Open thread, October 16 - October 22, 2017 2017-10-16T18:53:16.852Z
Open thread, October 2 - October 8, 2017 2017-10-03T10:46:41.517Z


Comment by root on [deleted post] 2017-12-10T11:00:49.205Z

I made this simply because I'm curious about what your programming setup looks like. More specifically, eye ergonomics.

This page looks useful, but I'm curious if there's much to add.

Comment by root on Why Competition in The Politics Industry Is Failing America -pdf · 2017-11-02T14:36:31.578Z · LW · GW

Bad link. Also trigger warning: MINDKILL!

Comment by root on Halloween costume: Paperclipperer · 2017-10-21T17:20:36.940Z · LW · GW

Just dress as Voldemort and use a flashlight with a green LED. Works fantastically for trick or treating.

Comment by root on Open thread, October 16 - October 22, 2017 · 2017-10-17T15:28:53.131Z · LW · GW

Is LW 1.0 dead?

Comment by root on LW2.0 now in public beta (you'll need to reset your password to log in) · 2017-10-03T11:03:02.453Z · LW · GW

Why not use something like.. werc?

Granted, if you're using Windows, you're out of luck.

Comment by root on [Slashdot] We're Not Living in a Computer Simulation, New Research Shows · 2017-10-03T10:43:40.138Z · LW · GW

Abstract question here, but does this paper prove we're not living in a simulation, versus proving that at our current amount of knowledge, we can't prove if we're in one, or not?

The bigger question, of course, would be how many simulations deep we are at, and how long until we make our own.

Comment by root on LW2.0 now in public beta (you'll need to reset your password to log in) · 2017-09-30T18:19:34.025Z · LW · GW

Unfortunately, due to the shape of modern web development

I humbly request this to be unpacked.

Comment by root on LW2.0 now in public beta (you'll need to reset your password to log in) · 2017-09-26T15:00:27.759Z · LW · GW

(EDIT: Polls are broken or I did something incorrect. Lookat this:

[Which LessWrong had a better design?]{1.0}{2.0}{Results}

And help me fix this, please. Thanks!)

Do tell why your chosen design is better. I like the current design because

  • Familiarity
  • Doesn't have a width limit? (Either it was fixed or firefox being firefox)

Neutral points:

  • Maybe taking time to get used to the new design because new != bad, but new != good either. My guess is that new systems can be intuitively bad at first but giving them a few tries isn't unreasonable.

Good points/improvement suggestions

  • Removed the sidebar, but now a significant amount of whitespace is taken by the "recommended reading", "top posts" etc. Move them to the top of the category, instead of the left.
  • Move the "recommended reading" part down - most of the time people will scroll down to get the new posts, might as well save that effort.
  • Currently, posts are in this format:

Post Title

X days ago / Author name / Total points / <<<<<<< number of comments at the end of the universe


Combine the post title and the date, author name and w/e into a single line. Also, possibly add sort by comments. Handy picture; functionality is already in. Decrease the width of the window to see it

More later(?)

Comment by root on LW2.0 now in public beta (you'll need to reset your password to log in) · 2017-09-24T12:23:35.526Z · LW · GW

Small (but critical) complaint: the login button doesn't work without javascript.

Comment by root on Straw Hufflepuffs and Lone Heroes · 2017-04-17T09:30:57.198Z · LW · GW

An rather disturbing thought crossed my mind when I was thinking of a good reply. You're against the lone hero mindset - explained your reason for doing so - and yet once you've established groups, haven't you introduced the lone group mindset? You have focused entirely on Hufflepuff, but asked no Ravenclaw what their thoughts on the matter are. No Slytherin was asked how to make your project crumble and the leader be exiled or better yet, usurped. No Gryffindor was asked what kind of bravery is needed for such a project, although I believe you'd get a cheerful smile at the very least for doing what you believe is right.

So do please tell me, what, exactly, are the reasons for not including others.

