The Real Rules Have No Exceptions 2019-07-23T03:38:45.992Z
What is this new (?) Less Wrong feature? (“hidden related question”) 2019-05-15T23:51:16.319Z
History of LessWrong: Some Data Graphics 2018-11-16T07:07:15.501Z
New GreaterWrong feature: image zoom + image slideshows 2018-11-04T07:34:44.907Z
New GreaterWrong feature: anti-kibitzer (hides post/comment author names and karma values) 2018-10-19T21:03:22.649Z
Separate comments feeds for different post listings views? 2018-10-02T16:07:22.942Z
GreaterWrong—new theme and many enhancements 2018-10-01T07:22:01.788Z
Archiving link posts? 2018-09-08T05:45:53.349Z
Shared interests vs. collective interests 2018-05-28T22:06:50.911Z
GreaterWrong—even more new features & enhancements 2018-05-28T05:08:31.236Z
Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Incentives and rewards 2018-05-07T06:44:47.775Z
Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Goodhart’s law 2018-05-03T16:33:50.002Z
GreaterWrong—more new features & enhancements 2018-04-07T20:41:14.357Z
GreaterWrong—several new features & enhancements 2018-03-27T02:36:59.741Z
Key lime pie and the methods of rationality 2018-03-22T06:25:35.193Z
A new, better way to read the Sequences 2017-06-04T05:10:09.886Z
Cargo Cult Language 2012-02-05T21:32:56.631Z


Comment by saidachmiz on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2021-01-07T11:02:19.747Z · LW · GW

Quite reasonable. In that case, yes, I invite readers who enjoyed (and believe that they did properly understand) this post to say what they believe the answer to this question is.

If there aren’t any responses in, let us say, two weeks, then I will post my own explanation.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2021-01-07T03:55:09.448Z · LW · GW

It’s hard to give examples, because you don’t actually explain the specific function of not stating the “real rule” in any particular case.

By no means is it hard to give examples. Indeed, I did give several examples in an earlier comment.

As for reasons to keep the real rule unstated, they seem clear enough to me. I did not state them because I considered them too obvious to belabor… of course, it’s possible that I was wrong about this!

I can make my views of this explicit, if you like, but I don’t think I will be adding much to the understanding of signaling already common in this forum. In fact, I wonder if anyone else (perhaps one of the folks who liked or benefited from this post) would like to try their hand at explaining this? It would give me useful info about whether readers of this post understood it as I intended it to be understood (and would help to clarify the post for anyone confused, of course).

Comment by saidachmiz on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2021-01-07T02:15:45.345Z · LW · GW

My point of disagreement is the conclusion—that exceptions are primarily a form of self-signaling, a way to avoid being honest about the real rule.

I did not say “self-signaling”.

Note well that the idea of “the real rules have no exceptions” applies to rules that govern social groups and organizations and subcultures and societies just as much (if not more!) as it applies to rules made by a person to govern their own actions.

In that light, the signaling is not to oneself, but to others; and it is of great importance (as the rule-as-stated, clean and exception-free as it is, creates legitimacy, and the appearance of explicit structure and order). And for this reason also, the insight described in the OP is, in such contexts, subversive to the group and to those in power within it, because it is corrosive to the beliefs and behaviors that maintain the group’s cohesion and stability.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Sense-Making Web · 2021-01-05T16:34:14.576Z · LW · GW

I second this. I have no idea who this post is talking about, and find that I am very confused about this whole “Sensemaking scene” thing.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-05T14:53:44.936Z · LW · GW

A tangential comment—you say:

Maybe it is because of my scientific training and having looked at the data from the perspective of a scientist.

Indeed, this is one of the answers to the fundamental question of epistemic rationality, i.e. “what do you think you know, and how do you think you know it?”. Oftentimes the answer to the latter clause is “because someone told me”, but that just pushes back the problem: whom can you trust to provide you with truth? Of course we have to get some (indeed, most!) of our information about the world from others, but it’s a thorny problem, to be sure… but as you imply, one way to sidestep it is “nullius in verba”—to personally gain the relevant expertise, and to apply it to the problem at hand.

