Comment by zaogao on Rationality Quotes May 2014 · 2014-05-29T21:14:58.190Z · LW · GW

The first part could be read as, art (morality, aesthetics, appreciation of humanity) can prevent us from scientific methods ( or conclusions (human biodiversity). Regarding the freezing experiments, I wouldn't be surprised if that knowledge has saved more people than were killed in the experiments. While "shut up and calculate" is popular around here, I think a lot of people would have a problem with such experiments, no matter what the net positive is.

The second part could be read as being against post-modernism/relativism/new-age b.s. Sadly the pointed, acknowledged absurdity of dada and surrealism has gone mainstream, and "What I say is art is art" is interpreted non-ironically.

Comment by zaogao on Rationality Quotes January 2014 · 2014-01-22T21:25:05.808Z · LW · GW

I would disagree with this. There are African villages where lots of kids die of diarrhea, and when researchers introduced solar water disinfection (essentially put water in a plastic jug and put it in the sun for a while), people wouldn't do it because it signaled that they were low class, despite that fact that lots of child deaths could be prevented.

Similarly, economic returns vs mortality risks of running in a gang.

Similarly, drug addicts and alcoholics.

And don't forget fatties.

Now, one can respond "revealed preferences" and kind of defeat the purpose of calling actions rational or irrational, but people's actions often are not too closely linked to survival.

Comment by zaogao on Rationality Lessons Learned from Irrational Adventures in Romance · 2011-10-03T11:01:46.036Z · LW · GW

+1 for last comment making me imagine lukeprog as Charlie Sheen.

Comment by zaogao on Your inner Google · 2011-09-26T13:47:38.829Z · LW · GW

You wrote that "what science is, is an is, not an ought." Could you please explain what science is? I only ask because different people have different ideas of what science is or should be, and I'm a little unclear what is being referred to here. Thanks.

Comment by zaogao on Reasons for being rational · 2011-07-04T20:21:01.613Z · LW · GW

As an aside, I recently had this horrible moment of realization. Much of the fitness advise given out is just so incredibly wrong, and I am able to realize that because I have a strong background in that subject. But I realized, 90% of the stuff I read about are areas I don't have a great background in. I could be accepting really wrong facts in other areas that are just as wrong as the nutritional facts I scoff at, and I would never learn of my error.

Comment by zaogao on Reasons for being rational · 2011-07-04T20:09:07.781Z · LW · GW

I agree with what you said about main stream fields being diluted, but offer an interesting corollary to that. Economic motives compel various gurus and nutritionists to make claims to the average joe, and the average joe, or even the educated joe cannot sort through them. However, if one looks in more narrow fields, one can obtain more specific answers without so much trash. For example, powerlifting. This is not a huge market nor one you can benefit financially from that much. If one is trying to sell something or get something published, he can't just say "I pretty much agree with X", he needs to somehow distinguish himself. But when that motive is eliminated you can get more consistency in recommendations and have a greater chance to actually hit upon what works.

While you might not be interested in powerlifting, reading in more niche areas can help filter out profit/status seeking charlatans, and can allow one to see the similarities across disciplines. So while I've read about bodybuilding, powerlifting, and endurance sports, and their associated nutritional advice, I would never read a book about "being fit."

Comment by zaogao on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-30T00:12:52.208Z · LW · GW

My mistake, I thought the suggestion of slugging slabs of beef in a meat locker would not be taken seriously. To clarify, not a real suggestion.

Comment by zaogao on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-30T00:06:11.417Z · LW · GW

The obvious answer:

Comment by zaogao on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-29T23:54:43.808Z · LW · GW

Downvoted because it is a general argument against any claimed rational action. Why do people who work at existential risk act like they make better rational choices when really they just get a different neurochemical responses? (Hint: Everything we do is for some neurochemical response)

For an action to be rational in your mind, does it need to obey some Kantian-esque imperative where the actor can't gain pleasure from it? Are people who loathe exercise but do it anyways more rational?

Comment by zaogao on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-29T23:45:00.901Z · LW · GW

And Alicorn, I don't know the particular nature of your aversion to sunshine, and maybe it is deeply hardwired like most people's aversion to a hot stove, so I am not speaking to you in particular. All I am saying is that reasons to not do something come in different strengths and in with different amounts of permanence. There are some dislikes that are able to be overcome through repeated effort, such as talking to strangers or eating vegetables. There are dislikes that can be overcome through mindfulness, (I will start this essay because of how it fits into my long term goals), or through environment (I will start this essay at a quiet Starbucks) or, my personal favorite, through chemical means ( I will start this essay once I finish this bottle of Laphroaig.) Maybe I misread MixedNuts statement and he/she was merely saying that for some people, sunshine and pain aversion are essentially the same, which I could buy. All I'm saying is I think there is a need to iterate this exercise through each of your reasons for not doing activity-x in the hope you can either find fundamental issues (putting your hand on a hot stove) or issues that can be resolved (working out in a walk in refrigerator.)

