Comment by rthomas2 on My Childhood Role Model · 2019-06-09T16:47:45.286Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When “Old One” and “the Blight” are mentioned: which characters are these?

Comment by rthomas2 on How To Use Bureaucracies · 2019-05-09T18:01:56.636Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perfect, thanks :)

Comment by rthomas2 on How To Use Bureaucracies · 2019-05-09T06:50:12.423Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The word “aligned” is being used here in a way that seems subtly different than what I’ve heard before. A quick definition and/or link to the place(s) this usage comes from would be really useful.

Comment by rthomas2 on Moving to a World Beyond “p < 0.05” · 2019-04-20T12:46:23.227Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven’t ever seen an academic article so direct and even sardonic, especially not one railing against such an established practice. I guess that’s what a Molotov cocktail looks like in print.

That wasn’t just clear and impactful, it was fun to read. Thanks for linking, lifelonglearner.

Comment by rthomas2 on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-14T01:07:28.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Also...I think it still may need a fix: paragraph 11 now reads

normative way; that you should wire it the way I say just because,

but I think you want to swap the comma with the semi-colon:

normative way, that you should wire it the way I say just because;

Comment by rthomas2 on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-11T19:53:18.308Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is fantastic and absolutely the conversation I want to be having.

Ditto on everything Qiaochu_Yuan said. Huge thanks for writing this, Romeo.

Two typo fixes that would have saved me a headache:

Paragraph 11:

normative way. Like you should wire

I think you meant “normative way, like you should wire”

Second-to-last paragraph:

Though the Buddha taught one specific concentration technique and a series of simple insight techniques, but there are probably a dozen

I think you meant to omit either “Though” or “but”

Comment by rthomas2 on What does it mean to "believe" a thing to be true? · 2018-12-28T17:20:50.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When something is accepted as true, then observations to the contrary become surprising. So, if I’m surprised to find it raining out, then I’d assumed it was going to be sunny.

Comment by rthomas2 on [deleted post] 2017-10-20T22:36:56.070Z

I think you’re exactly right that distinguishing between what people claim, and then what they turn out to actually expect, is the important thing here. My argument is that alief/belief (or belief in belief), as terms, make this harder. I just used the words “claim” and “expectation”, and I would be immensely surprised if anyone misunderstands me. (To be redundant to the point of silliness: I claim that’s my expectation.)

“Belief” has, I think, lost any coherent definition. It seems now, not to refer to expectations, but to mean “I want to expect X.” Or to be a command: “model me as expecting X.” Whenever it’s used, I have to ask “what do you mean you believe it?” and the answer is often “I think it’s true”; but then when I say “what do you mean, you think it’s true?”, the answer is often “I just think it’s true”, or “I choose to think it’s true”. So it always hits a state somewhere on the continuum between “meaningless” and “deceptive”.

Words like “claim”, “expectation”, or even “presume”—as in, “I choose to presume this is true”—all work fine. But belief is broken, and alief implies all we need is to add another word on top. My claim is that we need, instead, less words: merely the ones that remain meaningful, rather than acting as linguistic shields against meaning.

Comment by rthomas2 on [deleted post] 2017-10-19T23:03:58.900Z

Like u/gworley, I’m not a fan of the alief/belief distinction. I take a slightly different tack: I think that belief, and related terms, are just poorly defined. I find it easier to talk about expectations.

“Expectations” is, I think, a term best operationalized as “things that surprise a person if they don’t happen, while not surprising said person if they do happen.” (I started thinking of this due to the “invisible dragon” from the Sequences.)

It’s empirically testable whether a person is non-plussed—sometimes this might be hard to notice, but almost always, they register some quick change in body language/facial expression, and more importantly, have to pause and generate new ideas, because they’ve fallen into a gap in their previous ones.

A person can say “I believe democracy is the best form of government”, and mean a whole bunch of things by it. Including merely “I want to live in a democracy.” They can also say “I believe 2+2=4”...and yet be amazed when someone takes two groups of two apples, combines them, and counts them all to total four apples. Saying “I believe” seems like it has many possible meanings, which are all best communicated by other words—and the primary one seems to be expectations. So rather than keep the ill-defined word belief and create a new word to specify some other imprecise category, let’s just be more precise. We already have enough words for that—alief is too many, and so is belief.

