Comment by william_quixote on Base your self-esteem on your rationality · 2015-07-23T15:41:35.798Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People should base self eating on accomplishment not rationality. It is very easy to be wrong about internal mental states, it's much harder to be wrong about real world observables.

Comment by william_quixote on Is this evidence for the Simulation hypothesis? · 2015-07-02T16:22:47.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If the universe was non differentiable and non continuous I would consider that to be evidence for simulation. And in fact I've heard that argument. Everything is discreet like it's all bits at the bottom is evedence its run on bits and so a simulation. But continuity and discreetness can't both be evedence for the same thing.

Comment by william_quixote on Rationality Quotes Thread May 2015 · 2015-05-13T13:57:42.377Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I will note that you can't improve the past and have limited ability to improve other countries. So criticism of those won't lead to anything useful. Critical views of where you are right now can lead to effective action. So I don't know if the pattern being criticized is a bad pattern

Comment by william_quixote on Guidelines for Upvoting and Downvoting? · 2015-05-06T15:22:29.226Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I down vote posts I think are bad for the sites reputation / public image. I think people who like controversy or trolling privately benefit from such posts and externalize reputation all harms onto the site overall. I also think people in general benefit from a forum with good members and don't factor in long term reputational effects. I use karma to help people internalize these better.

Comment by william_quixote on On desiring subjective states (post 3 of 3) · 2015-05-05T14:30:54.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this post a lot. It's very clear and seems to be pointing to something. So did the first post. By contrast the second post felt more handwavey to me. That's some indication that you may be missing a step in your chain of reasoning. You may want to mentally walk through the second post "showing your work" in more detail as a double check in case you missed something.

Comment by william_quixote on A pair of free information security tools I wrote · 2015-04-12T02:47:00.021Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

These sound like great tools. Thanks for making them available.

On a meta level I don't mind if members of the community promote their own work here if it's something that other community members will find useful. I'll also note that these seem lik tricky enouph things that they could also have been mentioned in the bragging thread when you finished them.

Comment by william_quixote on Hedonium's semantic problem · 2015-04-09T20:01:57.115Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think this post jumps the gun. We don't have a really meaningful concept of happened outside of experience or consciousness. At present I think we have very little clue about how those work, how they arise, and what they even precisely are. The later question of happiness doesn't really make sense until we have the first one.

Comment by william_quixote on SETI-related: fast radio bursts · 2015-04-06T14:10:50.003Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It may just be a coincidence, but I notice this was published at the end of March. Historically there have been a lot of spurious results published on or immediately before April first.

Comment by william_quixote on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-03-31T19:18:29.392Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Some paleo diets and blogs claim that people should avoid plants from the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants etc). Some inflammation and auto immune blogs claim the same thing. Does anyone know if these claims have a scientific basis and, if so, what mechanism is purportedly driving the effect?

I figure there has been enough interest on paleo here, that before I invest hours into digging through Google scholar it makes more sense to ask if anyone already knows the answer. Thanks in advance

Comment by william_quixote on Summary and Lessons from "On Combat" · 2015-03-23T16:48:41.181Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a good post and I upvoted it. That said, I do want to present an alternative view. Rather than aiming to boost life expectancy by increasing your odds of survival given a life threatening situation, aim to reduce your odds of being in a dangerous situation in the first place. In the amount of time it would take you to arrange one round of paintball you could probably check detailed crimes stats for several neighborhoods including things like time of day.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 121 · 2015-03-13T23:22:15.812Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think Snape has a big part in HPMOR. At least he consumes a lot of narrative space. He essentially drives the whole hermione and the hero club arc, since if he didn't help them it would have been over fast. He does a lot to help Harry mature.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120 · 2015-03-13T11:17:29.841Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's Harrys MO. By this point it's almost a running gag (or it would be if it were less sad). In the first bunch of chapters Harrys lectures are really funny for just how out of place they are if you actualy imagine them coming from an 11 year old. In fact they are out of place if you imagine them coming from any real person at all, rather than from a character in a book. In the early chapters this is played for laughs and then even called out when Hermione notices that people in books speak like books.

