Posts

Don’t Apply the Principle of Charity to Yourself 2011-11-19T19:26:25.777Z · score: 49 (59 votes)

Comments

Comment by unclghost on Calibration Test with database of 150,000+ questions · 2015-03-13T20:00:41.774Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great tool. Does the API you're using allow unanswerable questions to be flagged at all though? Just got one question that depended on an image that wasn't there, and another with no question body. Also, labeled axes on the graph might be nice for people who don't already know how calibration curves work and/or don't like unlabeled axes.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T04:34:40.085Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed that too--I'm not sure what it is with Moody, but in an earlier revision of Chapter 97 he'd ended the chapter by saying "what the crap--" (it's now been changed to "WHAT -"). It's unclear if EY edited the earlier chapter because it wasn't very British or because it seemed out-of-place, but for whatever reason, he's saying it again now.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-10T23:28:41.944Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For that matter, "mention" is misspelled as "mentio" in the A/N.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-10T20:18:41.701Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why they're still worried about Bellatrix, it looks like she's been rendered mostly 'armless.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T18:54:37.414Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Fourth. One piece of exceedingly unexpected and happy news. Hermione Granger is alive and in full health, sound of body and mind. Miss Granger is being observed at St. Mungo's to see if there are any unexpected afteraffects from whatever happened to her, but she appears to be doing astonishingly well considering her previous condition."

Should be "aftereffects".

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-05T18:29:12.154Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I guess the only other evidence we have is that the Map, using the wards, would (implicitly) alternate between showing him as QQ and TR depending on whether QQ was being actively possessed, but as far as we know reported relatively consistently on the presence of the Defense Professor, such that it was a surprise to Dumbledore that the wards reported him being the troll. We do know that the wards are able to remain aware of identity even through transfiguration, as shown with both the troll and the unicorn.

It seems like that's about as consistent with the hypothesis "the wards counted QQ's body, QQ's suppressed consciousness, TR's consciousness, and the troll as the Defense Professor" as it is with "the wards just counted QQ's body and the troll as the Defense Professor". It comes down to whether it's more likely that the wards use the simpler strategy of tracking bodies (as Velorien said) since there would be little reason to track spirits/consciousnesses, or that they target your magical "self" as well as the Map seems to do, possibly based on some fundamental aspect of magical self-ness.

Of course, all this is even assuming the wards track the deaths of professors. It seems like the sort of thing you'd want wards to do, but I can't think of anywhere that that's been confirmed. We do know that the wards didn't report that the Defense Professor died after the troll died, so if it does keep track of the deaths of professors, it doesn't count as death when some living portion of "the Defense Professor" is still alive.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-05T02:42:50.508Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If Harry's right about the effect that transfiguring the stunned Voldemort will have, won't the wards identify "the Defense Professor" as still alive?

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-04T20:12:53.431Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ch. 116:

But the International Conferation of Wizards

Should be "Confederation".

Madam Hooch brew a shrill whistle

Should be "blew".

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T20:10:59.794Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

deleted

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-21T02:33:46.547Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if he's just getting a new name for arbitrary reasons (like HPJEV, Bellatrix, etc.), for just this sort of anagram fun, or for some story-related significance to his mother naming him after her brother instead of her father?

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-18T02:24:50.519Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like I misunderstood the relevant passage in Chapter 49--when Quirrell confirms that other snake Animagi can't overhear them, he isn't implying that you also have to be a Parselmouth, he's implying that he can only understand Harry because Harry wills it.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-18T01:27:17.219Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Iirc, in canon, the Gaunt family (Voldemort's family) was the last living set of descendants of Salazar Slytherin, and they were very inbred by the time of the books, so it appears that JKR at least provided some workaround for this.

As for the reliability of Parseltongue, there's some precedent for it apparently serving as truth-enforcement. Chapter 49:

"I am not regisstered," hissed the snake. The dark pits of its eyes stared at Harry. "Animaguss musst be regisstered. Penalty is two yearss imprissonment. Will you keep my ssecret, boy? "

"Yess," hissed Harry. "Would never break promisse."

