Best way to write a bicolor article on Less Wrong? 2021-02-22T14:46:31.681Z
RationalWiki on face masks 2021-01-15T01:55:49.836Z
Impostor Syndrome as skill/dominance mismatch 2020-11-05T20:05:54.528Z
Viliam's Shortform 2020-07-22T17:42:22.357Z
Why are all these domains called from Less Wrong? 2020-06-27T13:46:05.857Z
Opposing a hierarchy does not imply egalitarianism 2020-05-23T20:51:10.024Z
Rationality Vienna [Virtual] Meetup, May 2020 2020-05-08T15:03:56.644Z
Rationality Vienna Meetup June 2019 2019-04-28T21:05:15.818Z
Rationality Vienna Meetup May 2019 2019-04-28T21:01:12.804Z
Rationality Vienna Meetup April 2019 2019-03-31T00:46:36.398Z
Does anti-malaria charity destroy the local anti-malaria industry? 2019-01-05T19:04:57.601Z
Rationality Bratislava Meetup 2018-09-16T20:31:42.409Z
Rationality Vienna Meetup, April 2018 2018-04-12T19:41:40.923Z
Rationality Vienna Meetup, March 2018 2018-03-12T21:10:44.228Z
Welcome to Rationality Vienna 2018-03-12T21:07:07.921Z
Feedback on LW 2.0 2017-10-01T15:18:09.682Z
Bring up Genius 2017-06-08T17:44:03.696Z
How to not earn a delta (Change My View) 2017-02-14T10:04:30.853Z
Group Rationality Diary, February 2017 2017-02-01T12:11:44.212Z
How to talk rationally about cults 2017-01-08T20:12:51.340Z
Meetup : Rationality Meetup Vienna 2016-09-11T20:57:16.910Z
Meetup : Rationality Meetup Vienna 2016-08-16T20:21:10.911Z
Two forms of procrastination 2016-07-16T20:30:55.911Z
Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) 2016-05-17T08:26:07.420Z
Positivity Thread :) 2016-04-08T21:34:03.535Z
Require contributions in advance 2016-02-08T12:55:58.720Z
Marketing Rationality 2015-11-18T13:43:02.802Z
Manhood of Humanity 2015-08-24T18:31:22.099Z
Time-Binding 2015-08-14T17:38:03.686Z
Bragging Thread July 2015 2015-07-13T22:01:03.320Z
Group Bragging Thread (May 2015) 2015-05-29T22:36:27.000Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup 2015-05-21T19:21:00.320Z


Comment by Viliam on Problems of evil · 2021-04-21T23:10:24.598Z · LW · GW

Ironically, I also thought "lots of words and nothing new" because I am familiar with Christianity, and I have already heard all of this, and... hey, can we admit that it actually doesn't answer the original question?

We start with: "If God is so loving and powerful, why do people suffer?"

Then the smarter people have to admit that all standard answers suck, because they are mostly "God is stronger than you, therefore shut up" (which makes sense, pragmatically, but it's actually evidence against God being good... I mean, if this is the best argument you can make for God's goodness, then you simply admit that you don't have any good arguments), or "you are too stupid to distinguish real good from real evil" (which is a motte-and-bailey, because yes there are some ethical dilemmas I have a problem with, but God is obviously failing even in situations where a 3 years old child should be able to distinguish between right and wrong), or "it is a trade-off, allowing evil in universe is a price for human freedom" (which doesn't make sense, because human freedom is limited in all kinds of ways all the time, for example God allows person X to kill person Y, to prevent limiting X's sacred freedom, apparently not realizing that the successful murder limits Y's freedom)...

Then everyone starts using poetic language, to sound deep beyond deep...

And finally, the Stockholm-syndrome solution: given that this is the only reality we have, and we don't have any choice about that anyway, we better believe it is good, even if such belief doesn't make sense, because facing the reality is not helpful. (Except, of course, it is not enough to describe it like this using words, you have to actually feel it. The poetic language is probably an efficient tool to get there.)

Also, describe how humans can love each other. Sure, but we already knew that humans are capable of love and goodness... the question was whether God is, and we still have less than zero evidence for that.

(Atheism just allows you to get out of the dilemma between "good God doesn't make sense, given evidence" and "evil God doesn't make sense", by offering an alternative "there is no God".)

Comment by Viliam on Raj Thimmiah's Shortform · 2021-04-21T21:29:22.855Z · LW · GW

The idea sounds interesting. I have absolutely no idea what quality of work should I realistically expect.

Looking at the subreddit didn't help me with this question: I only see people debating money and type of work, but I can't see any samples.

Yeah, maybe it's cheap enough to simply try it. Maybe 3× spend $5 on one hour of someone's work, and then decide whether it's worth it on average.

Comment by Viliam on Updating the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis · 2021-04-21T21:11:59.235Z · LW · GW

I don't remember the exact quote, but some sculptor described their art as "the statue is already there inside the stone, I just remove the extra pieces".

And, I guess we can agree that this statement is in some technical sense true, but of course completely misses the point (intentionally, to sound deep). More precisely, it could be said that the essence of the statue -- the information that makes it different from a random piece of stone or whatever material -- was all added by the act of "removing the extra pieces", and none of it was there at the beginning (except for the trivial constraints, such as that the original stone must be larger than the intended statue).

My question is, how much "the network is already there, ML just removes the extra pieces" is a statement of this type?

Comment by Viliam on Could degoogling be a practice run for something more important? · 2021-04-21T20:47:58.036Z · LW · GW

I hate Gmail, because even if I don't use it, as long as people around me are using it, it is going to read most of my private correspondence anyway. (In other words, it is hard to fight an enemy when people around you volunteer to be their hostages.)

Perhaps I should keep one Gmail address and one non-Gmail address, and make it known (in the Gmail signature) that I always reply to Gmail by Gmail, to non-Gmail by non-Gmail, and that I check my non-Gmail account daily, but my Gmail account only once in a week. -- But even this seems like an extra work for me, that would bring little benefit.

Comment by Viliam on All is fair in love and war, on Zero-sum games in life · 2021-04-21T20:30:42.899Z · LW · GW

even if you work together to increase the size of the pie, the question of how the pie will be divided always stays pressing and relevant.

Yes, the choice between "greater part of a pie" and "part of a greater pie" is somewhat a false dilemma; some people obviously have both. And when precisely those people tell you "please focus on making the pie grow, and forget about how it is distributed; don't worry, everything will turn out okay at the end", yeah, it sounds quite self-serving. It is obvious how they would benefit both from you making the pie grow and you not caring how the pie is distributed.

