Kant's Multiplication 2015-09-19T14:25:20.549Z


Comment by Vamair0 on How often do you check this forum? · 2017-01-31T18:17:40.805Z · LW · GW


Comment by Vamair0 on Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1 · 2017-01-20T11:11:52.394Z · LW · GW

Rationality is a combination of keeping your map of the world as correct as you can ("epistemic rationality", also known as "science" outside of LW)

I'm not sure that's what people usually mean by science. And most of the questions we're concerned about in our lives ("am I going to be able to pay the credit in time?") are not usually considered to be scientific ones.

Other than that minor nitpick, I agree.

Comment by Vamair0 on Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points · 2017-01-11T06:51:37.777Z · LW · GW

If there is a heaven and the killed firstborn went there, then killing them (or anyone else, for that matter) is quite harmless. And killing is wrong for people not because it causes harm, but because God forbids it. It's a strange view, but not an obviously inconsistent one. On the other hand I've always shied away from moral attacks just because the counterargument of "So, God's not benevolent, now what? You still had to worship it for a few decades or you are going to literally burn for eternity" seemed so obvious. Like it seems pointless to argue that Dumbledore is evil when you're trying to prove he never existed.

Comment by Vamair0 on Anti-reductionism as complementary, rather than contradictory · 2016-05-29T15:33:03.273Z · LW · GW

A lossless explanation is reductionist

Isn't that what people mean when they say reductionism is right?

Comment by Vamair0 on Wrong however unnamed · 2016-05-26T10:49:21.158Z · LW · GW

I think it's not so much a sum of properties as a union of property sets. If a system has a property that's not a part of a union then it's "more than the sum of its components". On the other hand I find the notion of something being "more than the sum of its parts" about as annoying as the frequent ads with "1 + 1 = 3 Buy two and get one for free!" equation. That is, very annoying.

Comment by Vamair0 on Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale · 2016-05-06T07:41:45.430Z · LW · GW

How old is it, exactly?

Comment by Vamair0 on Is Spirituality Irrational? · 2016-05-06T07:12:33.293Z · LW · GW

It seems interesting that a lot of spiritual experiences are something that happens in non-normal situations. To get them people may try denying food or sleep, stay in the same place for a long time without motion, working themselves to exhaustion, eating poisons, going to a place of different atmospheric pressure or do something else they don't normally try to do. The whole process is suspiciously similar to program testing, when you try the program in some situations its creator (evolution in case of humans) haven't "thought" much about. And then sometimes there are bugs. And if you don't follow the protocols for already discovered bugs you either risk crashing something really important or getting nothing at all. Bugs are real and may give a valuable information on the program's inner workings, but they're not "the final truth about the underlaying reality".

The belief of the revelatory nature of spiritual experiences may be a result of a "just world" bias. When you get your reward you've been working for for years, it's easier to believe you understood something profound about the reality rather than that you've discovered an error in your brain. If that's the case then "If you spin a lot, you'll get vertigo" or "if you sit on your hand long enough, there would be strange feeling there" or "look through the autostereogram picture to see it in 3D" may be thought of as spiritual experiences, but they're too easy and mundane for that.

Comment by Vamair0 on My Kind of Moral Responsibility · 2016-05-05T19:16:19.693Z · LW · GW

It is possible to talk about utilitarian culpability, but it's a question of "would blaming/punishing this (kind of) person lead to good results". Like you usually shouldn't blame those who can't change their behavior as a response to blame unless they self-modified themselves to be this way or if them being blameless would motivate others that can... That reminds me of the Eight Short Studies On Excuses, where Yvain has demonstrated an example of such an approach.

Comment by Vamair0 on My Kind of Moral Responsibility · 2016-05-05T11:50:55.402Z · LW · GW

Isn't the question of someone being a good or a bad person at all a part of virtue ethics? That is, for a utilitarian the results of the bystander's and murderer's actions were the same, and therefore actions were as bad as each other, but that doesn't mean a bystander is as bad as the murderer, because that's not a part of utilitarian framework at all. Should we implement the policy of blaming or punishing them the same way? That's a question for utilitarianism. And the answer is probably "no".

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-23T08:52:06.971Z · LW · GW

But then the difference in intelligence would be almost completely shared + nonshared environment. And twin studies suggest it's very inheritable. It also seems to be a polygenic trait, so there can be quite a lot of new mutations there that haven't yet reached fixation even if it's strongly selected for.

