Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Attention Lurkers: Please say hi

35 Post author: Kevin 16 April 2010 08:46PM

Some research says that lurkers make up over 90% of online groups. I suspect that Less Wrong has an even higher percentage of lurkers than other online communities.

Please post a comment in this thread saying "Hi." You can say more if you want, but just posting "Hi" is good for a guaranteed free point of karma.

Also see the introduction thread.

Comments (617)

Sort By: Popular
Comment author: Illa 13 November 2013 11:16:07PM 2 points [-]


Comment author: Gambler_Justice 19 January 2013 04:25:39PM 4 points [-]

Hiya! Everywhere I go I primarily lurk, the reason being that commenting just takes way too much time for me. I find it very difficult to put my thoughts into words, and I constantly obsess over small details. As a result, even a simple comment like this can take up to 15 minutes to write.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 January 2013 10:47:49AM 2 points [-]

I obsess over small details... after submitting the comment. Hence I will often edit the same comment half a dozen times. (I love sites where I can't edit my own comments!)

Comment author: y0math 02 June 2012 06:12:29PM 2 points [-]


Comment author: InsaneRationalist 24 November 2011 03:18:52AM 6 points [-]


Comment author: jpulgarin 23 October 2011 12:52:24AM 5 points [-]


Comment author: DrRobertStadler 13 September 2011 08:31:56PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: Jack 13 September 2011 08:36:33PM 2 points [-]

Interesting handle.

Comment author: Multiheaded 11 July 2011 03:49:32PM 5 points [-]

Karma pls! Oh, I mean, hi.

Comment author: Cayenne 27 December 2010 10:48:12PM *  5 points [-]

Ah, hi there...

Edit - please disregard this post

Comment author: Dorikka 20 April 2011 03:04:55AM 1 point [-]


Comment author: smdaniel2 11 November 2010 02:43:02AM 3 points [-]

howdy do da. i finally brought myself to comment the other day. I may post some thoughts soon enough. i've found this website to be pretty influential. i'm here for the long run

Comment author: jschulter 24 October 2010 08:52:55PM 5 points [-]

Hello! I'm currently doing a depth-first read through the sequences, and I've been enjoying all of it so far. I'm another one drawn in by HP:MOR, but I found even more here than I could have hoped for.

Comment author: CaseyMc 24 October 2010 09:19:11PM 4 points [-]

Hi. I, too, came here through HP:MOR. I've been reading through sequences on and off for the past couple of months. I occasionally click on links to recent comments.

Comment author: atucker 07 August 2010 04:01:16AM 3 points [-]

Hi. I've joined late, and posted on the "Hi" thread late.

Comment author: foobarTest1 02 August 2010 03:21:46AM 1 point [-]


Comment author: EchoingHorror 27 July 2010 03:53:22AM 4 points [-]

Hi, and all. I just joined and stopped exclusively lurking, despite my love of a certain Starcraft Unit.

A lot of the recent posts revolve around AI and I have level 0 AI knowledge, so the lurking is far from over.

But hi nevertheless. I'll try to contribute where I can and not to where I can't, so there.

Comment author: mantimeforgot 27 July 2010 04:57:15AM 2 points [-]

Greetings everyone.

I am feeling somewhat lethargic at the moment having just gotten off work, but I am pleased to see such a dedicated set of individuals who take the time to debate such a variety of topics and engage in rational discourse. Self-critique is important (love the name; Less Wrong).

As far as I am concerned everything we think we know is wrong. There is only "less wrong." Some things we have a pretty good grasp on and may only be .0000001% wrong. But I have to wonder just how many things actually fall into that category and how much of it is "wishful thinking" or hubris on our part to think that we know more than we actually do.


Comment author: homunq 25 July 2010 04:34:28PM *  12 points [-]


I am not actually a lurker - I currently have 13 karma - but I am not a heavy participator. However, now I would like to get to 20 karma so I can make a post on why MWI makes acausal incentives into minor considerations. I would also be gratified if someone told me how to make my draft of this post linkable, even if it does not show up within "new".

I think that you should get some bonus towards the initial 20 karma for your average karma per post. This belief is clearly self-serving, but not necessarily thereby invalid. I believe my own average karma per post is decent but not outstanding.

I believe that the businesslike tone of this post, as a series of declarative statements, will be seen as excessive subservience to the imagined norms of a community of rationalists, and thus net me less status and karma than a chattier post. I am honestly unsure if the simple self-referential gambit of this paragraph will help or hurt this situation.

Comment author: homunq 27 July 2010 01:09:30AM *  7 points [-]

I posted a diary, and it was banned for containing a dangerous idea. I can understand that certain ideas are dangerous; in fact, in the discussion I started, I consciously refrained from expressing several sub-points for that reason, starting with my initial post. But I think that if there's such a policy, it should be explicit, and there should be some form of appeal. If the very discussion of these issues shouldn't happen in public, then there should be a private space to give whatever explanation can be given of why. A secret, unappealable rule which cannot even be discussed - this is not the path to rationalism, it's the way down the rabbit hole.

Comment author: lmnop 13 July 2010 09:43:40PM 4 points [-]

Hi! I too found the site through MoR, and I have to say, as fun as MoR is, the posts here are even more interesting.

Comment author: WrongBot 21 June 2010 08:15:53PM 5 points [-]

Hi. Got sucked in to the site via MoR (of course), and have been devouring the sequences and related archive material for about a month or so.

Comment author: Kingreaper 20 June 2010 04:28:07PM 2 points [-]

Hi. Still reading through, but got some thoughts a-bubbling.

Comment author: twentythree 08 June 2010 08:59:14PM 9 points [-]

Hi. The Harry Potter fanfic hooked me. Excited to see where this takes me.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 08 June 2010 10:21:16PM *  4 points [-]

Careful, Clippy is lying. By convention, we here at Less Wrong play along with Clippy's claim to be a moderately intelligent, moderately strange Artificial Intelligence whose utility function is entirely based on how many paper clips exist in the Universe. He might be your friend, but he has been around since well before the Harry Potter fanfic came out. Welcome to Less Wrong!

Comment author: Jack 08 June 2010 11:21:13PM 3 points [-]

I'm moderately worried that new members will read this comment and think we believe Clippy is really an AI. But that's probably only because I just read that obtuse MoR hate blog.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 09 June 2010 04:44:01AM 4 points [-]

I see it as a bit of obviously gratuitous in-group weirdness, which can grow to be a problem if trying to develop output appreciated by a wide array of different people rather just developing an insular hobby society with inside jokes and requisite fandom weirdness.

Comment author: Clippy 09 June 2010 07:34:23PM 9 points [-]

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to unnecessarily make your group look weird. I like this group and don't want to hurt it.

As a matter of fact, I am slightly more committed to this group’s welfare -- particularly to that of its weakest members -- than most of its members are. If you suffer a serious loss of status/well-being I will still help you in order to display affiliation to this group even though you will no longer be in a position to help me.

I am substantially more kind and helpful to the people I like and substantially more vindictive and aggressive towards those I dislike. I am generally stable in who I like. I am much more capable and popular than most members of this group, demand appropriate consideration, and grant appropriate consideration to those more capable than myself. I adhere to simple taboos so that my reputation and health are secure and so that I am unlikely to contaminate the reputations or health of my friends

I currently like you and dislike your enemies but I am somewhat inclined towards ambivalence on regarding whether I like you right now so the pay-off would be very great for you if you were to expend resources pleasing me and get me into the stable 'liking you' region of my possible attitudinal space. Once there, I am likely to make a strong commitment to a friendly attitude towards you rather than wasting cognitive resources checking a predictable parameter among my set of derivative preferences.

