Comment by xodarap on 9/26 is Petrov Day · 2015-09-08T00:26:34.183Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone know what Petrov's address is, or any way to reach him?

The Madison, WI effective altruism group would like to write him thank-you letters for our next meetup this Petrov Day.

Comment by xodarap on Graphical Assumption Modeling · 2015-03-26T13:48:11.648Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would use this

Comment by xodarap on Problems and Solutions in Infinite Ethics · 2015-01-18T16:15:38.542Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. As per theorem 3.2 above you can't have both Pareto and an anonymity constraint. Finite anonymity would add a constant factor to the complexity of the utility vector and hence shouldn't affect the prior, so I assume your method follows the finite anonymity constraint.

As a result, you must be disobeying Pareto? It's not obvious to me why your solution results in this, so I'm bringing it up in case it wasn't obvious to you either. (Or it could be that I'm completely misunderstanding what you are trying to do. Or maybe that you don't think Pareto is actually a reasonable requirement. In any case I think at least one of us is misunderstanding what's going on.)

Problems and Solutions in Infinite Ethics

2015-01-04T14:06:06.292Z · score: 9 (10 votes)
Comment by xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-09-06T16:06:30.740Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that ovo-lacto evidence is weaker, but I'll maintain that there is slight evidence in favor of it. Given that a diet including fish, eggs, and milk, is much much easier to adhere to it remains something I recommend. Remember that my approach to nutrition in the OP is that effect sizes are small and you should focus your efforts elsewhere.

At last, we have reached convergence! I disagree slightly (the most recent article you linked again does not find significant differences between vegans and vegetarians as far as I can tell) but I'm fine calling that "slight evidence". The problem was that the OP said:

Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans

Which doesn't sound like it's true in either the statistical nor the colloquial sense of the word. Right? So can we just remove that sentence pretty please?

Comment by xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-07-31T14:30:40.899Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right. So given that we don't actually have any evidence to support claims like "Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans" don't you think it makes sense to remove those claims?

Comment by xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-04T02:56:05.196Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I've fixed this.

Comment by xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-04T01:34:26.007Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds good.

Just reading the wikipedia page#Health_studies) on eggs seems to indicate that evidence for their health benefits is questionable at best, (and even though you were trying to make the argument that eggs were healthy you couldn't find the evidence to do so at first) so given that you're only mentioning "the largest high level features of a diet that have positive or negative impact", I'm not convinced eggs are worth including at all.

Comment by xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-03T01:07:50.823Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point.

If you look at tables 8 and 9 from Gordon you can see that once you control for "transparency" (i.e. how obvious the bullshit is) the setting is no longer a significant predictor. So I'm not sure I agree that it's the "iterated" part of real-world interactions which cause this result (it seems likely that you can more easily tell if someone's changing their behavior to follow an experiment if they are a close coworker than a random student, for example), but I think your point about transparency being important is relevant.

Political Skills which Increase Income

2014-03-02T17:56:32.568Z · score: 59 (63 votes)
Comment by xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-02T17:26:35.835Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And what little evidence we have points towards ovo-lacto and pescatarians having better health

Um, the article you linked seems to say that vegans are healthier:

  • Vegan All-cause mortality: HR 0.72, 95% CI 0.56-0.92
  • Pesco All-cause mortality: HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.69-0.94
  • Lacto-ovo All-cause mortality: HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.82-1
  • [Meat eaters presumably have an HR of 1]

The difference might not be significant, so I don't know that we would call this conclusive proof. But it seems like if you're going to lean one way, it would be towards vegans being healthier.

Especially since "animal products are bad" is a much simpler model than "animal products are bad, except for these few exceptions."