The snake seemed to hold still, as though in shock, and then began to sway again.

[...]

"You ssay nothing, to no one. Give no ssign of expectancy, none. Undersstand?"

Harry nodded.

"Ansswer in sspeech."

"Yess."

"Will do as I ssaid?"

"Yess."

Professor Quirrell is known for his aversion to unnecessarily redundant conversation, so it seems likely here that he wants to be sure Harry is telling the truth. Later, in Chapter 66:

"Lessson I learned is not to try plotss that would make girl-child friend think I am evil or boy-child friend think I am sstupid," Harry snapped back. He'd been planning a more temporizing response than that, but somehow the words had just slipped out.

It would have helped Quirrell convince Harry in Azkaban, but it's possible he thought it would be more useful for Harry not to know yet how much information his unwittingly-true answers were giving Quirrell.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T22:30:20.960Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For that matter, why did he ever bother turning into his snake form? Just to make Harry think he had the limitation of not being able to speak Parseltongue while human, for some reason?

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T22:19:42.835Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As for the last possibility, he doesn't leave from the Quidditch game until around a quarter past 11, so that can't help him for another five hours or so.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T19:33:56.511Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Professor Quirrell then turned back to where the Potions Master lay sprawled, bent over and placed his wand on Professor Snape's forehead. "Alienis nervus mobile lignum."

The Defense Professor stepped back, and began to move his left fingers in the air as though manipulating a puppet on strings.

Professor Snape pushed himself up from the ground by smooth motions, and stood once more before the corridor door.

From Chapter 88: Time Pressure, Part 1, before anyone knows about the troll yet:

"You know," Harry said, as he turned his head away to stare at the ceiling illusion of a clear blue sky, "that still creeps me out sometimes."

"What does?" said Fred or George.

The powerful and enigmatic Defense Professor was 'resting' or whatever-the-heck-was-wrong-with-him, his hands making fumbling, hesitant grabs at a chicken-leg that seemed to be eluding him on the plate.

Are there any other times that Quirrell is described making similar gestures? (Note that another time he apparently controls someone else--the centaur in Chapter 101--he doesn't do this, but that may be due to the centaur actually being dead as some have speculated.) [Edit for Ch. 106: Confirmed; the centaur and Fluffy became Infieri.]

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T18:05:33.835Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Based on Harry apparently still feeling the aura of doom when Sprout was casting spells while Imperiused in Ch. 104, it's likely that casting spells on Harry through someone else is subject to the same problems that doing it directly causes. I guess he could still use more mundane means like a tranquilizer dart and some kind of gurney, but it would be difficult to accomplish without either touching or using magic on Harry in the process.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-05T01:43:07.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I thought too, but any idea why the chapter ends by saying "nine days yet remained"?

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-30T19:50:24.008Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I rot13d it in my comment just because it's funnier if you figure it out yourself, and like many stealth jokes, it's easy to figure out once you know there's a joke to look for (if you've read canon). If it was an actual spoiler for the chapter that would facilitate discussion because it wasn't just a random throwaway joke, then I wouldn't rot13 it.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-29T03:12:52.445Z · score: 25 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Not a spoiler, but rot13'd for explaining the joke:

"All of you in this room... have received grades of at least Acceptable. Neville Longbottom... who took this test in the Longbottom home... received a grade of Outstanding. But the other student who is not here... has had a Dreadful grade entered on her record... for failing the only important test... that was given her this year. I would have marked her even lower... but that would have been in poor taste."

Gur bayl tenqr ybjre guna Qernqshy vf "Gebyy".

Comment by unclghost on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T07:38:18.465Z · score: 30 (30 votes) · LW · GW

¡He terminado!

Comment by unclghost on Jokes Thread · 2014-07-27T19:26:52.040Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Less of a joke than a pithy little truism, but I came up with it:

Notability is not ability.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 28, chapter 99-101 · 2013-12-15T03:33:53.211Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Silver seems to be a running theme for anti-death things (add the Silvery Slytherins and the Peverell crest to that list). Unicorn blood is a likely candidate, though. (Also, that bit you mentioned is probably worth rot13ing since it came from a source that he suggested not reading.)