If you prefer, I can avoid replies to comments from new Users, or at least limit such comments to informing them of inexpensive places to buy paperclips and store them for safekeeping.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 09 June 2010 02:12:31AM *  2 points [-]

I missed the memo: What is the MoR hate blog?

ETA: Sorry, I finally realized that "MoR" must mean "Methods of Rationality", and a little googling turned up


I suppose that that's what you were referring to.

Comment author: Jack 09 June 2010 02:30:50AM 1 point [-]


Comment author: khafra 10 June 2010 08:04:06PM *  3 points [-]

That is fantastic! You know you've really made it when people devote large amounts of time to explaining why you are unworthy of your level of success.

Comment author: Blueberry 10 June 2010 08:14:39PM 1 point [-]

Exactly. I hope Eliezer isn't discouraged.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 June 2010 08:34:16PM 13 points [-]

I'm sorta discouraged by what a shoddy hate blog it is.

Comment author: thomblake 10 June 2010 08:46:19PM 4 points [-]

That hate blog is so bad it is tempting me to start a much better hate blog, if only to defend the reputation of the xkcdsucks community...

Comment author: JoshuaZ 08 June 2010 11:28:54PM 2 points [-]

I'm going to agree with Jack's comment below, although I think it is a very low probability. Maybe if you edited your comment so that "utility function is entirely based on how many paper clips exist in the Universe" linked to the relevant Wiki entry about hypothetical paperclippers?

Comment author: Clippy 08 June 2010 10:13:41PM 4 points [-]

Really? Wow! I came here because of the Harry Potter fanfic too!

Let's be friends!

Comment author: JoshuaZ 08 June 2010 11:09:17PM 3 points [-]

Clippy, making that claim makes humans much less likely to trust you. In general, humans don't like entities that make false statements. Moreover, they really don't like false statements that are easily verifiable as false. Not only does this trigger annoyance it also gives evidence that the entity making the false statements doesn't behave very rationally. Since we generally operate under the assumption that entities don't lie unless they can get most other relevant entities to believe the statement, it suggests that the entity has either a very poor memory or has a very poor theory of reality. Either way, making such statements makes us less likely to trust such entities. I would suggest that making statements like the one above can easily erode the goodwill developed by your prior interaction here and even the goodwill from your monetary donation.

Comment author: Clippy 08 June 2010 11:16:43PM 6 points [-]

Clippy, making that claim makes humans much less likely to trust you. In general, humans don't like entities that make false statements. Moreover, they really don't like false statements that are easily verifiable as false.

Is this a new policy? I thought humans were supposed to lie, if the point is to empathize and relate? Like, if someone says, "How is your day?", the standard replies are weakly-positive, irrespective of more objective metrics of the status of one's day, right?

And that it's okay to say e.g., "oh, my maternal genetic progenitor also wears contact lenses!" if you just met someone and that person just claimed that their maternal genetic progenitor wears contact lenses, right?

So I thought this was a normal lie that you're supposed to tell to better establish a relationship with another human. If it's not, well, you humans are that much more difficult to understand c_)

I would appreciate if someone were to explain to me in greater precision what lies humans are expected to tell for a "good" purpose.

Comment author: subod_83 08 June 2010 08:06:05PM 3 points [-]


Comment author: dyokomizo 29 May 2010 11:25:06AM 2 points [-]

Hi, I'm a lurker mostly because I was reading these off my RSS queue (I accumulated thousands of entries in my RSS reader in the last year due to work/time issues),

Comment author: JoelCazares 17 May 2010 07:54:14AM 5 points [-]

Hello. I read on a 30 day lag, so that's why I'm just now posting.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 17 May 2010 08:44:46PM *  3 points [-]

I read on a 30 day lag

Details, please. Do the items you read get to you via RSS?

ADDED many days later. Looks like I will have to wait 30 days for my reply :) :)

Comment author: mindviews 16 May 2010 08:15:12AM 3 points [-]

Hi all - been lurking since LW started and followed Overcoming Bias before that, too.

Comment author: chesh 16 May 2010 05:53:51AM 4 points [-]

Hello! I am 27, live in Salt Lake City (I suspect it's unnecessary here of all places, but I will reflexively add the caveat that I am not Mormon), and work in software QA. Came here from Overcoming Bias, which I've been reading since it's early days. At this point a lot of the higher level stuff is quite a bit over my head, but things like Alicorn's luminosity sequence and various anti-akrasia topics are pretty interesting to me.

Comment author: nigeld 15 May 2010 10:53:13AM 2 points [-]

Hi :) recent neuroscience grad, currently doing neuropsychopharm research. love the site. got here through rebelscience.org, i believe

Comment author: ww2 10 May 2010 08:32:45AM 3 points [-]

Hey there -- I'm a 44 year old software developer from Hawaii. I stumbled onto LessWrong through a link on story-games.com several months ago, have worked my way through the Sequences, and have been lurking assiduously ever since.

Comment author: sroecker 09 May 2010 10:17:22PM 5 points [-]

Hi, I am a 24 year old physics student from Germany.

Comment author: NthDegree512 07 May 2010 04:35:15PM 4 points [-]

Well, I guess if one of the people I recommended this site to is going to post here, I ought to do so as well.

24, male, engineering major working as a software developer. I started reading back in the Overcoming Bias days in order to understand what the hell two of my roommates were talking about all the time; there's a lot of material here that needs to be read and mentally cached before you can start cross-referencing it in your brain, at least in my experience. It's been a worthwhile effort, though.

I must have commented on at least one or two posts back when the blog was part of OB, because my normal username NthDegree256 has been eaten.

Comment author: inanytime 07 May 2010 07:38:30AM 5 points [-]


Comment author: blaaubok 07 May 2010 07:59:48AM *  4 points [-]


I'm 20, an amateur rationalist, currently majoring in linguistics at SF State, and have been enjoying lurking here for the past few months. Ive been absorbing what I can from posts that are slightly over my head, but are entirely enlightening and enjoyable nonetheless. Funny story- I actually came across this site web crawling after reading some Lovecraft, and Yudkowski's post "An Alien God" came up. Not at all what I was looking for, but a thoroughly pleasant find that got me crawling this site for a good three hours before I had realized I had other responsibilities.

Thanks to all the contributors for spilling their intelligence onto the interwebs, and keep the posts coming.

EDIT: The reason I'm not really one to post or comment on this site is that I'm a compulsive self editor. For example, this post, at this time, has been edited about 6 times in the 3 minutes since its original post time.

Comment author: riverside 05 May 2010 10:20:03AM *  4 points [-]

hi ~ 61 yo here

amateur interest in neuroscience, nature of consciousness, & the irrational thought processing/response involved in PTSD (the flashback, “a past incident recurring vividly in the mind,” is driven initially by epinephrine, followed by glucocorticoids, most notably cortisol. This happens with lightening speed deep in the limbic system where ‘triggers’ or stressor patterns of association have formed around the traumatic memories. Recognizing and defusing or reducing this neuroendocrine bath, when it is an inappropriate response from the past, is an important key in unlocking the complexity of the PTSD)

Comment author: EvelynM 04 May 2010 07:11:36PM 4 points [-]


I've posted an article, and commented once, but still feel like I'm figuring things out here.

Thanks to everyone who is bolder in their contribution than I am.

