saidachmiz feed - LessWrong 2.0 Reader saidachmiz’s posts and comments on the Effective Altruism Forum en-us Comment by SaidAchmiz on Where to Draw the Boundaries? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/esRZaPXSHgWzyB2NL/where-to-draw-the-boundaries#T49M7fyizPhrLZMnL <p>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.)</p> <p>… 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.</p> saidachmiz T49M7fyizPhrLZMnL 2019-04-21T22:39:38.917Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Degrees of Freedom https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Nd6XGxCiYrm2qJdh6/degrees-of-freedom#zCoChqGBKiwwmeAfh <blockquote> <p>Attraction, humor, joy and love are very often irrational and arbitrary.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a category error. These things are not “irrational”; they’re things we <em>value</em>, 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).</p> <p>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]</p> <p>[1] Actually, even Spock never said anything like this, but the stereotype persists nonetheless…</p> <p><em>Edit:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>then our process of determining what is “optimal” is not, and perhaps should not be simply derived from what is most rational</p> </blockquote> <p>Given that instrumental rationality <em>is defined as</em> the business of determining what actions are optimal (in expectation), given your goals, this quoted part is manifestly nonsensical.</p> saidachmiz zCoChqGBKiwwmeAfh 2019-04-21T08:24:25.262Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Username change and event page editing https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/wyBWcDagyCGkZ3J3B/username-change-and-event-page-editing#NescYJGX8s6oKYHSv <p>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).</p> <p>Have you reported this bug to the Less Wrong development team?</p> saidachmiz NescYJGX8s6oKYHSv 2019-04-19T21:08:39.391Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Username change and event page editing https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/wyBWcDagyCGkZ3J3B/username-change-and-event-page-editing#Syo7KeKju8wFrx4Wx <p>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 (!!) …</p> <p>… it seems <em>possible</em>, at least, that some of those resources are capable of being applied to their vast backlog of bugs. But who knows?</p> saidachmiz Syo7KeKju8wFrx4Wx 2019-04-19T19:44:47.167Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Username change and event page editing https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/wyBWcDagyCGkZ3J3B/username-change-and-event-page-editing#u7L4c4jyGzPsrnbc7 <p>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 <a href="https://www.windowscentral.com/faq-edge-chromium">Microsoft Edge being migrated to Google’s Blink rendering engine</a>, Firefox will be one of the last islands of resistance to the Apple/Google—i.e., WebKit/Blink—hegemony). I <em>want</em> to support Firefox! I want Firefox to be <em>good</em> (as it once was), and I want people to use it!</p> <p>But boy, Mozilla sure doesn’t make it easy…</p> saidachmiz u7L4c4jyGzPsrnbc7 2019-04-19T19:21:50.082Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Username change and event page editing https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/wyBWcDagyCGkZ3J3B/username-change-and-event-page-editing#YGx9Y4jimHjHieP4C <blockquote> <p>Do frontend developers… <em>not</em> check whether their website works in Firefox?</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh, we check. Of course we check.</p> <p>And then we find that it <em>doesn’t</em> 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 <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=4522">20 years</a> (!!!) and is still unsolved. (Or <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=262028">15 years</a>. Or <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=144333">17 years</a>. Or <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=605228">9 years</a>.)</p> <p>Or Firefox doesn’t support <a href="https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=390936">some feature that every other browser supports</a>. Or Firefox’s mobile simulator does not properly simulate a touch device. Or Firefox fires <a href="https://stackoverflow.com/questions/12314377/event-preventdefault-not-stopping-mousewheel-in-firefox">bizarre, superfluous events</a> on mouse wheel scrolls. Or Firefox <a href="https://stackoverflow.com/questions/43144995/mouse-right-click-on-firefox-triggers-click-event">can’t discriminate between the left and right mouse button</a>. Or Firefox has <em><a href="https://stackoverflow.com/questions/52903213/successor-of-moz-document-url-prefix">stopped supporting the ability to implement special CSS workarounds for Firefox</a></em>. <em>Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera</em>.</p> <p>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… <em>[checks notes]</em>…</p> <p>… <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers">5%</a> more users.</p> <p>Hm.</p> <blockquote> <p>Is Firefox so niche these days?</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes.</p> <p>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.)</p> <p>But the fact is that fully supporting Firefox takes up an <em>utterly disproportionate</em> 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?</p> saidachmiz YGx9Y4jimHjHieP4C 2019-04-19T18:18:35.848Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/zvXR7rRsibLkdASyv/episode-1-of-tsuyoku-naritai-the-becoming-stronger-podcast#247uqthQSRutaKe6r <p>This is perfect, thanks.</p> saidachmiz 247uqthQSRutaKe6r 2019-04-19T02:30:01.852Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/zvXR7rRsibLkdASyv/episode-1-of-tsuyoku-naritai-the-becoming-stronger-podcast#DqY92yvmmN22E4y4C <p>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.</p> <p>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!</p> saidachmiz DqY92yvmmN22E4y4C 2019-04-18T17:54:03.561Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#HkD2iDM2narRWnPvR <p>The latter is closer to what I meant, certainly.</p> <p>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:</p> <blockquote> <p>Articles that explore new ideas are harder to write productively than articles that don’t.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is true. However, as I wrote in <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#Ckr5wyuXhcSATxk7a">this comment</a>, 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 <em>any</em> capability to produce such writing—that <em>we</em> do these things <em>well</em>.</p> <blockquote> <p>Eliezer, uniquely on LessWrong, wrote productive articles exploring new ideas.</p> </blockquote> <p>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 <em>from the Sequences period</em> for exclusion—not <em>all</em> his writings!)</p> <p>That aside, I do not think this quoted bit is true either; Eliezer’s contributions were not <em>uniquely</em> 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 <em>he</em> considers to be good “exploratory research” from Less Wrong’s past would help to illuminate the substance of our disagreement.</p> <p>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 <em>disagree</em>? Something, clearly, but in what details?—that’s the question.</p> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>I do not think this is true either. As mentioned above, I think that “exploratory research” is something Less Wrong <em>can</em> do well. It is, in fact, one of the few forums that has demonstrated this capacity. That is why it’s important that we <em>preserve</em> and <em>nurture</em> that rare and precious quality; that is why it’s important that we do “exploratory research” <em>right</em>.</p> <p>And in a discussion of whether <em>we, today, are doing</em> something well, it makes no sense at all to reply that <em>our forum’s <strong>founder</strong>, over a decade ago, before the forum even existed, <strong>did</strong></em> that thing well!</p> <p>Thus my question to Romeo (and, I suppose, to anyone else who agrees with his view, but disagrees with mine) stands:</p> <p><strong>What are three of the best examples of good “exploratory research” articles from Less Wrong’s history?</strong> (The Sequences, and other posts from that period, excluded.)</p> saidachmiz HkD2iDM2narRWnPvR 2019-04-18T16:56:36.535Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Episode 1 of "Tsuyoku Naritai!" (the 'becoming stronger' podcast/YT series). https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/zvXR7rRsibLkdASyv/episode-1-of-tsuyoku-naritai-the-becoming-stronger-podcast#RemwofpXuBAQCZgsh <p>Is a transcript available?</p> saidachmiz RemwofpXuBAQCZgsh 2019-04-18T15:44:12.195Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#sMRn3JRwzur8poZf6 <p>None of that is even in the vicinity of what I meant.</p> <p>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 <em>non sequitur</em>.</p> <p>Are you sure you’re not just rounding off my comments to the nearest cached criticism?</p> <p>If you reread what I’ve written and still believe the provided summary is fair, I’ll attempt to re-explain, I guess…</p> saidachmiz sMRn3JRwzur8poZf6 2019-04-18T15:34:05.104Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#joWhnKx9eZeyn7iyu <p>Huh? What are you referring to…?</p> <p>Could you quote what thing I said in this thread, that you are summarizing as “we should discourage <strong>some but not other</strong> articles by non-Eliezers”?</p> saidachmiz joWhnKx9eZeyn7iyu 2019-04-18T15:19:10.169Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Criticizing Critics of Structural-Functionalism https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/2frnC3P3EahQF6zNL/criticizing-critics-of-structural-functionalism#tYpc67dJhWpbTGucK <p>What is “Structural-Functionalism”? Could we get some explanatory links, or something?</p> saidachmiz tYpc67dJhWpbTGucK 2019-04-18T04:06:50.129Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#RFmf7hL6oqtMay792 <blockquote> <p>What do you mean by this, if not that you’re trying to figure out whether other people share some personal specialness Eliezer has?</p> </blockquote> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>But it is clearly <em>not</em> the case that said qualities are simply present in anyone who gets it into their head to write a Less Wrong post.</p> <p>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.</p> <blockquote> <p>If you’re <em><strong>not</strong></em> 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?</p> </blockquote> <p>The past is not an <em>uncaused</em> golden age, but whatever its causes were, they cannot possibly include “the norms and rules of Less Wrong”, because <strong>Less Wrong did not exist</strong>. 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.</p> <p>As for Eliezer being a “legend of yore”… well, consider the following analogy, inspired by the very post you linked.</p> <p>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!”</p> <p>Would you find this reply persuasive?</p> saidachmiz RFmf7hL6oqtMay792 2019-04-18T02:15:40.109Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#FTwpfNPSd7T9wKtyM <p>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.</p> <p>Clearly, there’s been some great miscommunication here, but I am unsure of what could be the source of it…</p> saidachmiz FTwpfNPSd7T9wKtyM 2019-04-17T20:07:30.380Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Conditional revealed preference https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Bxw4iMS33Dc2iETpe/conditional-revealed-preference#bzEDir2sfpjWhpnAe <p>Meta note: text on your website is <em>really</em> hard to read (due to the thin font—300 weight—and the very light text color—#666).</p> <p>Do you mind cross-posting the full text of the post to LW?</p> saidachmiz bzEDir2sfpjWhpnAe 2019-04-17T19:11:09.412Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Liar Paradox Revisited https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/S3uaDoShCnYENCJod/liar-paradox-revisited#ZGFwTiKcx23tdwuJA <p>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.</p> saidachmiz ZGFwTiKcx23tdwuJA 2019-04-17T19:06:52.110Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Open Problems in Archipelago https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/AqbQxS9DEeRTbWSFf/open-problems-in-archipelago#oaapejwYJ3AS5qeWs <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well… there’s also the fact that the UI gives absolutely no indication of any this.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>I <em>think</em> 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.</p> <p>(By the way, I couldn’t even figure out how to delete one of my <em>own</em> comments. What am I missing…?)</p> saidachmiz oaapejwYJ3AS5qeWs 2019-04-17T03:26:43.160Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#MZhe5zQBfifWSnRFe <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>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 <em>public</em> 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.</p> <blockquote> <p>I wasn’t really trying to give an accurate description/definition of LDT, it’s an entailment.</p> </blockquote> <p>What do you mean by “it’s an entailment”? What entails what?</p> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>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?</p> <p>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.