Here though the exact same behavior goes from funny to sad. Stakes are too high.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120 · 2015-03-12T20:09:06.255Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

This is a different, McG mentions the existince of a reversible memory charm to seal away but not lose memories to Hermione after she gets back from her trial. Which I now realize was foreshadowing this.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120 · 2015-03-12T19:41:30.416Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

The question Harry asks Draco and Draco's final non answer seem like a reference to the book The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal.

Simon was in a concentration camp and called to the bed of a dying SS officer who asked for forgiveness. He felt pulled to both forgiveness and to the justness of telling the nazi that what he had done was unforgivable. In the end he said nothing.

The book has Weisenthal discussing the dilemma and then 53 other people of note commenting on what they would have done ranging from the Dali Lama to Desmond Tutu.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T17:01:36.873Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As further evidence that the vow blocks killing all the people consider this.

The vow blocks Harry from telling muggels about magic and starting mass healing. At the time it blocks him the ideas he thought of were transfiguring nuclear weapons and plagues that could replicate before the transfiguration wore off. Neither of those poses any danger to "the world" but they pose great danger to the worlds people. Harry doesn't think of up quarks until after he has already been blocked. So the vow seems to be interpreted as killing everyone being the end of the world. Which is quite possibly how Harry understood it.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T15:54:58.561Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

She knows it killed all the death eaters and that it doesn't even register as magic on their wards. That's somethjng she couldn't do. And it's thh kind of dangerous weapon she might think should be a secret to everyone.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T15:41:53.146Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Based on that timing the stone was Gilgamesh's pearl

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-10T23:57:32.965Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think there is evidence that "magic" has natural language processing and is capable of taking context and intent into account. I don't know that Harry wouldn't be unable to interpret distorting the world as killing everyone. Particularly dice the person he gave the vow to was particularly concerned about and motivated by the death of people (or at least of one specific person).

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T16:53:03.784Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unlike Harry, the death eaters have lots of wandless options. Not just one.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T20:00:02.331Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I begin to wonder if we (the community) really found the best plan or if we are reading a sadder ending. Maybe there was a plan that saved everyone.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-04T20:42:48.054Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. I meant Albus Dumbledore. For some reason my brain saw DumbleDore and abbreviated that as DD. Probably symmetry with QQ.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-04T20:33:31.504Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's a nice story. But it won't work.

Harry wants folks to think LV killed the death eaters and not him. But he has trained Draco too well. Given priors on someone defeating Voldemort you would assume it's Harry, DD, or QQ in that order. Draco knows Harry and QQ were up to something because he and several other kids bumped into them and had a scuffle at the third floor corridor. If that wasn't entirly obliviated away, Draco will figure out that Harry was involved.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T14:08:45.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're right about the last sentence. Perils of typing on a cell phone. I've edited it to make sense.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T12:57:28.607Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think there may be some hindsight bias here. We know that Harry has partial transfiguration and we know that it turns out poorly for LV. LV himself did not know these things. To the best of his knowledge (which he has good reason to believe is considerable and maybe exhaustive) there is no magic Harry can cast wordlessly with his wand down.

For LV to enact the additional precautions above, magic would be needed. He can't use magic on Harry, so taking them means reducing the size of the death eater guard by 1 or more during the time needed to take those precautions. If you don't know that Harry can do previously unknown to the world wandless magic, than that might actualy not seem like a good trade off.

Additionally, regardless of if trading 1 guard for additional precautions is actualy a good security trade, it is totaly in character that the kind of mind that created horcrux number 107 after allready having over a hundred redundant horcruxes would think the additional redundancy of guard 36 over guard 35 to be valuable.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T18:34:20.078Z · score: 29 (29 votes) · LW · GW

Other note. Dumbeldore defeated Voldemort. He placed Minerva to intercept any discoveries of Harry and he made Harry swear not to tell anyone about it. This left Voldemort underprepaired against the weapon that got him in the end. Dumbeldore had a million plots going, and this one worked. Sometiems one is all you need.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T18:31:19.558Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think Harry went with a slightly more risky PT solution than the one I suggested, but it's satisfying and considerably more in character than the PT => time turner escape solution path.