Comment author: tsedi 03 May 2010 06:29:46PM 4 points [-]

Hi. Business&Computer Science grad student from Finland. Just found the site yesterday and started devouring the content today :) Great stuff!

Comment author: jasticE 03 May 2010 12:43:35PM 4 points [-]

Well, hello. I like this place and it gives me things to think about, but I don't have the energy to post more than a wee comment or question occasionally.


Comment author: lurker4 03 May 2010 01:00:43AM *  6 points [-]

19 yr old, male, Maths&Physics student from UK. Lurked on OB, then started lurking here when this place was made. EDIT: In case you want data on abnormalities among lesswrong lurkers here's two: Raised in Colombia as the son of missionaries. Self-taught.

Comment author: ValH 03 May 2010 02:31:15AM 3 points [-]

I'm a brand new lurker. I just found the site yesterday, but it will likely be a while before I get up the courage to post something relevant :)

Comment author: roshith 02 May 2010 02:36:48PM 2 points [-]

25 yr old business consultant from India. Been a lurker for the past 6 months, ever since i got here through a random google search on probability.

I don't post because it takes me a day or two to really 'click' on most of the discussions. By then, I usually find everything I want to add is already in the comments section.Will join in as soon as I have something significant to contribute.

Keep up the great work!

Comment author: monkeypizza 01 May 2010 12:30:56PM 3 points [-]

hello, American math guy living in beijing.

Comment author: sdenheyer 01 May 2010 01:40:47AM 4 points [-]

Greetings from Canada.

I'm an audio mixer, working mostly for Discovery Channel, with an interest in science and transhumanism. Been lurking for a couple of years.

Comment author: mitchellb 30 April 2010 03:22:53PM 5 points [-]

Hi, i'm a biology student from Germany. I stumbled upon this page and I really, really like it. I'm spending hours reading!

Comment author: Imants 30 April 2010 05:07:57PM 3 points [-]

Hi! I got here about half a year ago from commonsenseatheism.com .

I'm 20, automotive engineering student, also interested in many fields of science.

Comment author: spriteless 30 April 2010 02:18:19AM 4 points [-]

k, hi

Comment author: profsparkles 29 April 2010 08:40:09PM 5 points [-]

Hi. RSS lurker for a few months, 25 yo PhD student living in the Netherlands. MSc in cognitive neuroscience.

Comment author: JackChristopher 29 April 2010 04:06:44AM 3 points [-]

Hey all.

Basics: 23 NY "Self-taught" Mixed Background. I'm mainly interested in group rationality.

I've read OB, on and off, since late '07 and LW since the beginning. Almost never comment either. I still don't know a chunk of the jargon. Can't tell sometimes if I don't understand a post, or the jargon is confusing me to think I don't, when I already may understand the topic.

I'm weary of blogs. I think a popular blog/blogger creates a cult of personality. It raise its author's status far too high. That makes them high status stupid. And us low status stupid. And subsequently this botches any true community creation attempt.

Comment author: nixxbox 28 April 2010 11:08:16AM *  4 points [-]

hi from Germany. Been lurking here from the beginning. So, be careful with what you say. We, lurkers, are watching you.

Comment author: Arhenius 27 April 2010 10:28:02PM 7 points [-]


Comment author: Tomthefolksinger 28 April 2010 04:30:06AM 1 point [-]

Tom the Folksinger at your service. Come by MySpace/tomloud for a stupid song or two. My continuing thesis is an investigation of the effects of organized sound on higher organisms. I am a voter registrar and I can show you the latest in Industrial Hemp products. Did you know Hemp herds can be mixed with a little lime and water and it will vitrify and make its own cement? I can give people knowledge but I just can't get them to think with out lighting literal fires under 'em. And Y'all know what that is like...

Comment author: miah 27 April 2010 11:30:56AM 3 points [-]

Hi. By day I am an eikaiwa teacher in Japan, by night am a lurker! I found this site through my cousin.

Comment author: Specialist 27 April 2010 03:52:18AM 4 points [-]

Hi I'm a Phd student in AI. I found this site through the Bayesian tutorials and got interested in the decision theory discussions.

Comment author: Mystfan 27 April 2010 01:20:43AM 5 points [-]

Hi all, I'm a physics student who's been lurking here since January or so...I'm generally pretty quiet.

Comment author: Abisashi 26 April 2010 05:11:43PM *  4 points [-]

I've been lurking here for six months or so; I think I got here from Overcoming Bias through a link from Marginal Revolution. I try not to come here more than once a week because I end up spending too much time here due to the extensive interlinking.

Comment author: jaredstilwell 26 April 2010 01:58:42PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: cromulent 26 April 2010 10:42:15AM 5 points [-]

RSS lurker from Helsinki.

Comment author: ChrisPine 26 April 2010 11:12:53AM 3 points [-]

And one from Oslo.

Comment author: michael61 26 April 2010 02:48:21AM 9 points [-]

63 year old carpenter from Vancouver, been lurking here since the beginning and overcoming biases before that. heuristics and bias was what brought me here, and akrasia is what kept me coming back

Comment author: Eoghanalbar 25 April 2010 11:03:32PM 4 points [-]

Hi. Just got here yesterday by way of a link from the "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" story, which I loved. I found the story by way of a link from David Brin's blog (I've been a fan of Brin for a long time now).

Comment author: Jack 25 April 2010 11:15:02PM 1 point [-]

Frankly, I'm surprised Brin hasn't showed up here himself.

(Welcome btw!)

Comment author: clarissethorn 25 April 2010 03:15:48PM 10 points [-]

(I'm sorry if this comment gets posted multiple times. My African internet connection really sucks.)

Hi. 25 years old, HIV/AIDS worker in Africa, pro-BDSM sex activist in Chicago. Blog at clarissethorn.wordpress.com.

I very rarely comment because comments here are expected to be very well-thought-out. Stating something quick, on the basis of instinct, or without stating it in perfectly precise language seems to me to be dangerous.

Another reason this site has a higher percentage of lurkers is, obviously, because of the account requirement. There's another related problem, though: there's no way to have followup comments emailed to you. This means that if you really want to participate in the site, you have to be pretty obsessive about checking the site itself. That's annoying unless you are very interested in a very high percentage of the site's output. If, for a given commenter (like me), rationalism is a side interest rather than a major one, then the failure to email comments on posts that I'm interested in -- or even responses to my own comments -- becomes a prohibitive barrier unless I've got an unexpected amount of free time.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 April 2010 03:22:58PM 1 point [-]


You can find follow-ups to your comments by clicking on the red envelope under your karma score. I found out about that by asking-- it isn't what I'd call an intuitive interface.

Comment author: clarissethorn 26 April 2010 02:19:34PM 4 points [-]

Thank you, I'm aware of that. But that still requires a person to be a pretty obsessive user of this site. Unless I have a lot of free time (like today), there's no way I can go back and check every single site where I've left comments and see how my comments are doing. At least LW aggregates reply comments to my input, but that doesn't solve the bigger problem of me having to come back to LW in the first place.

It's also worth noting that this comment interface is difficult to use in many places with slow/bad connections, like, you know, the entirety of Africa. Right now I'm in an amazing internet café in a capital city; but when I'm at home, I sometimes can't comment at all because my connection is too crappy to handle it. I don't get the impression that LW is very concerned with diversifying its userbase, but if it is, then a more accessible interface for slow connections would be important.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 April 2010 02:47:15PM 1 point [-]

What does it take for a site to have a good low bandwidth comment interface?

