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5 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 December 2007 10:57PM

Overcoming Bias now has a new Welcome page, as I'm sure you've noticed on the sidebar.  A completely ad-hoc eyeballing "statistical" test during our recent Redditing showed that a less prominent placement didn't increase pageviews per visit.  Hopefully it won't get in the way too much.

Handy social bookmarking thingy is just below "Recent Posts".

The "Contributors" section now contains only individuals who have made 3 or more Overcoming Bias posts.  For the curious, the following is the complete list of individuals who've made 10 or more contributions:  Stuart Armstrong, David Balan, Nick Bostrom, Hal Finney, Robin Hanson, Andrew Gelman, James Miller, Eliezer Yudkowsky.


Many of us, including me, have been having trouble with a odd Typekey bug that shows us as logged in, but marks our contributions as having come from nowhere.  If you "Sign out", manually enter your name and email address (and optionally URL), hit "Remember personal info", and then post, you shouldn't have this problem.  At least it's worked for me, so far.


I've located what looks to be an acceptable restaurant for the Bay Area Overcoming Bias meetup, in Millbrae right next to the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station.  This seems like a fairly central location and very well accessible by public transport.  It's even centrally located for anyone who wants to quickly fly in to SFO.  However, we're currently approaching the holiday crunch, so my thought is to schedule the first meetup for mid-January.  Will post on this soon, I hope.


During November I generated 40,965 words of posts (not including comments).  And here I was wondering why I've been feeling tired lately.  Blooking feels like trying to run up a mountain, through concrete, at top speed - but it gets things said.  41,000 words/month, even if only a third of them end up being used, would be nearly in the range of a professional author if I could sustain it.


The recent post "When None Dare Urge Restraint" rose to #1 on Reddit, which raises interesting issues about how often that sort of thing should be allowed to happen on Overcoming Bias.  Political posts are less interesting, and generate lower-quality discussion; they violate both Hanson's injunction to "Tug the rope sideways" and my own principle of "Learn rationality first on nondistracting problems."  So we definitely don't want to do this too often.

However, I also recall an occasion where a Congressperson visited a transhumanist gathering, and asked "How many people here are signed up for cryonics?"  Many hands went up.  "How many of you know the name of your representative in the House?"  Fewer hands went up.  "And you wonder why you don't have much political influence."  Point taken.

There is something to be said for being a little relevant every now and then.  I didn't write "When None Dare Urge Restraint" with the intent that it would rise on Reddit, but I'm glad it did, and I'm currently considering whether to write another political post.  It has obvious pros and obvious cons.

Comments (12)

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Comment author: TGGP4 11 December 2007 12:22:38AM 0 points [-]

Has Mark Miller made any posts? He's still in the Contributors list, but search engines only showed his name on this site...in the Contributors list!

Comment author: Nastunya 11 December 2007 12:35:42AM 0 points [-]

Eliezer, your pointer for dealing with the TypeKey bug seems to naturally belong either in that "[New readers start here]" section or in some separate tech help section. Unfortunately TypeKey didn't offer your insight when I got in touch with them so I had to figure it on my own after a few frustrating attempts at posting. Having suggestions about common bugs in some prominent section on the site would also keep comments about tech issues from clogging up the Recent Comments section.

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 11 December 2007 02:04:18AM 0 points [-]

Anybody planning for an East Coast meetup?

Comment author: Joseph_Petviashvili 11 December 2007 02:11:17AM 0 points [-]

If you want to write a political post, can you write about Russia? The recent elections were so obviously rigged, and yet nobody cares. As an illustration I have a graph of "winning" party's share vs. turnout and it shows 90% correlation between the two.

The scary part for me how this is not "news". People who understand how Russian elections happen do not need this graph, people who believe in official propaganda do not see this graph as proving anything.

Comment author: Bill_Mill 11 December 2007 02:23:18AM 0 points [-]

I post your articles to reddit because I like to expose other people to your ideas; I've found them very enlightening. (Thanks)

Anyway, if you want me to stop posting them, or perhaps to stick to using your titles as opposed to ones that I think will sell on reddit, please let me know. I felt somewhat bad for the #1 spot with that headline, I didn't expect it to shoot up like that.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 December 2007 02:32:25AM 0 points [-]

Bill Mill, as said, I don't regret it. :) You just keep on with your current strategy, and thanks.

TGGP, will fix.

Comment author: Doug_S. 11 December 2007 04:22:59AM 0 points [-]

I know the name of my representative in the House. And he has a Ph.D in physics!

Comment author: mtraven 11 December 2007 05:17:00AM 0 points [-]

I wish you would make an RSS feed for comments available -- instructions are here.

Comment author: LG 11 December 2007 04:24:41PM 0 points [-]

That bay area meetup sounds fun, but I'll only be in town from the 20th to the 26th. I'll look out if you decide to change the time!

Comment author: Richard_Hollerith2 12 December 2007 12:45:34AM 0 points [-]

Sadly, I cannot linger in the area around the Millbrae BART station without getting sick from the fumes from SFO.

Comment author: Nathan_Myers 12 December 2007 02:25:52AM 1 point [-]

What disappointed me about the response to that posting was how many (mostly well-spoken, articulate) people obviously learned nothing from the experience. We even have ObL's video in which he patiently explained how the overreaction was the whole point of the operation: he estimated six orders of magnitude of direct cost to the U.S. vs. his organization's own costs, neglecting all the less quantifiable damage to American society resulting from that overreaction (Patriot act, acceptance of torture, etc.). It's clear Americans haven't finished processing the experience, but it seems equally clear that the conclusion will be little better than the initial reaction.

The "Spanish Flu" epidemic early in the last century killed tens of millions of people. It was unusually deadly to young adults with strong immune systems. Most who died were killed by their own immune response.

Comment author: Nathan_Kurz 13 December 2007 11:35:47PM 0 points [-]

Eliezer ---

Could you please expand on your statement that "p(cults|aliens) isn't less than p(cults|~aliens)" even if greater evidence for aliens were to emerge.

My intuition is that the clearer the evidence for something, the more agreement there will be on the pertinent details. While an individual may be more likely to belong to an alien cult if aliens are present, won't the number and divergence of cults change depending on the strength of evidence?

This strikes me as parallel to one of your earlier posts, where I think you argued that a multiplicity of weak arguments offers no evidence as the truth of an new argument reaching the same conclusion. Intuitively, I disagree with this. I still think the landscape of arguments currently in use must have some correlation to the truth of a new argument that 'happens' to come to the same conclusion. Could you talk more about this someday?

Thanks!