Comment by saidachmiz on Where to Draw the Boundaries? · 2019-04-22T19:41:23.673Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Er, sorry, did you mean to post this as a reply here? I’m not quite seeing the relevance…

Comment by saidachmiz on Counterfactuals about Social Media · 2019-04-22T19:25:23.710Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Your kind of usage contributes to the popularity of the social networks—the “network effects” that give them the attractiveness and power that Zvi describes. The more that people like you do what you describe, the more incentive other people have to use Facebook and Twitter, and thus the more power Facebook and Twitter have—and what they do with that power is, as we see, quite bad.

You are, indeed, endangering the commons, because you are deriving personal benefit from it, in exchange for giving power to the companies whose entire business model is building a giant pyre on which to burn that commons—and our society along with it.

Comment by saidachmiz on Counterfactuals about Social Media · 2019-04-22T17:43:55.392Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The question of whether regulating social media is a good idea (and if so, how) is a tricky one, and I don’t know that I have a sufficiently informed opinion on that. But on the question of what to do individually, Zvi is entirely correct.

I do not use Facebook. I do not use Tumblr. I do not use Twitter. I do not use Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat.

My life is visibly better for it than that of everyone I know who does use these things.

I encourage everyone who reads this to abandon these platforms. Whatever they give you can be had elsewhere—and without paying such a terrible price.

Comment by saidachmiz on Where to Draw the Boundaries? · 2019-04-21T22:39:38.917Z · score: 22 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is an excellent post. It has that rare quality, like much of the Sequences, of the ideas it describes being utterly obvious—in retrospect. (I also appreciate the similarly Sequence-like density of hyperlinks, exploiting the not-nearly-exploited-enough-these-days power of hypertext to increase density of ideas without a concomitant increase in abstruseness.)

… which is why I find it so puzzling to see all these disagreeing comments, which seem to me to contain an unusual, and puzzling, level of reflexive contrarianness and pedanticism.

Comment by saidachmiz on Degrees of Freedom · 2019-04-21T08:24:25.262Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Attraction, humor, joy and love are very often irrational and arbitrary.

This is a category error. These things are not “irrational”; they’re things we value, and as such, are orthogonal to epistemic rationality (loving your child or spouse or best friend is neither “true” nor “false”) and prior to instrumental rationality (which is about how to best achieve your goals and satisfy your preferences, not about what your goals and preferences should be).

Don’t make the mistake of equating rationality with some sort of Hollywood Spock stereotype where you’re supposed to go around saying things like “this ‘love’ you speak of is most illogical, Captain”.[1]

[1] Actually, even Spock never said anything like this, but the stereotype persists nonetheless…


then our process of determining what is “optimal” is not, and perhaps should not be simply derived from what is most rational

Given that instrumental rationality is defined as the business of determining what actions are optimal (in expectation), given your goals, this quoted part is manifestly nonsensical.

Comment by saidachmiz on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T21:08:39.391Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn’t say. I regularly use neither the Less Wrong website (I do my LW browsing/commenting/etc. via GreaterWrong) nor Firefox (which I use only for testing purposes).

Have you reported this bug to the Less Wrong development team?

Comment by saidachmiz on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T19:44:47.167Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, they seem to have plenty of resources available to rewrite their browser in Rust, to develop a mobile operating system, to make a version of Firefox for virtual reality (!!) …

… it seems possible, at least, that some of those resources are capable of being applied to their vast backlog of bugs. But who knows?

Comment by saidachmiz on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T19:21:50.082Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed. It’s quite frustrating, by the way; like anyone who’s been paying attention to the state of the internet lately, I really have no desire to encourage, much less contribute to, Google’s growing control of the web (and with Microsoft Edge being migrated to Google’s Blink rendering engine, Firefox will be one of the last islands of resistance to the Apple/Google—i.e., WebKit/Blink—hegemony). I want to support Firefox! I want Firefox to be good (as it once was), and I want people to use it!

But boy, Mozilla sure doesn’t make it easy…

Comment by saidachmiz on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T18:18:35.848Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do frontend developers… not check whether their website works in Firefox?

Oh, we check. Of course we check.

And then we find that it doesn’t work, because Firefox has some weird bug. Some really dumb bug, that makes Firefox render a page in a different way than every other browser. Some bug that has existed for 20 years (!!!) and is still unsolved. (Or 15 years. Or 17 years. Or 9 years.)