Comment by root on Akrasia Tactics Review 3: The Return of the Akrasia · 2017-04-10T20:58:19.646Z · LW · GW

Possibly useful:, and

Comment by root on 5 Project Hufflepuff Suggestions for the Rationality Community · 2017-03-25T18:43:46.358Z · LW · GW

Possibly interesting: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Bookshelves

Comment by root on First impressions... · 2017-01-25T12:40:57.005Z · LW · GW

... of LW: a while ago, a former boss and friend of mine said that rationality is irrational because you never have sufficient computational power to evaluate everything rationally. I thought he was missing the point - but after two posts on LW, I am inclined to agree with him.

He's techinically correct on the first part, but what really bothers me is that while that statement is resource-aware, it totally disregards time. What can you do in 1, 2, 5, 10 minutes/hours/days/weeks/months/years (remind me to edit this to include decades/centuries/milleniums in some time) that will help you achieve your goals?

It's kind of funny - every post gets broken down into its tiniest constituents, and these get overanalysed and then people go on tangents only marginally relevant to the intent of the original article.

Typical online discussions.. okay, no data to back it up..

This would be fine if the original questions of the post were answered; but when I asked for metrics to evaluate a presidency, few people actually provided any - most started debating the validity of metrics, and one subthread went off to discuss the appropriateness of the term "gender equality".

You've just had a taste of why discussing politics can get difficult and annoying.

I am new here, and I don't want to be overly critical of a culture I do not yet understand. But I just want to point out - rationality is a great tool to solve problems; if it becomes overly abstract, it kind of misses its point I think.

Not the first to bring it up. Just so you won't feel lonely:

Comment by root on Project Hufflepuff · 2017-01-19T07:01:45.193Z · LW · GW

Some more information about Hufflepuff:

Hufflepuff is the most inclusive among the four houses; valuing hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members.

Comment by root on If I must eat meat, I eat pork · 2017-01-10T20:38:07.780Z · LW · GW

Forgive me for the rudeness of "DO THE RESEARCH FOR ME", but honestly, every time I read a similar post like this one, I NEVER see numbers. If you've ever heard of a far-away paradise or living hell, you might be amazed or scared at first, but one step later you wonder how good or bad it really is.

So in this case, how much meat is ACTUALLY eaten? Can we get numbers?

Comment by root on Should you share your goals · 2016-12-15T17:26:04.981Z · LW · GW

The second group feels like the most punchable people I've seen for December 2016. I don't see why the insults were necessary. I'd imagine a proper response would be something like "What was so bad about last month?". In fact, NONE of them helped, because I can totally see something like one of your characters posting how they'd like to get into Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxbridge, and then they get responses like "lol man who you kidding, you're a moron, do you even have a high school diploma?"

(Maybe my first paragraph was missing the point, but really, it felt like such an outlandish and outright silly scenario that I actually laughed when one of those people said they're "updating". Updated my journal..)

Anyway, as far as goals go, less buzzwords (SMART) and more observations. Say you have X goal. Can you build in small increments to achieve a larger goal? Can you name a few things that could prevent you, decrease your chance or even completely disallow you to achieve that goal? What's the opportunity cost of following all those steps for the goal?


Given that in scenario 2 asking for help yielded an exercise partner

Scenario 2 didn't mention an exercise partner, there was that guy that said he did run in the mornings..

Comment by root on [deleted post] 2016-12-13T18:57:47.862Z

Fun fact: I can generally imagine a person described by the word asshole, but I can't really imagine a person defined by the word 'bigot'. It's such a liberally used word that.. it suffers from lingual inflation.

I wanted to have a bigger bite but there's this funny part of the article which is a miniature black hole of irony:

“We have an obligation and a responsibility to create a campus climate that is empowering, rewarding and welcoming for all students,” Leonard said.

The letter cited the erection of the Trump wall and acts of harassment since the election but he said it is not about politics.

