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Comment author: wedrifid 26 November 2014 05:32:08AM 0 points [-]

I'll be sure to ask you the next time I need to write an imaginary comment.

I wasn't the pedant. I was the tangential-pedantry analyzer. Ask Lumifer.

It's not like anyone didn't know what I meant. What do you think of the actual content? How much do you trust faul_sname's claim that they wouldn't trust their own senses on a time-travel-like improbability?

Your comment was fine. It would be true of most people, I'm not sure if Faul is one of the exceptions.

Comment author: dxu 26 November 2014 05:23:24AM 1 point [-]

Ah. In that case, I think we're basically in agreement. To clarify: I only used the time travel as an example because that was the example that VAuroch used in his/her comment. I agree that even taking into account your observation of time travel, the posterior probability for your insanity is still much larger than the posterior probability for genuine time travel. You do agree, however, that even if you conclude that you are likely insane, the probability of time travel was still updated in a positive direction, right? It seems to me that Nominull (the person to whom I was originally replying) was implying that your probability estimate shouldn't change at all, because that's "clearly impossible"/"fictional evidence" or something along those lines. It is that implication which I disagree with; as long as you're not endorsing that implication, we're in agreement. (If Nominull is reading this and feels that I am mistaken in my reading of his/her comment, then he/she should feel free to clarify his/her meaning.)

Comment author: faul_sname 26 November 2014 04:43:34AM *  2 points [-]

It's always a possibility that I'm insane, but normally a fairly unlikely one.

The baseline hypothesis is (say) p = 0.999 that I'm sane, p = 0.0001 that I'm hallucinating. Let's further assume that if I'm hallucinating, there's a 2% chance that hallucination is about time travel. My prior is something like p = 0.000001 that time travel exists. If I assume those are the only two explanations of seeing a time traveler, (i.e. we're ignoring pranks and similar), my estimate of the probability that time travel exists would shift up to about 2% instead of 0.0001% -- a huge increase. The smart money (98%) is still on me hallucinating though.

If you screen out the insanity possibility, and any other possibility that gives better than 1 in a million chances of me seeing what appears to be a time traveler with what appears to be futuristic technology, yes, the time traveler hypothesis would dominate. However, the prior for that is quite low. There's a difference between "refusing to update" and "not updating far enough that one explanation is favored".

If I was abducted by aliens, my first inclination would likewise be to assume that I'm going insane -- this is despite the fact that nothing in the laws of physics precludes the existence of aliens. Are you saying that the average person who thinks they are abducted by aliens should trust their senses on that matter?

Comment author: ThisSpaceAvailable 26 November 2014 03:51:23AM 0 points [-]

I remember a quote along the lines "Different languages don't restrict what you can say, they restrict what you can not say". For instance, in a gendered language, you can't not say the gender, or at least draw a lot of attention to the fact that you aren't saying the gender.

Comment author: ThisSpaceAvailable 26 November 2014 03:47:24AM 0 points [-]

There a lot of distinctions that English doesn't make, such as singular second person or gerund versus present participle, and some that it makes that aren't really necessary, such as clock versus watch.

that it is impossible to spell it properly.

I'm a bit confused by the word "spell", and wonder whether you mean the fourth definition given here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spell?s=t

Comment author: ike 26 November 2014 03:17:05AM 0 points [-]

I'll be sure to ask you the next time I need to write an imaginary comment.

It's not like anyone didn't know what I meant. What do you think of the actual content? How much do you trust faul_sname's claim that they wouldn't trust their own senses on a time-travel-like improbability?

Comment author: wedrifid 26 November 2014 03:06:12AM *  2 points [-]

Realistically speaking?

Unfortunately this still suffers from the whole "Time Traveller visits you" part of the claim - our language doesn't handle it well. It's a realistic claim about counterfactual response of a real brain to unrealistic stimulus.

Comment author: ike 26 November 2014 02:59:28AM 1 point [-]

Realistically speaking?

Comment author: wedrifid 26 November 2014 02:53:33AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think it's literally factually :-D

I think you're right. It's closer to, say... "serious counterfactually speaking".

Comment author: SystemsGuy 26 November 2014 02:50:45AM 0 points [-]

Hi all. I'm a seasoned engineer, BSEE plus MS in Systems Engineering, with a couple of decades in electronics systems architecture, team management, and now organization management. I'm a big picture guy who can still somewhat do the math, but not really much anymore (ahhh, back in the day.......). Myers-Briggs says I'm an INTJ.

I've had some classes and additional practical experience in decision theory, statistics, communications theory, motivation, common biases and fallacies, utility, and such basics. I am beset with an interest in almost everything technical (I'm a T person, with the depth in electronics systems and the breadth in general engineering and technical topics), but heavily skewed to applied technology, not research. The observable world to me seems to be horridly sub-optimized, largely to human short-sightedness and apparent inability to plan ahead or see the bigger picture of their actions. I much like games and what-ifs. Favorite quotes include Einstein's "you can't solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them", an unattributed "people are not rational creatures, but rationalizing", and one I use to limit analysis-paralysis "I can afford to be wrong, but not indecisive".

I am individualistic and introverted by nature, but I've become more socially conscious and communicative as I've progressed in my career and life with wife and kids. I'm here because I'd like for the world to be a more rational place, especially for my children, but honestly my expectations for success are low. I like the moderated format and technically leaning of this site, though to be honest my readings over the last few days indicate the discussions are more like a debate room than a crowd-sourced problem-solving machine. I'm not saying that is bad, but I can't help but wonder where the "action verbs" will come into the game.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 November 2014 02:34:28AM 1 point [-]

I gave two TEDx talks in two weeks (also a true statement: I gave two TEDx talks in 35 years), one cosmic colonisation, one on xrisks and AI.

