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Meetup Interest: Rhode Island 2012-03-29T16:40:02.750Z · score: 0 (1 votes)

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Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes Thread June 2015 · 2015-06-05T06:49:27.688Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's wrong with it? Too vulgar? Too vague?

Struck me as an example of failing to update after testing beliefs -- the criminal martial artist believed he was so strong, but he still was defeated -- and yet now he assumes he is unbeatable.

Or perhaps a sort of villainous mirror of heroic responsibility -- All the excuses in the world don't matter if you failed to actually get away with your villainous plan.

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes Thread June 2015 · 2015-06-05T04:13:20.767Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

(In a supervillain prison, new inmate Sonic (not that one) has just announced he'll kill the others for fun.)

Martial artist inmate: "You seem pretty !@#$ing confident. If you wanna rise up in rank in this prison full of monsters, you'll have to beat me first."

Martial artist inmate: "Let me tell you this in advance. I'm a kenpo practitioner. I'm probably the first and last guy to ever rob a bank unarmed."

Sonic: "Doesn't mean $#!@ if you got caught though."

--One-Punch man Vol 4 extra

Comment by scottbert on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T07:33:46.138Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

How did Harry move the wires through the air with partial transfiguration alone? He doesn't have bugs to carry it like Skitter does. How does he prevent air currents from messing it up?

Comment by scottbert on Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves · 2014-09-22T07:53:33.563Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I imagined what rational me would do a couple of hours ago, and he'd have gotten a head start on next week's workload until he was tired and then started tomorrow off on much better footing (I'm not talking about being a workaholic -- I'm lazy and have kind of fallen behind -- I could stand to work a bit more)

Instead, I read about why the great filter probably doesn't lie between the evolution of a nervous system and dolphin-level intelligence, learned about 'biological dark matter', dismissed it as viruses, undismissed it, learned that it was probably just material from unsequenced portions of microbe genomes, learned things I never knew about the difference between archaea and bacteria, about how they might have combined to form eukaryotes, about tons of various external factors that could keep life from getting the chance to evolve in the first place, read far too much discussion about hypothetical engineers in hypothetical dolphin bodies, then finally came back to this thread and read all the comments.

I guess I did it wrong? :(

Comment by scottbert on Meetup : LW/Methods of Rationality meetup · 2013-10-17T02:37:42.895Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How late will the meetup run until?

Comment by scottbert on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-13T22:39:50.618Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Coffee doesn't seem to really help me aside from keeping me from falling asleep for a short time (~40-60 minutes maybe). I used it most heavily (2-4 small or medium cups a week) when I was suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, but even now I occasionally have some when I feel I must be extra sure not to get sleepy, and it doesn't really seem to help me focus and wears off quickly. Does coffee not work on certain people or is there some factor I'm not aware of?

Comment by scottbert on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-13T16:53:11.145Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gaming the system is, at least, in the spirit of munchkinry!

Comment by scottbert on Schelling Day: A Rationalist Holiday · 2013-03-29T16:35:49.179Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does the Boston group ever meet on a day other than Sunday?

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-10T18:29:27.045Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Faith is holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.

-- C.S. Lewis

Comment by scottbert on MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare · 2013-03-07T16:00:25.048Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sleep apnea seems like something regular doctors should be able to figure out, and I know gout has at least been known for a long time. Are these meant to be examples of what the reports look like more than examples of how Metamed can find obscure treatments? $5000 seems a bit much for someone to be told 'get checked for sleep apnea and lose weight'.

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes January 2013 · 2013-01-08T01:43:31.530Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I asked a religious relative something along these lines.

Her response was that God would never ask people to do bad things, and if it seemed that He was that would just be someone else deceiving her.

I explained the atheist view on this sort of thing and then the conversation shifted directions before I thought to point out the example of God asking someone to sacrifice their child in the bible.

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes November 2012 · 2012-11-07T19:37:19.492Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Girl 1: Because distance is infinitely divisible, if you assign number pairs to each letter of the alphabet, you can specify any string of letters just by pointing to a very specific place on this centimeter and getting its decimal output. In fact, that sentence I just said is at a particular point on the centimeter, as was this one, and whatever you or I say in the future. The centimeter has read every book there will ever be and knows every scientific fact that can be. It knows the future of our friendship. It knows how we'll die. It knows how the universe ends and how it began.

Girl 2: What's the point of doing anything then?

