Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users 2016-05-14T17:38:56.715Z
[moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned 2016-01-30T02:09:28.603Z
[meta] New LW moderator: NancyLebovitz 2015-01-13T21:41:04.301Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-12-21T22:20:23.257Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-11-30T17:05:11.103Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-11-05T20:59:19.803Z
Improving the World 2014-10-10T12:24:54.905Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-10-04T15:14:52.627Z
What are you learning? 2014-09-15T10:50:28.009Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-09-15T06:41:32.577Z
Meetup Report Thread: September 2014 2014-08-30T12:32:13.625Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-08-29T12:46:44.763Z
Meetup : Bratislava 2014-08-02T18:18:58.958Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup XV. 2014-07-22T17:25:18.702Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup XIV. 2014-06-20T18:41:52.776Z
Meetup : Vienna 2014-06-19T20:28:15.902Z
Bragging Thread, June 2014 2014-06-08T10:08:12.280Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup XIII. (international) 2014-05-17T20:11:32.699Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup XII. 2014-04-04T14:27:01.346Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup XI. 2014-04-04T14:20:11.648Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup X. 2014-02-11T19:55:01.061Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup IX. 2014-01-13T14:10:45.094Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup VIII. 2013-12-09T09:08:48.835Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup VII. 2013-09-17T18:06:40.294Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup VI. 2013-08-14T19:31:48.762Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup V. 2013-07-14T09:03:16.881Z
Meetup : Bratislava Meetup IV. 2013-06-02T20:11:18.085Z
Programming Thread 2012-12-06T19:07:53.339Z


Comment by Viliam_Bur on Am I Really an X? · 2017-03-13T12:30:04.523Z · LW · GW

For curious readers: Most of the vast "comment graveyard" are dozens of copies of the same two or three comments.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017 · 2017-02-21T10:01:34.500Z · LW · GW

FYI, I just banned an account "kings11me" who didn't participate in the forum, but was sending the following private message to multiple users:

God bless you and thanks, how are you? Happy to meet you. I got your contact via this site, I seriously have interest to invest on a profitable business in your country, the money I want to invest was acquired from my church member, and then I was his financial adviser. The amount to invest is ($14.5 million US dollars) presently, but I’m the present Catholic Church leader in my parish, if you will like to assist me as a partner, you must have the fear of God? kindly indicate your interest, and all other details relating to the funds will be revealed to you as we progress on. Confidentiality contact my direct e-mail address (REDACTED@yahoo com or REDACTED@gmail com) also indicate your direct telephone number, when replying this mail, God will guide us and with good health Amen, God bless you and your family, Rev, Chris Madurai Okon.

(In other words, I am an evil villain who has just deprived MIRI of a possible $14.500.000 donation from a secret rationality benefactor masquerading as an ordinary spammer. Business as usual. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on A quick note on weirdness points and Solstices [And also random other Solstice discussion] · 2016-12-21T18:36:11.216Z · LW · GW

And my impression is that people are only really weirded out by these songs on behalf of other people who are only weirded out by them on behalf of other people.

Coincidentally, I was thinking today about whether people upvote some LW articles because they felt really useful for them, or just because they believe they could be useful for other people. Another instance of a similar problem.

(Specifically, I was considering writing an article explaining some more or less high-school math. Because... well, people have random blind spots, so maybe this could actually help someone. It's an experiment, and I would get feedback in form of upvotes, right? And then I was like: oh crap, people could actually upvote this article even if it wouldn't be useful for anyone, just because everyone would be like: well, this is all obvious for me, but someone else will probably benefit from reading this.)

Is there a general solution? I guess in our culture, you could just tell people "please now express how you feel about the issue, ignoring your prediction of how other people will feel about it". Or perhaps create a poll containing options in the form of "I feel X, but I predict other people will feel Y".

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-08-09T19:27:31.040Z · LW · GW

Hi, welcome back!