Feels like somebody here is trying to build their own wall..

“We’re relatively (politically) powerless,” Rud said, “except (we can) try to influence people through how we teach and how we write and what we stand for.”

Influencing is a nice alternative to indoctrinating..

Overall this is a 0/10 article and I assume the writer doesn't know what he's talking about or.. he knows exactly what he's talking about.

Comment by root on Open thread, Dec. 12 - Dec. 18, 2016 · 2016-12-13T18:35:22.591Z · LW · GW

POSSIBLY POLITICAL (MINDKILLING) WARNING: WEED, also I can't get the asterisks at the bottom to work correctly, what the hell happened to WYSIWYG?

So recently I've been acquainted with a few smokers. It's not really about the smoking itself but rather it's my overall disposition toward it.

Maybe it's some sort of blind spot on my hand, I'd appreciate if maybe the nootropics guys can help me with this. But I can't seem to wrap my head around what are the:

  1. Benefits*
  2. Drawbacks**
  3. Placebo

Obligatory warning that I'm not really knowledgeable nor experienced with any mind-altering substance.

** Most of the benefits I found are usually related to diseases, like cancer and Parkinson's but anxiety is also commonly mentioned. The diseases part seems interesting, but it's interesting in the same way that learning that there's gold under your house. It becomes a question of "How much?". As for anxiety, it's part of life and learning to deal with it on your own is better than turning it down. Maybe "What are the benefits random dude #0 could gain from smoking weed?" is a better question.

** Addiction? General brain harm? Money spent? Opportunity cost? I really want to rule addiction out but sometimes it feels like they NEED it in their system, which fits the criteria. Obvious anecdote, but a honest one. Not really sure about brain damage, and damage is a much more powerful description than "long term effects". As for money, it feels like it already correlates with opportunity cost here, not like they aren't correlated anyway. My imperfect reasoning system says that after X amount of days I would rather have M amount of money with me than without me but I imagine it also discards the effects in those moments. (Being hungry and buying a small snack, versus staying hungry and keeping the money, the hunger could be annoying at the time but long-term insight suggests that I'm quite likely to find myself a satisfying meal, so should I bear with the hunger?)

Comment by root on Which areas of rationality are underexplored? - Discussion Thread · 2016-12-04T00:55:17.513Z · LW · GW

Do we really need to take the whole package in? If we have (n) beliefs, some number of them might be useful, some of them would be less effective than advertised, and some could be useless if not harmful.

Comment by root on Downvotes temporarily disabled · 2016-12-03T15:33:45.882Z · LW · GW

Why can't we have both?

Comment by root on Which areas of rationality are underexplored? - Discussion Thread · 2016-12-02T21:25:36.494Z · LW · GW

It could be a difficult endeavour but I'd love to see what we can do with what we already have on LW. I don't see any easily-discoverable links to (for example) the Repository repository. Would anyone be kind as to share links to some pages they believe are useful, but are not easily reachable?

Here's a possibly bad list, but some useful-looking results by searching for 'economics':

  • Here is a post with a few recommendations in the comments, which seem interesting but I don't really know if the recommendations are still good, or have been superseded by fresher material.

  • Here is an interesting analysis by Jonah Sinick.

  • Here there is a collection of lectures about economics.

  • Here should be more, but I trust that the veterans could fill this in higher numbers and higher quality than I possibly could.

Comment by root on Which areas of rationality are underexplored? - Discussion Thread · 2016-12-02T21:11:14.838Z · LW · GW

I vaguely remember a comment made by Vladimir_M, citing PUA as 'the elephant in the room'. I'd imagine there's some variant of Godwin's law in which someone will eventually say 'hey, why does nobody care about the elephant in the room?', so maybe the question should be 'Are we fully prepared and able to debunk PUA beliefs?'.

Comment by root on Your Truth Is Not My Truth · 2016-10-28T15:31:49.374Z · LW · GW

Can someone help me dissolve this, and give insight into how to proceed with someone who says this?

