# Irrationality Game II

13 03 July 2012 06:50PM

I was very interested in the discussions and opinions that grew out of the last time this was played, but find digging through 800+ comments for a new game to start on the same thread annoying. I also don't want this game ruined by a potential sock puppet (whom ever it may be). So here's a non-sockpuppetiered Irrationality Game, if there's still interest. If there isn't, downvote to oblivion!

The original rules:

Please read the post before voting on the comments, as this is a game where voting works differently.

Warning: the comments section of this post will look odd. The most reasonable comments will have lots of negative karma. Do not be alarmed, it's all part of the plan. In order to participate in this game you should disable any viewing threshold for negatively voted comments.

Here's an irrationalist game meant to quickly collect a pool of controversial ideas for people to debate and assess. It kinda relies on people being honest and not being nitpickers, but it might be fun.

Write a comment reply to this post describing a belief you think has a reasonable chance of being true relative to the the beliefs of other Less Wrong folk. Jot down a proposition and a rough probability estimate or qualitative description, like 'fairly confident'.

Example (not my true belief): "The U.S. government was directly responsible for financing the September 11th terrorist attacks. Very confident. (~95%)."

If you post a belief, you have to vote on the beliefs of all other comments. Voting works like this: if you basically agree with the comment, vote the comment down. If you basically disagree with the comment, vote the comment up. What 'basically' means here is intuitive; instead of using a precise mathy scoring system, just make a guess. In my view, if their stated probability is 99.9% and your degree of belief is 90%, that merits an upvote: it's a pretty big difference of opinion. If they're at 99.9% and you're at 99.5%, it could go either way. If you're genuinely unsure whether or not you basically agree with them, you can pass on voting (but try not to). Vote up if you think they are either overconfident or underconfident in their belief: any disagreement is valid disagreement.

That's the spirit of the game, but some more qualifications and rules follow.

If the proposition in a comment isn't incredibly precise, use your best interpretation. If you really have to pick nits for whatever reason, say so in a comment reply.

The more upvotes you get, the more irrational Less Wrong perceives your belief to be. Which means that if you have a large amount of Less Wrong karma and can still get lots of upvotes on your crazy beliefs then you will get lots of smart people to take your weird ideas a little more seriously.

Some poor soul is going to come along and post "I believe in God". Don't pick nits and say "Well in a a Tegmark multiverse there is definitely a universe exactly like ours where some sort of god rules over us..." and downvote it. That's cheating. You better upvote the guy. For just this post, get over your desire to upvote rationality. For this game, we reward perceived irrationality.

Try to be precise in your propositions. Saying "I believe in God. 99% sure." isn't informative because we don't quite know which God you're talking about. A deist god? The Christian God? Jewish?

Y'all know this already, but just a reminder: preferences ain't beliefs. Downvote preferences disguised as beliefs. Beliefs that include the word "should" are are almost always imprecise: avoid them.

That means our local theists are probably gonna get a lot of upvotes. Can you beat them with your confident but perceived-by-LW-as-irrational beliefs? It's a challenge!

• Generally, no repeating an altered version of a proposition already in the comments unless it's different in an interesting and important way. Use your judgement.
• If you have comments about the game, please reply to my comment below about meta discussion, not to the post itself. Only propositions to be judged for the game should be direct comments to this post.
• Don't post propositions as comment replies to other comments. That'll make it disorganized.
• You have to actually think your degree of belief is rational.  You should already have taken the fact that most people would disagree with you into account and updated on that information. That means that  any proposition you make is a proposition that you think you are personally more rational about than the Less Wrong average.  This could be good or bad. Lots of upvotes means lots of people disagree with you. That's generally bad. Lots of downvotes means you're probably right. That's good, but this is a game where perceived irrationality wins you karma. The game is only fun if you're trying to be completely honest in your stated beliefs. Don't post something crazy and expect to get karma. Don't exaggerate your beliefs. Play fair.
• Debate and discussion is great, but keep it civil.  Linking to the Sequences is barely civil -- summarize arguments from specific LW posts and maybe link, but don't tell someone to go read something. If someone says they believe in God with 100% probability and you don't want to take the time to give a brief but substantive counterargument, don't comment at all. We're inviting people to share beliefs we think are irrational; don't be mean about their responses.
• No propositions that people are unlikely to have an opinion about, like "Yesterday I wore black socks. ~80%" or "Antipope Christopher would have been a good leader in his latter days had he not been dethroned by Pope Sergius III. ~30%." The goal is to be controversial and interesting.
• Multiple propositions are fine, so long as they're moderately interesting.
• You are encouraged to reply to comments with your own probability estimates, but  comment voting works normally for comment replies to other comments.  That is, upvote for good discussion, not agreement or disagreement.
• In general, just keep within the spirit of the game: we're celebrating LW-contrarian beliefs for a change!