I suppose if I thought more narratively I would have discarded every solution that didn't involve killing his enemies.

Comment by william_quixote on [POLL] LessWrong group on YourMorals.org (2015) · 2015-03-03T03:58:24.081Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you check the survey results you will find that the large pluralality of less wrong types range from socialist / progressive / center left rather than libertarian.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-02T21:22:25.620Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Posted-

This is a two step solution. The first part succeeds or fails deterministically. If the first part fails the fallback comes into play and that succeeds or fails probabilistically, so you may need to generate a pseudo random number to evaluate this proposal.

Part 1: this part uses partial transfiguration and his newly practiced skills from the 6th year textbook.

Harry must transfigure something touching his wand, so the object transfigured is a small patch of skin touching his wand. He will probably lose that bit of skin when the transfiguration wears off, but this should be acceptable and non fatal.

The object he transfigures the skin into is as follows: A minimally thin thread (maybe a carbon nanotube) going down to the ground, the the thread continues along the ground to the time turner. It then goes through the space in the hinge / snap of the shell into the interior of the shell (the thread may have to get very thin to accomplish this, but the case is described as snapping into place in chapter 18, so it is not truely seamless). Once inside the time turner shell the thread splits into two strands one wraps around the inside of the shell, thickens to be sturdy and attaches itself to the inside by transfiguring sticky bits. The other wraps around the time turner itself thickens up and then attaches itself by transfiguring some sticky bits. Lastly various rods or threads extend to push / pull the inner ring vs the outer ring. Since we know that you can transfigure against tensions this will allow Harry to rotate the time turner inside its shell without the outside of the shell moving (we know from Azkaban that this works). Once the time turned has been turned, Harry will jump back in time by one hour since the time turner is being held by Harry's hand and turned by his hand (the thread is a part of Harry's finger that's been transfigured). Once Harry is alone in the graveyard an hour in the past he has escaped the immediate danger and has time to plan.

Advantages of this plan are that it involves no visible motion of any kind. Partial transfiguration is wordless, and his hand is already touching his wand. The thread is too small / thin to see, and the macro part of the transfiguration happens inside the time turner's shell where it is not visible. The evidence in the book this far is that transfiguration time is gated by the volume of the target, this is a low volume transfiguration so it should be quick. The other advantage of this plan is that it's non interactive. It doesn't involve talking with anyone, penetrating shields or otherwise rely on interactions working out a particular way.

Fallback plan - part 2: if for some reason the above doesn't work (and it should work, but it's always good to have a plan B) Harry should decide that now is the time to free the prisoners of Azkaban, and in his innermost emotional core reach out to the Phoenixs of the world asking them to teleport him to Azkaban.

Harry turned down his choice so he will never be master of a Phoenix like Dumbledore was, but a Phoenix might still help him. Faux helped Hermione when she wanted to be a hero even though he wasn't eligible to give someone a choice at the time. So we have evidence that a Phoenix is capable of helping someone outside of that context. We also know that a Phoenix can remotely detect the intent to help a problem or even the strong consideration of helping. So a Phoenix would be capable of detecting Harry's choice to free the prisoners, and it would be capable of teleporting him there, and it might want to.

So then the question is, will a Phoenix want to help, so far we've seen 2 and both birds seemed interested in the Azkaban problem, but it's probably a biased sample.

Let N be the number of in universe Phoenixs. The author knows or can estimate this number as the creator of te universe, I've got no clue. Let P be the probability that a given Phoenix would decide to help Harry save the prisoners by teleporting him to Azkaban. Again the writer knows this number better than me, but I think the textual evidence suggest it's non zero. Then the chance of success is (1-(1-P)^n) since it's an or relationship, fail is the AND condition of each and every Phoenix individually choosing not to help. If the author has not previously determined value functions for each and every Phoenix then the best way to evaluate if this plan succeeds is to use God knowledge to estimate P and N and then generate a random number.

