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

Rationality Quotes April 2012

4 Post author: Oscar_Cunningham 03 April 2012 12:42AM

Here's the new thread for posting quotes, with the usual rules:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be voted up/down separately.  (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments.  If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself
  • Do not quote comments/posts on LW/OB
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.

Comments (858)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 April 2012 01:31:51PM 4 points [-]

In recent years, I've come to think of myself as something of a magician, and my specialty is pulling the wool over my own eyes.

--Kip W

Comment author: Vulture 28 April 2012 03:26:23AM *  0 points [-]

Leonid: Without a purpose, a man is nothing.

Newton: Yes. But we wonder...do you share our gift? Do you have the necessary vision? Do you know the final fate of man?

Leonid: How could anyone know things like that?

Council: The Greater Science. The Quiet Math. The Silent Truth. The Hidden Arts. The Secret Alchemy.

Newton: Every question has an answer. Every equation has a solution.

  • S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Jonathan Hickman)
Comment author: SusanBrennan 29 April 2012 02:46:20PM 0 points [-]

Isn't one of the implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorem that there will always be unanswerable questions?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 29 April 2012 03:08:03PM 1 point [-]

Only if the questioner is consistent.

Comment author: Vulture 30 April 2012 05:12:24AM *  0 points [-]

And there's no way to tell whether the questioner is inconsistent, or there exist unanswerable questions, right? [In any case, I would be greatly astonished if "What is the final fate of man?" was found to be isomorphic to a human Godel sentence ;-) ]

Comment author: David_Gerard 29 April 2012 02:19:52PM 2 points [-]

The point of this one isn't clear.

Comment author: Vulture 30 April 2012 05:18:07AM 0 points [-]

I guess it probably should have been broken up into a couple of shorter ones, but it was a single, short exchange and I just couldn't resist. That the question of the final fate of man, can, like any question, be answered with a greater science, with the hidden arts... this is essentially the message of transhumanist rationality, and it was beautifully phraseds here. "Without a purpose, a man is nothing"... this really should have been off on its own, in retrospect, but its meaning is a little bit less obscure, I think.

Comment author: Vulture 28 April 2012 03:04:31AM 4 points [-]

Human beings have been designed by evolution to be good pattern matchers, and to trust the patterns they find; as a corollary their intuition about probability is abysmal. Lotteries and Las Vegas wouldn't function if it weren't so.

-Mark Rosenfelder (http://zompist.com/chance.htm)

Comment author: bojangles 27 April 2012 06:49:41PM *  2 points [-]

I stopped being afraid because I read the truth. And that's the scientifical truth which is much better. You shouldn't let poets lie to you.

-- Bjork

Comment author: Konkvistador 27 April 2012 07:39:39AM 8 points [-]

Generally when I see write-ups of statistical results, I immediately go to the original source. The fact is that the media is liable to simply shade and color the results to suit their own pat narrative. That’s just human nature.

--Razib Khan, source

Comment author: iwdw 24 April 2012 03:48:57PM 7 points [-]

The fact that I can knock 12 points off a Hamilton Depression scale with an Ambien and a Krispy Kreme should serve as a warning about the validity and generalizability of the term "antidepressant."

Comment author: asparisi 20 April 2012 07:23:30PM 6 points [-]

"If you had a choice between the ability to detect falsehood and the ability to discover truth, which would you take? There was a time when I thought they were different ways of saying the same thing, but I no longer believe that. Most of my relatives, for example, are almost as good at seeing through subterfuge as they are at perpetrating it. I'm not at all sure, though, that they care much about truth. On the other hand, I'd always felt there was something noble, special, and honorable about seeking truth..."

  • Merlin, Sign of Chaos
Comment author: chaosmosis 18 April 2012 05:29:45PM *  8 points [-]

"When I was young I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."

-- Farenheit 451

I'll be sticking around a while, although I'm not doing too well right now (check the HPMOR discussion thread for those of you interested in viewing the carnage, it's beautiful). It's not really a rationality problem, but I need to learn how to deal with other people who have big egos, because apparently only two or three people received my comments the way I meant them to come across. Plus, I like the idea of losing so much karma in one day and then eventually earning it all back and being recognized as a super rationalist. Gaining the legitimate approval of a group who now have a lot against me will be a decent challenge.

Also I doubt that I would be able to resist commenting even if I wanted to. That's probably mostly it.

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 05:48:27PM *  25 points [-]

Tips for dealing with people with big egos:

  • Don't insult anyone, ever. If Wagner posts, either say "Hmm, why do you believe Mendelssohn's music to be derivative?" or silently downvote, but don't call him an antisemitic piece of shit.
  • Attributing negative motivations (disliking you, wanting to win a debate, being prejudiced) counts as an insult.
  • Attributing any kind of motivation at all is pretty likely to count as an insult. You can ask about motivation, but only list positive or neutral ones or make it an open question.
  • Likewise, you can ask why you were downvoted. This very often gets people to upvote you again if they were wrong to downvote you (and if not, you get the information you want). Any further implication that they were wrong is an insult.
  • Stick closely to the question and do not involve the personalities of debaters.
  • Exception to the above: it's okay to pass judgement on a personality trait if it's a compliment. If you can't always avoid insulting people, occasionally complimenting them can help.
  • A lot of things are insults. You will slip up. This won't make people dislike you.
  • If you know what a polite and friendly tone is, have one.
  • If someone isn't polite and friendly, it means you need to be more polite and friendly.
  • If they're being very rude and mean and it's getting annoying, you can gently mention it. Still make the rest of your post polite and friendly and about the question.
  • If the "polite and about the question" part is empty, don't post.
  • If you have insulted someone in a thread - either more than once, or once and people are still hostile despite you being extra nice afterwards - people will keep being hostile in the thread and you should probably walk away from it.
  • If hostility in a thread is leaking into your mood, walk away from the whole site for a little while.
  • When you post in another thread, people will not hold any grudges against you from previous threads. Sorry for your epic quest, but we don't have much against you right now.
  • Apologies (rather than silence) are a good idea if you were clearly in the wrong and not overly tempted to add "but".

On politeness:

  • Some politeness norms are stupid and harmful and wrong, like "You must not criticize even if explicitly asked to" or "Disagreement is impolite". Fortunately, we don't have these here.
  • Some are good, like not insulting people. Insulting messages get across poorly. This happens even when people ignore the insult to answer the substance, because the message is overloaded.
  • Some are mostly local communication protocols that help but can be costly to constrain your message around. It's okay to drop them if you can't bear the cost.
  • Some are about fostering personal liking between people. They're worthwhile to people who want that and noise to people who don't.
  • Taking pains to be polite is training wheels. People who are good with words can say precisely and concisely what they mean in a completely neutral tone. People who aren't are injecting lots of accidental interpersonal content, so we need to make it harmless explicitly.

People who are exempted:

  • The aforementioned people, who will never accidentally insult anyone;
  • People whose contribution is so incredibly awesome that it compensates for being insufferable; I know of a few but none on LessWrong;
  • wedrifid, who is somehow capable of pleasant interaction while being a complete jerk.
Comment author: komponisto 22 April 2012 08:36:58PM 5 points [-]

wedrifid, who is somehow capable of pleasant interaction while being a complete jerk

Regardless of whether or not this is compatible with being a "complete jerk" in your sense, I wish to point out that wedrifid is in many respects an exemplary Less Wrong commenter. There are few others I can think of who are simultaneously as (1) informative, including about their own brain state, (2) rational, especially in the sense of being willing and able to disagree within factions/alliances and agree across them, and (3) socially clueful, in the sense of being aware of the unspoken interpersonal implications of all discourse and putting in the necessary work to manage these implications in a way compatible with one's other goals (naturally the methods used are community-specific but that is more than good enough).

In saying this, I don't know whether I'm expanding on your point or disagreeing with it.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 24 April 2012 05:50:04AM 3 points [-]

I would be interested in having wedrifid write a post systematically explaining his philosophy of how to participate on LW, because the bits and pieces of it that I've seen so far (your comment, TheOtherDave's, this comment by wedrifid) are not really forming into a coherent whole for me.

Comment author: wedrifid 24 April 2012 06:45:45AM 3 points [-]

I would be interested in having wedrifid write a post systematically explaining his philosophy of how to participate on LW, because the bits and pieces of it that I've seen so far (your comment, TheOtherDave's, this comment by wedrifid) are not really forming into a coherent whole for me.

That would be an interesting thing to do, too. It is on the list of posts that I may or may not get around to writing!

Comment author: wedrifid 22 April 2012 08:51:56PM *  4 points [-]

Regardless of whether or not this is compatible with being a "complete jerk" in your sense, I wish to point out that wedrifid is in many respects an exemplary Less Wrong commenter. There are few others I can think of who are simultaneously as (1) informative, including about their own brain state, (2) rational, especially in the sense of being willing and able to disagree within factions/alliances and agree across them, and (3) socially clueful, in the sense of being aware of the unspoken interpersonal implications of all discourse and putting in the necessary work to manage these implications in a way compatible with one's other goals (naturally the methods used are community-specific but that is more than good enough).