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-20T19:51:59.666Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the explaination.

Sorry, I'm still not getting it. Doesn't matter.

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-20T18:51:57.975Z · LW · GW

It's ignoring the context that can be described as not going deep enough. My other usual algorithm "if the question seems easy, look for a deeper meaning" is not without its faults either. Btw, what the context of a single question that asks me to describe my opinion of something as I understand the term actually is?

Alright, I got it, I fail critical reading forever. Yet. Growth mindset. What was the real meaning?

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-20T14:32:29.693Z · LW · GW

Not really arguing anything. I'm asking if there is a rational non-meta reason to believe they do "stop at the neck" even if we throw away all the IQ/nations data.

Thanks for the reason I've missed. Are personal traits as important?

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-19T20:14:13.092Z · LW · GW

When trying to understand writing, don't go for the strawman. Try to understand what could be meant.

I try to, but here I could be overcompensating from sometimes "going too deep" with questions like that. If the question was "Do you believe interpopulational genetic differences in mental abilities or character traits are large enough to be a factor in policy making", I'd answer "No" and maybe even "Hell no, for a multinational population". But that seems like a very different question.

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-19T15:02:17.567Z · LW · GW

Sure, I would still bet they're going to be statistically significant if we get millions of people into the dataset. They may also have some important consequences in real life (a higher resistance to a specific disease may be important for a person with some usually small probability. A population of million that is more resistant to the disease than it could be is about million times that important). It just shouldn't influence policies much. Though it can make a difference in healthcare... well, no. It actually can influence some policies and economic results for countries with different populations. Lactose tolerance may have effects on agriculture and the export structure, especially long term. The question singles out intelligence and personality traits for no apparent reasons but controversy, being hard to measure and being on the spiritual side of dualism. And probably being more involved in our ideas of human worthiness than height is.

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-19T11:05:53.935Z · LW · GW

The question was: "115. How would you describe your opinion of the idea of "human biodiversity", as you understand the term? No Wiki page available, but essentially it is the belief that there are important genetic differences between human populations and that therefore ideas generally considered racist, such as different races having different average intelligence or personality traits, are in fact scientifically justified".

No matter how we clusterize people into races, unless it's some kind of a good randomization procedure I think the probability of their average traits being exactly equal is really small. I'm much less sure it's scientifically justified to say so as I don't know much about the state of research there.

I maybe kind of missed the "important" word there. Still...

Comment by Vamair0 on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-19T07:51:23.026Z · LW · GW

After the survey I've become confused about what it means for HBD to be false. Should any difference between two separated populations be completely environmental? I believe it's an antiprediction to think it's not. I would bet that the "genetic potential" for any complex trait will be slightly different on average between different populations even if we are talking about two neighboring cities. Even if they started out as copies of each other just a few generations ago. I also believe that the differences are small and are mostly irrelevant to any real world problem. If it's HBD, how does a person argue that it's false? And how does someone argue that believing it makes someone a bad person?

Comment by Vamair0 on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-14T14:07:08.056Z · LW · GW

Improving epistemic rationality, at least. Better thinking through understanding our mind's flaws. I don't think anyone here has a "perfect brain". Maybe it's possible to improve instrumental rationality while having no way to distinguish lies from truth, but it would probably be a random walk.

Comment by Vamair0 on Rationality Quotes April 2016 · 2016-04-10T10:49:18.273Z · LW · GW

There is no way to offer color to a colorblind man, nor is there any way for us to give the man of imperfect brain the canny skill to distinguish a lie from a truth.

There is no point to this "rationality" project anymore, everybody can go home.

Comment by Vamair0 on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-04-04T15:38:17.814Z · LW · GW

I'm always confused by the "spiritual atheist" question, that is, the "spiritual" part. Can anyone who selected this option try to explain what they meant when they selected it?

Comment by Vamair0 on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-04-02T18:52:30.063Z · LW · GW

If you make each house in a city to be more beautiful, no one gets an advantage, but you still get a more beautiful city.

I value diversity, so it would be a loss if all the modified people get similar, but I don't think it's going to happen any more than all the art becoming similar.

Comment by Vamair0 on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-04-02T08:37:12.295Z · LW · GW

I've taken the survey.

