Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-05T17:31:56.576Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Not to be a bore but it does say "Lady Average" not "Sir or Madam Average".

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-05T17:30:51.954Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not to be a bore but it does say "Lady Average" not "Sir or Madam Average".

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-07T14:20:27.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm probably referring to all of the above. That's an interesting speciation of anti-intellectualism, but I am meaning it in the broad sense, because I've seen all of them.
If someone calls me a "liberal elitist", is it version 1, 3, or 5? Does the class issue also result in a gut reaction? Is the traditionalism directly related to the totalizing? I understand the differences as described in the article, but I'm not sure they are easily separable. Sometimes yes, but not always. So: A. I think the differences are interesting, and useful, but not always clearly delineated, and B. when generalizing about a group, I'm not sure it's necessary. If I say "New Yorkers really like dogs", it's probably not cricitcal which breed I mean. If I say "that person really likes his/her dog" then it matters more.

(and we all know that when you generalize about things it's like when you assume things: it makes a general out of I and, um, ze)

As relates to the original quote: which type was Godin referring to? He talks about being ashamed at being uninformed, which touches on 1 and 5, possibly 2, and interacts with 3. (pobre quatro) One of the things we've slowly seen is the other side: being unashamed at being informed...or politically unpunished, for that matter. Politicians want to be "regular people" because they are berated for using subclauses in sentences (John Kerry), for being a know-it-all (Gore), elitist (everyone, per Palin), destroying the fabric (Obama), utopiansim (the 90's Clintons), etc...

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-06T18:13:34.654Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But if you are settling a question of morality, I take it as being a question between multiple people (that's not explicit, but seems to be implicity part of the above). One's personal ethical system needn't aspire, but when settling a question of group ethics or morality, how do you proceed?
Or for that matter, how do I analyze my own ethics? How do I know if I'm achieving ataraxia without looking at the evidence: do my actions reduce displeasure, etc? The result of my (or other people's) actions are relevant evidence, providing necessary feedback to my personal system of ethics, no?

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-06T18:05:52.469Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A. I'm not entirely sure that things that used to be human nature no longer are. We deal with them, surpress them, sublimate, etc. Anger responses, fear, lust, possesiveness, nesting. The animal instincts of the human animal. How those manifest does indeed change, but not the "nature" of them.

B. We live (in the USA) in a long-term culture of anti-intellectualism. Obviously this doesn't mean it can't change... Sometimes it seems like it will (remember the days before nerd-chic?), but in a nominally democratic society, there will always be a minority of people who are relatively "intellectual" by definition, we should recognize that you don't have to overcome anti-intellectualism, you just have to raise the bar. While still anti-intellectual, in many ways even the intentionally uninformed know more than the average person did back in the day. (just like there will always be a minority of people who will be "relatively tall", even as the average height has tended to increased over the generations)

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-06T15:21:26.443Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My subjective impression is that people who talk a lot about tradition are more interested in "the past" than they are interested in "history". e.g. the history of our nation does not bear out the traditional idea that everyone is equal. Or for that matter, the tradition of social mobility in our country, or the tradition of a wedding veil, or the tradition of Christmas caroling v. wassailing, etc.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes October 2011 · 2011-10-04T16:46:28.611Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

After all, in a thousand years or so, Russian revolution and the USSR will be as important as the Mongol invasion and the Khanate of the Golden Horde are today.

Which is to say: pretty important. Not that it's important what exacly some boundary was, or who did what to whom...but all these things are part of the overall development of our current state of affairs, from the development of paper money to credit systems, from Chinese approach to Tibet to the extent of distribution of Islam.

I think it's risky to assume that "science", while more easily identified as rational, is in fact more rational than the rational facts of history, and its causal relationship to the present.

Discoveries in science are, in a sense, what "has to be". But while histroy could have been different, itt wasn't, and it simply "is what it is".

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2011-06-14T18:21:34.120Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems (to me) to be analogous to a lot of fairly technical pursuits: Seismic analysis from purcussion events for finding oil. Tracking the impact of an object on the moon to detect water. Looking for the decay of particles produced and collided by accelerators. Pitching to a batter, over time, will reveal the best way to pitch to that batter (what are his/her strenghts and weaknesses). Haggling.