But we cannot do this for every problem! There are only so many hours in the day (not to speak of more fundamental difficulties, like the possibility that we might find some given problem to be beyond our capacity for understanding, try as we might to unravel it). And it obviously does no good for you (or anyone else) to say “fear not, I have investigated the problem on your behalf, and here is the answer”, because in that case we’re right back to “whom to trust”…

All of this is to say that if you investigate some question (e.g., climate change), and find an answer to your own satisfaction, then you have solved the epistemic problem—for yourself only. Absolutely no one else is helped by this unless you can convince them that your judgment is reliably correct (or, of course, induce them to undertake the same journey of discovery as you did). This is surely frustrating (I know from personal experience), and indeed you may decide not to bother trying to convince others (and few would blame you for it)… but the fact remains that there’s no royal road to truth, and in particular “just take the word of someone who has figured it out” isn’t it.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-05T14:34:15.572Z · LW · GW

Those public health official examples seem unrelated to tip #59 (“Those who generate anxiety in you and promise that they have the solution are grifters.”).

To the contrary, I think they are directly related, for the same reason that my anti-example of pro-“war on terrorism” public figures is related.

Grifters aren’t always out for your money.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-05T14:30:30.789Z · LW · GW

Just for the record, climate change is not really controversial or doubtful in any meaningful, scientific way. I am sincerely puzzled by you viewing it as such.

Just for the record, I most certainly did not say that I view climate change as “controversial or doubtful” in any “meaningful, scientific way”. (Indeed I went out of my way to note that I am not expressing any opinion on the topic!)

However, as I said, many people hold the view that you are puzzled by—people who are, I repeat, not obviously irrational.

In that sense, it’s clear that the matter is controversial, in the most straightforward and ordinary sense of the word!

I make no claims to scientific expertise, either on my own behalf or on behalf of the aforementioned (and unspecified) others. But you must recognize, I think, that there is such a thing as public controversy; and also, that experience shows us that it’s foolish to surrender the burden of judgment to some group of credentialed experts, merely on the strength of their being labeled, formally or by convention, as “scientists” of one sort or another. (The replication crisis alone is proof enough of that; and the history of science is rife with more examples.)

As to the matter of COVID, others have addressed this in sibling threads, so I will comment no more on it here.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-05T08:38:25.250Z · LW · GW

I think that the burden of proof is rather on you to prove that all statements that are anxiety-inducing and have solutions, are false. Or that all people who make such statements are grifters (have ulterior motives that do not include your wellbeing).

But I never claimed this, so why would I need to prove it…?

My problem was with your examples (and, more speculatively, with what your choice of examples—and their problematic nature—tells us about the larger point). I am not the OP, however, and will not attempt to defend statements I never made!

The other examples you have now given are both better and worse than your original two. Better, because less controversial… but worse, because less representative (most of them lack the quality of their claimants attempting to induce anxiety in the supposed beneficiaries). (Take the “Big Pharma” example, which is particularly interesting. The pharmaceutical substances which are most unquestionably beneficial also tend to be the least profitable, and tend to be least associated with anxiety-inducing advertising and messaging. The correlation is imperfect, yet quite evident. Is this not another example that proves the rule? …or would not, at least, many people say so, who are, again, not obviously irrational?)

Perhaps one general point to extract from this is that it’s misleading to equivocate between “someone tells you the truth” and “someone generates anxiety in you”. Truth may be anxiety-inducing, yet these two activities aren’t the same.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-05T07:23:56.874Z · LW · GW

It seems to me that you could hardly have picked more controversial examples!

I have no opinion to express at this time on either topic, but it cannot be denied that in the case of both “public health officials during COVID” and “climate scientists”, there are many (not obviously irrational) people who would respond to your claim with “one man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens”. In other words, there are quite a few people who would say that these two examples are the exceptions that (in the classic sense of the phrase) prove the rule: seeming to be exceptions, they test the rule, and find it valid—by turning out not to be exceptions, after all.

What would you say to such an interlocutor? (“That’s obviously wrong” will clearly not suffice—the matter’s such that ‘obvious’ to you, and ‘obvious’ to me, may differ!)

As you formulate your response, consider also this: there is another category of allegedly “honest, sincere ‘friendlies’” you might have added to your short list of examples: the politicians, pundits, and public intellectuals who, in the course of this new century’s first decade, advocated for Western powers (the U.S. its allies, that’s to say) to engage in military action in the Middle East, thereby to eliminate a source of dire peril to the citizens of their respective nations. They, too, had as their modus operandi the arousal of anxiety in their audiences and constituencies; they, too, offered up all sorts of ‘truths’ (WMDs! The Axis of Evil! The War on… and so forth); they, too, had “real solutions” to the “real problems” we (or so we were told!) then faced.