I note that although the long term life expectancy of someone teleported to the heart of Azkaban may not be great, it would technically meet the exam passing condition of evading immediate death. That said, step 2 is mostly a last ditch effort that relies on some luck, if it were my life, I would be relying on part 1 to save me.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T22:23:22.043Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that to save the story you need to post at fan fiction as a review, not just here

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T17:07:05.070Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with you about the writing but I have a nearly opposite prediction.

I notice that in all the Harry talking to himself or reflecting quietly chapters he allways thinks something along the lines of "there seems to be almost no limit in what you could accomplish with magic if you really understood it". Several times his mind circles around the becomus godus spell and considers some avenue and decides it wouldn't work for some reason or another. In each case after thinking that his mind goes off on some other tangent.

So my prediction is that Harry has his situation get worse and worse until he can do nothing but think about how to et out of it. And while thinking and being forced not to divert his mind to other matters he will review clues that were allready available to us (had we been paying closer attention) and by reviewing the right facts in the right order he will deduce something about how magic works. That deduction will allow him to cast some absurdly powerful spell that solves his problems.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-26T13:18:54.210Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Your last statement is not correct. Many of the works of literature regarded as the best do that very heavily. Dante does that like crazy in the inferno. Joyce does it non stop in Ulyesses. Most of the works of Vladimir Nabokov do it very heavily. As does Pynchon. It may be that you just don't notice it in literature and do notice it here because you are more familiar the the animie canon than the literary canon.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T13:55:01.407Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This may be true. But we don't know that. If you are saying something that we dot know is true, it should be hedged. If something is true for sure then sound confident, or even better cite a source.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-22T13:07:03.733Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

QQ has Harry's wand, so how is Harry going to get out of this mess? One of my theories is wandlessmagic. The existence of wandless magic at all is evidence the wand isn't strictly needed.

This makes sense if you buy that a wizard is pulling levers on the source of magic rather than actually enacting the spell

From Chapter 25

If magic had been like that, a big complex adaptation with lots of necessary genes, then a wizard mating with a Muggle would have resulted in a child with only half those parts and half the machine wouldn't do much. And so there would have been no Muggleborns, ever. Even if all the pieces had individually gotten into the Muggle gene pool, they'd never reassemble all in one place to form a wizard.

...

So however your genes made you a wizard, it wasn't by containing the blueprints for complicated machinery. That was the other reason Harry had guessed the Mendelian pattern would be there. If magical genes weren't complicated, why would there be more than one?

And yet magic itself seemed pretty complicated. A door-locking spell would prevent the door from opening and prevent you from Transfiguring the hinges and resist Finite Incantatem and Alohomora. Many elements all pointing in the same direction: you could call that goal-orientation, or in simpler language, purposefulness.

There were only two known causes of purposeful complexity. Natural selection, which produced things like butterflies. And intelligent engineering, which produced things like cars.

Magic didn't seem like something that had self-replicated into existence. Spells were purposefully complicated, but not, like a butterfly, complicated for the purpose of making copies of themselves. Spells were complicated for the purpose of serving their user, like a car.

Some intelligent engineer, then, had created the Source of Magic, and told it to pay attention to a particular DNA marker.

...

The line of reasoning continued: Atlantis had been an isolated civilization that had somehow brought into being the Source of Magic, and told it to serve only people with the Atlantean genetic marker, the blood of Atlantis.

And by similar logic: The words a wizard spoke, the wand movements, those weren't complicated enough of themselves to build up the spell effects from scratch - not the way that the three billion base pairs of human DNA actually were complicated enough to build a human body from scratch, not the way that computer programs took up thousands of bytes of data.

So the words and wand movements were just triggers, levers pulled on some hidden and more complex machine. Buttons, not blueprints.