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open thread, Jun. 13 - Jun. 19, 2016 · 2016-06-14T22:14:01.707Z · LW · GW

If we look at this issue from an angle "ethics is memetic system evolved by cultural group selection", then I guess it makes sense that (1) systems promoting helping your cultural group would have an advantage over systems promoting helping everyone to the same degree, and (2) systems that allow to achieve the "ethical enough" state reasonably fast would have an advantage over systems where no one can realistically become "ethical enough".

The problem appears when someone tries to do an extrapolation of that concept.

I am not sure how to answer the question "should we extrapolate our ethical concepts?". Because "should" itself is within the domain of ethics, and the question is precisely about whether that "should" should also be extrapolated.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-05-29T19:46:34.826Z · LW · GW

None that I'm aware of.

I suspect that no one actually fell for the scam... or if they did, they are too ashamed to admit it... so there is nothing specific to investigate.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open thread, Apr. 18 - Apr. 24, 2016 · 2016-04-20T21:14:33.744Z · LW · GW


Comment by Viliam_Bur on Monthly Bragging Thread April 2016 · 2016-04-08T19:43:44.013Z · LW · GW

Congratulation! By the way, were those subjects mathematicians/programmers? Because I was told (by someone who uses hypnosis professionally) that those are the most difficult ones to hypnotize.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016 · 2016-04-08T19:40:57.301Z · LW · GW

Maybe at the front page the "Recent Promoted Articles" and "Featured Articles" should move on the top, and the "Less Wrong is…" description should be below them.

Or maybe even articles first, map of meetups second, and the website description on the bottom. And the bullet points in the description are unnecessarily large.

Things at the top of the page are more likely to be noticed.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread April 4 - April 10, 2016 · 2016-04-06T20:42:50.476Z · LW · GW

Removed (both the comment and the user).

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-30T19:44:38.283Z · LW · GW

I am not an American, and the American ways of transferring money are mysterious to me. When I want to send money from point A to point B, I log into a web page, fill in the required data, confirm the data, and in a day or two the money is there. If I understand it correctly, the American way to do this is to personally go to the bank, take a paper form, write the data on the paper, deliver the paper to the target, and the target must take the paper to their bank.

It was a huge surprise to learn this, because I automatically assumed that the American ways of dealing with money must be more advanced and more convenient, just because of having more experience with internet and capitalism in general. But now I guess that the American system is simply a victim of its own inertia: these methods were invented and became a norm before the internet, and now people are resistent to the change, because no one wants to experiment with the new methods when their own money is involved.

Still, I agree that the second transaction should be cancellable after the first transaction was cancelled. Not sure what is the trick here. Maybe the scammer wants the part of their money returned using a different method (one that does not allow cancelling, or has shorter deadlines). Maybe the plan is that most people will not notice the cancelling of the first transaction, or be busy enough that they miss the deadline for cancelling the second one. Maybe there is some psychological trick preventing the victim from cancelling. Really, I don't know (and not being familiar with the American system, even if I read an explanation, there is a chance I would misunderstand it).

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread March 21 - March 27, 2016 · 2016-03-21T19:08:15.812Z · LW · GW

How I see it, deleting of Eugine's new accounts is a continuous enforcement of the permanent ban from 2014 (explained here). Whether he continues in his previous behavior should in theory be irrelevant; I would delete his new accounts anyway because that's what "permanent" means. But in practice, he continues with his old behavior, which makes him easier to detect, and motivates me to overcome my laziness.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread March 21 - March 27, 2016 · 2016-03-20T20:49:44.471Z · LW · GW

moderator action: Torchlight_Crimson is banned

Another account of Eugine_Nier / Azathoth123 / Voiceofra / The_Lion / The_Lion2 / Old_Gold is banned, effective now. This is an enforcement of the already existing ban, therefore only this message in Open Thread.

EDIT: Also Crownless_Prince.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-12T11:18:33.237Z · LW · GW

This seems like a correct answer. The company (1) wants to be seen as the sort of company that helps charities, (2) doesn't care deeply about the charities, and (3) wants to motivate employees.

The first part explains why they have a budget for charities, and the second and third part together explain why they let employees allocate that budget instead of the company doing it itself. The charitable explanation of the second part is that the company trusts their employees to have good knowledge about charities, and thus kinda outsources the research of good charities to them.