</p> saidachmiz MZhe5zQBfifWSnRFe 2019-04-15T21:53:49.486Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#JPbii3SuqxNhEdowJ <p>Firstly, because the Sequences were written almost entirely on <em>Overcoming Bias</em>, not on Less Wrong. That alone would suffice. (Less Wrong simply did not exist when Eliezer wrote most of the Sequences.)</p> <p>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 <em>else</em>—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 <em>today</em>. So asking whether the site’s founder and originally primary contributor wrote anything of value (especially <em>before the community was even founded</em>) is not relevant.</p> saidachmiz JPbii3SuqxNhEdowJ 2019-04-15T21:04:57.102Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#Ckr5wyuXhcSATxk7a <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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).</p> saidachmiz Ckr5wyuXhcSATxk7a 2019-04-15T19:48:54.255Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#ZXvaq9XuvJnmaiHcX <blockquote> <p>You both latched onto the least interesting part of the post. The part that is literally just Romeo throwing out some wild speculations.</p> </blockquote> <p>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.</p> <p>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 href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o_M6clvRiN735B_tJYF1UO5QJ0q88IU3w8A0RT9SoJ0/edit?usp=sharing">a copy of Romeo’s post on Google Docs</a>, where I’ve crossed out every “speculative” claim for which we’ve not been given evidence.</p> <p>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.)</p> <p>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.</p> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>Allow me to make a suggestion, then, for anyone who writes these sorts of posts in the future:</p> <p><em>First</em>, 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.</p> <p><em>Then</em>, having established a basis for what follows, make all the interesting connections to Buddhism, meditation, or what have you.</p> <p>This approach would kill two birds with one stone: it would prevent such distracting digressions as we’re now engaged in, <em>and</em> it would also strengthen your own understanding of the ideas that you are presenting.</p> <p>It seems to me that doing things in this way would benefit everyone involved.</p> saidachmiz ZXvaq9XuvJnmaiHcX 2019-04-15T17:05:25.793Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#GBav8xKo9iEvFTGTj <p>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.</p> <p>However, in this case, what you say also seems incoherent.</p> <p>In particular:</p> <blockquote> <p>LDT is the realisation that we should act as if our decisions will be reflected by every similarly rational agent that exists</p> </blockquote> <p>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:</p> <blockquote> <p>Logical decision theory asserts that the principle of rational choice is "Decide as though you are choosing the <em>logical output</em> of your <em>decision algorithm</em>."</p> </blockquote> <p>(From <a href="https://arbital.com/p/logical_dt/?l=5gc">“Introduction to Logical Decision Theory for Analytic Philosophers”</a> on Arbital. Italics in original.)</p> <p>That is <em>very</em> 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.</p> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>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.</p> <blockquote> <p>If we care about one being’s experience, we should generally care about every being’s experience.</p> </blockquote> <p>This in absolutely no way follows from logical decision theory or anything related to it.</p> saidachmiz GBav8xKo9iEvFTGTj 2019-04-15T06:23:23.069Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#jx9bm8Js5i8mqaFJo <blockquote> <p>I don’t view this post as telling you anything you’re supposed to believe on Romeo’s word.</p> </blockquote> <p>On what other basis, then, are we to believe any of this stuff about rewiring neurons, “electrical resistance = emotional resistance”, etc. etc.? <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#nmQyDrMe7jzaMQc4X">We’ve been</a> <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#W4QGyyLzLG67iKgGu">told that</a> there’s no evidence whatsoever for any of it and that Romeo got the idea for the latter claim, in particular, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#yWugM9HrWud688w6c">from <em>literally nowhere at all</em></a>. 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?</p> <p>Or perhaps you’re saying that the post <em>makes no claims</em> 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 <em>are</em> being made, and relatively clear claims, at that.</p> <p>Thus nshepperd’s question seems to me to be quite apt!</p> saidachmiz jx9bm8Js5i8mqaFJo 2019-04-15T04:10:11.342Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on A Case for Taking Over the World--Or Not. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/sHJfD7RBZmx5X6rj7/a-case-for-taking-over-the-world-or-not#H3DAaTgSWN6JEiDxZ <p>As a corollary to my <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/sHJfD7RBZmx5X6rj7/a-case-for-taking-over-the-world-or-not#xH5kc5CYkzNYxWCb3">other comment</a>…</p> <blockquote> <p>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, <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em>, Jared Diamond’s <em>Guns, Germs, and Steel</em>, among other works.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>HPMOR</em> is a work of fiction. <em>Significant Digits</em> is a work of fiction. <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em> is a work of fiction. The <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/The-Logical-Fallacy-Of-Generalization-From-Fictional-Evidence">logical fallacy of generalization from fictional evidence</a> has not gotten any less fallacious in the last ten years.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>Jared Diamond’s book is the only work of actual non-fiction—indeed, of <em>scholarship</em>—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.</p> <p>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> <p><em>P.S.:</em> I <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/sHJfD7RBZmx5X6rj7/a-case-for-taking-over-the-world-or-not#xH5kc5CYkzNYxWCb3">said before</a> that “precision is everything”—and it is somewhat ironic that “the world is broken” is <em>not nearly precise enough</em> an evaluation from which to start <em>fixing</em> a broken world.</p> saidachmiz H3DAaTgSWN6JEiDxZ 2019-04-14T09:13:22.836Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on A Case for Taking Over the World--Or Not. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/sHJfD7RBZmx5X6rj7/a-case-for-taking-over-the-world-or-not#xH5kc5CYkzNYxWCb3 <p>Reducing suffering is a good goal, but what you’re talking about, in that case, is not <em>saving</em> the world, but <em>improving</em> it. It’s not just a matter of semantics; it’s a critically different perspective.</p> <p>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 <em>different</em> concern than the “reducing suffering” one!</p> <p>When you ask “What do we have to do to <em>[accomplish goal X]</em>?”, you have to be <em>quite</em> clear on what, precisely, goal X <em>is</em>.</p> <p>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 <em>likely</em>) that they’re at odds with one another. If so, you may have to prioritize—at the very least.</p> <p>“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.</p> saidachmiz xH5kc5CYkzNYxWCb3 2019-04-14T05:05:56.046Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#ZG6YQv53LY9a2rd6Z <p>Anyone, it seems, can have the experience of “feeling totally fine and at ease while simultaneously experiencing intense … pain”[1]:</p> <blockquote> <p>It turns out there is painless pain: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobotomy">lobotomized</a> 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 <a href="https://web.csulb.edu/~cwallis/382/readings/482/dennettwhyucantmakecompain.pdf">Dennett 1978</a> [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 <em>is as intense as ever</em> though they no longer <em>mind</em> it…if it is administered <em>before</em> the onset of pain…the subjects claim to not feel any pain subsequently (though they are not <em>numb</em> or anesthetized—they have sensation in the relevant parts of their bodies); while if the morphine is administered <em>after</em> the pain has commenced, the subjects report that the pain continues (and continues to be <em>pain</em>), 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”</p> </blockquote> <p>(From <a href="https://www.gwern.net/Backstop#pain-is-the-only-school-teacher">Evolution as Backstop for Reinforcement Learning</a> on <a href="http://gwern.net">gwern.net</a>)</p> <p>That subjective aversiveness is separable from <em>pain</em> 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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p><em>ETA:</em> And it seems to me to be <em>far</em> from obvious, that it is <em>good</em> or <em>desirable</em> 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.</p> <hr> <p>[1] Physical, anyway. Emotional? Perhaps, but that seems not to be as well-studied.</p> saidachmiz ZG6YQv53LY9a2rd6Z 2019-04-13T08:58:00.571Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#Dto2opgfMDoreBL9n <blockquote> <p>The truths of General Relativity cannot be conveyed in conventional language. But does one have to study the underlying mathematics before evaluating its claims?</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes. Of course you do.</p> <blockquote> <p>You can approximately capture the truth General Relativity in the statement, “gravity bends space.”</p> </blockquote> <p>The delusion that such statements “approximately capture the truth” of things like GR is pervasive, but no less a delusion for it.</p> <blockquote> <p>This approximation of the truth is useful because it allows you to understand certain <em>consequences</em> of that truth, such as gravitational lensing. Hence, even someone untrained in physics can be convinced of General Relativity …</p> </blockquote> <p>Once again, this is delusion. Eliezer wrote <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/Mysterious-Answers-Sequence">an entire sequence</a> about this.</p> <p>Basically your entire set of claims and comments is mostly “mysterious answers to mysterious questions”.</p> saidachmiz Dto2opgfMDoreBL9n 2019-04-12T20:08:23.404Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Excerpts from a larger discussion about simulacra https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/8XDZjfThxDxLvKWiM/excerpts-from-a-larger-discussion-about-simulacra#HiounnjaLYQRsqctT <p>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?</p> saidachmiz HiounnjaLYQRsqctT 2019-04-10T22:05:38.203Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#Kwh5bt972AZ5DJfqZ <p>See <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Hrm59GdN2yDPWbtrd/feature-idea-epistemic-status">this post</a> (including the comments) for info about “epistemic status”.</p> saidachmiz Kwh5bt972AZ5DJfqZ 2019-04-10T00:43:16.168Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#35wdNeAHNygJ2WTLr <p>Where did you get this idea, then (that “emotional resistance” is literally electrical resistance)?</p> saidachmiz 35wdNeAHNygJ2WTLr 2019-04-08T03:18:30.370Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#oSykqnAsG9zAuLPE3 <blockquote> <p>There aren’t good answers for any of those questions.</p> </blockquote> <p>I’m afraid I don’t quite understand this answer. I’m asking <em>what you mean</em> 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?</p> saidachmiz oSykqnAsG9zAuLPE3 2019-04-08T03:16:59.660Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#Eot9DMpTgtgeBe2v8 <p>Do you have any citations for the claims about “miswiring” or “random wiring” of the central nervous system?</p> <p>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?)?</p> <p>Likewise, you mention “efficiency” of wiring. What is the measure of efficiency being used here, and how is it measured?</p> saidachmiz Eot9DMpTgtgeBe2v8 2019-04-08T03:06:24.045Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ZawRiFR8ytvpqfBPX/the-hard-work-of-translation-buddhism#gwZ2FvuG4aHXZEkJq <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>This sounds interesting—do you have any references for this?</p> saidachmiz gwZ2FvuG4aHXZEkJq 2019-04-08T02:50:37.554Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on March 2019 gwern.net newsletter https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Ev6BHwrTkFh6vgHrF/march-2019-gwern-net-newsletter#u2BSfANjB4QuKH3M7 <blockquote> <p>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)</p> </blockquote> <p>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.</p> <p>There is, fundamentally, a trade-off, between three factors:</p> <ol> <li> <p>Using lots of sidenotes/footnotes/etc. in general;</p> </li> <li> <p>Having them be easily parsable at a glance (instead of requiring active interaction);</p> </li> <li> <p>Having them not be distracting.</p> </li> </ol> <p>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.</p> <blockquote> <p>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).</p> </blockquote> <p>As you’ll likely be unsurprised to hear, we’ve actully had complaints that the citation highlighting is <em>too</em> obtrusive, and interferes with reading the text around it while you’re hovering over a sidenote… conflicting preferences and competing access needs strike again!</p> saidachmiz u2BSfANjB4QuKH3M7 2019-04-02T19:49:30.166Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on What LessWrong/Rationality/EA chat-servers exist that newcomers can join? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/mQDoZ2yCX2ujLxJDk/what-lesswrong-rationality-ea-chat-servers-exist-that#3rL86iBHpq2Sy9rEZ <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>Click the “View or edit this table on Google Docs” link above any of the tables!</p> saidachmiz 3rL86iBHpq2Sy9rEZ 2019-04-01T00:54:56.239Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Review of Q&A [LW2.0 internal document] https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LEAwacyRr3CZjdoyW/review-of-q-and-a-lw2-0-internal-document#4G3A7tCjEmvqhomxS <blockquote> <p>FYI we just added footnotes to the markdown editor</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this documented anywhere? What is the syntax, etc.?</p> saidachmiz 4G3A7tCjEmvqhomxS 2019-03-31T21:32:41.788Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on What LessWrong/Rationality/EA chat-servers exist that newcomers can join? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/mQDoZ2yCX2ujLxJDk/what-lesswrong-rationality-ea-chat-servers-exist-that#m9BjpBsxvgTnmNL5c <p>The Diaspora Map is indeed useful, but it is not mine; <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/users/ingres">namespace</a> maintains the map (and that is his wiki that it’s hosted on).</p> saidachmiz m9BjpBsxvgTnmNL5c 2019-03-31T20:36:07.036Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Conjunction Controversy (Or, How They Nail It Down) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/cXzTpSiCrNGzeoRAz/conjunction-controversy-or-how-they-nail-it-down#wM8iBBeDfiudKS6T9 <p>Link to Kahneman and Frederick (2002) is broken at this time. Here is a currently working link:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://faculty.som.yale.edu/ShaneFrederick/RepRevisited.pdf">Representativeness revisited: Attribute substitution in intuitive judgment</a></li> </ul> saidachmiz wM8iBBeDfiudKS6T9 2019-03-23T18:54:12.271Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Conjunction Controversy (Or, How They Nail It Down) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/cXzTpSiCrNGzeoRAz/conjunction-controversy-or-how-they-nail-it-down#k3BzjXT2e2Je9gQjb <p>Link to Tversky and Kahneman (1983) is broken at this time. Here are two currently working links:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~mckenzie/TverskyKahneman1983PsychRev.pdf">Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment.</a> (1)</li> <li><a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a9f9/a4dc25479e550ce1e0ddcbaf00743ccafc29.pdf">Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment.</a> (2)</li> </ul> saidachmiz k3BzjXT2e2Je9gQjb 2019-03-23T18:50:52.998Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on What Vibing Feels Like https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jXHwYYnqynhB3TAsc/what-vibing-feels-like#QeGSeL9iwN4qavh5p <p>Are drugs involved in “vibing”? (If so, what sort of drugs?)</p> saidachmiz QeGSeL9iwN4qavh5p 2019-03-12T03:44:55.599Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on New York Restaurants I Love: Breakfast https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/s4N8XwWhzeYH6R68D/new-york-restaurants-i-love-breakfast#q3icePnckDf4y5bTH <p>Excellent post!</p> <p>Some comments/additions:</p> <blockquote> <p>For oatmeal, there isn’t a particularly great brand</p> </blockquote> <p>There totally is! It’s called “Bob’s Red Mill”, and they have both <a href="https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VLVB5C">rolled oats</a> (my favorite) and <a href="https://smile.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Oats-Steel/dp/B00KQ1S6FY">steel-cut</a>. I highly recommend their stuff.</p> <blockquote> <p>French toast is my favorite thing to make</p> </blockquote> <p>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.</p> <p>Also, try adding just a bit of nutmeg to the mix (but don’t overdo it).</p> <blockquote> <p>The key is to find the right [pancake] mix</p> </blockquote> <p>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 <em>make your own pancake mix</em>! <a href="https://www.mybakingaddiction.com/homemade-bisquick/">Here’s a simple recipe</a>—but of course you will want to substitute real butter for the vegetable shortening (yuck!).</p> <p>And here’s one of my own favorite NYC breakfast-food places (I would definitely be <em>very</em> sad if it closed down):</p> <h3><a href="http://crepefactory.net/">Crepe Factory</a></h3> <p>It’s on 3rd Ave. and 73rd St. in Bay Ridge (that’s in Brooklyn! not uptown Manhattan).</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/zjx9jt899p2btbx/crepe_factory.jpg?dl=0" alt="" title="Crepe Factory"></p> <p>Let me tell you, ladies &amp; 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.</p> <p>Get the ice cream crepe (strawberries, bananas, Nutella, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream):</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/u1eddmx47sskhlk/ice_cream_crepe.jpg?dl=0" alt="" title="Ice cream crepe"></p> <p>Or, if you want something savory instead of sweet, get the Chicken Cordon Bleu crepe (you actually get two of these—good for sharing!).</p> saidachmiz q3icePnckDf4y5bTH 2019-02-15T07:35:12.218Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/z9hqPS6NNdNYLYunT/minimize-use-of-standard-internet-food-delivery#j9sAEhq49gGmFSQah <p>I’ve now used Slice (their <a href="https://slicelife.com/">website</a>, not the mobile app) to order lunch from a local pizza joint. In case anyone’s curious, here are notes on the experience:</p> <ol> <li> <p>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.)</p> </li> <li> <p>The selection of pizzerias available in my neighborhood was impressive; all of my favorites were there.</p> </li> <li> <p>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.)</p> </li> <li> <p>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.)</p> </li> <li> <p>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.</p> </li> </ol> saidachmiz j9sAEhq49gGmFSQah 2019-02-11T20:33:08.853Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hamming Question https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/P5k3PGzebd5yYrYqd/the-hamming-question#zBR7zfqGtEkSecZi5 <blockquote> <p>[for clarity, we were both quoting other sources]</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, my apologies—I read hastily, and didn’t spot the quoting without the quotation styling. I’ve corrected the wording in the grandparent.</p> saidachmiz zBR7zfqGtEkSecZi5 2019-02-11T20:23:36.534Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hamming Question https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/P5k3PGzebd5yYrYqd/the-hamming-question#ose7HAiFv8TCLcYCx <blockquote> <p>Moreover, the rationality community will <em>actually need</em> the original Hamming Question from time to time, referring specifically to scientific fields that you have extensive training. (Or, at least, if we <em>didn’t</em> need the Actual Science Hamming Question that’d be quite a bad sign).</p> </blockquote> <p>This seems plausible. Has this happened so far?</p> saidachmiz ose7HAiFv8TCLcYCx 2019-02-11T20:21:13.596Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/z9hqPS6NNdNYLYunT/minimize-use-of-standard-internet-food-delivery#B3eaQs79AWseBpTBa <p>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:</p> <blockquote> <p>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?</p> </blockquote> <p>This does not even begin to match my own experience.</p> <ol> <li> <p>When I use GrubHub, I order almost exclusively from places I have physically been to.</p> </li> <li> <p>By far the greatest value I get out of using GrubHub is convenience—and that’s <em>huge</em>. 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.)</p> </li> <li> <p>If I order again from the same restaurant, using GrubHub, it has exactly <em>nothing</em> 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.</p> </li> </ol> <p>Then there was this rather appalling bit:</p> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is an <em>excellent</em> 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.</p> <hr> <p>… 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 <em>true facts</em> they tell us will be framed so as to make their offering look good. The author of this article <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/The-Bottom-Line">started with their bottom line</a>.</p> <p>Does anyone have any citations that come from a <em>neutral</em> source?</p> saidachmiz B3eaQs79AWseBpTBa 2019-02-11T18:06:31.684Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/z9hqPS6NNdNYLYunT/minimize-use-of-standard-internet-food-delivery#dQHN59a6QDYcyqeQp <p>Thanks!</p> saidachmiz dQHN59a6QDYcyqeQp 2019-02-11T17:53:46.239Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hamming Question https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/P5k3PGzebd5yYrYqd/the-hamming-question#F2MaBqxMorafQWfyr <p>That seems like a startlingly weak anecdote (especially so given that it’s the <em>only</em> one we’ve seen). From this quote, it seems like Hamming—contrary to the claim Elo quoted—in fact inspired <em>none</em> of his colleagues to “make major shifts in focus” or to “rededicat[e] their careers to the problems they felt actually mattered”.</p> <p>The <em>one</em> colleague who was, allegedly, inspired by Hamming’s questions in <em>some</em> way, explicitly said (we are told) that he did <em>not</em> shift his research focus! He ended up being successful… which Hamming attributes to his own influence, for… some reason. (The anecdotal evidence provided for this causal sort-of-claim is almost textbook poor; it’s literally nothing more than <em>post hoc, ergo propter hoc</em>…)</p> <p>Do we have <em>any</em> solid evidence, <em>at all</em>, that there is any concrete, demonstrable benefit, or even consequence, to asking the “Hamming question”? Any case studies (with much more detail, and more evidential support, than the anecdote quoted above)? So far, it seems to me that the significance attached to this “Hamming question” concept has been far, far out of proportion to its <em>verified</em> usefulness…</p> <p><em>Edit:</em> Corrected wording to make it clear Elo was quoting a source.</p> saidachmiz F2MaBqxMorafQWfyr 2019-02-11T09:26:38.692Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/z9hqPS6NNdNYLYunT/minimize-use-of-standard-internet-food-delivery#Cn5tjq68ZG7PhLxBr <blockquote> <p>… [delivery services] take <em>mindbogglingly huge</em> fees out of every order. We’re talking on the order of 20%.</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you have a citation for this?</p> saidachmiz Cn5tjq68ZG7PhLxBr 2019-02-11T08:56:57.721Z Comment by SaidAchmiz on The Hamming Question https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/P5k3PGzebd5yYrYqd/the-hamming-question#uwLAS5xudcJnovwY2 <blockquote> <p>[Hamming] did inspire some of his colleagues to make major shifts in focus, rededicating their careers to the problems they felt actually mattered.</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you have more info on this? I’d be very curious to hear about some specific examples!</p> saidachmiz uwLAS5xudcJnovwY2 2019-02-09T03:59:41.478Z History of LessWrong: Some Data Graphics https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/nq5JQNzYX5mSNWmnC/history-of-lesswrong-some-data-graphics <p>Some graphs showing posting activity on LessWrong through the years.</p> <p><em>NOTE: If you’re reading this post on GreaterWrong, you can click on the images to enlarge, zoom in, and click through them all as a slideshow.</em></p> <p>Comments per post:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_comments_per_post_over_time.gif" alt="" title="Comments per post"></p> <p>The same thing, on a log scale:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_comments_per_post_over_time_log.gif" alt="" title="Comments per post (log scale)"></p> <p>Posts per month:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_posts_per_month.gif" alt="" title="Posts per month"></p> <p>The 100 most prolific authors over LessWrong’s lifespan:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_100_most_prolific_authors.gif" alt="" title="The 100 most prolific authors over LessWrong’s lifespan"></p> <p>The same thing, on a log scale:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_100_most_prolific_authors_log.gif" alt="" title="The 100 most prolific authors over LessWrong’s lifespan (log scale)"></p> <p>Whose posts have generated the most <em>total</em> discussion?</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_whose_posts_generated_most_discussion.gif" alt="" title="Whose posts have generated the most total discussion?"></p> <p>As above, but on a log scale:</p> <p><img src="https://share.obormot.net/images/LW_whose_posts_generated_most_discussion_log.gif" alt="" title="Whose posts have generated the most total discussion? (log scale)"></p> <p>Data available in <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tGGs6FB6EWyNlqDFp64Ul21Fxs6L2Igb1lgM1cFIamY/edit#gid=0">a Google Docs spreadsheet</a>. (Or <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tGGs6FB6EWyNlqDFp64Ul21Fxs6L2Igb1lgM1cFIamY/export?format=csv&amp;id=1tGGs6FB6EWyNlqDFp64Ul21Fxs6L2Igb1lgM1cFIamY&amp;gid=0">download in CSV format</a>.)</p> <p>You can also download <a href="https://share.obormot.net/misc/Every_Less_Wrong_post_2018-11-15.xlsx">an Excel spreadsheet</a>, which contains the above graphs and some intermediate processed data.</p> <p><em>Edit 2018-11-16:</em> Updated data; corrected some minor abnormalities caused by data retrieval issue. (If you’ve downloaded the data already, please re-download the corrected versions—the links are the same.)