Comment by xodarap on Political Skills which Increase Income · 2014-03-01T21:05:14.916Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

From Ng et al.:

Political knowledge and skills included the following two measures: political knowledge (e.g., Chao, O’Leary-Kelly, Wolf, Klein, & Gardner, 1994; Seibert, Kraimer, & Crant, 2001) and supervisor-focused political tactics (e.g., Wayne, Liden, Graf, & Ferris, 1997)

Taking the Chao paper as an example, they look at things like "do you know who the most influential people in your organization are?" and "do you know what to do to get the most desirable work assignments?"

The Wayne paper looked at how frequently people used the tactics I listed in the article.

Comment by xodarap on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-01T18:36:41.871Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ovo-lacto vegetarians live significantly longer than vegans

Where does it say that the difference is significant? The only mention of this I see in the cited paper is table 7, and the CIs there overlap a great deal. (And it goes on to say that the numbers should be "interpreted with caution because of the uncertainty of the dietary classification of subjects in the Health Food Shoppers Study".)

Comment by xodarap on Maximizing Your Donations via a Job · 2014-01-22T13:43:11.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What's the vesting schedule for stock? And are they options or outright equity?

Thank you for this article, it was extremely helpful.

Comment by xodarap on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-19T23:10:42.994Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you're saying? I'm aware of what "EA" stands for, if that's the confusion.

Comment by xodarap on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-19T12:58:23.980Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I found that 51% of effective altruists had given blood compared to 47% of others - a difference which did not reach statistical significance.

I gave blood before I was an EA but stopped because I didn't think it was effective. Does being veg*n correlate with calling oneself an EA? That seems like a more effective intervention.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2014-01-19T12:56:25.834Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If it's more than that the question would be why we should assume whatever further axioms characterize it

from wikipedia:

a partially ordered group is a group (G,+) equipped with a partial order "≤" that is translation-invariant; in other words, "≤" has the property that, for all a, b, and g in G, if a ≤ b then a+g ≤ b+g and g+a ≤ g+b

So if a > 0, a+a > a etc. which results means the group has to be torsion free.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-11-03T13:48:27.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But you've stated that the lack of an edge from A to B says nothing about whether A < B, now you're talking like if the premises don't conclude that A < B they must conclude ¬(A < B), which is kinda affirming the consequent.

This is a good point, what I was trying to say is slightly different. Basically, we know that (A < B) ==> (f(A) < f(B)), where f is our order embedding. So it is indeed true that f(A) > f(B) ==> ¬(A < B), by modus tollens.

just as the premises support (A < B) ⇒ (utility(A) < utility(B)), they also support (A < B) ⇒ (normalizedU(A)) < normalizedU(B))), such that normalizedU(World) = sum(log(utility(life))

Yeah, that's a pretty clever way to get around the constraint. I think my claim "If the inequitable society has greater total utility, it must be at least as good as the equitable one" would still hold though, no?

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-11-03T13:34:55.539Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How about - order should be preserved if we shift the zero-point of our happiness measurement. That seems pretty common-sense. And yet it rules out total utilitarianism. (2,2,2) > (5), but (1,1,1) < (4).

The usual definition of "zero-point" is "it doesn't matter whether that person exists or not". By that definition, there is no (universal) zero-point in average utilitarianism. (2,2,0) != (2,2) etc.

By the way, it's true you can't shift by a constant in total utilitarianism, but you can scale by a constant/

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-11-02T20:10:06.816Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

it would be trivial for finite generating groups... That would mean only finitely many utility levels and then the result is obvious

Z^2 lexically ordered is finitely generated, and can't be embedded in (R,+). [EDIT: I'm now not sure if you meant "finitely generated" or "finite" here. If it's the latter, note that any ordered group must be torsion-free, which obviously excludes finite groups.]

But your implicit point is valid (+1) - I should've spent more time explaining why this result is surprising. Just about every comment on this article is "this is obvious because ", which I guess is an indication LWers are so immersed in utilitarianism that counter-examples don't even come to mind.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T22:25:31.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

which, please note, does not amount to any sort of argument that we must or even should just glue values-of-lives together in this sort of way.