Approaching its most distilled form: If a system is not giving you information, affect the system in some way [doesn't have to be an "attack" per se]. How the system changes based on your input is instructive, so absorb all of that data.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2011-06-07T17:46:12.779Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But if you put out maximum effort, you can leave longevity and/or quality on the table. Silverbacks, pitchers, office workers, day-to-day-life, running, eating... Short term maximum effort might detract from long-term maximum utility. The cost/benefits analysis is at times subjective. "Utility" can mean different things to different people. "Utility", as I interpret in a Rationalist context has a very specific almost "economic" meaning. But you can choose to reduce effort and not push the envelop, and go home, have dinner, relax, and enjoy your life. Some people might refer to that as utility, others as low hanging fruit, still others as a healthy balance.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2011-06-06T17:57:50.681Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't seem rational. One must develop an instinct for what one really needs to/wants to/should achieve, and judge whether maximium effort (which I assume would be required to achieve the barely-achievable) is worth the return on that investment.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2011-06-03T15:26:20.480Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's an interesting point but exceedingly simplistic, more so these days than ever before.
What about "the more you think in training", or "the more you learn in training"? Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying the value of sweat (excerise, fitness, etc), I'm just saying it's not even close to the whole equation.

Comment by simplyeric on The 5-Second Level · 2011-05-12T21:01:05.540Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A brief continuance on the derailment of the thread:

•The explosives theory involves a conspiracy - penalty.

The 9/11 attack undisputedly did involve a conspiracy.
The question here is, by whom? (a. just by foreign terrorists, b. an "inside job").

•The explosives theory can be and is used to score political points - penalty.

What does that have to do with anything? A reduction in unemployment can be used to score political points...that certainly doesn't make is unlikely

•The explosives theory doesn't make any goddamn sense - huge penalty.

This is subjective - penalty?

The biggest point is: the orthodox explanation of the collapse seems robust to me on its own merits. There are other questions.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2011-03-03T18:08:14.625Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I shouldn't have assumed otherwise! Previous post edited.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2011-03-03T18:02:22.087Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Although it does smack of "I was just following orders".

I know that's not what the original quote is about, not most of the responses in this thread. But it's a "logical" extension of the sentiment.

Don't hate the playa, unless the playa is playing a game that is inherently and obviously worthy of hate ("I was just following orders"), or a game that might allow certain things that are worthy of hate. Exploitation of child labor, for example, is within the rules of the game (just not in certain places), and could allow a player to be more successful than one who didn't go to that extent of the rules. In that circumstance, it seems ok to hate the player.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2011-03-03T17:12:14.198Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To be able to learn something, you have to have reasonably understood its prerequisites.

I'm not sure if I understand this, but at face value I disagree with this. For example, there is evidence that infants start learning gender roles as soon as their eyes can focus far enough away to be able to see what all is going on. This is a great example of "the things you assume which really sink into them", and I'm not sure what the understood prerequisite would be.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2011-03-03T17:11:16.895Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's quite rational to point out that people have psychological and physiological reaction to "inclusion" and attention. The reaction that people have may not be inherently rational, but identifying it seems quite rational to me.

Now, the way that quote is phrased is not in a rationalist manner, and Rich may not be entirely rational about it: she seems to be saying "this is what it is" without analysis or potential solution. It would take a good strong rationalist to be able to be in the situation Rich describes and not feel marginalized, since the reaction is probably an instinctual one.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: March 2011 · 2011-03-03T16:59:32.650Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It also allows us to weight the consequences in order to, in fact, suffer them by choice, with the notion that suffering of certain consequences has other payoffs.

Comment by simplyeric on Use curiosity · 2011-03-02T14:44:27.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like someone had a crush on their Math 101 teacher....

But yes, this is right on. Ask them a question that allows (but does not require) the other person to tell a story (stories can be quite short...I use the word in a loose sense). Respond with your own, make it as short or shorter, and only one-up someone once.

(by one-up I mean, tell a better story. If they tell you about their cute Math 101 teacher, and you tell them about the time you saw your math teacher on a date or something, and they come back with the math teacher drunk at a casino or something, maybe leave it at that....sometimes people don't like to have their story trumped, unless you have a REALLY good story to throw down there).

Comment by simplyeric on Use curiosity · 2011-03-02T14:38:59.771Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've been able to turn non-social curiosity into good social interaction. Dale Carnegie says that if you want to be a good conversationalist...if you want people to like you... you need to talk about what the other person wants to talk about. And often the other person wants to talk about themselves, if only for a second. But, what happens if 2 Dale Carnegie followers talk? "Enough about me, lets talk about you". "No no, enough about me, lets talk about you."

