Rationality quotes: April 2010 2010-04-01T20:41:39.003Z


Comment by wnoise on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-06-29T18:59:45.124Z · LW · GW

sociopaths by the clinical definition make about 1-4% of population.

smart sociopaths make maybe 0.1% of the population

Are you asserting that "smart" is top decile to 2.5%, or that sociopathy is correlated to intelligence?

I'd consider a sigma away from the mean to be smart, so 0.3-1.3%.

Comment by wnoise on Open Thread, May 19 - 25, 2014 · 2014-05-20T03:35:55.371Z · LW · GW

A video of Daniel Dennett giving an excellent talk on free will at the Santa Fe Institute: It largely follows the general Less Wrong consensus, but dives into how this construction is useful in the punishment and moral agent contexts more than I've seen developed here.

Comment by wnoise on Solve Psy-Kosh's non-anthropic problem · 2013-07-24T04:19:48.352Z · LW · GW

That does look right.

Comment by wnoise on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance · 2012-11-27T17:08:43.410Z · LW · GW

Altering the structure of divorce alters the payoff-matrix for behaviors inside the marriage itself.

Comment by wnoise on Stuff That Makes Stuff Happen · 2012-10-23T05:58:58.328Z · LW · GW

It's helpful to go a bit further for these corrections. What's the reason not to use "uncorrelated" here?

In ordinary English, "uncorrelated" is indeed used for this (and a host of other things, because ordinary English is very vague). The problem is that it means something else in probability theory, namely the much weaker statement E(a-E(a)) E(b-E(b)) = E((a-E(a)(b-E(b)), which is implied by independence (p(a,b) = p(a)p(b)), but not does not imply independence. If we want to speak to those who know some probability theory, this clash of meaning is a problem. If we want to educate those who don't know probability theory to understand the literature and be able to talk with those who do know probability theory, this is also a problem.

(Note too that uncorrelatedness is only invariant under affine remappings (X and Y chosen as the coordiantes of a random point on the unit circle are uncorrelated. X^2 and Y^2 are perfectly correlated. Nor does correlated directly make any sense for non-numerical variables (though you could probably lift to the simplex and use homogeneous coordinates to get a reasonable meaning).)

Comment by wnoise on A probability question · 2012-10-20T05:44:45.888Z · LW · GW

The usual situation is that both detectors actually have some correlation to Q, and thereby have some correlation to each other.

This need not be the case. Consider a random variable Z that is the sum of two random independent variables X and Y. Expert A knows X, and is thus correlated with Z. Expert B knows Y and is thus correlated with Z. Expert A and B can still be uncorrelated. In fact, you can make X and Y slightly anticorrelated, and still have them both be positively correlated with Z.

Comment by wnoise on Undiscriminating Skepticism · 2012-10-12T06:11:39.437Z · LW · GW

That's the big one I can think of, and this usually arises in a very different context where it's easy to dehumanize those forced to take such tests: alleged criminals and children.

(Even in these contexts, peeing in a cup or taking a breathalyzer is quite a bit less severe than enduring a forced pregnancy. Mandatory blood draws for DUIs do upset a signifianct number of people. How you feel about employment tests and sports doping might depend on how you feel about economic coercion and whether it's truly "mandatory".)

Comment by wnoise on Undiscriminating Skepticism · 2012-10-10T15:43:31.558Z · LW · GW

We don't, for instance, require people to donate redundant organs, nor even blood. Nor is organ donation mandatory even after death (prehaps it should be).

What are some cases where we do require people to give up their bodily autonomy?

Comment by wnoise on Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 4 · 2012-08-30T05:51:50.479Z · LW · GW

They essentially have already updated on their own testimony.

Comment by wnoise on Ask an experimental physicist · 2012-06-17T09:24:29.041Z · LW · GW

Operationally, it's a distinction without a difference.

Comment by wnoise on Closet survey #1 · 2012-06-17T08:36:17.047Z · LW · GW

Likewise, the position "every sperm is sacred" seems mistaken because sperm are by nature fungible (and beyond that, we can complain about the word sacred).

In what way are sperm fungible? There is usually a wide variety of difference between two random ones from the same person. After all, half the genetic variability of two siblings is due to the difference in sperm.

It's true that differences are such that we can't easily tell much difference between any two sperm (of the same sex and chromosome number) -- but the same is true of a just fertilized zygote or just divided embryo, which you appear to count as non-fungible when you say that "I can't think of a situation where I would be willing to accept the death/murder of a fetus or infant where I wouldn't be willing to accept the death/murder of an adult."