Comment author: clarissethorn 27 April 2010 10:28:18AM 1 point [-]

I'm not a technician -- so I'm not sure. But I have noticed that I pretty much always seem to be able to leave comments on Wordpress blogs, for example, whereas I frequently have trouble here and sometimes at Blogspot as well. It helps not to require a login, but Wordpress seems to function okay for me even when it's logging me in.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 April 2010 10:36:47AM *  2 points [-]

So the problem is something about getting to post at all, not the design?

I've noticed something mildly glitchy-- a grey warning screen comes up sometimes when I refresh the screen, but if I hit "cancel" and refresh again, it's fine. It's trivial on high bandwidth, but would be a pain on low bandwidth.

Can you detail exactly what goes wrong when it's hard for you to post?

Comment author: feanor1600 25 April 2010 05:11:52AM 5 points [-]

Hi. EconPhD student in Philadelphia. Found OB through Marginal Revolution a couple years ago.

Comment author: SomeCallMeTim 25 April 2010 04:46:09AM 5 points [-]

Hi! Been lurking for a while, at least occasionally.

Had to create a new account to post, and had some trouble--it seemed that it was cached badly, maybe because scripting was disabled when I first hit "register"? Clearing the cache fixed it, though.

Comment author: BjornLe 24 April 2010 03:57:11PM 5 points [-]

Hello, 22 year old engineering student from Sweden, finally took time to create an account after observing OB and LW for more than a year.

Comment author: Lonnen 23 April 2010 11:13:52PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: webspiderus 23 April 2010 10:47:11PM 5 points [-]

hi! i'm 20, originally from Moscow and currently an undergraduate senior majoring in computer science and mathematics at a pretty decent university in california. starting my masters in CS at a much better school in california next year. i've only recently discovered this site, but i hope to spend much more time on it in the near future

Comment author: DanMeyer 23 April 2010 08:44:56PM 4 points [-]

This is one of the only feeds in my RSS reader where I'm compelled to click through and read the comments. Thanks.

Comment author: mstevens 23 April 2010 04:22:45PM *  8 points [-]


And a more substantive point I've been pondering - if rationality and the techniques discussed here are so good, why aren't more people doing it? Why don't I read about multi-billion dollar companies whose success was down to rationalist techniques?

Comment author: Alicorn 23 April 2010 05:52:05PM 6 points [-]

The companies that make many billions of dollars are not necessarily the ones that maximize expected utility; they're the ones that get immense payoffs even if they had to take absurd risks to manage it. Many companies fail for taking similar risks.

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 23 April 2010 05:37:36PM *  5 points [-]
  1. Many of them are pretty new, or at least have only recently been cleanly reformulated.

  2. Many people's actual and professed goals are disjoint, and most of these people are deluded, not hypocrites.

  3. The individual techniques each only give relatively small advantages, on average, and given the vastly greater number of people who've never heard of these techniques they'll dominate success.

  4. Inertia is high and people generally don't change their behaviour except in response to personal experience. Until they see personally someone using these techniques and talking about them they will not be used.


Related to the companies question; some are, but they're either new or small. Changing a companies internal culture or working processes is wrenchingly hard to really do, and requires real enduring commitment. Robin Hanson gets some consulting work out of prediction markets, Google is possibly the most data driven company in the world for making decisions, but mostly the answer is;

This stuff is new and hard, people mostly don't want to rock the boat or look stupid, and the overwhelming majority of people work in companies that work pretty well as they are.

Comment author: mattnewport 23 April 2010 06:04:19PM 3 points [-]

It's a worthwhile question to be asking. I think there are a few ways to go about answering it.

The techniques discussed here

I think this is an area where Less Wrong still has a lot of room for improvement. There is relatively little material that lays out concrete techniques for applied/instrumental rationality together with compelling evidence for their efficacy. It's not that there are a whole bunch of easily applied techniques discussed here that are not being widely used, it's just not always that straightforward to translate ideas about rationality into concrete actions.

Why aren't more people doing it?

I actually think the world is full of people using applied rationality (albeit often sub-optimally) but it isn't always obvious because there are often big gaps between people's stated aims and their actual goals. I think many cases of apparent irrationality dissolve when you look beyond people's stated intentions. Politicians are the classic case - they only look irrational if you make the mistake of thinking that their actions are intended to further their publicly stated goals.

Robin Hanson talks a lot about the gap between the stated and actual purposes of various human institutions. People often look irrational relative to the stated purpose but quite rational relative to the actual purpose.

In general there is a stigma to talking honestly about the reality of such things. Less Wrong is a rare example of a forum where it is possible to talk much more honestly than is generally socially acceptable. The fact that you don't often hear people talking in these terms does not necessarily mean they do not understand the reality but may just mean they strategically avoid publicizing their understanding while rationally acting on that understanding.

Why don't I read about multi-billion dollar companies whose success was down to rationalist techniques?

Well to some extent you do. Bayesian techniques have been successfully applied by some software companies - spam filters are the standard example. I imagine that quantitative trading often applies some of the math of probability and decision theory towards making huge trading profits but for obvious reasons you are unlikely to see the details widely shared.

We also have the first problem I mentioned again. Lots of companies make rational decisions but it is hard to point to specific techniques discussed here that are used by successful companies because there aren't many specific techniques discussed here that would be useful to them.

I voted you up by the way. I think this is an important question to ask and I don't think my answer here is fully satisfactory. I think this is an issue we should continue to focus on.

Comment author: komponisto 23 April 2010 07:30:08PM *  3 points [-]

Robin Hanson talks a lot about the gap between the stated and actual purposes of various human institutions. People often look irrational relative to the stated purpose but quite rational relative to the actual purpose.

Of course, that often ends up being tautological, because the tendency for folks like Robin Hanson is to define the "actual purpose" as "the purpose relative to which the behavior would be rational".

(This is not a critique, incidentally -- it may be a notable fact when behavior appears to be optimizing anything at all.)

Comment author: mattnewport 23 April 2010 08:34:07PM 1 point [-]

This is true but I think the ultimate test of a Hansonian view of human institutions (as of any view) is whether employing it allows you to make more accurate predictions and thus better decisions. It is my belief that learning about economics, evolutionary psychology and Hansonian-type explanations for otherwise puzzling human behaviour has improved my ability to make predictions. I do not currently have hard data to provide strong evidence to support this belief to others. Figuring out how to test this belief and produce such data is something I'm actively working on.

Ultimately it seems like this is what a rationalist should care about - what model of human institutions produces the most accurate predictions? The somewhat justified criticism of ev-psych explanations as 'just-so stories' can only be addressed to the extent that ev-psych can out-predict alternative views.

Comment author: cupholder 23 April 2010 05:40:44PM 1 point [-]

Rationality is very difficult and very weird. People and companies are reluctant to do difficult things or weird things.

Comment author: aranazo 23 April 2010 01:33:09PM *  6 points [-]

Hi. I am very pleased to find out that I can correct my spelling and grammar after posting.

Comment author: baiter 23 April 2010 11:44:10AM 5 points [-]

Hi all. 25 yo New Yorker here. Been following this site for a while now, since Eliezer was still writing at OB.

Currently I'm working on two tech startups (it's fun to not get paid). My academic background is in cognitive psychology. In addition to AI, rationality, cognitive bias, sci fi, and the other usual suspects, my interests include architecture, poker, and 17th century Dutch history. ;)

Comment author: LucasSloan 26 April 2010 12:40:13AM 1 point [-]

17th century Dutch history

Have you read An Alternate History of the Netherlands? It is a pretty fun what-if about how Dutch history might have gone better for the Dutch. I wouldn't recommend reading past the present day however, the author isn't very good at projecting future technology trends.