Comment by rthomas2 on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-06-25T18:28:13.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hello! I'm Ryan; some of you may know me from the Boston or NYC meetups, or from my excursions to the Bay. I'm finally getting around to really using this account; anything that I posted more than a year or so ago can be safely ignored, or laughed at if you're in the mood for a chuckle. I'm hoping to primarily focus on longevity research and how people can work together well on things in general; currently collecting info to try and make a general post about the current state of the field. I'm thoroughly a layperson in most regards--I have a BA in psych and a bit of a knack for cold reading and general Hufflepuffing, but that's about my whole skillset. Well: also meaning well and being quick to learn/update. I'm kinda proud of that. But still, I'm by no means the sharpest or most expert; I just tend to stick to things until I figure them out.

So: pleasure to (cyber) meet you, and hi again to people I already know!

Comment by rthomas2 on Questions to ask theist philosophers? I will soon be speaking with several · 2014-04-29T16:42:02.852Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your comment: you have shown me that I failed to make my intention plain. I have edited my original comment in the hopes of remedying this; please let me know if I have succeeded by up-voting, or if I have failed by down-voting and, if you are again willing to help me, offering me further critique :) My sincere thanks, again.

Comment by rthomas2 on Questions to ask theist philosophers? I will soon be speaking with several · 2014-04-26T18:19:14.965Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a good one for any one who trusts the bible: Is the following true? If Mark 9:40 and Matthew 12:30 are both true, then God would not allow us to see, hear, think or feel anything that wasn't the best possible thing we could see, hear, think or feel at that moment. I know the philosophers at Notre Dame to be an exceedingly rational group, and so I believe they will respond by giving a wonderful explanation to you of the Christian belief that God is indeed with all people at all times, and that they need only open their hearts to love in order to receive all they desire.

Comment by rthomas2 on Timeless Physics · 2012-12-15T02:11:41.004Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding the idea of "changing the future" invoked by the Majere quote:

The concept here relies upon some notion of causality. In order for it to be coherent, we have to think of the past and future as being determined--that if we knew both the state of the universe at a given time, and the laws of physics, we could calculate every other state the universe would ever have, or had ever had previously.

This conception doesn't really seem to jive with what very, very little I know about many worlds and quantum mechanics, so it could be utterly false. That said, to understand the Majere quote, we have to refer to this particular conception, because it's the one Majere's assertion derives from.

The idea that we are "changing the future" comes from a formulation of the idea of free will. The basic idea is that, given the idea of a deterministic universe just established, the future is set, and all we do is watch it unfold from inside our heads. That is, except if we happen to be, as Majere thinks, creatures who possess Majere's idea of free will.

In that case, we have the power to alter ourselves to a degree, and thus, alter the present state of the universe--and thereby, its future states. And further, this power is "free"--it is in no way influenced by causality. This last may seem impossible, and it probably is. But it's the assumption which the idea of free will rests upon--that there is some force, usually asserted to be spiritual in nature, that is "above" the material world; by unspecified means, this force can alter the natural world without being causally determined by it. It's outside of the system, so to speak, and yet able to interact on its own terms.

This idea, as I've said, seems absurd given our knowledge of physics. That said, it is clearly the one Majere assumes. It is by this conception that, given the same physical state of the world, we could not predict exactly what would happen next--for there is no telling what choices beings of free will may make, and indeed, if somehow the same creatures might come to the same state of the same universe a second time, they could theoretically choose something entirely different.

Comment by rthomas2 on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2012-09-02T14:56:39.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What is the rational response to something like this? Because I still don't know what to think.

I met Ms. Digan in person, and there's a bit more to the story than is told on the site; the two most important things are that 1) the doctors who examined her were not, as the site implies, Catholic stooges, just normal doctors, most of them atheist; and 2) her son, a very young child at the time, came with her to Poland and stayed behind in the room, and also experienced a healing--he had some sort of degenerative muscular disorder which prevented him from moving unassisted, and when they returned to the hotel he was sitting up, coloring in a coloring book.

Seriously, wtf?

Comment by rthomas2 on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-07-19T17:20:20.508Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For me, thinking of the Dementors as death AND depression is a lot of fun--the idea that they're of the same essence is very cool to toss around. Which in turn makes the question of what patronuses are more tangled and intriguing...

Really, every attempt I make at reconciling the two worlds makes every facet of both more interesting! :)