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-09-14T02:34:51.818Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel could have suggested or stipulated that wording when zhe and Dumbledore were working out how to identify Quirrel to the wards, reasonably assuming that Dumbledore wouldn't think the "he" was the suspicious part.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-29T03:54:22.459Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. Some of the things that have been described as silver or silvery so far:

  • The Patronus charm (particularly the True Patronus)
  • The Deathly Hallows symbol in this chapter
  • The stars in space
  • The Invisibility Cloak (in canon, at least)

All of these seem to have in common that they represent some sort of resistance to death or indifference (usually represented by coldness, like the vacuum of space or Harry's dark side). This has probably already been pointed out a lot, but I predict that whatever is glinting silver in the prologue represents something similar, even if it's something else entirely (e.g. a dagger, the Sword of Gryffindor, etc.)

Edit: also, as someone pointed out earlier, the Philosopher's Stone now turns metals into silver as well as gold (see Hedonic Awareness).

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-26T01:52:04.154Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It can also be an issue even for canon-knowledgeable readers. A lot of the time readers are used to Harry's thought processes happening in the absence of certain key knowledge from canon (the Philosopher's Stone, etc.), so it's jarring when Harry learns major pieces of information offscreen (the Marauder's Map, etc.)

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-26T01:38:22.291Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe certain other Deathly Hallows symbols will now light up in Harry's presence, especially if there is a lost storehouse of some sort with a similar mark.

If it doesn't end up being important, it could just be whatever enchantment is on the Peverell gravestone that makes it recognize someone's anti-Death resolve (possibly only if they're a Peverell descendant) and recite the prophecy, pointed out in the narration so the reader knows where the prophecy was coming from.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-25T16:42:56.003Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Canon strongly implies that the original story was a dramatization of the story of the Peverells, who actually just made powerful artifacts, iirc. Also, dementor cloaks probably aren't invisibility cloaks, since people and other dementors can see cloaked dementors.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-17T05:31:38.405Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

New idea: going on the "Dumbledore faked Godric's Hollow" theory, what if "Voldemort's" body that gets found is the unrecognizable, burned body of Narcissa Malfoy?

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 20, chapter 90 · 2013-07-17T05:20:38.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I interpreted it as Harry being jolted out of his all-consuming inner monologue by Dumbledore suddenly touching his shoulder while he wasn't paying attention to Dumbledore at all.

But Harry didn't see anything helpful he could do using spells in his lexicon, Dumbledore wasn't being very cooperative, and in any case this was several minutes after the critical location within Time

"Harry," the Headmaster whispered, laying his hand on Harry's shoulder. He had vanished from where he was standing over the Weasley twins and come into existence beside Harry; George Weasley had discontinously teleported from where he was sitting to be kneeling next to his brother's side, and Fred was now lying straight with his eyes open and wincing as he breathed. "Harry, you must go from this place."

He wasn't paying attention at all to Dumbledore, Fred, or George, and he's startled by their sudden agency. To me it seems more likely that leaving off in the middle of a sentence as he's startled is a stylistic choice, rather than a particularly meaningful missing period.

Comment by unclghost on The Parable of the Dagger · 2013-07-17T00:21:37.893Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point--in the original wording, it says it was inscribed by "Bellini", who is established earlier to always tell the truth.

Comment by unclghost on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 23, chapter 94 · 2013-07-17T00:15:31.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's important that this comes just a few chapters after Dumbledore regrets resenting Harry for having spent his fortune to save Hermione, when he (Dumbledore) chose not to do so to save Aberforth.