Comment by Vamair0 on LessWrong 2.0 · 2015-12-13T09:40:46.744Z · LW · GW

Generally true, and that's the reason I believe it. As for group coalescence process... I'm thinking about paying lots of attention to newcomers and setting an active chat as well as a dedicated "meeting" time at least once a week when everybody's online to discuss the topic at hand. Sure, any group may add anything they want if they think it helps.

Comment by Vamair0 on LessWrong 2.0 · 2015-12-09T19:55:43.818Z · LW · GW

I believe at least some people here have some stuff they want to do that is not orthogonal with rationality and may be helped by a group effort. Translation of some materials, writing articles, research, programming projects, just discussions of some topics. Then there is going to be a Group Bragging thread, where people can tell how much they have managed to do in a month or so. If the group hasn't bragged for a few months, it's considered dead. That can also give us some new info about group building and maintainance, which seems like a neglected topic here, as well as some data about which groups survive better than the others.

Comment by Vamair0 on LessWrong 2.0 · 2015-12-08T17:05:41.341Z · LW · GW

I thought an idea of a greeting party and a closer-tied community sounds good. Maybe something like a number of small teams, so that any newcomer would be taken into one and shown the most valuable stuff, with bonus ability to cooperate on articles or code projects, or research, or wherever the team advantage is. Together with some in-group chat where people may get to know each other better. And, of course, the big free-for-all discussions and articles should stay, so the community would not be divided too much. There should also be less nitpicks at the main articles comments if the articles were already discussed and edited by the group.

Comment by Vamair0 on Joy in the Merely Real · 2015-11-13T09:50:43.461Z · LW · GW

Broom is to an airplane as a motorcycle is to a train. Also, I'd guess a lot of people want their own broom exactly because nobody else has one.

Comment by Vamair0 on What is your rationalist backstory? · 2015-09-25T19:49:08.193Z · LW · GW

It also seems that I was always thinking like that. But I don't really know if that is really the case or if it's just the way memory works. Anyway, I'm going to tell the things I remember that may be relevant. Everything started with reading. I was taught to read since I was three and I liked it almost immediately. You don't need to ask your parents to read you what was next in the story. That's great! Also, dinosaurs. I really liked dinosaurs and I got quite a few books about them. When I went to the first grade, I've been somewhat familiar with the geochronology, when did different dinosaurs live and so on. I've also been given a great book about the history of biology, and I was a fan of J. L. Cuvier. The school I got into had a very nice biology classroom, in our first day they let us look into a microscope and showed us a few other interesting things. When I came home I asked my parents to buy me a biology textbook. My father decided botanics was boring, so he bought me a really interesting seventh grade zoology textbook. A few results (apart from lots of fun I got) was that I had a grasp of evolution at seven and also that I expected the world to make sense and the science to be able to discover and understand it. That was also helped by getting a few books about the history of electricity and similar stuff. The middle of the nineties in Russia was a so-called Spiritual Revolution. With the government control of ideology null and void, the media space was filled with conspiracy theories, cults and ancient miracles. While I didn't doubt their existance, as a lot of sane people were convinced these were true, I was sure they still somehow make sense. This feeling was one of the reasons I really got into one New Age book I'm not going to name. Well, my trust in books that were not obviously fairytales was the other one. Actually, the book was surprisingly reasonable. The main idea, aside from a description of a cool Planescape-like setting that was a half of the book went somehow like this: people sometimes have mystical experiences. These experiences are evidence for existence of their substance. These experiences together with the observable natural phenomena with a lot of traditions, tales and distortions compose a religion. But to remember the experiences right, to describe them using usual human terms and to make sense of them is so difficult that the kernel of truth is actually quite small. There are only two ways - to try getting these experiences yourself (something like they call a mystic's path) and to collect experiences of a lot of different cultures and search for the common features that are not explained by common human biases like anthropomorphism (an occultist's path). This made much more sense than just "our religion is the right one, all the others are wrong". A completely unrelated features of that time were a Spiderman cartoon and a book about biotechnology I was given. They told me there is a cool thing called genetics (the history of biology book was really old, and the last stories there were XIX century), so I went to the library to learn about it. That was probably the time I got my transhumanist leanings. Fifth grade, probably. The New Age book was surprisingly reductionistic, which was really nice for a young science fan. There was talking about the worlds with different number of dimensions (I looked up the geometry later) and parallel time streams. The author believed evolution was true. Souls were matter, there were laws for them, and even the afterlife was decided by the soul's "density" where it got into a place with the most similar spiritual "density". With all the caveats that this "density" is a methaphor. And the author explicitly told that if science tells us he was wrong anywhere, then he was wrong, and this admission was a huge point in his favor. I guess in my childhood this book has played the role of sci-fi. I wasn't sure I will be able to achieve any mystical experiences myself. And my grandmother, who was the best conversation partner about this kind of stuff ever was often saying that I shouldn't experiment on myself before later, so out of respect I didn't. And I was curious and I really don't believe most people here aren't going to go and investigate this kind of info if they believe it to be real. So the second path was the preferred one. I never really thought that magic is something unintelligible in principle, just something that the wizard already understands and I don't. Yet. So yes, I was investigating these things a lot. Well, until I finally found that it's quite easy to make people believe stuff without a shred of evidence as long as it makes a good story, moves their soul and is comfortable. Or frightening, that also works. And the spiritual experiences have a common thing. That is, they're human, and they may be and probably are some common bugs in human algorithms. They can even be induced by chemicals, of all things! That was also the time I've reinvented memetics. Which explained a lot of common features of the biggest religions. A little bit later I learned about the existence of creationists. No, really. I've heard about them before, but I was sure there wasn't anyone left, except maybe in some really wild places. I've joked I thought creationists were a tale mothers use to scare little biologists. This was a really vivid demonstration how people can be wrong about simple stuff. Add to this the info about the contemporary cults believeing their leaders do miracles like ressurecting people. If you remember my relations with the evolution theory you're going to understand I was afraid I may be wrong about something as simple as the young-earthers or these cultists are. In the college I tried to learn about the best reasons to believe in God and found them... well... not convincing at all. So, epistemic rationality, learning about human biases and atheism. And there's probably no really cool afterlife for everyone after they pay for their sins. And that seems like a problem that needs a solution.