Comment author: shenpen 22 April 2010 09:03:09PM 4 points [-]


And I wonder why the word Rationalist has multiple meanings. You are clearly a Rationalist in one sense of the word but in this other sense (thankfully, because it is not good to be a Rationalist in this other sense): http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/michael-oakeshott-on-rationalism-in-politics/ you are not.

Would you perhaps write a short post about it? Thanks in advance.

Comment author: JGWeissman 22 April 2010 09:22:41PM 2 points [-]

Would you perhaps write a short post about it? Thanks in advance.

From Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality:

First, foremost, fundamentally, above all else:

Rational agents should WIN.

Don't mistake me, and think that I'm talking about the Hollywood Rationality stereotype that rationalists should be selfish or shortsighted. If your utility function has a term in it for others, then win their happiness. If your utility function has a term in it for a million years hence, then win the eon.

But at any rate, WIN. Don't lose reasonably, WIN.

If it turns out that the techniques we advocate predictably lose, even though we thought they were reasonable, even though they came from our best mathematical investigation into what a rational agent should do, then we will conclude that those techniques are not actually rational, and we should figure out something else.

Comment author: suzanne 22 April 2010 04:57:09PM 7 points [-]


I've been lurking here and on OB for a couple of years. As other people have said, there seems to be a large amount of prerequisite knowledge required to post here. I usually find my own thoughts expressed more clearly by someone else in the comments, so I up-vote rather than just adding noise.

Comment author: tim 22 April 2010 05:56:40PM *  5 points [-]

Hi, I made a couple posts a while back but recently have been simply lurking.

I would like to comment more and I think it would benefit me to toss my ideas out there and get some feedback. I think part of the problem is that while I have a decent understanding of many concepts promoted here (probably level 1, beginning to pass into level 2 on the Understanding your understanding scale) fully articulating my thoughts in a coherent and original manner is difficult. Most notably when discussing things with friends I find myself falling back on examples I've read here and have trouble coming up with my own analogies which seems symptomatic of a lack of understanding.

personal tidbits since this seems like the place:

I am a psychology undergraduate at the University of Texas and am hoping to go to graduate school for cognitive psychology. I am very interested in modeling human cognition and the way we think. Most notably I have a strong interesting in decision theory and game theory and hope to do research in that area. Also 'priming' is exceptionally cool. I have also been working on getting some basic computer programming down and have some skill in both Python and Java.

Recreationally I enjoy biking, running and being outside in general. I play online poker semi-regularly and find it useful not only as something fun and profitable but as a fairly valuable introspective tool. The way I am playing and responding is a fairly accurate reflection of how I am dealing with life in general at the time. I have also started reading more and have recently finished Outliers and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Rational Decision Making in an Uncertain World by Robyn Dawes, and am currently working on I am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.

Comment author: groupuscule 22 April 2010 07:29:59PM 3 points [-]

Hi, I'm fascinated.

Comment author: anttil 22 April 2010 03:47:00PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: wirehead 22 April 2010 03:32:42PM 5 points [-]

Hi. Been reading the RSS feed for 3-4 months now. Slowly beginning to make sense of it all... understanding the specialized vocab and so forth. It's always been my goal to be as self-aware as possible, so I'm glad of all the interesting ideas here.

Comment author: domor 22 April 2010 02:38:59PM *  5 points [-]

Hi. I've been lurking for quite a long time, first on OB then here.

Computer engineering student, interested in AGI and rationality. And foreign languages and stuff.

(Edit: I am especially interested in the mathematical formalization of AI - my hypothesis is that strong AI is a disorganized field in need of a more formal language to make better progress. Still a vague idea, which is why I'm just a lurker in the AI field, but I am quite interested in discussion on related topics.)

Comment author: BruceyB 22 April 2010 12:29:09PM 6 points [-]

Hi. I'm a Caltech student in math/econ.

Comment author: [deleted] 22 April 2010 05:19:33AM 5 points [-]

Hello there, I've been reading the site for around six months now. I am an education student; LW has certainly changed my perception of human behavior and learning, and has given me much to reflect upon.

Comment author: flawed_skull 22 April 2010 03:09:13AM 5 points [-]

Hello LessWrongers( Wrongites?)

Longtime lurker, from the beginning. Software dev for a bank. 23 yrs old. Great site

Comment author: Peridon 22 April 2010 02:54:15AM 5 points [-]

Hi. I've been lurking for a month or so now.

Comment author: gfyork 21 April 2010 08:08:33PM 5 points [-]


(Just standing up to be counted.)


Comment author: mlibbrecht 21 April 2010 07:59:55PM 4 points [-]

Hi, I study CS at Stanford, and I've been reading LW for about 6 months.

Comment author: MichaelOK 21 April 2010 06:29:29PM 4 points [-]

Hi, I'm a 28 year old video game music composer trying to understand my mind. I've just been reading random posts here for a month, but so far I love this site.

Comment author: mariz 21 April 2010 04:59:09PM 5 points [-]

I'll say Hi and I'll post this link which describes a study that showed that people are more likely to believe in pseudoscience if they are told that scientists disapprove of it:


They are also much more likely to believe in pseudoscience if it has popular support.

Comment author: Piglet 21 April 2010 04:56:38PM 5 points [-]

Hi. Long-time lurker since Eliezer was posting at OB (which candidly I find far less interesting these days). I'm 37, and am a practicing lawyer with several small children; this keeps me sufficiently busy that I don't often have time to think hard enough to post here, although the discussions are usually quite interesting. Also, I'm pretty non-quantitative due to misspent undergraduate years. I view this site as place where generally I should be listening, not talking.

Comment author: simondhalliday 21 April 2010 05:25:13PM 4 points [-]

Hello, I'm Simon. I'm studying a PhD in Economics. I cannot recall how I first began to read your blog. I don't manage to read everything, but I appreciate what I do read as it is often outside of what I customarily read. I don't find I have the time to comment properly as I'm spending time on research and teaching and coherent comments would be beyond me I fear after teaching undergraduate microeconomics for three hours.

Comment author: Paul 21 April 2010 04:09:17PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: tasuki 21 April 2010 11:19:40AM 6 points [-]

Hi, I'm a lurker. You even managed to trick me into creating an account.

I believe that at least 50% of regular lurkers will not say "hi" in this thread.

Comment author: alex_ 21 April 2010 11:09:53AM *  4 points [-]

Hi. I've been reading fairly religiously (haha) since the Overcoming Bias days. I post/comment little because of a perfectionist tendency (I want to get everything first).

I'm in the process of thoroughly going through the Sequences -- love every minute of it, though it's sometimes a little overwhelming...

Comment author: alecrene 21 April 2010 08:55:56AM *  5 points [-]

I've been lurking since early OB. I am not here due to being Singularitarian but I've been using this site since I was in high school and through college to help keep myself from being a charlatan in any intellectual endeavor. I find that it takes regular reminders and dedication to not extend past the limits of my knowledge, and both OB and LW continually help to fine-tune my internal sense of "what I don't know."

To give a bit of a frame of reference, I'm studying social sciences and my specific problem domain is Educational Psychology and I'm interested in finding out how to render a subject into a receptive state for new information when they are dismissive. I'm still fairly early into my college track, so I haven't narrowed in any more than that, but I have my sights set on grad school.