It seems that "fungibility" needs to be treated as a continuum. I think that just about all reasonable criteria for deciding this turn out on closer inspection to be fairly continuous.

Comment by wnoise on Ask an experimental physicist · 2012-06-17T07:24:03.441Z · LW · GW
  1. Wouldn't Gibbs free energy be more appropriate? pV should be available for work too.

  2. I find myself slightly confused by that definition. Energy in straight quantum mechanics (or classical Newtonian mechanics) is a torsor. There is no preferred origin, and adding any constant to all the states changes the evolution not at all. It therefore must not change the extractable work. So the free energies are clearly incorrectly defined, and must instead be defined relative to the ground state. In which case, yes, you could extract all the energy above that, if you knew the precise state, and could manipulate the system finely enough.

Comment by wnoise on Ask an experimental physicist · 2012-06-17T07:03:05.161Z · LW · GW

Given a quantum state, you can always tell me the entropy of that specific quantum state. It's 0.

Only for pure states. Any system you have will be mixed.

Comment by wnoise on Rational Toothpaste: A Case Study · 2012-06-04T16:27:35.364Z · LW · GW

Some people report that it's easier to remove tonsilloliths as well as a possible reduction in formation. If you don't get them, not a concern, of course.

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-04-19T22:05:47.904Z · LW · GW

Every rational number has two infinite decimal expansions.

No. Every terminating number has two infinite decimal expansions, one ending with all zeros, the other with all nines.

1/3, for instance is only representable as 0.333... , while 1/8th is representable as 0.124999... and 0.125.

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-12T19:40:17.905Z · LW · GW

It's a standard joke about mathematicians vs everybody else, and I intended it as such. I can do limited visualization in the 4th dimension (hypercubes and 5-cells (hypertetrahedra), not something as complicated as the 120-cell or even the 24-cell), but it's by extending from a 3-d visualization with math knowledge, rather than specializing n to 4.

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-12T19:31:23.043Z · LW · GW

Doing specific rotations by breaking it into steps is possible. Rotations by 90 degrees through the higher dimensions is doable with some effort -- it's just coordinate swapping after all. You can make checks that you got it right. Once you have this mastered, you can compose it with rotations that don't touch the higher dimensions. Then compose again with one of these 90 degree rotations, and you have an effective rotation through the higher dimensions.

(Understanding the commutation relations for rotation helps in this breakdown, of course. If you can then go on to understanding how the infinitesimal rotations work, you've got the whole thing down.)

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-05T02:03:08.219Z · LW · GW

Just visualize n dimensions, and then set n = 4.

Comment by wnoise on Epilogue: Atonement (8/8) · 2012-03-18T04:52:03.728Z · LW · GW

Morals are modeled as axioms in certain formulations.

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes March 2012 · 2012-03-11T06:21:46.319Z · LW · GW

Without the fnord, of course.

Comment by wnoise on How to Fix Science · 2012-03-11T06:19:07.442Z · LW · GW

I would be quite interested in seeing such. Unfortunately I don't have any time to look for such in the foreseeable future.

Comment by wnoise on How to Fix Science · 2012-03-09T17:13:04.188Z · LW · GW

It's actually somewhat tricky to establish that the rules of probability apply to the Frequentist meaning of probability. You have to mess around with long run frequencies and infinite limits. Even once that's done, it hard to make the case that the Frequentist meaning has anything to do with the real world -- there are no such thing as infinitely repeatable experiments.

In contrast, a few simple desiderata for "logical reasoning under uncertainty" establish probability theory as the only consistent way to do so that satisfy those criteria. Sure, other criteria may suggest some other way of doing so, but no one has put forward any such reasonable way.

Comment by wnoise on Verbal Overshadowing and The Art of Rationality · 2011-12-23T08:40:34.899Z · LW · GW

It's not clear that the effect is really there, and certainly isn't as strong as originally thought:

U.Cal-Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler has a problem. The certitude of a phenomenon that made him a rock star in academic circles — he called it “verbal overshadowing,” and he published the results 20 years ago — is beginning to break down. And its fragility is calling the entire scientific method into question.