Thanks for the feedback, I should've used clearer terminology.

I do not see any sign in what you have written that Hölder's theorem is doing any real work for you here

This seems to be the consensus. It's very surprising to me that we get such a strong result from only the l-group axioms, and the fact that his result is so celebrated seems to indicate that other mathematicians find it surprising too, but the commenters here are rather blase.

Do you think giving examples of how many things completely unrelated to addition are groups (wallpaper groups, rubik's cube, functions under composition, etc.) would help show that the really restrictive axiom is the archimedean one?

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T22:15:39.584Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically, I believe I have some ordering, and you have some ordering, but strongly suspect those orderings disagree, so don't think we have one unambiguous joint ordering.

I'm not certain this proves what you want it to - it would still hold that you and I are individually total utilitarians. We would just disagree about what those utilities are.

Specifically, I believe that lives interact

I guess I don't find this very convincing. Any reasonably complicated argument is going to say "ceteris paribus" at some point - I don't think you can just reject the conclusion because of this.

This is only a "pure math" argument for total utilitarianism because you're talking about the group (R,+) instead of addition, but the two are the same

I guess I don't know what you mean. By (R,+) I was trying to refer to addition, so I apologize if this has some other meaning and you thought I was "proving" them equivalent.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T22:08:41.067Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not all, just countable...

Z^2 lexically ordered is countable but can't be embedded in Z.

It seems like your intuition is shared by a lot of LW though - people seem to think it's "obvious" that these restrictions result in total utilitarianism, even though it's actually pretty tricky.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:41:35.631Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point - I am now regretting not having given more technical details on what it means to be "order preserving".

The requirement is that X > 0 ==> X + Y > Y. I've generated the graph under the assumption that Medium > 0, which results in (very good, medium) > (very good). Clearly the antecedent doesn't hold if Medium < 0, in which case the graph would go the other direction, as you point out.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:30:31.603Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The badness of inequality will show up in the utilities

Sure. This is probably not a majority opinion on LW, but there are a lot of people who believe that equality is good even beyond utility maximization (c.f. Rawls). That's what I was trying to get at when I said:

In fact, it is so bad that there are circumstances where increasing equality is good even if people are, on average, worse off.

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:26:50.619Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure if that's an application as much as a tautology

It's a proof, so sure it's a tautology.

Here's a better way of masking it though: suppose we believe:

  1. We should be non-sadistic: X < 0 ==> X+Y < Y
  2. Accepting of dominance: X > 0 ==> X+Y > Y

This is exactly what it means to be order preserving, but maybe when phrased this way the result seems more surprising (in the sense that those axioms are harder to refute)?

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:23:24.944Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a great question, as people who accept the premises of this article are likely to accept some sort of utilitarianism, so a major result is that average utilitarianism doesn't work.

If we are average utilitarians, then we believe that (2) ~~ (1,2,3). But this must mean that (2,6) ~~ (1,2,3,6) to be order preserving, which is not true. (The former's average utility is 4, the latter's 3.)

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:17:36.023Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First, I think that what you call lattice order is more like partial order, unless you can also show that a join always exists. The pictures have it, but I am not convinced that they constitute a proof.

I agree, I didn't show this. It's not hard, but it's a bit of writing to prove that (x1x2 \/ y1y2)=(x1\/y1)(x2\/y2) which inductively shows that this is an l-group.

It looks like all you have "shown" is that if you embed some partial order into a total order, then you can map this total ordering into integers. I am not a mathematician, but this seems rather trivial.

It's not a total order, nor is it true that all totally ordered groups can be embedded into Z (consider R^2, lexically ordered, for example. Heck, even R itself can't be mapped to Z since it's uncountable!). So not only would this be a non-trivial proof, it would be an impossible one :-)

Comment by xodarap on A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism · 2013-10-27T19:12:52.660Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, one way to rescue this is to value equality instrumentally, instead of intrinsically.