On the other hand, an uncharitable explanation is that if most employees don't donate to charities, then this strategy allows the company to appear more generous than it actually is. For example, if a company with 1000 employees publicly declares to match each employee's donations up to $1000, it gives an impression as if they are going to donate $1000000 to charities, while in fact they may know that only five of their employees actually donate to charities, so the expected expense is $5000. (There is a risk this could backfire, but maybe they did experiments with smaller sums in the previous years, and/or maybe there is a small print somewhere making an exception in the case that too many employees decide to donate.)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-07T08:40:55.897Z · LW · GW

I think it can be taken for granted that people on this site have an elevated sense of skepticism

They also have an elevated sense of contrarianism. I suspect it's not enough to make them literally send money to a scammer, but enough to argue publicly about giving the benefit of doubt.

My long comment was written for the audience. To make people potentially swayed by clever arguments remember the context -- that this is a website where we publicly talk about donating to MIRI, publicly talk about money in general, already have a lot of quality financial advice, and no one is preventing our mysterious benefactor from posting an article.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-07T08:33:40.039Z · LW · GW

So, Vaniver, are you personally going to cooperate with this guy in the "donating to MIRI through you" project? Could you please promise in advance to write an article about it when the financial transaction is over?

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-05T20:51:06.130Z · LW · GW

I apologize if I wronged you, but if you are honest, please act publicly, especially when it includes asking members to participate in financial transactions.

Money is no taboo here. MIRI asks for money publicly by posting an article (December 2015, August 2015, ...). Members post articles with financial advice (Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management, Financial Effectiveness Repository, A Guide to Rational Investing, and many debates in the regular Open Threads). According to our recent survey, 71 members work in "Finance/Economics" and 38 work in "Law"; and although some of them specialize in things irrelevant to your proposal, most likely a few could provide a valuable feedback, maybe even a warning of what could possibly go wrong.

It is your insisting to work behind the courtains that seems fishy to me. You try to make the recipients of your messages feel special, yet you and your associate copy/paste the same messages to multiple people. If your goal is to provide free education, you could have posted the first lesson publicly. If you don't want to be public with your name or with the name of your company, just create a pseudonymous account called e.g. "JumpingSquirrel2016" and refer to your company as e.g. "CompanyX". Even if your goal is to find two or three people to cooperate with privately in the future, you can still advertise your skills by posting one free lesson publicly. People who are experts in some area don't have to keep all their knowledge secret; there is usually at least 90% of the information known to enough people, sometimes even taught at universities.

For now, it seems like your priority is to send money through someone else, because reasons ("accelerating the value created"). Everything else seems like a cover story to make people cooperate. I suspect that the promised free education is also supposed to only happen after the person participated in the transaction.

If you are fake, your likely next step would be to send someone a fake check or fake "payment confirmation", and then use social engineering and time pressure to make them send a part of the money back to you before they can verify that they actually received the money. Which is much easier to do in private, even with dozen people in parallel. Would be more difficult to achieve when communicating with all people publicly, especially if they were warned about this option in advance.

So my advice, if you are serious, is to post a message in an Open Thread (it could be strategical to wait two days until someone creates "Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016" in the "Discussion" section) describing why exactly do you need to send money through someone else, and describe the specific steps in this transaction. Specifically, promising to never ask people to send you back the money (either all or a part) and not to use time pressure until they have fully verified that they have actually received the money. For the sake of transparency, you should publish the names of specific users and the amount of money sent through them, and they should verify it using their own accounts.

Meanwhile, feel free to publish any free education in the current Open Thread or in the next one.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-02T21:42:44.823Z · LW · GW

There is a chance that you are right. I feel like it's about 10% though. I apologize in advance if I am wrong. But I acted on the chance that I'm right and that I may save some naive altruistic student's money.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-02T21:30:26.377Z · LW · GW

It is promoted now, so it will stay on the main page for a longer time. (I don't know how long the scammers will stay here.)

I reposted it in the facebook group.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-02T21:28:31.042Z · LW · GW

I also am not sure they're scams in the traditional sense.