Yet it now seems to most of us, in retrospect, that they were grifters one and all, extracting our attention, votes, and dollars.

By no means does this prove that your examples are false. But if I wish to have a principled way to distinguish the true examples from the false ones—is there one? Can you provide it? (It would help, I note, to have case studies upon which we may bring to bear the already-rendered judgment of history—a test your examples fail, unfortunately.)

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-03T06:59:21.777Z · LW · GW

I once got into a minor car accident (no one was hurt, thankfully) in which the other driver was clearly at fault. I spoke to the police and a report was filed.

I received no compensation from the other driver’s insurance company (nor did he receive any compensation from mine). However, my insurance company subsequently raised my premium (and, no doubt, the other driver’s insurance company raised his premium as well). Filing the report was worse than useless.

I do not know anyone who has their bicycle insured against theft, or their phone insured against theft. I have never heard of anyone I know who’s had their cars broken into (nor do I know anyone who has their car insured against break-ins).

As far as I can tell, none of these alleged reasons to talk to cops applies to me or to anyone I know, despite me and a number of my friends owning cars, bikes, phones, etc.

Comment by saidachmiz on 100 Tips for a Better Life · 2021-01-03T06:53:54.756Z · LW · GW

Surely you don’t imagine that the police recover stolen property if it’s reported? I’ve never had that happen and I don’t know anyone who’s ever had that happen. As far as I can tell, it basically (to a first approximation, anyway) just doesn’t happen.

“Don’t talk to cops” is excellent advice.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-12-30T05:54:45.774Z · LW · GW

Space heaters tend to be rather worse at heating a space than air conditioners are at cooling it. (They can also be fire hazards, though that’s not strictly relevant to effectiveness per se.) But yes, a space heater is an option.

Note that aside from the (in)feasibility and (massive!) expense of installing a fireplace, there is also the fact that as a renter, you simply wouldn’t have permission from your landlord to make such modifications to your apartment.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T18:43:18.313Z · LW · GW

This reply seems like either obstinacy and rudeness put together, or deliberate trolling. So I will bow out of this conversation, and trust that anyone reading this will see what is obvious.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-12-29T10:31:47.901Z · LW · GW

This is all completely irrelevant to the question of whether I can have an air conditioner and/or a fireplace in my residence. You do see that, right?

You were responding to a comment about practical considerations relevant to living in a certain city. The question at hand is: what is, in practical terms, easier to deal with: hot summers, or cold winters? Everything you’ve written in your latest comment has zero bearing on this question. The comment is plainly a non sequitur. And your first comment was simply wrong, as, again, the matter at hand concerns the practical considerations, which are as bendini summarized them (and as I elaborated on).

What I would like to understand, and am hoping you might explain, is whether you disagree with my assessment of the practical considerations (and if so, on what basis), or, if you do not disagree, why you believe that your first comment makes sense as a reply to bendini’s.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-12-28T23:39:45.159Z · LW · GW

These are backwards. Cold winters are a lot easier to work around than sticky summers. (A fireplace is simpler than an air conditioner.)

Er, what? This seems completely backwards to me. Putting in an air conditioner is as simple as buying a unit online, installing it into a window, and plugging it into a wall outlet. Putting in a fireplace (!!) is… actually not possible at all, for most people (e.g., anyone living in an apartment).

What does it even mean to say that a fireplace is ‘simpler’…? I can’t map that to anything even remotely relevant to the question of whether I can have a fireplace in my apartment or not. (And the answer is definitely ‘not’.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Where to Draw the Boundaries? · 2020-12-07T01:23:36.033Z · LW · GW

My earlier comment explains why I think this post is one of last year’s best. (My opinion of its quality remains unchanged, after ~1.5 years.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Where to Draw the Boundaries? · 2020-12-06T13:28:31.292Z · LW · GW

Oh yeah, totally. I guess that’s going on now, then? I will try and figure out how one nominates things…

Comment by saidachmiz on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2020-12-01T07:58:49.807Z · LW · GW

Nope, that’s not it

Comment by saidachmiz on What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks? · 2020-12-01T00:11:57.858Z · LW · GW

Image link seems to be broken. Try this one:

Image alt-text

Comment by saidachmiz on Embedded Interactive Predictions on LessWrong · 2020-11-23T20:04:02.660Z · LW · GW

You must understand—we have to ration our usage of parentheses, lest our strategic reserve again fails us in time of need…

Comment by saidachmiz on Embedded Interactive Predictions on LessWrong · 2020-11-22T10:48:07.694Z · LW · GW

GreaterWrong will now display Metaculus embeds created via the LessWrong editor.