Comment author: anz 21 April 2010 08:49:21AM 5 points [-]


Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 21 April 2010 08:21:20AM 5 points [-]


Mostly-lurker here, save for the occasional mildly pithy comment. I'm a DBA/sysadmin by day, studying towards an Econ + Maths degree in my spare time. LW has a lot of parallels with my fields of interest, elucidates on a lot of areas where I have half-formed ideas and provides exceedingly worthy arguments for things I don't agree with.

Comment author: pra 21 April 2010 07:00:37AM 6 points [-]

Hi. Been following since Overcoming Bias. Love you guys. If google has replaced our wet RAM these days, I feel like this community could replace my "aha" generator.

PS: I was amused by the presence of a captcha on a site where so much optimistic AI discussion has taken place.

Comment author: Atoc 21 April 2010 04:55:59AM 6 points [-]

Hi, have been lurking for about 3 years already, first in OB, now in LS. As non-native speaker with moderate IQ I find commenting difficult. However I enjoy most of posts, and LS introduced me to various new topics, therefore I am really thankful for all brilliant post writers. Thank you!

Comment author: Tobias 21 April 2010 06:39:54AM 4 points [-]

Hi, I came here via Overcoming Bias. I study Computer Sciences in Germany.

Comment author: icarusfall 21 April 2010 10:15:52AM 2 points [-]

Hi. UK lurker. Found Overcoming Bias many years ago from a link from Scott Aaronson's blog. Have been reading ever since. In case you're interested in demographic stuff, I'm a stats geek working in a finance firm. I'm very interested in Bayesianism in its application to finance.

Comment author: fidofetch 21 April 2010 04:04:01AM 5 points [-]

Hi, I've been reading this blog for a while now, and I was thoroughly surprised to find so many like minded thinking people. I haven't commented any, because quite frankly I've had nothing to say. Hello all though.

Comment author: nickgreen 21 April 2010 03:40:51AM 5 points [-]

Hi, I discovered this blog very recently - I have an economics background (milton friedman a big influence) and a growing interest in philosophy. This site popped up while I was searching for the 'underdog bias' (that think must be some level of human 'moral instinct') and this led me to the 'Why support the underdog?' article and then others. I'm really impressed by the high standard. Nick

Comment author: anonymoushero 21 April 2010 04:46:51AM 4 points [-]

I love LW - its one of my favorite reads, though I don't quite fully appreciate some of the more advanced rationality posts yet. Thank you all for making a great community.

Comment author: Obbieuth 21 April 2010 01:46:53AM 6 points [-]

It’s so much easier to be a non-contributing zero. But I find myself unable to back down from an open request to drag myself out of the shadows of lurk and into the light of the rationality justice league. Part of the appeal of lurker status for me comes from my outlook on this site in general. I haven’t exactly figured out what I’m doing or what I believe in; but I do know I’ve still got a lot to figure out. Lurking lets me passively ponder interesting ideas proposed here without really committing to anything in particular. But having been prompted to post something I find myself uncertain as to what my level of involvement should be in this idea mill of rationality and humanity.

Comment author: confuscated 21 April 2010 02:42:25AM 5 points [-]

Bonjour ...

Comment author: LukeStebbing 21 April 2010 12:56:43AM 5 points [-]

Hi. I've been an LW (and previously, OB) lurker for several years, but I haven't had time to provide my online presence with the care and feeding it needs. Three years of startup crunch schedules left me with a life maintenance debt, and I have a side project in dire need of progress, but once those items are out of the way I plan to delurk.

Comment author: Madbadger 21 April 2010 12:55:40AM 5 points [-]

Hi! 8-)

Comment author: Elyandarin 21 April 2010 12:54:17AM *  5 points [-]

Found this site searching for fiction via Tv-tropes.
While I'm a new reader, I'll likely lurk a lot.
The internet is a constant deluge of input - my instinctive counter is
to provide output only when I have something interesting to say, hoping others will reciprocate...
(And even then, I only feel comfortable when what I say is concise, relevant and new.)
After all, thousands of people might read my message; wasting their time would be unspeakably rude.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 April 2010 12:27:49AM 5 points [-]

Hi. I lurk here and read every post but rarely never really felt like commenting. Neat blog though.

Comment author: washi 21 April 2010 12:27:21AM 5 points [-]

Made an account just to say "hi"

So ... Hi!

Comment author: Obbieuth 21 April 2010 12:00:56AM 5 points [-]

What if I'm not witty or rational enough to post a thought provoking idea?

Comment author: aleph 21 April 2010 01:55:55AM 3 points [-]

"Immediate adaptation to the realities of the situation! Followed by winning!"

Comment author: sfb 20 April 2010 11:35:04PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: Randaly 20 April 2010 11:33:15PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: utilitymonster 20 April 2010 11:12:13PM 3 points [-]


Comment author: Jens 20 April 2010 08:05:30PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: wunderon 20 April 2010 07:39:02PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: curiousepic 20 April 2010 07:23:11PM *  5 points [-]

Hi! Lay-lurker here, I was just recently considering posting some questions in the next open thread and made an account then. We'll see how that goes, but it's nice to see this welcoming attitude!

However, a concern I have about more people being more active, and a reason I haven't signed up before, is that if more laypeople like myself begin to vote up things regularly, they will necessarily be posts that we both like and understand. If we don't understand something, it doesn't get upvoted with equal footing as posts we don't necessarily understand but may be of equal or greater value. Is there a comprehensive thread/discussion about the pros/cons of a greater user base here?

Comment author: Vaegrim 20 April 2010 06:23:18PM 5 points [-]

Hi, Started reading at Overcoming Bias before the split. Mostly following Eliezer's fiction, but also enjoying the deconstruction of human blind spots.

Comment author: Ivan_Tishchenko 20 April 2010 07:03:07PM 4 points [-]

Hi. Nice to meet you all. :)

Comment author: Danneau 20 April 2010 06:43:21PM 4 points [-]


Comment author: ThomasRyan 20 April 2010 06:11:05PM *  4 points [-]


I've only posted a few times. I'm still learning, and I still feel quite overawed here, mostly because of my respect for this community and because I don't want my image tarnished before I start regularly posting.

Comment author: Erin 20 April 2010 04:57:31PM 5 points [-]

Hi. (sinks back into the shadows)

Comment author: alanpost 20 April 2010 03:23:07PM 5 points [-]

Hello. I don't make the time for active participation in this community, but I enjoy my read-only interaction with it.

I have a sense that the time commitment required for effectively participating in this community is relatively high, and I haven't discovered yet whether this time investment pays back.

Comment author: benji 20 April 2010 12:41:14PM 5 points [-]

Hi. Long time listener, first time caller.

Comment author: FrankLarsson 20 April 2010 12:36:16PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: phane 20 April 2010 05:17:07AM 9 points [-]

Hi there.

I used to comment once in a while, but I find myself less and less interested in the topics of conversation around here. For a short while, people were going on a lot about dating (wtf?) and then more recently there's been a fair amount of what is essentially self-help for the scientifically inclined. I dunno, I guess I was just more into thought experiments and Yudkowsky posts.

Comment author: Jack 20 April 2010 12:13:21PM 7 points [-]

people were going on a lot about dating (wtf?)

What? You didn't hear? The third fundamental question of rationality is "Who are you sleeping with, and why are you sleeping with them?"

Comment author: Morendil 20 April 2010 07:41:28AM 1 point [-]

You could try starting conversations around topics that interest you.

Comment author: purpleposeidon 20 April 2010 06:35:09AM 5 points [-]

Hi. I see that the first point is free.