If there is nothing fishy, why do they contact people via private messages instead of posting in the forum?

Typically the reason for contacting people individually, when the public announcement would be the natural way, is to prevent the contacted people from seeing each other's reactions.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread Feb 29 - March 6, 2016 · 2016-03-01T22:19:17.799Z · LW · GW

moderator action: Old_Gold is banned

Another account of Eugine_Nier / Azathoth123 / Voiceofra / The_Lion / The_Lion2 is banned, effective now. I am posting this as a comment in Open Thread to avoid writing articles about banning the same person again and again, thus reducing the administrative cost of enforcing the already existing ban.

This specific change of policy does not apply to other potentially banned users (unless they are obvious spammers or scammers) who still deserve a separate post.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Open Thread, Feb 8 - Feb 15, 2016 · 2016-03-01T22:05:33.394Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the explanation! I posted a warning in a separate article. (Ironically, the second private message mentioned in the article was sent to my account.)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-02-03T23:12:20.244Z · LW · GW

Here are some existing Python scripts for LW.

If you can look at them, and then write a script that takes a number (or a list of numbers) as an input, and displays total number of LW users, and number of LW users with karma smaller than given number... well, that would be the first step. Otherwise, we need to wait until someone does it.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-02-02T22:49:15.065Z · LW · GW

Sounds like this could work.

Well, depends on how large fraction of votes currently comes from users with karma under 250. It would be bad to reduce the total number of votes drastically. They do have a positive role, in general; most people use them correctly.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-31T14:32:05.873Z · LW · GW

Did he start out this way or did this develop over time as he got more frustrated?

I don't remember.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-31T10:36:22.905Z · LW · GW

Traditionally he posted quotes in Rationality Quotes threads to farm karma he could use for the downvotes. Maybe he got tired of doing that.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-31T10:32:15.504Z · LW · GW

Eugine's beliefs are "politically incorrect", but that's not completely unusual at LW. The main reason why we don't see them here often is that we don't debate politics often. And ironically, Eugine's downvoting crusades have contributed significantly to reducing the political debates on LW. There were times when we used to have a political debate in a separate thread or in an Open Thread once in a while. And at some moment, such debates started predictably ending with someone saying "I have disagreed with Eugine yesterday, and today I see I have lost hundreds of karma points and most of my old comments are at -1; fuck this". This makes the debate unpleasant even for the people who on object level happen to agree with Eugine on the specific topic. Most of us see the difference between "I won the debate by providing convincing arguments" and "I won the debate by strategically downvoting or otherwise harrassing my opponents" (or "I won the debate because my opponents were harrassed by a third party").

Also, Eugine's comments seem like optimized to offend. Such comments are "convincing for the already believing, and irritating for the unbelieving". They don't change anyone's opinion, and are usually used by a majority, to silence a minority. Ironically, majority is exactly what Eugine doesn't have here. So this leaves me with two models:

  • Eugine is too mindkilled to understand all this nuance, despite having spent years here. He still doesn't get what LW is about. In such case, his mental abilities are insufficient for LessWrong.

  • Eugine may understand the nuance, he just doesn't give a fuck about rationality or LW culture. For him, victory of his tribe is the ultimate goal. That also means he doesn't belong here, just for different reasons.

Regardless of whether he understands or doesn't understand what he is doing wrong, he has shown no capacity to learn or to improve his behavior. Like, come on, it's not like moderators are paranoidly observing IP addresses of every user to make sure the lifelong bans stay enforced. All he would have to do is to create a new account and change his behavior so that no one would suspect it's the same person. He is either incapable or unwilling to do that. Well, fuck him; we are not here to provide him group therapy.

I mean, feel free to speculate about his true reasons. I am just saying they don't change anything about the ban.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-31T09:11:40.186Z · LW · GW

NancyLebovitz is currently the main moderator, with the right to ban accounts, so you can send her a private message.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-30T20:12:34.444Z · LW · GW

We don't even have a good specification yet. Even if you add a specific number, "casting too many votes" isn't really what we need.