(You can’t create Metaculus embeds via GreaterWrong… yet.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Embedded Interactive Predictions on LessWrong · 2020-11-21T06:12:29.078Z · LW · GW

Cool feature!

Is there any info on implementing Elicit embeds on other sites? (Like, say, GreaterWrong? :) I looked on and didn’t find anything.

EDIT: Same question re: Metaculus embeds…

Comment by saidachmiz on Naming the Nameless · 2020-11-11T04:36:28.840Z · LW · GW

Surely there’s more than one way to design a website in a ‘minimalist’ way?

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-10-23T20:57:40.700Z · LW · GW

Note about NYC being too expensive:

When people talk about the city being expensive, what they are talking about, primarily, is rent prices. This is the massively dominant factor in NYC’s higher cost of living. And the caveat there is that while rent prices are very, very high in Manhattan, and quite high in the parts of Brooklyn and Queens that are <​= 15 minutes by public transit from Manhattan, as you get further from that, the rents drop. Not to Midwest levels (for example)—no, never quite that far; but they do drop.

And many things are actually cheaper in NYC than elsewhere. I own a car and benefit from that fact greatly, but it can’t be denied that car ownership is not at all mandatory in NYC—that’s money in your pocket. Groceries—fresh fruits and vegetables in every variety, and everything else from the basics to ethnic cuisine ingredients—are cheaper than anywhere else I’ve been to, in the U.S. The ubiquitous “99 cent stores” are huge money-savers. Etc.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-10-23T20:48:56.388Z · LW · GW

It leads directly to their being fewer PDA and otherwise overt sexuality. I prefer that, hence the prudishness is a benefit.

Comment by saidachmiz on Industrial literacy · 2020-10-15T10:33:05.087Z · LW · GW

I read this comment with interest, and with the intent of responding to your points—it seemed to me that there was much confusion to be resolved here, to the benefit of all. Then I got to your last line.

It is severely rude to post a detailed fisking of an interlocutor’s post/comment, and to then walk away. If you wish to bow out of the discussion, that is your right, but it is both self-indulgent and disrespectful to first get in a last word (much less a last several hundred words).

Strongly downvoted.

Comment by saidachmiz on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-10-15T06:57:30.399Z · LW · GW


The website leaves me confused about what this … app? web app? … has that might generate the effect you describe. Could you say a bit more about what aspects of Superhuman were responsible for the improvements you mentioned?

Comment by saidachmiz on Industrial literacy · 2020-10-15T06:33:18.212Z · LW · GW

Whether the future “matters more than today” is not a question of impersonal fact. Things, as you no doubt know, do not ‘matter’ intransitively; they matter to someone. So the question is, does “the future” (however construed) matter to me more than “today” (likewise, however construed) does? Does “the future” matter to my hypothetical friend Alice more than today does, or to her neighbor Bob? Etc.

And any of these people are fully within their right to answer in the negative.

“There are 4 * 10^20 stars out there. You’re in a prime position to make sure they’re used for something valuable to you- as in, you’re currently experiencing the top 10^-30% most influential hours of human experience because of your early position in human history, etc. Are you going to change your plans and leverage your unique position?”

Note that you’re making a non-trivial claim here. In past discussions, on Less Wrong and in adjacent spaces, it has been pointed out that our ability to predict future consequences of our actions drops off rapidly as our time horizon recedes into the distance. It is not obvious to me that I am in any particularly favorable position to affect the course of the distant future in any but the most general ways (such as contributing to, or helping to avert, human extinction—and even there, many actions I might feasibly take could plausibly affect the likelihood of my desired outcome in either the one direction or the other).

“No, I think I’ll spend most of my effort doing the things I was already going to do.”

Really- Is that your final answer? What position would you need to be in to decide that planning for the long term future is worth most of your effort?

I would need to (a) have different values than those I currently have, and (b) gain (implausibly, given my current understanding of the world) the ability to predict the future consequences of my actions with an accuracy vastly greater than that which is currently possible (for me or for anyone else).