Or Firefox doesn’t support some feature that every other browser supports. Or Firefox’s mobile simulator does not properly simulate a touch device. Or Firefox fires bizarre, superfluous events on mouse wheel scrolls. Or Firefox can’t discriminate between the left and right mouse button. Or Firefox has stopped supporting the ability to implement special CSS workarounds for Firefox. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And then what? Well, “just” fix the problem, right? “Just” put in additional development time, to compensate for the fact that Mozilla’s development process is increasingly dysfunctional? “Just” devote 500% more effort, to support… [checks notes]

5% more users.


Is Firefox so niche these days?


I am (and any good web developer is) sympathetic to the need to support various minorities of users (by browser, by OS, by device, by physiological capabilities, by network limitations, etc.). I can tell you that I make every reasonable effort to support not only Firefox, but every browser I hear about. (I’ve responded to user complaints about lynx, links, qutebrowser, Dillo, and TenFourFox, to take several examples of varying obscurity; and in each of the cases I have in mind, I was able to solve the issue.)

But the fact is that fully supporting Firefox takes up an utterly disproportionate amount of effort. For developers who do not have the budget of a megacorporation behind them, that amount of effort cannot be justified. Many of us try. Most of us do not fully succeed. Some give up. Can you blame them?

Comment by saidachmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). · 2019-04-19T02:30:01.852Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is perfect, thanks.

Comment by saidachmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). · 2019-04-18T17:54:03.561Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you, but yes, I did know that. The problem with the auto-generated transcript is that it’s not punctuated, capitalized, paragraph’d, etc., making it tricky to read.

As far as I am aware, vloggers of this sort generally have a script that they’re reading from, which should function as a transcript, or at any rate the actual thing I am looking for, i.e. the content of the video in text form. If Senarin could post that, I’d appreciate it!

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-18T16:56:36.535Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The latter is closer to what I meant, certainly.

As you took the time to reread my comments, it seems only fair that I should take the time to attempt another explanation, as perhaps a rewording will help to dispel any remaining confusion. I hope you’ll excuse my using your earlier comment as a jumping-off point, though I know you no longer endorse this interpretation of my view:

Articles that explore new ideas are harder to write productively than articles that don’t.

This is true. However, as I wrote in this comment, I believe “exploratory research” to be a (perhaps not unique, but certainly unusual) strength of Less Wrong. That such articles are harder to write only means that it is more important—given how few places on the internet have any capability to produce such writing—that we do these things well.

Eliezer, uniquely on LessWrong, wrote productive articles exploring new ideas.

First, again, I do not think that it is sensible to view the Sequences as having been written on Less Wrong—not least because they, in fact, weren’t! (You will note, by the way, that I specified Eliezer’s writings from the Sequences period for exclusion—not all his writings!)

That aside, I do not think this quoted bit is true either; Eliezer’s contributions were not uniquely excellent. I can easily come up with examples of good “exploratory research” articles written on Less Wrong by people who aren’t Eliezer. I asked Romeo to provide examples of his own because I thought (and still think) that seeing what he considers to be good “exploratory research” from Less Wrong’s past would help to illuminate the substance of our disagreement.

Yes, we all agree (presumably) that the Sequences are great; that is, more or less, why we’re all here. But the fact that Eliezer wrote the Sequences, and we saw that they were good, doesn’t help us very much. That we all agree on that is all well and good, but on what do we disagree? Something, clearly, but in what details?—that’s the question.

Therefore, in order to cultivate productivity, we should not attempt to imitate Eliezer by exploring new ideas, but instead write the other sorts of articles, which are easier to write productively.

I do not think this is true either. As mentioned above, I think that “exploratory research” is something Less Wrong can do well. It is, in fact, one of the few forums that has demonstrated this capacity. That is why it’s important that we preserve and nurture that rare and precious quality; that is why it’s important that we do “exploratory research” right.

And in a discussion of whether we, today, are doing something well, it makes no sense at all to reply that our forum’s founder, over a decade ago, before the forum even existed, did that thing well!

Thus my question to Romeo (and, I suppose, to anyone else who agrees with his view, but disagrees with mine) stands:

What are three of the best examples of good “exploratory research” articles from Less Wrong’s history? (The Sequences, and other posts from that period, excluded.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). · 2019-04-18T15:44:12.195Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is a transcript available?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-18T15:34:05.104Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

None of that is even in the vicinity of what I meant.

I do not, quite frankly, know how you got any of that from what I wrote in this thread. As far as I can see, your attempted summary of my points is simply one big non sequitur.

Are you sure you’re not just rounding off my comments to the nearest cached criticism?

If you reread what I’ve written and still believe the provided summary is fair, I’ll attempt to re-explain, I guess…

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-18T15:19:10.169Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh? What are you referring to…?

Could you quote what thing I said in this thread, that you are summarizing as “we should discourage some but not other articles by non-Eliezers”?

