Posts

Fictional Bias 2012-04-02T02:10:20.559Z · score: 0 (79 votes)
"Politics is the mind-killer" is the mind-killer 2012-01-26T15:55:22.746Z · score: 39 (64 votes)
[POLL] Year survey 2011-12-09T20:00:53.163Z · score: 7 (14 votes)
Off-topic: Russian machine translation 2011-05-16T20:12:40.485Z · score: 0 (3 votes)
H+ Summit Meetup Harvard 6/12 2010-06-10T17:25:32.430Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
The role of neodeconstructive rationalism in the works of Less Wrong 2010-04-01T14:17:36.357Z · score: 35 (57 votes)
LW/OB Quotes - Fall 2009 2009-09-01T15:11:01.113Z · score: 2 (5 votes)
Rationality Quotes - September 2009 2009-09-01T15:06:57.167Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Zwicky's Trifecta of Illusions 2009-07-17T16:59:41.901Z · score: 18 (18 votes)
Don't Count Your Chickens... 2009-06-17T15:21:31.616Z · score: 3 (10 votes)
On Comments, Voting, and Karma - Part I 2009-04-07T02:44:26.333Z · score: 9 (11 votes)
Is Santa Real? 2009-03-13T20:45:41.691Z · score: 19 (22 votes)

Comments

Comment by thomblake on Politics is the Mind-Killer · 2015-07-15T20:13:02.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, understanding the particular error in reasoning that the person is making is not merely sufficient but necessary for fully understanding a mistaken position. However, if your entire understanding is "because bias somehow" then you don't actually understand.

And you should be careful about accepting the uncharitable explanation preemptively, as it's rather tempting to explain away other people's beliefs and arguments that way.

Comment by thomblake on Open thread, September 9-15, 2013 · 2013-09-11T20:14:48.368Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone know how to programmatically generate large video files (presumably made of noise) for testing purposes?

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-09-05T20:12:41.171Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're surely mistaken. The bible translators often brought in popular sayings and turns of phrase that seemed to fit. If there was a wizard motto with some currency that sounded like an appropriate translation when KJV was written, then I could totally see it being used in the bible, assuming there was any cross-pollination between wizards and christians at the time.

I don't see why the christians using a wizard motto would be particularly blasphemous, let alone maximally so.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T19:40:53.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Alternately: The wizards already mined all the real gold too.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T19:05:24.123Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's like bitcoin mining - whoever steals Muggle gold first gets to keep it. Of course that's the Americans.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T15:51:32.672Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Hypothesis: The muggles don't possess much gold. Most of the huge stacks of gold in places like Fort Knox are clever magical replicas, and have been for a very long time. Any wizard can easily see through the ruse, but the muggles are clueless.

How do we have gold that we use as a conductor? Perhaps when a muggle handles fake gold, it gets magically swapped with real gold from a small supply elsewhere. Or else, maybe fake magic gold is a really good conductor.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T15:38:26.884Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The problem was Moody not having read the paper when Harry brought it into the meeting.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:36:46.253Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Theoretically, indemnity implies compensation which makes the person indemnified as well-off as they would have been before the harm occurred. At the least, this change could have later been construed as a debt owed to Malfoy from Potter.

Comment by thomblake on Politics is the Mind-Killer · 2013-08-09T20:46:02.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In logic, most examples are from politics because the most salient examples of logical fallacies are from politics. So that's probably why the Nixon example was about politics, even though it wasn't necessary.

Comment by thomblake on [Link] AI advances: computers can be almost as funny as people · 2013-08-02T19:37:21.193Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

No, the completely random baseline generated funny jokes 3.7% of the time.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T18:33:42.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Right, I stand corrected.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T15:35:48.770Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

think the most likely option is that the Potter motto was first taken from the Bible in Latin, and at some point after the completion of the King James Bible (in the 1600s) the motto was updated to English.

The motto is in Old English in the story, presumably dating from the time of the Peverells. It may have been taken from the bible verse, but then your own argument raises the question, why didn't they write their motto in Latin?

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T15:34:27.149Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

according to a quick Wikipedia search, translated into Old English by the Venerable Bede in the 7th century.

You may be thinking of the Gospel of John, which Bede translated shortly before his death. As far as I can tell, there was never an Old English translation of 1 Corinthians, and if there was it was not well-known.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T14:36:17.467Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nice connection

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T14:35:11.693Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Given the timing, it seems more likely in-universe that the particular English translation of that bible passage was lifted from the wizard motto.

Comment by thomblake on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T17:40:01.434Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The last category you mention is basically "eggs used as an emulsifier" - so other emulsifiers should also work.