Comment by zaogao on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-29T23:35:20.621Z · LW · GW

" I wish to make the world a place where "Sunshine and sweating feel awful, so I'm not taking your advice" elicits the same reaction as "Putting my hand on a hot stove feels awful, so I'm not taking your advice" "

This would be nice. Now when I undertake this rejection challenge and come up with a reason for why I'm are not doing x-action, I can compare that reason to a hardwired physiological reaction. I will then feel satisfied that I am not doing (x-activity) for a good reason that I cannot change, because one surely cannot be expected to put their hand on a hot stove. In this way I will feel satisfied that I am in my current position for a good reason, and can happily fall back into acceptance.

Comment by zaogao on Foma: Beliefs that Cause Themselves to be True · 2011-06-24T05:33:33.212Z · LW · GW

If someone on this site did not understand basic algebra, and wanted to talk about it, would you think that would be a valid lw discussion? You write that "Any smart extrovert that I would want to know would not be so easily turned off by social difficulty", but what would you think of a rationality community that had to teach its members basic algebra? And these individuals may be trying very hard to understand it, but they still really struggle. Would you be turned off by their mathematical difficulty?

But algebra is SO EASY, one might say. To many, social skills are easy and math is hard. And I'm not saying that "easy" things should not be focused on on lw, only that lw content is generally "hard", with the conspicuous example of "easy" social skills. (easy meaning much of the general population can do it) Currently the lesswrong community focuses less on algebra and more on social skills because that is the skill set the community needs, but that focus in turn influences what the community becomes. If we accept the current composition of the lw community, which I would warn against as I think it is too homogeneous, then sure, we can deal with the existing needs of the community, ie teaching social skils. But if we are trying to foster exclusively discussions of high level winning, and if we would reject a discussion on algebra as being too easy, we should similarly reject basic discussions on social skills.

Comment by zaogao on Foma: Beliefs that Cause Themselves to be True · 2011-06-23T03:48:04.045Z · LW · GW

Well, before saying what the lw community should do, one needs to figure out what lw is supposed to be. If it is about pushing the boundaries of knowledge, akin to a scientific journal, then we should not be held accountable to those who don't "get" it any more than a mathematical publication is.And if this is true then lw needs to decide what standards it enforces, that is, whether or not social interaction instruction is a worthwhile publication. However, if it is about the lesswrong community improving their ability to "think and decide more successfully", as it says on the About page, then one should consider how certain groups would respond to posts. And if it is the latter, one should be careful about replying "why pander to them" to critiques, as this response can be used generally against many disenfranchised group that may have a legitimate complaint. Misogynistic? Why pander to overly sensitive people who can't take it like it is. You don't buy into the singularity/transhumanism/cryonics/atheism? Well, I'm not going to pander to your inferior intellect.

Personally, I think TrE did an excellent job describing the impression this site can sometimes give. I really enjoy reading this site, and the posts on epistemology are some of the most influential things I have ever read. And I know that many people on this site lack the social graces that most people have. And this does not necessarily affect their ability to write on the types of topics I like to read about. I also know that there are very fundamental tasks, making friends, getting dates, that are obviously important for people to learn to do. But much of the population, as well as myself, may not glean a lot of insight from this type of instruction. One could even turn the logic around and say, why pander to the socially incompetent?

Since I know lw, I can skip the occasional article that doesn't strike my fancy, but as a newcomer I'm not sure if I would have stuck around. Some of the discussions about socializing, especially the whole PUA episode, really made me wonder, is this my tribe? Are these the people I should be learning from? People who cannot do, in my mind, very rudimentary tasks that illiterates in Appalachia can excel at? And I really do wonder that sometimes. I feel that lw is full of incredibly intelligent people who in their real lives aren't actually "winning." And I know that is what this site is supposed to improve, of course. But I don't feel that the current level of lw elitism is really justified when many people can only theoretically "win."

Comment by zaogao on Dominus' Razor · 2011-05-27T19:33:17.517Z · LW · GW

Can you lay out explicitly what you mean by that? I'm not sure I understand.

If you are saying that the singularity will fundamentally change alter evolution, sure. Perhaps evolution will no longer proceed through proteins in a flesh covered body. But barring some stasis, there will be changes in the make up of a population. I don't think it is that big of an assumption to say these changes will be more than random. Perhaps it is Dr. Evil who copies his consciousness n times, or people who undergo cognitive enhancement, but I don't foresee the current mix of traits remaining constant.

Comment by zaogao on Dominus' Razor · 2011-05-27T18:31:01.172Z · LW · GW

/ "Evolution is dumb enough to have gone ahead and created its usurper. Evolution really will go ahead and evolve itself to irrelevance. "

Not every possible set of genes or every possible consciousness can be expressed, but (barring annihilation) there will be some subset expressed. And there will be some historical path that got us there, and reasons why certain traits exist while others do not. So I fail to see how evolution can ever be irrelevant. Perhaps nerd/early adopter traits will be selected rather than the historical bigger/stronger/faster, but this is still evolution.