Comment by saidachmiz on Criticizing Critics of Structural-Functionalism · 2019-04-18T04:06:50.129Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What is “Structural-Functionalism”? Could we get some explanatory links, or something?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-18T02:15:40.109Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by this, if not that you’re trying to figure out whether other people share some personal specialness Eliezer has?

It’s not “some personal specialness”; it’s the ability, inclination, wherewithal, knowledge, expertise, habit, etc., etc., to write posts and comments that are useful, interesting, and otherwise desirable to have insofar as they serve the goals of Less Wrong.

These qualities can be encouraged where present, they can be developed where absent, they can be selected for from among a population, and their application can be incentivized.

But it is clearly not the case that said qualities are simply present in anyone who gets it into their head to write a Less Wrong post.

How common are these salutary qualities? We don’t know (but not very common). How common are they among the current Less Wrong commentariat, in particular? We don’t know (hopefully more common than in the general population, but clearly not as common as we’d like). What community norms, what rules, contribute to increasing and maintaining their prevalence among the membership of the site? We don’t know.

If you’re not thinking of the past as an uncaused golden age and Eliezer as a legend of yore, what’s the relation between that question and the question of which kinds of post are appropriate here?

The past is not an uncaused golden age, but whatever its causes were, they cannot possibly include “the norms and rules of Less Wrong”, because Less Wrong did not exist. Given that “what should be the norms and rules of Less Wrong” is, in fact, what we are discussing, said golden age (i.e., Eliezer writing the Sequences) is irrelevant.

As for Eliezer being a “legend of yore”… well, consider the following analogy, inspired by the very post you linked.

Suppose Einstein, late in life, founds a school for aspiring brilliant theoretical physicists. Some time passes, and I inquire of the administration whether their school has, in fact, produced any brilliant physics theories; indeed, can it? Are their teaching methods any good, even? “What makes you suspect otherwise?”, the administrators ask me. “Well,” say I, “name some brilliant theoretical phycisists who’ve come from your school.” “Why,” comes the reply, “there was Einstein!”

Would you find this reply persuasive?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-17T20:07:30.380Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I’m not saying anything even remotely like that. I… don’t actually know how you got that from what I wrote. The post you linked seems to have nothing at all to do with what I’m saying.

Clearly, there’s been some great miscommunication here, but I am unsure of what could be the source of it…

Comment by saidachmiz on Conditional revealed preference · 2019-04-17T19:11:09.412Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Meta note: text on your website is really hard to read (due to the thin font—300 weight—and the very light text color—#666).

Do you mind cross-posting the full text of the post to LW?

Comment by saidachmiz on Liar Paradox Revisited · 2019-04-17T19:06:52.110Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Try editing the post on GreaterWrong. There’s a “code block” button in the editor—select your code and click it, it’ll generate the right Markdown to make it a code block.

Comment by saidachmiz on Open Problems in Archipelago · 2019-04-17T03:26:43.160Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · LW · GW

We give authors with 2000 karma the ability to delete comments and ban users, but this is rarely used, because it requires someone who is both willing to moderator and who can write well.

Well… there’s also the fact that the UI gives absolutely no indication of any this.

In fact, after I read this line in your post (and vaguely remembered hearing about this before), I went over to LW, logged in, and tried to figure out how I would delete a comment. I… did not have any success. I haven’t the faintest idea how I’d delete someone’s comment, or how I’d know if I can, or… anything.

I think I figured out how to ban a user: by entering their name into the “Banned Users (All)” field on my account settings page. Is that right? (There was no tooltip or explanatory label or anything, so I can’t be sure…) If so, that’s extremely counterintuitive.

(By the way, I couldn’t even figure out how to delete one of my own comments. What am I missing…?)

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T21:53:49.486Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are a lot of assumptions you’re making about the purpose/subtext of that comment. The comment is like, three exchanges into a conversation. It was not written for you.

I read the ancestor comments as well (and every other comment on this post, too). Whatever purpose or subtext was contained therein is available to me also, and to anyone else reading this public forum thread. If you prefer that something you write be read and responded to only by a single recipient, Less Wrong does have a private messaging system.

I wasn’t really trying to give an accurate description/definition of LDT, it’s an entailment.

What do you mean by “it’s an entailment”? What entails what?

The easier we can make it for people to step from a superstition or a metaphor to a real formalised understanding, the better. If you say it’s a long walk, a lot of them wont set out.

Are you suggesting a strategy of publicly professing positions we do not actually hold, and making claims we do not actually believe, in order to better persuade people (whom we believe to be in the grip of a supersition) to accept our ideas?