I appreciate your kind words komponisto! You inspire me to live up to them.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 April 2012 07:12:29PM *  6 points [-]

I'll add to this that actually paying attention to wedrifid is instructive here.

My own interpretation of wedrifid's behavior is that mostly s/he ignores all of these ad-hoc rules in favor of:
1) paying attention to the status implications of what's going on,
2) correctly recognizing that attempts to lower someone's status are attacks
3) honoring the obligations of implicit social alliances when an ally is attacked

I endorse this and have been trying to get better about #3 myself.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 20 April 2012 08:53:15PM 11 points [-]

The phrase "social alliances" makes me uneasy with the fear that if everyone did #3, LW would degenerate into typical green vs blue debates. Can you explain a bit more why you endorse it?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 April 2012 11:10:33PM 7 points [-]

If Sam and I are engaged in some activity A, and Pat comes along and punishes Sam for A or otherwise interferes with Sam's ability to engage in A...
...if on reflection I endorse A, then I endorse interfering with Pat and aiding Sam, for several reasons: it results in more A, it keeps me from feeling like a coward and a hypocrite, and I establish myself as a reliable ally. I consider that one of the obligations of social alliance.
...if on reflection I reject A, then I endorse discussing the matter with Sam in private. Ideally we come to agreement on the matter, and either it changes to case 1, or I step up alongside Sam and we take the resulting social status hit of acknowledging our error together. This, too, I consider one of the obligations of social alliance.
...if on reflection I reject A and I can't come to agreement with Sam, I endorse acknowledging that I've unilaterally dissolved the aspect of our social alliance that was mediated by A. (Also, I take that status hit all by myself, but that's beside the point here.)

I agree with you that if I instead skip the reflective step and reflexively endorse A, that quickly degenerates into pure tribal warfare. But the failure in this case is not in respecting the alliance, it's failing to reflect on whether I endorse A. If I do neither, then the community doesn't degenerate into tribal warfare, it degenerates into chaos.

Admittedly, chaos can be more fun, but I don't really endorse it.

All of that said, I do recognize that explicitly talking about "social alliances" (and, indeed, explicitly talking about social status at all) is a somewhat distracting thing to do, and doesn't help me make myself understood especially well to most audiences. It was kind of a self-indulgent comment, in retrospect, although an accurate one (IMO).

(I feel vaguely like Will_Newsome, now. I wonder if that's a good thing.)

Comment author: wedrifid 21 April 2012 06:05:17AM 16 points [-]

I feel vaguely like Will_Newsome, now. I wonder if that's a good thing.

Start to worry if you begin to feel morally obliged to engage in activity 'Z' that neither you, Sam or Pat endorse but which you must support due to acausal social allegiance with Bink mediated by the demon X(A/N)th, who is responsible for UFOs, for the illusion of stars that we see in the sky and also divinely inspired the Bhagavad-Gita.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 April 2012 03:20:55PM 3 points [-]

Been there, done that. (Not specifically. It would be creepy if you'd gotten the specifics right.)
I blame the stroke, though.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 April 2012 05:54:06PM 7 points [-]

Been there, done that. (Not specifically. It would be creepy if you'd gotten the specifics right.) I blame the stroke, though.

Battling your way to sanity against corrupted hardware has the potential makings of a fascinating story.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 April 2012 06:56:08PM 7 points [-]

It wasn't quite as dramatic as you make it sound, but it was certainly fascinating to live through.
The general case is here.
The specifics... hm.
I remain uncomfortable discussing the specifics in public.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 April 2012 05:46:48AM *  1 point [-]

If Sam and I are engaged in some activity A, and Pat comes along and punishes Sam for A or otherwise interferes with Sam's ability to engage in A...
...if on reflection I endorse A, then I endorse interfering with Pat and aiding Sam, for several reasons: it results in more A, it keeps me from feeling like a coward and a hypocrite, and I establish myself as a reliable ally. I consider that one of the obligations of social alliance.
...if on reflection I reject A, then I endorse discussing the matter with Sam in private. Ideally we come to agreement on the matter, and either it changes to case 1, or I step up alongside Sam and we take the resulting social status hit of acknowledging our error together. This, too, I consider one of the obligations of social alliance.
...if on reflection I reject A and I can't come to agreement with Sam, I endorse acknowledging that I've unilaterally dissolved the aspect of our social alliance that was mediated by A. (Also, I take that status hit all by myself, but that's beside the point here.)

I really like your illustration here. To the extent that this is what you were trying to convey by "3)" in your analysis of wedrifid's style then I endorse it. I wouldn't have used the "alliances" description since that could be interpreted in a far more specific and less desirable way (like how Wei is framing it). But now that you have unpacked your thinking here I'm happy with it as a simple model.

Note that depending on the context there are times where I would approve of various combinations of support or opposition to each of "Sam", "Pat" and "A". In particular there are many behaviors "A" that the execution of will immediately place the victim of said behavior into the role of "ally that I am obliged to support".

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 April 2012 03:03:47PM *  2 points [-]

Yeah, agreed about the distracting phrasing. I find it's a useful way for me to think about it, as it brings into sharp relief the associated obligations for mutual support, which I otherwise tend to obfuscate, but talking about it that way tends to evoke social resistance.

Agreed that there are many other scenarios in addition to the three I cite, and the specifics vary; transient alliances in a multi-agent system can get complicated.

Also, if you have an articulable model of how you make those judgments I'd be interested, especially if it uses more socially acceptable language than mine does.

Edit: Also, I'm really curious as to the reasoning of whoever downvoted that. I commit to preserving that person's anonymity if they PM me about their reasoning.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 April 2012 05:29:58PM 0 points [-]

I'm really curious as to the reasoning of whoever downvoted that.

For what it is worth, sampling over time suggests multiple people - at one point there were multiple upvotes.

I'm somewhat less curious. I just assumed it people from the 'green' social alliance acting to oppose the suggestion that people acting out the obligations of social allegiance is a desirable and necessary mechanism by which a community preserves that which is desired and prevents chaos.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 21 April 2012 12:43:34AM *  4 points [-]

if on reflection I endorse A, then I endorse interfering with Pat and aiding Sam, for several reasons: it results in more A, it keeps me from feeling like a coward and a hypocrite, and I establish myself as a reliable ally. I consider that one of the obligations of social alliance.

Is establishing yourself as a reliable ally an instrumental or terminal goal for you? If the former, what advantages does it bring in a group blog / discussion forum like this one? The kind of alliance you've mentioned so far are temporary ones formed implicitly by engaging someone in discussion, but people will discuss things with you if they think your comments are interesting, with virtually no consideration for how reliable you are as an ally. Are you hoping to establish other kinds of alliances here?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 April 2012 01:06:07AM 2 points [-]

Is establishing yourself as a reliable ally an instrumental or terminal goal for you?

Instrumental.

If the former, what advantages does it bring in a group blog / discussion forum like this one?

Trust, mostly. Which is itself an instrumental goal, of course, but the set of advantages that being trusted provides in a discussion is so ramified I don't know how I could begin to itemize it.
To pick one that came up recently, though, here's a discussion of one of the advantages of trust in a forum like this one, related to trolley problems and similar hypotheticals.
Another one that comes up far more often is other people's willingness to assume, when I say things that have both a sensible and a nonsensical interpretation, that I mean the former.

The kind of alliance you've mentioned so far are temporary ones formed implicitly by engaging someone in discussion, but people will discuss things with you if they think your comments are interesting, with virtually no consideration for how reliable you are as an ally.

Yes, I agree that when people form implicit alliances by (for example) engaging someone in discussion, they typically give virtually no explicit consideration for how reliable I am as an ally.

If you mean to say further that it doesn't affect them at all, I mostly disagree, but I suspect that at this point it might be useful to Taboo "ally."

People's estimation of how reliable I am as a person to engage in discussion with, for example, certainly does influence their willingness to engage me in discussion. And vice-versa. There are plenty of people I mostly don't engage in discussion, because I no longer trust that they will engage reliably.

Are you hoping to establish other kinds of alliances here?

Not that I can think of, but honestly this question bewilders me, so it's possible that you're asking about something I'm not even considering. What kind of alliances do you have in mind?

Comment author: Wei_Dai 22 April 2012 02:19:03AM 1 point [-]

To pick one that came up recently, though, here's a discussion of one of the advantages of trust in a forum like this one, related to trolley problems and similar hypotheticals. Another one that comes up far more often is other people's willingness to assume, when I say things that have both a sensible and a nonsensical interpretation, that I mean the former.

It's not clear to me that these attributes are strongly (or even positively) correlated with willingness to "stick up" for a conversation partner, since typically this behavioral tendency has more to do with whether a person is socially aggressive or timid. So by doing that, you're mostly signaling that you're not timid, with "being a good discussion partner" a much weaker inference, if people think in that direction at all. (This is the impression I have of wedrifid, for example.)