Enjoy!

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Comment author: [deleted] 14 January 2013 10:07:51PM 8 points [-]

irrationality game: The universe is, due to some non-reducible (i.e. non-physical) entity, indeterministic. 95% That entity is the human mind (not brain). 90%

Comment author: 04 July 2012 07:17:44PM *  36 points [-]

IRRATIONALITY GAME

Eliezer Yudovsky has access to a basilisk kill agent that allows him to with a few clicks untraceably assassinate any person he can get to read a short email or equivalent, with comparable efficiency to what is shown in Deathnote.

Probability: improbable ( 2% )

Comment author: 06 July 2012 04:20:52PM 13 points [-]

This seems like a sarcastic Eliezer Yudkowsky Fact, not a serious Irrationality Game entry.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 09:11:27PM 13 points [-]

Upvoted for enormous overconfidence that a universal basilisk exists.

Comment author: 09 July 2012 06:16:54PM 5 points [-]

This seems like a clear example of "You shouldn't adjust the probability that high just because you're trying to avoid overconfidence; that's privileging a complicated possibility."

Comment author: 09 July 2012 09:45:48PM 2 points [-]

This seems like a clear example of "You shouldn't adjust the probability that high just because you're trying to avoid overconfidence; that's privileging a complicated possibility."

Has there been a post on this subject yet? Handling overconfidence in that sort of situation is complicated.

Comment author: 09 July 2012 10:24:13PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: 10 July 2012 12:42:24AM 1 point [-]

Thanks! I recall reading that one but didn't recall.

It still leaves me with some doubt about how to handle uncertainty around the extremes without being pumpable or sometimes catastrophically wrong. I suppose some of that is inevitable given hardware that is both bounded and corrupted but I rather suspect there is some benefit to learning more. There's probably a book or ten out there I could read.

Comment author: 31 July 2012 07:53:37PM 0 points [-]

Reading this comment made me slightly update my probability that the parent, or a weaker version thereof, is correct.

Comment author: 06 July 2012 05:03:07AM 11 points [-]

If such a universal basilisk exists, wouldn't it almost by definition kill the person who discovered it?

I think it's vaguely plausible such a basilisk exists, but I also think you are suffering from the halo effect around EY. Why would he of all people know about the basilisk? He's just some blogger you read who says things as though they are Deep Wisdom so people will pay attention.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 07:58:00PM 6 points [-]

Upvoted for vast overconfidence.
Downvoted back to zero because I suspect you're not following the rules of the thread.
Also, I have no idea who "Eliezer Yudovsky" is, though it doesn't matter for either of the above.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 05:17:41PM 0 points [-]

Well, this is scary enough.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 08:37:41PM *  29 points [-]

Irrationality Game

For reasons related to Godel's incompleteness theorems and mathematically proven minimum difficulties for certain algorithms, I believe there is an upper limit on how intelligent an agent can be. (90%)

I believe that human hardware can - in principle - be as intelligent as it is possible to be. (60%) To be clear, this doesn't actually occur in the real world we currently live in. I consider the putatively irrational assertion roughly isomorphic to asserting that AGI won't go FOOM.

If you voted already, you might not want to vote again.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 11:02:30PM 10 points [-]

I would vote differently on these assertions.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:29:22PM 5 points [-]

Me, too. It wouldn't surprise me too much if there's a limit on intelligence, but I'd be extremely surprised humans are at that limit.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 05:11:17AM *  3 points [-]

I believe there is an upper limit on how intelligent an agent can be. (90%)

What's your estimate that this value is at a level that we actually care about (i.e. not effectively infinite from our point of view)?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 01:11:53AM 2 points [-]

Can you rephrase "this doesn't actually occur in the real world we currently live in"?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 01:38:05AM 1 point [-]

Downvoted for the first, upvoted for the second.

Physics limit how big computers can get; I have no evidence whatsoever for humans being optimal.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:44:59AM 1 point [-]

One of the most direct methods for an agent to increase its computing power (does this translate to an increase in intelligence, even logarithmically?) is to increase the size of its brain. This doesn't have an inherent upper limit, only ones caused by running out of matter and things like that, which I consider uninteresting.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 11:53:38PM 2 points [-]

To follow up on what olalonde said, there are problems that appear to get extraordinarily difficult as the number of inputs increases. Wikipedia suggests that the know best solutions to the traveling salesman problem is on the order of O(2^n), where n is the number of inputs. Saying that adding computational ability resolves these issues for actual AGI implies either:

1) AGI trying to FOOM won't need to solve problems as complicated as traveling salesman type problems, or

2) AGI trying to FOOM will be able to add processing power at a rate reasonably near O(2^n), or

3) In the process of FOOM, an AGI will be able to determine P=NP or similarly revolutionary result.