I hope I do not have to enumerate the profound problems with such a plan. I will name only one: it’s fundamentally dishonest and deceptive, and intellectually disrespectful of one’s interlocutors. I strongly urge against attempting to employ any such tactics.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T21:04:57.102Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Firstly, because the Sequences were written almost entirely on Overcoming Bias, not on Less Wrong. That alone would suffice. (Less Wrong simply did not exist when Eliezer wrote most of the Sequences.)

Secondly, because we already know that Eliezer can (or could, at least) write interesting and useful things, and have interesting and useful ideas. The question is whether anyone else—specifically, anyone from the Less Wrong commentariat—has that ability; and how we should encourage it, and nurture it; and what epistemic standards, and what community norms, encourage good and interesting and useful and correct ideas. We are, after all, talking about what kind of posts are appropriate for Less Wrong today. So asking whether the site’s founder and originally primary contributor wrote anything of value (especially before the community was even founded) is not relevant.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T19:48:54.255Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I cannot agree with your reading of nshepperd’s comment. I concur with you that exploratory research is entirely appropriate for Less Wrong, and indeed that it is a strength of this forum.

However, with respect, I do not think that your post rises to the level of “exploratory research”. The level of scholarship and rigor on display would need to be improved substantially, before we could label the post as “research” of any kind.

I have seen firsthand what exploratory research is like. Even in the relatively “soft” field I’ve had experience with (HCI), the post at hand would not qualify—not by a long shot.

Perhaps, though, we might investigate the nature of our disagreement in another way. What would you say are three of the best examples of “exploratory research” from Less Wrong’s history? To avoid confounding factors, please limit your examples to the period before the relaunch of the new site; and also avoid Eliezer’s posts from the original Sequences period (as citing them as examples would illuminate nothing).

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T17:05:25.793Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You both latched onto the least interesting part of the post. The part that is literally just Romeo throwing out some wild speculations.

That is not the impression given by either the post or Romeo’s replies. He seems to be making it clear that he is, indeed, making the affirmative claims that I attributed to him, and has thus far given no indication of intending to retract or weaken them.

But let me ask you this: do you think the post would stand on its own, without these “speculations” (as you call them)? By way of attempting to answer this question, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a copy of Romeo’s post on Google Docs, where I’ve crossed out every “speculative” claim for which we’ve not been given evidence.

I was fairly conservative in choosing parts to cross out; I’ve left intact, for example, almost everything that mentions or talks about forms of psychotherapy and other concepts from psychology. (Although, by rights those ought to go as well; we do not accept such claims without evidence ordinarily; why should we accept them when speaking about meditation or Buddhism? But perhaps speculating about the “softer” sciences is a lesser offense, so I mostly let these things stand.)

What is left, nevertheless, is a post that is missing any justifications or explanations of its core claims; a post essentially indistinguishable from any number of similar posts that have appeared on Less Wrong, since its relaunch almost two years ago.

The more interesting part is the general framework where he matches up the some of the processes mentioned in Buddhism with some insights from behavioral psychology, psychotherapy, and pop psychology. It gives a framework to start understanding why anecdotally people claim such big effects from extended meditation practice, and gives an insight about how one might begin to test the hypothesis that this is what’s happening, both personally and on a broader scale.

Allow me to make a suggestion, then, for anyone who writes these sorts of posts in the future:

First, enumerate, explain, and cite the “insights from behavioral psychology, psychotherapy, and pop psychology” which you intend to use as explanations. Be specific in your claims, and be diligent in your references. Consult the latest available sources, to make sure that your insights of choice have survived the replication crisis; provide these sources to your readers.

Then, having established a basis for what follows, make all the interesting connections to Buddhism, meditation, or what have you.

This approach would kill two birds with one stone: it would prevent such distracting digressions as we’re now engaged in, and it would also strengthen your own understanding of the ideas that you are presenting.

It seems to me that doing things in this way would benefit everyone involved.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T06:23:23.069Z · score: 1 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This sort of “everyone who understands my ideas agrees with me, and everyone who doesn’t agree just doesn’t understand” is never not annoying, even if you tack on a “most” or “almost”. Even if the ideas you describe were perfectly sensible, it would still be highly irritating to be faced with such a smug presentation of them.

However, in this case, what you say also seems incoherent.

In particular:

LDT is the realisation that we should act as if our decisions will be reflected by every similarly rational agent that exists

In this description of LDT, the phrase “similarly rational” is being forced to do almost all the work; and it is much too vague to be up to the task. The specific claim of LDT is:

Logical decision theory asserts that the principle of rational choice is "Decide as though you are choosing the logical output of your decision algorithm."

