In response to comment by on The Stamp Collector
Comment author: 25 May 2015 09:00:34AM 0 points [-]

It's worse than that. Only naive reductionism experts that you can always explain am X in terms of something else. What is matter made of?

Comment author: 25 May 2015 08:29:16AM 0 points [-]

The context seems to indicate otherwise.

In response to comment by on Test Your Calibration!
Comment author: 25 May 2015 08:15:24AM 0 points [-]

The best calibration IMO exercises I was able to find (which also work for non-Americans) can be downloaded from the website of How to Measure Anything.

http://www.howtomeasureanything.com/

Comment author: 25 May 2015 07:44:28AM 0 points [-]

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

The German original is somewhat stronger:

"Ihr seid alle Idioten zu glauben, aus Eurer Erfahrung etwas lernen zu können, ich ziehe es vor, aus den Fehlern anderer zu lernen, um eigene Fehler zu vermeiden."

Comment author: 25 May 2015 05:04:00AM 1 point [-]

Also nerds would prefer to hang out with normal people. This means that any normal person willing to hang out with nerds instantly gains high status within a nerd community. Also, nerds are perfectly willing to exile the more social inept nerds from their communities for the chance to have a normal person join. Tragically this tends to create a slippery slope that ends with nerds being exiled from their own communities.

Comment author: 25 May 2015 04:58:19AM 0 points [-]

How much of it is skills really and how much is really disliking? For example I don't think I had any social skils problems with people I liked but on the other hand, maybe they just tolerated it because they liked me too.

Or maybe you only liked people you didn't have social problems with.

Comment author: 25 May 2015 02:34:12AM 0 points [-]

I've heard the story of Elijah and the Priests of Baal being told as one of the first experimental swindles, rather than the first experiment. It goes something like this: Elijah: Pours 'water' on his pyre. Pyre: Catches on fire Priest of Baal: "Wait was that water or oil? If I pour some of your 'water' on my pyre maybe it will light too..." Elijah: "Put them to death before they can invent repeatability testing."

The water being oil part is so obvious that it reads less like a 'God turned water into fire' story and more like a 'look how dumb those Baal worshipers were, we totally tricked them' story. I've heard it told both ways though.

Comment author: 25 May 2015 02:29:21AM 0 points [-]

There are already are well-argued articles, I'm not sure how useful more articles would be. Perhaps a more accessible version of Existential Risk as a Global Priority would be useful, though.

Comment author: 25 May 2015 02:22:39AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I suppose you're right. Still, once something that could pose a large existential risk comes into existence or looks like it will soon come into existence, wouldn't politicians then consider existential risk reduction? For example, once a group is on the verge of developing AGI, wouldn't the government think about what to do about it? Or would they still ignore it? Would the responses of different parties vary?

You could definitely be correct, though; I'm not knowledgeable about politics.

Comment author: 25 May 2015 02:06:45AM 0 points [-]

My use of the term "you" when I said "why should you care about other people" (and the rest of the post for that matter) was a stylistic use in the global sense, not personally directed at him.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 11:22:55PM *  0 points [-]

Neither did I. (Note the difference between "more than" and "equally with".)

You said that he should care about "other people", without you distinguishing between classes of people. This implies that you don't think he cares about other people now. Phrased that way, that implies you think he doesn't care about other people in general, not about non-friend other people. All of your arguments apply to people in general anyway.

But he never said that. He cares for some other people (his friends). He just doesn't care for other people equally. EA is weird, and most people don't share belief in it.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 11:19:03PM 3 points [-]

I don't know what people usually mean when they say that nerds have poor social skills. But I say that nerd communities function worse than regular communities. It's not just that nerds don't know how to flirt with regular people, but nerds have great difficulty flirting with nerds.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 10:52:48PM 0 points [-]

If you find that something is suddenly happening a lot, probably it was always happening and you never noticed. Particularly if it is something that is easy to misinterpret, like advice.

In response to comment by on "Risk" means surprise
Comment author: 24 May 2015 09:59:56PM 0 points [-]

So, it randomly samples from the empirical distribution?

You seem to be reading "non-Markovian" as "Markovian."