</p> saidachmiz nq5JQNzYX5mSNWmnC 2018-11-16T07:07:15.501Z New GreaterWrong feature: image zoom + image slideshows https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/pZjw7ew9TBvHpEcvt/new-greaterwrong-feature-image-zoom-image-slideshows <p><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com">GreaterWrong</a> now has a new feature: <strong>image zoom / slideshows</strong>.</p> <p>Whenever a post contains images (such as <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/efWfvrWLgJmbBAs3m/embedded-world-models">this recent post about embedded world-models</a>), you can click on any image…</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/4faw0ibj7zu96nr/Screenshot%202018-11-04%2002.35.18.png?dl=0" alt="Clicking an image to enlarge"></p> <p>… to show an enlarged, “lightbox” style view of it:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/diki3yzlfi1lhnn/Screenshot%202018-11-04%2002.17.05.png?dl=0" alt="Enlarged image in “lightbox”"></p> <p>You can then page through <em>all</em> the images in the post with the arrow keys, or by clicking the next/previous image buttons at the left/right edges of the screen:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/efokaxqbyjce9u9/Screenshot%202018-11-04%2002.19.09.png?dl=0" alt="Going to the next image"></p> <p>Use the scroll wheel to zoom in or out:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/vnldm05aw1tsmrf/Screenshot%202018-11-04%2002.18.56.png?dl=0" alt="Zoomed in on an image"></p> <p>When zoomed in, you can drag around the screen to pan (just like Google Maps, etc.).</p> <p>Hit the space bar to reset size/position.</p> <p>Hit Escape to close the slideshow/lightbox.</p> <p><em>Edited to add:</em> You can also hit <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_key">accesskey</a>-L to start or resume the slideshow. (On Mac Chrome, for example, that’s Control-Option-L.)</p> saidachmiz pZjw7ew9TBvHpEcvt 2018-11-04T07:34:44.907Z New GreaterWrong feature: anti-kibitzer (hides post/comment author names and karma values) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jD496b5RZKQkxP63N/new-greaterwrong-feature-anti-kibitzer-hides-post-comment <p><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com">GreaterWrong</a> now has a new feature (which <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/XbfdLQrAWTRfpggRM/lesswrong-anti-kibitzer-hides-comment-authors-and-vote">was once available for the original Less Wrong</a>):</p> <p><em>Anti-kibitzer mode</em>, which <strong>hides the names and karma values of posts and comments</strong>.</p> <p>On <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com">GreaterWrong</a>, take a look to the right side of the page, and you’ll see this icon:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/xyychcwezhi61ou/Screenshot%202018-10-19%2016.58.03.png?dl=0" alt="Anti-kibitzer mode toggle icon"></p> <p>Click it, and it’ll change to this:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/zqe00tbp0mj52i6/Screenshot%202018-10-19%2016.59.21.png?dl=0" alt="Anti-kibitzer mode toggle icon, enabled state"></p> <p>Now the authors of posts and comments, and all karma values, are hidden:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/bq8q820ucwscx47/Screenshot%202018-10-20%2009.54.44.png?dl=0" alt="Comment, with anti-kibitzer mode enabled"></p> <p>Click the icon again to disable. (You’ll be asked if you’re sure you want to disable anti-kibitzer mode. <em>NOTE:</em> You can <em>skip the confirmation prompt</em> by <em>holding the Shift key</em> while clicking to disable.)</p> <p><strong>Having the anti-kibitzer turned on doesn’t interfere with any other functionality.</strong> You can still post, comment, reply, vote, click on users’ names to go to their user page (where their name will be obfuscated), etc. You can turn it on or off at any time.</p> <p>Your own name, and your own karma values, are <em>not</em> hidden.</p> <p>See the <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/XbfdLQrAWTRfpggRM/lesswrong-anti-kibitzer-hides-comment-authors-and-vote">original Less Wrong post about this feature</a> for more discussion.</p> saidachmiz jD496b5RZKQkxP63N 2018-10-19T21:03:22.649Z Separate comments feeds for different post listings views? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/sEEvKfrL5uPicK3rT/separate-comments-feeds-for-different-post-listings-views <p><em>(Inspired by discussions like <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RS7jX7e8Bhbcr2dHM/what-the-haters-hate/comment/6e79kZqd7RZhsPQGk">this one</a>, but also a thing that I’ve thought for a while would be a good idea.)</em></p> <p>Currently, there’s a single “recent comments” feed, which includes comments posted to <em>any</em> post—frontpage, Meta, personal blogs, Alignment Forum… even drafts! (The last of which, I assume, is merely a bug.)</p> <p>It would be cool if there were multiple comments feeds, one for each view, viz.:</p> <ol> <li>Recent comments on all posts</li> <li>Recent comments on frontpage posts only</li> <li>Recent comments on Alignment Forum posts only</li> <li>Recent comments on Meta posts</li> </ol> <p>It’s probably a lot of work for you guys to implement a UI for this, so I can totally understand it not being priority, but would it be possible to implement this feature in the backend and expose it in the API?</p> saidachmiz sEEvKfrL5uPicK3rT 2018-10-02T16:07:22.942Z GreaterWrong—new theme and many enhancements https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/xjgdtswhcxJTqu95Q/greaterwrong-new-theme-and-many-enhancements <p><em>(Previous posts: <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/66DXhQJyPEJNsXgfw/an-alternative-way-to-browse-lesswrong-2-0">[1]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/43a8x6g2nKkxHXG4v/greaterwrong-several-new-features-and-enhancements">[2]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Se5SybSfdS8owjmHw/greaterwrong-more-new-features-and-enhancements">[3]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/iGnqqoJhuHasuYA8k/greaterwrong-even-more-new-features-and-enhancements">[4]</a>)</em></p> <p><strong><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/">GreaterWrong.com</a></strong> has just added several new features and UI enhancements:</p> <h2>Modern Less Wrong theme</h2> <p>There is now a <strong>new theme</strong> (bringing the total to <strong>nine</strong> themes to choose from), called “Less”. (This theme is inspired by the design of the new, i.e. current, Less Wrong site.)</p> <p>Here’s how it looks on a desktop:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/elebe9iuu95hb3a/Screenshot%202018-10-01%2016.41.15.png?dl=0" alt="[Screenshot of “Less” theme on a desktop]"></p> <p>And on a phone:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ga49tfs307nwj7s/Screenshot%202018-10-01%2016.57.49.png?dl=0" alt="Screenshot of “Less” theme on a smartphone"></p> <p>(See the <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/about#themes">About page</a> for how to switch themes.)</p> <h2>Mobile theme tweaker</h2> <p>The <strong>theme tweaker</strong> feature (which lets you do things like invert colors—instantly creating a “dark mode” version of any theme—as well as adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue) is now <strong>available on mobile devices</strong>.</p> <p>Open the theme selector (gear button in the lower-left of the screen), and then tap this button:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/3r2lmkw4l0mta6r/Screenshot%202018-10-01%2016.41.58.png?dl=0" alt="Button that opens the theme tweaker"></p> <p>And you’ll see the theme tweaker screen:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/rlfqa86ysw4cmtu/Screenshot%202018-10-01%2016.42.04.png?dl=0" alt="Theme tweaker UI on a smartphone"></p> <p>(See the <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/about#appearance-customization">About page</a> for more on the theme tweaker.)</p> <h2>Strong vote display</h2> <p><a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/7Sx3CJXA7JHxY2yDG/strong-votes-update-deployed">Strong upvotes and downvotes</a> now display properly on GreaterWrong, in all themes.</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/hwzueovswiv7lm5/strong_vote.png?dl=0" alt="Strong vote styling in the various themes"></p> <p><em>(Themes, starting from top left and going across by row: default, grey, ultramodern, zero, brutalist, rts, classic, less.)</em></p> <h2>Alignment Forum view</h2> <p>Click the “AF” icon next to any <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/JiMAMNAb55Qq24nES/announcing-alignmentforum-org-beta">Alignment Forum</a> post, and you’ll be taken to a <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/index?view=alignment-forum">listing of <em>all</em> the Alignment Forum posts</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ij53p5hxoud4jw8/Screenshot%202018-10-01%2016.55.35.png?dl=0" alt="Alignment Forum post icon"></p> saidachmiz xjgdtswhcxJTqu95Q 2018-10-01T07:22:01.788Z Archiving link posts? https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ftadCBW8mJZKByqsT/archiving-link-posts <p><strong><a href="http://www.gwern.net/Archiving-URLs">Link rot is a huge problem.</a></strong> At the same time, many posts on Less Wrong—including some of the most important posts, which talk about important concepts or otherwise advance our collective knowledge and understanding—are link posts, which means that a <strong>non-trivial chunk of our content is hosted elsewhere</strong>—across a myriad other websites.</p> <p>If Less Wrong means to be a repository of the rationality community’s canon, we must take seriously the fact that (as <a href="http://www.gwern.net/Archiving-URLs">gwern’s research</a> indicates) <strong>many or most of those externally-hosted pages will, in a few years, no longer be accessible</strong>.</p> <p>I’ve taken the liberty of putting together <a href="https://wiki.obormot.net/Archive/LessWrongLinkPostArchive">a quick-and-dirty solution</a>. This is a page that, when loaded, scrapes the external links (i.e., the link-post targets) from the front page of GreaterWrong, and <strong>automatically submits them to <a href="http://archive.is/">archive.is</a></strong> (after checking each link to see whether it’s already been submitted). A cronjob that loads the page daily ensures that as new link-posts are posted, they will automatically be captured and submitted to archive.is.</p> <p>This solution does not currently have any way to scrape and submit links older than those which are on the front page today (2018-09-08). It is also not especially elegant.</p> <p>It may be advisable to implement automatic link-post archiving as a feature of Less Wrong itself. (Programmatically submitting URLs to archive.is is extremely simple. You send a POST request to <code>http://archive.is/submit/</code>, with a single field, <code>url</code>, with the URL as its value. The URL of the archived content will then—after some time, as archiving is not instantaneous—be accessible via <code>http://archive.is/timegate/[the complete original URL]</code>.)</p> saidachmiz ftadCBW8mJZKByqsT 2018-09-08T05:45:53.349Z Shared interests vs. collective interests https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/QcKJA2J5LM7prrAzM/shared-interests-vs-collective-interests <p>Suppose that I, a college student, found a student organization—a chapter of Students Against a Democratic Society, perhaps. At the first meeting of SADS, we get to talking, and discover, to everyone’s delight, that all ten of us are fans of <em>Star Trek</em>.</p><p>This is a shared interest.</p><h2>Shared interests</h2><p>A <em>shared interest</em>—in the way I am using the term—is nothing more than what it sounds like: an interest (in the broad sense of the word) that happens, for whatever reason, to be shared among all members of a group. </p><p>The distinction I want to draw is between a <em>shared interest</em> (of a group) and a <em>collective interest</em> (of a group). The former is a superset of the latter; all collective interests are, by definition, shared interests; but not all shared interests are collective interests. </p><h2>Collective interests</h2><p>What is a collective interest? </p><p>Well, suppose that I found <em>another</em> student organization (extracurricular activities look great on a résumé). This one is a <em>Star Trek</em> fan club. At the first meeting of Campus Trekkies United, we discover, to no one’s surprise, that all fifteen of us are fans of <em>Star Trek</em>. </p><p>… well, of course we’re all fans of <em>Star Trek</em>. That’s <em>why</em> we’re in the fan club in the first place! Anyone who’s not a fan, has no reason to join the fan club. And so: <em>Star Trek</em> fandom is a collective interest of Campus Trekkies United. </p><p>A <em>collective interest</em> is an interest that is shared by every member of a group <em>in virtue of being a member of that group</em>. Anyone who does <em>not</em> share that interest, will not be a group member.