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orthonormal comments on Understanding your understanding - Less Wrong

69 Post author: SilasBarta 22 March 2010 10:33PM

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Comment author: orthonormal 23 March 2010 02:20:14AM 13 points [-]

I think we could designate that as, say, Level (0+2i).

Comment author: simplicio 23 March 2010 04:34:45PM *  6 points [-]

Hell's bells, that's a good idea! Let's classify every belief as a complex number (magnitude 1) with a real and imaginary part!

Astrology: (0 + j1) - {imaginary but vaguely intuitive}

Aliens have visited earth: (2^-1/2 + j2^-1/2) - {intuitively possible, imaginary but with finite real component}

Michelson's prediction of aether wind effect: (-1 + j0) - {simply, honourably wrong}

Elan vital: (0 - j1) - {"not even wrong"}

Comment author: komponisto 23 March 2010 04:47:02PM 4 points [-]

Do you work in some kind of engineering field or something where people regularly write i as "j" and coefficients to the right? Just curious.

Comment author: simplicio 23 March 2010 04:50:50PM 6 points [-]

Yeah, I'm an electrical engineer; "i" is our symbol for current, so we use j instead. As for writing it to the right or left, it's a matter of taste as far as I know. I like it to the left because you're immediately clued in that it's an imaginary quantity.

Comment author: wnoise 23 March 2010 05:37:07PM 1 point [-]

I don't see the point of restriction to magnitude one. And if you do want that, it's much easier to just specify the phase angle.

Comment author: simplicio 23 March 2010 05:39:31PM 1 point [-]

True, but it obscures the imaginary vs. real distinction.

Also, this is a joke. I think.

Comment author: wnoise 23 March 2010 05:51:51PM 6 points [-]

I demand my jokes to be totally rigorous!

Yeah, it's a joke, but it could also be a cute (and hence possibly mnemonic) classification scheme.

Comment author: simplicio 23 March 2010 05:55:36PM 3 points [-]

Fair enough. :) I do find when I hear a science related joke that I take about a minute to determine whether it's "correct," then laugh.

Best one I've ever heard (only works if you've taken a complex algebra course):

What's the contour integral around Western Europe?

Zero - all the Poles are in Eastern Europe.

All jokes about quantum mechanics are automatically unfunny.

Comment author: CronoDAS 23 March 2010 06:36:43PM 4 points [-]

Actually, there are Poles in Western Europe, but they're removable. ;)

Comment author: SilasBarta 24 March 2010 04:46:20PM *  1 point [-]

(potentially offensive) So you can mathematically prove that Hitler destabilized Europe?

Comment author: RobinZ 23 March 2010 08:12:33PM *  1 point [-]

*searches Internet for removable poles*


Edit: By the way - and I fully grant this may be obvious - "removable poles" is not a very good search term.

Comment author: CronoDAS 23 March 2010 09:09:12PM *  4 points [-]

A plane is flying from Warsaw to Paris. The pilot announces that they are passing over Rotterdam, and the world's largest container ship is visible out of the windows on the right side. Shortly afterward, the plane went into a tailspin and crashed.

A later analysis revealed that the crash occurred because all the Poles had moved into the right half-plane.

Comment author: BenAlbahari 23 March 2010 02:38:59AM -1 points [-]


Comment author: komponisto 23 March 2010 04:41:41PM *  2 points [-]

The parent should be at 0, not -1. It's perfectly okay to express something like "LOL" once in a while.

Comment author: wnoise 23 March 2010 04:51:43PM 10 points [-]

Of course it is -- if you're willing to take the karma hit for a comment that adds nothing to the conversation.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 23 March 2010 08:32:28PM 6 points [-]

But it does add to the conversation, in the same way as karma does. It provides the author of the comment valuable feedback about how their comment was perceived. Yes, karma has a similar function, but we react more to written comments than abstract numbers.

Comment author: komponisto 23 March 2010 05:10:31PM *  6 points [-]

The point was, there shouldn't be a karma hit for "adding nothing to the conversation". It should be okay to simply express a reaction without taking a karma hit. The score for "adding nothing" is 0; a negative score indicates that the comment subtracted something from the conversation. To downvote a comment is to actively discourage such a comment from being posted. I don't think such comments should be actively discouraged.

Comment author: wnoise 23 March 2010 05:33:35PM 10 points [-]

Dilution of good content is subtraction, if not as bad as the addition of bad content. I really do have no desire to see a bare "LOL", and will continue to vote accordingly.

Comment author: komponisto 23 March 2010 06:48:12PM 5 points [-]

There is no significant dilution occurring here. If we were flooded by "LOL" comments, or a particular user posted them with inappropriate frequency, that would be a different situation.

You are being too harsh. For my part, I have no desire to see this kind of non-niceness on here, just because we're interested in high-quality content. It subtracts a lot more from the experience here than an occasional "LOL".