Comment author: 24 May 2015 09:13:12PM *  1 point [-]

In scientific thought we adopt the simplest theory which will explain all the facts under consideration and enable us to predict new facts of the same kind. The catch in this criterion lies in the word "simplest." It is really an aesthetic canon such as we find implicit in our criticisms of poetry or painting. The layman finds such a law as ${\mathrm{d}x \over \mathrm{d} t} = {k \, \mathrm{d}^2x \over \mathrm{d}y^2}$ much less simple than "it oozes," of which it is the mathematical statement. The physicist reverses this judgment, and his statement is certainly the more fruitful of the two, so far as prediction is concerned. It is, however, a statement about something very unfamiliar to the plainman, namely, the rate of change of a rate of change.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 07:31:41PM 1 point [-]

Thanks, this is a very good point.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 06:05:25PM *  0 points [-]

Of course it sounds more palatable to other people, but actually it's a completely different attitude from the one you're actually taking! You're just viewing other people's success as a means to what is eventually your own success after all. This is not at all the bizarre universal love and self-abnegation that the initial post suggested to me.

I also suspect you might be in a relatively atypical life situation if you manage to leverage this business-like perspective into universal social skills because you can just apply it to practically everyone you meet. But then it might be my own situation that's more atypical. (It's also not clear how "spending time helping you" translates into felicitous interaction - most people I meet don't need and couldn't use my help; but I'm not asking you to explain because I don't think I can use your approach anyway.)

Comment author: 24 May 2015 05:22:17PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the reply. The part about it being "really easy" was a glib attempt at humor, in the same vein as saying, "Losing weight is really easy: you just stop eating so much and start working out more!" Or "It's easy to quit smoking, just don't smoke!" As with many things in life there's a big gap between knowing what one should do and then actually doing it.

As you said, intellectually accepting something tends to be much easier than emotionally integrating it. I wish I had better advice when it came to that part of things. The best I can do is just point to the key premise behind social skills and hope to highlight some mistakes that smart people tend to make when approaching the issue.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 04:50:56PM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for this comment; I don't know about social interaction being really fucking easy, but I agree wholeheartedly with your recommendations for how to see other people.

Seeing this modeled in the people around me has had a huge positive impact in my life. I'm surrounded by people who, while not skilled at rationality, continually look for the potential and value in other people and openly strategize about how to nurture that viewpoint. (Of course, it would be even better if they were also skilled rationalists, and I'm trying to add that component into my community life as well.)

I'm not sure how many, but I think most people around here are "pro-human" in the sense of thinking every persons life, happiness, and fulfillment is a value to be ultimately pursued (though I make no argument about the opportunity cost of doing so in general at the current time.) Accepting this on an intellectual level is different than emotionally integrating it, and the emotional integration of this has been really fulfilling for me, as well as having the positive impacts on social interaction that you mention.

I think the tendency to feel negative toward "baselines" can be seen as an attribution error in light of those values. You may be annoyed/disgusted/confused by the other person's lack of understanding in the moment, but the cause of your response can be seen as conditional to that situation, and you can remind yourself of all the good things you would wish for this person given the ability to make them happen.

I'd tentatively recommend anyone finding themselves feeling negative toward "baselines" cultivate a group of people around them who take this view, even if they have bad epistemics. I hear that Unitarian Universalists may be good for this, as they're open to atheists while having some of the same pro-human community values. My recommendation is tentative, since I think other people may respond differently to the trade-off of community epistemics versus nurturing this viewpoint; but if you have people around you who can satisfy both, then spend time with them!

Edit: I think I want to add a warning/disagreement that you don't want to end up being condescending or fatherly/motherly unless it's an appropriate relationship for that. This is one of the ways interaction isn't easy. But I do find it really helpful to cultivate this as an internal viewpoint.

Comment author: 24 May 2015 04:49:13PM *  1 point [-]

If you understand the concept that other people have value, then it sounds like your primary issue is just with the semantic meaning behind "genuinely caring about other people's success". Which is fine, it's an overly complex idea to try to distill into a single sentence and I would expect there to be a fair amount of clarification needed.

But to be clear, it's a semantic disagreement rather than one about the underlying meaning. If I had to be less succinct with my explanation I'd say: "Being confident enough in one's own self-improvement processes that one expects more incremental value in dedicating unallocated time to other people's success than one's own." If you have a disagreement with that, I'd much rather discuss that than semantics.

(The reason I chose one phrasing over the other is that, "I care more about your success than my own" sounds a lot more palatable to the person I'm helping out than, "I expect to see more value if I spend this time helping you than if I spend this time helping me.")

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