[1] And thus, by <em>modus tollens</em>: anyone who is a member of the group, will share that interest. It is <em>guaranteed</em> that every member of the group will share that interest. </p><h2>Details &amp; implications</h2><p>Several important consequences follow from this. </p><h3>Preservation of interests</h3><p>Unlike a collective interest, a shared interest is not at all guaranteed to <em>stay</em> shared among all group members. Nothing stops someone from joining the Students Against a Democratic Society, who does not like <em>Star Trek</em>. At that point, <em>Star Trek</em> fandom ceases to be a shared interest of SADS. (Which may lead to some awkward consequences if, for instance, we had decided to start wearing colorful jumpsuits to our political rallies.) </p><h3>Infiltration</h3><p>I said earlier that “[i]t is <em>guaranteed</em> that every member of the group will share [a collective] interest”. But is this really true? Well, it’s true if the condition for an interest being a collective one holds: that anyone who does <em>not</em> share the interest, will not join the group. </p><p>But it is dangerous to simply <em>assume</em> that this condition holds, in the absence of any mechanism by which it is ensured to hold! Is Campus Trekkies United actually making sure that non-Trekkies do not join? Certainly it seems like they have no reason to <em>want</em> to join, but is that <em>sufficient</em> to keep them out? </p><p>Suppose a fan of <em>Star Wars</em>, incensed at the idea that the university would grant meeting space and funds to fans of the rival franchise, decides to pose as a Trekkie, and signs up for Campus Trekkies United under false pretenses. He hates <em>Star Trek</em>, and wants nothing more than to see the club cease all <em>Trek</em>-related activities, and transform into, say, Campus Jedis United. Now <em>Star Trek</em> fandom is no longer a collective interest of the members of Campus Trekkies United—because they did not ensure that the condition of a collective interest holds. </p><p>In fact, it would be more precise to say that <em>Star Trek</em> fandom was <em>never</em> a <em>collective</em> interest, only ever a <em>shared</em> one—because the condition of a collective interest <em>never held in the first place</em>! </p><h3>The universal collective interest</h3><p>A collective interest of Students Against a Democratic Society (ostensibly) is being against a democratic society. A collective interest of Campus Trekkies United (ostensibly) is being a fan of <em>Star Trek</em>. </p><p>But there is one sort of collective interest that will be present in <em>any</em> organization: </p><p><strong>The continued existence of the organization itself.</strong> </p><p>Groups are how humans achieve their goals. Organization is power. It is in the interest of any member of an organization that the organization continue to exist. Any other shared interest may fail to be a collective one—except for this one. </p><h3>Illusions</h3><p>Suppose that a proper subset of a group’s members share a certain interest. This may be coincidence—nothing more than a consequence of base rates of that interest in the general population. But it may also be due to the fact that a proper subset of the group’s members itself constitutes a coherent group, which has collective interests of its own. </p><p>This also manifests in a more interesting way, as follows: </p><p>Suppose it is claimed that a certain interest is a collective interest of a given group. However, investigation reveals group members that do not share that interest. </p><p>The claimant(s) may cry “No true Scotsman”, “infiltrator”, etc. But another (and, it seems to me, more likely) explanation is that the claimed collective interest is indeed a collective interest—<em>not</em> of the whole group it’s claimed of, but rather of a proper subset of the greater group (which subset, however, may find it advantageous to be identified with the greater group). </p><p>(Finding examples of this dynamic is left as a fairly straightforward exercise to the reader.) </p><p>[1] Note that the inverse—that anyone who <em>does</em> share the interest, <em>will</em> be a group member—need not be true!</p> saidachmiz QcKJA2J5LM7prrAzM 2018-05-28T22:06:50.911Z GreaterWrong—even more new features & enhancements https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/iGnqqoJhuHasuYA8k/greaterwrong-even-more-new-features-and-enhancements <p><em>(Previous posts: <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/66DXhQJyPEJNsXgfw/an-alternative-way-to-browse-lesswrong-2-0">[1]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/43a8x6g2nKkxHXG4v/greaterwrong-several-new-features-and-enhancements">[2]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Se5SybSfdS8owjmHw/greaterwrong-more-new-features-and-enhancements">[3]</a>)</em></p> <p><strong><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/">GreaterWrong.com</a></strong> has recently added a number of new features and UI enhancements, especially to the mobile version of the site:</p> <h2>Private messaging</h2> <p>You can now send and receive <strong>private messages</strong>.</p> <p><strong>To send a PM</strong>, click on a user’s name, then click “<strong>Send private message</strong>” (at the top-right):</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/9j9st75bz0cims1/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.43.55.png?dl=0" /></p> <p>You can <strong>view PMs that you received</strong>, send replies, and view the entire back-and-forth conversation, by going to your user page, and clicking on “<strong>Conversations</strong>”:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/32djfc9swdioepp/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.44.31.png?dl=0" /></p> <p>Received PMs also show up in your Inbox. (Any new items in your inbox make the envelope icon next to your name in the nav bar turn red.)</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/nu5bdhuw6equh6u/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2002.38.51.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>Sort user’s posts/comments by karma rating</h2> <p>You can now <strong>view a user’s top-rated posts/comments</strong>, by going to their user page and switching the sort order to “Top”:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/uzjx0i680ik3z3m/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.48.56.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>Individual comment threads</h2> <p>You can now <strong>browse an individual comment thread on a separate page</strong>. The “anchor” icon at the top of a comment is the permalink to that comment thread’s page:</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/h5c8qiljr6zw876/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.58.47.png?dl=0" /></p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/cqdu81uewkldyxx/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2002.02.11.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>Classic Less Wrong theme</h2> <p>There is now a <strong>new theme</strong> (bringing the total to eight themes to choose from): “<strong>Classic Less Wrong</strong>”. This theme replicates, as much as possible, the styling of the old Less Wrong website (a.k.a. “Less Wrong 1.0”).</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/uwnwfi4afc9f9yj/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.29.46.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>Mobile theme selection</h2> <p>Users on mobile devices can now switch between the available themes, just like users on desktops.</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/wdk73jbxe6ai8z4/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.31.12.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>New editing UI for smartphones</h2> <p><strong>For smartphone users</strong>, a new and greatly improved post/comment <strong>editor UI</strong> is live.</p> <p><img src="https://dl.dropbox.com/s/g2q37bchka0z56h/Screenshot%202018-05-28%2001.32.52.png?dl=0" /></p> <h2>Faster loading speed</h2> <p>Changes to the server code have brought substantial <strong>speed improvements</strong>, making pages load much faster.</p> <h2>Minor enhancements</h2> <p>There are many minor UI enhancements, including:</p> <ul> <li>comment-collapse buttons on every comment thread</li> <li>upvote/downvote buttons at the bottoms of comments (as well as at the top)</li> </ul> <p>… and other minor fixes and improvements.</p> saidachmiz iGnqqoJhuHasuYA8k 2018-05-28T05:08:31.236Z Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Incentives and rewards https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/esP8ixxKzKiasNutH/everything-i-ever-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-world-of <p><em>This is the second in a series of posts about lessons from my experiences in </em>World of Warcraft<em>. I’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time—in forum comments, in IRC conversations, etc.—and this series is my attempt to make it all a bit more legible. I’ve added footnotes to explain some of the jargon, but if anything remains incomprehensible, let me know in the comments.</em></p> <p><em>Previous post in series: </em><a href="https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/GxW8ef8tH4yX6KMrf/everything-i-ever-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-world-of">Goodhart’s law</a>. </p> <hr /> <p>“How do we split the loot?” </p> <p>That was one of the biggest challenges of raiding in <em>World of Warcraft</em>.</p> <p>We’ve gotten 40 people together; we’ve kept them focused on the task, for several hours straight; we’ve coordinated their efforts; we’ve figured out the optimal strategy and tactics for taking down the raid boss; we’ve executed flawlessly (or close enough, anyway). Now, the dragon (or demon, or sentient colossus of magically animated lava) lies dead at our feet, and we’re staring at the fabulous treasure that was his, and is now ours; and the question is: who gets it? </p> <h2>The problem of the indivisible</h2> <p>“Why not divide it 40 ways? That’s only fair!” </p> <p>If only it were that easy! But the loot <em>can’t</em> be split 40 ways, because it’s not just a giant pile of gold coins; it’s (for instance): a magic warhammer, a magic staff, and a magic robe. Three[1] items; each quite valuable and desirable; each of which can be given to one person, and <em>cannot be sold or traded thereafter</em>. We have to decide, here and now, which three out of the 40 members of the raid will receive one of these rewards. The other 37 get nothing. </p> <p>What to do? </p> <p>It would be difficult to overstate how much thought went into answering this question, among <em>WoW</em> players; how much effort was spent on debating it; how much acrimony it spawned; and how critical was a good answer to it, in determining success in the most challenging endeavors in the game (high-end raiding). Disagreements in matters of loot distribution broke friendships, and ill-advised loot policies cracked guilds in half. </p> <p>Nor should this be at all surprising, for <em>World of Warcraft</em> was human civilization in microcosm. The task of organizing and coordinating a raid was project management; figuring out how to take down a raid boss was strategic planning, and practical epistemology, and mathematics; making money at the Auction House (in order to purchase performance-enhancing potions) was economics. But the distribution of loot—that was <strong>politics</strong>. </p> <h2>Pie-slicing as project management</h2> <p>To the question of “how to split the loot”, there is at least one simple answer: a roll of the dice.[2] This method was used often—in “one-off” raids, wherein a group of players would come together, for this one occasion only, to defeat a challenge (or a connected group of challenges), and then disperse, entering into no longer-term relationship with one another, possibly never to cooperate or interact again. In such cases, it was understood that your participation comes with the promise of a <em>chance</em> at winning a reward. If the group happens to find some piece of treasure which you covet, you will have an opportunity to throw your name into the hat, and—should the Random Number God smile upon you—to win the prize. That’s all you can expect, and it’s no more than anyone else is getting. In a temporary collective, made up of strangers, one can hardly ask for more. </p> <p>But such one-off groups are nowhere <em>near</em> effective enough to tackle the most difficult challenges that are available—that is, to do “progression raiding”[3]. For that, you need for the <em>same</em> 40 people to assemble, week after week, month after month; they must learn to work together smoothly, and they must all, together, learn the raid encounters, and the strategies and tactics for defeating them; and, just as importantly, all members of the raid must “get geared”—must acquire better and better equipment for their characters, in order to improve their performance and become better able to handle the next challenge, and the next. This is a <em>sustained, collective</em> effort, and it can only be managed by a persistent organization: the <strong>raid guild</strong>. </p> <p>The challenges of running a raid guild are legion; there is much to say about them—enough for many more blog posts. For now, the key point is this: for a raid guild, the question of loot distribution is, at once, <em>both</em> a serious and thorny problem, <em>and</em> a powerful tool which may be applied to many other aspects of guild management. </p> <p>There were many “loot systems”. Some were communistic: the raid leader (or a “Loot Council”, composed of the raid leader and a small handful of others) would simply decide which raid member would receive each piece of loot—“to each according to his need”. Others were at the opposite extreme—“free market” systems, where one accumulated “points” via raid attendance and contributions to the raid’s success, and the allocation of loot was decided via bidding. </p> <p>Neither extreme ever sat well with me (for reasons that should be obvious enough to anyone with any passing familiarity with the real-world economic systems to which I alluded). When the guild to which I belonged decided to get serious about progression