None of those seem particularly plausible to me. So for reasonable sized n, AGI will not be able to solve problems appreciably better than humans.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 11:38:49AM *  1 point [-]

I think 1 is the most likely scenario (although I don't think FOOM is a very likely scenario). Some more mind blowing hard problems are available here for those who are still skeptical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcomputational_problem

Comment author: 04 July 2012 09:54:54PM *  2 points [-]

I don't think that's so obviously true. Here are some possible arguments against that theory:

1) There is a theoretical upper limit at which information can travel (speed of light). A very large "brain" will eventually be limited by that speed.

2) Some computational problems are so hard that even an extremely powerful "brain" would take very long to solve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_complexity_theory#Intractability).

3) There are physical limits to computation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremermann%27s_limit). Bremermann's Limit is the maximum computational speed of a self-contained system in the material universe. According to this limit, a computer the size of the Earth would take 10^72 years to crack a 512 bit key. In other words, even an AI the size of the Earth would not manage to break modern human encryption by brute-force.

More theoretical limits here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limits_to_computation

Comment author: 03 July 2012 10:20:21PM 1 point [-]

If it turns out that "human hardware" is as intelligent as it is possible to be, that entails many things in addition to the assertion that AGI won't go FOOM.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:06:27AM *  41 points [-]

Irrationality Game

If we are in a simulation, a game, a "planetarium", or some other form of environment controlled by transhuman powers, then 2012 may be the planned end of the game, or end of this stage of the game, foreshadowed within the game by the Mayan calendar, and having something to do with the Voyager space probe reaching the limits of the planetarium-enclosure, the galactic center lighting up as a gas cloud falls in 30,000 years ago, or the discovery of the higgs boson.

Since we have to give probabilities, I'll say 10%, but note well, I'm not saying there is a 10% probability that the world ends this year, I'm saying 10% conditional on us being in a transhumanly controlled environment; e.g., that if we are in a simulation, then 2012 has a good chance of being a preprogrammed date with destiny.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:42:24AM 8 points [-]

Upvoted solely because 1999/2000 was foreshadowed so much more heavily.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:11:03PM 3 points [-]

As I point out in the other comment, the real year of maximum alignment was 1998. So perhaps SubGenius is the true faith, the few true SubGenii were raptured that year, and 2012 is just when the cosmic wrecking crew come in to clean up.

It's a coincidence of note in itself that the midpoint of the current "galactic solstice" should have occurred so extremely close to a millennial year in the dominant planetary calendar; also that the third Christian millennium begins so close in time to the start of a new Mayan cycle. It would be easier to understand all this if both Mayan and European cultures had a visible history of caring about "galactic alignment", and there was a visible history of adjusting the calendar accordingly. We know the Mayans were eager astrologers, and the beginning of the "Christian era" was probably associated with the transition between the zodiacal Age of Aries and Age of Pisces (12 signs in the zodiac, divide up the 26000-year precession into 12 periods and you get approximately 2000-year epochs). So we can point to ways in which ancient astronomy has shaped the calendar, but not enough to definitely explain Christian 2000 and Mayan 2012 as attempts to synchronize the calendar with galactic 1998.

It's already a stretch to posit a secret history of influential esoteric astrology shaping the western calendar. But if we then try to explain the coincidence of this period in time with general technological and scientific acceleration, basically you either have to say that it's just a coincidence, or that it's not a coincidence and reality is connected in ways far beyond what we currently understand. The simplest version of that hypothesis, for this community, is "we're living in the Matrix".

Comment author: 06 July 2012 11:12:21AM 1 point [-]

it's not a coincidence and reality is connected in ways far beyond what we currently understand. The simplest version of that hypothesis, for this community, is "we're living in the Matrix".

And in other communities that hypothesis class is called...?

Comment author: 07 July 2012 01:15:37PM 3 points [-]

There's no name for the general idea. But for people who habitually think that everything reduces to computation and/or that physics is largely figured out, the Matrix is the quickest way to reintroduce fundamental uncertainty about what's behind the appearances of the world.

Another formulation which might have some potency for an audience of materialist futurists, would be to suggest that the stars and planets are all already superintelligences, engaged in purposeful aeon-old interactions about which we know nothing, and that the minutiae of our life and history on Earth are shaped by a local superintelligence, or its agents, by means that we do not know, towards goals that we do not know. Earth is not a rare oasis of life in a cosmic desert; the sum total of our lives here is more like a day's worth of microbes living and dying, in the dark under a small rock, in a jungle bursting with larger lives and dramas.