A Pure Math Argument for Total Utilitarianism

2013-10-27T17:05:55.032Z · score: -5 (14 votes)
Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-03T13:20:19.522Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. What if we replace (1) with

  1. If we allow subjective opinions, then ridiculous conclusions are possible.

Keep in mind that I was responding to Lumifer's comment:

Humans are special in the same way a roast is tasty or a host charming. It is entirely in the eye of the beholder, it's a subjective opinion and as such there is no "actually" about it.

This is not intended to be a grand, sweeping axiom of ethics. I was just pointing out that allowing these subjective opinions proves more than we probably want.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T11:57:19.593Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point, thank you. I have tried again here.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T11:56:42.400Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you Said for your helpful comments. How is this:

  1. Suppose we are considering whether being A is more morally valuable than being B. If we don't require evidence when making that decision, then lots of ridiculous conclusions are possible, including racism and sexism.
  2. We don't want these ridiculous conclusions.
  3. Therefore, when judging the moral worth of beings, the differentiation must be based on evidence.

Regarding your "Finally" point - I was responding to Lumifer's statement:

Humans are special in the same way a roast is tasty or a host charming. It is entirely in the eye of the beholder, it's a subjective opinion and as such there is no "actually" about it.

I agree that most people wouldn't take this position, so my argument is usually more confusing than helpful. But in this case it seemed relevant.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T01:57:29.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do we disagree on questions of fact? On rereading this thread, I suspect not

I think so? You seem to have indicated in a few comments that you don't believe nonhuman animals are "self-aware" or "conscious" which strikes me as an empirical statement?

If this is true (and I give at least 30% credence that I've just been misunderstanding you), I'd be interested to hear why you think this. We may not end up drawing the moral line at the same place, but I think consciousness is a slippery enough subject that I at least would learn something from the conversation.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-01T01:46:10.048Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I apologize for presenting the argument in a way that's difficult to understand. Here are the facts:

  1. If you believe that subjective opinions which are not based on evidence are morally acceptable, then you must believe that sexism, racism, etc. are acceptable
  2. We* don't believe that sexism, racism, etc. are acceptable
  3. Therefore, we cannot accept arguments based on subjective opinions

Is there a better way to phrase this?

(* "We" here means the broader LW community. I realize that you disagree, but I didn't know that at the time of writing.)

Comment by xodarap on Why I'm Skeptical About Unproven Causes (And You Should Be Too) · 2013-07-31T12:20:27.375Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is great RobBB, thanks!

RE: #1: do you have a suggestion for how someone who is not an AI researcher could tell if MIRI's work is diminishing? I think your suggestion is to ask experts - apart from Holden, have any experts reviewed MIRI?

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T11:46:36.495Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is entirely in the eye of the beholder, it's a subjective opinion and as such there is no "actually" about it.

As mentioned in the original post, the same can be said of race: I may subjectively prefer white people.

You might bite the bullet here and say that yes, in fact, racism, sexism etc. is morally acceptable, but I think most people would agree that these __isms are wrong, and so speciesism must also be wrong.

Comment by xodarap on Why I'm Skeptical About Unproven Causes (And You Should Be Too) · 2013-07-31T00:43:00.915Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Question: Suppose MIRI was like one of the 8 charities listed above (i.e. intuitively plausible, but empirically useless). How would we know? How would this MIRI' be different from MIRI today?

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-31T00:13:34.615Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note that by this measure, ants are six times more important than humans.

But to address your question: "specieism" is not a label that's slapped on people who disagree with you. It's merely a shorthand way of saying "many people have a cognitive bias that humans are more 'special' than they actually are, and this bias prevents them from updating their beliefs in light of new evidence."

Brain-to-body quotient is one type of evidence we should consider, but it's not a great one. The encephalization quotient improves on it slightly by considering the non-linearity of body size, but there are many other metrics which are probably more relevant.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T23:48:34.154Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think we are getting into a discussion about definitions, which I'm sure you would agree is not very productive.