raiding, and it came time to formulate a policy for loot distribution, I advocated for a loot system which, to this day, I consider the most ideal, of all the systems I’ve encountered. The system was adopted, and it served us well for years to come. That system was known as the “Effort Points / Gear Points” system, or <strong>EP/GP</strong>. </p> <h2>Solution: EP/GP</h2> <p>The idea of EP/GP was simple. There are some actions/behaviors that you don’t want your members to engage in at all; those you ban outright, and set whatever punishments you see fit. Those aside, however, there are two categories of things that <em>aren’t</em> discouraged: </p> <p><strong>First</strong>, there are things that you want everyone to be doing as much as possible—things that are <em>unboundedly good</em>. <strong>Second</strong>, there are things which are good for people to be doing, healthy, expected, certainly not discouraged—but you don’t want anyone doing them <em>too</em> much, and you don’t want there to be a serious <em>imbalance</em> in <em>who</em> is doing those things. </p> <p>The second category consists of things which people just <em>want</em> to do, of their own accord, and don’t really need to be <em>incentivized</em> to do; they’re their own incentives. The first category consists of things that you do generally need to incentivize people to do, even if people “want” (or <em>want to want</em>) to do them. (In <em>WoW</em>, the first category is “help the raid kill bosses” and the second category is “get gear, thus making your character more awesome”.) </p> <p>The idea of the EP/GP distribution system is that you <strong>use the first category to rate-limit the second</strong>. Each member has two quantities associated with them: EP (effort points) and GP (gear points). Both start at 0; each goes up as a consequence of actions/behaviors in that category. Do unboundedly-good prosocial thing? Your EP goes up. Do self-incentivizing indirectly-prosocial self-benefiting thing? Your GP goes up. And whenever there is any scarce resource that people want, it is <strong>allocated according to EP/GP ratio</strong>; whoever has the highest such ratio gets the resource (and their GP goes up accordingly). </p> <p>So, the more EP-generating things you do, the higher your priority in the allocation of rewards; the more GP-generating things you are allocated, the lower your priority subsequently. As long as you can define those categories, and place relevant behaviors/actions into them, EPGP works to allocate your scarce resources and incentivize members’ contributions. </p> <p>The EP/GP system has a number of ancillary benefits: </p> <p><strong>First</strong>, new members immediately get the instant gratification of being top priority for resources, as soon as they contribute anything whatsoever (as EP and GP start at 0, any contribution makes EP positive, and positive/zero = infinite priority!) Having now given and gotten something of value, they are drawn in, at which point their priority goes down to below that of regulars/veterans; it fluctuates greatly at first, then stabilizes. This incentivizes early contribution, but doesn’t make people “pay dues” excessively to get anything at all. </p> <p><strong>Second</strong>, because EP can be assigned for anything, and relative values set to whatever the administration wishes, the system makes it easy to design incentive structures that encourage whatever you like </p> <p><strong>Third</strong>, there is tangible benefit to sustained contribution, without locking out newcomers. </p> <h2>A contrast: DKP</h2> <p>“Dragon Kill Points”, or “DKP”, was, once upon a time, the most popular loot system; it long predated EP/GP.[4] In DKP, each member of a raid would receive some number of points (the titular “dragon kill points”) upon successful completion of a raid encounter. To receive a piece of loot, a raid member had to spend some of his points (the amount usually determined by a bidding contest among all raid members who wanted that item). </p> <p>DKP had many faults, and waned greatly in popularity as <em>WoW</em> aged; better systems (such as EP/GP) had come along. With DKP, if you were a newcomer, joining a raid full of veterans, the only way you were going to get anything was if no one else wanted it—otherwise you had to toil through raid after raid, contributing effort but knowing in advance that you weren’t getting anything for your efforts (except scraps from the veterans’ table, as it were). </p> <h2>What makes a good loot system?</h2> <p>The twin needs, in any group that depends, for success, on a bunch of people all contributing as much effort as possible, are: </p> <ol> <li>You have to pull in good people; </li> <li>You have to get your people to stay, and keep contributing. </li> </ol> <p>DKP was bad at #1, because the prospect of slaving away for weeks or months before you had accumulated enough to have a shot at the good stuff was daunting (and then you could be outbid by a veteran who’d been hoarding his points for longer; and even if you won, you might've just spent all your points on one thing; etc.). DKP was also bad at #2, because after you had accumulated a certain large pool of points, the incentive to keep contributing dropped off. </p> <p>EP/GP, on the other hand, is good at #1, because your first reward is basically guaranteed, as soon as you contribute something of value. And EP/GP is good at #2, because going up in priority is easy at the start, and bouncing back from getting some gear is easy, and as it gets harder, well, ratios equalize; and as long as you <em>keep contributing</em>, you stay at a good ratio, and meanwhile, the higher your EP gets (if you’re a veteran), the faster it drops when you get something.[5] </p> <h2>Is EP/GP really the best way?</h2> <p>Later in <em>WoW</em>’s history—when it became possible for high-end raid encounters to be tackled by smaller raid groups—there arose, within some raid guilds, the practice of having multiple raid groups, including some that were more ‘elite’/exclusive than the guild’s main raid group. (Members of such smaller groups typically participated in the sub-group’s raids <em>in addition</em> to taking part in the guild’s primary raiding activities.) Where a good raid guild might’ve been in the 99th percentile of competence and achievement, among the overall player population, it might have within it a smaller raid group which was much, much further toward the right tail of the raid content achievement distribution. </p> <p>Such smaller sub-groups usually did <em>not</em> use the EP/GP or other allocation system of the main group, but had their own, separate, loot policies. These policies typically skewed closer to “managed communism” than to “regulated capitalism” on the spectrum of loot systems; and I do not think that this is a coincidence. The members of these smaller, more exclusive groups—which, in virtue of their greater selectivity for competence and performance, almost always performed better and accomplished more difficult goals than a guild’s primary raiding group—exhibited a higher degree of sublimation of personal interest to group interest, than did members of a guild’s main raid group; they were more willing to make sacrifices “for the good of the raid”. </p> <p>If you’re trying to maintain a raiding guild of 100 people, keep it functioning and healthy over the course of months or years, new content, people joining and leaving, schedules and life circumstances changing, different personalities and background, etc., then it's important to maintain member satisfaction; it’s important to ensure that people feel in control and rewarded and appreciated; that they don’t burn out or develop resentments; that no one feels slighted, and no one feels that anyone is favored. You also have to recruit new members, to keep up with inevitable member turn-over. All of these things are more important than “being maximally effective at taking down this raid boss right now, and then the next five bosses this week”. If you focus on the latter and ignore the former, your guild will break and explode, and people on <em>WoW</em>-related news websites will place stories about your public meltdowns in the Drama section, and laugh at you. </p> <p>On the other hand, if you get 10 players together, and you say: “OK, dudes—we, these particular 10 people, are going to show up every single Sunday for several months, play for 6 hours straight each time, and we will push through absolutely the most challenging content in the game, which only a small handful [or sometimes: none at all] of people in the world have done”—that is a different scenario. There’s no room for “I’m not the tank but I want that piece of tank gear”, because if you do that, you will fail. </p> <p>What a group of the latter sort <em>promises</em>—which a larger, more skill-diverse, less elite/exclusive, group <em>cannot</em> promise—is the incredible rush of pushing yourself—your concentration, your skill, your endurance, your coordination, your ingenuity—to the maximum, and <em>succeeding at something really really hard</em>, as a result. That is the <em>intrinsic</em> motivation which takes the place of the <em>extrinsic</em> motivation of “getting loot”. As a result, the extrinsic motivation is no longer a resource which it is vitally important to allocate. In that scenario, your needs are the group’s needs; the group’s successes are your successes; there is no separation between you and the group—and consequently, the need for equity in loot allocation falls away, and everything is allocated strictly by group-level optimization. </p> <p>This was evident in the reactions people had, to seeing other people get loot. In a larger, somewhat-more-casual, raid group, it went like this: </p> <blockquote> <p><em>Alice gets [awesome piece of gear].</em> </p> <p><strong>Alice:</strong> yay! :D </p> <p><strong>Bob:</strong> grats </p> <p><em>[Bob is happy for Alice but also jealous, Bob wanted that thing too.]</em> </p> </blockquote> <p>In tighter-knit, more “hardcore” groups, it was more like this: </p> <blockquote> <p><em>Alice gets [awesome piece of gear].</em> </p> <p><strong>Everyone in the raid:</strong> F***| YEAH!! :D </p> <p><em>[Everyone is ecstatic that Alice got that thing; no one is jealous.]</em> </p> </blockquote> <p>In the latter case, it was not only understood, but viscerally <em>felt</em>, that every thing that <em>anyone</em> in the raid gets, is increased performance <em>for the group as a whole</em>—which is all that matters.[6]</p> <p>[1] It wasn’t always three, of course; sometimes one, sometimes four, etc.</p> <p>[2] <em>WoW</em> came equipped with such a feature; one would type <code>/roll 100</code> into the chat window, the server would generate a pseudo-random number in the range [1,100], and would output the result into the chat, for all raid members to see. Thus, everyone could roll for a piece of loot, and the person with the highest roll would receive it.</p> <p>[3] See the <a href="https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/GxW8ef8tH4yX6KMrf/everything-i-ever-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-world-of">previous post in the series</a> for a definition of this term.</p> <p>[4] DKP is one of the oldest loot systems; it was used even before <em>World of Warcraft</em>—in older MMORPGs like <em>EverQuest</em>.</p> <p>[5] Most EP/GP implementations also included a “decay” feature—which periodically (every week, or every month, or similar) reduced all EP and GP values by some factor—which helped even more.</p> <p>[6] Of course, that sort of thing doesn’t scale, and neither can it last, just as you cannot build a whole country like a kibbutz. But it may be entirely possible, and perfectly healthy, to occasionally cleave off subgroups who follow that model, then to meld back into the overgroup at the completion of a project (never, indeed, having truly separated from it—the sub-groups’ members continuing to participate in the overgroup, even as they throw themselves into the sub-project). </p> saidachmiz esP8ixxKzKiasNutH 2018-05-07T06:44:47.775Z Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from World of Warcraft: Goodhart’s law https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/GxW8ef8tH4yX6KMrf/everything-i-ever-needed-to-know-i-learned-from-world-of <p><em>This is the first in a series of posts about lessons from my experiences in </em>World of Warcraft<em>. I’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time—in forum comments, in IRC conversations, etc.—and this series is my attempt to make it all a bit more legible. I’ve added footnotes to explain some of the jargon, but if anything remains incomprehensible, let me know in the comments.</em> </p> <hr /> <p><em>World of Warcraft</em>, especially <em>WoW</em> raiding[1], is very much a game of numbers and details. </p> <p>At first, in the very early days of <em>WoW</em>, people didn’t necessarily appreciate this very well, nor did they have any good way to use that fact even if they did appreciate it. (And—this bit is a tangent, but an interesting one—a lot of superstitions arose about how game mechanics worked, which abilities had which effects, what caused bosses[2] to do this or that, etc.—all the usual human responses to complex phenomena where discerning causation is hard.) And, more importantly and on-topic, there was no really good way to sift the good players from the bad; nor to improve one’s own performance.