Ironically, I believe the problem could actually be not enough voting by the regular users. That gives a rabid voter such large fraction of the total votes on the website.

For the record, I would support a software solution, but it would be one that would do data analysis in order to find various kinds of voting abuse (retributive downvoting, sockpuppetry, etc.) and would provide reports to moderators. Clicking the "ban" button is the part that only takes a few seconds. Analysing the data to find out if the user really does what they are accused of, that takes a lot of time, because it's currently done ad-hoc, and because the Reddit code and database are unnecessarily complicated.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-30T03:28:33.333Z · LW · GW

I am sorry, this is an announcement post; I will not handle the requests posted here. This was a one-time action for me, and I will soon return to hibernation as a moderator.

The currently active moderator is NancyLebovitz. If you have a strong suspicion that something wrong is going on, please send a private message to her.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [moderator action] The_Lion and The_Lion2 are banned · 2016-01-30T03:06:15.445Z · LW · GW

In theory, yes. However, LW is based on Reddit code, and the code and the database structure are quite difficult. (See some example database scripts here.)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [deleted post] 2016-01-30T02:46:44.990Z

Exactly. Eugine/Azathoth/Ra/Lion was already sufficiently transparently banned in 2014.

He either didn't get the memo, or he pretends to be dumb for the sake of scaremongering, or maybe he actually is delusional. I don't care which one; the outcome is the same.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Communities: A single moderator is often superior to the wisdom of crowds · 2015-05-04T11:51:44.099Z · LW · GW

There are about 30 accounts banned during the whole history of LW.

Most of them are spammers, who created their accounts, posted one or ten spam comments, subsequently had their accounts banned and comments removed. (The comments of the banned users have to be removed separately; banning the user merely disallows them to log in again.)

For curious people, the spam does not seem related to LW context. There were spam accounts promoting:

  • iPhones,
  • wedding rings,
  • silver earrings,
  • silver necklaces,
  • a Korean casino,
  • astrological service,
  • a computer games website,
  • jackets, caps, and handbags,
  • fake passports and driving licenses,
  • a collection of links without description that I didn't click,
  • some generic text ("I like this website, thank you, also look at my website") followed by a link that I didn't click

The number of non-spam users banned is less than one per year.

In addition to banning users, moderators can also remove individual comments. I don't have a good statistics for this. But I suppose that if this ability would be abused, the users would complain in their other comments.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on An Experiment In Social Status: Software Engineer vs. Data Science Manager · 2015-05-04T11:29:08.895Z · LW · GW

Reminds me of a joke:

(at a job interview)
Q: "What is your biggest fault?"
A: "Sincerity."
Q: "Well, I don't think that sincerity is a fault."
A: "Well, I don't give a fuck about what you think."

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Social status hacks from The Improv Wiki · 2015-05-04T11:26:31.638Z · LW · GW

Uhm, countersignalling? "I am so powerful that I do not need this ability."

Specifically: "I am so powerful that I do not need the abilities that make cooperation easier; others obey me anyway."

Comment by Viliam_Bur on What have we learned from meetups? · 2015-04-13T06:50:47.319Z · LW · GW

Depending on the day. But most of the time, yes. As a chatting club, we were rather okay. As a rationalist group... not so much.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-03T11:37:40.487Z · LW · GW

I didn't have any specific article in mind. It is just a topic that I am aware of in my life. For example, I love learning new things, but instead of using them I often just jump to learning another thing. Which seemed like widening my options, until a few years later I realized that I keep forgetting the old things and that I actually never used most of them. Thus learning is an enjoyable hobby for me, but to make it useful, I have to go beyond mere learning.

There is such thing as "learning too much", or more precisely, being so obsessed by learning that you never actually use what you learned. (The problem is not much knowledge per se, but zero application of that knowledge beyond mere signalling.) And this is a mistake that probably many smart people do, and you can get a lof of applause for promoting it as the most noble way of life. On the other hand, as Steve Jobs alegedly said: "Real artists ship."

