Comment by taelor on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-19T04:28:25.978Z · LW · GW

The less dramatic name for it is the Social Brain Hypothesis. It was originally proposed by R. A. Dunbar (of Dunbar's number fame).

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-18T06:31:41.142Z · LW · GW

His reputation as a "bloody minded bastard" aside, Martin has creznaragyl xvyyrq bss n tenaq gbgny bs bar CBI punenpgre va gur ebhtuyl svir gubhfnaq phzhyngvir cntrf bs gur NFbVnS frevrf fb sne (abg pbhagvat cebybthr/rcvybthr punenpgref, jubz ab bar rkcrpgf gb fheivir sbe zber guna bar puncgre). Gur raqvat bs gur zbfg erprag obbx yrnirf bar CBI punenpgre'f sngr hapyrne, ohg gur infg znwbevgl bs gur snaqbz rkcrpgf uvz gb or onpx va fbzr sbez be nabgure. (Aba-CBI graq gb qebc yvxr syvrf, ohg gur nhqvrapr vf yrff nggnpurq gb gurz.)

Comment by taelor on Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary? · 2014-11-21T22:56:06.624Z · LW · GW

As an aside, can someone please explain what the deal with reactionaries and crabs is? I feel like there's some context here that I'm missing.

Comment by taelor on Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary? · 2014-11-20T19:55:25.361Z · LW · GW

kings and patriarchy have been around for 5000+, which implies that they have some selective advantage.

This implies that they represent a stable equilibrium. Stable does not imply optimal (though depending on your time-prefernces and degree of risk-aversion, optimal may imply stable).

Comment by taelor on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-07T03:41:47.898Z · LW · GW

Nate Silver's The Signal And The Noise has a chapter about this. The short answer is yes,, weather forcasting has gotten better, but comerical forcasts have a known "wet bias" in favor of predicting rain. The reason for this is that people get more upset at forcasters when they say it won't rain and it does than when they say it will rain and it doesn't. Acording to Silver, the National Weather Service's forcasts are the most reliable, followed by various large comercial services (e.g. etc.), with local news forcasts being the least reliable.

Comment by taelor on November 2014 Media Thread · 2014-11-02T21:39:00.582Z · LW · GW

But then why do these stereotypes remain stable across generations?

Rational expectations equalibria are a thing. To take a somewhat exagerated example, if everyone thinks that girls suck at math, so no one teaches girls to do math, then no one will ever find out whether or not girls actually suck at math.

Comment by taelor on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-25T04:01:45.734Z · LW · GW

I wouldn't expect such a subsidy to overcome inertia in all cases. I expect it would help on the margins, though.

Comment by taelor on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-25T03:52:00.199Z · LW · GW

We can conscript as many as we want if we pay them enough. If we're willing to draft people, then why wouldn't we be willing to raise taxes?

Taxpayers are generally better organized politically than potential conscripts.

Comment by taelor on Non-standard politics · 2014-10-24T22:50:45.410Z · LW · GW

In general I agree with this. However, I am also in favor of government subsidy on moving between jurisdictions (though, not a full subsidy, as that would cause moral hazard problems). Uprooting your life and relocating to a new location is costly, in time, money, effort, and social ties. These costs will be disproportionately borne by people with values far from the mean of their cultural/geographic locale. Without a subsidy to help Texans with California values and Californians with Texan values relocate, Federalism will essentially develve into a large welfare redistribution to individuals with values close to their jurisdiction's mean from individuals further from that mean.

Comment by taelor on Open thread, Oct. 6 - Oct. 12, 2014 · 2014-10-10T18:54:27.947Z · LW · GW

Exit: looks like someone beat me to this .

Worm addresses this in a somewhat round about way: Cnanprn'f srryvatf bs vagrafr thvyg sbe rirel ubhe gung fur fcraqf qbvat guvatf bgure guna hfvat ure cbjref gb urny crbcyr jrer n znwbe pbagevohgbe gb ure zragny oernxqbja naq fhofrdhrag vzcevfbazrag va gur Oveq Pntr.

Comment by taelor on October 2014 Media Thread · 2014-10-07T03:31:57.247Z · LW · GW

Speaking of Generation Kill, I recently got done reading One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick, the platoon commander featured in Generation Kill, which covered many of the same events, but with a somewhat different focus (Evan Wright's book aimed at representing the experiences of as many of the Marines he was embedded with as possible, were as Fick's book explicitly about his experiences in particular), as well as Fick's experiences at Officer School and in Afghanistan.