Comment by wnoise on Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark · 2011-12-19T11:22:29.417Z · LW · GW

It seems much of our cognitive architecture was developed in the context of social situations. Indeed, the standard experiments on checking modus ponens and modus tollens understanding show sharp increases in ability when they are presented as social rules (e.g. checking whether someone is violating the "minor drinking alcohol" rules, rather than cards gives much higher performance). Testing whether you understand a social rule by deliberately violating your current understanding can be a very, very expensive test. It seems plausible that this cost has led to the human default ways for testing implicit rules to avoid seeking out these negatives, even when the cost would be low.

Comment by wnoise on The Moral Void · 2011-12-07T23:54:08.899Z · LW · GW

It's not a spectral color. That is, no one wavelength of light can reproduce it. But I've seen magenta things, and there is widespread intersubjective agreement about what is magenta and what isn't. It damn well is a color.

Comment by wnoise on Myers-Briggs / MLPTI personality-type conversion chart · 2011-12-02T19:41:31.795Z · LW · GW

Wrong cartoon.

Comment by wnoise on (Subjective Bayesianism vs. Frequentism) VS. Formalism · 2011-11-28T23:50:46.525Z · LW · GW

FWIW, I think my three preferred terms are "Probabilities", "Frequencies", and "Normed Measure Theory". That's what Kolmogorov's formalization amounts to anyway, and as the OP said it truly need not be connected to either probabilities or frequencies in a given use.

Comment by wnoise on Taboo Your Words · 2011-11-28T00:37:55.836Z · LW · GW

I think Normal_Anomaly means "judged according to the old utility function".

EDIT: Incorrect gender imputation corrected.

Comment by wnoise on Free copy of Feynman's autobiography for best corny rationalist joke · 2011-11-27T20:45:36.768Z · LW · GW

I think this works better as "lose an argument with a Bayesian". Because then the Bayesian really does hand you your new belief.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-11-18T20:55:35.086Z · LW · GW

A link to said post would help.

Comment by wnoise on Existential Risk · 2011-11-15T20:06:57.320Z · LW · GW

Yeah, pretty much. If it were bigger, I might call it a Culture orbital).

Comment by wnoise on Existential Risk · 2011-11-15T19:24:20.406Z · LW · GW

The scale of curvature there makes it clear it's not 1 AU in radius.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-11-14T19:53:03.149Z · LW · GW

I await with bated breath.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-11-11T18:39:48.375Z · LW · GW

Again, it seems pretty clear to me that you do not understand the case against Knox and Sollecito, which is far more than "slightly odd behavior."

You act as if there is one unified "case against Knox and Sollecito". There is not. There are many, as different people who believe Knox and Sollecito did it find different aspects to be more convincing. We understand plenty of cases against Knox and Sollecito just fine -- the ones we have read that have been made clearly. What is true is that we don't understand the case you have in mind. This is because you have never made that case, nor pointed us to someone clearly making that case. Yet you do expect us to miraculously understand the details of it. If we guess, unsurprisingly, it is counted as evidence that we don't understand, yet you never attempt to correct that understanding. It is your responsibility to say why some bit evidence actually means anything. I'm disinclined to continue unless this is rectified.

Stop trolling and put up or if that's too hard, at least shut up.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-11-02T17:01:42.799Z · LW · GW

I'm not Desrtopa, but I had heard about the call way back in 2009. I dismissed it as essentially irrelevant, because no one who has mentioned it has ever said anything convincing about how it was inculpatory. Apparently it was supposed to be obvious? But it wasn't, not to me, nor apparently to Desrtopa. At best I can make strawman arguments which I find easy to knock down. Having you respond to those would be a waste of everyone's time. So please, just tell me why you found this call suspicious.

I don't speak Italian. I have been limited to secondary sources, rather than the prosecutor's own arguments directly, but I really have looked closely at arguments by those who think Knox and Sollecito are guilty. At the time, they did not articulate any reason for me to find the phone call suspicious. I still haven't found anything after looking again.

Comment by wnoise on Which Basis Is More Fundamental? · 2011-11-02T16:30:13.753Z · LW · GW

That's an entirely reasonable argument that it shouldn't be called that.

But it is called that, and you have to be able to communicate with those who use it thus, or have it heard it this way, even while working to change the nomenclature.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-11-01T16:55:18.969Z · LW · GW

Assuming you are accurately summarizing the contents of the call, it's suggestive of guilt. The fact that you (seem to) have no idea why is telling.

I too have no idea. Yes, it's something a person who has something to hide and doesn't want to involve the police might do. It's also something a confused college kid in a foreign place might do on encountering any hiccup. Completely consistent with either guilt or innocence means it sways me very little.