Of course there is also the opposite mistake of doing some stuff every day for years, and never taking time to learn how to do it better. But among educated people this is considered a low-status mistake, while learning many useless things is a high-status mistake.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T12:24:04.961Z · LW · GW

The eternal conflict between exploration and exploitation. Keeping your options is what keeps the good options within your reach, and prevents you from going too far in the blind alleys. But at the end, if you have walked through the whole shop and didn't buy anything, you leave empty-handed. At some point you gotta have a job (or other source of income) and people are going to pay you for something specific.

I think this is even more complicated when people are not explicitly aware of the skills they really have. They may feel like they don't specialize in anything, when in fact they do. For example I have a friend working in IT whose programming skills are not very impressive: he can do simple things in many systems, but is not very good at math, cannot write complicated algorithms, and is not really nerdy enough to spend evenings obsessing over some technical details. Yet somehow his career was at least as successful as mine. Because what he lacked in programming skills, he compensated by great communication and leadership skills. But he didn't realize this was his real strong point; he identified with being a programmer, because that's what most of his friends were. It took him a few years to fully realize that he is more fit for a role of a manager or consultant in an IT company, and that instead of trying to learn yet another programming language (he somehow believed that his lack of mathematical skills could be fixed by finding the "right" programming language; which is a delusion many bad programmers and IT managers seem to share), he should rather find a position where he gets paid explicitly for doing what he is good at. This more or less doubled his salary, and he is no longer worried about not sufficiently understanding some abstract things his nerdy friends debate about. -- So he actually was a specialist all the time, but in a skill he didn't think about as essential for his job.

Are most people entrepreneurs here or what?

I think entrepreneurs are a minority here, but still a larger fraction that in the general population. Also other types of people need motivation and efficiency while working relatively alone, for example PhD students.

I don't need better time management because I don't have enough tasks to fill out my workday and if I could I wouldn't as it would not result in a raise or promotion as they are generally not visible ones.

Do you have any goals outside of your work where being more productive could help you reach them better? My promotion options are also rather limited (and as far as they exist, this website seems more relevant than LW). But I also have other goals, where productivity helps. I am doing the productivity stuff for myself, not for my boss.

The planning fallacy happens to people who plan aggressively, but why the hell would people want to do that ... I just make a comfortable guess and multiply it by three to six

I most frequently think about planning fallacy when correcting the estimates of my colleagues at work. For example, last week: We had to do 3 critical things, each of them requiring the same resources for at least 1 day. So my colleague immediately sends an e-mail to the customer promising that it will be done in 3 days. Which in reality means 2.5 days, because then we have to travel to the customer, fill the paperwork, install the stuff, and hope that nothing goes wrong. And it assumes there will be no non-trivial bugs in a project that wasn't maintained for a month, doesn't have a proper documentation, and two programers who worked on it, including the previous team leader, have left the company during that month. And my colleague just doesn't care: she sends the promise to the customer, puts my e-mail in the copy, and the problem is "solved". She doesn't even tell me; if I would miss the e-mail, she would only tell me on the third day. So me and a few helpful coworkers voluntarily stayed at work for 12 hours a day, fix a few horrible bugs, completed the stuff in 3.5 days (that included waiting half day until a broken server was fixed), delivered the result to the customer... and the next day I am invited to the CEO where my colleague blames me for failing the customer and for "making her look stupid". (And the only thing that saved my ass was completely unrelated to my skills or work, it was a random office-politics advice from internet that I decided to test experimentally at work a few days ago, and luckily it worked.) -- Uhm, okay, this is not really about planning fallacy, but about a completely fucked up system. But planning fallacy apears here all the time. Pretty much all deadlines we have ever made were unrealistic, and all of them were done like this: "don't think about details, just make a very simplified model, imagine the best-case scenario for that model, and write it down as the official estimate".

I feel like somehow the methods are optimized for a very competitive, confident, driven, accomplishment-oriented approach. Probably it requires that you feel that you get rewarded for things you do. This was always missing for me, in my life experience in what you and what you get is really loosely related.