If you start just with the data of experience, rather than presupposing physical or computational reductionism, the possibilities are even broader. A dream presents an example of a hallucinated world and narrative which is not only unreal, but often logically incoherent and only imagined rather than experienced, to a degree that isn't recognized while it's taking place. Also, the events of dreams can be the product of knowledge and concerns which the dreamer does not consciously recall during the dream (but which will be remembered and understood once awake), and also just the result of external sensory stimuli, transduced into something that fits the dream context.

One might suppose that waking life is a similar phenomenon, but on a higher scale. Perhaps if one looked at all the facts of one's circumstances with an IQ of 5000 (whatever that might mean), it would be obvious that it's all a sham and a delirium. That line of thought could lead back to the Matrix, but there ought to be other, more mentalistic, models of real causality (causality outside the illusion), which provide an alternative conception of higher reality. For example, you could combine solipsism, metaphysical idealism, and the idea of a temporary self-induced occlusion concerning your own nature and powers, to arrive at the guess that you are Something, somehow floating in existential isolation, which has produced the illusion of a body and senses and a world, and the illusion of being a limited denizen of that world with no existence before it. Why did you do this? Maybe you went mad in eternal isolated boredom, maybe it was a mistake, who knows.

There are many variations on this sort of hypothesis. It doesn't have to be solipsistic, for example. But what distinguishes it from the materialist paranoia of the Matrix is that it doesn't even hold onto the idea that states of mind are "really" material processes, occurring in a physics known or unknown. There is a more direct coupling between appearances and intentions, as in a dream when analysed from the cognitive point of view.

Obviously, if reality were like that, then events might be connected in ways far removed from conventional probabilistic causal thinking. If the world of the senses were just a symbolic realization of the agenda of some governing intention, then events might be orchestrated in all sorts of unusual ways.

Another class of rogue hypothesis might be called the "big dumb spirit-force" hypothesis. Earlier I spoke of superintelligent celestial bodies, the implication being that they are actually giant nano- or pico-computers of a sort that the human race has begun to imagine, and their vast ancient computations are what governs us. A peculiar alternative would be to suppose something like astrology, in which celestial objects are big dumb objects after all, but they exert influences which act "directly" on sensibility, culture, and evolution (I mean in a way which has the directness of physics, rather than the indirectness of cosmic darwinism, whereby the cosmic environment imposes changing conditions on the biosphere).

There is also a type of transcendental hypothesis which is mostly defined negatively. It amounts just to saying that reality consists of "entities" in "relationships", and not only are you oblivious to most of them, you can't even conceive of most of them. And not only that, but you aren't even properly conceiving of what's happening right in front of you, and of who and what you yourself are. You have to imagine everything you have experienced and thought, and everything that you have ever heard of and thought you understood, as completely superficial, when it's not outright wrong. To even conceive of the situation as "you getting reality wrong" would still be getting it wrong, in the sense of missing the essence of everything. In other words, you and your life have a meaning other than "semi-intelligent entity blundering through local corner of reality using its inadequate concepts"; your existence (in the broad sense of everything you know about, not just the actions for which you personally take responsibility) has significance, but you are completely blind to it.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:34:05AM 5 points [-]

This begs the question: how likely do you think it is that we are in a transhumanly controlled environment?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 02:44:33AM 1 point [-]

I don't have a stable opinion on that topic. But the question here is whether, given that hypothesis, it's rational to attach significance to 2012-ism.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 05:15:35AM 3 points [-]

Upvoted because 10% as an estimate seems too high.

I especially can't imagine why transhuman powers would have used the end of the calendar of a long-dead civilization (one of many comparable civilizations) to foreshadow the end of their game plan.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 11:45:51AM 3 points [-]

It's easy to invent scenarios. But the high probability estimate really derives from two things.

First, the special date from the Mayan calendar is astronomically determined, to a degree that hasn't been recognized by mainstream scholarship about Mayan culture. The precession of the equinoxes takes 26000 years. Every 6000 years or so, you have a period in which a solstice sun or an equinox sun lines up close to the galactic center, as seen from Earth. We are in such a period right now; I think the point of closest approach was in 1998. Then, if you mark time by transits of Venus (Venus was important in Mayan culture, being identified with their version of the Aztecs' Quetzalcoatl), that picks out the years 2004 and 2012. It's the December solstice which is the "galactic solstice" at this time, and 21 December 2012 will be the first December solstice after the last transit of Venus during the current period of alignment.

