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Power and difficulty 2014-10-22T05:22:10.040Z · score: 21 (24 votes)

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Comment by undermind on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015 · 2015-02-05T12:59:04.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Love it -- mainly because it invokes one of my favourite paradoxes.

If you preach hypocrisy, and you are in fact hypocritical, than you're not a hypocrite. And if you aren't a hypocrite, then you are.

Comment by undermind on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-16T05:45:06.924Z · score: 24 (24 votes) · LW · GW

“Clever kids in Ravenclaw, evil kids in Slytherin, wannabe heroes in Gryffindor, and everyone who does the actual work in Hufflepuff.”

You've already said it. But it doesn't hurt to repeat.

Comment by undermind on The Rubber Hand Illusion and Preaching to the Unconverted · 2014-12-30T17:07:49.351Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm skeptical that experiments involving rubber hands are an effective way to gain social status.

You have some decent arguments (though ChristianKI's critiques show where they need work), but I think the weirdness factor is just too high. Even if someone were personally convinced, what happens when they try to tell their friends?

Mainly I found it very cool to read about Ramachandran and the table. It's especially interesting in the context of embodied cognition. If our mental lives are determined and made meaningful by the fact that we have physical bodies that we live in and have to make do stuff, how do we reconcile this with the notion that "There is a sense in which one’s body image is itself a ‘phantom’: one that the brain constructs for utility and convenience." ?

Comment by undermind on November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-11-03T17:20:16.010Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In any reasonable class, the score should have exceeded 100%.

Perhaps in any ordinary class at a North American institution. But I don't think such grading schemes are reasonable -- there's more to reach for (and more humility, and much finer discrimination) when 80% is difficult to achieve.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-30T06:35:54.542Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, you didn't.

And kudos (in the form of an upvote) to you for suggesting something to improve the niceness of rationalists -- as has been pointed out many times, that's something we should work on.

Yeah, instrumental rationality is (epistemically) easier -- on the writer as well as on the reader. Epistemic rationality requires rigor, which usually implies a lot of math. Instrumental rationality can be pretty successful with a few examples and a moderately useful analogy.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-30T05:30:35.257Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had that problem too (from the commentary here, this lack of specific examples is the post's biggest issue) -- whatever examples I could come up with seemed distinctly unspectacular.

However, I think avoiding common failure modes -- being less wrong -- is a decent way to increase the expected value of your power.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-30T05:25:05.598Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, it was snarky, but I thought it was funny.

It's a decent criticism of a decent chunk of LW, such that I don't have a great response to it. Check your accuracy at a meta-level to determine when to lie to yourself? That seems to be how this technique is used, but it feels like an unsatisfactory response.

Comment by undermind on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-30T05:19:27.407Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm wary of advice that doesn't generalize.

I'm wary of advice that does claim to generalize. Giving good advice is a hard problem, partly because it's so context-specific. Yes, there are general principles, but there are tons of exceptions, and even quite similar situations can trigger these exceptions.

Kant got into this kind of problem with (the first formulation of) the categorical imperative. There are many things that are desirable if some people, but not everybody, does them -- say, learning any specific skill or filling a particular social function.

What's difference between the nurse who should leave in order to take meta-level responsibility, and the nurse who should stay because she's needed as a gear?

There are several bad answers to this, and you're right to be suspicious of them. In particular, feeling like you're special is not sufficient reason to act like you're special.

But different people have different value systems and abilities. If people are given the opportunity to develop their skills (up to the limit of interest and/or natural ability), then they should differentiate their roles based on value systems.

In this case: some people want stability, family, friends etc., and some people want to change the world. (It gets difficult for those of us who want all of the above, unfortunately.) No, you don't get to dictate what other people can do with their lives. But I really think you're in no danger of doing so -- even if you do make a distinction between yourself and other nurses (which is really not arbitrary, as you seem to be afraid it is), you're just choosing your own path, not theirs.

Comment by undermind on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-30T04:58:44.032Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I probably am going to leave nursing.

This makes me sad to hear. It sounds like you've been really enjoying it. And I think that those of us here on LW have benefited from your perspective as a nurse in many ways -- you've demonstrated its worth as a career choice, and challenged people's unwarranted assumptions.

Comment by undermind on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-30T04:48:39.359Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also, as an aside to the tangent, tangent is a strange phrase, since it doesn't actually touch the main point. Should be polar line or somesuch.

"Tangent" is perfectly appropriate -- it touches a point somewhere on the curve of the main argument, and then diverges. There is something that made the association with the tangent.

And, to further overextend this metaphor, this implies that if someone's argument is rough enough (i.e. not differentiable), then it's not even possible to go off it on a tangent.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-28T12:17:26.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! :)

I know, and I also felt that was a weakness of this post. But examples of real life would be ways to beat the market, and if I knew how to beat the market, I'd be doing that, not writing about it.