What kind of alliances do you have in mind?

I didn't have any specific kind of alliances in mind, but just thought the question might be worth asking. Now that I think about it, it might be for example that you're looking to make real-life friends, or contacts for advancing your career, or hoping to be recruit by SIAI.

Comment author: wedrifid 22 April 2012 02:22:44PM 2 points [-]

It's not clear to me that these attributes are strongly (or even positively) correlated with willingness to "stick up" for a conversation partner, since typically this behavioral tendency has more to do with whether a person is socially aggressive or timid. So by doing that, you're mostly signaling that you're not timid

This model of the world does an injustice to a class of people I hold in high esteem (those who are willing to defend others against certain types of social aggression even at cost to themselves) and doesn't seem to be a very accurate description of reality. A lot of information - and information I consider important at that - can be gained about a person simply by seeing who they choose to defend in which circumstances. Sure, excessive 'timidity' can serve to suppress this kind of behavior and so information can be gleaned about social confidence and assertiveness by seeing how freely they intervene. But to take this to the extreme of saying you are mostly signalling that you're not timid seems to be a mistake.

In my own experience - from back when I was timid in the extreme - the sort of "sticking up for", jumping to the defense against (unfair or undesirable) aggression is one thing that could break me out of my shell. To say that my defiance of my nature at that time was really just me being not timid after all would be to make a lie of the battle of rather significant opposing forces within the mind of that former self.

(This is the impression I have of wedrifid, for example.)

Merely that I am bold and that my behavioral tendencies and strategies in this kind of area are just signals of that boldness? Dave's model seems far more accurate and useful in this case.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 22 April 2012 07:46:27PM 2 points [-]

Merely that I am bold and that my behavioral tendencies and strategies in this kind of area are just signals of that boldness? Dave's model seems far more accurate and useful in this case.

I find that my brain doesn't automatically build detailed models of LW participants, even the most prominent ones like yourself, and I haven't found a strong reason to do so consciously, using explicit reasoning, except when I engage in discussion with someone, and even then I only try to model the part of their mind most relevant to the discussion at hand.

I realize that I may be engaging in typical mind fallacy in thinking that most other people are probably like me in this regard. If I am, I'd be curious to find out.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 22 April 2012 05:38:46AM 0 points [-]

Fair enough; it may be that I overestimate the value of what I'm calling trust here.

Just for my own clarity, when you say that what I'm doing is signaling my lack of timidity, are you referring to my actual behavior on this site, or are you referring to the behavior we've been discussing on this thread (or are they equivalent)?

I'm not especially looking to make real-life friends, though there are folks here who I wouldn't mind getting to know in real life. Ditto work contacts. I have no interest in working for SI.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 22 April 2012 09:38:25AM 0 points [-]

I was talking about the abstract behavior that we were discussing.

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 07:29:28PM 8 points [-]

Might be too advanced for someone who just learned that saying "Please stop being stupid." is a bad idea.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 April 2012 12:24:39AM 0 points [-]

Might be too advanced for someone who just learned that saying "Please stop being stupid." is a bad idea.

Well... I've seen people nearly that exact phrase to great effect at times... But that's not the sort of thing you'd want to include in a 'basics' list either.

Just as with fashion, it is best to follow the rules until you understand the rules well enough to know exactly how they work and why a particular exception applies!

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 April 2012 07:42:42PM 4 points [-]

Sure. Then again, if you'd only intended that for chaosmosis' benefit, I assume you'd have PMed it.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 07:10:23PM 2 points [-]

It's not really a rationality problem, but I need to learn how to deal with other people who have big egos, because apparently only two or three people received my comments the way I meant them to come across.

It is what we would call an "instrumental rationality" problem. And one of the most important ones at that. Right up there with learning how to deal with our own big egos... which you seem to be taking steps towards now!

Comment author: thomblake 18 April 2012 06:06:15PM *  8 points [-]

Plus, I like the idea of losing so much karma in one day and then eventually earning it all back

This discussion is off-topic for the "Rationality Quotes" thread, but...

If you're interested in an easy way to gain karma, you might want to try an experimental method I've been kicking around:

Take an article from Wikipedia on a bias that we don't have an article about yet. Wikipedia has a list of cognitive biases. Write a top-level post about that bias, with appropriate use of references. Write it in a similar style to Eliezer's more straightforward posts on a bias, examples first.

My prediction is that such an article, if well-written, should gain about +40 votes; about +80 if it contains useful actionable material.

Comment author: chaosmosis 18 April 2012 06:18:30PM *  1 point [-]

No, I want this to be harder than that. It needs to be a drawn out and painful and embarrassing process.

Maybe I'll eventually write something like that. Not yet.

Comment author: David_Gerard 18 April 2012 11:23:28PM 7 points [-]

One day I will write "How to karmawhore with LessWrong comments" if I can work out how to do it in such a way that it won't get -5000 within an hour.

Comment author: DSimon 18 April 2012 11:38:44PM *  16 points [-]

I know how you could do it. You need to come up with a detailed written strategy for maximizing karma with minimal actual contribution. Have some third party (or several) that LW would trust hold on to it in secrect.

Then, for a week or two, apply that strategy as directly and blatantly as you think you can get away with, racking up as many points as possible.

Once that's done, compile a list of those comments and post it into an article, along with your original strategy document and the verification from the third party that you wrote the strategy before you wrote the comments, rather than ad-hocing a "strategy" onto a run of comments that happened to succeed.

Voila: you have now pulled a karma hack and then afterwards gone white-hat with the exploit data. LW will have no choice but to give you more karma for kindly revealing the vulnerability in their system! Excellent. >:-)

Comment author: army1987 19 April 2012 05:07:55PM 1 point [-]

You need to come up with a detailed written strategy for maximizing karma with minimal actual contribution.

Create a dozen sockpuppet accounts and use them to upvote every single one of your posts. Duh.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 April 2012 07:15:27PM 5 points [-]

That's like getting a black belt in karate by buying one from the martial arts shop. It isn't karmawhoring unless you're getting karma from real people who really thought your comments worth upvoting.

Comment author: army1987 23 April 2012 06:55:47PM 1 point [-]

“Getting karma from real people who really thought your comments worth upvoting” sounds like a good thing, so why the (apparently) derogatory term karmawhoring?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 23 April 2012 07:14:54PM *  5 points [-]

It is good to have one's comments favourably appreciated by real people. Chasing after that appreciation, not so much. Especially, per an ancestor comment, trying to achieve that proxy measure of value while minimizing the actual value of what you are posting. The analogy with prostitution is close, although one difference is that the prostitute's reward -- money -- is of some actual use.

Comment author: Strange7 21 April 2012 07:25:11AM 5 points [-]

Not as straightforward as it sounds. Irrelevant one-sentence comments upvoted to +10 will attract more downvotes than they would otherwise.

Comment author: Bugmaster 19 April 2012 05:29:21PM 1 point [-]

This would indeed count as "minimal contribution", but still sounds like a lot of work...

Comment author: Dias 19 April 2012 07:58:43AM 5 points [-]

Have some third party (or several) that LW would trust hold on to it in secrect.

Nitpick: cryptography solves this much more neatly.

Of course, people could accuse you of having an efficient way of factorising numbers, but if you do karma is going to be the least of anyone's concerns.

Comment author: ciphergoth 19 April 2012 12:31:03PM 4 points [-]

Factorization doesn't enter into it - to precommit to a message that you will later reveal publically, publish a hash of the (salted) message.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 April 2012 08:29:12AM *  1 point [-]

Nitpick: cryptography solves this much more neatly.

But somewhat less transparently. The cryptographic solution still requires that an encrypted message is made public prior to the actions being taken and declaring an encrypted prediction has side effects. The neat solution is to still use trusted parties but give the trusted parties only the encrypted strategy (or a hash thereof).

Comment author: Bugmaster 19 April 2012 09:25:50AM 0 points [-]

The cryptographic solution still requires that an encrypted message is made public prior to the actions being taken and declaring an encrypted prediction has side effects.

What kind of side effects ? I have no formal training in cryptography, so please forgive me if this is a naive question.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 April 2012 09:32:11AM 2 points [-]

What kind of side effects ? I have no formal training in cryptography, so please forgive me if this is a naive question.

I mean you still have to give the encrypted data to someone. They can't tell what it is but they can see you are up to something. So you still have to use some additional sort of trust mechanism if you don't want the act of giving encrypted fore-notice to influence behavior.

Comment author: Bugmaster 19 April 2012 05:27:59PM *  1 point [-]

Ah ok, that makes sense. In this case, you can employ steganography. For example, you could publish an unrelated article using a pretty image as a header. When the time comes, you reveal the algorithm and password required in order to extract your secret message from the image.

Comment author: David_Gerard 18 April 2012 11:41:45PM 4 points [-]

My actual strategy was just to post lots. Going through the sequences provided a target-rich environment ;-)

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 April 2012 12:18:18AM 5 points [-]

IME, per-comment EV is way higher in the HP:MoR discussion threads.