“Seeing as how a couple’s baby does not yet exist, it makes very little sense to say that saving money for their clothes and crib is something that they would be doing ‘for’ them.” No, wait, that’s ridiculous- It does make sense to say that you’re doing things “for” people who don’t exist.

Sorry, no. There is a categorical difference between bringing a person into existence and affecting a person’s future life, contingent on them being brought into existence. It of course makes sense to speak of doing the latter sort of thing “for” the person-to-be, but such isn’t the case for the former sort of thing.

There’s some more complicated discussion to be had on the specific merits of making sure that people exist, but I’m not (currently) interested in having that discussion. My point isn’t really related to that …

To the contrary: your point hinges on this. You may of course discuss or not discuss what you like, but by avoiding this topic, you avoid one of the critical considerations in your whole edifice of reasoning. Your conclusion is unsupportable without committing to a position on this question.

Also, in the context of artificial intelligence research, it’s an open question as to what the border of “Future Humanity” is.

Quite so—but surely this undermines your thesis, rather than supporting it?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T23:52:54.956Z · LW · GW

The cost is probably less than the cost of time spent in the meeting, so the additional signal is weak. If you like cooking, the cost might actually be negative.

I’m sorry, but this is a ridiculous claim.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T18:56:54.516Z · LW · GW

Just so.

Comment by saidachmiz on Industrial literacy · 2020-10-14T16:43:04.013Z · LW · GW

Our job is to make sure that our light cone ends up being used for what we find valuable. That’s our only job.

Why, exactly, is this our only job (or, indeed, our job at all)? Surely it’s possible to value present-day things, people, etc.?

The only important thing and the best thing we can do for [future humanity] is to ensure that they will ever exist at all!

Seeing as how future humanity (with capital letters or otherwise) does not, in fact, currently exist, it makes very little sense to say that ensuring their existence is something that we would be doing “for” them.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T16:31:55.171Z · LW · GW

You can hardly simultaneously describe the relevant dynamic as “selling food for status” and admit that many people/groups enjoy sharing food at social gatherings; these are mutually inconsistent characterizations.

ETA: It goes almost without saying that “sell some food for status” is an unnecessarily tendentious description, all by itself…

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T15:54:52.483Z · LW · GW

What norm do you think I was (or appeared to be) promoting?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T15:03:40.238Z · LW · GW

Third, as I said above, it’s a pretty low bar. If you’re rich enough (and don’t work at a hospital), avoiding personally getting infected is relatively straightforward, and while obviously it has some benefits, I don’t think it would be enough of an incentive to convince me to take on a whole new worldview.

My personal experience is consistent with this take, for what it’s worth. I think that “rationalists didn’t get COVID” is indeed mostly due to substantially higher average income (perhaps not even among ‘rationalists’ but specifically among Jacob’s friends/acquaintances).

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T13:53:26.807Z · LW · GW

Respectfully, I think you are missing my point in a quite comprehensive way.

Perhaps others might weigh in on whether what I have said is clear (and, of course, whether they agree, etc.) I will refrain from further attempts at explanation until then.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T12:44:58.973Z · LW · GW

I would’ve hoped that the use of ‘everyone’ in this context would be clearly enough slightly-hyperbolic to avoid this sort of misunderstanding…

This happened years ago, and I don’t have perfect recall of past events. Even at the time, I could not assert with confidence that literally every single person present at each of these events ate the cookies. (Indeed, a priori such a claim seems unlikely; surely at least one person was on a diet? Diabetic? Vegan? Lactose-intolerant? Not a fan of oatmeal / chocolate chip / whatever? A claim that literally everyone ate the cookies should be surprising for reasons entirely unrelated to any social norms!)

The cookies were eaten—that’s the point. Not long into each gathering, all the cookies (or other sweets; I think I may’ve brought brownies once) were gone. The majority of the other attendees seemed happy to eat them. These things, I can say with as great a confidence as I have in recollection of any other years-past event.

As for your main point…

I sympathize with being placed in the unpleasant situation of disapproving of a social norm that others are promulgating with good intentions. (Clearly, I disagree with you on the subject of this particular norm; what’s more, it seems to me that you are rather misinterpreting what the intended/desired norm is, in this case. I don’t know if you’d still disapprove of the actual norm I have in mind, properly understood… if so, our disagreement deepens, as I think that rejection of the norm in question, and those like it, is corrosive to any would-be community. But all of this is beside the point.)