You don't, they just don't want to talk about it. Some people can sadly not be saved.

Comment by root on Open thread, Sep. 12 - Sep. 18, 2016 · 2016-09-15T08:51:11.583Z · LW · GW

Have you ever had a moment where they could not directly recall something, but you could recall it indirectly, if you were given a list of words with the correct one in it?

I'm going to try this for myself with Anki, but I'm curious if anyone else ever had this. Something like the information is stored, but cannot be retrieved.

For example: "What is the ___ word?"

1) Right 2) Code 3) Missing 4) Test

Any of those don't seem inappropriate, but option (3) should be the correct answer.

Comment by root on [LINK] Collaborate on HPMOR blurbs; earn chance to win three-volume physical HPMOR · 2016-09-07T05:21:06.774Z · LW · GW
  1. Are you going to print it yourself or pay a printing company? Printing it yourself can be some work (binding all the pages and the cover) but maybe a printing company wouldn't want to print it due to licensing issues.
  2. Will you be using the HPMOR PDF? It was (probably) made to be identical to the style of the original HP books, but it's your choice if you want to keep it that way.
Comment by root on Open Thread, Sept 5. - Sept 11. 2016 · 2016-09-06T04:22:00.086Z · LW · GW

ie for 17, do 7, 6, 3, 2, 1),

That rounds up to 19, not 17.

Comment by root on Open Thread, Aug. 8 - Aug 14. 2016 · 2016-08-12T10:53:45.032Z · LW · GW

depend on the specific person

I'm not really sure how to pinpoint individual differences. I'm going to stop here but I honestly think it would be nice to break this down further. A potentially harmful practice could be taking some sort of average ability to digest food, and then start deriving standard deviations from it. I'm saying 'harmful' because I (1) do not know how to do this and (2) I have no idea if this is the right thing to do.

Now apply this argument to the calories themselves. Is it possible that two people eat the same food, yet one of them extracts 1000 calories from the food, and the other extracts 1500 calories?

I'd imagine that people who had a less economical digestion would probably have less offspring, but that's just a guess.

Well, you have just returned my question. I was curious whether there are ways to spend calories that most people would forget to think about when thinking about "work".

It would be greatly helpful to have a list of energy spendings by the body, then. Can someone provide directions?

Comment by root on Open Thread, Aug. 8 - Aug 14. 2016 · 2016-08-11T14:24:45.244Z · LW · GW

Can we get in some agreed upon middle ground?

A simple daily-iterated formula to start: WEIGHT = WEIGHT - WEIGHTBURN + FOOD

My assumptions are that WEIGHT is the person's current weight. WEIGHTBURN is the amount the person burn per every day from energy consumption + bodily maintenance. FOOD varies from person to person.

My questions for you:

But it is possible that some of the "calories in (the mouth)" may pass through the digestive system undigested and later excreted? Could people differ in this aspect, perhaps because of their gut flora?

Not unreasonable. I remember reading that while brocoli has more calcium than milk, the composition of milk allows the calcium to be absorbed better. In fact, the components of brocoli seem to contain something that actually inhibits calcium absorption!

More generally, I assume your reasoning here to be that actual food digestion is not a 1:1 to, say, food labels. Correct? (I assume that food labels use some sort of average, say, 10,000/100 = x per 100g. Correct me if this is wrong please!)

Also, what if some people burn the stored fat in ways we would not intuitively recognize as work? For example, what if some people simply dress less warmly, and spend more calories heating up their bodies? Are there other such non-work ways of spending calories?

Define your 'work'. Is it physical activity without any body maintenance? Keeping your body temperature, for example. Digesting food also takes 'work'. I don't think you can burn so much calories from exercise alone, in fact. Calorie counting is a better choice for fat loss than walking/running distance.