In general, Fick's book is more sympathetic to First Recon's leadership, and to its commander Lt. Col Ferrando in particular, saying that he suspected Ferrando of caring about his men much more than he lead them (and by extension Wright) to believe. On the other hand, Fick agrees with Wright that Bravo Company's commander, whom Wright identifies as Encino Man and Fick just calls "the captain" or "my CO", was dangerously incompetent. Fick also describes having a hostile relationship with the battalion's XO (who was only briefly mentioned in GK), and writes about imagining himself fragging the XO.

Overall, I thought it was engagingly written, and a good companion piece to Wright's book (and the HBO series).

Comment by taelor on October 2014 Media Thread · 2014-10-03T08:11:19.739Z · LW · GW

I would add Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes October 2014 · 2014-10-02T19:19:19.172Z · LW · GW

Of note, Alfred von Schlieffen, the architect of the original deployment plan for war against France, was on record as recommending a negotiated peace in the event that the German Army fail to quickly draw the French into a decisive battle. Obviously, this recommendation was not followed. Also of note, Schlieffen's plan was explicitly for a one-front war; the bit with the Russians was hastily tacked on by Schlieffen's successors at the General Staff.

Comment by taelor on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-08-26T17:35:14.460Z · LW · GW

I'm an 4th year economics undergrad preparing start applying to PhD programs, and while I've never formally attempted to memorize GDPs, I've found that having a rough idea of where a county's per capita GDP is to be very useful in understanding world news and events (for example, I've noticed that around the $8,00-12,000 per year range seems to be the point where the median household gets an internet connection). If you do attempt to go the memorization route, be sure to use PPP-adjusted figures, as non-adjusted numbers will tend to systematically under estimate incomes in developing countries.

Comment by taelor on May 2014 Media Thread · 2014-05-05T09:00:23.728Z · LW · GW

Madoka: Rebellion

I am ambivilent towards this. It had some clever bits, and I think I understand what Urobuchi was trying to do with the ending, but the overall execution did not live up to the standards of the orignial series.

Comment by taelor on Open Thread, April 27-May 4, 2014 · 2014-05-02T03:27:00.851Z · LW · GW

That's another problem with overuse of the "priviledge" concept: the more people throw it around, the less punch it packs.

Comment by taelor on How much does where you go to college affect earnings? · 2014-04-16T22:11:27.766Z · LW · GW

I'm a community college transfer currently at UC Davis. Some quick googling turned up these figures from 2004, which give a graduation rate of 84% for transfer students, compared to 89% for students who enrolled as freshmen, conditional on acheiving junior standing (the probability of graduation for any random student who enrolled directly out of highschool is actually lower than for transfers). These numbers are a decade old, but are roughly in line with my current experiences, so I don't expect them to have changed that much.

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes April 2014 · 2014-04-10T21:37:33.412Z · LW · GW

There's a third thing wrong with it: generally, people use the phrase in order to praise one side of some historical dispute (and implicitly condemn the other) by attributing to them (in part or in whole) some historical change that is deemed beneficial by the person doing the praising. The problem with this is that usually when you go back and look at the actual goals of the groups being praised, they usually end up bearing very little relation to the changes that the praiser is trying to associate them with, if not being completely antithetical. Herbert Butterfield (who I posted about above) initially noticed this in the tendency of people to try to attribute modern notions of religious toleration to the Protestant reformation, when in fact Martin Luthor wrote songs about murdering Jews, and lobbied the local princes to violently surpress rival Protestant sects.

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes April 2014 · 2014-04-10T21:26:48.386Z · LW · GW

In general, neoreactionaries seem to have cribbed this position from Herbert Butterfield's critique of what he called the "Whig Interpretation of History". Butterfield was not himself a neoreactionary, and infact warned against the trap that many neoreactionaries fall into: that of thinking that just because Whig histories are invalid, that this somehow makes Tory histories valid.

Comment by taelor on Proportional Giving · 2014-03-04T19:11:17.132Z · LW · GW

To me, the stories with happy people "finishing paying their college loans" are horror stories. Stories with people getting charged thousands of dollars for simple medical procedures are insane. People maximising PROFITS out of selling weapons and military technology/services... is not the mark of a sane and healthy society.

Of note: most universities are either run by the government, or by non-profit organizations. Ditto for most hospitals.

Comment by taelor on Don't rely on the system to guarantee you life satisfaction · 2014-02-19T01:57:29.912Z · LW · GW

Paul Graham on the subject:

If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn't get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid.

