## Posts

Comment by sabaton on Social Necessity of Drinking · 2011-02-16T13:07:46.213Z · LW · GW

Interesting. There must be a sharp segmentation of the young, as part of them are apparently setting OECD records

Comment by sabaton on Social Necessity of Drinking · 2011-02-16T13:01:00.869Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's less painful to be the only drunk person than the only sober person at the table

Comment by sabaton on Torturing people for fun · 2011-02-15T12:59:24.032Z · LW · GW

1) A few thoughts:

a. Intuitively, fun per person feels like it is upper bounded (just like utility of money). I cannot imagine what kind of fun for one person could compensate a month of torture. We will fix X and play with N

b. The difficulty seems to arise from the fact that the mechanical answer is to set e.g., X=1, N = ceil(Y + epsilon) (where minus Y is utility of the torture), yet this intuitively does not feel right. Some thoughts on why:

• Scope insensitivity. We have trouble instinctively multiplying fun by many people (i.e., I can picture one day of fun very clearly, but have trouble multiplying that by millions of people, to get anywhere near compensating for a month of torture). So the mechanical answer would be correct, but our brains cannot evaluate the fun side of the equation “intuitively”.

• Bias towards “fairness”. Having one person suffer and others have fun to compensate doesn’t feel right (or at least assessing this trade-off is difficult)

• Bias towards negative utilitarianism. We instinctively prefer minimizing suffering than maximizing utility.

c. When we scale things down the question seems easier. Suppose we set X = an amazing week of fun I will remember for the rest of my life, bringing me joy to think about it again and again. Now I ask how much torture I would put up for that. This is a question I feel I can intuitively answer. I would trade, say Y = 10 seconds of extreme pain for X (assuming no permanent physical damage).
To move to 1 month of torture we need to assess how the utility of a torture session scales with its duration. If it scaled linearly, 1 month of torture is ~2.6 million seconds of torture, which means we should set N= ~260’000 for X defined above. I feel that after a few days, the scale is sub-linear, but it may be super-linear before that (when you start moving into the permanent psychological damage area). I cannot seem to come up with an answer I am comfortable with.

2) As pointed out by Nornagest, If I give you my utility function (mapping all possible pains and pleasures to a number), I’m not sure how you could tell whether pain and pleasure are being measured “on the same scale” or not?

Comment by sabaton on Social Necessity of Drinking · 2011-02-14T22:34:59.296Z · LW · GW

I would agree with mstevens. My impression is that ordering anything other than a pint in a British pub tends to raise eyebrows. Indeed you probably do not have to excuse yourself, but your social standing may take a hit.

Comment by sabaton on Why Do We Engage in Moral Simplification? · 2011-02-14T13:23:39.765Z · LW · GW

When someone verbally endorses a given framework, I understand it as saying "This is the framework that best fits my intuitions", but understand there are likely some points that diverge.

But maybe I am wrong and most people have actually realigned all their intuitions/behavior once they have picked a system?

Comment by sabaton on Social Necessity of Drinking · 2011-02-14T00:32:43.221Z · LW · GW

1) - “No thanks" / "a coke please“ is usually fine. “I don’t drink alcohol” if pressed. But my impression is that the delivery is most important (stating it firmly without looking embarrassed seems to work best)

-With people you meet regularly you seem to get less resistance being an official teetotaler than an occasional drinker who doesn’t feel like drinking one particular evening.

-Drinking very slowly can limit your intake to a single glass per evening

-If drinks are free and things are busy it’s sometimes easier to accept a glass and not actually drink it (or at least not finish it)

-Designated driver is culture specific. My impression is that in some places (e.g., UK, Scandinavia) it is expected to drink nothing if driving, while in others (e.g., France) you are often still expected to make a "small effort".

2) Quite culture specific. Fairly standard is to wait for everyone to have a drink in their hand before starting.

3) -People like to drink because social interactions often feel smoother and more natural when participants are a little drunk, and they can also be more fun

-People expect others to drink because:

``````    -It’s better if all parties contribute to the enhanced socializing

-Sober vs. sober and drunk vs. drunk conversations tend to work well. Sober vs. drunk ones do not (and it’s much less painful to be on the drunk side)

-Some perceive not drinking as a signal that you don’t want to or can’t enjoy yourself

-Some people see non-drinkers as implicitly judging those who do drink
``````