Comment author: David_Gerard 19 April 2012 07:03:12AM 4 points [-]

It so is. Karmawhoring in those is easy.

This suggests measuring posts for comment EV.

Comment author: Hul-Gil 19 April 2012 07:20:26AM *  3 points [-]

This suggests measuring posts for comment EV.

Now that is an interesting concept. I like where this subthread is going.

Interesting comparisons to other systems involving currency come to mind.

EV-analysis is the more intellectually interesting proposition, but it has me thinking. Next up: black-market karma services. I will facilitate karma-parties... for a nominal (karma) fee, of course. If you want to maintain the pretense of legitimacy, we will need to do some karma-laundering, ensuring that your posts appear that they could be worth the amount of karma they have received. Sock-puppet accounts to provide awful arguments that you can quickly demolish? Karma mines. And then, we begin to sell LW karma for Bitcoins, and--

...okay, perhaps some sleep is in order first.

Comment author: David_Gerard 19 April 2012 02:25:03PM 2 points [-]

And then, we begin to sell LW karma for Bitcoins, and--

It is clear we need to start work on a distributed, decentralised, cryptographically-secure Internet karma mechanism.

Comment author: DSimon 18 April 2012 10:52:19PM *  10 points [-]

It needs to be a drawn out and painful and embarrassing process.

Oh, you want a Quest, not a goal. :-)

In that case, try writing an article that says exactly the opposite of something that somebody with very high (>10,000) karma says, even linking to their statement to make the contrast clear. Bonus points if you end up getting into a civil conversation directly with that person in the comments of your article.

Note: I believe that it is not only possible, but even easy, for you to do this and get a net karma gain. All you need is (a) a fairly good argument, and (b) a friendly tone.

Comment author: gRR 22 April 2012 07:16:39PM 1 point [-]

And now I realize I just did exactly that, and your prediction is absolutely correct. No bonus points for me, though.

Comment author: orthonormal 22 April 2012 06:48:41PM 5 points [-]

Try writing an article that says exactly the opposite of something that somebody with very high (>10,000) karma says, even linking to their statement to make the contrast clear. Bonus points if you end up getting into a civil conversation directly with that person in the comments of your article.

I nominate this as the Less Wrong Summer Challenge, for everybody.

(One modification I'd make: it shouldn't necessarily be the exact opposite: precisely reversed intelligence usually is stupidity. But your thesis should be mutually incompatible with any charitable interpretation of the original claim.)

Comment author: wedrifid 18 April 2012 11:33:41PM 0 points [-]

In that case, try writing an article that says exactly the opposite of something that somebody with very high (>10,000) karma says, even linking to their statement to make the contrast clear. Bonus points if you end up getting into a civil conversation directly with that person in the comments of your article.

That actually sounds fun now that you put it like that!

Comment author: Bugmaster 18 April 2012 10:54:46PM 1 point [-]

You just need a reasonably friendly tone. I have a bunch of karma, and I haven't posted any articles yet (though I'm working on it).

Comment author: DSimon 18 April 2012 10:56:15PM 2 points [-]

Indeed, that would work if karma was merely the goal. But chaosmosis expressed a desire for a "painful and embarrasing process", meaning that the ante and risk must be higher.

Comment author: paper-machine 18 April 2012 05:33:06PM 7 points [-]

It's not really a rationality problem, but I need to learn how to deal with other people who have big egos.

This is actually a really worthwhile skill to learn, independently of any LW-related foolishness. And it is actually a rationality problem.

Comment author: army1987 18 April 2012 07:54:07PM *  2 points [-]

And it is actually a rationality problem.

You mean to the extent that any problem at all is a rationality problem, or something else?

Comment author: David_Gerard 18 April 2012 11:24:18PM *  1 point [-]

Dealing with others' irrationality is very much a rationality problem.

Comment author: paper-machine 18 April 2012 10:28:32PM 2 points [-]

It's a bias, as far as I'm concerned, and something that needs to be overcome. People with egos can be right, but if one can't deal with the fact that they're either right or wrong regardless of their egotism, then one is that much slower to update.

Comment author: paper-machine 18 April 2012 12:44:24PM 8 points [-]

A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong. This reality is offensive to some people who would like the intellectual or spiritual to take precedence. It is instructive to see what happens to these very people as their squat strength goes up.

-- Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength

Comment author: Incorrect 22 April 2012 06:49:00AM 0 points [-]

He's ignoring that people might not like how larger muscles look.

And personally (though I don't care much) I would only care about practical athletic ability, not weight lifting.

Comment author: realitygrill 29 April 2012 04:04:25AM 1 point [-]

I understand this line of thought, but.. strength doesn't have to be developed through weights, strength increase doesn't necessarily mean much hypertrophy, and most importantly strength is a prerequisite/accelerator for increasing pretty much all athletic abilities (power, flexibility, endurance..)

Comment author: army1987 22 April 2012 10:59:38AM *  1 point [-]

He's ignoring that people might not like how larger muscles look.

I guess the relation between muscle mass and physical attractiveness is non-monotonic, so a marginal increase in muscle mass would make some people look marginally better and other people look marginally worse. (I suspect the median Internet user is in the former group, though.)

ETA: Judging from the picture on Wikipedia, Rippetoe himself looks like someone who would look better if he lost some weight (but I'm a heterosexual male, so my judgement might be inaccurate).

Comment author: paper-machine 22 April 2012 05:09:29PM 2 points [-]

Judging from the picture on Wikipedia, Rippetoe himself looks like someone who would look better if he lost some weight (but I'm a heterosexual male, so my judgement might be inaccurate).

I'm somewhat annoyed that the comments on this thread are vapid, but this might be worth responding to. It doesn't particularly matter whether or not Rippetoe is himself currently ripped -- see this Wikipedia article of yours for his domain expert credentials:

He is one of the few strength athletics authorities to publish both peer-reviewed articles as well as books for the lay population. Unlike most strength and conditioning academics, he has several decades of practical application as an elite-level strength coach, former competitive powerlifter, and a current gym owner.

Secondly, notice that he was a competitive powerlifter thirty years ago. Senescence is a bitch.

Comment author: army1987 22 April 2012 06:23:54PM 0 points [-]

see this Wikipedia article of yours:

Why “of yours”? I've never edited it.

for his domain expert credentials

I didn't dispute them. The grandparent and great-grandparent are about “how larger muscles look”. I can't see how the passage you quote is relevant to the fact that I think he's ugly.

Comment author: Nornagest 22 April 2012 06:37:02AM 3 points [-]

Hmm. This sort of thing seems plausible, but I wonder how much of it is strength-specific? I've heard of eudaimonic effects for exercise in general (not necessarily strength training) and for mastering any new skill, and I doubt he's filtering those out properly.

Comment author: army1987 22 April 2012 01:17:16PM 0 points [-]

Why was this downvoted?

Comment author: Manfred 22 April 2012 05:21:14AM 5 points [-]

Sample: men who come to this guy to get stronger, I assume?

Comment author: HonoreDB 16 April 2012 03:26:14PM 8 points [-]

That's right, Emotion. Go ahead, put Reason out of the way! That's great! Fine! ...for Hitler.

--1943 Disney cartoon

Comment author: Bill_McGrath 16 April 2012 09:58:03AM 5 points [-]

Using an elementary accounting text and with the help of an accountant friend, I began. For me, a composer, accounting had always been the symbol of ultimate boredom. But a surprise awaited me: Accounting is just a simple, practical tool for measuring resources, so as to better allocate and use them. In fact, I quickly realized that basic accounting concepts had a utility far beyond finance. Resources are almost always limited; one must constantly weigh costs and benefits to make enlightened decisions.

--Alan Belkin From the Stock Market to Music, via the Theory of Evolution

This was just the first bit that stood out as LW-relevant; he also briefly mentions cognitive bias and touches on the possible benefits of cognitive science to the arts.

Comment author: Konkvistador 16 April 2012 05:49:36AM 10 points [-]

The fundamental rule of political analysis from the point of psychology is, follow the sacredness, and around it is a ring of motivated ignorance.

--Jonathan Haidt, source

Comment author: Multiheaded 16 April 2012 12:07:56PM *  7 points [-]

He also talks about how sacredness is one of the fundamental values for human communities, and how liberal/left-leaning theorists don't pay enough attention to it (and refuse to acknowledge their own sacred/profane areas).

I have more to say about his values theory, I'll post some thoughts later.

UPD: I wrote a little something, now I'm just gonna ask Konkvistador whether he thinks it's neutral enough or too political for LW.

Comment author: Konkvistador 16 April 2012 03:03:56PM *  2 points [-]

Please make sure you do. I suspect it will be interesting. :)

Comment author: lukeprog 15 April 2012 01:30:09PM 8 points [-]

Every intelligent ghost must contain a machine.

