Comment by wadavis on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2016 · 2016-02-09T21:05:16.552Z · LW · GW

I think being personally responsible for a googleplex^googleplex dust specks arriving in a googleplex^googleplex eyes is a worse thing than that that can happen to a person.

Comment by wadavis on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-28T14:38:37.788Z · LW · GW

This little arc starts here and has a few gems.

Comment by wadavis on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-07-28T14:35:36.012Z · LW · GW

Dr. Bunnigus: Are there 'bots (nano-machines creating new neural pathways) in my brain?

Petey: Nope. I don't need them. Your brain is working correctly. All I need to do is explain things to you, and you'll be able to make the right choice.

-Exchange between Dr. Bunnigus and the Benevolent Overlord AI (Petey) that turned the galactic core into a power generator. Schlock Mercenary 2015-07-25 by Howard Taylor

Comment by wadavis on Open Thread, Jun. 1 - Jun. 7, 2015 · 2015-06-05T13:20:05.717Z · LW · GW

This Video Will Make You Angry by CGP Grey discusses the meme-ic virility of controversial arguments.

A few different sources have also discussed the idea that we are out of the Age of Information, and into the Age of Attention, and that attention is the currency of the day.

Now, has anyone found these ideas combined in a short online text or video to present the idea that: If you find an idea to be ideologically offensive, the best way to fight it is to not engage it in argument but to starve it of attention and let the cat photo and inspirational quote weeds of social media grow over what ever fertile soil it may have found.

Comment by wadavis on June 2015 Media Thread · 2015-06-05T13:11:37.046Z · LW · GW

This Video Will Make You Angry by CGP Grey is a great discussion on the meme-ic virility of controversial arguments.

Comment by wadavis on Open Thread, May 18 - May 24, 2015 · 2015-05-19T14:11:40.000Z · LW · GW

The typical theme is reference material on one screen, and working material on the other screen. The equivalent of having all your reference material open on your desk so you are not flipping back an forth through notes.

Edit: Read The Intelligent Use of Space by David Kirsh as recommended by this LessWrong post.

Comment by wadavis on Open Thread, May 11 - May 17, 2015 · 2015-05-14T22:02:38.778Z · LW · GW

It is because you forgot to pack TP. Bring TP and things will be ok.

Comment by wadavis on Rationality Quotes Thread May 2015 · 2015-05-12T15:57:50.255Z · LW · GW

Of course, refusing to examine oneself is the shortest distance to becoming an a**hole.

YorkNecromancer @ belloflostsouls

Comment by wadavis on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-08T15:09:20.972Z · LW · GW

Upvote for references, links, and avoiding weak anecdotal evidence.

Comment by wadavis on May 2015 Media Thread · 2015-05-07T19:13:41.842Z · LW · GW

And they never claim to be doing science (other than that "For Science" tag, but who would take that seriously on an entertainment website?). They are introducing the idea that our minds have flaws and are full of bias to their audience through highly relatable example material.

I don't know if the Kadala bug is real, and I don't care, that is a tree in the forest. And the article is about the forest. (If the Kadala bug is real, that is just poor fact checking. The lesson on Confirmation Bias still stands.)

Comment by wadavis on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-07T18:57:06.311Z · LW · GW

A few comments from my experience, these may not be applicable to all circumstances.

I found material to have a digestion time, to much material too fast and I would stop learning. If understanding A depends on understanding B, which depends on C, It was easier to learn C, and sleep on it, then learn and sleep on B, then A. As opposed to taking ABC all in one bite. In addition to the short term, I experienced this in the long term; I would frequently look back at courses from the previous years and wonder how I ever found them challenging. When I had Calculus 1 and 2 back to back I struggled hard, When I had a year break, then Calculus 3, another year break, then Calculus 4, I felt I had a better grasp of the material.

Also, as you approach higher levels of education and specialize, your classes overlap material more and more. In high school I took grade twelve physics then grade 12 calculus. I was very upset to discover after the fact the derivative relations between locations, velocity, and acceleration, and that the equations were simple to derive once the missing calculus piece of the puzzle was provided. Once I got to the end of my undergrad, every class I was taking was looking at the same problem from different perspectives, so any one taken by themselves would be without supporting knowledge to lean on.

