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Comment by tgm on The Bias You Didn't Expect · 2013-09-29T18:08:13.638Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That people buy more, less healthy food when they are hungry is pretty well backed up, I understand. (Googling gives this right away)

Your suggestion has a possible "remembering just how good my favourite unhealthy food tastes" counter-effect.

My experience is that how food tastes changes massively depending on my hunger, so you need to bear in mind that "how good my favourite food tastes" will likely be "not very" when you've just eaten.

For example, I play sport for about 3 hours on Sundays, and immediately after (before leaving the pitches) I drink a litre of milk, mixed with milk powder (to make double strength milk), mixed with chocolate Ovaltine powder. It tastes great to me at that point in time. I tried it before a practise once, and it was just awful.

Comment by tgm on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-18T22:42:16.190Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

All agents are considered equal,

If I contract a neurodegenerative illness, which will gradually reduce my cognitive function, until I end up in a vegetative state, do I retain agent-ness throughout, or at some point lose equal footing with healthy me in one go? Neither seems a good description of my slow slide from fully human to vegetable.

with their individual utility units converted to some social standard. For example, Agent Alpha receives 100 Alpha-Utils from the average day, where Agent Beta receives 200 Beta-Utils from the average day. Both of these are converted into Society-Utils - let's say 10 Society-Utils - making an exchange rate of 10 Alpha:Society and 20 Beta:Society.

What is an "average day"? My average day probably has greater utility than that of a captive of a sadistic gang...

Comment by tgm on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-18T22:29:35.762Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I want to criticise either the idea that diminishing returns is important, or, at least, that dollar values make sense for talking about them.

Suppose we have a monster who likes to eat. Each serving of food is just as tasty as the previous, but he still gets diminishing returns on the dollar, because the marginal cost of the servings goes up.

We also have nematodes, who like to eat, but not as much. They never get a look in, because as the monster eats, they also suffer diminished utilons per dollar.

So the monster is serving the 'purpose' of the utility monster, but still has diminishing returns on the dollar. If we redefine diminishing returns to be on something else, I'm not sure it could be well justified or immune to this issue.

And, although humans are not an example of this sort of monster, the human race certainly is.

Comment by tgm on Health/Longevity Link List · 2013-05-05T23:05:50.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a more original source. I've heard about this, and would be interested to know if/how a causal link was established between flossing and heart disease

Comment by tgm on Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Argument · 2013-02-18T20:38:37.575Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

A concern regarding this kind of test when applied to groups (Christians vs Atheists, for instance) rather than individuals is that one umbrella term may take more views than another, making the guessing game more/less tricky.

Nevertheless, this is a neat idea, particularly for particular people rather than groups as a whole.

Comment by tgm on Random LW-parodying Statement Generator · 2012-09-13T22:35:09.940Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At the time of writing, it had more upvotes than the OP... surely that's not right?

Comment by tgm on Random LW-parodying Statement Generator · 2012-09-13T22:32:08.862Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The affective death spiral is isomorphic to this thread.

Comment by tgm on Random LW-parodying Statement Generator · 2012-09-13T22:30:28.541Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The map is the mind-killer

Seems Legit

Comment by tgm on How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy · 2012-09-08T14:51:13.566Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Mindkiller Alert!

The yield of a tax at 0% is 0. The yield of tax at 100% is also close to zero, as nobody will do anything to earn money that will be taxed at 100% (i.e. ensure all earnings dodge that tax). Therefore the set of policies that give maximum tax yield do not have a tax rate of 100%, and increasing tax rates beyond that reduce tax yield.

This analysis is subject to some caveats, and where the optimal rate is is a very complicated and politically charged question, of course, and this is already completely off topic.

Comment by tgm on Jews and Nazis: a version of dust specks vs torture · 2012-09-08T14:32:45.146Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect what you mean by desire utilitarianism is what wikipedia calls preference utilitarianism, which I believe is the standard term.

Comment by tgm on Rationality Quotes August 2012 · 2012-08-30T08:48:36.697Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Aren't you using different measures of what 'saving a life' is, anyway? The starving-child-save gives you about 60 years of extra life, whereas the FAI save gives something rather more.

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-28T11:59:54.940Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Apple uses the WAITW when commenting on the Apple vs Samsung case:

"In a statement the firm [apple] thanked the jury for sending 'a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right' "

Source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/08/apple-versus-samsung?spc=scode&spv=xm&ah=9d7f7ab945510a56fa6d37c30b6f1709

Comment by tgm on LessWrong could grow a lot, but we're doing it wrong. · 2012-08-28T07:26:26.584Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Have you adjusted for the likely event that you have become more rational, and what you have actually observed may have been LW becoming at a lower level relative to you, whilst staying relatively flat or even improving?

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T22:04:06.522Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the salient point here is whether we are talking about a theft close to the archetype, such as mugging or burglary, or one further from it, such as Robin Hood enacting his redistribution scheme, or the government taxing.