Comment by Vamair0 on Kant's Multiplication · 2015-09-19T18:43:07.999Z · LW · GW

When you can multiply you don't need this or any other heuristic. You just do that. This method is a method of adding utility using System 1 instead of System 2 thinking, as you don't round small disutilities to other people down to zero. Often if some action gives a good utility calculation in a separate case but doesn't generalize, it may be not a good idea because of small disutilities it creates. And the technique I'm talking about is mostly useful when it's difficult to put a number on the utilities in question. It's similar to collecting all the losses and gains it gives to other people and applying them all to the person using the calculation. When it's possible, the heuristic works, when it's not possible, this method usually fails.

You can put numbers on utilities when it's about lives or QALYs. A lot of important questions are this. The generalization method on the other hand may help when dealing with some more... trivial matters. Hurt feelings, minor inconveniences and so on. Less important, sure, but still quite common, I believe.

It fails in at least some conflicts, good catch. I'd have to think when it does and when it doesn't and maybe update the post.

Comment by Vamair0 on Welcome to Less Wrong! (8th thread, July 2015) · 2015-09-19T09:47:30.552Z · LW · GW

Hello. My name is Andrey, I'm a C++ programmer from Russia. I've been lurking here for about three years. As many others I've found this site by link from HPMOR. The biggest reason for joining in the first place was that I believe the community is right about a lot of important things, and the comments of quality that's difficult to find in the bigger Net. I've already finished reading the Sequences and right now I'm interested in ethics and I believe I've got a few ideas to discuss.

For the origin story as a rationalist, as it often happens it's all started with a crisis of faith. Actually, the second one. The first was a turn from Christianity to a complicated New Age paradigm I'll maybe explain later. The second was prompted by a question of why I believe some of the things I believe in. While I used to think there was a lot of evidence for the supernatural, I've started trying to verify them and also read religion apologetics to evaluate the best arguments they have. Yup, they were bad. The world doesn't look like there exists a powerful interventionist deity. (And even if the miracles they were talking about that happen right now are true miracles, all of them are better explained with not at all omnipotent or omniscient slightly magical fairies). This, coupled with my interests for physics and biology made me think there are problems that are both huge and don't get the attention they deserve. Like, y'know, death or catastrophic changes. And all we've got are some resources, some understanding of how things actually are and a limited ability to cooperate with each other.

I'm looking forward to discuss stuff with people here.