I'm impressed. (And will look them up when I get a chance.)

Comment author: dxu 26 November 2014 02:08:14AM *  0 points [-]

Well, the insanity defense is always a possibility, but then again, you have no proof that you're not insane right now, either, so it seems to be a fully general counterargument that can apply at any time to any situation. Ignoring the possibility of insanity, would you see any point in refusing to update, i.e. claiming that what you just saw didn't happen?

Comment author: Lumifer 26 November 2014 02:00:10AM 0 points [-]

Factually speaking

I don't think it's literally factually :-D

Comment author: ike 26 November 2014 01:51:40AM 0 points [-]

Factually speaking, I think if you saw that happen, you would believe, regardless of your protestations now.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 November 2014 01:15:51AM *  0 points [-]

Anyhow, if the object of your affections surprises you with a cuddle and your well being is unimpacted, I wouldn't call that sane.

I think "tying it to" should be read in the sense of an anchor, not in the sense of "is impacted by."

Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 25 November 2014 10:06:28PM 8 points [-]

I gave two TEDx talks in two weeks (also a true statement: I gave two TEDx talks in 35 years), one cosmic colonisation, one on xrisks and AI.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 25 November 2014 09:50:45PM *  0 points [-]

Why stop with morality?For any debate about some X, you can shit that there is no real disagreement, and the two parties are just talking about two different things, X1 and X2, which you arrive at by treating one set of theoreticalclaims as the definition of X1 and the other as X2..

I don't think this dissolution of disputes is a good idea in general, because I think theories aren't definitions, and Ithink there are real disputes, and I'm suspicious of unuversal solvents. But I like tthe Sound example. But I dont like the morality example.. pluralism is bad for the sane reason that subhectivism is bad ... morality has a practical, aspect... laws are passed, sanctions handed out and those either happen or don't.

Comment author: faul_sname 25 November 2014 08:47:59PM 2 points [-]

Yes. And then I would go see a psychologist. Because I find it more likely that I'm losing my grip on my own sanity than that I've just witnessed time travel.

Comment author: Manfred 25 November 2014 08:25:54PM *  0 points [-]

Funny, I upvoted your other quote and downvoted this one.

Anyhow, if the object of your affections surprises you with a cuddle and your well being is unimpacted, I wouldn't call that sane.

Comment author: SystemsGuy 25 November 2014 07:18:43PM *  1 point [-]

Once I held passing interest in Mensa, thinking that an org of super-smart people would surely self-organize to impact the world (positively perhaps, but taking it over as a gameboard for the new uberkind would work too). I was disappointed to learn that mostly Mensa does little, and when they get together in meatspace it is for social mixers and such. I also looked at Technocracy, which seemed like a reasonable idea, and that was different but no better.

Now I'm a few decades on in my tech career, and I have learned that most technical problems are really people problems in disguise, and solving the organization and motivational aspects are critical to every endeavor, and are essentially my full-time job. What smoker or obese person or spendthrift isn't a Type 3, above? Who doesn't absorb into their lives with some tunnel vision and make type 2 mistakes? Who, as a manager, hasn't had to knowingly make a decision without sufficient information? I know I have audibly said, "We can't afford to be indecisive, but we can afford to be wrong", after I make such decisions, and I mean it.

Reading some of these key posts, though, points out part of the problem faced in this thread: we're trying to operate at higher levels of action without clear connections and action at lower levels. http://lesswrong.com/lw/58g/levels_of_action/

We have a forum for level 3+ thinking, without clear connections to level 1-3 action. The most natural, if not easy, step would be to align as a group in a fashion to impact other policy-making organizations. To me, we are perfecting a box of tools that few are using; we should endeavor to have ways to try them out and hone the cutting edges, and work then to go perform. A dojo approach helps with this by making it personal, but I'm not sure it is sufficient nor necessary, and it is small-scale and from my newbie perspective lacking shared direction.

Take dieting, for a counter example: I can apply rationality and Bayesian thinking to my dietary choices. I recall listening to 4-4-3-2 on Sat morning cartoons, and I believed every word. I read about the perils of meats and fat, and the benefits of vegetable oils and margarine. I heard from the American Heart Association to consume much less fat and trade out for carbs. I learned from the Diabetes Association to avoid simple carbs and use art'f sweeteners. Now I've learned not to blindly trust gov'ts and industries, and have combined personal experience, reading, and internet searching to gain a broader viewpoint that does not agree with any of the above! Much such research is a sifting and sorting exercise at levels 2-4, but with readily available empirical Level 1options, as I can try out promising hypotheses upon myself. As I see what works, and what doesn't, I can adapt my thinking and research. Anybody else can too.

Would a self-help group assist my progress? Well, an accountability group helps, but it isn't necessary. Does it help to "work harder" at level 1 alone? No....key improvements for me have come with improving my habits and managing desire, and then improving how I go about improving those. Does it help to have others assisting at level 3 and up? To an extent, it is good to share via e-mail and anecdote personal experiences, books, and thoughts.

The easy part is the vision, though -- I want to be healthier, lighter, stronger, and live longer. Seems pretty clear and measurable -- weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, 1-mile run time, bench-press pounds.

So what is the vision here? What are our relevant and empirically measurable goals?

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