Girl 1: Well, the centimeter also "knows" a bunch of crazy stuff.

Centimeter callouts: "2+2=3" "Up is down, rotated 90 degrees" "Ponies aren't awesome"

Girl 2: So I know infinity less than the centimeter, but have infinity better discretion.

Girl 1: Yeah, that's basically your life. You know relatively no information, but you're relatively great at using it.

Girl 2: I bet if I tell Bobby about this, he'll like me.

Girl 1: Well, you're okay at using it.

--Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Comment by scottbert on The Fabric of Real Things · 2012-10-12T18:52:41.355Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose I would say that reality would look as if things happened with no observable pattern related to the things that happen before them, but looking at things requires a long causal chain between photons being emitted and signals in my brain. Supposing I happened to somehow flash into existence for an instant in a noncausal world, or that causality suddenly failed, I would not expect to be able to experience anything past that point since my experiences depend on so many causal processes.

Comment by scottbert on The Fabric of Real Things · 2012-10-12T18:46:06.548Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, my first thought was that it doesn't rule epiphenomenal consciousness out. It's strange that people would still talk about consciousness without it, but you can posit that people are just programmed to talk about consciousness for some reason (it's at least conceivable).

Then I looked at the next guy's answer (asparisi) and thought he had a point: Does our theory of causal links allow for causes to have probabilistic effects? (It's different to say that 'human brains sometimes cause consciousness than to say 'human brains can cause ANYTHING, like a blue goblin appearing in front of you or the universe being destroyed and replaced with another one') I'm not sure. If it does, then epiphenomena-that-sometimes-don't-happen are okay. If not, they aren't.

THEN I thought, but if consciousness is an epiphenomenon then what's strange is that people talk about it at all -- by definition, we cannot be aware of an epiphenomenon. But there could be another cause for the discussion of something we can't interact with in any way. After all, people's talk about gods is not caused by gods. There are other reasons to rule epiphenomena out, but a world with P-zombies is at least conceivable, even if it requires a lot of unlikely assumptions.

Comment by scottbert on The Fabric of Real Things · 2012-10-12T18:26:13.004Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, hypothetical mystic dude.

You said: "IF you draw a card... [then] he can tell you the name of your card". Sounds causal to me! Otherwise he could tell me the name of my card whether I draw it or not!

Also, you commune with the universe TO realize that your partner loves you. If you don't believe the results of your divination are caused by your partner's love why are you doing it?

In short, you may believe you believe that these are 'non-causal processes', but on the level that determines your behavior, you believe they are causal processes. I suspect this is because either labeling these things non-scientific is important to you for some reason (love of mystery, or perhaps it's what your peer group says to believe) or you don't understand what the words 'non-causal process' mean and it's just a password.

Comment by scottbert on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2012-10-03T16:35:09.885Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think the idea is that the hypothetical teacher is making students memorize passwords instead of teaching the meaning of the concept.

Comment by scottbert on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2012-10-03T16:32:12.378Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I share this interpretation, but I always figured in Eliezer's examples the hypothetical professor was so obsessed with passwords or sounding knowledgeable that they didn't bother to teach the meaning of 'post-utopian', and might even have forgotten it. Or they were teaching to the test, but if this is a college class there is no standard test, so they're following some kind of doubly-lost purpose.

Or it could be that the professor is passing down passwords they were taught as a student themselves. A word must have had some meaning when it was created, but if most people treat it as a password it won't constrain their expectations.

Also, I like that the comment system correctly interpreted my use of underbars to mean italics. I've been using that convention in plaintext for 15 years or so, glad to see someone agrees with it!

Comment by scottbert on Dreams with Damaged Priors · 2012-08-18T21:07:11.690Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This was during sleep paralysis, not during dreaming. Perhaps the prior-evaluating inhibition is absent during sleep-paralysis but not dreaming?

They are obviously related states, but from personal experience I have had a much easier time realizing what's going on when sleep-paralyzed (including recognizing that the voices and people I hear in the room with me almost certainly aren't actually there because they weren't every other time this happened)

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes August 2012 · 2012-08-08T02:34:31.816Z · score: 19 (35 votes) · LW · GW

reinventing the wheel is exactly what allows us to travel 80mph without even feeling it. the original wheel fell apart at about 5mph after 100 yards. now they're rubber, self-healing, last 4000 times longer. whoever intended the phrase "you're reinventing the wheel" to be an insult was an idiot.