Comment by root on Low hanging productivity - improving your workspace · 2016-08-09T15:04:37.429Z · LW · GW

Can you give a picture of your workspace?[0] Mine is just a one screen with dwm[1]. dwm is simple and useful and I can easily switch between 'workspaces' with two buttons.

[0] Screencap works as well. [1]

Comment by root on Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes · 2016-08-06T22:00:13.070Z · LW · GW


Comment by root on Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes · 2016-08-06T21:40:33.049Z · LW · GW

Is there a possibility that those diseases will move to a different animal?

Comment by root on Irrationality Quotes August 2016 · 2016-08-02T21:45:16.240Z · LW · GW

Meta question: are there 'gray area' quotes that can fit both rationality and irrationality?

Let's take 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" for example. On the positive side, it means that you should definitely do X, because otherwise you could never get it. The gray area is that it's abstract and situation specific, there's nothing that guaratees success or failure. The negative side could end up you making a fool of yourself.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. It seems like rationality quotes provide wisdom, and things to consider. Irrationality quotes provide the opposite: they have faulty reasoning and should be things to avoid. This binary situation reminds me of the part of GEB where it discusses if machines are ultra-flexible or ultra-limited. Can a (ir)rationality quote have the paradox of being both useful and harmful at the same time?

Comment by root on Should we enable public binding precommitments? · 2016-07-31T20:29:02.592Z · LW · GW

open-source prisoner's dilemma

I believe the GNU GPL was made to address this.

It seems like we are moving in this direction, with things like Etherium that enable smart contracts.

Does anyone have proof that Etherium is secure? There's also the issue of giving whomever runs Etherium complete authority over those 'smart contracts', and that could easily turn into 'pay me to make the contract even smarter'.

Technology should enable us to enforce more real-world precommitments, since we'll be able to more easily monitor and make public our private data.

People are going to adapt. And I see no reason why would anybody share particularly private stuff with everyone.

And then there's the part where things look so awesome they can easily become bad: I can imagine someone being blackmailed into one of those contracts. And plenty of other, 'welcome to the void' kind of stuff.* Where's Voldie when you need him?

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 25 - Jul. 31, 2016 · 2016-07-28T19:54:53.270Z · LW · GW

I've lurked around a bit and akrasia seems to be a consistent problem - I'd imagine that requires mental effort.

But on topic I doubt lifting weights doesn't require mental effort. You still need to choose a menu, choose your lifting program, consistently make sure you're doing things right. In fact, if common failure mods of dieting are usually caused by not enough mental energy put into proper planning.

And I'd give a special mention to the discipline required to follow on your meal plan.

Those things definitely take mental effort.

TLDR: What's the 'mental effort' you're talking about? Running calculations on $bitrate=(brainsize)* all day long?

  • formula not researched!
Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 25 - Jul. 31, 2016 · 2016-07-28T18:22:34.258Z · LW · GW

Rationalists don't even lift bro.

Why not?

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 18 - Jul. 24, 2016 · 2016-07-18T22:05:53.123Z · LW · GW

To clarify, what I meant was: Are the famous, top n, or places for education do provide a substantially better outcome for their students on average in comparison to less exceptional ones?

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 18 - Jul. 24, 2016 · 2016-07-18T21:42:37.578Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the long answer! I just looked at the Cambridge prices for overseas students and it made me feel poor. Might as well seen a 500,000 ILS debt in my bank account.

I live in Israel and maybe I should study here. None of my family has any education though so I'm not really sure what to do. Do you know any universal things I should look for when considering higher education? ('Is it worth it?' sounds like a good question now..)

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 18 - Jul. 24, 2016 · 2016-07-18T16:14:36.781Z · LW · GW

Is there a list?

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 18 - Jul. 24, 2016 · 2016-07-18T15:38:57.904Z · LW · GW

Still not sure.

Why "either or"?

My English sucks, and I should stop thinking in a binary format.