I find a better application is, ask a question, or 2, and then rather than asking more questions, make a comment. Doesn't have to be perfect. More knowledge (from basic-research-curiousity) gives you more comments you can make. What little thing do you know about what the other person just said? About fishing, or the university of x, or the story they just told. People don't want to answer questions, they want to relate. "How's the job going?" "Oh yeah I know what you mean...I had a boss who used to do the same thing."

Obviously that can get too banal, which is why the basic-research-curiousity pays off: you can elevate the "we relate" by having something more to say, about things.

Comment by simplyeric on Use curiosity · 2011-03-02T14:13:47.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But you can broaden the questions as well.

Looking at Neanderthals/hominids:

How does this relate to the understanding of art, creativity, madness, motherly love? The notions of greed in children, in adults, in a capitalist economy, and how does that relate to the regulation of markets, conflicts of interests, incentivization and moral hazards? How does this relate to the notions of religion/theology, race, climate tolerance? How does climate tolerance relate to the social structure of Californians, and what does air conditioning mean for society going forward? How does early hominid tool use relate to our ability to drive cars, use computers, integrate robotics with human life, and parkour?

Obviously one can get lost in mindless ramblings of curiosity. But if you make an effort to be constructing an overall fabric of "how things work", you have a reason and a direction for your curiosity. It combines being mindful with entertainment. Over time you create a your own grand unification theory (not specific to physics, mind you), and you have a framework into which you can easily slot new information (or update existing).

Comment by simplyeric on Use curiosity · 2011-03-02T13:59:50.019Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But curiosity can also be like R&D, and the funding of basic research, which can have huge payoffs that are unexpected compared to what they were originally targeted for.

Curiosity should at times be targeted, but if you are too targeted you can miss a lot of stuff, for example: how things work. Not "a thing". But "things", in general. In order to be good at life you need to know a wide variety of things, in order to be able to generate your own overall fabric of how the world works.

Also, being too targeted makes you boring.

Comment by simplyeric on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-09T16:40:56.698Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

many people would say: don't put knives in the dishwasher at all.

Meaning, good kitchen knives...tableware is fine. But kitchen knives (slicers, dicers, etc) depend on very thin foils at the blade edge. The chemicals and heat involved in dishwashers can damage the blade.

(this is only marginally resolved by using serrated knives...those may not be damaged by dishwashers as much, but I have yet to find one that works as well as a pretty good kitchen knife that is even marginally maintained)

Comment by simplyeric on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-09T15:49:18.082Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And all of this is culture coded and may vary for your specific location or subtype of bar.

Absolutely. Although I'll mention that I've had good luck with this general approach in various parts (both geographically and demographically) of the United States, Western Europe, and at least one part of Eastern Europe. But, I'd like to reinforce:

A general safe way to go is to observe what other people do.

This is absolutely the best advice...but be careful to observe the right people. Observe the people who seem to get drinks "effortlessly" (rather than the people who are more aggressive...they create a visual nuisance that makes them more noticeable, thus more "observable" by someone who is new to a situation).

Many people seem to act as if there is an objectively best drink to order. But I would guess that is wrong. Feel free to try.

Again, totally true. However, I'd say that there can be times where there is an objectively "wrong" drink to order. Nothing is absolute, of course. But, don't order martinis in a crowded dive bar, for example. Don't order a Jaeger Bomb at an elegant cocktail lounge. I mean, by all means, DO order those. Just keep in mind that some places might actually refuse, or it might simply be seen as socially awkward.

Comment by simplyeric on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T17:41:34.023Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are many who believe that the key to better hair is NOT using as much shampoo. Use as little as possible in order to not have greasy hair. This takes time to master. Some people need a full scrub every day. Some people need almost nothing. The homeostatis of your scalp is the key: using less shampoo should, over time, make your scalp produce less oil.
I'm down to a point where I go a day or two rinsing only, sometimes just a little bit of extra soap from when I washed my neck. When I wash my hair, I use very little shampoo...the bare minimum. Then, a few times a year I really wash it (and then it's all crazy for a few days).

note: I should point out that I do not appear any less "groomed" than the next guy, except when I procrastinate about getting a haircut. I have extensive client contact at work in a somewhat-trendy architecture firm, etc.