--rickest on IRC

Comment by scottbert on Instrumental vs. Epistemic -- A Bardic Perspective · 2012-06-20T17:19:02.543Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Did a post ever get made of this?

It is a really cool story, but I too disbelieve it although I'll admit it's possible -- it needs more details. Any LARP I've been to, I'd think the padded-stick swords and calls of "2 [damage]" and the 'monsters' consisting of people in masks would be a giveaway that something's up, even if there was a big stigma against breaking character and the RPers all thought the wedding guests were in on it.

Also if I didn't know about LARPs and somehow became convinced I was in a magical land I'd want to see some magic, and since mages were a PC class there would be some around. I'd become suspicious when they threw beanbags or declared they'd made a force wall that I could walk right through. Maybe the guests had other priorities, though...

Comment by scottbert on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-09T15:12:11.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ditto for me -- The difference between the two chords is crystal clear, but in the cadence I can barely hear it.

I'm not a professional, but I sang in school chorus for 6 years, was one of the more skilled singers there, I've studied a little musical theory, and I apparently have a lot of natural talent. And the first time I heard the version played in cadence I didn't notice the difference at all. Freaky. I know how that post-doc felt when she couldn't hear the difference in the chords.

Comment by scottbert on The RPG Thread · 2012-02-15T19:41:27.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Did anything come of this? I for one would love to play an RPG with a group of rationalists and make cool new friends in the LW community, although I've never been able to keep interest in play-by-post games -- I prefer real-time chat using a MU* or Maptools.

Comment by scottbert on The Meaning of Right · 2011-10-13T00:14:45.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

D'oh, you're right, so the "coherent" extrapolated volition is a concept applied to all of humanity, not just one person (that would just be an extrapolated volition?). That's what I get for reading the CEV post days ago and then reading this one after forgetting part of it.

So, morality as Eliezer is trying to explain it, is to do your best to understand and work for the CEV?

Comment by scottbert on The Meaning of Right · 2011-10-12T20:43:23.057Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The one missing piece here seems to be how each individual human's morality blob corresponds to any other's morality blob. I suppose we could argue that the CEV of all humans would be the same (certainly my own CEV would want happiness etc for people I will never meet or have knowledge of), but you didn't actually say that and if you meant it you should say it. Is this covered in an interpersonal morality post elsewhere?

I spent much time searching for the morality outside myself once I lost faith, although I assumed it would hold true to most of my assumptions rather than be something scarily different. the best I could find was Kant's categorical imperative since it claimed to make good logical, though I found it to be flawed as conventionally interpreted (although I suppose it may be as good a source as any of rules to follow in general).

That morality is extremely complicated and not reducible to a few simple rules does make sense to me upon reflection, however difficult it makes it to argue with religious people to whom 'The bible has guidelines, but the real specific answer is complicated' is not an acceptable answer -- but that's their problem, not a problem with the truth.

Comment by scottbert on Mere Messiahs · 2011-07-09T23:15:42.473Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

So it's a year-old comment that finally gets me to say something here.

This is how I felt too -- I was raised Christian -- specifically Quaker, a branch of Christianity with a nonviolent bent and the belief that God could speak to anyone at anytime, not just to prophets.

Eventually I somehow formed the impression that God, if He were as kind and all-loving as I was told, would surely judge nonbelievers and believers in other faiths based on their actions. I don't know how heretical this would be -- it may have helped that our Quaker meeting was and is a rather laid-back place that seems willing to accept atheism and progressive things -- I once prepared to give a speech on why gay marriage should be allowed only to find everyone there was cool with it.

When I started to move towards agnosticism, I had the same thought: A kind god, if he really exists, as unlikely as any particular god seems, will understand and judge me by my actions. A cruel judgemental god might send me to hell, but I consider such a hypothetical figure's decisions not worth respecting, and within the probability-space of that god's existance, there is the chance that hell, run by a devil who rebelled against such a god, is full of cool people and not so bad. And if hell in such a world is eternal torture... well, then we live in a crapsack world and are powerless to do anything about it (looking back at these thoughts now, I wonder if life extension could be seen as giving the finger to a judgemental but non-interventionist god -- if you would have us go to hell, then we're staying here!). I rated the probability of that rather low, though.

Since then, my expected probability for any kind of god relatable to by humans has only dropped until I consider it more appropriate to say I am an atheist than an agnostic.