Funny thing is, if you take the opposite perspective... if you honestly believe that people who ignore the distribution of the pie and focus on making it grow, will somehow magically end up with a large part of the pie... then, the observed facts [people having the largest parts of the growing pie telling everyone that their mindset is focusing on making the pie grow] seem to match your belief, too.

And of course, yet another explanation is survivor bias: Some people focus on making the pie grow. Some of them succeed. Some of those also accidentally succeed at capturing a large part of the value they created... and those are the ones whose opinions get amplified because they are now the important people. Yes they are sincere, but no they do not describe a realistic picture. Anecdote is filtered data.

Or perhaps this is a case of the law of equal and opposite advice: Maybe some people are naturally focused on getting the greater part of the pie... and it may be very useful for them to realize that helping the pie grow (and grabbing the part they helped grow) is a viable strategy. Meanwhile, some other people are naturally focused on helping the pie grow, and those would benefit from advice how not to let all that added value slip away from their fingers.

It seems to me that the nice-but-not-naive approach is to take care of growing the pie while also taking care that you get a certain share of it. -- Yes, this approach deserves to be called nice. A nasty one would focus exclusively on taking the larger part of the pie, assuming that most likely there are enough nice and naive people who will focus on making it grow, especially if you ask them nicely and appeal to their sense of hope, or if there are not enough such people then everything is doomed regardless of what you do.

For example, in the context of employment, clearly understand the difference between co-owners and employees. If you are an employee, your salary is the only part of the pie you will ever get. When your boss tells you "hey, if we get this project right, the company will be a fantastic success", remember that he is talking about his part of the pie, not yours. Yes, he may become a millionaire, and he is probably a nice and hard-working guy who deserves it. None of that is going to pay your bills or feed your children, though. (Well, maybe unless you plan to marry him. But even then I'd strongly suggest to marry him before he becomes a millionaire.)

A possible solution is to make a deal about splitting the pie first, and then you can fully focus on growing it. Even that is not 100% reliable -- people can have multiple projects at the same time, so after making the deal about fair share, your partner can leave most work to you, and focus on his other projects that seem to promise greater rewards per unit of effort (remember this if you happen to talk to a venture capitalist) -- but it is already a better deal than you would get in most situations. Perhaps cooperatives should be a more popular form of ownership, but coordination is hard.

I would trust Silicon Valley billionaires more if they promoted things like UBI. But looking at their anti-salary-growth cartels, I guess even the idea of paying their employees fair market wage is too futuristic for them.

Even if the status game is zero-sum, that alone doesn't necessarily imply how much the people at bottom will suffer. There is some necessary part, like, of course, anyone would resent being at the bottom. But there are all kinds of unnecessary suffering that higher-status people are free to inflict on the lower-status, simply because it is enjoyable for the higher-status, and if you care about it too much, you signal that you are not sufficiently high-status yourself. There is an option to treat the poor with dignity; we just collectively decided not to take it, because it is more fun to poke them and laugh. (We especially like to laugh at people who happen to be both at the bottom of the social ladder, and on the opposite side of whatever political divide we perceive.)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-18T19:35:44.474Z · LW · GW

Ha, good point! I once met a queen and I addressed her "Your Majesty". My only excuse is that these rules are older than both of us, so it's not like I was obeying her recent whim inspired by Twitter.

Last time I met a priest, I called him by his first name, because he was my former classmate. I don't remember talking to a priest before that. My guess is that if I met a priest today, I would likely call him "father X", simply because that's how he would likely be introduced to me.

To me, religious and aristocratic titles are "job names", kinda like calling people "professor" or "general". And they are supposed to imply higher status... at least in eyes of those who respect the job. (Also, they are not pronouns, so the usage is a bit different. In the previous paragraphs I have described the queen as "her" and the priest as "him".)

Comment by Viliam on [ACX Linkpost] Prospectus on Próspera · 2021-04-16T18:36:28.224Z · LW · GW

It will allow us to decouple "successful, because located on a trade route" from "successful, because of libertarian environment".

Other comments have mentioned that it may be difficult to distinguish between "this business exists because Prospera is so awesome" and "this business already existed, but moved to Prospera because of lower taxes". Or perhaps, for businesses that do not exist today, between "this business started because of Prospera" and "this business would have started regardless, but pays lower taxes because it is in Prospera".

That is, data about successful businesses that will appear in Prospera will not necessarily tell us what would have happened otherwise. And will not allow us to predict what would have happened if we had fifty Prosperas instead -- would we have fifty times as many successful companies, or just the same number of companies, and fifty cities competing for them by offering even lower taxes... maybe also reducing employee rights, etc.

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-16T17:49:34.984Z · LW · GW

in the event of any collapse, it is uncanny how quickly hierarchy and patriarchy is restored

Historically, patriarchy and deviancy can easily coexist, e.g. in ancient Greece or Rome.

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-16T17:40:03.055Z · LW · GW

LGB people don’t reproduce, and yet their numbers grow.

Not so sure about the B.

(Plus there is this evolutionary hypothesis that L and G help their siblings raise children.)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-16T17:35:22.390Z · LW · GW

Well, for the record, I don't hate you either. (Yay, cheap utilons!)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-16T17:32:30.119Z · LW · GW

that people wanting to be referred to with neopronouns like "xe" are usually making a "narcissistic power grab"

Frankly, I can imagine someone having a "I wish I had a male/femaly body" dysphoria, but not someone having a "I wish people called me xe" dysphoria in similar sense. So, from my perspective, gender dysphoria is a legitimate thing, made up pronouns are not.

I mean, without Twitter, the number of people feeling they were born in a wrong body would be about the same, but the number of people using "xe" would be much smaller.

Unless you are Finnish or Hungarian, the pronouns are "he" and "she", choose one. Anything else is a jargon no one outside your group is obliged to use. (It would be like, dunno, a Less Wrong user asking people to call Less Wrong users "sane" and everyone else "insane", because we like it so.)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T22:48:14.940Z · LW · GW

No comment on your link, but by "perverts" in this context I specifically meant guys who get turned on by being in a public toilet with (other) women. The idea is that being an object of such desire might make the women quite uncomfortable, and yet there is nothing they can do about it without risking to be accused of transphobia.

Comment by Viliam on What weird beliefs do you have? · 2021-04-15T22:36:47.390Z · LW · GW

The "fun" part of our financial system is the usury -- the idea that if I do something for you today, once, and then wait for a sufficiently long time, it afterwards makes you obligated to keep doing things for me effectively forever (if I only ask you to pay back the interest, not the principal).

Why is it considered a smart idea to be the one who needs to pay back the favors forever, instead of the one who collects the favors forever?

If you were an immortal vampire, would you prefer to be one who keeps paying 30% of his salary as a credit card debt, for eternity, or the one who is early retired?