</p> <p>This hampered progression. (“Progression” is a <em>WoW</em> term of art for “getting a boss down, getting better at doing so, and advancing to the next challenge; rinse, repeat”. Hence “progression raiding” meant “working on defeating the currently-not-yet-beaten challenges”.) </p> <h2>The combat log</h2> <p><img src="https://blog.obormot.net/attach/combat_log_example.jpg?v=1525364454.jpg" /></p> <p>One crucial feature of <em>WoW</em> is the <strong>combat log</strong>. This is a little window that appears at the bottom of your screen; into it, the game outputs lines that report everything that happens to or around your character. All damage done or taken, all hits taken or avoided, abilities used, etc., etc.—<em>everything</em>. This information is output in a specific format; and it can be parsed by the add-on system[3]. </p> <p>Naturally, then, people soon began writing add-ons that did parse it—parse it, and organize it, and present various statistical and aggregative transformations of that data in an easy-to-view form—which, importantly, could be viewed <em>live</em>, as one played. </p> <p>Thus arose the category of add-ons known as “damage meters”. </p> <h2>The damage meters</h2> <p><img src="http://cdn-wow.mmoui.com/preview/pvw26215.jpg" /></p> <p>Of course the “damage meters” showed other things as well—but viewing damage output was the most popular and exciting use. (What more exciting set of data is there, but one that shows how much you’re hurting the monsters, with your fireballs and the strikes of your sword?) The better class of damage-meter add-ons not only recorded this data, but also synchronized and verified it, by communicating between instances of themselves running on the clients of all the people in the raid. </p> <p>Which meant that <strong>now</strong> you could have a centralized display of just what exactly everyone in the raid was doing, and how, and how well. </p> <p>This was a great boon to raid leaders and raid guilds everywhere! You have a raid of 40 people, one of the DPSers[4] is incompetent, can’t DPS to save his life, or he’s AFK[5] half the time, or he's just messing around—who can tell? </p> <p>With damage meters—everyone can tell. </p> <p>Now, you could sift the bad from the good, the conscientious from the moochers and slackers, and so on. And more: someone’s not performing well but seems to be trying, but failing? Well, now you look at his ability breakdown[6], you compare it to that of the top DPSers, you see what the difference is and you say—no, Bob, don't use ability X in this situation, use ability Y, it does more damage. </p> <h2>The problem</h2> <p>All of this is fantastic. But… it immediately and predictably began to be subverted by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law">Goodhart’s law</a>. </p> <p>To wit: if you are looking at the DPS meters but “maximize DPS” is not perfectly correlated with “kill the boss” (that being, of course, your goal)… then you have a problem. </p> <p>This may be obvious enough; but it is also instructive to consider the <em>specific ways</em> that those things can come uncoupled. So, let me try and enumerate them. </p> <h3>The Thing is valuable, but it’s not the only valuable thing</h3> <p>There are other things that must be done, that are less glamorous, and may detract from doing the Thing, but each of which is a <em>sine qua non</em> of success. (In <em>WoW</em>, this might manifest as: the boss must be damaged, but also, adds must be kited—never mind what this means, know only that while a DPSer is doing <strong>that</strong>, he can’t be DPSing!) </p> <p>And yet more insidious elaborations on that possibility: </p> <h3>We can’t afford to specialize</h3> <p>What if, yes, this other thing must be done, but the maximally competent raid member must <strong>both</strong> do that thing and <strong>also</strong> the main thing? He won’t DPS as well as he could, but he also can't just <em>not</em> DPS, because then you fail and die; you can’t say “ok, <strong>just</strong> do the other thing and forget DPSing”. In other words, what if the secondary task isn’t just something you can put someone full-time on? </p> <p>Outside of WoW, you might encounter this in, e.g., a software development context: suppose you’re measuring commits, but also documentation must be written—but you don’t have (nor can you afford to hire) a dedicated docs writer! (Similar examples abound.) </p> <p>Then other possibilities: </p> <h3>Tunnel vision kills</h3> <p>The Thing is valuable, but tunnel-visioning on The Thing means that you will forget to focus on certain other things, the result being that you are horribly doomed somehow—this is an <em>individual</em> failing, but given rise to by the incentives of the singular metric (i.e., DPS maximization). </p> <p>(The <em>WoW</em> example is: you have to DPS as hard as possible, <em>but</em> you also have to move out the way when the boss does his “everyone in a 10 foot radius dies to horrible fire” ability.) </p> <p>And yet more insidious versions of this one: </p> <h3>Tunnel vision kills… other people</h3> <p>Yes, if this tunnel-vision dooms <strong>you</strong>, personally, in a predictable and unavoidable fashion, then it is easy enough to say “do this other thing or else you will predictably <strong>also</strong> suffer on the singular metric” (the dead throw no fireballs). </p> <p>But the <em>real</em> problem comes in when neglecting such a secondary duty creates <em>externalities</em>; or when the destructive effect of the neglect can be pushed off on someone else. </p> <p>(In WoW: “I won’t run out of the fire and the healers can just heal me and I won’t die and I’ll do more DPS than those who don’t run out&quot;; in another context, perhaps “I will neglect to comment my code, or to test it, or to do other maintenance tasks; these may be done for me by others, and meanwhile I will maximize my singular metric [commits]”.) </p> <p>It’s almost <em>always</em> the case that <strong>you</strong> have the comparative advantage in doing the secondary thing that avoids the doom; if others have to pick up your slack there, it’ll be way less efficient, overall. </p> <h3>Optimization has a price</h3> <p>The Thing is valuable, yes; and it may be that there are ways to <em>in fact</em> increase your level of the Thing, really do increase it, <strong>but</strong> at a non-obvious cost that is borne by <em>others</em>. Yes, you are improving <em>your</em> effectiveness, but the price is that others, doing other things, now have to work harder, or waste effort on the consequences, etc. </p> <p>(Many examples of this in WoW, such as “start DPSing before you’re supposed to, and risk the boss getting away from the tank and killing the raid”. In a general context, this is “taking risks, the consequences of which are dire, and the mitigation of which is a cost borne by others, not you”.) </p> <p>Then this one is particularly subtle and may be hard to spot: </p> <h3>Everyone wants the chance to show off their skill</h3> <p>The Thing is valuable, and doing it well brings judgment of competence, and therefore status. There are <em>roles within the project’s task allocation</em> that naturally give greater opportunities to maximize your performance of the Thing, and <strong>therefore</strong> people seek out those roles preferentially—even when an optimal allocation of roles, by relative skill or appropriateness to task, would lead them to be placed in roles that do not let them do the most of the Thing. </p> <p>(In WoW: if the most skilled hunter is needed to kite the add, but there are no “who kited the add best” meters, only damage meters… well, then maybe that most skilled hunter, when called upon to kite the add, says “Bob over there can kite the add better”—and as a result, because Bob actually is <em>worse</em> at that, the raid fails. In other contexts… well, many examples, of course; glory-seeking in project participation, etc.) </p> <p>Of course there is also: </p> <h3>A good excuse for incompetence</h3> <p>This is the converse of the first scenario: if the Thing is valuable but you are bad at it, you might deliberately seek out roles in which there is an <em>excuse</em> for not performing it well (because the role’s <em>primary</em> purpose is something else)—despite the fact that, actually, the ideal person in your role <strong>also</strong> does the Thing (even if not <em>as much</em> as in a Thing-centered role). </p> <hr /> <p>[1] “Raid dungeons” were the most difficult challenges in the game—difficult enough to require up to 40 players to band together and cooperate, and cooperate <em>effectively</em>, in order to overcome them. “Raiding” refers to the work of defeating these challenges. Most of what I have to say involves raiding, because it was this part of <em>WoW</em> that—due to the requirement for effective group effort (and for other, related, reasons)—gave rise to the most interesting social patterns, the most illuminating group dynamics, etc. </p> <p>[2] “Boss monsters” or “bosses” are the powerful computer-controlled opponents which players must defeat in order to receive the in-game rewards which are required to improve their characters’ capabilities. The most powerful and difficult-to-defeat bosses were, of course, raid bosses (see previous footnote).</p> <p>[3] <em>WoW</em> allows players to create add-ons—programs that enhance the game’s user interface, add features, and so on. Many of these were very popular—downloaded and used by many other players—and some came to be considered necessary tools for successful raiding.</p> <p>[4] “Damage Per Second”, i.e. doing damage to the boss, in order to kill it (this being the goal). Along with “tank” and “healer”, “DPS” is one of the three roles that a character might fulfill in a group or raid. A raid needed a certain number of people in each role, and all were critical to success.</p> <p>[5] “Away From Keyboard”, i.e., not actually at the computer—which means, obviously, that his character is standing motionless, and not contributing to the raid’s efforts in the slightest.</p> <p>[6] In other words: which of his character’s abilities he was using, in what proportion, etc. Is the mage casting Fireball, or Frostbolt, or Arcane Missile? Is the hunter using Arcane Shot, and if so, how often? By examining the record—recorded and shown by the damage meters—of a character’s ability usage, it was often very easy to determine who was playing optimally, and who was making mistakes.</p> saidachmiz GxW8ef8tH4yX6KMrf 2018-05-03T16:33:50.002Z GreaterWrong—more new features & enhancements https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Se5SybSfdS8owjmHw/greaterwrong-more-new-features-and-enhancements <p><em>(Previous posts: <a href="https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/66DXhQJyPEJNsXgfw/an-alternative-way-to-browse-lesswrong-2-0">[1]</a>, <a href="https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/43a8x6g2nKkxHXG4v/greaterwrong-several-new-features-and-enhancements">[2]</a>)</em></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/">GreaterWrong.com</a></strong> has been adding some more features and UI enhancements:</p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>GreaterWrong now has an <strong>inbox feature</strong>, which notifies you of replies to your comments. When you have new notifications, a <strong>red envelope</strong> will appear next to your username in the navigation bar. Click it to go to your Inbox. (Alternatively, click your name to go to your user page, then click the Inbox tab.)</p><p></p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>You can now <strong>use the keyboard to navigate lists of posts</strong> (e.g., the front page). Hit <code>.</code> (period) to select the next post in the list, or <code>,</code> (comma) to select the previous post; then hit Enter to go to the selected post.)</p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>You can now <strong>select the date and time from which new comments are highlighted</strong> (this works the same way as the analogous feature on Slate Star Codex).</p><p></p><p>Note that on narrow screens, this “highlight-new-comments-since” date-time field isn’t shown by default; click the new comments count to show it:</p><p></p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>Click the “three dots” icon in the post info line to open <strong>special linking options</strong>:</p><p></p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>You can now view <strong>lists of comments</strong> (e.g., the Recent Comments) page in a <strong>compact view</strong> that fits many more comments. Use the buttons pictured below to switch between expanded view (the default) and compact view. (When in compact view, you can hover over the ellipsis (“…”) icon on the right-hand-side of the comment to reveal the full comment.)</p><p>The view selection buttons:</p><p></p><p>Compact view:</p><p></p><p>Hover over a comment’s “…” icon to expand it:</p><p></p><hr class="dividerBlock"/><p>A number of <strong>new <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/about#keyboard-based-navigation">accesskeys</a></strong> have been added.</p> saidachmiz Se5SybSfdS8owjmHw 2018-04-07T20:41:14.357Z GreaterWrong—several new features & enhancements https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/43a8x6g2nKkxHXG4v/greaterwrong-several-new-features-and-enhancements <p><em>(I hope it’s acceptable to post this in the Meta section; if not, the mods can move it to my personal blog.)</em></p> <p><a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/">GreaterWrong.com</a> (which is an <a href="https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/66DXhQJyPEJNsXgfw/an-alternative-way-to-browse-lesswrong-2-0">alternative way to browse the new LessWrong</a>) has been adding some new features and enhancements—here’s some of the stuff we’ve got now:</p> <ul> <li>Appearance customization (click the “sliders” button on the top-left)<ul> <li>Images in posts are now properly excluded from changes to brightness / contrast / inversion / etc.