Comment by taelor on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-13T19:34:05.853Z · LW · GW

The "Standard American Accent" spoken in the media and generally taught to foriegners is the confusingly named "Midwestern" Accent, which due to internal migration and a subsequent vowel shift, is now mostly spoken in California and the Pacific Northwest.

Interestingly enough, my old Japanese instructor was a native Osakan, who's natural dialect was Kansai-ben; despite this, she conducted the class using the standard, Tokyo Dialect.

Comment by taelor on Special Status Needs Special Support · 2014-01-31T23:16:30.443Z · LW · GW

Recently, there's been an upswing in people wearing replica Soul Gems in memory of Madoka.

Comment by taelor on Things I Wish They'd Taught Me When I Was Younger: Why Money Is Awesome · 2014-01-16T19:46:42.559Z · LW · GW

But one of the main reasons why money is awesome is because spending money is rivalrous. My primary expensive hobby is art collecting. I have the number of original paintings I have because I put up more money than the other people bidding on them, and if everyone had more money, then the primary effect would be that the prices increase.

This assumes that a) there is a fixed supply of original paintings, and b) the demand for original painings is income inelastic. Admittedly, I'm not an expert on the art market, but my intuition is that the opposite is the case on both counts: as incomes rise, I would expect people to spend a larger percentage of their income on luxary goods such as art. If this is the case, then, yes, everyone having more money would indeed cause the price of original paintings to go up, but they would rise at a faster rate than less elastic goods, which would cause production of said paintings to go up, which would drive prices back down; the net effect is that more people have more paintings.

Comment by taelor on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-10T07:40:32.242Z · LW · GW

Here's some empirical research on the actual causes of the pay gap. Executive Summary: The majority of the burden of child rearing still falls on women, and this can be disruptive to their careers prospects, especially in high paying fields like law and bussiness management; childless women and women who work in jobs that allow for flexible hours earn incomes much closer to parity.

Comment by taelor on Open Thread, December 2-8, 2013 · 2013-12-08T21:22:06.179Z · LW · GW

Aluminum, in particular, is known for being very difficult to extract from ore, but once extracted, very easy to recycle into new products.

Comment by taelor on To like, or not to like? · 2013-11-17T04:34:06.807Z · LW · GW

I personally thought Cassius was by far the most interesting character in Julius Caesar.

Comment by taelor on Yet more "stupid" questions · 2013-08-31T10:33:13.379Z · LW · GW

I can second Discworld.

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-20T07:09:03.039Z · LW · GW

An old riddle asked by the mystics of many religions—the Zen Buddhists, the Sufis of Islam, or the rabbis of the Talmud— asks: “Is there a sound in the forest if a tree crashes down and no one is around to hear it?” We now know that the right answer to this is “no.” There are sound waves. But there is no sound unless some-one perceives it. Sound is created by perception. Sound is communication. This may seem trite; after all, the mystics of old already knew this, for they, too, always answered that there is no sound unless someone can hear it. Yet the implications of this rather trite statement are great indeed. It means that it is the recipient who communicates. The so-called communicator, that is, the person who emits the communication, does not communicate. He utters. Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication. There is only noise. The communicator speaks or writes or sings—but he does not communicate. Indeed he cannot communicate. He can only make it possible, or impossible, for a recipient—or rather percipient—to perceive.

-- Peter F. Drucker, A Functioning Society

Comment by taelor on July 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-19T20:44:12.330Z · LW · GW

From Chapter 79:

Harry nodded, his mouth set. "Exactly what sort of penalty is Hermione facing? Snapped wand and expulsion -"

"No," Severus said. "Nothing that light. Are you willfully misunderstanding, Potter? She is facing the Wizengamot. There is no set penalty. There is only the vote."

Harry Potter murmured, "The rule of law, in complex times, has proved itself deficient; we much prefer the rule of men, it's vastly more efficient... There's no constraining legal rules at all, then?"

Light glinted off the old wizard's half-moon glasses; he spoke carefully, and not without anger. "Legally, Harry, we are dealing with a blood debt from Hermione Granger to the House of Malfoy. The Lord of Malfoy proposes a repayment of that debt, and then the Wizengamot votes on his proposal. That is all."

I read this as implying that Magical Britain doesn't actually have a codified legal system. (Although it seems like a waste of the Wizengamot's time to vote on all crimes; perhaps there's some commitee that the delegate minor crimes to?).