The official theory is that the debt allows you to finance smart things that make you so much better off that having to return favors forever is definitely worth it. Instead, I suspect than most of the money is typically wasted or stolen, and does not make a difference in long term... except for the debt that the next generations inherit.

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T21:52:59.062Z · LW · GW

I can point out that other cultures, especially Asia, sometimes do things differently.  Therefore the "different settings" are also valid.

I think it is not unusual among conservatives to accept that different cultures have different rules. "The traditions must be followed" can coexist with "we follow our traditions, and they follow their traditions". There are multiple valid options, but everyone should stick with the one they grew up with. We believe that our option is the best one, but we respect that others may believe otherwise.

Interaction between cultures requires finding out the intersection, the behavior that is acceptable to both sides. Cultures used to deal with strangers can have a distinction between "this is forbidden to us, but okay for the other side if their culture permits it", such as eating taboo foods, and "this is forbidden and must be punished, no exception", such as blasphemy against our god(s). Sometimes things are "forbidden in our territory, and that also applies to visitors; but when I am a visitor at your territory, your rules apply".

Now that I think about it, I am probably much closer to the progressive end of the spectrum than to the conservative one. Yet, when I interact with conservatives, I usually find it easy to follow the above-mentioned rules, and the protocol works, despite the object-level differences. The interactions with progressives are more difficult, because despite many object-level similarities, we do not have a good protocol to deal with the few differences. That is, the protocol itself seems to be conservative, while the progressive protocol is... how to put it politely... "if you are not 100% with us, you are against us"?

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T21:27:38.302Z · LW · GW

(My therapist said he doesn't hate me. It was the single most liberating thing I've heard in a while.)

😲 What were your priors?

Comment by Viliam on "Taking your environment as object" vs "Being subject to your environment" · 2021-04-15T21:21:38.024Z · LW · GW

Seems like thinking outside the box is only allowed at school when you are explicitly told to. :D

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T21:15:22.610Z · LW · GW

You mentioned Jordan Peterson in the list of... conservatives opposing progressives' attempts to make trans people's lives easier. Which sounds connotationally quite unfair to me, because although you could make the argument that is it the "attempt to make trans people's lives easier" that he opposes, the actual thing he opposes is making a violation of a social norm (shared only by a part of society, possibly a very small part) an offense punishable in theory by jail.

As an illustration -- exaggerated to make a point -- imagine that I propose a law that your property should be confiscated and distributed to black people living in your neighborhood. Technically, my law is "an attempt to make black people's lives easier", because, of course, giving anyone some extra money makes their life somewhat easier. And your objection to that law would, technically, be "opposing the attempt to make black people's lives easier". Yet you probably agree that if someone composed a list of people opposing the attempts to make black people's lives easier and put you in a prominent position in that list, that would be quite unfair.

That is, we should make a distinction between "someone opposes X (as a terminal value)", and "someone opposes Y (which is advertised as a way to support X), for reasons in principle unrelated to X". Peterson opposes compelled speech in general. Using someone's preferred pronouns under threat of legal sanction is (arguably non-central) example of compelled speech. I believe that a person who spent a large part of their life studying totalitarian regimes should be trusted when they say that opposition to practices associated with totalitarian regimes is their true objection.

For the record, it is also my position that people should be nice to each other, but laws that make it a punishable offense to be rude are wrong. Especially wrong, when the law is not formulated universally as "no one is allowed to be rude to anyone" but rather applies only to being rude towards a selected group of people. -- If you propose a law that it is illegal to be rude to anyone, I will think that you are a crazy extremist, but I am willing to consider your proposal charitably. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to priests, then fuck no. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to politicians, then fuck no. If you propose a law that it is only illegal to be rude to trans people, then fuck no. -- Not because I hate trans people, not because I want to make their lives difficult, but precisely because I am deeply egalitarian and in principle oppose all laws that make people unequal. (But also because I think that making rudeness literally illegal is going too far.)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T20:04:54.102Z · LW · GW

But those people are politicians.

it'd make sense to not also use phrases like "TERFS" and "CIS SCUM".

So, conservatives should not be judged by their politicians, but progressives should be judged by their Twitter users? In my opinion, Twitter users are much worse than politicians... :D

Have you ever met someone who used "terfs" and "cis scum" in real life? I can't even imagine that.

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T19:32:20.653Z · LW · GW

"Bathroom bills", explicitly either allowing or forbidding trans people to use public toilet facilities matching the gender they now identify as, appear to break down cleanly as follows: ones proposed and sponsored by conservatives forbid, ones proposed and sponsored by progressives permit.

Would you support or oppose a bill explicitly allowing cis males to use female public toilets?

I mean, if you have a good reason against that, you should consider the possibility that the bill allowing trans people to use any bathroom will be abused by some people, because "what you identify as" is difficult to verify.

Canada's "Bill C-16"... added gender identity to the list of things that can be considered possible targets for "hate speech" and "hate crimes".

Note that if I am the hypothetical asshole cis male who trolls people by using female public toilets, and you call me out, that could in Canada qualify as hate speech, depending on how convincingly I make my case. Okay, if I am a known troll, I would probably lose. But if I am a pervert pretending to be trans...

I guess, it depends on what is more frequent in real life: actual trans people, or perverts willing to pretend to be trans if it allows them to sneak into female toilets. Probably the trans people, but I wish I could be more sure about this.

One more question: Suppose I now decide to troll you, and declare that I am a trans woman, and insist that you call me "she". And it is perfectly obvious to you that I am just lying and being an asshole to you, to prove some stupid political point. Would you obey my wish regardless?

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T19:06:45.660Z · LW · GW

it's already known that progressives are less happy than conservatives

Possible explanation: People who are happy with status quo are more likely to end up defending it; people who are unhappy with status quo are more likely to end up trying to change it.

If your argument is that politics causes people to be happy/unhappy, that would require evidence beyond correlation, which itself is easier to explain by causation in the opposite direction.

(I think it is possible that you are right, but the correlation itself it not good evidence in your favor.)

Comment by Viliam on The consequentialist case for social conservatism, or “Against Cultural Superstimuli” · 2021-04-15T18:52:07.499Z · LW · GW

Please correct me if I misunderstand you here, but you propose two mechanisms why cultural changes are bad, and they seem to be (a bit ironically) somewhat the opposite of each other.

In one case, the changes are good in short term, but bad in long term. (Let's make people free to do X, in short term a few people are made very happy, in long term some social mechanism we took for granted collapses, and now many people are unhappy.) In other case, the changes are good in long term, but bad in short term. (Let's show people a vision of utopia they didn't realize was possible, but it will take a lot of time to actually get there, and in the meanwhile people are angry that we are not there already.)

First, yes, I believe that you are making a good point. Two good points, actually.