But there are ways of handling such situations that contribute to social cohesion, and ways that detract from it.

In my experience, in most more or less casual social circles (whether they be centered around a workplace, group activity, or anything else), most people have little or no skill at cooking/baking. If one person does have such skill, and (for whatever occasion may warrant it—be that “it’s my birthday” or “it’s Friday”) brings homemade food or snacks, typically the other members of the group are somewhat surprised (it’s an unusual skill, after all), and express gratitude. If the food is skillfully made, there are comments noting this—praising the person who made and brought the food, and making note of their skill.

On other occasions, in such groups, other members of the group, who lack such cooking/baking skills, nevertheless see fit to bring food for sharing. This may be store-bought, prepared by a caterer, etc. The rest of the group expresses gratitude again, though not, of course, the other sentiments of praise and admiration.

Still others in such groups may rarely or never contribute food (homemade or otherwise) to group gatherings (but do typically, if they wish to be perceived as cooperative members, contribute in other informal ways).

This is a pattern I’ve seen play out many times, in many groups—academic, professional, hobby-oriented, generic social gatherings, etc. I have observed it on the East Coast, and on the West Coast, and in the Midwest; among “millennials” and “boomers”; among people and groups from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

In each case, the voluntary contribution of food to the group, for sharing by its members, with no direct compensation expected, is seen, correctly, as an act of deliberate cooperation. The contributor is rewarded with some social status, as well as the positive feelings that come from being directly thanked by a fellow group member. If the food was also made by the contributor (and is good)—i.e., if the contribution required skill and effort, i.e. is a costly signal of cooperation—a larger amount of status is bestowed (via expressions of admiration, etc.).

These responses cost the other group members little else but words. They need not create expectations or reciprocal obligations, please note! If I bring cookies, and everyone else says “oh, thanks for bringing cookies, Said!” and (assuming they are delicious) “ooh, these are great, Said, you made these? cool!”—this already discharges any obligations of reciprocity. Certainly there could be a norm that everyone contributes something (either every time, or in some sort of formal or informal rotation). But such a norm would be a separate and additional thing.

Now, suppose that you still strenuously object even to the implied suggestion that there might be any expectation of contributing food for sharing. Suppose you bristle at the notion that a group member may expect, and receive, any social status for such contributions. Nevertheless, unless you consider the contribution to be a hostile act, it is clearly counterproductive to punish it, yes? The signal you send, if you do so, is “this group neither appreciates nor rewards cooperation”. (Cooperation in general, note! If I bring cookies and get not a peep of acknowledgment or thanks, the message I get isn’t “we don’t do food sharing here”—it’s the aforesaid general rebuke. If you want to send the specific message and not the general one, you have to use actual words. But in such a case, you would have to ensure that the contributor is still rewarded for the impulse to cooperation…)

And, needless to say, taking advantage of the cooperative act, while neither rewarding it with even so much as acknowledgment, not to say thanks (and still less praise)… well, that is defection, pure and simple.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T12:30:44.117Z · LW · GW

What actually happened was exactly the same as what happened with the homemade cookies: people ate the food, without ever in any way acknowledging that I had brought it (thanking me wasn’t even on the radar); no one else ever brought anything.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T12:08:11.144Z · LW · GW

In a way, having good but bought food is easier to cooperate on.

I tried that, too, as it happens. Would you care to guess what the result was?

Comment by saidachmiz on The Treacherous Path to Rationality · 2020-10-14T01:59:28.503Z · LW · GW

And how good are the best of us at bringing cookies and tea and just putting things on the table before we start disagreeing?

This is one of the things that drove me away from casual in-person “rationalist community” gatherings. My habit when getting together with my friends is to bring some cookies (or something along these lines); my friends usually also contribute something. So the first several times I came to small gatherings of rationalist-type folks, I indeed brought (homemade!) cookies for everyone.

It turned out that (a) I was the only one who ever thought to bring any such thing (even after the first time), and (b) while everyone else was clearly happy to eat the cookies, not only did no one ever thank me for bringing them, but no one even commented on them or acknowledged in any way that I’d brought said cookies.

So, I stopped bringing cookies, and then stopping coming to such gatherings.