Comment by undermind on Don't Be Afraid of Asking Personally Important Questions of Less Wrong · 2014-10-28T00:57:55.145Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

What impresses me is that this post not only argues persuasively for using LessWrong as social resource, but it has provided me with convenient links to many posts I otherwise would have missed that are pretty high-quality (both for choosing what to do with my life, and general quality).

Comment by undermind on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-23T22:20:38.391Z · score: 48 (48 votes) · LW · GW

Survey done, including digit ratio. And I learned something new.

But not particularly confident in the accuracy of my measurement.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-22T21:41:25.658Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that original phrase about sunk costs was pretty unsubstantiated. What I meant to say (which I've edited in) is that much of the time, past investments are not in fact sunk costs.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-22T20:53:39.367Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I was trying to say that the hard work montage is one common narrative, but it is far from the only one.

And yes, there are inevitably constraints that get in the way of investing effort in any particular place, and correspondingly to gaining power by one particular means. But even when the path with the highest payoff is blocked, some of the remaining options will be more beneficial than others. For example, if someone has a low IQ but is strong, they could become a lumberjack, or they could become a henchman to their local supervillain.

Comment by undermind on Power and difficulty · 2014-10-22T05:24:16.917Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

(My first post. I don't know if it's good enough for Main, but I thought I'd go for it. If you don't think so, move it and/or let me know.)

I would appreciate any feedback too!

Comment by undermind on [deleted post] 2014-04-03T15:47:41.879Z

What I enjoy most about this, after getting past the odd fictional conceit, is its sheer scope - I haven't seen imagination on this scale in a long time, and I miss it.

Thank you, Eliezer.

Now we have to get to work.

Comment by undermind on Dark Arts of Rationality · 2014-01-19T21:55:51.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted before reading past the summary, but not really for bravery - more for sheer fun. Advocating "wrong" viewpoints, and coming up with counterintuitive solutions that nevertheless work, and in fact work better than conventional wisdom, is one of the best feelings I know.

Comment by undermind on Dark Arts of Rationality · 2014-01-19T21:51:42.913Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Please write your own article. This is worthy content, but thousand-word comments are an awful medium.

Comment by undermind on Dark Arts of Rationality · 2014-01-19T21:47:39.171Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Not recommended with a Rabbi's foot, either.

Comment by undermind on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-26T20:56:35.477Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Did the survey.

Results: I'm better at estimating continental populations than I had thought; I am frustrated by single-option questions in many cases (e.g. domain of study, nothing for significantly-reduced-meat-intake-but-not-strict-vegetarian, interdependent causes of global catastrophe) and questions that are too huge to be well-formulated, let alone reasonably answer (supernatural/simulation/God).

Also the question about aliens made me unaccountably sad: even if I retroactively adjust my estimates of intelligent alien life upwards (which I would never do), I have to face the incredibly low probability that they're in the Milky way.

Comment by undermind on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-07T00:50:59.022Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!

We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.

No soldier's paid to kick against His powers.

We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,

And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags

He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.

-Wilfred Owen

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T20:17:12.364Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For most people, probably not, but having the support of the masses might be more valuable for a house that is either not a major player among the existing alliances, or not going to win any friends anyway (such as Malfoy).

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T16:23:48.334Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just imagining the professors' frustration: "Well done, , and five points for AAAAGHHH CURSE YOU HARRY!"

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T16:22:06.063Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Where it goes from here: If the enemy actually wants to defeat this coalition, nothing happens. This is a temporary alliance against an outside threat, and if said threat goes away, the alliance will probably collapse of its own accord. (It may bring some lasting changes to the leadership of Hogwarts, but people will chafe against the strict security, and old and new grudges will emerge, and the coalition will break.)

If the enemy has been breeding Harry/Draco as the future leader of Magical Britain (much more likely), they will continue to attack or otherwise be active, probably conceding many victories to the new Kids' Coalition.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T16:16:44.534Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It reads like a very forced solution - there would be significant gains to one noble house going against the tradition, so their heir could have several years of Hogwarts students rally behind them - and also kind of impossible to implement, given that we don't know much about their birth control methods, and the Noble Houses are unlikely to all marry at the same time etc.

That said, the HP universe which Eliezer took on as his setting is full of such bugs, and this is a reasonable patch.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T16:10:35.005Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, obviously. Even in the unlikely event this wasn't all planned by Quirrell with his talk of unity, and role in the Hermione Affair, it is now really easy for him to accomplish this goal.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T16:06:13.881Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also doubt it will be an issue. But it will be fun. And I'm wondering if we could try to get a head start...

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T15:34:41.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Don't forget Space Stuff.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-29T15:32:21.699Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's important and has serious consequences, but what is the puzzle?

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T00:59:58.764Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Now you're just being paranoid.

Which is totally appropriate.

So...maybe.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T00:55:53.894Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I, for one, liked it. I'm not sure here is where it belongs (though I couldn't say where else it does).

Seems pretty well-written and reasonably plausible; I like being reminded that Voldemort winning is a real possibility, and this seems like a way he might do so.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-16T00:48:55.220Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the correction.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:54:36.988Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

On the topic of illogical career paths, Bones has a real job that requires being a very good auror, rather than being an errand-boy for Dumbledore, as Moody seems to be.