But we need to distinguish between "this is ultimately harmful" and "this is temporarily harmful, but worth it in long term". The former should perhaps not be done (unless we find a way how to make it okay in even longer term), the latter... I guess, could be better timed, not to be in the worst part of all the curves at the same time. How to do that, though? Our clickbait culture seems incapable of the virtue of silence, though some politically incorrect ideas were successfully removed from the center of public discourse.

On individual level, you could perhaps improve things by making the change you want to see in the world. If you believe that Facebook is evil, make a Nicebook, and perhaps it will still be profitable (much less than Facebook, but that could still be enough money for you personally). If you make a shop that only sells healthy food (for prices comparable to other shops), I would be happy to shop there. Perhaps give people courses on how to be happier? (I wonder if there is an economic concept of "barely profitable" company, i.e. one that tried to generate exactly as much money as needed to avoid loss, but otherwise optimizes for other goals.)

In a perfect world, we would have a Progressive-Conservative Coalition for Better Life, that would explore ways how to time and shape social changes to achieve long-term improvement without short-term setbacks.

Comment by Viliam on What weird beliefs do you have? · 2021-04-15T17:17:47.463Z · LW · GW

Even if many countries are in insane debt and function okay... it is not obvious to me how to distinguish between "it's because debt doesn't actually harm you" and "it's because they are strong enough to survive the debt, but still would be better without it".

In my personal life, there were only three situations when I got into debt. Twice it was mortgage, which I considered rational because the prices of apartments were increasing, so if I tried to save the full amount of money, it would be "the longer I save, the more money is still missing". (Since then, the property costs of both apartments have doubled, so this policy still seems okay in hindsight.) The third time, I caused a property damage that needed to be fixed immediately, and I was insured but the insurance company took its sweet time (one year) to actually pay, so I took a small debt to bridge that period, but then I was extra frugal to pay it back as soon as possible. Generally, whenever I was in debt, I took care to pay it back as soon as possible.

Now I imagine that someone with large income, or even income at my level, could e.g. spend 30% of that income paying credit card debt, and still live a happy life. Hey, I save about 30% of my salary, so that person would in short term have exactly the same quality of life as me. It just seems extremely stupid to me, in long term. But if all neighbors did that, it would be "normal".

So my question is, essentially, whether the countries with huge-but-survivable debt are more analogical to "me taking mortgage" or "the high-income guy with 30% credit card debt". From outside, both seem similar: owing some money, living good life. The difference is in the counterfactuals: the alt-me that didn't take the mortgage now spends more money on rent than I spend on home ownership + mortgage payment combined; while the alt-credit-card-guy that didn't maximize credit now saves 30% of his salary and can maybe retire a bit sooner.

The state-level equivalent of mortgage would be like borrowing money to build a railroad connecting distant parts of the country. Perhaps this should be made explicit in the budget. Like, the government should publish the railroad-related debt, and have a temporary special tax, like 50% of the train ticket price would go to pay the debt (including interest), until the debt is paid. (Things like this actually happen in real life: there is a bridge in San Diego financed this way: the city took debt, built the bridge, collected a toll to pay the debt, and afterwards the bridge was free to use.)

So, in my "fiscal utopia", the state would only be allowed to take debt if it was (a) approved in referendum, and (b) budgeted separately until the debt is fully paid. Because the utopia wouldn't start with a balanced budget, there would also be a law to reduce the existing debt by, dunno, 0.2% of GDP every year (a number completely made up); the same mechanism would be used if it turned out that e.g. the railway is actually not able to pay its own debt -- but to do this, the government would have to publicly admit it made a mistake.

Actually, what would be bad about being a net creditor? Like, let's push the "fiscal utopia" even further, and make the law that the foreign debt needs to be decreased by 0.2% of GDP every year even if it is already below zero. So, at some moment, the entire country would be "early retired", like it could collect 0 tax and provide free healthcare and education, because everything would be financed by the collected interest. What exactly is wrong with this? -- Well, I suppose, realistically, this is when someone finds a pretext to declare a war on you.

Comment by Viliam on What weird beliefs do you have? · 2021-04-15T16:04:21.388Z · LW · GW

I would give it maybe 40%, because on one hand it was very convenient for many people... and because similar situations certainly happened in the past, I would assume there would be processes designed to prevent such accidents... and if it happened regardless... On the other hand, people are generally incompetent, so you should expect them to screw up.

(Knowing more about what is "normal" in prisons could make me change the estimate.)

so maybe it's not a "weird" belief except when compared against the mass media/"elite" narrative.

Yup, there can be a huge difference between comparing against the beliefs of:

  • average people,
  • smart people,
  • media,
  • Less Wrong.
Comment by Viliam on On Falsifying the Simulation Hypothesis (or Embracing its Predictions) · 2021-04-12T17:01:54.682Z · LW · GW

Simpler simulations are more likely. But so are simpler universes. (For the same reason?)

To me it seems like "simulation" can refer to two different things:

  • "passive simulation" where someone just sets up the rules and simulates the entire universe. This should be indistinguishable from a real universe that happened to have the same laws of physics.
  • "active simulation" where someone intervenes in the universe, and causes miracles. Where miracles refer to anything that does not happen according to the internal laws of physics. It could be something seemingly non-magical, like inserting yourself in the universe as another seemingly ordinary human.

I guess we should be able to only detect the active simulation, by observing the miracles. Problem is, the miracles can be quite rare, and by definition we cannot replicate them experimentally.  If someone just magically entered this universe thousand years ago, had some fun but didn't do anything impactful (beyond the standard butterfly effect), and plans to return thousand years in the future... there is hardly an experiment we could set up to detect this. Heck, even if I told you "tomorrow at 12:00, somewhere on this planet a new adult human being will miraculously appear -- that's the avatar of the simulator", unless you happen to see this on camera, there is no way to prove it. There universe is complex enough so that you can't calculate how exactly the future should look like, therefore you will not notice a small change. (Unless the changes are intentionally made in the way that causes large change, e.g. if the simulator inserts themselves as a superhero who solves the greatest humanity's problems.)

Comment by Viliam on "Taking your environment as object" vs "Being subject to your environment" · 2021-04-12T16:45:52.496Z · LW · GW

Seems like the first step is to notice that your environment is X, as opposed to some other hypothetical Y. Then you can ask "why is it X instead of Y?"

Without the alternatives, even imaginary, the question about the environment sounds like "why X is X?", which invites the answer "tautologically, duh". The world is what it is, because that's kinda what "reality" means, right?

