in this way now is definitely an open question but I think one we should worry about. 

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-20T15:44:46.485Z · LW · GW

Glad you liked it! I certainly think there is a lot of room for disagreement, I'll respond to a few of your comments

Comment by rogersbacon on Exploring the Landscape of Scientific Minds (Let my People Go) · 2021-08-20T15:44:07.380Z · LW · GW

Yea that's the idea. Not saying that the scientific community in the past was better, but there were some ways in which it allowed for more diversity of thought than our current system. All else being equal (which it never is) a scientific community which is 100% people working at modern universities and competing for the same jobs/journals is worse than a community which has some niches where people can work with very different motivations and approaches 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-18T14:25:23.851Z · LW · GW

Orion's Arm sounds cool! Thanks for sharing, I'll check it out. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-18T02:11:57.373Z · LW · GW

I had someone else recommend that too - I'll check it out! 

Comment by rogersbacon on Pedophile Problems · 2021-08-15T21:49:36.603Z · LW · GW

Fair enough, my apologies (removed that part). Thought it kind of fit with the argument of the article, but yes it's annoying and click-baity. In terms of the article itself, I guess I thought it fit with LW in proposing a way to think about finding new ideas and discussing an ethical issue with potential scientific solutions. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-15T17:01:11.592Z · LW · GW

No, but that sounds really cool! I'll check it out. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-15T17:00:49.028Z · LW · GW

Definitely a valid point - I think there also some simple explanations to all of this that are not nearly interesting lol

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-15T16:59:06.491Z · LW · GW

Sorry, my comment was too vague and led to misunderstanding. What I mean is that even if we got rid of sports we are still going to have these same impulses and preferences - humans have tribalistic tendencies and like to  cooperate on competitive physical activities (as we did when hunting/gathering for millions of years). We can quibble about what counts as a sport or athletic event  - swimming and running are individual but we still do relays and compete against each other as schools/countries, I would say paintball is a sport, parkour is a grey area maybe - but there is nothing stopping these things from being more popular than they are right now, except for the fact that lots of people really like team sports and want to spend their money/time on them. It's not like if we banned sports people would start using that money for infrastructure - aside from publicly funded stadiums, which I don't see as a massive issue in the grand scheme of things, and ignores the fact that sports/stadiums do contribute jobs/money to the economy (see the Lebron effect) - most of the money that goes to sports is private. 

Team sports are easily accessible and fun in a way that the other activities aren't. Hiking, paintball, parkour, and all the other activities you mention are great but many people across the world can't do these things because of where they live or financial reasons (why poor kids the world over play basketball/soccer and not any of the activities you mention). I think you are underestimating the amount of fun, happiness, physical/mental health that sports produce, not to mention the millions of jobs that are related to sports and the multitude of indirect positive economic/social effects. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-15T16:24:55.121Z · LW · GW

Thanks! And I agree, well said. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-11T22:14:22.822Z · LW · GW

Didn't mean to suggest that there were no downsides, which these definitely are. What is the counterfactual though? What are we realistically doing with all of this energy and money that has more positives and fewer negatives? 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Future: Where are the Colors and the Sports? · 2021-08-11T22:03:35.002Z · LW · GW

fixed - thanks! 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-04T15:42:08.352Z · LW · GW

Commented above but relevant here: one thing to consider - there is some added value in getting discoveries sooner (e.g. something with medical implications, like PCR). I also wonder about the contingency/path-dependence of science/tech on large scales - if it had been discovered at another time by another person would science (and history) have followed the same path? 

On a broader level, I wonder how science/tech contingency interacts with the contingency of culture and history as these set what people value and care about in the first place, in turn affecting what people study/build. I think about how the history of science and biology would be different over the last 150 years if we only had Wallace and not Darwin. Wallace was not nearly as respected as Darwin, didn't have nearly as much evidence behind as theory, and had a more theological framing on Natural Selection. I wonder how what what the ripple effects would be today if we only had Wallace and not Darwin

Reply

Comment by rogersbacon on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-04T15:40:12.232Z · LW · GW

Well said and I largely agree with your assessment of Mullis. One thing to consider: there is some added value in getting discoveries sooner (e.g. something with medical implications, like PCR). I also wonder about the contingency/path-dependence of science/tech on large scales - if it had been discovered at another time by another person would science (and history) have followed the same path? 

On a broader level, I wonder how science/tech contingency interacts with the contingency of culture and history as these set what people value and care about in the first place, in turn affecting what people study/build. I think about how the history of science and biology would be different over the last 150 years if we only had Wallace and not Darwin. Wallace was not nearly as respected as Darwin, didn't have nearly as much evidence behind as theory, and had a more theological framing on Natural Selection. I wonder how what what the ripple effects would be today if we only had Wallace and not Darwin

Comment by rogersbacon on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-04T15:22:47.953Z · LW · GW

Well said, I genuinely don't know about any of your follow up questions but I think they are important to consider. 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-04T15:20:48.731Z · LW · GW

You were reading not listening you dork 

Comment by rogersbacon on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-04T15:16:40.889Z · LW · GW

Well said, the Hidden Figures example is a really good one.

Comment by rogersbacon on Eponymous Laws Part 3: Miscellaneous · 2021-07-14T00:47:20.167Z · LW · GW

The whole point of my life was to get to Cole's Law.

Comment by rogersbacon on Eponymous Laws Part 2: Laws of Programming and Software Development · 2021-06-28T17:02:02.718Z · LW · GW

Changed it to your rule, thanks for catching this - I think I might have just miscopied it or something. 

Comment by rogersbacon on Eponymous Laws Part I: Laws of the Internet · 2021-06-17T22:02:09.709Z · LW · GW

Maybe it wasn't clear from the title that this is part 1 (of 3)?  Maybe you could read what I wrote when I said "There are also a few that aren’t named after anyone, but are still in the same spirit as the eponymous laws so I included them."? Maybe this isn't that serious?

(edit - all good man, I appreciate the apology. I'll let you know when I post part 2, maybe that one will be good enough for you ;)

Comment by rogersbacon on The Cult Deficit: Analysis and Speculation · 2021-06-15T13:35:05.177Z · LW · GW

interesting, thanks for sharing

Comment by rogersbacon on The Cult Deficit: Analysis and Speculation · 2021-06-15T13:34:42.605Z · LW · GW

interesting and very valid point, thanks for sharing

Comment by rogersbacon on The Cult Deficit: Analysis and Speculation · 2021-06-15T13:33:02.847Z · LW · GW

definitely, I mentioned this in the results section. There also may be reasons why cults in the distant past are under-represented (not as many sources that would make for a good podcast); it's hard to know which bias is more significant.