OK, so one might suppose that a medieval human civilization with highly developed naked-eye astronomy might see all that coming and attach a quasi-astrological significance to it. What's always bugged me is that this period in time, whose like comes around only every 6000 years, is historically so close to the dramatic technological developments of the present day.

Carl Sagan wrote a novel (Contact) in which, when humans speak to the ultra-advanced aliens, they discover that the aliens also struggle with impossible messages from beyond, because there are glyphs and messages encoded in the digits of pi. If you were setting up a universe in such a way that you wanted creatures to go through a singularity, and yet know that the universe they had now mastered was just a second-tier reality, one way to do it would certainly be to have that singularity occur simultaneously with some rare, predetermined astronomical configuration.

Nothing as dramatic as a singularity is happening yet in 2012, but it's not every day that a human probe first reaches interstellar space, the black hole at the center of the galaxy visibly lights up, and we begin to measure the properties of the fundamental field that produces mass, all of this happening within a year of an ancient, astronomically timed prophecy of world-change. It sounds like an unrealistic science-fiction plot. So perhaps one should give consideration to models which treat this as more than a coincidence.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:10:33PM 7 points [-]

Why pick out those events?

It's easy to see it as a coincidence when you take into account all the events that you might have counted as significant if they'd happened at the right time. How about the discovery of general relativity, the cosmic microwave background, neutrinos, the Sputnik launch, various supernovae, the Tunguska impact, etc etc?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 04:20:57PM 2 points [-]

Also all those dramatic technological developments of 6000 years ago, which seem minor now due to the passage of time and further advances in knowledge and technology. As no doubt the discovery of the Higgs Boson or the Voyager leaving the boundary of the solar system would seem in 8012. AD. If anybody even remembers these events then.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:33:58PM 1 point [-]

Also, even if the transhuman powers are choosing based on current end-of-the-world predictions, there's no reason why they would choose 2012 rather than any of the many past predictions.

Comment author: 18 July 2012 01:11:40PM 7 points [-]

Irrationality game

Money does buy happiness. In general the rich and powerful are in fact ridiculously happy to an extent we can't imagine. The hedonic treadmill and similar theories are just a product of motivated cognition, and the wealthy and powerful have no incentive to tell us otherwise. 30%

Comment author: 04 July 2012 09:30:16AM 21 points [-]

Irrationality Game

I believe that exposure to rationality (in the LW sense) at today's state does in general more harm than good^ to someone who's already a skeptic. 80%

^ In the sense of generating less happiness and in general less "winning".

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:44:42PM *  2 points [-]

I realized I didn't have a model of an average skeptic, so I am not sure what my opinion on this topic actually is.

My provisional model of an average skeptic is like this: "You guys as LW have a good point about religion being irrational; the math is kind of interesting, but boring; and the ideas about superhuman intelligence and quantum physics being more than just equations are completely crazy."

No harm, no benefit, tomorrow everything is forgotten.

Comment author: 09 July 2012 09:48:56PM 0 points [-]

I believe that exposure to rationality (in the LW sense) at today's state does in general more harm than good^ to someone who's already a skeptic. 80%

I predict with about 60% probability that exposure to LW rationality benefits skeptics more and is also more likely to harm non-skeptics.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 07:43:44PM 1 point [-]

I roughly agree with this one. This is something that we would not see much evidence of, if true.

Downvoted.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 10:51:20PM 22 points [-]

Irrationality game

0 and 1 are probabilities. (100%)

Comment author: 03 July 2012 11:08:21PM 11 points [-]

Nothing we can say will change your mind, unless already don't believe this.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 11:49:55PM 5 points [-]

Downvoted for agreement. Trivially, P(A|A)=1 and P(A|~A)=0.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:05:21AM 11 points [-]

Upvoted not for the claim, but the ridiculously high confidence in that claim.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:14:58AM 3 points [-]

Are you saying that you probably agree that 0 and 1 are probabilities, but my claim is not one of the things you would assign a probability of 1 to?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:29:06AM 2 points [-]

I believe 0 and 1 are probabilities, but there is no way to obtain that degree of certainty. (unless you have an incredibly clever method you aren't sharing, which is mean)

An analogy would be that I believe that 3^^^3 is a number, even though I don't think I will ever have that many dollars. Similarly, I believe that 0 and 1 are probabilities, but I wouldn't grant any particular belief a probability of 0 or 1.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 11:35:55PM 1 point [-]

I'd like to point out that anyone who does not share the (claimed) Infinite Certainty should be upvoting, as this confidence level is infinitely higher than any other possible confidence level. (It's kind of like, if you agree that dividing by zero is merely an error, then any claim to infinite certainty is also an error, almost exactly the same error in fact.)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 01:55:33AM 1 point [-]

Only Sith deal in absolutes!