Comment by taelor on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-11T06:30:55.622Z · LW · GW

Except when physically constrained, a person is least free or dignified when under the threat of punishment. We should expect that the literatures of freedom and dignity would oppose punitive techniques, but in fact they have acted to preserve them. A person who has been punished is not thereby simply less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment. Some ways of doing so are maladaptive or neurotic, as in the so­ called 'Freudian dynamisms'. Other ways include avoid­ing situations in which punished behaviour is likely to occur and doing things which are incompatible with punished behaviour. Other people may take similar steps to reduce the likelihood that a person will be punished, but the literatures of freedom and dignity object to this as leading only to automatic goodness. Under punitive contingencies a person appears to be free to behave well and to deserve credit when he does so. Non-punitive con­tingencies generate the same behaviour, but a person cannot then be said to be free, and the contingencies de­serve the credit when he behaves well. Little or nothing remains for autonomous man to do and receive credit for doing. He does not engage in moral struggle and therefore has no chance to be a moral hero or credited with inner virtues. But our task is not to encourage moral struggle or to build or demonstrate inner virtues. It is to make life less punishing and in doing so to release for more reinforcing activities the time and energy consumed in the avoidance of punishment. Up to a point the litera­tures of freedom and dignity have played a part in the slow and erratic alleviation of aversive features of the human environment, including the aversive features used in intentional control. But they have formulated the task in such a way that they cannot now accept the fact that all control is exerted by the environment and proceed to the design of better environments rather than of better men.

-- B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity

Comment by taelor on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-07T20:34:37.086Z · LW · GW

I have a simmilar interest in SABRmetrics, and baseball.

Comment by taelor on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-07T03:58:11.964Z · LW · GW

For a general overview of what's going on in the baseball world, this is pretty good place to start. There are also pleanty of blogs devoted to individual teams, though I'm not really in a position to make recommendations, unless you happen to be looking for a San Francisco Giants blog, in which case I highly reccomend this blog. Can't really help with other sports.

Comment by taelor on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-06T05:08:59.506Z · LW · GW

See if I could get some very old people or otherwise have terminal illnesses volunteer to have their names written in it.

Alternately, you could have a codemned criminal slip and break his neck on the way to the lethal injection.

Comment by taelor on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-04T07:29:34.140Z · LW · GW

Can you speak without knowing what you're about to say beforehand? (I'm pretty sure I can't.)

I can, though when I do, it's often consists of regurgitating bits and peices from long mental monlogues that I had in the past, with a bit of new content thrown in to make things flow better (specifically, the one where I articulated my experience with pre-thinking what I'm going to say years in advance occured nearly four years ago, in my senior year of high school, while sitting in a Spanish Class).

Comment by taelor on August 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-03T22:48:36.685Z · LW · GW

Nisemonogatari (Wow. That toothbrush scene is really something else, isn't it? Pity that the second arc is wooden, and the first arc didn't make much sense.)

In general, I'm of the oppinion that Nisemonogatari was a step down from its predecesor, Bakemonogatari.

Comment by taelor on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-07-31T23:15:43.763Z · LW · GW

This may be of interest.

Comment by taelor on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T22:14:03.202Z · LW · GW

Would this imply that Harry is descended from all three Peverell brothers?

Comment by taelor on Rationalist Lord of the Rings fanfiction, newly translated from Russian · 2013-07-25T06:37:39.407Z · LW · GW

While it's true that Tolkien did set out to create a fictional world, I think that treating LotR like a historical documentfrom that fictional world is counter to both Tolkien's intent, and the spirit of the work. Tolkien did not write LotR to describe "facts" from some world; rather, he set out to create a mythology for that world. Thus, when you read any ot Tolkien's works, don't think of them as literal descriptions of things that actually occured in some fictional world where elves and wizards exist. Rather, understand it like you would a folk tale or mythic poem: of great cultural significance to the people that it came from, but not a literal account of something that happened.

Comment by taelor on Bad Concepts Repository · 2013-07-23T05:38:10.371Z · LW · GW

This argument presupposes that the "live forever" belief is false. While it is, offering it as an explanation for why the "death is good" belief is bad is unhelpful, as nearly all the people who hold the latter belief also hold the former.

Comment by taelor on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95 · 2013-07-19T15:57:51.452Z · LW · GW

This hypothesis would predict political unity between US and Canadian Wizards (same language, similar culture, divided by an arbitrary line drawn by muggles as a result of a series of conflicts that wizards probably don't care about). Does anyone remember hearing anything in Rowling!canon or MoR!canon about an independent magical Canada existing?