Since wandless magic exists, we know that you can push those buttons without a wand. You can make the source of magic do what you want without a wand. Harry has been told that wandless magic is harder or that it requires more power, or various other excuses for it not to be taught until later. But, I suspect that is just a conceptual limitation, that you don't actually need the power to do it. My evidence for this is the accidental magic that children use when stressed. Under stress children can perform magics that seem extremely powerful (well over the power level of kids their age) and they can do it without wands.

from chapter 13

Now Professor Sprout was giving Harry a sceptical look. "I suppose this boy hit himself with two pies, then." "He didn't use his wand!" blurted one of the young Hufflepuffs. "I don't know how he did it either, he just snapped his fingers and there was pie!" ... "Prior Incantato," said Sprout. She frowned. "That's odd, your wand doesn't seem to have been used at all." Harry shrugged. "It hasn't, actually, I only got my wand and schoolbooks a few days ago." Sprout nodded. "Then we have a clear case of accidental magic from a boy who felt threatened. And the rules plainly state that you are not to be held responsible.

Now in this case, we know that it wasn't accidental magic. But Sprout, a Hogwarts professor and presumably an expert in dealing with wizard children thinks this is perfectly plausible. She thinks Harry could create, not just transfigure, but create two pies ex nihilo and then levitate them at high speeds towards a bully. (brief aside consider the amount of energy in two pies)

in chapter78

Mr. and Mrs. Davis were shaking as they stood up from the comfortable chairs of the faculty Quidditch box; they couldn't quite clutch each other while walking, but they held hands tightly, pretending hard to be invisible. If they'd been children young enough for accidental magic they probably would've spontaneously Disillusioned themselves.

We've been told elsewhere that disillusioning is very high powered magic. After the dementor incident, QQ notes, that Snape is probably powerful enough to disillusion himself. From context, this is notable and its assumed that many adult wizards are not able to do it. But the above quote from 78 says that children CAN do this if they have the right frame of mind.

"Accidental" magic gives children a way to press the buttons on the source of magic without wands, incantations or movements, and it gives them a way to press the buttons for spells that are otherwise far above their power level. If Harry promotes this problem / subject to his attention, then he may discover a way to deliberately use "accidental" magic. And once he had that, he would have a vast toolkit at his disposal.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-20T12:04:11.675Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed that as well. However, at Azkahban QQ reserved an extra use of the time turner for the end and it proved necessary. He may just think that as a best practice for plotting one should leave an extra use of time turners in as margin of safety.

Comment by William_Quixote on [deleted post] 2015-02-11T22:07:50.217Z

I second this opinion. Surveys indicate LW is about 10% women, so its undoubtedly worth changing this sentence to speak to more of the sites population.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-30T15:29:56.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Changing the books stealing them or altering library records may be harder than it seems. The day of Hermiones death QQ went to the library and added a number of additional wards, nominally around the restricted section, but who know what else they cover.

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-29T14:54:47.309Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A spell to grade tests is probably not an old spell that's been around forever since no one else seems to use it, but QQ may have invented it for this purpose.

Either way, it's existence is a further hint to the nature of magic in the world of HPMOR. It involves some pretty sophiscated natural languge processing. The fact that magic can do natural language processing is hinted as significant in chapter 6 while Harry is studying the retrieval charm and trying diffent phrases that point to "bag of gold". If we knew how magic could read a test and predict what the ministry would give it, we would know a lot more about magic.

Note, we can reject the hypothesis the the spell just doing something simple like implements a big data style algorithm with 800 years of prior tests and grades as its training corpus because QQs students are going to be writing answers that are very different from the training set and so the model wouldn't have good predictive power

Comment by william_quixote on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-29T14:44:58.542Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Draco's plan at the start of the chapter is entirely correct and Harry should have been doing it on his own. They will find out that Hermione was reading about the stone before she was killed.

In fact she was probably killed precisely because she was getting too close to the stone in her readings. She may even have said something out loud like "eureka" that gave away that she had gotten it. This, by the way, points to her being killed by someone other than QQ, since he would want her to succeed since she would tell Harry and harry would tell him.

Comment by william_quixote on Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance · 2015-01-14T15:47:38.446Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's fair enouph. So long as it is remembered that it's a heuristic and is used to guide thinking rather than stop thinking it is certianly valuable.