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Adjustable text size (look on the top right, just under the content width selector buttons)<ul> <li><em>Note:</em> This doesn’t work in Firefox, unfortunately.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Most functions / buttons / etc. now have <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_key">accesskeys</a>, letting you do a lot of navigation (and other things) via the keyboard<ul> <li>All available accesskeys are <a href="http://www.obormot.net:4242/about#keyboard-based-navigation">listed on the About page</a> </li> </ul> </li> <li>Pagination links at the top of all listings pages (next page, previous page, etc.)</li> <li>Improved mobile layout (especially for the post/comment editing UI)</li> <li>An <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/about">updated About page</a> with detailed info on many of GreaterWrong’s features</li> </ul> <p>As always, please <a href="https://www.greaterwrong.com/about">let us know</a> if you’re having any problems with the site, bugs, etc. (If you do report bugs or problems, please include your browser, version, and operating system!)</p> saidachmiz 43a8x6g2nKkxHXG4v 2018-03-27T02:36:59.741Z Key lime pie and the methods of rationality https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/3JXoL76btbghNT9rz/key-lime-pie-and-the-methods-of-rationality saidachmiz 3JXoL76btbghNT9rz 2018-03-22T06:25:35.193Z A new, better way to read the Sequences https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/YoWLYphmLRYpC2qMQ/a-new-better-way-to-read-the-sequences <p>A new way to read the Sequences:</p> <p><a href="https://www.readthesequences.com"><strong>https://www.readthesequences.com</strong></a></p> <p>It's also more mobile-friendly than a PDF/mobi/epub.</p> <p>(The content is from the book &mdash; <em>Rationality: From AI to Zombies</em>. Books I through IV are up already; Books V and VI aren't up yet, but soon will be.)</p> <p><em>Edit:</em> <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/Book-V-MereGoodness">Book V</a> is now up.</p> <p><em>Edit 2:</em> <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/Book-VI-BecomingStronger">Book VI</a> is now up.</p> <p><em>Edit 3:</em> A zipped archive of the site (for offline viewing) is now <a href="https://www.readthesequences.com/About">available for download</a>.</p> saidachmiz YoWLYphmLRYpC2qMQ 2017-06-04T05:10:09.886Z Cargo Cult Language https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/iyfG8nYnnC58Rhrc8/cargo-cult-language <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A <a title="Cargo cult &mdash; Wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult">cargo cult</a> is a religious practice based on imitating the behavior of more-advanced societies, without understanding its true nature or purpose, in the hope of receiving the apparent benefit of that behavior. Members of cargo cults &mdash; which have sprung up in a number of tribal societies following their interaction with modern cultures &mdash; build crude imitations of airstrips, radio towers, and the like, under the misapprehension that it&rsquo;s these rituals that magically attract airplanes full of material wealth (&ldquo;cargo&rdquo;) to land and deliver their goods.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The term has since been applied in other contexts. Richard Feynman spoke about &ldquo;<a title="Cargo cult science &mdash; Wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_science">cargo cult science</a>&rdquo;, when scientists conduct research that superficially resembles the scientific method without any of the integrity and rigor that makes it a successful method of inquiry, and there is also &ldquo;<a title="Cargo cult programming &mdash; Wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult_programming">cargo cult programming</a>&rdquo;, when programmers include code in their programs without understanding its purpose, merely because they&rsquo;ve seen it used in examples or the programs of more experienced coders.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">I now want to extend the metaphor to a certain sort of error in language use. Call it <em>cargo cult language</em>: using words or phrases, usually incorrectly, with no understanding of the origin of the words or their exact meaning, merely on the basis of having heard such constructions elsewhere in similar contexts.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Do not mistake my point for pedantic railing against mangled grammar, spelling, or pronunciation. Before I elaborate or provide examples, I&rsquo;d like to distinguish the thing I&rsquo;m talking about from two related, but subtly different, problems.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The first is errors of grammar or usage: <em>their/there/they&rsquo;re</em>; <em>would of/could of/should</em><em> of</em>; <em>can&rsquo;t hardly</em>; <em>alot</em>. In each case, the speaker or writer almost certainly knows what they mean to say; they are simply mistaken about the correct way to say it. Furthermore, the reader or listener is also unlikely to be confused for any longer than the time it takes to do a mental double-take at the misused word; the context almost always resolves the ambiguities created by such errors.</span></p> <p class="p2">The second related but distinct problem is the sort of thing which George Orwell criticized in his essay &ldquo;<a title="Politics and the English Language &mdash; George Orwell" href="http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm">Politics and the English Language</a>&rdquo;. Orwell wrote of stale, overused phrases, clich&eacute;s, and metaphors which take the place of clear language, and which can &ldquo;construct your sentences for you &mdash; even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent&rdquo;. In such cases, the speaker or writer either has no precise meaning in mind, or wants, in some vague way, to say something, but lacks the command of language to say it clearly, without resorting to prefabricated phrases which convey nothing of substance.</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">What am I talking about, then?</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>comprise/compose/constitute</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">These three words are often confused, with &ldquo;comprise&rdquo; being the most common offender as an erroneous replacement for the other two. Phrases like &ldquo;is comprised of&rdquo; are obviously wrong, but there are also constructions such as &ldquo;X comprises Y&rdquo;, which are grammatically correct, but whose meaning is inverted if the writer&rsquo;s intended meaning was &ldquo;compose&rdquo;. The cause of this sort of error seems to be a perception that &ldquo;comprise&rdquo; is a &ldquo;fancier&rdquo; word that has the same meaning as the other two.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>accurate/precise</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">These two words don&rsquo;t mean the same thing, but are often used interchangeably. Parsing a sentence that contains one of these often requires the reader to make some inference about the writer&rsquo;s background: a scientist who says &ldquo;precise&rdquo; means something quite different than if she were to say &ldquo;accurate&rdquo;, but your average news reporter is probably not packing any special meaning into his word choice when he says that something is &ldquo;precisely correct&rdquo;.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>&rdquo;exponential increase&rdquo;</strong></span></p> <p class="p2">Is the increase actually exponential rather than, say, polynomial, or does the speaker simply mean &ldquo;fast growth&rdquo;? It&rsquo;s often the latter; people say &ldquo;exponential&rdquo; because they&rsquo;ve heard the term used, somewhere, to describe fast growth, and it did not occur to them that it might have a very specific meaning. (We could also blame rampant innumeracy for this one.)</p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>&rdquo;exception that proves the rule&rdquo;</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">This example comes closest to falling into the Orwellian category I mentioned earlier, since the phrase is certainly a tired clich&eacute;, but it does have a concrete meaning: an exception which, by its existence, serves to underscore the rule. A sign that says &ldquo;free parking on Sundays&rdquo; does not have to add &ldquo;parking costs money on other days&rdquo; because the exception proves the rule.<sup><a href="#footnote1">1</a></sup>&nbsp; The other usage, seemingly more common these days despite being quite nonsensical, takes the phrase to refer to any exception. It is clear in such cases that the speaker simply has no idea why they are using the phrase; imitation without understanding.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Cargo cult language can be distinguished from simple errors of grammar, usage, or style by considering the question: &ldquo;What do you mean by that?&rdquo; With a grammar error, the reader or listener almost always <em>does</em> knows what is meant. At most, there&rsquo;s a double-take, a mental stumble as the erroneous construction is parsed; but the meaning is usually not obscured. Use of cargo cult language, on the other hand, can introduce genuine ambiguities and block comprehension, especially because it often isn&rsquo;t clear whether the speaker really knows what he&rsquo;s saying and means to say it or is simply parroting.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In the Orwellian case, the words have lost their meaning, becoming empty platitudes. In the case of cargo cult language, on the other hand, the words <em>do</em> have a meaning, but the meaning is not what the speaker thinks; or he doesn&rsquo;t know the meaning, only using the phrase because he&rsquo;s heard it said in a similar context.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In my experience, cargo cult language turns up most often in technical conversations, and I do not think it is coincidence that the term &ldquo;cargo cult&rdquo; originated in the context of modern technology as seen by less-advanced societies, nor that its other two most common uses come from science and computer programming. It is related, I think, to the phenomena of <a title="Science as Attire &mdash; Less Wrong" href="/lw/ir/science_as_attire/">science as attire</a>&nbsp;and <a title="Fake Explanations &mdash; Less Wrong" href="/lw/ip/fake_explanations/">fake explanations</a>; an attitude of <a title="Magical thinking &mdash; Wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking">magical thinking</a>&nbsp;toward technical matters that treats the language of science and technology as a sort of ritual, in which you invoke certain phrases to lend authority to what you&rsquo;re saying, and where knowing exactly what the words mean is of secondary importance at best.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Cargo cult language is not limited to technical discourse, naturally. I suspect that most Internet debates are rife with examples, no matter the topic. In each case, it impedes comprehension, by making the reader doubt his understanding of what&rsquo;s being said, or, worse, by creating the illusion of transparency. Frustratingly, asking for clarification is often unhelpful; there&rsquo;s a clear loss of status in admitting that you have no idea what you&rsquo;re saying and are just parroting words to sound smart. Thus &ldquo;hmm, is that really what you meant to say?&rdquo; is often met with absurd arguments to the effect that no, this phrasing is not nonsensical after all, these words mean what I want them to, and who the hell are you to try to legislate usage, anyway?</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1">A reasonable position to take, perhaps, if your interlocutor is merely insisting on adherence to some grammatical or stylistic standard. The tragedy of cargo cult language, however, is that there is a <a title="Fallacies of Compression &mdash; Less Wrong" href="/lw/nw/fallacies_of_compression/">difference in meaning</a> between the correct usage and the wrong one, and a <a title="The Virtue of Narrowness &mdash; Less Wrong" href="/lw/ic/the_virtue_of_narrowness/">loss of accuracy</a>&nbsp;due to conflating them. Fail to recognize this at your own peril.</span></p> <p class="p2">&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1" style="font-size: smaller"><sup><a name="footnote1"></a>1</sup>&nbsp;There is also a secondary meaning: sometimes what at first <em>seems</em> to be an exception turns out, upon examination, to be an instance of the rule after all, thus confirming that there are no real exceptions and that the rule holds for all cases. &ldquo;Proves&rdquo; in such cases means something like &ldquo;tests&rdquo;, as in &ldquo;proving ground&rdquo;. (<a title="&quot;Exception that proves the rule&quot; &mdash; Wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exception_that_proves_the_rule">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exception_that_proves_the_rule</a>) This is still completely different from the erroneous usage.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> saidachmiz iyfG8nYnnC58Rhrc8 2012-02-05T21:32:56.631Z