"I - I'm sorry, Harry - I -" The old wizard pressed his hands to his face, and Harry saw that Albus Dumbledore was weeping. "I should not have said, such things to you - I should not, have resented, your innocence -"

(Ch. 84)

Comment by unclghost on The Parable of the Dagger · 2013-06-04T00:21:03.683Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In the explanation for the puzzle this is adapted from (Puzzle 70 in What is the Name of this Book?, in the "Portia's Casket's" chapter), Raymond Smullyan raises both points: "The suitor should have realized that without any information given about the truth or falsity of the sentences, nor any information given about the relation of their truth-values, the sentences could say anything, and the object (portrait or dagger, as the case may be) could be anywhere. Good heavens, I can take any number of caskets that I please and put an object in one of them and then write any inscriptions at all on the lids; these sentences won't convey any information whatsoever. So Portia was not really lying; all she said was that the object in question was in one of the boxes, and in each case it really was. ... Another way to look at the matter is that the suitor's error was to assume that each of the statements was either true or false."

The given puzzle (the boxes are labeled "the portrait is not in here" and "exactly one of these two statements is true", where the portrait is the desired object, is contrasted with an earlier problem, where there are two boxes saying "the portrait is not in here" and "exactly one of these two boxes was labeled by someone who always tells the truth" (and it's given that the only other box-maker always lies). The distinction the author draws is that the second box in the earlier problem really does have to be true or false, since "it is a historic statement about the physical world", but there's no such guarantee with purely self-referential labels.

Comment by unclghost on Illusion of Transparency: Why No One Understands You · 2013-06-04T00:04:42.743Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think I did mean to be sarcastic, since it doesn't seem to be actually affiliated with the publishers of Webster's dictionary and the design of the site looks generally sketchy, but coming back to my comment now, you make a good point.

Comment by unclghost on The Parable of Hemlock · 2012-05-16T23:04:37.707Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a short story I remember once reading about a similar problem.

Comment by unclghost on Don’t Apply the Principle of Charity to Yourself · 2011-11-21T21:19:44.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think a separate discussion post would be useful. When I wrote this, I was thinking of the PoC as something like an axiom that's not explicitly built into logic, but is necessary for productive discussion because otherwise people would constantly nitpick or strawman each other, there would be no way to stop them, and so on. Based on the discussion here, though, it's seeming more like a tool intended for social situations that's usually suboptimal for truth-finding purposes, although again, it's still better than always going with your initial interpretation or always going with the least logical interpretation.

Comment by unclghost on Don’t Apply the Principle of Charity to Yourself · 2011-11-19T23:17:55.549Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, I'd never realized the connection between PoC and LCPW before. I'll have to think about that, although I wouldn't necessarily say LCPW is a replacement for PoC. They solve different problems in practice--like lessdazed said, PoC can be more effective at countering overconfidence in knowing what you think your opponent meant, if that's the goal. Would you mind giving an example though?

ETA:

For example, you search harder for possible reasonable interpretations, to make sure they are available for consideration, but retain expected bad interpretations in the distribution of possible intended meanings.

I agree that if you're going to use PoC, you shouldn't apply it internally and unilaterally--if responding as though your opponent made a good argument requires some unlikely assumptions, you should still be well aware of that.

Comment by unclghost on Don’t Apply the Principle of Charity to Yourself · 2011-11-19T21:13:09.154Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent point, I've added to that sentence both for consistency and to make it flow better into the next paragraph. Thanks!

Comment by unclghost on Don’t Apply the Principle of Charity to Yourself · 2011-11-19T19:55:10.571Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Note that this is my first main post, so in addition to feedback being appreciated, I also hope this hasn't been written about before here. It seemed original when I wrote it, but I easily could have read and forgotten about it.

Comment by unclghost on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-12T23:36:22.665Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just took it, but I think I might have given an overelaborate answer for "Religious Background," in order to give more information than "Family Religion" provided.

Comment by unclghost on False Laughter · 2011-09-08T01:47:01.031Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a near-universal template for this sort of "humor."

Comment by unclghost on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism · 2011-09-05T08:07:35.577Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great post. I've had a similar idea for a while but didn't realize just how far it could be generalized.