I am very happy that the parent is currently at 0 karma.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 01:35:04AM 1 point [-]

So you are more confident in math than in hallucinating this entire interaction with an internet forum?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 01:57:59AM 1 point [-]

I'm not quite sure how to parse that, but I'll do my best. I am more confident in math than I am in my belief that arbitrary parts of my life are not hallucinations.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 11:34:14PM 1 point [-]

Does this belief really affect anything, or is it only a proposition considered true without any consequences on your cognitive processes? (I've always regarded "0 and 1 are not probabilities" as more of a rhetorical figure than a statement of belief.)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:10:30AM *  2 points [-]

Well, on a somewhat trivial note, I (plan to) make my living proving that certain things have probabilities distinct from 0, so if 0 and 1 weren't probabilities to begin with I'd be out of a job.

That's not really it, though, because I think the "0 and 1 are not probabilities" claim is really about degrees of belief in non-mathematical propositions. In its most-reasonable-to-me form, it says something like "Even if you have an argument that statement S is true with probability 1, you should believe Pr[S] < 1, because your argument could be wrong". And there's... really not a lot I could say in response to that. Except I would note that the value 1 isn't really special here.

But there's a lot of things that go together with this idea that I do disagree with. In very many senses, even non-mathematical propositions do end up having probabilities of 0 or 1. For instance:

• Any time we deal with (even theoretical) infinities (this one is important because here we get events with probability 0 that can actually happen)
• Tautologies (duh)
• Conditional probabilities (nobody really disagrees with this, but I think lots of probabilities we think are unconditional aren't)
• Any belief that I can never be talked out of (given how the human mind works, probably most beliefs we have are like this actually)

Plus in practice accepting "0 and 1 are not probabilities" rhetorically or otherwise just means that you stop writing 1 and start writing 1-epsilon. Whose belief is it really that doesn't affect anything?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 09:59:59PM 1 point [-]

even non-mathematical propositions do end up having probabilities of 0 or 1 ... Tautologies

Tautologies are true for mathematical reasons and there is little difference - as far as probability assessment goes - between "P âˆ¨ âˆ½P" and "Yding SkovhÃ¸j is the highest peak of Egypt or Yding SkovhÃ¸j is not the highest peak of Egypt". Thus, tautologies (and pseudologies, or how do we call their false counterparts) don't really make a category distinct from mathematical statements.

Conditional probabilities

I am not sure what you mean here. Of course there are conditional probabilities of form "if X, then X", but they already belong to the tautology group.

Regarding mathematical statements it's nevertheless important to notice that there are two meanings of "probability". First, there is what I would call "idealised" or "mathematical probability", formally defined inside a mathematical theory. One typically defines probability as a measure over some abstract space and usually is able to prove that there exist sets of probability 1 or 0. This is, more or less, the sort of probability relevant to the probabilistic method you have linked to. Second, there is the "psychological" probability which has the intuitive meaning of "degree of belief", where 1 and 0 refer to absolute certainty. This is, more or less, the sort of probability spoken about in "1 and 0 aren't probabilities".

These two kinds of probabilities may correspond to each other more or less closely, but aren't the same: having a formal proof of a proposition isn't the same as being absolutely certain about it; people make mistakes when checking proofs.

Plus in practice accepting "0 and 1 are not probabilities" rhetorically or otherwise just means that you stop writing 1 and start writing 1-epsilon. Whose belief is it really that doesn't affect anything?

If believing P doesn't affect anything, then naturally believing non-P doesn't affect anything either. So, if you agree that "1 and 0 aren't probabilities" is an inconsequential belief, does it mean that your answer to my original question is "yes"?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:51:20AM *  1 point [-]

Any belief that I can never be talked out of (given how the human mind works, probably most beliefs we have are like this actually)

I suspect that with enough resources you could be talked out of any of your beliefs. Oh, sure, it would take a lot of time, planning, and manpower (and probably some people you approve of having the beliefs we'd want to indoctrinate you with). You're not actually 100% certain that you're 100% certain that 0 and 1 are probabilities.

The trouble with thinking 0 or 1 is a probability is that it is exactly equivalent to having an infinite amount of evidence, which is impossible by the laws of thermodynamics; minds exist within physics.

Furthermore, a feeling of absolute certainty isn't even a number, much less a probability.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 07:13:48PM *  1 point [-]

I suspect that with enough resources you could be talked out of any of your beliefs.

At some point you have to ask: who is this "me" that can have any arbitrary collection of beliefs?

(And yes, incidentally, I don't assign 100% probability to the fact that I assign 100% probability to the statement "0 and 1 are probabilities." I think I could be persuaded, not to have a lower confidence in the 0-1 statement, but to believe that my confidence in it is lower than it is. This is sort of hard to think about, though.)