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 18 - Jul. 24, 2016 · 2016-07-18T14:59:31.064Z · LW · GW

What are the differences between the 'big names' of higher education, in comparison to other places?

For example, I often hear about MIT, Oxford, and to a lesser extent, Cambridge. Either there's some sort of self-selection, or do graduates from there have better prospects than graduates of 'University of X, YZ'?

In a little bit of unintended self-reflection I noticed that I have a strange binary way of thinking of higher education. It feels that if I don't go to one of the top n, my effort is wasted. Not sure why.

I'm just becoming somewhat paranoid regarding the real world after reading HPMOR because I always get a 'how much do I really know?' feeling. I'm not sure how my impressions were formed and I better double-check how well does the ideas in my mind reflect the real-world truth but at the same time I'm not even sure what's a reliable indicator.

Post-high education LWers, do you think the place you studied at had a significant effect on your future prospects?

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 11 - Jul. 17, 2016 · 2016-07-17T16:33:50.908Z · LW · GW

I've read (mostly things by Ron Maimon) that marijuana* can actually impair your ability to do calculations (and in extent, I'd also assume your ability to make decisions) and I'm curious if there's any truth to that.

  • Is there a difference between marijuana, medical marijuana, weed, instert_name_here? They seem to be used interchangeably. At least they seem to cause a similar if not the exact same effect.
Comment by root on The map of cognitive biases, errors and obstacles affecting judgment and management of global catastrophic risks · 2016-07-17T13:28:22.604Z · LW · GW

What's your thoughts on virtual reality?

Comment by root on The map of cognitive biases, errors and obstacles affecting judgment and management of global catastrophic risks · 2016-07-17T13:07:40.793Z · LW · GW

Interpretation: you think that despite all the supposed/possible/theoretical/whatever goodwill, your effort will not actually be rewarded with anything. And not only that, you fear that while you're putting effort in that, other people put effort in themselves and once the great disaster is averted, your standing will be worse off compared to those that invested in themselves.


Comment by root on Checklist of Rationality Habits · 2016-07-07T05:01:36.914Z · LW · GW

Bookmarks in your browser. There's also the diskette icon between the two horizontal bars that separate the article and the comment section.

Comment by root on Open thread, Jul. 04 - Jul. 10, 2016 · 2016-07-05T21:08:35.137Z · LW · GW

I remember that LW has an API. It should only be a matter of finding all your posts that do not have any replies and then deleting them.

I'm referring to programming of course, but I can't help you with it more specifically.

Comment by root on The Ethics of AI and Its Effect On Us · 2016-06-30T09:46:16.253Z · LW · GW

If Microsoft were in charge of PR for sex the human race would be extinct.

Wouldn't trust them with an AI.

Comment by root on Meme: Valuable Vulnerability · 2016-06-28T05:35:44.036Z · LW · GW

You should look into Brene Brown's stuff. Here's a TED talk

Comment by root on Open thread, June 27 - July 3, 2016 · 2016-06-27T15:06:45.997Z · LW · GW

You have a point. I'm mostly at fault here to be honest as I'm getting slowly more and more skeptical of 'stuff on the internet' (the site being called Art of Manliness already gives me some certain ideological connotations) and seeing how many things which look appealing intuitively don't really yield much tasty fruit in real life, I'll often label things clickbait rather than actually put some time in them.

Comment by root on Open thread, June 27 - July 3, 2016 · 2016-06-27T07:20:04.832Z · LW · GW

Thoughts on the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover archetypes? Useful?

That website looks like a pretty big clickbait. Not footnotes either, which could be me overestimating people who put footnotes, but it might also be that whomever wrote that could be attempting to avoid being accused of wordplay.

Comment by root on Are smart contracts AI-complete? · 2016-06-22T16:53:18.962Z · LW · GW

Haven't people been making contracts for a pretty long time? What is this new 'smart contract' thing and how is it unique?

in a way that's already illegal.

Someone cracking a smart contract wouldn't really mind the law.