With alternatives, the world is a mechanism. We can ask what forces are moving its state towards X, instead of Y or Z. Is it a consequence of some natural forces, so even if we could magically switch the world to Y or Z, it would gradually chance back to X? If this is the case, then we have some interesting natural forces to study. Maybe we can use them to overcome them, like the knowledge of gravity allows us to construct an airplane. Or maybe it is a Schelling point, so if we could magically switch the world to Y (and brainwash everyone into believing it was always Y), it would remain Y. Then, who knows, maybe we could artificially establish Y as a Schelling point of some smaller environment, and see if we can make it expand from there.

Sometimes the environment is adversarial, in the sense that it was shaped by people following their selfish incentives, willing to make trade-offs whenever less utility for you means more utility for them. It can help to remind yourself that them following their incentives is a choice, not a law of nature.

For example, whenever you deal with a helpful employee of a corporation or a bureaucracy telling you "I am really sorry, I wish I could help you, but what you want is not allowed by our rules" (framing the situation as: people are friendly, but what you want is simply impossible), you might want to remember that those rules were also set up by some humans... and if they end up hurting you and helping the corporation/bureaucracy, who knows, maybe that was exactly the intention (reframing the situation as: the friendly humans are just a facade for the unfriendly humans). Like, maybe there is a good reason for the rule, maybe it prevents some abuse; but maybe the rule is actually there to abuse you. Or it can be somewhere in the middle, like some abuse is probably unavoidable, and someone with the power decided that it should be you who pays the cost.

Comment by Viliam on Forcing Yourself is Self Harm, or Don't Goodhart Yourself · 2021-04-12T13:46:28.499Z · LW · GW

If this is like, established fact or something...I did not know this, and I understand why the hypothetical person was also unaware of this.

I have heard this advice repeatedly, but I guess it is quite easy to miss it. People probably either don't know it, or consider it too obvious to mention. (And a few people benefit from you not knowing the advice, so they can profit from your fear, advising you to sell what you have and buy something else, charging you a commission, and you are so thankful that someone observes these changes 24/7 for you.)

On the other hand, many people seem unable to follow this advice even if they hear it. Like, a few of my colleagues who bought Bitcoins. Every day there were like "look, it's $10 higher, we made a profit!" or "oh, it's $10 lower, this sucks!", and I was like "guys, calm down, it's not important what happens in a day, the only thing that matters is what happens over years" and tried to explain that the $10 is not even worth the amount of stress they feel... and that the only thing they need to do is to simply stop watching the news, return a year later, with certain probability they will lose everything (if this is not acceptable for you, do not invest), and with certain probability they will make a nontrivial profit.

I guess following this advice is emotionally difficult. About a month later, some colleagues said they sold the Bitcoins, because it was "too stressful" for them to think about it. Seems like "simply do not think about it" is a difficult skill, almost like meditation. On the positive side, if you succeed to do it for a few weeks, it becomes much easier, because now you are used to the situation and it is no longer exciting. (I have a similar experience with Facebook and other websites: the longer you are without them, the less you miss them.)

Comment by Viliam on People Will Listen · 2021-04-11T22:12:06.188Z · LW · GW

My advice is to accept that 'haters are gonna hate' and just take the hit. Make your arguments as clear and your advice as easy to follow as possible. But understand that no matter what you do, if you tell people to buy bitcoin at $230, the top comment might be critical. Some people will listen and benefit.

Yes. If the people are in the following categories:

  • already disagree with the idea;
  • not aware of the idea, after explanation disagree;
  • not aware of the idea, after explanation agree;
  • already agree with the idea;

then the best you can do is help the last two groups buy the Bitcoins or whatever.

Comment by Viliam on Compounding Incumbent Advantage · 2021-04-08T22:31:35.119Z · LW · GW

What would be the nearest legal version? I would pay minimum wage, you... need to do something useful... but can choose an unrelated job title... and to make it slightly less of a fraud, we will pretend that your job is 50% software development and 50% what you actually do.

Or perhaps, I will employ you for two years. The first year, you do some actual work, but I only pay you 50% of what I would otherwise. The second year, you are a software developer... like, you are supposed to produce "something" except I don't really care, I just need a proof that you actually developed some software... and I pay you the remaining 50% of what you did the last year. (Requires you to be able to make 2× the minimum wage at start.)

Or perhaps a college + fake job. The college is expensive, but I take part of that money aside, and pay it back to you as a minimum wage in the fake job. At the end, you get a college degree + two years of job experience.

Well, if we are already here, I might actually give you a meaningful job... with a safety net... like, if you don't produce anything useful, I promise to not fire you during those two years, and I will assume the money you paid for the expensive college included the minimum wage I will be paying you. But of course, if you produce something useful, you can get a higher salary. Heck, I would even let you choose the technology and the product you want to make (because if it fails, it's not a problem for me).

Even more legal -- how about just making a software company where everyone chooses their technology and project and develops it... if the company can sell the product, you just earned your salary... otherwise you keep getting minimum wage and get fired after two years, but not sooner... we only hire reliable people, such as those recommended by current employees (those who earn their salaries)... or people from the very expensive college (who paid their minimum wages there). Heck, considering how expensive education can get in USA, this might even be a better deal than what already exists! And if at least some employees produce something useful, they provide the cover for everyone else.

Comment by Viliam on Compounding Incumbent Advantage · 2021-04-07T19:34:45.826Z · LW · GW

This is great point, that working in some role means 8 hours of experience every day, which you would be unable to get otherwise (if you already have a different day job, and even more so if you have kids).

From the opposite perspective, if you are a community that wants something done, you should find out how to make that a paid job for someone. Because if you do, then you will have a person who gets 8 hours of experience every day. If you don't... expect low quality, because people will only work on it for a short time once in a while, and even that only after they get home tired from the job that pays their bills.

I wonder what is best if you want to start a job without an employer... something like writing online novels and begging people to support you on Patreon. One option is to do it besides your day job. This is safe, from the financial perspective, but the progress will be slow, for the reasons you mentioned here. Another option is to save some money (enough to live on for a year or two), quit your job, and start working on your new project full-time. There is a risk that you run out of money without making the project profitable enough to pay your bills. But if you have the self-discipline, you can get 8 hours of experience every day, so in a year you will probably do and learn more than you would have otherwise done and learned in a decade. (Of course, if you realize this soon enough, the best moment to start doing something like this is probably during high school.)

Comment by Viliam on Compounding Incumbent Advantage · 2021-04-07T18:57:11.193Z · LW · GW

Then I got a job as a software engineer, and after around two months of that, I started to get relatively constant recruitment emails and messages which continue to this day.

Is there such thing as "negative wage"? Like, I will employ you, and you will pay me for the privilege. Because I think I have a business proposal: I will employ you as a "software engineer", you will get a computer and do whatever you want. A year later, you will find another job, but now with "software engineer" in your CV, and I will give you a good reference: I will say that you worked for me, and that I was happy about it -- 100% truth!