Comment author: 27 November 2012 03:54:45AM 0 points [-]

Funny.

Comment author: [deleted] 04 July 2012 01:46:25AM 17 points [-]

Computationalism is an incorrect model of cognition. Brains compute, but mind is not what the brain does. There is no self hiding inside your apesuit. You are the apesuit. Minds are embodied and extended, and a major reason why the research program to build synthetic intelligences has largely gone nowhere since its inception is the failure of many researchers to understand/agree with this idea.

70%

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:07:56AM 3 points [-]

Just because I am an apesuit, doesn't mean I need to dress my synthetic intelligence in one.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 08:02:43PM 2 points [-]

Do you believe a upload with a simulated body would work? how high fidelity?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:05:58PM *  1 point [-]

Have you been reading this recently?

More particularly, anything that links to this post.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 07:36:47PM *  19 points [-]

I'll bite:

The U.S. government deliberately provoked the attack on Pearl Harbour through diplomacy and/or fleet redeployment, and it was not by chance that the carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet weren't at port when the attack happened.

Very confident. (90-95%)

By the way, the reason I assume I am personally more rational about this than the LW average is that there are lots of US Americans around here, and I have sufficient evidence to believe that people tend to become less rational if a topic centrally involves a country they are emotionally involved with or whose educational system they went through.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 07:54:45PM 17 points [-]

I don't have a lot of strong reasons to disbelieve you, but what evidence makes you think this is so?

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:28:55AM -3 points [-]

what evidence makes you think this is so?

Are you referring to my belief regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, or to my belief regarding my rationality on this topic in relation to the LW average?

I don't have a lot of strong reasons to disbelieve you

Does that mean that you have some strong reasons to disbelieve me?

Comment author: 07 July 2012 01:58:00AM 2 points [-]

Downvoted the comment for being bizarrely unresponsive, and the parent for being presumably reasonable in light of evidence that you refuse to share.

Comment author: 06 July 2012 06:26:56PM *  1 point [-]

I want to know which things you've heard or seen that made you believe the United States government provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor. My best reason for doubting you is that I don't recall hearing anything like this before from academics nor interested amateur historians nor conspiracy theorists.

My guess is that the biasing effects of being funneled through a country's school system and subjected to its news are much weaker on those who would find LW interesting than the typical citizen.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 02:04:23AM 3 points [-]

For what it's worth, I came across the theory before, in a pretty respectable setting: a popularization book by a historian, where many conspiracy theories (along with "mysteries" like Easter Island) where examined, usually with skeptical conclusions. The Pearl Harbor one was one of the few with a "possible, but unproven" verdict.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 09:43:12AM *  1 point [-]

Do you remember the title of that book?

Comment author: 07 July 2012 01:23:48PM 2 points [-]

I read it long ago, in a Spanish translation from French. It seems the book has not been published in English. The original title is Dossiers secrets de l'histoire, by Alain Decaux.

Comment author: 08 July 2012 12:04:27AM 2 points [-]

That reduces the value of the example, IMO. Political conspiracy stuff relies on so much contextual material and government records that it's hard for a foreigner to make a good appraisal of what went on. It would be like a monolingual American trying to make heads or tails of that incident decades ago (whose name escapes me at the moment) where a high-level Communist Party official died in a airplane crash with his family; was it a normal accident, or was he fleeing a failed coup attempt to Russia, as the conspiracy/coverup interpretations went? If you can't even read Chinese, I have no idea how one could make a even half-decent attempt to judge the incident.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 09:19:04AM *  1 point [-]

I want to know which things you've heard or seen that made you believe the United States government provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor. My best reason for doubting you is that I don't recall hearing anything like this before from academics nor interested amateur historians nor conspiracy theorists.

I have never heard of the book Alejandro1 refers to, but I read a book from Togo Shigenori, the Japanese foreign minister during that time, and he makes a lot of good points how US diplomacy wasn't focused on securing peace, but on forcing Japan into a war that could only benefit the USA in the long run. From his perspective, the oil embargo left Japan with no other reasonable option than to try to conquer the British and Dutch oil reserves in South East Asia; and I see as little reason to believe that the U.S. government wasn't aware of this as he does.

Togo was an outspoken opponent of the war against the USA who made efforts towards more diplomatical exchange, which met little interest on part of the U.S. government. He was the thriving force behind Japan's declaration it would uphold the Geneva Convention, which Japan did not sign. He was also the originator of a peace settlement with the USSR earlier. Lastly, he was also of Korean descent, originally having the surname Park. All this adds up to sufficient evidence for me to believe that he was not a nationalist warmonger, and therefore I take his analysis very serious.