And lastly, Topic burn out would kill me. This has to do with mental digestion time, but some times it was nice to skip a class or two, not think about the topic for a week, and then jump back in with renewed energy.

But of course also am full of bias, because learning is complex and I'm just latching on to the few patterns I've recognized.

Comment by wadavis on May 2015 Media Thread · 2015-05-06T18:04:20.086Z · LW · GW

14 Ways Cognitive Biases Hamper Your Diablo Toon

It is actually titled "How Your Mind Screws with You in Games Like Diablo". Not novel material, but novel to see on a gaming website.

Comment by wadavis on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-20T14:28:50.528Z · LW · GW

Plan A: Change your environment; spend three hours a day preparing a proposal for management/ownership to work as a contractor paid by entry opposed to an employee paid by the hour. Find the relevant tax and overhead savings to make this a mutually beneficial arrangement. Find out who in management/ownership can approve your proposal and who it just creates headaches for, buy beer for both.

I understand that goes against the spirit of your question, that your work environment may be to rigid, management that could approve the proposal are out of reach of the data entry staff, or one of many other arguments, but 60 hours a month is a large amount of time, it is shocking what could be done.

Plan B: Now on to things I've actually done in that situation; spend 60 hours preparing a bulletproof argument/presentation for a raise, spend 60 hours learning how to create better resumes, spend 60 hours learning how to job hunt without a resume (handshakes and recommendations), spend 60 hours job hunting, and last on the list spend the time on entertainment so that you are mentally recharged to make the most of your personal time.

Comment by wadavis on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-10T18:41:10.892Z · LW · GW

“That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”

I couldn't find the sequence that covers it directly, but going through my old journals, this one came up repeatedly while facing hard decisions.

Comment by wadavis on On immortality · 2015-04-09T23:23:49.409Z · LW · GW

As an aside, arguments that use infinite time come up enough that I'm trying to find a brief graphic or write up that teaches ∞/(2*∞)=1/2 and the ∞/(∞^2)=0. Any pointers?

Comment by wadavis on On immortality · 2015-04-09T23:15:55.345Z · LW · GW

I don't know what infinity over infinity is, but I suspect that it will be undefined.

This. This matters.

Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.

This is more that metaphor. A exponentially larger infinity divided by a small infinity will be infinity. A exponentially small infinity divided by a large infinity will be zero. A division of proportional infinities will be a real number.

So if the chances of a Boltzamann Brain becomes increasingly less likely as enthropy increases. and enthropy increases as time approaches infinity, you have a division of infinities which can equal infinity, a real number, or zero. You won't know which without actually crunching the numbers.

Comment by wadavis on Request for help: Android app to shut down a smartphone late at night · 2015-04-02T22:50:42.434Z · LW · GW

Thank you kind stranger for showing me something new. I'm glad to have learnt that.

But to paint the full picture, I used that location password to find my lost phone very rarely. It was mostly used during festivals, conventions, and travelling so that my friends and co-travelers could easily find me. People are uncomfortable adopting it, but it is a real easy fix to the 'I'm here, where are you?' coordination problem.

Comment by wadavis on Request for help: Android app to shut down a smartphone late at night · 2015-04-02T19:33:02.117Z · LW · GW

Made the phone report it's location if you texted it the password. Security updates added hoops to jump through, and FindMyDroid came out for free with all the functionality.

Made the phone autoplay music when headphones were plugged in. I stopped needing these when I got a new car with a bluetooth stereo and stopped using the aux plug in.

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-20T05:40:58.496Z · LW · GW

Yes, as much I could tolerate it.

But yes, we have a fundamental difference of perspectives here.

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-17T18:18:37.830Z · LW · GW

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him.”

Miyamoto Musashi wrote, in The Book of Five Rings:

Musashi spoke of swordsmanship here, but this applies to any endeavor that aspires to excel. Like an electric train's regenerative brakes charge its batteries, and the exhaust gas of a firearm chambers the next round and cocks the hammer, I expect even my down-time and indulgences to provide future prosperity.