Comment by Viliam on How do you reconcile the lack of choice that children have in being born? · 2021-04-07T18:38:07.878Z · LW · GW

As a rule of thumb: (1) are you happy that you exist? (2) do you have a reason to believe that your children will have life worse than you?

Comment by Viliam on How do you reconcile the lack of choice that children have in being born? · 2021-04-07T18:33:49.029Z · LW · GW

It's this excuse too general? Like, anything you do, it happens somewhere in the multiverse, therefore...

Comment by Viliam on IQcaptcha enters beta · 2021-04-07T18:28:53.015Z · LW · GW

I wonder about accessibility. If you don't want to protect your website against "stupid... or e.g. blind... people", it would need an alternative non-visual version. Not sure what would be a good non-visual alternative to Raven's matrices.

I would probably err on the side of making it easier for blind users, because... well, anyone who figures out how to abuse this alternative is probably already smart enough.

Comment by Viliam on In plain English - in what ways are Bayes' Rule and Popperian falsificationism conflicting epistemologies? · 2021-04-06T19:12:43.237Z · LW · GW

Sorry for jargon. But it's a useful concept, so here is the explanation:

A Motte and Bailey castle is a medieval system of defence in which a stone tower on a mound (the Motte) is surrounded by an area of pleasantly habitable land (the Bailey), which in turn is encompassed by some sort of a barrier, such as a ditch. Being dark and dank, the Motte is not a habitation of choice. The only reason for its existence is the desirability of the Bailey, which the combination of the Motte and ditch makes relatively easy to retain despite attack by marauders. When only lightly pressed, the ditch makes small numbers of attackers easy to defeat as they struggle across it: when heavily pressed the ditch is not defensible, and so neither is the Bailey. Rather, one retreats to the insalubrious but defensible, perhaps impregnable, Motte. Eventually the marauders give up, when one is well placed to reoccupy desirable land.

-- Motte and Bailey Doctrines

The writers of the paper compare this to a form of medieval castle, where there would be a field of desirable and economically productive land called a bailey, and a big ugly tower in the middle called the motte. If you were a medieval lord, you would do most of your economic activity in the bailey and get rich. If an enemy approached, you would retreat to the motte and rain down arrows on the enemy until they gave up and went away. Then you would go back to the bailey, which is the place you wanted to be all along.

So the motte-and-bailey doctrine is when you make a bold, controversial statement. Then when somebody challenges you, you retreat to an obvious, uncontroversial statement, and say that was what you meant all along, so you’re clearly right and they’re silly for challenging you. Then when the argument is over you go back to making the bold, controversial statement.

-- All In All, Another Brick In The Motte

The latter also contains a few examples.

Comment by Viliam on Viliam's Shortform · 2021-04-05T18:53:27.919Z · LW · GW

My case was somewhat like this:

"X is wrong."

"Use Chesterton fence. Why does X exist?"

"X exists because of incentives of the people who established it. They are rewarded for X, and punished for non-X, therefore..."

"That is uncharitable and motivated. I am pretty sure there must be a different reason. Try again."

And, of course, maybe I am uncharitable and motivated. Happens to people all the time, why should I expect myself to be immune?

But at the same time I noticed how the seemingly neutral Chesterton fence can become a stronger rhetorical weapon if you are allowed to specify further criteria the proper answers must pass.

Comment by Viliam on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-05T15:15:41.331Z · LW · GW

Take the content warning at the top seriously. There is some strong stuff here.

If you are scrupulous, this page is like "100 reasons to hate yourself forever".

Comment by Viliam on The Holy Algorithm · 2021-04-05T14:54:03.709Z · LW · GW

I imagine that once in a while there may be a problem with precision, when two things appear approximately at the same time. Did the full moon happen at the same time as the equinox, or did it actually happen a few minutes sooner, therefore we need to wait for the next one? Did the full moon happen slightly before or slightly after the Sunday midnight?

I have no idea how often this happens in practice, and what precision is used to determine "equinox" and "full moon". But I guess that's what the 140-page Latin documentation is for.

Comment by Viliam on Bring up Genius · 2021-04-05T14:44:38.836Z · LW · GW

My educational plans have mostly failed. I work on two projects in parallel at my job, and I have two kids at home, which means that my usual day is working on this, working on that, going outside with the kids, preparing food for the kids, doing dishes, playing with the kids, reading a bedtime story... somehow the entire day passes without a quiet moment to think, and then it is evening and I am too tired to do something other than browse the web, exercise, and go sleep. So, many things that I planned to do, I did not. The COVID-19 situation only made it worse, as the kindergartens were closed. Yeah, I am also making excuses, a more organized person than me surely could do more, but I am at my limits.

So, my older daughter, currently 6, can write on a computer, and use some simple applications such as VLC media player. She played a few games, so she knows how to use arrows, etc. But the typical use of computer is either painting, or watching cartoons with her younger sister. In math, she can do addition, understands the concept of "half", and distinguishes odd and even numbers. Nice, but really nothing extraordinary.

I didn't complete any of those educational programs I imagined. (Note for my next reincarnation: such projects need to be completed before the kids are born. Later, there is not enough time and focus.)

Also it'd be great if you could help me understand why this blurb claims Laszlo wrote this book "[w]ell before having children".

His first daughter Susan was born in 1969, the book was published in 1989, that is twenty years later. Also, the book describes many things in past tense. So... dunno, perhaps the reviewer wanted to say that parts of the book contain beliefs that author had before the kids were born? Or maybe someone else said that, and then the information passed through the game of telephone?

I don't know how else someone could write a book "well before having children" that would describe specific problems his children had with government and chess institutions.

Are you familiar with any of Laszlo's work that was written before his children had reached such great "successes"?

According to Wikipedia, Bring up Genius! was his first book. (The Hungarian page mentions way more publications than the English page, but both agree that he started with this one.) The other books seem to be mostly about chess problems, although it is difficult to tell exactly, if the only thing I have is the title of the book... and a page of some Hungarian book shop that only says the book is out of print.

By the way, looking for books written by "Polgár", I noticed that two of his daughters also wrote some books, but those books also seem to be about chess only. For a non-professional perhaps the most interesting is Chess Training Guide for Teachers and Parents by Susan Polgar, which seems like an outline of the method László used to introduce the girls to chess; that is, start with the empty board, introduce Pawn, Pawn-only problems, introduce Rook, Pawn-and-Rook problems, etc.

Comment by Viliam on Viliam's Shortform · 2021-04-05T13:21:37.794Z · LW · GW

Technically, Chesterton fence means that if something exists for no good reason, you are never allowed to remove it.