So when we have "X is the mindkiller", that's okay if "X" happens to be party politics, or factions disagreeing in a fricticious boardroom meeting. A fringe example of mind-killing might be a recurring disagreement between spouses over whether to buy skinned or unskinned milk (you can still have entrenched positions, but it doesn't really reach the same level).

Not sure I'm being too clear. What I'm saying is that words refer to a cluster of things, with varying strength, and we use the WAITW when we talk about things on the fringe of that cluster as if they were in fact slap bang in the middle.

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T21:47:47.026Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

If you can think of left-wing WAITWs that are as well-known and catchy as "abortion is murder!", I will happily edit the post to include them

"Property is theft"

Is an example of the left using the WAITW.

Comment by tgm on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2012-08-27T21:10:48.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. Perhaps I should have put this as a reply to the grandparent instead?

Comment by tgm on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2012-08-27T21:01:33.965Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you (and the author of the grandparent) think ancient people were just as skeptical as us? I'm not even sure that different cultures today are equally skeptical.

Perhaps if you do the radiator experiment where you have turned the metal plate round, you will find that in different cultures (or even situations) people will be more or less likely to be skeptical of the situation in front of them.

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T20:51:53.365Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't find it surprising it is that "conservative" comes to mean different things. It's always struck me as an odd term: someone who hadn't heard the term before would think a "conservative" party would just be a "status quo bias" party.

If you have two different countries, with different political histories, you would expect labels to mean different things. We currently view libertarians as closer to conservatives than to liberals, yet libertarians regularly seem closely aligned to 19th century writers such as Bastiat, who were described as Liberal. One could imagine an alternative history where the 19th Century Liberal tradition moved towards a typical conservative position (e.g. as a response to a Labour party).

(I can't say whether this is what happened in Australia, because I don't know the necessary history)

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T20:41:53.690Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If I wanted to do that, I would phrase things differently, to avoid the connotation issues (of, for example, Taxation is Theft!):

"We think burglary is bad, but tax is good, yet they have some similarities. Are we right to judge them differently?" or even "I think the things that make burglary bad are X Y and Z, but X is shared by taxation, and Y is partly shared by taxation. I conclude that taxation is not as bad as burglary, but still a bit bad"

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T18:59:05.430Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Denying euthanasia is Torture!"

Given the majority of legislators are male, for abortion: "Forced pregnancy is mysogyny!" though that may be too tenuous.

Comment by tgm on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2012-08-27T09:47:09.089Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

We can reflectively apply our intuition - we can use the phrase "Capital punishment is murder" to remind other people that capital punishment does share some of the same disadvantages that all other murders have

More generally, it is worth noting that a very tempting class of bad arguments is those which are slightly true, such as this.

Comment by tgm on Mentioning cryonics to a dying person · 2012-08-25T08:51:10.021Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. (It was intended as humour, but apparently that wasn't clear)

Comment by tgm on Light Arts · 2012-08-24T21:23:03.612Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But even if we grant that falsehood, she still does not have adequate reason to withdraw her consent for organ donation, as long as she can present proof to evil consequentialist doctors that she's worth more alive than dead.

From what she said "she'd heard that doctors don't try as hard to save donors in hopes of using their organs to save other lives.", it isn't that they actually kill her if she has an organ donor card, just that they don't put in as much effort. Which implies the following beliefs:

  1. Doctors don't try so hard to save those with organ donor cards
  2. Doctors do try harder to save those with blood donor cards

The conclusion she should draw is that she should carry just a blood donor card, to demonstrate that she is really useful alive, and not at all useful dead, so they should try really, really hard to save her.

Comment by tgm on Mentioning cryonics to a dying person · 2012-08-24T20:51:49.770Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To add a data point, I found myself, to put it strongly, literally losing the will to live recently: I'm 20 and female and I'm kind of at the emotional maturity stage. I think my brain stopped saying "live! Stay alive!" and started saying "Make babies! Protect babies!", because I started finding the idea of cryopreserving myself as less attractive and more repulsive, with no change in opinion for preserving my OH, and an increase in how often I thought about doing the right thing for my future kids. To the extent that I now get orders of magnitude more panicked about anything happening to my reproductive system than dying after future children reach adulthood.

As the aforementioned OH, I'm wondering if "quizzical" counts as a normal reaction to reading this.

Comment by tgm on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2012-08-24T13:10:55.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can believe that. The World Factbook has different figures, but they are in the same direction. I don't know where they get their data from, though.