Comment by william_quixote on Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance · 2015-01-14T14:19:25.610Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am not very knowledgeable about bitcoins but I do have some famiality with banks responsiblies under US and EU anti money laundering regimes. I think that bit coins would pose a number of complience challenges and that it would be pretty tough for banks to be confidbet they weren't running afoul of regs. So my guese is that but coins probably have very little bank activity. Similarly I bet they don't have much activity from the large hedge funds. It's probabky limited to small funds.

Comment by william_quixote on Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance · 2015-01-14T12:27:00.230Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's worth noting that efficient markets are a modeling assumption to make certain economic problems computationally tractable and easy to model. It's not a law of nature confirmed by observation. On the contrary a lot of times markets are observed to be inefficient (eg the housing market mid 2000s or at a higher level of sophistication the mortgage backed securities market in the same period).

Even very liquid markets like the FX market with technically sophiscated arbitrage free pricing models still have had long running well known ineffiencies like the forward rate bias.

Comment by william_quixote on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-09T18:37:23.139Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's fair. It's certianly true that poverty reduction also reduces pandemic risk. But it does so inditectly and slowly. There are probably faster ways to reduce pandemic risk than working on poverty.

Comment by william_quixote on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-07T21:14:22.707Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that he didn't describe it accurately. He described it with a very simple bias that is different from the actual view and makes bad predictions oi you try to use it to think instead of using it to caricature political opponents.

Comment by william_quixote on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-05T15:10:28.176Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Once again pandemic is the leading cat risk. It was the leading cat risk last year. http://lesswrong.com/lw/jj0/2013_survey_results/aekk It was the leading cat risk the year before that. http://lesswrong.com/lw/fp5/2012_survey_results/7xz0

Pandemics are the risk LWers are most afraid of and to my knowledge we as a community have expended almost no effort on preventing them.

So this year I resolve that my effort towards pandemic prevention will be greater than simply posting a remark about how it's the leading risk.

Comment by william_quixote on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-15T21:20:44.273Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Austrian economics has consistently made bad predictions. It doesn't give you the right answers for rates, fx, gdp or inflation.

Comment by william_quixote on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-15T21:07:58.214Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I used to use it, but as I shifted to doing more on my mobile device I found it was a pain to use and so stopped. If it had a good app then I would use it again.

Comment by william_quixote on Group Rationality Diary, December 16-31 · 2014-12-15T16:31:56.538Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Due to a job that involves a lot of time sitting at computers I had been chronically stiff and in pain for a while. Over the last month I've started and maintained a yoga practice several times a week. This has significantly reduced stiffness and random back / joint pain.

Comment by william_quixote on When the uncertainty about the model is higher than the uncertainty in the model · 2014-12-12T00:34:07.428Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As a historical note, the LTCM crisis was caused by Russias default, but LTCM did not bet on Russia or rely on Russian banks. LTCMs big bet was on a narrowing of the price difference between 30 year treasurys and 29 year treasurys. When Russia defaulted people moved out of risky assets into safe assets and lots of people bought 30 years. That temporary huge burst in demand led to a rise in the price of 30s. Given the high leverage of LTCM that was enouph to make them go bust.

Comment by william_quixote on The Limits of My Rationality · 2014-12-10T14:56:47.184Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Post needs an executive summary / abstract

Comment by william_quixote on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-04T19:32:39.532Z · score: 17 (19 votes) · LW · GW

there is a familiar phenomenon here, in which a certain kind of would-be economic expert loves to cite the supposed lessons of economic experiences that are in the distant past, and where we actually have only a faint grasp of what really happened. Harding 1921 “works” only because people don’t know much about it; you have to navigate through some fairly obscure sources to figure out [what actually happened]. And the same goes even more strongly — let’s say, XII times as strongly — when, say, [Name] starts telling us about the Emperor Diocletian. The point is that the vagueness of the information, and even more so what most people [think they] know about it, lets such people project their prejudices onto the past and then claim that they’re discussing the lessons of experience.

Paul Krugman on the use of examples to obscure rather than clarify