Because, before you even propose the removal, you must demonstrate your understanding of a good reason why the thing exists. And if there is none...

More precisely, it seems to me there is a motte and bailey version of Chesterton fence: the motte is that everything exists for a reason; the bailey is that everything exists for a good reason. The difference is, when someone challenges you to provide an understanding why a fence was built, whether answers such as "because someone made a mistake" or "because of regulatory capture" or "because a bad person did it to harm someone" are allowed.

On one hand, such explanations feel cheap. A conspiracy theorist could explain literally everything by "because evil outgroup did it to hurt people, duh". On the other hand, yes, sometimes things happen because people are stupid or selfish; what exactly am I supposed to do if someone calls a Chesterton fence on that?

Comment by Viliam on Viliam's Shortform · 2021-04-04T16:49:17.464Z · LW · GW

Could you recommend me a good book on first-order logic?

My goal is to understand the difference between first-order and second-order logic, preferably deeply enough to develop an intuition for what can be done and what can't be done using first-order logic, and why exactly it is so.

Comment by Viliam on The Holy Algorithm · 2021-04-04T15:55:11.352Z · LW · GW

The (Catholic) values are already calculated until at least 2200.

There is a possibility that the algorithm may change, because currently different branches of Christianity use different algorithms, and many of them agree that it would be great to coordinate on the same date of Easter.

Seems to me that the problem is mostly political. Even if "everyone agreeing on the date of Easter" is higher in your utility function than "keeping our old algorithm", adopting your competitor's algorithm still costs you status, but new proposed algorithms are not Schelling points.

Current proposals for universal Easter time ;) include:

  • use the traditional algorithm based on Gregorian calendar (between March 22nd and April 25th);
  • use the traditional algorithm based on Julian calendar (between April 4th and May 8th);
  • use a modified algorithm based on Gregorian calendar, using the latest scientific definition of "beginning of the spring" at the meridian of Jerusalem (proposed by World Council of Churches);
  • keep it simple, e.g. the second Sunday of April.
Comment by Viliam on Raemon's Shortform · 2021-04-03T23:37:13.588Z · LW · GW

There is a trade-off: would you prefer higher-quality feedback with great chance of no feedback at all, or a greater probability of feedback which will most likely be lower-quality?

Maybe this is a problem with social media: sometimes we get a lot of feedback, and sometimes we get high-quality feedback, and it kinda makes us expect that it should be possible to get lots of high-quality feedback constantly. But that is not possible, so people are dissatisfied.

Comment by Viliam on Would a post about optimizing physical attractiveness be fitting for this forum? · 2021-04-03T19:45:04.060Z · LW · GW

If well written, I don't see a reason why not. Writing well would include stating your level of certainty. From my perspective, there is nothing wrong with "I tried these things, here are the results, no idea whether it generalizes" as long as you admit it. But if you write "this works for everyone" or "this works for most people", expect people asking how do you know what you believe you know.

I wonder (this does not mean your article needs to address this, I am just thinking aloud here) how much "attractiveness" is a coherent concept. I mean, one possible extreme is that there is an objective scale of attractiveness, and if thousand people will rate each other, everyone's scale will be the same. The opposite extreme is that everyone has their own idiosyncratic preferences, and there is no correlation between them; any statement about attractiveness is just a statement of speaker's personal preferences.

Now, I assume the truth is somewhere in between, that different peoples' ideas of "attractiveness" correlate, but not perfectly. Which leads to the question which traits correlate more and which correlate less. (As in "almost everyone agrees that X is better than non-X, but people are divided on whether Y or non-Y is better".)

Is "physical attractiveness" the same as "sexual attractiveness"? Or does it make sense to say things like "this person's body is absolutely amazing, but I definitely wouldn't want to have sex with them" or "this person is completely ugly, but so hot"? Again, the following question would be which traits are usually "nice but not sexy" and "ugly but sexy".

Because many people are sexually attracted to men but not to women, or vice versa, perhaps each trait should be evaluated in two dimensions: how attractive is a man having this trait, and how attractive is a woman having this trait. Some traits (e.g. health) may be attractive in both sexes, some traits may be useful for one sex and irrelevant for the other, some traits may be useful for one sex and harmful for the other; could we perhaps get a 3×3 table of the attractiveness of trait by owner's sex?

How does this relate to heterosexuality vs homosexuality? For example, when male homosexuals judge men, do they use the criteria heterosexual women use to judge men, or the criteria heterosexual men use to judge women? Or something in between? Or does it depend on the trait (like some traits are "perceived by men as attractive" while other traits are "attractive on a male body")?

Is the popular wisdom significantly wrong on some subjects? Like "everyone believes that X is important, but in fact it makes little difference" or "everyone believes X doesn't matter, but when you increase it experimentally, people will be 10 times more attactive (while denying that they are attracted because of X)"?

I apologize if this is too nerdy, asking about theory, when you probably wish to share some practical advice.

But whatever advice you share, even if you support it by data ("I did X, and my dating success increased by 300%, plus all my friends replicated this"), my first question would probably be how much the change was universally attractive, and how it means that some people had a strong fetish for it and those were the ones you succeeded with.

(Also, the placebo effect. Maybe you did X and believed it made you attractive. Actually, X didn't make you attractive, but your self-confidence did.)

Comment by Viliam on [deleted post] 2021-04-03T14:09:15.231Z

Speaking for myself, I simply did not understand the point that you were trying to explain. Maybe it needs to be communicated more clearly. Maybe the entire idea is wrong. I don't know. Either way, the article is useless for me.

Comment by Viliam on People are gathering 2 million USD to save a kid with a rare disease. I feel weird about it. Why? · 2021-04-03T14:01:53.677Z · LW · GW

Well, there is chance that a part of your brain tries to answer "how much is a stranger's kid's life worth?" and returns a number between $50K and $2M. The specific number is censored from the rest of your brain, because thinking of any specific number would make you feel bad.

Thinking about smaller numbers makes you feel "definitely worth it", to which the PR module of your brain attaches "because human life is sacred". Thinking about larger numbers makes you feel "nope", and the PR module searches for a plausible excuse (such as "this is probably a scam"). In both cases, the PR module tries to deny that the actual decision method was comparing two numbers.

However, you are smart enough to realize that all excuses against $2M apply also to $50K. It would be nice if an external authority could tell you what is the correct number, but you are familiar with effective altruism and believe that for $50K you could save more than one life. So you cannot use this specific authority to support your feelings.