I especially noticed this idea while reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which seems to posit the hierarchy as being something like "Belief in Christianity because of social pressures / Disbelief in Christianity because who needs social pressures / Belief in Christianity because of comprehension of its 'true meaning' (or something)".

I guess when there are potentially a lot of layers of meta-contrarianism like in Matt_Simpson's example, that can easily lead to strawman arguments when you try to argue against a higher-level even (or odd) number as if it was a lower-level even (or odd) number.

Comment by unclghost on Should a rationalist be concerned about habitat loss/biodiversity loss? · 2011-06-08T04:55:12.338Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking more in terms of moral concerns, so I should have specified to ignore health as well.

I think asking whether or not to value biodiversity is the same sort of question--it reduces to personal preference.

Comment by unclghost on Should a rationalist be concerned about habitat loss/biodiversity loss? · 2011-06-05T07:05:01.369Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Related question: Independent of any ecological or economic concerns, should a rationalist be a vegetarian?

Comment by unclghost on Bayesian Judo · 2011-05-13T05:59:45.926Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I attended a lecture by noted theologian Alvin Plantinga, about whether miracles are incompatible with science. Most of it was "science doesn't say it's impossible, so there's still a chance, right?"-type arguments. However, later on, his main explanation for why it wasn't impossible that God could intervene from outside a closed system and still not violate our laws of physics was that maybe God works through wavefunction collapse. Maybe God creates miracles by causing the right wavefunction collapses, resulting in, say, Jesus walking on water, rising from the dead, unscrambling eggs, etc.

Recalling this article, I wrote down and asked this question when the time came:

"The Many-Worlds Interpretation is currently [I said "currently" because he was complaining earlier about other philosophers misrepresenting modern science] one of the leading interpretations of quantum mechanics. The universe splits off at quantum events, but is still deterministic, and only appears probabilistic from the perspective of any given branch. Every one of the other branches still exists, including ones where Jesus doesn't come back. If true, how does this affect your argument?"

I wanted to see if he would accept a falsifiable version of his belief. Unfortunately, he said something like "Oh, I don't like that theory, I don't know how it would work with a million versions of me out there" and ignored the "if" part of the question. (I would have liked to point this out, but the guy before me had abused his mic privileges so I had to give it back.)

(Also, is that a fair layman's representation of many-worlds? I'm normally very wary of using any sort of quantum physics-based reasoning as a non-quantum physicist, but, well, he started it.)

Comment by unclghost on How to Beat Procrastination · 2011-05-10T15:47:21.023Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sheesh, who knew even productivity could be destroyed by the truth?

Comment by unclghost on How to Beat Procrastination · 2011-05-10T07:06:44.140Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Doesn't seem to work for me.

Comment by unclghost on How to Beat Procrastination · 2011-05-09T04:45:25.073Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like File > Exit works. Still, though, having to go to the File menu can work as a minor barrier to impulsiveness.

Also, AD, the saved session feature in Firefox 4 is kind of the opposite of Firefox 3--it asks you if you want to open your last session when you start, instead of asking if you want to save when you quit, in case you were wondering.

Comment by unclghost on How to Beat Procrastination · 2011-05-09T02:06:12.851Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sad but true. Often, I find that it helps to open a new window for things that I need to read, fill out, etc., because 1), it makes it harder to be distracted by the "fun" tabs I also have open, and 2), Firefox (at least) can't save all of your tabs when you have two windows open, so you have to close one of them, and the "serious" window is a way to force yourself to finish everything in that window before you close your browser and do something else.

Having said that, LW usually takes up most of my saved "fun" tabs...

Comment by unclghost on How to Beat Procrastination · 2011-05-08T18:55:33.391Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe I should work on reducing the "value" part of the equation for distracting activities. (For example, reading negative reviews of "The Secret" on Amazon)

Comment by unclghost on Mere Messiahs · 2011-05-03T23:57:16.982Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe Superman doesn't risk much when he goes around being heroic, but it takes a certain strength of morality for Superman not to take over the world and use it to his own ends.