Time is what life is made of, why squander it on something so temporary as a week's bliss. Are you so content that you will delay improving your future for a week?

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-11T16:53:22.308Z · LW · GW

No. What does a week of bliss give you? Nothing but a fond memory. (I'm assuming you don't gain the mental regroup and recovery affect associated with vacations)

A week of bliss builds nothing, and a wirehead bliss does not improve yourself. You have learnt nothing from that week. As far as future prosperity goes it is the same as a week of work drudgery in which no growth happens.

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-11T16:39:46.345Z · LW · GW

Many philosophies of life fall apart on the cosmic macro scale. Lets not move the goalpost into post-transhumanism, it is clear that is not what ZankerH is talking about.

Comment by wadavis on Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015 · 2015-02-03T17:21:56.992Z · LW · GW

I like how this touches on respecting the agency of others. The idea that: I do not like how you operate, but I will respect that you are a thinking person, and for that reason alone, deserving of respect.

Comment by wadavis on Group Rationality Diary, January 16-31 · 2015-02-03T16:19:43.394Z · LW · GW

This greatly reduced the cognitive dissonance. Thanks.

Comment by wadavis on Group Rationality Diary, January 16-31 · 2015-01-28T14:20:37.717Z · LW · GW

No legal grounds, it is very much the equivalent of quitting within the first 90 days (I think, I'll look it up if it matters).

There is the ethical consideration, but that is the one of the hard truths of life; employment is not secure until you've already been working for 90 days. And then, only slightly more so.

So, in short: it would be bad sense for them to stop searching for a candidate, as a back up should I cancel and as potential future hires. And they would be naive to think I've stopped my job hunt, not all lines of inquiry resolve at the same rate. It is easy for them to predict that I may receive competing offers.

p.s.: I'm not a defaulting moloch leech, I swear. The early acceptance was to allow me to give very early notice in my current position and to facilitate a smooth exit that leaves everyone happy.

Comment by wadavis on Group Rationality Diary, January 16-31 · 2015-01-23T19:47:19.030Z · LW · GW

I'm on a job hunt and I've put the word out through several avenues. One of my early applications came back with an offer that passed my satisficing limits. I accepted it to tie it down and to allow me to give early notice.

Now some of my other lines of inquiry are turning up promising, competitive offers. And my brain refuses to take them seriously, it is committed to the first offer and will not take an unbiased assessment of anything else on the table.

This is a problem. I'm going to re-read Hold Off On Proposing Solutions and Seeing with Fresh Eyes to look for solutions. Any recommendations? any recommendations from other sources?

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-21T22:52:04.114Z · LW · GW

Thank for putting up this branch Evan, I don't have children. I think my raising helped my rationality, but the lens of time is known to distort, so take it with a grain of salt.

Most of my rationality influence was a lead by example case. Accountability and agency were encouraged too, they may have made fertile soil for rational thought.

Ethics conversations were had and taken seriously (paraphrase: 'Why does everyone like you?' 'Cause I always cooperate' 'Don't people defect against you?' 'Yes, but defectors are rare and I more than cover my losses when dealing with other cooperators').

Thinking outside the box was encouraged (paraphrase: 'interfering the receiver is a 10 yard penalty, I can't do that.' 'What's worse, 10 yards or a touchdown?' 'But it is against the rules.' 'Why do you think the rule is for only 10 yards, and not kicked from the game? Do you think the rule, and penalty, are part of the game mechanics?').

Goal based action was encouraged, acting on impulse was treated as being stupid (paraphrase: 'Why did you get in a fight' 'I was being bullied' 'Did fighting stop the bullying?' 'No' 'Ok, what are you going to try next?').

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-21T17:13:01.934Z · LW · GW

And what is your take on the A-Teamist Face-Planner team structure? Do you see it as similar to the Hero-Sidekick structure as described by Swimmer963? How about the 007-Q relationship?

There are too many fictional examples in this discussion, any non-anecdotal real life case studies?