Comment by Viliam on In plain English - in what ways are Bayes' Rule and Popperian falsificationism conflicting epistemologies? · 2021-04-03T13:03:06.549Z · LW · GW

For the record, the popular interpretation of "Popperian falsificationism" is not what Karl Popper actually believed. (According to Wikipedia, he did not even like the word "falsificationism" and preferred "critical rationalism" instead.) What most people know as "Popperian falsificationism" is a simplification optimized for memetic power, and it is quite simple to disprove. Then we can play motte and bailey with it: the motte being the set of books Karl Popper actually wrote, and the bailey being the argument of a clever internet wannabe meta-scientist about how this or that isn't scientific because it does not follow some narrow definition of falsifiability.

I have not read Popper's book, therefore I am only commenting here on the traditional internet usage of "Popperian falsificationism".

The good part is noticing that beliefs should pay rent in anticipated consequences. A theory that explains everything, predicts nothing. In the "Popperian" version, beliefs pay rent by saying which states of the world are impossible. As long as they are right, you keep them. When they get wrong once, you mercilessly kick them out.

An obvious problem: How does this work with probabilistic beliefs? Suppose we flip a fair coin, and one person believes there is a 50% chance of head/tails, and other person believes it is 99% head and 1% tails. How exactly is each of these hypotheses falsifiable? How many times exactly do I have to flip the coin and what results exactly do I need to get in order to declare each of the hypotheses as falsified? Or are they both unfalsifiable, and therefore both equally unscientific, neither of them better than the other?

That is, "Popperianism" feels a bit like Bayesianism for mathematically challenged people. Its probability theory only contains three values: yes, maybe, no. Assigning "yes" to any scientific hypothesis is a taboo (Bayesians agree), therefore we are left with "maybe" and "no", the latter for falsified hypotheses, the former for everything else. And we need to set the rules of the social game so that the "maybe" of science does not become completely worthless (i.e. equivalent to any other "maybe").

This is confusing again. Suppose you have two competing hypotheses, such as "there is a finite number of primes" and "there is an infinite number of primes". To be considered scientific, either of them must be falsifiable in principle, but of course neither can be proved. Wait, what?! How exactly would you falsify one of them without automatically proving the other?

I suppose the answer by Popper might be a combination of the following:

  • mathematics is a special case, because it is not about the real world -- that is, whenever we apply math to the real world, we have two problems: whether the math itself is correct, and whether we chose the right model for the real world, and the concept of "falsifiability" only applies to the latter;
  • there is always a chance that we left out something -- for example, it might turn out that the concept of "primes" or "infinity" is somehow ill-defined (self-contradictory or arbitrary or whatever), therefore one hypothesis being wrong does not necessarily imply the other being right.

Yet another problem is that scientific hypotheses actually get disproved all the time. Like, I am pretty sure there were at least dozen popular-science articles about experimental refutation of theory of relativity upvoted to the front page of Hacker News. The proper reaction is to ignore the news, and wait a few days until someone provides an explanation of why the experiment was set up wrong, or the numbers were calculated incorrectly. That is business as usual for a scientist, but would pose a philosophical problem for a "Popperian": how do you justify believing in the scientific result during the time interval between the experiment and its refutation were published? How long is the interval allowed to be: a day? a month? a century?

The underlying problem is that experimental outcomes are actually not clearly separated from hypotheses. Like, you get the raw data ("the machine X beeped today at 14:09"), but you need to combine them with some assuptions in order to get the conclusion ("therefore, the signal travelled faster than light, and the theory of relativity is wrong"). So the end result is that "data + some assumptions" disagree with "other assumptions". There as assumptions on both sides; either of them could be wrong; there is no such thing as pure falsification.

Sorry, I got carried away...

Comment by Viliam on Notes from "Don't Shoot the Dog" · 2021-04-02T20:18:49.309Z · LW · GW

An interesting idea in this book was that most people who try to do "behaviorism" are actually doing it wrong (such as delivering the rewards and punishments too late, so they are associated with something else instead). And yet the people who do it wrong will defend their approach as scientifically proved.

As a rule of thumb, if your approach uses a lot of punishment, chances are that you are actually only rewarding yourself (by giving yourself a feeling of high status when you deliver the punishment). Which is the true reason why approaches using punishments are so popular (among the people who use them).

tl;dr -- all you need is love (and clicker)

Comment by Viliam on Why We Launched LessWrong.SubStack · 2021-04-01T16:45:32.957Z · LW · GW

Just a public warning that the version of Scott's article that was leaked at SneerClub was modified to actually maximize human suffering. But I guess no one is surprised. Read the original version.

HPMOR -- obvious in hindsight; the rational Harry Potter has never [EDIT: removed spoiler, sorry]. Yet, most readers somehow missed the clues, myself included.

I laughed a lot at Gwern's "this rationality technique does not exist" examples.

On the negative side, most of the comment sections are derailed into discussing Bitcoin prices. Sigh. Seriously, could we please focus on the big picture for a moment? This is practically LessWrong 3.0, and you guys are nitpicking as usual.

Comment by Viliam on Why We Launched LessWrong.SubStack · 2021-04-01T16:27:16.435Z · LW · GW

There is Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Credit, Bitcoin Debit, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Platinum, and a few others. I assume you probably checked the wrong one. Don't feel bad about it; cryptography can be sometimes quite intimidating for beginners.

Comment by Viliam on Logan Strohl on exercise norms · 2021-03-30T21:02:56.525Z · LW · GW

Things I would tell to nerds:

People often talk about how you should do sport, which implies group activity, usually not with the kind of people you prefer to spend your free time with. Forget that. Healthy activities can also be done alone. You don't even need gym for strength training. Exercise can be a perfectly introverted activity, if you wish so.

Exercise gives you more energy. It's your choice how to spend that energy, but even reading a book or writing code is better when you don't feel tired. To get benefits from exercise, you don't need to exercise more (or even as much) as someone else. You just need to exercise, full stop.

At the beginning, it works almost like an RPG: you get experience points, your strength increases. If you exercise every day, the improvement after one month will be visible; if you keep written records, you get feedback even sooner. That is an amazing experience. The good news for you is that beginners have the greatest gains per unit of effort.

As a nerd, you will probably spend a lot of time in your life sitting. Sitting is an incredibly harmful thing for your body. Do whatever you can to reduce it, because after a few decades it will result in pain. Buy a standing desk, take breaks during work or study, take walks in your free time. Hey, you can have intellectual conversations while walking, as long as the other person is also willing to take a walk.

Halo effect is a thing. Looking more fit (other things being equal) will make other people believe you are also smarter and more competent. Don't philosophize about it. Yes, humans are stupid. Now that you know the cheat code, use it.

Regular exercise doesn't have to cost you lot of time. You can do strength exercise while watching a movie: pause, do dozen repetitions, unpause, etc. While you are taking a walk, you are free to think about whatever you want; you may plan your activities for the rest of the day, or think about a math problem.