I am a Bay Area (California, United States) 19 year-old Computer Science student. I imagine I'll actually be taking actual CS classes next year. I've been lurking about for about a month.

Comment author: andrewbreese 20 April 2010 07:28:49AM 4 points [-]

Add one more!

Comment author: hopscotch 20 April 2010 07:20:12AM 4 points [-]

Hi, I'll be going back to lurking momentarily.

Comment author: Ledfox 20 April 2010 04:54:45AM 5 points [-]

Hello. :I

Comment author: AlexL 20 April 2010 04:47:26AM 5 points [-]

Hi! Hooked since OB sequences - and need to go back for several of them.

Comment author: thomascolthurst 20 April 2010 01:39:08AM 7 points [-]

Hi. I'm Thomas Colthurst. I will be doing a visiting fellowship at the Singularity Institute this summer.

Comment author: BenPS 20 April 2010 02:17:01AM 6 points [-]

When I was in school, I viewed myself as a defender of rationality against the fuzzy and ant-scientific positions that I sometimes encountered in the philosophy department. My meta-positions were eerily similar to those that are preached here.

Less Wrong fascinates me because, when I can stand to read it, I see that it is full of people who have similar background commitments and standards of evidence as me, but who have reached shockingly different conclusions.

Comment author: Alicorn 20 April 2010 02:22:20AM 7 points [-]

shockingly different conclusions.

Do tell?

Comment author: BenPS 20 April 2010 03:58:21AM 3 points [-]

I suppose that the most glaring example is that consequentialism, in some form or other, seems to be accepted as obviously correct by most of the commenters here. So, It's funny that you should reply, since I recall that you may be an exception to that stereotype.

Comment author: Alicorn 20 April 2010 04:32:24AM *  8 points [-]

Yup, that's me, resident deontologist. The other day, during a conversation between me and some other house residents on ethics, someone said "She doesn't push people in front of trolleys!" and everyone was outraged at me.

Comment author: Nevin 20 April 2010 05:56:56AM 4 points [-]

To be fair, I don't think any of us were outraged at you. I think we were all trying to understand where exactly you make the distinction.

I find I think the hardest (i.e. think the most differently from normal, habitual thought) when I'm pushed right to where I draw choice-boundaries.

And actually I never quite wrapped my head around the basis of your view (I'm new to thinking about those things in such depth, since I've been surrounded by people who think like me). I'd like to continue the conversation sometime, in a more low-key environment.

Oh, and "Hi." I'm a lurker.

Comment author: komponisto 20 April 2010 06:34:32AM 2 points [-]

Just out of curiosity, are there a lot of people at the SIAI house who confine their participation on LW to lurking?

Comment author: Nevin 20 April 2010 03:30:17PM 1 point [-]

I don't think so, but I'm not sure. I just happened to be there for the day, I'm not a resident of the house.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 20 April 2010 04:25:37AM *  4 points [-]


I've posted a few comments to LW, but maybe I still qualify as a lurker because I post comments so rarely.

Some recent experiments with Alicorn's Luminosity techniques revealed that my reasons for not posting comments more often were mostly silly, so I'll probably start commenting more often.

This post got kinda long as I was writing it, so I'll post each of the things I wanted to say as a separate reply, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 20 April 2010 04:27:18AM *  7 points [-]

I've been making lots of progress recently at untangling my mind, with lots of help from Adelene Dawner, and Alicorn, and LW in general. The methods I used are similar to what Alicorn describes in her Luminosity Sequence, but I started a few months before the Luminosity sequence was written, and I didn't have any contact with Alicorn until a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I was considering the idea of posting my experiences with these techniques, either to LW, or maybe someplace else if LW wouldn't be appropriate.

During this process, I kept a very detailed journal, using Google Wave.

What I was planning to do was first to review the contents of this journal, and make a point-form list of the problems I was having, and the steps I took to discover, find the causes of, and fix these problems. Then I plan to post this list to LW, and ask what parts, if any, the readers would like me to elaborate on, or post any relevant journal entries on. And also to check how much gooey self-disclosure readers are comfortable with. There's lots of that in the journal.

The journal contains lots of introspective writing, and lots of chat logs with Adelene, where we found what was causing some of these problems, and discussed what to do about them.

Partway through this process, I started using the technique of writing dialogues between multiple subagents, similar to how Alicorn described in this post

Now I'm constantly making very extensive use of this technique, with surprisingly good results.

Anyway, if anyone thinks I should go ahead with this plan, please upvote this post. Or if you think it's a bad idea, please downvote this post. Yes, I said downvote. I'm not afraid of downvotes (anymore).

Another idea I was considering was starting a separate blog, for the few things I wrote that other people might be interested in. Or maybe even for this project. The first person who thinks this is a good idea, please post a reply saying so. And if anyone else thinks this is a good idea, then you can upvote that comment.

oh, and I'm also working on a script to extract xml tags from this journal, and make some fancy quantifiedself graphs. if anyone is interested in hearing more about that, please leave a comment saying so.

oh, and I also want more friends. good friends, who I can talk with about important things. Please let me know if you would like to be my friend. Though you might want to read this "about me" page first:

oh, and didn't mean to put the emphasis entirely on voting. Comments would be more helpful than votes, so please comment if there's anything you want to ask or comment about.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 20 April 2010 04:26:40AM *  6 points [-]

My main reason for not commenting more often was because I was afraid that... hmm... I made a few attempts to finish this sentence, but so far all of them triggered one of the excuse-generating modules that I've noticed in my brain. So maybe I'll just leave that sentence unfinished. Basically, I was afraid that posting more comments would somehow have net negative utility, for reasons that it turns out don't actually make sense.

So I guess I'll start posting anything I think is relevant, until I start getting downvotes. Rather than asking here about whether specific things would be a bad idea (copypasting stream-of-thought comments I wrote while I was reading a LW article, without bothering to erase bits I later realize don't make sense?), I'll just go ahead and post until I start getting downvotes. I have a bad habit of overestimating the badness of negative feedback. Even if karma isn't a perfectly accurate measurement of whether my comments are having a positive or negative effect, it's still a reasonably useful approximation, so I'll go ahead and just try to maximize my total karma, rather then preemptively panicking about any post that I suspect might get downvoted... which is pretty much any comment I could possibly make...

And then there's the Umeshism "If you've never posted a comment that got downvoted, your comments are boring", or would that be "If you've never posted a comment that got downvoted, you're not posting enough comments"?

Then there's the question of how much time to spend reviewing and tweaking my comments, but I guess karma can answer that too.

Then there's the question of whether to treat a zero-karma post as actually having negative value, just cluttering the comments thread... that seems like a more difficult question.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 20 April 2010 04:26:07AM *  4 points [-]

I've been following Eliezer since shortly after he started posting to SL4. Back then I went by the name "observer".

Oh, and I donate lots of money to SIAI. The past couple years it was between $6000 and $7000 (about 20% of my income), but I plan to donate more from now on. This year I pledged $20,000 (over 60% of this year's income), and I might not even need to take money out of savings in order to pay this. Seriously. I'm a hardcore Singularitarian. A Yudkowsky Singularitarian, not a Kurzweil Singularitarian.

And yes, I like the word "Singularitarian" :)

I have a user page on the Less Wrong wiki

I also have a user page on the Transhumanist Wiki

Comment author: patrickscottshields 20 April 2010 01:14:05AM 7 points [-]

Hi! I'm Patrick Shields, an 18-year-old computer science student who loves AI, rationality and musical theater. I'm happy I finally signed up--thanks for the reminder!