(From “Introduction to Logical Decision Theory for Analytic Philosophers” on Arbital. Italics in original.)

That is very far from any notion of karma, any notion of “all is one”, etc. So even if we find logical decision theories to be attractive, and their claims convincing, that does not get us to any of the “spiritual” claims you seem to want to make on those theories’ basis.

I don’t know how many of us have noticed this, I’ve met a few, but we’re starting to realise that anthropic measure, the substance of experience or subjectivity, there isn’t some special relationship between observer-moments that’re close in time and space, there’s just a magnitude, and the magnitude can change over time.

This does not actually seem to be a coherent sentence, much less a coherent thought, so I assume that you’ve accidentally omitted some words; I’ll comment on this once you’ve had a chance to rewrite it.

If we care about one being’s experience, we should generally care about every being’s experience.

This in absolutely no way follows from logical decision theory or anything related to it.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-15T04:10:11.342Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t view this post as telling you anything you’re supposed to believe on Romeo’s word.

On what other basis, then, are we to believe any of this stuff about rewiring neurons, “electrical resistance = emotional resistance”, etc. etc.? We’ve been told that there’s no evidence whatsoever for any of it and that Romeo got the idea for the latter claim, in particular, from literally nowhere at all. So we can’t believe any of this on the basis of evidence, because we’ve been given none, and told that none is forthcoming. And you say we’re not to believe it on Romeo’s word. What’s left?

Or perhaps you’re saying that the post makes no claims at all? But I can’t see how that reading is possible, and in any case that is contradicted by Romeo’s comments in response to me. Claims are being made, and relatively clear claims, at that.

Thus nshepperd’s question seems to me to be quite apt!

Comment by saidachmiz on A Case for Taking Over the World--Or Not. · 2019-04-14T09:13:22.836Z · score: 36 (12 votes) · LW · GW

As a corollary to my other comment

As my education progresses, I’m seeing more and more paralells, through some fictional but generally nonfictional accounts, that sugget that the world is broken in a way that causes suffering to be an emergent property, if not intrinsic. Not just HPMoR (and Significant Digits after it), but in FDR’s State of the Union Speech, The Grapes of Wrath, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, among other works.

HPMOR is a work of fiction. Significant Digits is a work of fiction. The Grapes of Wrath is a work of fiction. The logical fallacy of generalization from fictional evidence has not gotten any less fallacious in the last ten years.

FDR’s State of the Union speech (I assume you’re referring to his 1941 SotU address, a.k.a. the famous “Four Freedoms” speech, though the point stands regardless) is a piece of political propaganda. That designation, and that fact, needn’t imply anything bad about the speech’s intent or its effect, but we should understand that such oratory isn’t optimized for delivering objective truth.

Jared Diamond’s book is the only work of actual non-fiction—indeed, of scholarship—on your list. Its thesis (in broad strokes and in details both) is also not exactly free from academic controversy. But that’s beside the point; one book of popular science, even if it’s a work of pure genius, does not suffice to constitute a coherent and complete picture of the world.

Be careful that you do not let narrative—either in the form of fiction or of propaganda—shape your map of the world. Reality is not a story. Stick to the facts.

P.S.: I said before that “precision is everything”—and it is somewhat ironic that “the world is broken” is not nearly precise enough an evaluation from which to start fixing a broken world.

Comment by saidachmiz on A Case for Taking Over the World--Or Not. · 2019-04-14T05:05:56.046Z · score: 24 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Reducing suffering is a good goal, but what you’re talking about, in that case, is not saving the world, but improving it. It’s not just a matter of semantics; it’s a critically different perspective.

On the other hand, you also mention the possibility of humanity destroying ourselves. This is certainly something that we can rightly speak of “saving” the world from. But notice that this is a different concern than the “reducing suffering” one!

When you ask “What do we have to do to [accomplish goal X]?”, you have to be quite clear on what, precisely, goal X is.

The two goals that you mention can (and likely do!) have very different optimal approaches/strategies. It is even possible (in fact, due to resource constraints, it is likely) that they’re at odds with one another. If so, you may have to prioritize—at the very least.