Comment by thomblake on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-07-19T18:24:26.143Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But surely going to a rationality workshop is the best way to learn to evaluate whether to go to a rationality workshop. And whether it succeeds or not, you can be convinced it was a good idea!

Comment by thomblake on How I Became More Ambitious · 2013-07-17T12:28:29.535Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The modifier "comparative" is used to highlight things that are, in isolation, disadvantages,

That's just false. If A can make wool for $2 and coffee for $3, and B can make wool for $6 and coffee for $5, then B has a comparative advantage in coffee (which is in isolation a disadvantage) and A has a comparative advantage in wool (which in isolation is an advantage). Being a disadvantage just isn't necessary for a comparative advantage.

Comment by thomblake on How I Became More Ambitious · 2013-07-16T19:33:56.301Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Surely advantages can also be comparative advantages. If you're trading beauty for attention, then presumably you have a comparative advantage in beauty.

Comment by thomblake on What's the name of this cognitive bias? · 2013-07-12T12:51:21.146Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, imagine a planning algorithm that has no memory - then a heuristic like that (maybe with some amount of randomness to avoid cycles and such) might be your best bet.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-11T13:32:11.370Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just a general rule of thumb. The time loop is a powerful optimization process with outcomes that are not intuitive to humans. It's analogous to invoking evolution. If 'the world is destroyed by an asteroid' is the only stable outcome, then it seems that's what you're going to get.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-10T19:43:21.178Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

For it is a sad rule that whenever you are most in need of your art as a rationalist, that is when you are most likely to forget it.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-10T19:28:52.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I think Dumbledore was trying to talk about either Slytherin or himself, but accidentally was foreshadowing Voldemort.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-10T19:09:09.181Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't seem significantly different from the loop Harry already tried, that didn't work. Don't summon Azathoth.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-10T18:56:28.740Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, but Hermione's life is on the line - he'd bite off his own fingers to save her.

Comment by thomblake on What's the name of this cognitive bias? · 2013-07-10T18:49:57.086Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, that actually describes a pretty sane heuristic.

Comment by thomblake on [LINK] XKCD Comic #1236, Seashells and Bayes' Theorem · 2013-07-10T18:44:57.775Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He fixes things a lot. There is practically never a notice.

Comment by thomblake on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-10T13:30:54.912Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have heard rumors that cool things happen elsewhere, but I do not believe them. Though Akihabara is pretty cool.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-03T15:16:44.482Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What he means is that he wishes that books on memory charms fit that description - but in fact they're not guarded at all or even in the restricted section of the library.

Comment by thomblake on What are you working on? July 2013 · 2013-07-03T15:05:03.237Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Trying to find web developer work in the SF Bay area.

Because SF is awesome and where all the great stuff in webdev is happening.

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-02T20:49:58.199Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I prefer the theory that qhzoyrqber hfrq svraqsler gb qrfgebl gur qvnel ubepehk jura ur gubhtug gur ubhfr jnf rzcgl, naq gura pynvzrq perqvg sbe anepvffn'f qrngu fb gung ure fnpevsvpr jbhyq abg or zrnavatyrff

Comment by thomblake on New Favicon · 2013-07-01T14:45:26.082Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Current favicon is best favicon.

Comment by thomblake on Artificial Addition · 2013-06-10T20:18:25.766Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm surprised nobody brought this up at the time, but it's telling that you've only picked out examples of humans when discussing intelligence, not bacteria or rocks or the color blue. I submit that the property is not as unknowable as you would suggest.

Comment by thomblake on Artificial Addition · 2013-06-10T20:09:38.977Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Furthermore, if you draw the graph the way Neel seems to suggest, then the bodyguard is adding the antidote without dependence on the actions of the assassin, and so there is no longer any reason to call one "assassin" and the other "bodyguard", or one "poison" and the other "antidote". The bodyguard in that model is trying to kill the king as much as the assassin is, and the assassin's timely intervention saved the king as much as the bodyguard's.

Comment by thomblake on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-10T19:23:21.285Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for the multilayered pun

Comment by thomblake on Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns · 2013-06-10T18:53:25.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think steelmanning would instead be if you listed more realistic dangers of that place rather than more extreme dangers

I think you missed what was going on there. In the hypothetical, Feynman's mom was concerned about the plague and for the steelman Feynman corrected it to TB. The assumption there is that TB is a more realistic threat than the plague.

Comment by thomblake on Tiling Agents for Self-Modifying AI (OPFAI #2) · 2013-06-06T20:48:07.850Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't read a lot of other people's stuff about your ideas (e.g. Mark Waser) but I have read most of the things you've published. I'm surprised to hear you've said it many times before.