Comment by saidachmiz on Charisma is a Force Multiplier · 2020-10-13T16:04:28.399Z · LW · GW

[1] At one point I considered something similar to this—the view was something like “If you had some way to 100% reliably persuade someone of whatever you wanted, that would be mind control and hence unethical. However, the use of normal methods of persuasion aside from the facts is just a less reliable form of mind control, and therefore immoral.”

This excerpt from Stanislaw Lem’s “The Twenty-First Voyage” (part of the Star Diaries) is an exploration of more or less this concept.

Comment by saidachmiz on Why Boston? · 2020-10-13T14:56:33.107Z · LW · GW

[stuff about ‘prudishness’, ‘rudeness’]

These are actually very large benefits of the East Coast over the West Coast.

(Humidity and mosquitoes are definitely terrible, though.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Attacking enlightenment · 2020-10-12T15:11:15.903Z · LW · GW

Sorry, what? We agreed on a scheduled time, and I never received any communication from you…

Comment by saidachmiz on WordPress Destroys Editing Process, Seeking Alternatives · 2020-08-19T03:38:48.194Z · LW · GW

Yep, a fair point. It only happens with Naval Gazing (not my personal blog), for reasons I don’t think would apply to Zvi’s blog, but until the bug that causes that is fixed, it’s a risk.

Comment by saidachmiz on WordPress Destroys Editing Process, Seeking Alternatives · 2020-08-18T20:47:50.679Z · LW · GW

Zvi, I host a couple of blogs (such as my own blog and Naval Gazing) on my custom wiki platform. If you’re not able to find another alternative that suits you better, I’d be happy to host your blog as well.


  • I won’t ever add ‘features’ like “a new editor that doesn’t work”
  • Personal support / assistance
  • A massive array of features, from LaTeX to LessWrong comment thread transclusion to embedded graphs / charts to Git integration to … lots of stuff


  • No WYSIWIG editor
  • Less ‘polished’ than Wordpress in various ways
  • Definitely not a drop-in replacement and cannot seamlessly transfer over old blog contents
Comment by saidachmiz on Attacking enlightenment · 2020-08-16T16:36:16.306Z · LW · GW

The conversation did not take place, so there are no logs to produce.

Comment by saidachmiz on Jam is obsolete · 2020-08-02T22:25:59.073Z · LW · GW

Jam is tastier than frozen fruit. This, as far as I can see, ends the debate. (And if your jam is not tastier than frozen fruit, then you’re doing jam wrong.)

(… you are making the jam yourself, of course—aren’t you? Certainly there is little point in comparing to store-bought jam.)

Comment by saidachmiz on Algorithmic Intent: A Hansonian Generalized Anti-Zombie Principle · 2020-07-15T13:40:52.193Z · LW · GW

I don’t think that’s right. As I mention in another comment, Dennett’s notion of the intentional stance is relevant here. More specifically, it provides us with a way to distinguish between cases that Zack intended to include in his concept of “algorithmic intent”, and such cases as the “catch more vitamin D” that you mention. To wit:

The positing of “algorithmic intent” is appropriate in precisely those cases where taking the intentional stance is appropriate (i.e., where—for humans—non-trivial gains in compression of description of a given agent’s behavior may be made by treating the agent’s behavior as intentional [i.e., directed toward some posited goal]), regardless of whether the agent’s conscious mind (if any!) is involved in any relevant decision loops.

Conversely, the positing of “algorithmic intent” is not appropriate in those cases where the design stance or the physical stance suffice (i.e., where no meaningful gains in compression of description of a given agent’s behavior may be made by treating the agent’s behavior as intentional [i.e., directed toward some posited goal]).

Clearly, the “catch more vitamin D” case falls into the latter category, and therefore the term “algorithmic intent” could not apply to it.

Comment by saidachmiz on Algorithmic Intent: A Hansonian Generalized Anti-Zombie Principle · 2020-07-15T13:32:16.094Z · LW · GW

This discussion would be incomplete without a mention of Daniel Dennett’s notion of the intentional stance.

Comment by saidachmiz on The Ghost of Joseph Weber · 2020-07-13T23:00:46.980Z · LW · GW

If you would like to hear this post read aloud, try this video.

Meta: the video didn’t make it through the cross-posting, it seems. (I am not sure if Less Wrong supports video embedding; I think it may not. You might want to just link the video.)

Comment by saidachmiz on The New Frontpage Design & Opening Tag Creation! · 2020-07-09T18:15:06.122Z · LW · GW

For instance, has a slightly off-white background for just this reason.