Aaron Sloman

Comment author: Klevador 14 April 2012 08:20:45AM 0 points [-]

"The material world," continued Dupin, "abounds with very strict analogies to the immaterial; and thus some color of truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma, that metaphor, or simile, may be made to strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a description. The principle of the vis inertiae, for example, seems to be identical in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true in the former, that a large body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent momentum is commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and more embarrassed and full of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress.

— Poe, The Purloined Letter

Comment author: Klevador 14 April 2012 06:20:47AM *  0 points [-]

Tom: "Diana, have you ever confronted a moral dilemma?"

Diana: "I have spent my life confronting real dilemmas. I have always found moral dilemmas to be the indulgence of the well-fed middle class."

— Waiting for God (TV Series)

Comment author: tut 16 April 2012 12:22:01PM 4 points [-]

Is there a point to this quote, besides that this diana character doesn't understand the term 'moral dilemma'?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 29 April 2012 09:21:42PM 2 points [-]

That the kind of "moral dilemmas" philosophers tend to contemplate, tend to be very different to the kind of dilemmas people encounter in practice.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 28 April 2012 10:12:13PM *  -1 points [-]

Perhaps that it requires significant time and cognitive energy to make difficult decisions in general or reflectively modify one's moral system in particular?

ETA: can someone explain the downvote?

Comment author: Klevador 14 April 2012 04:48:48AM *  12 points [-]

Any collocation of persons, no matter how numerous, how scant, how even their homogeneity, how firmly they profess common doctrine, will presently reveal themselves to consist of smaller groups espousing variant versions of the common creed; and these sub-groups will manifest sub-sub-groups, and so to the final limit of the single individual, and even in this single person conflicting tendencies will express themselves.

— Jack Vance, The Languages of Pao

Comment author: army1987 17 April 2012 10:52:27AM 7 points [-]

Shorter version:

Quot homines, tot sententiae (as many people, so many opinions)

-- Terence, Phormio

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 05:52:14PM 3 points [-]

My favorite:

Two {people, rabbis, economists}, three opinions.

Comment author: Random832 13 April 2012 08:41:37PM *  19 points [-]

The other day I was thinking about Discworld, and then I remembered this and figured it would make a good rationality quote...

[Vimes] distrusted the kind of person who'd take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, "Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fell on hard times," and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man's boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he'd been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

-- Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Comment author: tut 14 April 2012 09:27:31AM 2 points [-]

Sounds like Vimes doesn't like Sherlock Holmes much.

Comment author: Multiheaded 14 April 2012 09:45:41AM 1 point [-]

Gee, you think?

Comment author: tut 14 April 2012 11:31:51AM *  1 point [-]

Well, the quote made me think of this. Now that I looked up that post I notice that it is downvoted, so perhaps it isn't relevant. But the behavior that Vimes expresses distrust of in the Pratchett quote is pretty much the exact behavior that is used to show off how intelligent/perceptive Holmes is, and which the poster wants to use as an example for rationalists.

Comment author: MixedNuts 20 April 2012 05:53:47PM 0 points [-]

It is relevant and obvious. I suppose it was downvoted for the latter.

Comment author: RobinZ 14 April 2012 04:13:39AM 10 points [-]

Reminded of a quote I saw on TV Tropes of a MetaFilter comment by ericbop:

Encyclopedia Brown? What a hack! To this day, I occasionally reach into my left pocket for my keys with my right hand, just to prove that little brat wrong.

Comment author: CronoDAS 13 April 2012 05:50:27PM *  -2 points [-]

Maybe this song won't get downvoted? It's a little more on-topic for LessWrong, even if it does get political at the end. ;)

It was back in 1941.
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Lou'siana one night
By the light of the moon.
The Captain told us to ford a river.
That's how it all begun.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on, I've forded this river
About a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy, but just keep sloggin'.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment,
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nelly,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination.
Men, follow me. I'll lead on."
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once the moon clouded over.
We heard a gurglin' cry.
A few seconds later the Captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around, men.
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the Captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Then the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
About a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Now I'm not going to point any moral —
I'll leave that for yourself.
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking,
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on,
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep, neck deep,
Soon even a tall man will be over his head.
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on.

-- Pete Seeger, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy"

Comment author: CronoDAS 13 April 2012 08:51:55PM 0 points [-]

Quick question: Is this getting downvoted because of the quote or because I talked about downvoting?

(The song itself is a rather amusing lesson in escalation of commitment and sunk cost fallacy, among other things...)

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 14 April 2012 10:36:28AM *  11 points [-]

It's too long. This thread is about quotes, not about making others read a whole piece of work you like. Perhaps use the monthly media thread for that purpose?

For this thread you could have perhaps reduced the quotable to this:

But every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on,
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

or perhaps possibly even two verses would be acceptable like this:

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment,
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nelly,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination.
Men, follow me. I'll lead on."
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once the moon clouded over.
We heard a gurglin' cry.
A few seconds later the Captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around, men.
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the Captain dead and gone.

and just linked to some other page where one could see the whole song.

But not the whole damn thing.

Comment author: CronoDAS 14 April 2012 09:54:31PM 3 points [-]

It's too long. This thread is about quotes, not about making others read a whole piece of work you like. Perhaps use the monthly media thread for that purpose?

Thanks.

Comment author: wedrifid 13 April 2012 05:51:44PM -3 points [-]

Maybe this song won't get downvoted? ;)

If I downvoted this comment but not the song would that count or not?

Comment author: CronoDAS 13 April 2012 08:48:28PM *  0 points [-]

How can I tell the difference? (I assume that you mean downvoting the song on Youtube?)

Comment author: chaosmosis 24 April 2012 06:02:36PM 0 points [-]

Lolz. I think he meant "downvoted this comment" where "this" means "the comment he was quoting" as opposed to the other comment which contained the song.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 April 2012 01:39:22PM *  3 points [-]

If it can fool ten thousand users all at once (which ought to be dead simple, just add more servers), does that make it ten thousand times more human than Alan Turing?

Bruce Sterling

Comment author: maia 12 April 2012 05:51:31PM 9 points [-]

A shortcut for making less-biased predictions, taking base averages into account.

Regarding this problem: "Julie is currently a senior in a state university. She read fluently when she was four years old. What is her grade point average (GPA)?"

Recall that the correlation between two measures - in the present case, reading age and GPA - is equal to the proportion of shared factors among their determinants. What is your best guess about that proportion? My most optimistic guess is about 30%. Assuming this estimate, we have all we need to produce an unbiased prediction. Here are the directions for how to get there in four simple steps:

  1. Start with an estimate of average GPA.
  2. Determine the GPA that matches your impression of the evidence.
  3. Estimate the correlation between your evidence and GPA.
  4. If the correlation is .30, move 30% of the distance from the average to the matching GPA.
  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Comment author: maia 12 April 2012 05:22:24PM 10 points [-]

Suppose you know a golfer's score on day 1 and are asked to predict his score on day 2. You expect the golfer to retain the same level of talent on the second day, so your best guesses will be "above average" for the [better-scoring] player and "below average" for the [worse-scoring] player. Luck, of course, is a different matter. Since you have no way of predicting the golfers' luck on the second (or any) day, your best guess must be that it will be average, neither good nor bad. This means that in the absence of any other information, your best guess about the players' score on day 2 should not be a repeat of their performance on day 1. ...

The best predicted performance on day 2 is more moderate, closer to the average than the evidence on which it is based (the score on day 1). This is why the pattern is called regression to the mean. The more extreme the original score, the more regression we expect, because an extremely good score suggests a very lucky day. The regressive prediction is reasonable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. A few of the golfers who scored 66 on day 1 will do even better on the second day, if their luck improves. Most will do worse, because their luck will no longer be above average.

Now let us go against the time arrow. Arrange the players by their performance on day 2 and look at their performance on day 1. You will find precisely the same pattern of regression to the mean. ... The fact that you observe regression when you predict an early event from a later event should help convince you that regression does not have a causal explanation.

  • Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Comment author: CronoDAS 13 April 2012 08:34:52AM *  4 points [-]

If you know the scores of two different golfers on day 1, then you know more than if you know the score of only one golfer on day 1. You can't predict the direction in which regression to the mean will occur if your data set is a single point.

The following all have different answers:

I play a certain video game a lot. The last time I played it, my score was 39700. What's your best guess for my score the next time I play it?

(The answer is 39700; I'm probably not going to improve with practice, and you have no way to know if 39700 is unusually good or unusually bad.)

My friend and I both play a certain video game a lot. The last time I played it, my score was 39700. The last time my friend played it, his score was 32100. What's your best guess for my score the next time I play it?

(The answer is some number less than 39700; knowing that my friend got a lower score gives you a reason to believe that 39700 might be higher than normal.)

I played a video game for the first time yesterday. My score was 39700, and higher scores are better than lower ones. What's your best guess for my score the next time I play it?

(The answer is some number higher than 39700, because I'm no longer an absolute beginner.)