And as for "what are these people doing running a boarding school", they run a school based on reward and (mostly) punishment, rather than the growth of their pupils; they teach a rigid curriculum that seems to have remained unchanged for centuries, in spite of advances in both the magical and muggle worlds; and they socially condition people into narrow roles, largely defined by negative attitudes towards others, based solely on the House a piece of fabric sorts them into.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:17:58.610Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for pointing out these subtle clevernesses.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:16:11.248Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's relatively plausible, actually. The troll did not necessarily have specific orders to eat her feet-first.

As a matter of character, Dumbledore does have odd notions of what it takes to be a hero. And he may think Harry needed to see the real toll of wars by having someone close to him die.

Or he really was confident that Harry would save her, and he would use the troll attempt as evidence against Malfoy (which would have worked).

And my favourite part of your comment:

"Invisibility cloak not doing what it was supposed to? Well, I can see that."

Yes; that's the problem :)

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:10:35.985Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's even worse than this; Harry did not have his pouch as he went in.

A plausible response is that Harry wrote it out during the waiting period before the Malfoys entered.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:08:24.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Now is the time to start speculating as to the contents of the secret agreement between Harry and House Malfoy...

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T19:06:41.532Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

You miss the point - he is still hiding it. The eye provides full 360-degree vision at all times, but few people know this, so he maintains an appearance of some level of vigilance.

This means that anyone who sees him respond quickly to a threat (i.e. evidence of vigilance) will have an immediate explanation of how he was able to do so (being vigilant), and not look beyond it to find out the extent of his abilities.

Quite well thought out, really.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:53:51.622Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Counterpoint: it appears that Harry is now serious about using Transfiguration as a weapon. However, he has not recently been considering very much else, meaning that he has fewer backups than perhaps he should, in the case where someone counters his Transfigurations (e.g. with good shields, or casting finite on Harry before a fight).

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:49:37.804Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Harry did not have his bag with him when he went in.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:33:06.663Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The character who seems to be the best response to this, and whom I hope we will see again shortly, is Amelia Bones. She seems to kick just as much ass as Moody, without the significant aid of a literally all-seeing eye. Watching her Azkaban defense was quite impressive, and I hope that the hints of "Bones" in this chapter mean we'll see her in action again, and not just as a potential signatory.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:29:42.874Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Moody should have expected Harry to outprepare him (and probably did) - based on past experiences, plus general caution. What Moody completely missed was the direction of Harry's preparation - of having set up the meeting with his own goal in mind.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-15T18:24:59.496Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Harry's reason given to the Malfoys for suspecting Quirrell is "just because he's the defense professor." I'm sure he knows all of this other evidence as well, and would consider it appropriately if actually given a chance to sit down and consider the possibilities (though he might be rather distracted by Draco's Dumbledore hypothesis).

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-08-09T15:18:43.287Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Has it been pointed out yet that while Hermione lay dying and Harry was trying to save her, he neglected to cover her in the cloak that hides the wearer from death, and also neglected to notice this fact during the time afterwards when he was getting mad at himself for everything he had screwed up?

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-24T01:06:12.170Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Mrs. Hat-and-Cloak

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-22T22:20:58.506Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

In any fic that comes out in installments, there's incentive for the author to have ever-more-gripping plot, for the sake of readers' short attention spans. I'm glad Eliezer has not fallen into this spiral, and still feels able to post a chapter in which no new plot developments happen (other than characters finding out about previous events).

So have a heart-shaped red-foil-wrapped candy.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2012-12-18T23:33:02.143Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's okay, he's just rewriting Ender's Game.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2012-12-18T23:22:19.582Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was enjoying the interpretation that each of them gets their own magical world optimized as they see fit, which would be such a lot of fun, though I agree that the "all but a remnant" line shoots that down, unless you want to be really dodgy in your interpretation of it (e.g. Harry's mortal body dies, but he gets uploaded).

Just leaving the Pioneercrux going slowly out to infinity, to possibly have Voldy reform in a galaxy far, far away means that we don't get any actual story in space. (Well, it doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility, but makes it a whole lot less probable). And my assessment of this fic is that Eliezer really can't resist bringing magic to space for several chapters, because a) he's demonstrate a need to constantly escalate in awesome; b) as a reader, I expect all the hints of magic-in-space to come to something significant; and c) just think of all the references he would include to every SF ever.

Comment by undermind on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 17, chapter 86 · 2012-12-18T22:22:17.125Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Prophesies are good things to read closely:

...for those two different spirits cannot exist in the same world.

Given the large amount of magic-space travel that's been hinted at, I see this as a pretty clear indication of the final outcome of this fic: Voldy and Harry each get their own planets. It could also be the reason Voldemort has deliberately left Harry alive on many occasions (twice Quirrell saves him, on top of deliberately making him into a living horcrux instead of simply killing him. (comment here)