Heh, my work experience also suggests that what I do and what I get is loosely related, and I think this years-long experience also has contributed to my laziness. (It is hard to get motivated when your uncosciousness insists that what you do it completely unrelated to the outcome, and it is hard to make yourself think otherwise when you have a ton of experimental evidence supporting that.) But I think the life outside of the work doesn't have to be like this. If I decide to make a computer game in my free time, it is up to me. I do have a computer and a development environment, I know programming, I do have a few hours of free time every week... and it is my choice how to use them.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T11:07:35.556Z · LW · GW

Almost the same for me (just replace Python with Android or Unity, and "playing videogames I don't really enjoy" with "reading websites I don't really enjoy").

Comment by Viliam_Bur on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-01T21:20:31.215Z · LW · GW

I don't really expect a huge change, because rationality is all about aiming the arrow better, but it does not change how strong you pull the bow or how many arrows you have in the quiver.

To continue in your metaphor, a small improvement in aiming can in some situations significantly increase the ratio of arrows that hits the target. Of course assuming that precision was the problem, instead of e.g. distance or lack of arrows. Returning from the metaphor, the benefits of (LW-style) rationality probably also depend on what kind of problems you solve, and what kind of irrational things you were doing before.

What would be the kind of situation where one gets a lot of quick gains from rationality? Seems like a situation where people have to make decisions which later have a big impact on the outcome. (Not the kind where the smart decision is merely 10% more effective than the usual decision; unless those 10% allow you to overcome some critical threshold.)

Decisions like choosing a school, a carreer, a life partner, whether to join a cult, or move to a different city, etc. Or possibly creating useful habits that give you a multiplier on what you were already doing, such as using space repetiton or pomodoros, avoiding planning fallacy or other biases, etc. -- Either doing a few good big changes, or developing reliable good habits. (Also, avoiding big bad changes, and getting rid of bad habits.)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-03-31T16:22:12.086Z · LW · GW

it seems to me that most people are willing to settle for a certain status depending on how good the benefits are and the difficulties involved in getting there.

It is also my impression that people who "prefer being low status" are actually just afraid of possible punishment for claiming too much status.

Suggested experiment: Select a group of people who "prefer being low status" and let them interact with each other for a long period of time. Prediction: Some members of the group will gradually become more comfortable with acting high-status within the group.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on What have we learned from meetups? · 2015-03-31T16:09:38.781Z · LW · GW

What do you suppose are the dominant positive outcomes of your meetups?

Meeting interesting people.

Unfortunately, at the meetups I've organized we didn't get further.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Effective Sustainability - results from a meetup discussion · 2015-03-31T16:01:15.589Z · LW · GW

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment


Comment by Viliam_Bur on [meta] New LW moderator: Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-31T08:02:09.708Z · LW · GW

Or perhaps to make it easy to read: "1 point" with "+2 -1" in the tooltip.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on [meta] New LW moderator: Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-30T09:36:59.215Z · LW · GW

At the moment I am reading this, there seem to be no votes (no upvotes, no downvotes) on two of those three comments:

At least this is how I interpret "0 points, 0% positive". If someone would downvote it, it would not be 0% positive.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Political topics attract participants inclined to use the norms of mainstream political debate, risking a tipping point to lower quality discussion · 2015-03-30T09:27:33.757Z · LW · GW

Not anymore, but yeah, this is where my frustration is coming from. Also, for every obvious example of voting manipulation, there are more examples of "something seems fishy, but there is no clear definition of 'voting manipulation' and if I go down this slippery slope, I might end up punishing people for genuine votes that I just don't agree with, so I am letting it go". But most of these voting games seem to come from one faction of LW users, which according to the surveys is just a tiny minority.

(When the "progressives" try to push their political agenda on LW -- and I don't remember them doing this recently -- at least they do it by writing accusatory articles, and by complaining about LW and rationality on other websites, not by playing voting games. So their disruptions do not require moderator oversight.)

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Political topics attract participants inclined to use the norms of mainstream political debate, risking a tipping point to lower quality discussion · 2015-03-30T07:39:22.152Z · LW · GW

In recent months there were a few comments with flame-war potential which were quickly "downvoted into oblivion", but the next day their karma was above zero.

