Learning magic 2019-06-09T12:29:06.484Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
Giving What We Can pledge campaign 2015 2015-12-23T13:57:32.512Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Giving What We Can - New Year drive 2014-12-17T15:26:04.635Z · score: 13 (19 votes)


Comment by smaug123 on September Bragging Thread · 2019-09-04T19:38:44.451Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I started Anki-ing everything. Previously, I've used Anki for very specific purposes (e.g. "learn the London Underground network" or "learn all the capitals of the world"). New decks this month, though, include "Jokes", "Legal Systems Very Different From Ours", "Tao Te Ching", and "Logical Induction". I'm pretty optimistic that "read something really worthwhile, Anki it up" is becoming a habit.

Comment by smaug123 on Learning magic · 2019-07-27T12:19:22.980Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A formative experience in my attitude to magic was when I saw an excellent sleight-of-hand magician performing to my small group of friends (waiting in a line for an event). He was very convincing and great fun; but there was a moment in the middle of his series of tricks when my attention was caught by something else in the distance. When I looked back after five seconds of distraction, he was mid-trick; and I saw him matter-of-factly take a foam ball from his hand, put it into his pocket, and then open his hand to reveal no foam balls - to general astonishment. All his other tricks, before and after, I found completely convincing.

Accordingly, I grok that there's an entire art of doing incredibly obvious things in such a way that the viewer doesn't understand that something obvious has happened. That's one of the main things I want to learn from magic: how to perform trivial bullshit very convincingly (e.g. by knowing how to direct the viewer's attention).

Thanks for the tip about performing repeatedly to new groups. Now that you mention it, it's extremely obvious, but I don't think I'd have come up with that myself.

Comment by smaug123 on Arbital scrape · 2019-06-07T06:15:45.540Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks very much for this! I've written a lot of stuff on there (I'm the Patrick Stevens whose name is splatted all over the screenshot). I asked them a year ago (ish) whether I could have a data dump, and they said it was Too Difficult; and I didn't bother scraping it myself. I'm glad you actually went and did something about it!

Comment by smaug123 on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2016-04-05T21:23:36.609Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On introductory non-standard analysis, Goldblatt's "Lectures on the hyperreals" from the Graduate Texts in Mathematics series. Goldblatt introduces the hyperreals using an ultrapower, then explores analysis and some rather complicated applications like Lebesgue measure.

Goldblatt is preferred to Robinson's "Non-standard analysis", which is highly in-depth about the specific logical constructions; Goldblatt doesn't waste too much time on that, but constructs a model, proves some stuff in it, then generalises quite early. Also preferred to Hurd and Loeb's "An introduction to non-standard real analysis", which I somehow just couldn't really get into. Its treatment of measure theory, for instance, is just much more difficult to understand than Goldblatt's.

Comment by smaug123 on Giving What We Can - New Year drive · 2014-12-27T08:38:35.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, though the decision of who is most cost-effective does remain for you to decide.

Comment by smaug123 on Giving What We Can - New Year drive · 2014-12-19T09:17:29.647Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's more of a tactic to make sure people don't think "hey, another crackpot organisation" if they haven't already heard about them. I'm hoping to raise GWWC to the level of "worth investigating for myself" in this post.

Comment by smaug123 on Has LessWrong Ever Backfired On You? · 2014-12-17T14:01:23.922Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I do something similar. I consistently massively underestimate the inferential gaps when I'm talking about these things, and end up spending half an hour talking about tangential stuff the Sequences explain better and faster.

Comment by smaug123 on Could you be Prof Nick Bostrom's sidekick? · 2014-12-09T01:08:27.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd frame it as "Nick Bostrom needs Jeeves. Are you Jeeves?" (After P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster.)