Comment author: maia 13 April 2012 04:18:20PM 0 points [-]

True, a single data point can't give you knowledge of regression effects. In the context of the original problem, Kahneman assumed that you had access to the average score of all the golfers on the first day.

I played a video game for the first time yesterday. My score was 39700, and higher scores are better than lower ones. What's your best guess for my score the next time I play it? (The answer is some number higher than 39700, because I'm no longer an absolute beginner.)

I'm not sure it's true that the answer is higher than 39700, in this case. It depends on if you have knowledge of how people generally improve, and if your score is higher than average for an absolute beginner. Since unknown factors could adjust the score either up or down, I would probably just guess that it will be the same the next day.

Comment author: RobinZ 16 April 2012 05:16:56PM 3 points [-]

The existence of factors which could adjust the score either up or down does not indicate which factors dominate. In this case, you have no information which suggests that 39700 is either above or below the median, and therefore these two cases must be assigned equal probability - canceling out any "regression to the mean" effects you could have predicted. Similar arguments apply to other effects which change the score.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 17 April 2012 05:19:36AM 2 points [-]

In this case, you have no information which suggests that 39700 is either above or below the median, and therefore these two cases must be assigned equal probability

Not quite, you have some background information about the range of scores video games usually employ.

Comment author: RobinZ 17 April 2012 05:54:10AM 1 point [-]

And, I suppose, information about the probability of people mentioning average scores. I concede that either factor could justify arguing that the score should decrease.

Comment author: maia 16 April 2012 06:55:52PM 2 points [-]

So you estimate "regression to the mean" effects as zero, and base your estimate on any other effects you know about and how strong you think they are. That makes sense. Thanks for the correction!

Comment author: army1987 12 April 2012 06:34:06PM 0 points [-]

It reminds me of E.T. Jaynes' explanation of why time-reversible dynamic laws for (say) sugar molecules in water lead to a time-irreversible diffusion equation.

Comment author: Konkvistador 12 April 2012 07:39:12AM 14 points [-]

The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place

--Nietzsche

Comment author: Konkvistador 10 April 2012 07:05:17PM 4 points [-]

One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be — though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain — because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.

--Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

Comment author: [deleted] 13 April 2012 09:02:00PM 2 points [-]

That sounds deep, but it has nothing to to with rationality

Comment author: Konkvistador 14 April 2012 06:27:08AM 1 point [-]

Not really, for example it is actually pretty clearly connected to fun theory.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 10 April 2012 05:41:47PM 7 points [-]

当局者迷,旁观者清

Chinese proverb, meaning "the onlooker sees things more clearly", or literally, "the player lost, the spectator clear"

Comment author: RichardKennaway 11 April 2012 08:42:53AM 4 points [-]

In personal development workshops, the saying is, "the one with the mike in their hand is the last to see it." Of doctors and lawyers it is said that one who treats himself, or acts in court for himself, has a fool for a client.

Comment author: paper-machine 10 April 2012 05:48:38PM *  11 points [-]

三人成虎

Chinese proverb, "three men make a tiger", referring to a semi-mythological event during the Warring States period:

According to the Warring States Records, or Zhan Guo Ce, before he left on a trip to the state of Zhao, Pang Cong asked the King of Wei whether he would hypothetically believe in one civilian's report that a tiger was roaming the markets in the capital city, to which the King replied no. Pang Cong asked what the King thought if two people reported the same thing, and the King said he would begin to wonder. Pang Cong then asked, "what if three people all claimed to have seen a tiger?" The King replied that he would believe in it. Pang Cong reminded the King that the notion of a live tiger in a crowded market was absurd, yet when repeated by numerous people, it seemed real. As a high-ranking official, Pang Cong had more than three opponents and critics; naturally, he urged the King to pay no attention to those who would spread rumors about him while he was away. "I understand," the King replied, and Pang Cong left for Zhao. Yet, slanderous talk took place. When Pang Cong returned to Wei, the King indeed stopped seeing him.

-- Wikipedia

Comment author: gyokuro 10 April 2012 12:49:18AM *  0 points [-]

They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force -- nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.

--Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Comment author: MixedNuts 09 April 2012 03:24:07PM *  12 points [-]

On specificity and sneaking on connotations; useful for the liberal-minded among us:

I think, with racism and sexism and 'isms' generally, there's a sort of confusion of terminology.

A "Racist1" is someone, who, like a majority of people in this society, has subconsciously internalized some negative attitudes about minority racial groups. If a Racist1 takes the Implicit Association Test, her score shows she's biased against black people, like the majority of people (of all races) who took the test. Chances are, whether you know it or not, you're a Racist1.

A "Racist2" is someone who's kind of an insensitive jerk about race. The kind of guy who calls Obama the "Food Stamp President." Someone you wouldn't want your sister dating.

A "Racist3" is a neo-Nazi. You can never be quite sure that one day he won't snap and kill someone. He's clearly a social deviant.

People use the word "Racist" for all three things, and I think that's the source of a lot of arguments. When people get accused of being racists, they evade responsibility by saying, "Hey, I'm not a Racist3!" when in fact you were only saying they were Racist1 or Racist2. But some of the responsibility is on the accusers too -- if you say "That Republican's a racist" with the implication of "a jerk" and then backtrack and change the meaning to "vulnerable to unconscious bias", then you're arguing in bad faith. Never mind that some laws and rules which were meant to protect people from Racist3's are in fact deployed against Racist2's.

-celandine13

Comment author: Vladimir_M 24 April 2012 07:30:01PM *  8 points [-]

How about:

  1. Someone who, following an honest best effort to evaluate the available evidence, concludes that some of the beliefs that nowadays fall under the standard definition of "racist" nevertheless may be true with probabilities significantly above zero.

  2. Someone who performs Bayesian inference that somehow involves probabilities conditioned on the race of a person or a group of people, and whose conclusion happens to reflect negatively on this person or group in some way. (Or, alternatively, someone who doesn't believe that making such inferences is grossly immoral as a matter of principle.)

Both (1) and (2) fall squarely under the common usage of the term "racist," and yet I don't see how they would fit into the above cited classification.

Of course, some people would presumably argue that all beliefs in category (1) are in fact conclusively proven to be false with p~1, so it can be only a matter of incorrect conclusions motivated by the above listed categories of racism. Presumably they would also claim that, as a well-established general principle, no correct inferences in category (2) are ever possible. But do you really believe this?

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 09:02:49AM 3 points [-]

That (1) only makes sense if there is a “standard” definition of racist (and it's based on what people believe rather than/as well as what they do). The point of the celandine13 was indeed that there's no such thing.

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 12:37:47AM 4 points [-]

Someone who performs Bayesian inference that somehow involves probabilities conditioned on the race of a person or a group of people

The evidence someone's race constitutes about that person's qualities is usually very easily screened off, as I mentioned here. And given that we're running on corrupted hardware, I suspect that someone who does try to “performs Bayesian inference that somehow involves probabilities conditioned on the race of a person” ends up subconsciously double-counting evidence and therefore end up with less accurate results than somebody who doesn't. (As for cases when the evidence from race is not so easy to screen off... well, I've never heard anybody being accused of racism for pointing out that Africans have longer penises than Asians.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 April 2012 05:13:19AM *  0 points [-]

(As for cases when the evidence from race is not so easy to screen off... well, I've never heard anybody being accused of racism for pointing out that Africans have longer penises than Asians.)

Minor note, this appears to actually not be the case. Most studies have no correlation between race and penis size. See for example here. The only group that there may be some substantial difference is that Chinese babies may have smaller genitalia after birth but this doesn't appear to hold over to a significant difference by the time the children have reached puberty. Relevant study.

Comment author: army1987 07 May 2012 01:40:07PM 1 point [-]

Huh, according to this map the average Congolese penis is nearly twice as long as the average South Korean penis. (ISTR that stretched flaccid length doesn't perfectly correlate with erect length.)

Comment author: Nornagest 26 April 2012 05:31:14AM 0 points [-]

Oddly salient for such a trivial result. Should a study qualify for an Ig Nobel if you can use it to settle bar bets?

Comment author: Vaniver 26 April 2012 04:18:09AM 6 points [-]

well, I've never heard anybody being accused of racism for pointing out that Africans have longer penises than Asians.

I have seen accusations for racism as responses to people pointing that out.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 26 April 2012 04:09:55AM 6 points [-]

Also, according to the U.S. Supreme Court even if race is screened off, you're actions can still be racist or something.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 25 April 2012 07:59:51AM 5 points [-]

The evidence someone's race constitutes about that person's qualities is usually very easily screened off, as I mentioned here.

In real life, you don't have the luxury of gathering forensic evidence on everyone you meet.

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 08:55:05AM *  3 points [-]

I'm not talking about forensic evidence. Even if white people are smarter in average than black people, I think just talking with somebody for ten minutes would give me evidence about their intelligence which would nearly completely screen off that from skin colour. Heck, even just knowing what their job is would screen off much of it.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 April 2012 04:19:45AM 3 points [-]

Even if white people are smarter in average than black people, I think just talking with somebody for ten minutes would give me evidence about their intelligence which would nearly completely screen off that from skin colour.