Dove Bar, unscented/sensative skin. I'm not a "product" guy but that's one product I highly recommend. A little extra attention at armpits, neck, feet, and of course the vitals, goes a long way.

IMPORTANT: deoderant. There are unscented brands, and delicate ones too. The "crystal" works for some, but I find it works in winter but not in summer (too hot, and the deoderant fails me, so I switch to an unscented antipersperant).

IMPORTANT: you can shower and deoderant all you want: you must wear fresh clothing. Fresh tshirt, socks, and underwear every day (the overshirt and pants you can wear multiple times). Synthetics stink more than cottons/wools: body oder bacteria can actually feed on the plastics in fleece, bras, socks, etc. Wash undergarments regularly, and wear cotton socks.

Comment by simplyeric on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T17:27:06.993Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I spend more time than I should at bars (I like my sports, and don't own a TV..), and I've developed a few rules of thumb:

  1. I never say "keep the change"...but I often say "I'm all set, thanks" if I hand them a $20 for $18 of drinks, (or $17..) for example. "I'm all set" has the same effective meaning as "keep the change", but without the connotations.
  2. moderation. Standard American fare: $1 per drink. If you order 3 drinks, tip 3 dollars. If you order 8 drinks at once, it depends. If you ordered 8 bottles of Bud, you could tip $5-$6...if you ordered 8 mixed drinks, $8-$10. If you order 1 drink at a time, but stay for a while and order a handful of drinks, consider occasionally tossing in an extra dollar now and then. (an $18 martini sometimes, but not always, merits $2 for one depends. If the bartender is aloof and self important, I only tip $1)
  3. Women often tip less than men. NOTE: this varies WIDELY, in both how it's done and how people react to it. A bunch of single girls at a bar will often order 3-4 drinks, and leave a dollar. In some places that's "the cost of doing business", in others it will get you worse service over time (I'll point out that there's a countervailing trend where some women type MORE than men, in part because some of their peers tip's confusing)
  4. Ordering: get up to the bar, make your presence know as subtly as possible 4.a. hand on the bar with two fingers slightly extended, like a half-hearted peace sign, or with money/card in the hand but not flagrantly displayed 4.b. eye contact. Watch the he/she turns and scans, give a nod, raise the eyebrows, like in a quiet cordial non-vocal greeting)... but then BE PATIENT.
    Once you've registered your presence, they will mentally que you up and come to you in your turn. Be ready to order, or have minimal questions. (note: obviously this will fail sometimes..start subtle, and increase efforts bit by bit...waving or "excuse me" is a last resort)
  5. be quick, friendly, humble, quick, curteous, and quick. Not servile...just, cordially professional. If you want to throw in humor or more interaction, do it while they are pouring your drink. Don't slow down the process by making the joke stand on it's own
  6. When ordering: Speak clearly...enunciate, (slightly) exagerrate lip movement...these people are professionals and will try to read your lips if it's noisy.
  7. When ordering: know what you want (as much as is possible). If you order "vodka and x___" be prepared to answer type of vodka (or whatever alcohol is involved). If you don't know what brand, say "I don't know...whatever's good" and you'll probably get a standard brand. If you say "I don't care" you'll usually get "well" which is the cheapest (but some "scene" places will give you something expensive). If you actually don't care, say "house" or "well"...sometimes this will taste bad, but it's cheaper.
  8. If there's space, belly up to the bar! (as you see fit) If it's crowded, don't insist on having to have full shoulder width at the bar. Stand perpendicular, lean in on your elbow to order, etc

Other things to look out for: -guys, don't necessarily tip cute waitresses more. I mean, by all means feel free. But it gets silly sometimes -guys, if the waitress/bartender is cute in...specific visual ways... do make an effort to look up at her face when you are talking to her -girls, if you tip less, fine. But don't be stingy "just because you can get away with it"

[note: this post is making me want to reassess my lifestyle. ooof]

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: February 2011 · 2011-02-04T17:35:59.373Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it was a Marxist parable, or something of the allegorical critique of capitalism, supervalue, the elite exploiting the masses.

I must be in a bad mood because of the Cathie Black situation in NYC...where the "giants" are the democratic masses, who protested against the natural orators of our government...