Comment by tgm on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2012-08-24T10:53:55.269Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In most countries, there are more women than men, because women live longer. (Some evidence: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UKDemographics-Age.svg )

Possible additional hypotheses: the reason there are more men born than women is because of selective abortions. If the selection pressure for having males is stronger in rural areas/ among the poor (where economics factors make it substantially better to have sons than daughters), and the poor have a higher mortality rate, then you would expect to see an evening-out. (It may be difficult to find good data on this, but I haven't tried)

You may also find that men are more likely to emigrate, and if China has net emigration, then that would reduce the number of men overall. (There are other possibilities that rely on emigration, obviously. This seems possibly the most likely. Some research would probably be able to verify this)

Comment by tgm on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2012-08-23T10:07:20.653Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By this much, in case anyone else is interested in checking.

Comment by tgm on How to get cryocrastinators to actually sign up for cryonics · 2012-08-21T23:06:08.724Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alcor list a UK based agent on their website, which might be a better bet if Rudi doesn't work out.

http://www.alcor.org/BecomeMember/seagents.html

Comment by tgm on An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction · 2012-07-16T11:38:00.784Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a selection of 'magic' sugar pills, and you want to test them for being magic vs placebo effect, you do a study comparing their efficacy to that of 'non-magic' sugar pills.

If they are magic, then you aren't comparing identical things, because only some of them have the 'magic' property

Comment by tgm on Bargaining and Auctions · 2012-07-16T10:32:15.692Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't this precisely the marketplace situation that was explicitly omitted?

Many buyers and many sellers produce a marketplace, but this is complicated and we'll stick to bargains and auctions for now.

Comment by tgm on An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction · 2012-07-16T00:32:21.217Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A medical example of this is the lack of evidence for the efficacy of antihistamine against anaphylaxis. When I asked my sister (currently going through clinical school) about why, she said "because if you do a study, people in the control group will die if these things work, and we have good reason to believe they do"

EDIT: I got beaten to posting this by the only other person I told about it

Comment by tgm on Nick Bostrom's TED talk and setting priorities · 2012-07-14T20:26:44.164Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is very easy to believe that "death" and "life isn't usually as wonderful as it could be" are as important as existential risk if you weight heavily in favour of the well-being of you, people you know and people in other senses "close" to you.

Caring more about that is also very natural. If I were to tell a typical person that was going to die tomorrow, their reaction would be stronger than is going to die under the same circumstances etc.

Of course, shut up and multiply, but only if you actually care about all of the events equally.

Comment by tgm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-07-12T00:30:56.452Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There appears to be two "Welcome to Less wrong!" blog posts. I initially posted this in the other, older one:

I’m 20, male and a maths undergrad at Cambridge University. I was linked to LW a little over a year ago, and despite having initial misgivings for philosophy-type stuff on the internet (and off, for that matter), I hung around long enough to realise that LW was actually different from most of what I had read. In particular, I found a mix of ideas that I’ve always thought (and been alone amongst my peers in doing so), such as making beliefs pay rent; and new ones that were compelling, such as the conservation of expected evidence post.

I’ve always identified as a rationalist, and was fortunate enough to be raised to a sound understanding of what might be considered ‘traditional’ rationality. I’ve changed the way I think since starting to read LW, and have dropped some of the unhelpful attitudes that were promoted by status-warfare at a high achieving all-boys school (you must always be right, you must always have an answer, you must never back down…)

I’m here because the LW community seems to have lots of straight-thinking people with a vast cumulative knowledge. I want to be a part of and learn from that kind of community, for no better reason than I think I would enjoy life more for it.

Comment by tgm on What Is Signaling, Really? · 2012-07-10T21:41:00.346Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Certainly in the circles I'm from in the UK, less/fewer is very much used as a signal. I don't think I could use the 'wrong' one without getting corrected if the audience is sufficiently large.

Question: In casual conversation, does the proportion of the time I am corrected increase with the number of people as if they each corrected as iid Bernoulli random variables? (i.e. if I get corrected 1/2 of the time with one other person, then it's 3/4 of the time with 2, 7/8ths of the time with 3 etc.)

I suspect that I would be corrected more often than that model predicts in larger groups, because there are more people to signal status to.

Comment by tgm on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2012-07-10T20:21:23.029Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I’m 20, male and a maths undergrad at Cambridge University. I was linked to LW a little over a year ago, and despite having initial misgivings for philosophy-type stuff on the internet (and off, for that matter), I hung around long enough to realise that LW was actually different from most of what I had read. In particular, I found a mix of ideas that I’ve always thought (and been alone amongst my peers in doing so), such as making beliefs pay rent; and new ones that were compelling, such as the conservation of expected evidence post.

I’ve always identified as a rationalist, and was fortunate enough to be raised to a sound understanding of what might be considered ‘traditional’ rationality. I’ve changed the way I think since starting to read LW, and have dropped some of the unhelpful attitudes that were promoted by status-warfare at a high achieving all-boys school (you must always be right, you must always have an answer, you must never back down…)

I’m here because the LW community seems to have lots of straight-thinking people with a vast cumulative knowledge. I want to be a part of and learn from that kind of community, for no better reason than I think I would enjoy life more for it.