/ "By the time it figures out that the current state of it's cleverest creations isn't one where they optimise their response to future selective pressures it'll be too late"

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying here. Organisms have never optimized their response to future selective pressures, they have merely executed their current adaptations. If you are saying that, as a human, I can wear a condom to enjoy sex without reproduction, I agree. But this is not overcoming evolution. This is merely how I express the traits that evolution has given me (ie sexual desire + desire not to ruin life with infant.) I think one should be careful about anthropomorphizing evolution, as it leads to murky reasoning. Evolution is not clever or stupid, it merely is.

Comment by zaogao on The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality · 2011-04-22T20:42:55.797Z · LW · GW

Interesting. I like to see forays outside the usual narrow LessWrong tracks.

Comment by zaogao on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2011-03-15T22:46:57.025Z · LW · GW

"there is no additional physiological advantage afforded to one’s body, including endurance or cardio benefits, by training that lasts more than six to nine minutes a week."

This claim seems almost absurd to me. What evidence is used in support of this? Are any studies cited?

Comment by zaogao on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T18:51:07.559Z · LW · GW

Trainers: Personal training certifications are bullshit, and a lot of trainers are just bad. Luckily, you can look at a trainer and tell how good they are at training themselves. Shoot for someone who has competed in body building or figure competition or powerlifting, depending on your goals, or someone who is obviously in shape. If you see a trainer having their client standing on one foot on a bosu ball swinging a kettlebell, run the other way.

This was very rambling, but exercise is about the one subject I feel qualified to speak on, and the one subject I see so much confusion about. Feel free to message me any questions.

Comment by zaogao on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T18:46:56.101Z · LW · GW

Gaining weight: for all the string beans out there, there is one secret to gaining weight. Ready for it? Eat. Eat a lot. Eat all the time. I hindered my progress for years by not eating enough, and made my best progress when I was drinking a half gallon of whole milk a day. Also, if I didn't make this clear, you have to eat.

Lifting: Heavy compound movements should be the cornerstone of any hypertrophy program. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, pullups, rows. (Google "squat exrx" to see demonstration and description of exercise.) While I agree with nazgulnarsil that you can obtain a good level of fitness with bodyweight exercises, a lot of movements are difficult to load with your bodyweight, additionally, your bw may be too light or heavy for a movement. Moving iron, barbells and dumbbells, should by your base. Cable machines are acceptable. Machines that force motion along a track are least acceptable. Most people do not go heavy enough when lifting. You should be grimacing through all of your work sets. In general, don't go above 12 reps, but don't be afraid to occasionally do singles or triples. (work sets should generally be 4-10 reps.) The 5x5 method mentioned earlier is a fine program, but keep track of what works for you and adjust accordingly. Just use some program and STICK TO IT.

Make sure you consume enough protein, which will be much more than needed for sedentary individuals. You can shoot for 1g of protein per lb of body weight. Now, I mentioned eating a lot earlier. If you are naturally very thin, that is very important. If you are less so, slowly ramp up your calories, and if you start seeing a little pudge growing just scale them back slightly. But if you are gaining no weight, fat or muscle, not eating enough is probably the culprit.

Comment by zaogao on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T18:25:41.878Z · LW · GW

There is a difference between a specific exercise program not working for you and exercise working for you. About 90% of the people I see at the gym are not working effectively towards their goals.

Losing Weight: First, burning calories is not the same as burning fat. People may burn a lot of calories jogging for an homakes, but because their metabolic rate is high they are burning mostly carbohydrates. This steady state cardio results in depleted glycogen, so your body will just want more food to stock up. Additionally, steady state cardio makes your metabolism work more efficiently, which is the opposite of what you want when you are trying to lose weight. Additionally, this type of cardio breaks down muscle, which makes it even harder to lose weight. (If you don't really have a muscular base it is more acceptable.)

Alternative: Morning fasted cardio. Wake up, pop a caffeine pill or drink some black coffee (rev up metabolism and increase utilization of fatty acids) and BEFORE EATING just walk 30-60 minutes on an incline treadmill (or around the neighborhood) With a book on tape this is easy and enjoyable. Because you have enough oxygen your body can actually burn fat. And it will not break down muscle tissue like jogging will. (If you are less averse to exercise look into HIIT, but walking every morning is easier so you are more likely to actually do it.)

Diet: I second those hating on carbohydrates. Your body likes carbs. It likes to use them for energy. Don't let it. Make it use fat. Every time I have made great progress, it is because I made a concrete goal with a concrete time frame. Set a goal to lose x lbs by y date. Not 30 lbs in one year. Try 8 lbs in a month. Commit for that month to some sort of diet, I recommend a ketogenic (almost no carb) diet. By having that time frame it becomes a lot easier not to cheat, and you know exactly what type of progress you should be making.