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

Konkvistador comments on [Link] Reddit, help me find some peace I'm dying young - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Konkvistador 18 August 2012 03:17PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (181)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Konkvistador 18 August 2012 04:14:44PM *  16 points [-]

sigh

I already covered this in the OP, I felt a strong sense of kinship, I would get a lot of warm fuzzies from doing this, if it is real, that I wouldn't from other things. It buys me more hedons than eating more ice cream this summer.

I didn't claim this was the best thing people could do with their money, I just wanted to encourage and alert those who might feel as I do.

Also I did think the Brain Preservation Prize was worth donating to. Its just that perhaps you didn't notice that I haven't exactly been around on the forums here for the past month+, no?

Comment author: Vaniver 18 August 2012 06:50:31PM 4 points [-]

I already covered this in the OP, I felt a strong sense of kinship, I would get a lot of warm fuzzies from doing this

I agree that it feels uncharitable to ask hard questions of someone claiming to go through a rough time. But gwern's proposed suggestion- of donating the money to CI directly, and trying to earmark it for her suspension if she does sign up- feels like it should give the same fuzzies while protecting you from this being a scam. You can even send her an email saying "I donated to CI on your behalf" for some extra fuzzies.

Comment author: Konkvistador 18 August 2012 07:16:53PM 2 points [-]

That was in response to this not being optimal philanthropy (something I'm well aware of), not about asking for third party evidence with which I don't have a problem.

Comment author: hankx7787 18 August 2012 04:24:23PM *  4 points [-]

This is more than purchasing fuzzies to me. I'm counting on people sufficiently like me to cooperate on cases of this nature. It's the superrational thing to do.

Comment author: J_Taylor 19 August 2012 07:35:18PM 2 points [-]

If you have the time, could you elaborate on an issue? That is, if you were acting rationally in this particular scenario, and not super-rationally, how would your behavior differ?

Comment author: hankx7787 03 January 2013 03:05:04AM *  2 points [-]

If you were acting "rationally" and not "super-rationally" in this context - you would declare this an absurd expense of fuzzies, which can be obtained much more cheaply, and not dare divert your resources from the much more effective things you're already doing.to maximize your goal system

This is missing the point, assuming you a somewhat comparable person here (and if this doesn't really apply to you, then there is no "superrational" justification for this), that cooperating and encouraging cooperation on cases of this nature increases your chances that, should you yourself (or anyone else you care about for that matter) be caught in a situation like this, there will be a safety net to catch you.

Granted it would be improbable for me personally to end up in this situation, but it's much the same economy as insurance for me - I pay for health insurance and cryonics (my life insurance) despite the long odds I'll ever need them in anywhere near as much quantity as I'm paying in the next 25 years, at least, so a hundred bucks or whatever one-time is just a drop in that budget.

Call me paranoid, but for me there is a clear superrational justification here.

Comment author: siodine 19 August 2012 07:28:54PM *  -1 points [-]

Shouldn't this community be tabooing this behavior (going for fuzzies rather than optimal philanthropy) even though it might be a reasonable personal decision? I think by upvoting Konkvistador's comment and post, this community is enforcing obviously suboptimal norms and making this behavior acceptable and even appreciated (16 karma to gwern's 0?). By tabooing this behavior, this community could enforce the opposite reaction (i.e., fuzzies for optimal philanthropy while humiliation and shame just purchasing fuzzies [actually suboptimal charity]).

Comment author: Konkvistador 19 August 2012 07:55:32PM *  6 points [-]

I guess. But then to be consistent we should probably also make a norm against buying medicine for relatives too. This is only a half joking proposal since there are excellent arguments in favour of not spending more on last ditch attempt treatments. Also the general Hansonian argument on the uselessness of medical spending our society indulges in.

Oh and since we are on this topic we should shame everyone who uses cryonics because that clearly isn't optimal charity. And we don't want people to be selfish.

A strange thought has struck me, if it is de facto ok for me to be selfish for myself, why isn't it ok for me to be selfish on someone's else's behalf? I'm pretty sure I'm selfish enough on say my daughters behalf that its worth at least a few lives when we do the number crunching.

I just care more about some people than others. I'm generally ok with this. I don't recall a rule carved into the fabric of reality demanding I care about all humans equally. And if there is one... pshaw... no thanks I'm going to follow something that's more fun and in tune with my values. I wouldn't take objective morality that wanted me to stone adulterers seriously either, why should I treat this hypothetical one thus?

Neither do I aspire to eventually take such a rule seriously. In fact I would find a society where I couldn't treat some people preferentially a horrible one to live in as I have pointed out in a different context. This has been my ethical stance for quite some time.

Comment author: siodine 19 August 2012 08:17:57PM *  -1 points [-]

So, that was a long winded way of saying, "okay, if this community taboos buying fuzzies rather than optimal philantropy [note: there's a lot to unpack in that], then what's to stop this community from sliding down the undesirable slope towards ultimately tabooing any nonessential personal spending?"

The answer is simple. While completely avoiding nonessential personal spending is suboptimal in the most obvious sense it's, as you alluded to, unmaintainable. I.e., a society like that is likely to die from emigration and stagnation.

Here's an example of tabooing and how it works in realistic terms: Large SUVs, especially in certain areas, have become taboo for their environmental impact. Now, you could say, "if we're going to taboo large SUVs for their negative environmental impact, why then don't we all ride bicycles, because that's obviously where this is leading, isn't it?" But, no; that isn't where it leads at all. The taboo is an communal awareness of an obviously bad thing.

On lesswrong, and in this context, we could start with tabooing pet charities, and quickly move towards your example, but I'm doubtful that we would find that we'd want to take that to dystopic levels. And this reminds me of a common criticism of consequentialism in yvain's faq:

7.1: Wouldn't consequentialism lead to [obviously horrible outcome]?

Probably not. After all, consequentialism says to make the world a better place. So if an outcome is obviously horrible, consequentialists wouldn't want it, would they?

(also, personal objections are irrelevant in the context of a community taboo; "but I drive a hummer because I want a warmer climate!")

Comment author: Konkvistador 19 August 2012 08:46:12PM *  1 point [-]

"okay, if this community taboos buying fuzzies rather than optimal philantropy [note: there's a lot to unpack in that], then what's to stop this community from sliding down the undesirable slope towards ultimately tabooing any nonessential personal spending?"

Just for reference it should be pointed out that people have already attacked people spending money on medicine or buying cryonics based on this reasoning on LW.

Comment author: siodine 19 August 2012 09:08:33PM *  -3 points [-]

To be clear, you mean people have attacked others for investing in cryonics for themselves rather than, e.g., a GiveWell charity. All I have to say regarding that is that it's been, as you say, attacked rather than tabooed, and that I think it should be attacked (or without the negative connotation of attack, 'questioned').

The issue of cryonics being a worthwhile expenditure is currently somewhat unclear, and I don't see it being tabooed soon. Knowingly buying fuzzies (in the context of charity) over more optimal charity is clear.

To put in within my previous analogy, cryonics is on the slope towards driving a prius rather than a bike, and you're more towards driving a hummer than a prius.