Either it means we have a group of people who prevent their "side" from being downvoted below zero (although they don't bother to upvote it highly when it already is above zero), or we have a group of people who believe in something like "no comment should be downvoted just because it has a flame-war potential" who prevent downvoting below zero in principle regardless of the side. I don't know which one of these options it is, since all comments where I have seen this happen were from one "side" (maybe even from one user, I am not sure).

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Political topics attract participants inclined to use the norms of mainstream political debate, risking a tipping point to lower quality discussion · 2015-03-30T07:34:40.432Z · LW · GW

SSC is one-person dictatorship with a benevolent dictator. It would be much worse there if people could play voting games in comments: upvoting everyone on their "side" and downvoting everyone on the opposing "side".

Also, on SSC people are banned more often than on LW, although most of the bans are temporary.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Political topics attract participants inclined to use the norms of mainstream political debate, risking a tipping point to lower quality discussion · 2015-03-27T12:30:07.533Z · LW · GW

An alternative without programming changes would be biweekly "incisive open threads", similar to Ozy's race-and-gender open threads

Feel free to start a "political thread". Worst case: the thread gets downvoted.

However, there were already such threads in the past. Maybe you should google them, look at the debate and see what happened back then -- because it is likely to happen again.

and downvoting customarily tabood in them.

Not downvoting brings also has its own problems: genuinely stupid arguments remain visible (or can even get upvotes from their faction), people can try winning the debate by flooding the opponent with many replies.

Another danger is that political debates will attract users like Eugine Nier / Azathoth123.

Okay, I do not know how to write it diplomatically, so I will be very blunt here to make it obvious what I mean: The current largest threat to the political debate on LW is a group called "neoreactionaries". They are something like "reinventing Nazis for clever contrarians"; kind of a cult around Michael Anissimov who formerly worked at MIRI. (You can recognize them by quoting Moldbug and writing slogans like "Cthulhu always swims left".) They do not give a fuck about politics being the mindkiller, but they like posting on LessWrong, because they like the company of clever people here, and they were recruited here, so they probably expect to recruit more people here. Also, LessWrong is pretty much the only debate forum on the whole internet that will not delete them immediately. If you start a political debate, you will find them all there; and they will not be there to learn anything, but to write about how "Cthulhu always swims left", and trying to recruit some LW readers. -- Eugine Nier was one of them, and he was systematically downvoting all comments, including completely innocent comments outside of any political debate, of people who dared to disagree with him once somewhere. Which means that if a new user happened to disagree with him once, they usually soon found themselves with negative karma, and left LessWrong. No one knows how many potential users we may have lost this way.

I am afraid that if you start a political thread, you will get many comments about how "Cthulhu always swims left", and anyone who reacts negatively will be accused of being a "progressive" (which in their language means: not a neoreactionary). If you will ask for further explanation, you will either receive none, or a link to some long and obscurely written article by Moldbug. If you downvote them, they will create sockpuppets and upvote their comments back; if you disagree with them in debate, expect your total karma to magically drop by 100 points overnight.

Therefore I would prefer simply not doing this. But if you have to do it, give it a try and see for yourself. But please read the older political threads first.

Comment by Viliam_Bur on Political topics attract participants inclined to use the norms of mainstream political debate, risking a tipping point to lower quality discussion · 2015-03-27T10:22:27.347Z · LW · GW

I like your example and "learning environment" vs "testing environment".

However, I am afraid that LW is attractive also for people who instead of improving their rationality want to do other things; such as e.g. winning yet another website for their political faction. Some people use the word "rationality" simply as a slogan to mean "my tribe is better than your tribe".

There were a few situations when people wrote (on their blogs) something like: "first I liked LW because they are so rational, but then I was disappointed to find out they don't fully support my political faction, which proves they are actually evil". (I am exaggerating to make a point here.) And that's the better case. The worse case is people participating on LW debates and abusing the voting system to downvote comments not beause those comments are bad from the espistemic rationality point of view, but because they were written by people who disagree (or are merely suspect to disagree) with their political tribe.