Comment by wnoise on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey · 2011-11-01T01:23:38.046Z · LW · GW

I don't remember that far back, so I used my earliest comment (imported from Overcoming Bias) as the date.

Comment by wnoise on Rhetoric for the Good · 2011-10-26T08:02:02.709Z · LW · GW

note the one word that makes this sentence more interesting:

At exactly 10:19 A.M. yesterday, a grandmother's purse on a conveyor belt at Orange Country airport set off an alarm that caused two security guard's to rush to the scene.

Is it the word left out after "guard's"? Because, man, it really makes me want to know what two things of the security guard rushed to the scene.

Comment by wnoise on Rhetoric for the Good · 2011-10-25T20:27:27.496Z · LW · GW

The tailbit of Poul Anderson's "Uncleftish Beholding":

Some of the higher samesteads are splitly. That is, when a neitherbit strikes the kernel of one, as for a showdeal ymirstuff-235, it bursts into lesser kernels and free neitherbits; the latter can then split more ymirstuff-235. When this happens, weight shifts into work. It is not much of the whole, but nevertheless it is awesome.

With enough strength, lightweight unclefts can be made to togethermelt. In the sun, through a row of strikings and lightrottings, four unclefts of waterstuff in this wise become one of sunstuff. Again some weight is lost as work, and again this is greatly big when set beside the work gotten from a minglingish doing such as fire.

Today we wield both kind of uncleftish doings in weapons, and kernelish splitting gives us heat and bernstoneness. We hope to do likewise with togethermelting, which would yield an unhemmed wellspring of work for mankindish goodgain.

Soothly we live in mighty years!

Comment by wnoise on Which Basis Is More Fundamental? · 2011-10-22T03:26:13.288Z · LW · GW

Yep, fixing.

Comment by wnoise on Amanda Knox: post mortem · 2011-10-21T17:38:21.565Z · LW · GW

anonymous internet posters

Pseudonymous. There are many similarities, but having a long-standing name does have significant differences, even if the name isn't tied to one's "real-life" name.

Comment by wnoise on Which Basis Is More Fundamental? · 2011-10-21T17:22:04.912Z · LW · GW

HY = EY is not the Schrödinger equation - it is the energy eigenstate equation.

Which is often called the time-independent Schrödinger equation. The one with the d/dt is then called the time-dependent Schrödinger equation.

Comment by wnoise on Mental Rebooting: "Your Brain on Porn"... · 2011-10-17T23:27:59.369Z · LW · GW


I cannot help but be reminded of the following line:

"I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence." -- General Ripper, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

More seriously, what would be the equivalent for women?

Comment by wnoise on Pascal's wager re-examined · 2011-10-04T20:01:26.052Z · LW · GW

When see the laws of QM, it somehow feels like the kind of quirks I could make in implementing a simulator

It feels like it, but if anything it's the opposite. It's my experience that many people on the border between CS and physics have this thought. However, it's actually much harder to simulate quantum systems than classical systems, and in fact quantum simulation is one of the reasons physicists are interested in quantum computers. (Other people are interested in other problems that quantum computers can do better than classically.)

Comment by wnoise on Knox and Sollecito freed · 2011-10-04T05:34:08.987Z · LW · GW


Comment by wnoise on Undiscriminating Skepticism · 2011-09-27T02:54:17.413Z · LW · GW

It's useful as a polemical tool, not useful in describing the ordinary meaning of the word, that describes actual clusters of common characteristics observed out in the world. I'm uninterested in using definitions constructed for polemical purposes instead of describing empirically observed clusters.

Comment by wnoise on Undiscriminating Skepticism · 2011-09-26T02:38:53.942Z · LW · GW

The first is a singularly useless definition satisfied by everyone. Everyone believes that the distribution of skin color differs between black people and white people.

I'd propose a third definition: "someone who treats different people differently based on their race."

Comment by wnoise on Knowledge is Worth Paying For · 2011-09-22T18:15:29.793Z · LW · GW

Classical mechanics has changed significantly since Newton, with two reformulations not even counting relativity.

Newtonian classical mechanics is late 1600s, with "laws of motion" from 1687. Lagrangian mechanics was formulated in 1788. Hamiltonian mechanics in 1833. And of course, each of these gets relativistic modifications and formulations...

It's true that you don't need "the latest" book, but you probably do want one that's from the last 50 years.

Comment by wnoise on Rationality Quotes September 2011 · 2011-09-21T15:14:51.905Z · LW · GW

And like any urban legend, that is why this explanation spreads so easily.