“Save the world” sounds punchy, memorable, inspiring. But it’s not a great frame for thinking practically about the problem, which is quite difficult enough to demand the greatest rigor. With problems of this magnitude, errors compound and blossom into catastrophes. Precision is everything.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-13T08:58:00.571Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone, it seems, can have the experience of “feeling totally fine and at ease while simultaneously experiencing intense … pain”[1]:

It turns out there is painless pain: lobotomized people experience that, and “reactive dissociation” is the phrase used to describe the effects sometimes of analgesics like morphine when administered after pain has begun, and the patient reports, to quote Dennett 1978 [PDF] (emphasis in original), that “After receiving the analgesic subjects commonly report not that the pain has disappeared or diminished (as with aspirin) but that the pain is as intense as ever though they no longer mind it…if it is administered before the onset of pain…the subjects claim to not feel any pain subsequently (though they are not numb or anesthetized—they have sensation in the relevant parts of their bodies); while if the morphine is administered after the pain has commenced, the subjects report that the pain continues (and continues to be pain), though they no longer mind it……Lobotomized subjects similarly report feeling intense pain but not minding it, and in other ways the manifestations of lobotomy and morphine are similar enough to lead some researchers to describe the action of morphine (and some barbiturates) as ‘reversible pharmacological leucotomy [lobotomy]’.23”

(From Evolution as Backstop for Reinforcement Learning on

That subjective aversiveness is separable from pain as such is a fascinating psychological/neurological phenomenon. That it is possible (if, indeed, it is, as you claim—though not you alone, of course) to induce this state of “reactive dissociation” in yourself, without the use of either opiates or a lobotomy, is also fascinating.

But concluding from this that “there’s no such thing as suffering” is a conceptual confusion of the highest order—and not some insight into deep Truth.

ETA: And it seems to me to be far from obvious, that it is good or desirable to voluntarily induce in yourself a state akin to a morphine high or a lobotomy… especially if doing so has the additional consequence of leading you into the most elementary conceptual errors.

[1] Physical, anyway. Emotional? Perhaps, but that seems not to be as well-studied.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-12T20:08:23.404Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The truths of General Relativity cannot be conveyed in conventional language. But does one have to study the underlying mathematics before evaluating its claims?

Yes. Of course you do.

You can approximately capture the truth General Relativity in the statement, “gravity bends space.”

The delusion that such statements “approximately capture the truth” of things like GR is pervasive, but no less a delusion for it.

This approximation of the truth is useful because it allows you to understand certain consequences of that truth, such as gravitational lensing. Hence, even someone untrained in physics can be convinced of General Relativity …

Once again, this is delusion. Eliezer wrote an entire sequence about this.

Basically your entire set of claims and comments is mostly “mysterious answers to mysterious questions”.

Comment by saidachmiz on Excerpts from a larger discussion about simulacra · 2019-04-10T22:05:38.203Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This feels like it needs some context or background. What’s a “good job”, a “bad job”, a “good title”, or a “bad title”? Could we get examples of these things?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-10T00:43:16.168Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

See this post (including the comments) for info about “epistemic status”.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-08T03:18:30.370Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Where did you get this idea, then (that “emotional resistance” is literally electrical resistance)?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-08T03:16:59.660Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There aren’t good answers for any of those questions.

I’m afraid I don’t quite understand this answer. I’m asking what you mean when you say the things you said in the post—what specific things you’re referring to. It’s not clear what it would mean for there to be “no good answers” to such a question; surely you know what you meant when you wrote this post?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-08T03:06:24.045Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have any citations for the claims about “miswiring” or “random wiring” of the central nervous system?

Although, that may be premature; I’m actually curious what, precisely, you mean when you talk about “miswiring” or “rewiring”. Do you mean that the physical pattern of connections between neurons changes as a result of Buddhist practice? If so—which neurons, in which part(s) of the brain, and how does it change (and how is this change detectable—with fMRIs, perhaps?)?

Likewise, you mention “efficiency” of wiring. What is the measure of efficiency being used here, and how is it measured?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-08T02:50:37.554Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Funny aside, emotional ‘resistance’ might be well named, it might be literal electrical resistance in the CNSs wiring as a result of this spaghetti logic.

This sounds interesting—do you have any references for this?

Comment by saidachmiz on March 2019 newsletter · 2019-04-02T19:49:30.166Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

possibility is for the “body” of a sidenote to be low-opacity or hidden until you mouse over it (while leaving the title section of the sidenote visible for easy find)

That would rather defeat the point of the sidenotes, which is to allow you to glance over and read it without moving anything but your eyes.

There is, fundamentally, a trade-off, between three factors:

  1. Using lots of sidenotes/footnotes/etc. in general;

  2. Having them be easily parsable at a glance (instead of requiring active interaction);

  3. Having them not be distracting.

The current implementation is one particular point along those trade-offs; you could argue that some other point would be superior, but it’s at least not obvious that any such superior point exists.

I like the fact that when I mouseover a sidenote a thing pops up on the main text that lets me see what the sidenote is referring to… but think it could actually be more visible (I still have to hunt for it).