Last night was a "change of humor that would come over the giants"... a "brusque refusal"...but in the end the middle/lower classes "seemed nevertheless to be charged with nourishing them and housing them and transporting them, and who eventually carried out their duties, provided they were prayed to" (the "praying" being only the making of promises, "I stand for the middle class", "we'll create jobs for you", "think of the children!!11!!1!").

The masses do, at times, crush the endeavors of the orators (more than one reference to Egypt was made last night)...but for the most part the giant masses do what they are told, as long as they hear the right things, and have a cookie or a coo tossed to them now and then.

I freely admit taking too much liberty with all of that...but it really is what I was thinking about as I read it.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: February 2011 · 2011-02-04T15:14:22.890Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

An interesting concept...but I wonder. I bet at least some people would actually notice that. They'd see unrest in the middle east and say "hmm...oil prices didn't change the way I expected them to" or something. Sometimes you see things like " index rises in spite of ".

I think Graham's inference has merit: these people don't really know what's happening...but I think some people at least would notice the anomoly.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-11T14:38:08.590Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"IOW, just because a given team imagines it possible to win does not mean they can win, because winning is not under their control"

But just because a team does not win, does not mean it was not possible.

I mean, think of all the things that a person does multiple times but doesn't do every time. Hit a golf ball x yards, run a 7 minute mill, sing on key. The "imagining" has nothing to do with it.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-11T13:53:21.474Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wow that's interesting...but really weird.

What if you have a firm conviction that betting is immoral?

Then, you prove your belief by NOT betting.

I think the "betting proof" is a cultural thing. Of course...I wouldn't bet much on that.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-11T13:46:58.346Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

maybe, as ninjacolin describes, you have to stand up once BEFORE you fall down. So, in fact, to end up standing, you MUST stand up one more time than you fall down (unless you assume that everyone starts out standing, which they don't).

Is that what the proverb means? Not necessarilly... but the math isn't wrong.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-07T19:24:49.316Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And there is why it seems not entirely rational to discuss what is and isn't funny...Shokwave believes that he has rationally shown that "Rene Descartes died, therefore he stopped thinking" isn't funny. You have used his same logic to demonstrate that it IS funny.

I personally don't think it's funny, as delivered. But, with the right delivery, it could be hilarious, I suppose.

I'm fascinated by the rational discussion of "the nature of funny", by the way. I was opining on the discussion of "the objective funniness of a particular joke".

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-07T17:13:40.521Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"What we don't understand, we ought to rationally analyze...."

Absolutely. And what "our best guess" imples to me is that we don't fully understand "funny" or "joke" or "comedy" So we ought to rationally analyze that issue. What I feel you did there was you took your interpretation of "our best guess" as good enough and moved forward with unequivocated confidence to apply it to a joke that someone wrote. I feel like there is a procedural lapse there. You were anayzing The Joke At Hand, while admitting that we do not really understand "jokes in the abstract".

Thus: we don't understand what makes certain bird sounds pleasing to people, but I am going to make an unequivocated statement that this bird sound is objectively not pleasing, based on our best guess.


"Rene Descartes died, therefore he stopped thinking" ... is the only conclusion you can draw from Descartes' "I think, therefore I am".

You are assuming a causality that the "being" creates the "thinking". One could also assume that the thinking creates the being, which is where the joke forms.

I personally think it's neither: "thinking" is evidence of "being", the causality being ambiguous.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-07T13:36:07.865Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Isn't it not entirely rational to declare something so unequivocally, based on:

"Our best guess..."?

A. I'm not sure I agree that humor is simply unexpected pattern breaking. I'm sure there's a link that elaborates that theory? There are many aspects of humor, and I think breaking it down to such a blanket statement is probably too simplistic. (I do agree that's certainly part of it).

B. Even if your statement is correct, you are then also implying that it is purely objective what it funny, and thus purely objective what the patterns are and how they are to be broken. Patterns to you might not be patterns to me. Or we might see the same pattern, and you might not find breaking it funny, but I do. Or I might find breaking the pattern offensive while you find it neutral. Or you might expect it and I might not. Or you might understand it while I don't.

Because of A and B, I think that "funny" is subjective. People can rationally discuss why they think something is funny...but I don't think they can discuss it in the context of "that is ojectively unfunny". You are implying that you know all the patterns, and can comment on whether the pattern was successfully borken in that instance.

Or rather: you can rationally analyze why that joke wasn't funny TO YOU, but you can't rationally analyze why it WAS NOT funny.