Edit: on further consideration, what it would actually predict would be unity between US and anglophone Canadian; if I recall my history right, the union of French and English speaking Canadians was also a result of muggle conflicts that wizards wouldn't care about.

Comment by taelor on Open thread, July 16-22, 2013 · 2013-07-19T03:35:28.313Z · LW · GW

My experience is it is the prefered term of the Social Justice Crowd on Tumblr and other websites for non-white people.

Comment by taelor on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95 · 2013-07-18T04:48:01.614Z · LW · GW

You are Muggleborn. I speak not of blood, I speak of how you spent your childhood years. There is a freedom of thought in that, true. But there is also wisdom in the caution of wizardkind. It has been three hundred and twenty-three years since the country of magical Italy was ruined by one man's folly.

I find this interesting, considering that non-magical Italy didn't exist as a unified nation until 1861. It seems odd that the magical political map so closely mirrors the non-magical.

Edit: It seems that Transylvania has its own national Quidditch team seperate from Romania, though this does not neccesarily mean that they are independant -- Scotland, after all, has its own Quidditch team, despite being governed by the Ministry in London

Comment by taelor on Open thread, July 16-22, 2013 · 2013-07-18T01:19:49.481Z · LW · GW

Apparently, it is based on the very ancient idea that female period blood is in some sense a magical substance - so one can fashion a "Red Pill" out of it using sympathetic magick, and thus acquire some sort of occult or arcane knowledge which is normally exclusive to women and disallowed to men.

Citation Requested.

Comment by taelor on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-14T17:56:17.766Z · LW · GW

Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus don't believe in hell, but as far as I can tell.

I can't speak for the other ones, but Buddhists at least don't have a "hell" that non-believers go to when they die because Buddhists already believe that life is an eternal cycle of infinite suffering, that can only be escaped by following the tenants of their religion. Thus, rather then going to hell, non-believers just get reincarnated back into our current world, which Buddhism sees as being like unto hell.

Comment by taelor on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-14T17:31:19.700Z · LW · GW

In About Behaviorism (which I unfortunately don't currently own a copy of, so I can't give direct quotes or citations) , B. F. Skinner makes the case that the "Willpower" phenomenon actually reduces to opperant conditioning and scheduals of reinforcement. Skinner claims that people who have had their behavior consistently reinforced in the past will become less sensitive to a lack of reinforcement in the present, and may persist in behavior even when positive reinforcement isn't forthcoming in the short term, whereas people whose past behavior has consistantly failed to be reinforced (or even been actively punished) will abandon a course of action much more quickly when it fails to immediately pay off. Both groups will eventually give up at an unreinforced behavior, though the former group will typically persist much longer at it than the latter. This gives rise to the "willpower as resource" model, as well as the notion that some people have more willpower than others. Really, people with "more willpower" have just been conditioned to wait longer for their behaviors to be reinforced.

Comment by taelor on [LINK] Analysis of why excluding hostile people is worth it · 2013-07-10T15:54:58.869Z · LW · GW

The slides cite various figures, such as " it takes 5 good interactions to make up for one bad one" and "assholes cause targets 80% lost time worrying". Does the video provide sources for these numbers that didn't make it into the slides?

Comment by taelor on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93 · 2013-07-07T13:55:30.954Z · LW · GW

From my point of view (and I don't know if anyone shares it), in the early parts of MOR, Hermione was this weird brittle conglomeration of traits that didn't even seem like a human being. I blew up about it, and upset Eliezer, and he did something to how Hermione was portrayed, I don't know what, so that she didn't make me crazy even though her character wasn't drastically changed.

When exactly in the story did this shift in portrayal occur?

Comment by taelor on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-03T08:28:08.106Z · LW · GW

My other candidate for the intermittent one is Time Turned people, but since several students have Time Turners I'm guessing the twins would figure it out eventually. More likely, it just shows the 'current' version of the person.

Bear in mind that the official explanation is that Time Turners are used to treat "Spontaneous Duplication". If the map showed multiple copies of a Spontaneous Duplication-sufferer running around, that might be dismissed as a feature, not a bug.

Comment by taelor on Open Thread, July 1-15, 2013 · 2013-07-01T22:01:34.490Z · LW · GW

Karl Popper came up with the Falsifiability Principle as a direct response to watching Marxists, Freudians, and others do exactly this.