What if verbal ability and quantitative ability are often decoupled?

Comment author: army1987 07 May 2012 01:43:31PM *  2 points [-]

I wasn't talking about "verbal ability" (which, to the extent that can be found out in ten minutes, correlates more with where someone grew up than with IQ), but about what they say, e.g. their reaction to finding out that I'm a physics student (though for this particular example there are lots of confounding factors), or what kinds of activities they enjoy.

Comment author: Vaniver 07 May 2012 05:26:02PM *  4 points [-]

If you're able to drive the conversation like that, you can get information about IQ, and that information may have a larger impact than race. But to "screen off" evidence means making that evidence conditionally independent- once you knew their level of interest in physics, race would give you no information about their IQ. That isn't the case.

Imagine that all races have Gaussian IQ distributions with the same standard deviation, but different means, and consider just the population of people whose IQs are above 132 ('geniuses' for this comment). In such a model, the mean IQ of black geniuses will be smaller than the mean IQ of white geniuses which will be smaller than the mean IQ of Jewish geniuses- so even knowing a lower bound for IQ won't screen off the evidence provided by race!

Comment author: army1987 07 May 2012 06:01:10PM 2 points [-]

Huh, sure, if the likelihood is a reversed Heaviside step. If the likelihood is itself a Gaussian, then the posterior is a Gaussian whose mean is the weighed average of that of the prior and that of the likelihood, weighed by the inverse squared standard deviations. So even if the st.dev. of the likelihood was half that of the prior for each race, the difference in posterior means would shrink by five times.

Comment author: Vaniver 07 May 2012 06:31:36PM *  4 points [-]

Right- there's lots of information out there that will narrow your IQ estimate of someone else more than their race will, like that they're a professional physicist or member of MENSA, but evidence only becomes worthless when it's independent of the quantity you're interested in given the other things you know.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 26 April 2012 04:07:13AM *  5 points [-]

Even if white people are smarter in average than black people, I think just talking with somebody for ten minutes would give me evidence about their intelligence which would nearly completely screen off that from skin colour.

Also, as Eric Raymond discusses here, especially in the comments, you sometimes need to make judgements without spending ten minutes talking to everyone you see.

Heck, even just knowing what their job is would screen off much of it.

There's this thing called Affirmative Action, as I mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

Comment author: Multiheaded 07 May 2012 02:23:36PM *  3 points [-]

Also, as Eric Raymond discusses here, especially in the comments, you sometimes need to make judgements without spending ten minutes talking to everyone you see.

...

I do not require any “moral justification” for acting on the truth as it it really is; truth is its own warrant. (A comment by him).

I facepalmed. Really, Eric? Sorry, I don't think that a moral realist is perceptive enough to the nuances and ethical knots involved to be a judge on this issue. I don't know, he might be an excellent scientist, but it's extremely stupid to be so rash when you're attempting serious contrarianism.

But you reveal a confusion in your own thinking. It is not “treating other human beings as less-than-equal” to make rational decisions in risk situations; it is only that if you make decisions which are irrationally biased.

Yep, let's all try to overcome bias really really hard; there's only one solution, one desirable state, there's a straight road ahead of us; Kingdom of Rationality, here we come!

(Yvain, thank you a million times for that sobering post!)

Comment author: army1987 07 May 2012 01:54:21PM *  2 points [-]

Also, as Eric Raymond discusses here, especially in the comments, you sometimes need to make judgements without spending ten minutes talking to everyone you see.

You know, there are countries where the intentional homicide rate is smaller than in John Derbyshire's country by nearly an order of magnitude.

Heck, even just knowing what their job is would screen off much of it.

There's this thing called Affirmative Action, as I mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

That thing doesn't exist in all countries. Plus, I think the reason why you don't see that many two-digit-IQ people among (say) physics professors is not that they don't make it, it's that they don't even consider doing that, so even if some governmental policy somehow made it easier for black people with an IQ of 90 to succeed than for Jewish people with the same IQ, I would still expect a black physics professor to be smarter than (say) a Jewish truck driver.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 08 May 2012 07:11:45AM 1 point [-]

so even if some governmental policy somehow made it easier for black people with an IQ of 90 to succeed than for Jewish people with the same IQ, I would still expect a black physics professor to be smarter than (say) a Jewish truck driver.

That's not the point. The point is that the black physics professor is less smart than the Jewish physics professor.

Comment author: army1987 08 May 2012 07:59:31AM -2 points [-]

But the difference is smaller than for the median black person and the median Jewish person. (I said "even just knowing what their job is would screen off much of it", not "all of it".)

Comment author: private_messaging 08 May 2012 08:15:45AM *  3 points [-]

The bell curve has both the mean and the deviation, you can have a 'race' with lower mean and larger standard deviation, and then you can e.g. filter by reliable accomplishment of some kind, such as solving some problem that smartest people in the world attempted and failed, you may end up with situation that the population with lower mean and larger standard deviation will have fewer people whom attain this, but those whom do, are on average smarter. Set bar even higher, and the population with lower mean and larger standard deviation has more people attaining it. Also, the Gaussian distribution can stop being good approximation very far away from the mean.

edit: and to reply to grand grand parents: I bet i can divide the world into category that includes you, and a category that does not include you, in such a way that the category including you has substantially higher crime rate, or is otherwise bad. Actually if you are from US, I have a pretty natural 'cultural' category where your murder rate is about 5..10x of normal for such average income. Other category is the 'racists', i.e. the people whom use skin colour as evidence. Those people also have substantially bad behaviour. You of course want to use skin colour as evidence, and don't want me to use your qualities as evidence. See if I care. If you want to use the skin colour as evidence, lumping together everyone that's black, I want to use 'use of skin colour as evidence', lumping you together with all the nasty racists.

Comment author: Crouching_Badger 24 April 2012 05:45:51PM -1 points [-]

Apart from race, isn't this a problem with English or language in general? We use the same words for varying degrees of a certain notion, and people cherry pick the definitions that they want to cogitate for response. If I call someone a conservative, is it a compliment or an insult? That depends on both of our perceptions of the word conservative as well as our outlook on ourselves as political beings; however, beyond that, I could mean to say that the person is fiscally conservative, but as the current conservative candidates are showing conservatism to be far-right extremism, the person may think, "Hey! I'm not one of those guys."

I think if someone wants to argue with you, you'd be hard-pressed to speak eloquently enough to provide an impenetrable phrase that does not open itself to a spectrum of interpretation.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 24 April 2012 10:49:16PM *  0 points [-]

Sure. "Conservative" isn't a fixed political position. Quite often, it's a claim about one's political position: that it stands for some historical good or tradition. A "conservative" in Russia might look back to the good old days of Stalin whereas a "conservative" in the U.S. would not appreciate the comparison. It's also a flag color; your "fiscal conservative" may merely not want to wave a flag of the same color as Rick Santorum's.

Comment author: CaveJohnson 24 April 2012 04:19:21PM *  4 points [-]

This is missing Racist4:

Someone whose preferences result in disparate impact.

Comment author: BillyOblivion 17 April 2012 11:32:29AM 2 points [-]

So if a minority takes the Implicitly Association Test and finds out their biased against the dominant "race" in their area, are they a Racist1, or not?

I would also really question the validity of the Implicit Association Test. It says "Your data suggest a slight implicit preference for White People compared to Black People.", which given that blacks have been severely under-represented my social sub-culture for the last 27 years(Punk/Goth), the school I graduated from (Art School), and my professional environments (IT) for the last 20 years is probably not inaccurate.

However, it also says "Your data suggest a slight implicit preference for Herman Cain compared to Barack Obama." Which is nonsense. I have a STRONG preference for Herman Cain over Barack Obama.

Comment author: Manfred 17 April 2012 01:10:19PM *  1 point [-]

So if a minority takes the Implicitly Association Test and finds out their biased against the dominant "race" in their area, are they a Racist1, or not?

Looks like we need more "racism"s :D A common definition of racism that reflects the intuitions you bring up is "racism is prejudice plus power," (e.g., here) which isn't very useful from a decision-making point of view but which is very useful when looking at this racism as a functional thing experienced by the some group.

Comment author: cousin_it 12 April 2012 09:18:03AM 6 points [-]

Where would someone like Steve Sailer fit in this classification?

Comment author: GLaDOS 24 April 2012 04:16:10PM *  3 points [-]

Indeed as strange as it might sound (but not to those who know what he usually blogs about) Steve Sailer seems to genuinely like black people more than average and I wouldn't be surprised at all if a test showed he wasn't biased against them or was less biased than the average white American.

He also dosen't seem like racist2 from the vast majority of his writing, painting him as racist3 is plain absurd.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 April 2012 04:26:25PM 0 points [-]

Steve Sailer seems to genuinely like black people more than average

What evidence leads to this conclusion?