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-21T16:48:04.532Z · LW · GW

Upvoting is not sufficient given the very difference perspectives in the comments here.

I read the above article and nodded along the way thinking 'this is insightful and adds a great context to discuss and think about many industrious relationships' never once did gender cross my mind. I was floored to see it a major item in the comments.

I am male. I have high testosterone. I love competing and winning. I am ambitious and driven. I like to make a lot of money. I make a lot of money. I prefer the sidekick role.

Ditto. I've never identified as subservient, but my entire career I've found leaders to work for whose skill set I could compliment. I saw this as an issue of too many cooks ruin the stew and too many chiefs, not enough indians.

To sum this up, I think the Sidekick role is a matter of effective team building and is as far from gender as anything else in the world.

Any links to discussions on this item elsewhere? As some rationalist said, two rationalists with the same info can't help but agree.

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-21T16:13:18.659Z · LW · GW

Dagny Taggart and Eddie Willers.

Comment by wadavis on Learn Three Things Every Day · 2015-01-19T15:57:09.494Z · LW · GW


  • The steel piping specification API 5L only includes temperature ratings down to 0 degrees celsius.

  • The rent of an acceptable apartment near downtown Edmonton is $975 per month.

  • The National Building Code has a clause to derate the minimum design loads for areas converted into dining areas, but does not allow for the same derating on new construction.

Comment by wadavis on Learn Three Things Every Day · 2015-01-19T15:53:02.145Z · LW · GW


Comment by wadavis on 2015 Repository Reruns - Boring Advice Repository · 2015-01-15T16:36:22.736Z · LW · GW

Oh god, the scrolling, the cumative man-hours I've wasted. How did I never see this before.

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-12T05:45:06.547Z · LW · GW

The Aes Sedai society is a limited example, I had trouble remembering the names of any other bonded pairs where both characters were developed and the warden fit the willing, mentally healthy, sidekick role. The wardens were a case study in the reverse Bechdel test.

In that entire story, Lan was an exception that he embraced his sidekickness.

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T00:21:26.350Z · LW · GW

Marie Curie and Pierre Curie

Comment by wadavis on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T23:49:06.533Z · LW · GW

Moiraine Damodred and Al'Lan Mandragoran

Tiffany Aching and Rob Anybody

Comment by wadavis on 2015 Repository Reruns - Boring Advice Repository · 2015-01-09T18:51:24.978Z · LW · GW

Please, have this positive reinforcement. It was given to me when I needed it but I don't need it anymore so I'll pass it on.

This has happened to many of us. We've been in these ruts, I've paid for fuel with nickels and dimes because I used all my quarters on food. Shit happens, problems pile up, but if you can stabilize, that means you can crawl out of the pit. We get overloaded, we can't fix everything at once, it feels like all the problems are too interconnected to fix.

But you are capable and have worth, so treat where you are as the temporary situation it is and start dealing with it as such. Pick a problem and address it, the first one takes time but if you have food and shelter you have time. Once that is done pick the next problem, fix it, this one will go faster. Rinse and repeat. And four years later (YMMV) your will be counting your assets for a new credit card and have the pleasant shock that they are a gross positive.

TL:DR Some people make this a way of life, some people treat it as a temporary place to be.

Comment by wadavis on Bragging Thread January 2015 · 2015-01-09T18:20:21.439Z · LW · GW

Please feel free to elaborate on your thesis. Control systems engineering sounds a lot like shaping an environment to achieve goals through a rational process. Something we are interested in.

Comment by wadavis on Exams and Overfitting · 2015-01-09T18:16:03.443Z · LW · GW

Are we comfortable saying that this a conflict between ethical altruism and ethical egoism?

I acknowledge the arguments are sound from the altruist perspective. If I argue them, my arguments will not be altruistic. Lets retable this discussion for elsewhere as 'a convince me altruism is better' discussion, without limiting the discussion to post secondary testing. There is a popular perspective that if you are rational, you will agree the altruism is the answer. I'm not convinced of that yet.