Comment by thomblake on Tiling Agents for Self-Modifying AI (OPFAI #2) · 2013-06-06T13:11:58.303Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This post does answer some questions I had regarding the relevance of mathematical proof to AI safety, and the motivations behind using mathematical proof in the first place. I don't believe I've seen this bit before:

the idea that something-like-proof might be relevant to Friendly AI is not about achieving some chimera of absolute safety-feeling

Comment by thomblake on Many Weak Arguments vs. One Relatively Strong Argument · 2013-06-04T20:34:29.262Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think the concept you're looking for is the principle of charity. Steel man is what you do to someone else's argument in order to make sure yours is good, after you've defeated their actual argument. Principle of charity is what you do in discourse to make sure you're having the best possible discussion.

If you think Eliezer should have steelmanned your argument then you think he has already defeated it - before he even commented!

Comment by thomblake on ...so did we now get cold fusion to work or what? · 2013-05-30T18:24:52.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why was this post downvoted like crazy? Is Less Wrong not the sort of place to post this sort of question?

Should we have a Q&A site for this sort of purpose? It's been discussed before.

Or is it just that this should have been posted to Discussion or the open thread?

Comment by thomblake on Privileging the Question · 2013-05-03T19:50:58.870Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To take another tack on the gay marriage example, asking the question also implies that it's the sort of thing one is allowed to decide on. I welcome a national debate on "Should we give Thom Blake a million dollars" but am less enthusiastic about debating "Should we throw rocks at Thom".

Comment by thomblake on How would you respond to the Philpapers "What are your Philosophical Positions" Survey? · 2013-05-03T13:47:54.052Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Let's see... I'll try to answer as I would have when I was taking this, for consistency...

Abstract objects: Aristotelianism. Forms are always instantiated, but are not completely arbitrary categories as nominalism would suggest.

Aesthetic value: subject-sensitive objectivism. There is a fact about what you find beautiful regardless of your say-so, but beauty depends on the observer.

Epistemic justification: subject-sensitive invariantism / contextualism: There is an external fact about whether a belief is justified, but it depends upon the context of the question and/or the person being asked, so the distinction is flawed. (see "knowledge claims")

Science: Models necessarily leave out facets of reality, and science simply aims to provide good models, so science will never fully describe reality by design. Thus, it does not achieve realism. However, the models are not arbitrary and do refer to reality.

Trolley problem: The question about what one ought to do is ill-formed. Humans are not designed to make that sort of decision, and so an ethics that answers trolley problem questions will be ill-suited to everyday use. Thus, what one should do is be virtuous in all one's activities, and I expect such a person would still freeze and panic if faced with the trolley problem. Or to paraphrase one philosopher's take on it, if you find the answer to the trolley problem easily, then there's something wrong with you.


There you go. I'm just guessing on what I was thinking on "science" and a bit on some of the others. I'd have to rethink the whole thing to answer it again - I haven't been running in philosophy circles for a while.

Comment by thomblake on Open Thread, March 1-15, 2013 · 2013-03-28T02:07:14.286Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am in Berkeley for a few days, primarily Thursday march 28th. Please text me at 203-710-5337 if you'd like to catch up or have any ideas for a thing I shouldn't miss.

Comment by thomblake on Hardened Problems Make Brittle Models · 2013-03-28T01:57:54.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes exactly

Comment by thomblake on An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction · 2013-03-08T20:07:43.001Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, length there is short for "minimum message length" or in other words Kolmogorov complexity.

Comment by thomblake on MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare · 2013-03-08T16:18:58.274Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Am I correct in thinking this is a continuation of the vanished company Personalized Medicine?

What's the story there?

Comment by thomblake on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2013-02-27T21:50:38.239Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You should use an editor with brace-matching.

Comment by thomblake on Philosophical Landmines · 2013-02-13T15:55:40.271Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand how the Atheist gets from the Theist's claims about the creation of the universe to "natural selection". I thought that was the bad pattern-matching in the first example, but then they make the same mistake in the second example. Does the Atheist think the universe is an evolved creature?

Comment by thomblake on LessWrong podcasts · 2012-12-21T17:01:11.739Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

you've strawmanned me repeatedly

Translation: "I'm a bad communicator".

Comment by thomblake on Rationality Quotes December 2012 · 2012-12-20T15:22:03.318Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. The whole thing should be read as elaboration of one piece of advice - the individual sentences are not meant to stand on their own. If you're overwhelming the enemy with multiple attacks, then none of them should be counted as failure.

And FWIW, Musashi was primarily writing about swordsmanship, not command.