Comment author: Vaniver 24 April 2012 04:46:13PM 4 points [-]

He published his IAT results and he's proposed policies that play to the strengths of blacks.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 April 2012 05:46:10PM 1 point [-]

Historically, proposing policies that are set to help the specific strengths of a minority group are not generally indicative of actually positive feelings about those groups.

Comment author: Vaniver 24 April 2012 06:17:56PM *  6 points [-]

The IAT is the best measure of 'genuinely like X people' we have now, though that's not saying much. (I believe the only place he published it is VDare, which is currently down.)

Historically, proposing policies that are set to help the specific strengths of a minority group are not generally indicative of actually positive feelings about those groups.

What are the competing hypotheses and competing observations, here?

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 05:17:13PM 1 point [-]

The IAT is the best measure of 'genuinely like X people' we have now

...for a particular value of genuine. (See this, BTW.)

Comment author: Vaniver 25 April 2012 07:43:55PM 1 point [-]

It seems to me the natural interpretation for "genuine" is "unconcious," and if that post is relevant, it seems that it argues for more relative importance for the IAT over stated positions and opinions.

Comment author: army1987 09 April 2012 11:42:14PM 0 points [-]

What about a "Racist4", someone who assign different moral values to people of different races all other things being equal?

Comment author: CaveJohnson 24 April 2012 04:33:39PM *  1 point [-]

Depends if the differences in assigned moral values are large enough they can easily approach Nazi pretty quickly. As a thought experiment consider how many dolphins would you kill to save a single person?

Comment author: Strange7 12 April 2012 08:29:26AM 0 points [-]

That would be a paleo-nazi. Not many of them around, anymore, and those that are don't get away with much.

Comment author: CaveJohnson 24 April 2012 04:34:54PM *  2 points [-]

Why make up a new word? Paleoconservatives and smarter white nationalists (think Jared Taylor ) seem to often fit the bill.

Comment author: Desrtopa 12 April 2012 04:05:36AM *  3 points [-]

Based on a couple interviews I've seen with unabashed Racist3s, I think that they would tend to fulfill that criterion.

Edit: Requesting clarification for downvote?

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 09 April 2012 06:31:28PM 1 point [-]

Surely one of the definitions of "racist" should contain something about thinking that some races are better than others. Or is that covered under "neo-Nazi"?

Comment author: thomblake 10 April 2012 07:34:13PM *  3 points [-]

I'm pretty sure that's covered under Racist1. Note the word "negative".

Though it's odd that Racist1 specifically refers to "minorities". The entire suite seems to miss folks that favor a "minority" race.

Comment author: CaveJohnson 24 April 2012 04:25:03PM *  4 points [-]

Not really it is perfectly possible to be explicitly aware of one's racial preferences and not really be bothered by having such preferences, at least no more than one is bothered by liking salty food or green parks, yet not be a Nazi or prone to violence.

Indeed I think a good argument can be made not only that large number of such people lived in the 19th and 20th century, but that we probably have millions of them living today in say a place like Japan.

And that they are mostly pretty decent and ok people.

Edit: Sorry! I didn't see the later comments already covering this. :)

Comment author: gjm 12 April 2012 09:43:10PM 1 point [-]

Negative subconscious attitudes aren't the same thing as (though they might cause or be caused by) conscious opinions that such-and-such people are inferior in some way.

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 11:44:57AM *  0 points [-]

Indeed. For some reason I'm not sure of, I instinctively dislike Chinese people, but I don't endorse this dislike and try to acting upon it as little as possible (except when seeking romantic partners -- I think I do get to decide what criteria to use for that).

Comment author: TheOtherDave 25 April 2012 12:46:45PM 1 point [-]

Can you expand on the difference you see between acting on your (non-endorsed) preferences in romantic partners, and acting on those preferences in, for example, friends?

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 01:57:20PM *  0 points [-]

As for this specific case, I don't happen to have any Chinese friend at the moment, so I can't.

More generally, see some of the comments on this Robin Hanson post: not many of them seem to agree with him.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 25 April 2012 02:15:46PM 1 point [-]

I don't understand how not having any Chinese friends at the moment precludes you from expanding on the differences between acting on your dislike of Chinese people when seeking romantic partners and acting on it in other areas of your life, such as maintaining friendships.

Yes, the commenters on that post mostly don't agree with him.

That said, I would summarize most of the exchange as:
"Why are we OK with A, but we have a problem with B?"
"Because A is OK and B is wrong!"

Which isn't quite as illuminating as I might have liked.

Comment author: army1987 25 April 2012 02:37:54PM 0 points [-]

I don't understand how not having any Chinese friends at the moment precludes you from expanding on the differences between acting on your dislike of Chinese people when seeking romantic partners and acting on it in other areas of your life, such as maintaining friendships.

Since I'm not maintaining any friendships with Chinese people, I can't see what it would even mean for me to act on my dislike of Chinese people in maintaining friendships. As for ‘other areas of my life’, this means that if I attempt to interact with a Chinese-looking beggar the same way I'd behave I'd interact with an European-looking beggar, to read a paper by an author with a Chinese-sounding name the same way I'd read one by an author with (say) a Polish-sounding name, and so on. (I suspect I might have misunderstood your question, though.)

Comment author: thomblake 12 April 2012 09:44:36PM 3 points [-]

Ah yes - it's extra-weird that someone isn't allowed in that framework to have conscious racist opinions but not be a jerk about it.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 12 April 2012 10:53:14PM 1 point [-]

If one has conscious racist opinions, or is conscious that one has unconscious racist opinions (has taken the IAT but doesn't explicitly believe negative things about blacks) but doesn't act on them, it's probably because one doesn't endorse them. I'd class such a person as a Racist1.

Comment author: thomblake 12 April 2012 10:56:53PM 5 points [-]

I don't think not being an "insensitive jerk" is the same as not acting on one's opinions.

For example, if I think that people who can't do math shouldn't be programmers, and I make sure to screen applicants for math skills, that's acting on my opinions. If I make fun of people with poor math skills for not being able to get high-paying programmer jobs, that's being an insensitive jerk.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2012 05:07:57PM *  -1 points [-]

That's true. I was taking "racist opinions" to mean "incorrect race-related beliefs that favor one group over another". If people who couldn't do math were just as good at programming as people who could, and you still screened applicants for math skills, that would be a jerk move. If your race- or gender- or whatever-group-related beliefs are true, and you act on them rationally (e.g. not discriminating with a hard filter when there's only a small difference), then you aren't being any kind of racist by my definition.

ETA: did anyone downvote for a reason other than LocustBeamGun's?

Comment author: [deleted] 14 April 2012 08:31:33PM *  4 points [-]

(ETA: I didn't downvote, but) I wouldn't call gender differences in math "small" - the genders have similar average skills but their variances are VERY different. As in, Emmy Noether versus ~everyone else.

And if there is a great difference between groups it would be more rational to apply strong filters (except for example people who are bad at math, conveniently, aren't likely to become programmers). Perhaps the downvoter(s) thought you only presented the anti-discrimination side of the issue.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2012 11:15:38PM *  0 points [-]

I think in most cases the average is more important in deciding how much to discriminate. But I deleted the relevant phrase because I'm not sure about that specific case and my argument holds about the same amount of water without it as with it.

EDIT:

Perhaps the downvoter(s) thought you only presented the anti-discrimination side of the issue.

Huh, I was intending to say that it's acceptable to discriminate on real existing differences, to the extent that those differences exist. Not sure how to fix my comment to make that less ambiguous, so just saying it straight out here.

Comment author: wedrifid 14 April 2012 07:16:05PM 5 points [-]

If people who couldn't do math were just as good at programming as people who could, and you still screened applicants for math skills, that would be a jerk move.

Not to mention a bad business decision.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 April 2012 11:17:51PM 0 points [-]

That too, thanks for pointing it out.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 09 April 2012 07:41:11PM 4 points [-]

Depends on what you mean by "better". There's a difference between taking the data on race and IQ seriously, and wanting to commit genocide.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 09 April 2012 08:17:07PM 1 point [-]

(blink)

Can you unpack the relationship here between some available meaning of "better" and wanting to commit genocide?

Comment author: wedrifid 09 April 2012 09:02:41PM 2 points [-]

Can you unpack the relationship here between some available meaning of "better" and wanting to commit genocide?

Most obvious plausible available meaning for 'better' that fits: "Most satisfies my average utilitarian values".

(Yes, most brands of simple utilitarianism reduce to psychopathy - but since people still advocate them we can consider the meaning at least 'available'.)

Comment author: TheOtherDave 09 April 2012 09:52:10PM 0 points [-]

Fair enough.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 09 April 2012 08:40:02PM 3 points [-]

Can you unpack the relationship here between some available meaning of "better" and wanting to commit genocide?

That's the question I was implicitly asking Oscar.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 09 April 2012 07:53:48PM 0 points [-]

Sure, I just thought it was weird that the definitions given barely even mentioned race.