If I rephrase my bird issue: it's like rationally analyzing that bird sounds are or are not pleasing. (you're right that I phrased it sloppily).

As for

"The joke was definitely not "Descartes died thus stopped thinking"

I might misunderstand, but I thought that's what you said:

"Rene Descartes died, therefore he stopped thinking" isn't funny.

(although I'm not sure this aspect of it is important to the bigger issue of "funny")

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-07T13:13:22.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is substantial literature that suggests that language acquisition is more difficult, slower, and ultimately less successful in adults than in younger people. I believe it's often mentioned that it's at about 12-14 yrs old that the neural plasticity for language acquisition fades.

I never said that it's impossible for an adult to learn a foreign language, just not as fast or effective. That man's blog seems interesting...but I'm quite skeptical that he becomes "fluent" in a language in 2-3 months. I'd be interested to see how fluent he actually is (nevermind the similarities between several of those languages, which aids in acquisition...I've experienced that first hand). Then again, maybe he's an unusual case.

Comment by simplyeric on Some rationality tweets · 2011-01-06T21:35:24.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"1.The best people enter fields that accurately measure their quality. Fields that measure quality poorly attract low quality."

I would edit it thus:

A- "Fields that measure quality poorly retain low quality, and repel The Best People." (The Best People will get fed up and leave)

and a related:

B- "People of varying quality enter fields that reflect a lot of different things, low on the list of which is how that field measures quality. High on the list would be how that field is compensated." (in all the variations of "compensation": monetary, social status, secondary characteristics, ease of entry, ease of continuation, ease of exit strategy, duration to exit, do the chicks/men dig it, do the parents approve, etc....). There is a huge incentive to enter a field that measure quality poorly, but compensates the entrant well.

(this is somewhat related to the "public school teachers" comment already made, but I thought that reply veered into something else)

Comment by simplyeric on New Year's Predictions Thread (2011) · 2011-01-06T18:27:44.504Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Peak travel in the US will lead naturally to changes in urban design as people reduce regular travel to increase leisure travel: 53%"

Could you elaborate on this some?

There are various processes underway that are already affecting urban, suburban, and exurban design...some of them are "style" and "trend", some of them are result of the cost:benefit experiment that the last 20-30 yrs of housing development has been (always is, to be fair), some a result of fear or gas prices or the viability of the airline industry.

I'm curious what you see coming out of the interplay of regular travel v. liesure travel...

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-06T16:39:39.740Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sure someone will point out if I am incorrect here, but:

Isn't it somewhat irrational to analyze why a joke isn't funny? Isn't it sortof like trying to use a rational analysis to demonstrate that you should or should not like the sound of birds?

I mean, hey now, c'mon.

( In any case, the joke wasn't "Descarte died thus stopped thinking". )

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-05T19:50:42.478Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But an adult will never learn second languages faster than a child, and in fact will never learn a first language at all if not during childhood.

The same is true with sports. I imagine that if an adult has never learned to walk (somehow) that it would take a lot longer than a few months to learn to walk (a newborn doesn't take years to learn to walk...he/she takes years to build muscle strength, and then typically a short time to learn to walk and then immediately run).

I think we all wish McWilliams was correct...I just don't think he is.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-05T19:00:37.257Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely like this statement...but I am not sure I agree with it.

Much learning is passive and not a result of wanting or even trying. And, a skillful teacher can cause learning (and by extension education) to happen without the student wanting to learn, or knowing that he/she is learning.

I suppose there is a specific distinction between "education" and "learning", although I am not sure if it functionally boils down to this.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-01-05T17:41:49.449Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Technically off-topic...but I've never understood why people think turkeys can't fly. I've even seen an ornithologist quoted in the NYTimes saying it (when a live turkey was found on an upper level balcony). Maybe it's just domesticated turkeys...but I've definitely seen wild turkeys fly (and no, it's got nothing to do with the whiskey).

Which brings me to an interesting (to me) question: why do people base a piece of "wisdom" on a reference that is untrue to begin with?

[and in closing: You don't win friends with salad.]

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T23:04:25.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a more salient example than my integrated Native Americans: Protestants v. Catholics.

In certain circumstances it was simply war and/or strife.