If altruism/egoism is too narrow, we can use wants-to-kill-Moloch versus Moloch-can't-be-killed-so-make-your-sacrifice.

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-09T17:32:16.204Z · LW · GW

Cleaning staff collects, washes and returns to storage all mugs daily. Hiding my mug in a drawer is a not-proportional response, the pleasing mug is to ease mental burdens not add to them.

As of this reply, I've spent more energy discussing the absentee mug than dealing with the absentee mug. I believe I'll take a catalog of this discussion to make an absentee mug protection decision tree to aid future less wrongers. Stay posted for results.

P.S. For the record: the mug has been released to the wild, may it bring joy to others, and if it really did love me it will come back. I've filled the gap by putting up an aesthetically pleasing calendar, I forecast that it will be less mobile.

Comment by wadavis on Stupid Questions January 2015 · 2015-01-07T22:42:43.061Z · LW · GW

This is the YouTube series - Crash Course World History. In ten minute videos it brings you from the start of agriculture to the modern day covering topics at an elementary level. These videos are produced by the prolific vlogbrothers Hank and John Green, whose material fits under the rationalist and altruistic categories.

But your examples are very technology oriented. So perhaps look at Wheels, Clocks, and Rockets: A History of Technology or Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Even better: History 115: Technology and History syllabus, go to page three for additional reading.

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-07T21:23:38.684Z · LW · GW

The mug. Turns out the simple minimalist style is popular with our technical staff.

Comment by wadavis on Exams and Overfitting · 2015-01-07T20:44:50.680Z · LW · GW

Very true and valid points, especially regarding being hooked up, I overemphasised the work involved. There is no doubt some rationalizing for convenience on top of the very real is/ought mentality (that I was caught in until I had to write a coherent reply).

The below is on how students should exam instead of how professors should exam, which are tangent on your points. But I wrote it, so i'm going to post it.

Don't forget the very students that are 'hooked up' with fraternity exam libraries and StudyBlue (that I'm not familiar with) become the productive employees that are 'networked' with their professional organizations and peers.

Those students are handicapping themselves based on their perceived ethical right thing. This is a similar argument to the 'we shouldn't be shallow so I'm not going to play the appearances game'. You are not winning by taking an ethical high ground, you are forfeiting for the sake of your ego.

Maybe there is something to exam writing in a way that captures that there is more to a successful university graduate than course mastery, but any attempt to defend it from the exam writers end looks very is/ought.

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-07T19:44:40.301Z · LW · GW

This is relatively upvoted. Is there a mug related meme I'm missing here?

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-07T19:42:36.306Z · LW · GW

True, but you pick your battles. Or the underlying problem is I find it uncomfortable to tell someone that 'that is my coffee mug'.

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-06T23:29:18.122Z · LW · GW

For the record, the coffee mug backfired in the office environment. Got my own aesthetically pleasing coffee mug that made me happier at work. Then proceeded to spend social capital getting my mub back from coworkers, then proceeded to worry about wasting social capital on something as insignificant as a mug, then proceeded to waste time doing a cost benefit analysis on having an aesthetically pleasing mug.

Comment by wadavis on Low Hanging fruit for buying a better life · 2015-01-06T23:19:47.661Z · LW · GW

Ditto on shoes. Are they walked out, but still usable? Do you think they have another year or another season in them? Nope, go get new shoes.

Comment by wadavis on Exams and Overfitting · 2015-01-06T23:17:34.888Z · LW · GW

Ha, I also had professors take the meta on this and reply that: if you have the will to collect, sort, manage, archive and circulate the past course material, you will do just fine in the real world and do our school proud (just as project managers, not technical staff). Good old rationality is winning philosophy.

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Dec. 22 - Dec. 28, 2014 · 2014-12-28T22:36:15.214Z · LW · GW

This may lead to its own problems

Comment by wadavis on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-19T18:40:18.767Z · LW · GW

Do we have a catalog of Not Less Wrong rationality guides?

I know we have the list of rationality blogs, but I'm asking about a collection of material that educates at an entry level of formalized rationality but sits at lower inferential distances that the sequences.