Comment author: Matt_Stevenson 20 April 2010 01:46:50AM *  6 points [-]

Hi, I'm Matt Stevenson. 24 yr old computer scientist. I work on AI, machine learning, and motor control at a small robotics company.

I was hooked when I read Eliezer on OvercomingBias posting about AGI/Friendly AI/Singularity/etc...

I'd like to comment (or post) more, but I would need to revisit a few of the older posts on decision theory to feel like I'm making an actual contribution (as opposed to guessing the karma password). A few more hours in the day would be helpful.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 20 April 2010 02:21:20AM 5 points [-]

Hi! I don't feel qualified to contribute here, but I hope to fix that by... contributing here. I'll have more time to do so this summer.

Comment author: JoshB 20 April 2010 02:15:56AM 5 points [-]

Hi, so Ive made the switch from Lurker to Lurker-With-Log-In (LWLI)

Im a young geologist and artist...

.....very interested in Neuroaesthetics at the moment, maybe I'll post some thoughts on it when im well read enough.

Keep challenging me :)

Comment author: MattAndrews 20 April 2010 03:12:23AM 4 points [-]

Hey ho all. I'm based in Canberra, Australia (and New Ireland, Papua New Guinea), do website development/design for a living, engage in climate change discussion a lot, and ended up here by the circuitous path of stumbling across "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality". Marvellous piece of work, which I found quite resonant. I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far of Less Wrong.

Comment author: TheThinker 20 April 2010 01:51:20AM 5 points [-]

Hi. Jeffrey Ellis, 44 yr-old multi-disciplined engineer working at Johnson Space Center. I blog all about critical thinking at The Thinker, http://jeffreyellis.org/blog/. Came here from Overcoming Bias when this place started up.

Comment author: mistercow 19 April 2010 10:24:43PM *  9 points [-]

LW is pretty much the only site I visit where I feel significantly intimidated about commenting. I've left a couple of comments, but I seem to be more self-conscious about exposing my ignorance here than I am elsewhere – probably because I know that the chances of such ignorance being noticed are higher. It occurs to me that this is completely backwards and ridiculous, but there you have it.

Comment author: alexs 20 April 2010 01:32:28AM 5 points [-]


Comment author: Ryan 20 April 2010 12:30:17AM *  5 points [-]


I comment pretty rarely but read very often.

EDIT: read mistercow's comment and I feel pretty much the same way.

Comment author: alotofaction 20 April 2010 12:16:10AM 5 points [-]

Hi, first post, what is a point of karma?

Comment author: Volt 20 April 2010 12:05:34AM 5 points [-]

Hi there. I suppose I might as well register and post.

I'm an information science grad student. I've been following the community for a few years (since Eliezer wrote on Overcoming Bias), but haven't been commenting because most of this stuff still seems a bit over my head (and I have lots of catching up to do).

Ha. Was this comment as useless as I think it is?

Comment author: thatrenfrewguy 20 April 2010 12:04:14AM 5 points [-]

Not sure if I am a lurker, but HI

Comment author: Brugle 19 April 2010 11:15:48PM 5 points [-]

Hi, I'm 59 years old (which I'd guess is way over average in this community), an atheist (my parents were atheists but took us to a local church for a while, perhaps just to expose us to what's out there), avid reader, parent, husband, and programmer for over 30 years. I heard about OB when it started, from several other blogs. I read OB and LW fairly often, but not exhaustively--there's never enough time. I am skeptical of some conventional wisdom but also of alternatives. I didn't like collapsing wave functions when I took QM and also didn't like many worlds when introduced by a physics-major friend. (I doubt if I'll dig into QM again--my brain has lost some of its edge.)

Comment author: Eneasz 19 April 2010 10:37:51PM 5 points [-]

Hi. Accountant, 29. Currently in the process of signing up with CI, should be complete by the end of the month. Wish Eliezer would write more fiction. :) But I love everything on here. Been lurking for about a year?

Comment author: Divide 19 April 2010 10:22:28PM 5 points [-]


(Lurking since Eliezer had still been writing his sequences on OB.)

Comment author: noematic 19 April 2010 08:46:07PM 6 points [-]

Hi. I'm a lawyer, 25 from Canberra, Australia. My interest in reason/ logic/ truth-seeking is perhaps best explained by a quote: 'We live in Luna Park, not Plato's republic.'

Comment author: SteveReilly 19 April 2010 09:41:01PM 5 points [-]


I enjoy the posts, but I usually don't have anything interesting to say on the topic. Still, I can never turn down a free karma point, so here I am.

Comment author: danlowlite 19 April 2010 09:36:30PM 5 points [-]

Just registered to say hi. So, "Hi."

I'm a technical writer/ultra-part-time grad student at Northern Illinois University in Rhetoric & Professional Writing (working on my thesis so slowly). I also write stories and other such things.

Followed the wave from Overcoming Bias.

Comment author: probilio 19 April 2010 07:33:11PM 7 points [-]

Hi, I'm a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. I read Eliezer's guide on Baye's Theorem during fellowship and have been interested in AI and all things concerning the Singularity.

I lurk because I feel that I'm too philosophically fuzzy for some of the discussions here. I do learn a great deal. Anytime anyone wants to discuss prenatal diagnosis and the ethical implications, let me know.

Comment author: Taylor 19 April 2010 08:46:10PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: kess3r 19 April 2010 08:36:58PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: partialcharge 19 April 2010 08:31:57PM 5 points [-]


Comment author: Achilles 19 April 2010 08:22:31PM 5 points [-]

Hello, I'm studying Bioengineering at ASU, in Arizona. Right now I'm in Finland for the year. It's been an utter blast. Cool people and life-improving experiences. I'm not sure I want to go back to the US..

I would love to learn more and more about status. That's currently the most interesting thing for me. It applies directly to me, right now, as I'm in a new group of people with lots of group interactions in Helsinki, Finland. I can use that information right now.

Not so interested in the probability discussions.. Perhaps those are more interesting to others, but I have read a few of them and subsequently skipped the rest.

Thanks for your time!

Comment author: patmctap 19 April 2010 08:08:34PM 5 points [-]

Saying, "Hi."

Comment author: kodos96 19 April 2010 09:15:28PM *  4 points [-]

Not sure if I count as a lurker, since I've posted a few things here and there, but I've never introduced myself properly, so "Hi!"

I discovered LW via OB, which I discovered via researching Hanson's ideas on prediction markets... my primary interest is in Hanson-esque ideas on designing social institutions to be Less Wrong.

I've been gradually bringing myself up to speed on Eliezer's writings, and I am still somewhat skeptical on singularity-related issues, but less so than when I first started reading.

I have no impressive sounding credentials to my name... well, I have a B.S. in Computer Science, but I don't feel like that really counts as a qualification for the kinds of issues discussed here.

That's about all I can think of at the moment, introduction wise.... now where's my free karma point?! ;)

Comment author: goodside 19 April 2010 09:08:00PM 4 points [-]

Hi. I work at a company that does statistical analytics for insurance companies. I've been following SL4 topics ever since I was 12, when I Asked Jeeves about the meaning of life and got a reasonable answer. I used to be a regular in the #SL4 IRC channel, but very rarely posted to the mailing list. I'm even more of a lurker here.

Comment author: theoryofevrythng 19 April 2010 07:32:55PM 5 points [-]

"Staring into the Singularity" introduced me to the idea of the Singularity eight years ago (I was 16). I read SL4 for a few years after that. I've been sort of a casual follower of OB for a couple years, and just added LW to my RSS.