But, in situations where both groups were fully native, there were situation where one group would try to eliminate the other through legislation, deportation, and also extermination.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T22:42:12.773Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think that within the subset of United States's aggression against the Native American population, there were many instances where fully integrated people were subsequently persecuted and eliminated. Some of it was at the "frontiers", yes. But some of it was shopowners, millers, brewers...people who had fully adapted and in fact thrived within the europeanized colonies and later states.
This was still happening in the 1950's and 60's as well, with the flooding of native lands in the Dakotas, etc, where fully "Americanized" communities were eliminated through forced relocation.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T19:01:08.457Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm of the mind that politically, in the US at least, we don't seem to learn from this. The truth is, indeed, revealed....but the confusion remains and the errors continue.

There are many who disagree with me about that...

but that's because they're confused AND in error.
(ok ok I kid on that last part...)

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T18:58:10.509Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me." —Martin Niemoeller

I think that quote speaks a little about the worst enemies within us, in purely clinical terms, that what's in the best interest of those with whom you don't necessarily explicitly associate yourself may also be in your own best interest.

The thing to keep in mind about the Jewish Holocaust is that it wasn't particularly unusual. It was unusual mostly in its location: it was rare to carry out such large scale atrocities ''in Europe''. Exterminations had been carried out by various states upon people in every other part of the world. Some were absolute, and entire races were exterminated. Hitler had great admiration for how the United States dealt with its native population. Sweden exterminated slaughtered whole groups in Africa. The list is not as short as we'd like it to be.

An interesting (and depressing) book: Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist

What I took from this book is that the enemy that is the holocaust situation is within us. The Jewish Holocaust was (unfortunately) not an outlier, but rather was/is in our culture or genes or humanity (I'm not sure I know which, although I tend towards the genetics).

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T17:43:45.628Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There might be a strong chance that horses and other animals would draw their gods as having human form. Humans tend to protray their gods as being either equal or higher than humanity. Animist gods are protrayed as having characteristics that surpass humans: speed, wisdom, patience, etc. based on the characteristics of that animal. Alternately, sun gods, storm gods, etc.: higher powers.

Some wild horses would have horse gods or weather gods or wolf gods. Some might have human gods, depending on their interaction with humanity.

I'd imagine that domesticated horses would have human gods, some benevolent and some malignant, or both. And some domesticated horses would go "through the looking glass" and develop a horse-god of redemption, with prophecies of freeing them from the toil and slavery of domestication, based on some original downfall of horse-dom that led to them being subservient to humans.

Or something like that.

Comment by simplyeric on Rationality Quotes: November 2010 · 2010-11-04T17:35:09.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that's true. The issue isn't what a person "thinks"'s what a person ultimately concludes. A scientist must think for itself in order to hypothesize, no? I think science goes wrong when scientists conclude for themselves, in the face of the actul facts on the matter.
I think what is being referenced above is how to separate information from who said it, and how.

Comment by simplyeric on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T17:17:58.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although I just realized that I just referred to my profession as "non-traditional", and was complicit in the pairing of my profession to stage magic.


Comment by simplyeric on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T17:16:34.303Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

NYC based architect (active in the profession) with experience teaching computer drafting and technical drawing, computer modeling (3d modeling and some rendering), as well as various aspects of design and technical problem solving...

Comment by simplyeric on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2010-08-04T20:38:58.251Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What happens out there in the hurly-burly is not a "zero-sum" or "constant-sum" game. Specifically: it's not a "game" at all. Those games are distillations and models used for testing behavior. This tells us certain things about how people react and interact, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
Going for relative makes sense when you can't take, you can't (necessarily) earn, you can't (in the short term) increase/generate. But you CAN win by destroying. You destroy your opponents resource, thereby "increasing" your wealth in a relative sense. It's why we bombed weapons plants during WW2, no? And to an extent, it's why they salted the earth....

Comment by simplyeric on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2010-07-30T17:29:01.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I need your analysis in a real world example, because I think we are talking too much about the "game" model. If I kill your cattle, or I salt your earth, what is the sum? What is the constant? What is the bias? My point is: the sum is negative, there is no constant, and the bias is towards "gratification".
I don't think killing my competitors cattle comes from an inherent evolutionary-economic analysis...I think it comes from "doing this releases endorphines in my brain in the short term, I see his wealth destroyed and that seems good".
The bias is simply "relative success"...I win by gaining more, by losing less, or by making him lose more than me. It's all very short term and emotional.