As you’ll likely be unsurprised to hear, we’ve actully had complaints that the citation highlighting is too obtrusive, and interferes with reading the text around it while you’re hovering over a sidenote… conflicting preferences and competing access needs strike again!

Comment by saidachmiz on What LessWrong/Rationality/EA chat-servers exist that newcomers can join? · 2019-04-01T00:54:56.239Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That said, the Discord section of the diaspora map has gotten pretty out-of-date; a lot of the chats listed have either died, gone dormant or been subsumed by others (or, indeed, have increased in stature greatly through the process of subsuming). I would update it, but I don’t appear to be able to edit the page.

Click the “View or edit this table on Google Docs” link above any of the tables!

Comment by saidachmiz on Review of Q&A [LW2.0 internal document] · 2019-03-31T21:32:41.788Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

FYI we just added footnotes to the markdown editor

Is this documented anywhere? What is the syntax, etc.?

Comment by saidachmiz on What LessWrong/Rationality/EA chat-servers exist that newcomers can join? · 2019-03-31T20:36:07.036Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Diaspora Map is indeed useful, but it is not mine; namespace maintains the map (and that is his wiki that it’s hosted on).

Comment by saidachmiz on Conjunction Controversy (Or, How They Nail It Down) · 2019-03-23T18:54:12.271Z · score: 16 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Link to Kahneman and Frederick (2002) is broken at this time. Here is a currently working link:

Comment by saidachmiz on Conjunction Controversy (Or, How They Nail It Down) · 2019-03-23T18:50:52.998Z · score: 18 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Link to Tversky and Kahneman (1983) is broken at this time. Here are two currently working links:

Comment by saidachmiz on What Vibing Feels Like · 2019-03-12T03:44:55.599Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are drugs involved in “vibing”? (If so, what sort of drugs?)

Comment by saidachmiz on New York Restaurants I Love: Breakfast · 2019-02-15T07:35:12.218Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent post!

Some comments/additions:

For oatmeal, there isn’t a particularly great brand

There totally is! It’s called “Bob’s Red Mill”, and they have both rolled oats (my favorite) and steel-cut. I highly recommend their stuff.

French toast is my favorite thing to make

I also like French toast quite a bit. Challah is a great suggestion; here’s another one: brioche! Get a soft, buttery brioche, slice it thick, and you’ll get fantastic French toast out of it.

Also, try adding just a bit of nutmeg to the mix (but don’t overdo it).

The key is to find the right [pancake] mix

With a bit of advance planning, you can get the best of both worlds—the deliciousness of homemade from-scratch pancakes, and the convenience of a ready-made mix. The trick is to make your own pancake mix! Here’s a simple recipe—but of course you will want to substitute real butter for the vegetable shortening (yuck!).

And here’s one of my own favorite NYC breakfast-food places (I would definitely be very sad if it closed down):

Crepe Factory

It’s on 3rd Ave. and 73rd St. in Bay Ridge (that’s in Brooklyn! not uptown Manhattan).

Let me tell you, ladies & gents, I have eaten (and made!) a lot of crepes in my life. The ones they serve at the Crepe Factory (which, despite the name, is actually a cozy little hole-in-the-wall place that would struggle to fit a dozen people at once) are the best.

Get the ice cream crepe (strawberries, bananas, Nutella, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream):

Or, if you want something savory instead of sweet, get the Chicken Cordon Bleu crepe (you actually get two of these—good for sharing!).

Comment by saidachmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery · 2019-02-11T20:33:08.853Z · score: 26 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I’ve now used Slice (their website, not the mobile app) to order lunch from a local pizza joint. In case anyone’s curious, here are notes on the experience:

  1. I found the website to be fairly well-designed, as these things go, and easy to use. I encountered no technical problems, and the user experience was, overall, at least up to par with the popular online delivery services, if not better. (The ability to “order as a guest”—without making an account—was particularly welcome. I was also offered an easy way to make an account, without having to re-fill-in my info; I declined, this time.)

  2. The selection of pizzerias available in my neighborhood was impressive; all of my favorites were there.

  3. Prices were (at a cursory skim) identical to those available via GrubHub. My pizzeria of choice had a 10% discount going (I have no idea if this is temporary, or what), which brought the price down. (I have never seen such a discount on GrubHub.)

  4. There were strange differences in availability of dishes. (Example: on GrubHub, I could get penne vodka, which was absent from Slice; but Slice let me order the restaurant’s pasta special with chicken, whereas on GrubHub the chicken option was not available.)