But I would absolutely agree that your statement "nonhumans are not self-aware, unlike humans, which is why they are inferior, not 'just' because they're nonhumans" is not speciesist. (It is empirically unlikely though.)

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T23:44:44.538Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I apologize for the confusion. Let me attempt to summarize your position:

  1. It is possible for subjectively bad things to happen to animals
  2. Despite this fact, it is not possible for objectively bad things to happen to animals

Is that correct? If so, could you explain what "subjective" and "objective" mean here - usually, "objective" just means something like "the sum of subjective", in which case #2 trivially follows from #1, which was the source of my confusion.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T23:36:20.898Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If it's a heuristic, then it's not speciesism.

If it's a "heuristic" that overrides lots of evidence, then it's speciesism. Which is just another way of saying that you aren't performing a Bayesian update correctly.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T23:30:57.620Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am very curious, however, as to why a lack of behavioral reaction to narcotics indicates that ant suffering is morally neutral.

The question of pain in insects is incredibly complicated, so please don't take my glib example as anything more than that.

But if ants don't have something analogous to opiods, then that would indicate that pain is never "bad" for them, which would be an (non-conclusive) indication they don't suffer.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T23:22:57.538Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is sexist (or _ist) if you say "I consider X to be less worthy because they aren't in my race/class/sex/species, and I do have evidence to support my view."?

No. Because your statement "X is less worthy because they aren't of my gender" in that case is synonymous with "X is less worthy because they lack attribute Y", and so gender has left the picture. Hence it can't be sexist.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T12:23:18.483Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's not sexist to say that women are more likely to get breast cancer. This is a differentiation based on sex, but it's empirically founded, so not sexist.

Similarly, we could say that ants' behavior doesn't appear to be affected by narcotics, so we should discount the possibility of their suffering. This is a judgement based on species, but is empirically founded, so not speciesist.

Things only become ___ist if you say "I have no evidence to support my view, but consider X to be less worthy solely because they aren't in my race/class/sex/species."

I genuinely don't think anyone on LW thinks speciesism is OK.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T12:08:52.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone is advocating a binary system. No one is supporting voting rights for pigs, for example.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-30T12:04:45.334Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if you follow that post far enough you'll see that the author thinks animals feel something that's morally equivalent to pain, s/he just doesn't like calling it "pain".

But assuming you genuinely don't think animals feel something morally equivalent to pain, why? That post gives some high level ideas, but doesn't list any supporting evidence.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T23:37:29.325Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Haha, sure, updated.

But why don't you think it's "nice" to require abilities to be relevant? If you feel pain more strongly than others do, then I care more about when you're in pain than when others are in pain.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T23:37:15.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This corresponds to many people's moral intuitions, and so they don't need to explain why this is valid.

If you believe sole justification for a moral proposition is that you think it's intuitively correct, then no one is ever wrong, and these types of articles are rather pointless, no?

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T22:17:28.387Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the properties possessed by the would-be torturer or killer are also relevant.

Why?

It seems to me like the only (consequentialist) justification is that they will then go on to torture others who have the ability to feel pain, and so it's still only the victims' properties which are relevant.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T22:10:00.685Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. I've updated my statement:

(4) How we value a being's pain is a function of their ability to feel pain (or other faculties that in some way relate to pain).

Otherwise we could let H be "maleness" and justify sexism, etc.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T22:02:00.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible to create some rule like this? Yeah, sure.

The problem is that you have to explain why that rule is valid.

If two babies are being tortured and one will die tomorrow but the other grows into an adult, your rule would claim that we should only stop one torture, and it's not clear why since their phenomenal pain is identical.

Comment by xodarap on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-28T21:59:17.992Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the relevant point is the part about racism, sexism etc.. If allow moral value to depend on things other than the beings' relevant attributes, then sure we can be speciesist. But we also can be racist, sexist, ...