  5. My food was delivered with this pizzeria’s usual alacrity, and it was as delicious as always. From the moment I placed the order, no part of the experience further distinguished GrubHub from Slice.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hamming Question · 2019-02-11T20:23:36.534Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

[for clarity, we were both quoting other sources]

Indeed, my apologies—I read hastily, and didn’t spot the quoting without the quotation styling. I’ve corrected the wording in the grandparent.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Hamming Question · 2019-02-11T20:21:13.596Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Moreover, the rationality community will actually need the original Hamming Question from time to time, referring specifically to scientific fields that you have extensive training. (Or, at least, if we didn’t need the Actual Science Hamming Question that’d be quite a bad sign).

This seems plausible. Has this happened so far?

Comment by saidachmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery · 2019-02-11T18:06:31.684Z · score: 35 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reading this article (which, to be clear, absolutely does support the claims I asked for a citation of [but see end of comment]—my comments below are about a different aspect of the issue), I was slightly taken aback by this bit:

These delivery companies charge restaurants exorbitant commissions off of every customer order, when the only real the value they bring is helping new customers find your restaurant for the first time. When a customer orders again and again, it’s because your staff was friendly, the food was delicious and they had a great experience. Why should you pay Grubhub a 30% commission every time a customer orders?

This does not even begin to match my own experience.

  1. When I use GrubHub, I order almost exclusively from places I have physically been to.

  2. By far the greatest value I get out of using GrubHub is convenience—and that’s huge. At least half of all the times when I’ve used the service, if I instead had to telephone the restaurant, I just… wouldn’t. Nine times out of ten, I would, quite literally, rather go hungry than place a phone order. (Of course, in reality, I’d simply eat leftovers, or cook something quickly, or go out for a bagel, etc. It would be an inferior meal, but I’d gladly pay that price, in order to avoid having to make an order over the phone.)

  3. If I order again from the same restaurant, using GrubHub, it has exactly nothing to do with the staff being friendly. I don’t interact with their staff in that situation—that’s the point! The only thing I’m interested in is (a) food quality, (b) delivery speed, and (c) price.

Then there was this rather appalling bit:

Furthermore, third-party marketplaces like Grubhub and Postmates don’t give restaurants access to their own customers’ email addresses, which makes marketing directly to your own customers virtually impossible. There’s so much value in owning your own customer’s information, so that you can encourage them to order directly from you and not pay marketplace fees time and time again for the same customer.

This is an excellent reason to use a service like GrubHub. If a restaurant wants my email address so that they can market directly to me, they can go to hell. I would avoid patronizing a restaurant like that, on general principle.

… then again, maybe all of this is a moot point. After all, the linked article is, in fact, an advertisement in disguise—an advertisement for ChowNow, which seems to be a company that’s selling a competing product to GrubHub, etc. Can we trust that what they tell us about how online delivery services work, their pros and cons, etc.? We absolutely cannot! Even the true facts they tell us will be framed so as to make their offering look good. The author of this article started with their bottom line.

Does anyone have any citations that come from a neutral source?

Comment by saidachmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery · 2019-02-11T17:53:46.239Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW


History of LessWrong: Some Data Graphics

2018-11-16T07:07:15.501Z · score: 71 (23 votes)

New GreaterWrong feature: image zoom + image slideshows

2018-11-04T07:34:44.907Z · score: 39 (9 votes)

New GreaterWrong feature: anti-kibitzer (hides post/comment author names and karma values)

2018-10-19T21:03:22.649Z · score: 47 (14 votes)

Separate comments feeds for different post listings views?

2018-10-02T16:07:22.942Z · score: 14 (6 votes)

GreaterWrong—new theme and many enhancements

2018-10-01T07:22:01.788Z · score: 38 (9 votes)

Archiving link posts?

2018-09-08T05:45:53.349Z · score: 56 (19 votes)

Shared interests vs. collective interests

2018-05-28T22:06:50.911Z · score: 21 (11 votes)

GreaterWrong—even more new features & enhancements

2018-05-28T05:08:31.236Z · score: 64 (14 votes)

Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Incentives and rewards

2018-05-07T06:44:47.775Z · score: 33 (12 votes)

Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Goodhart’s law

2018-05-03T16:33:50.002Z · score: 81 (21 votes)

GreaterWrong—more new features & enhancements

2018-04-07T20:41:14.357Z · score: 23 (6 votes)

GreaterWrong—several new features & enhancements

2018-03-27T02:36:59.741Z · score: 44 (10 votes)

Key lime pie and the methods of rationality

2018-03-22T06:25:35.193Z · score: 59 (16 votes)

A new, better way to read the Sequences

2017-06-04T05:10:09.886Z · score: 19 (17 votes)

Cargo Cult Language

2012-02-05T21:32:56.631Z · score: 1 (32 votes)