My guess is that the biasing effects of being funneled through a country's school system and subjected to its news are much weaker on those who would find LW interesting than the typical citizen.

LW readers seem to be better at evaluating arguments from different sides, but not necessarily at acquiring these arguments in the first place unless they are already interested in the topic. Also, the lack of history-related threads in the discussion area leads me to believe that there is no significant correlation between being interested in LW and being interested in history in general or historical accuracy in particular.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 01:21:38AM *  15 points [-]

Regarding the first part, the truth of that statement critically depends on how exactly you define "provoke." For some reasonable definitions, the statement is almost certainly true; for others, probably not.

As for the second part (the supposed intentional dispersion of the carriers), I don't think that's plausible. If anything, the U.S. would have been in a similar position, i.e. at war with Japan with guaranteed victory, even if every single ship under the U.S. flag magically got sunk on December 7, 1941. So even if there was a real conspiracy involved, it would have made no sense to add this large and risky element to it just to make the eventual victory somewhat quicker.

Also, your heuristic about bias is broken. In the Western world outside of the U.S., people are on average, if anything, only more inclined to believe the official historical narrative about WW2.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:52:54PM 4 points [-]

If anything, the U.S. would have been in a similar position, i.e. at war with Japan with guaranteed victory, even if every single ship under the U.S. flag magically got sunk on December 7, 1941.

This is suspect. The U.S. had greater industrial capacities and population than Japan, but that doesn't guarantee victory. Rebuilding the navy would take a lot of time which the Japanese could use to end their war in China. Also, it was far from clear in late 1941 whether the USSR would withstand the German assault and whether the British would not seek peace.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:10:08AM *  2 points [-]

Even in the worst possible case, I still don't see what could prevent the U.S. from simply cranking out a new huge Pacific navy and overwhelming Japan. Yes, the production would take a few years to ramp up to full capacity, as it did in reality -- but once it did, I can't imagine what could save Japan from being overwhelmed.

Ending the war in China wouldn't have helped the Japanese at all, even if they linked with a victorious German army in the Far East. An additional land army at their disposal could not prevent the U.S. navy steamroller from eventually reaching their home islands, whereupon they would be bombed and starved into surrender. (If not for the atom bomb ending their agony even earlier.) The Japanese islands are so exposed and vulnerable to any superior naval power that they could be lost even as the world's mightiest army is watching helplessly from the Asian mainland.

The only theoretical chance I see is if Germany somehow conquered both the U.S.S.R. and Britain, and then threw all its resources on a crash program to build up a huge navy of its own and help the Japanese. But I'm not sure if they'd be able to outproduce the U.S. even in that case. (And note that this would require a vanishingly improbable long continuation of the Germans' lucky streak.)

Comment author: 05 July 2012 02:21:38PM *  2 points [-]

In the context of this discussion the important thing is what could be reliably predicted in 1941, so we should ignore the possible effects of the atomic bomb.

Assume that the entire U.S. navy is destroyed in January 1942. A reasonable realistic scenario, if everything went really well for Japan, may be this:

• Germans capture Leningrad and encircle Moscow in summer 1942, Stalin is arrested in the forthcoming chaos and the new Soviet government signs armistice with Germany, ceding large territories in the west.
• German effort is now concentrated on expanding their naval power. Germany has half of Europe's industrial capacity at her disposal. The production of U-boats increases and Britain alone has not enough destroyers to guard the convoys.
• Starvation, threat of German invasion and heavy naval losses to German submarines, leading to inability to supply the Indian armies, make Britain accept Hitler's peace offer. Britain surrenders Gibraltar, Malta, Channel islands and all interests in European mainland to Germany and Italy, Singapore and Malaya to Japan and backs from the war.
• China now obtains no help, no arms, no aircraft and surrenders in 1944, becoming divided among several Japanese puppet states.
• The U.S. are alone, still having no significant navy. Hawaii is lost to the Japanese. Germany is aggresively building new ships to improve their naval power and potentially help the Japanese in the Pacific. Roosevelt dies in early 1945, as he did historically. The Japanese offer peace that would secure them the leading position in East Asia, willing to give Hawaii back.

Now in this situation, being a U.S. general, what would be your advice given to Truman? Would it be "let's continue in a low intensity war against both Germany and Japan until we have a strong enough navy, which may be in 1947 or 1948, and then start taking one island after another, which may take two more years, and then, from the island bases supplied through the U-boat infested Pacific start bombarding Japan, until the damned fanatics realise they have no other chance than to surrender"? Or would it rather be "let's accept peace if it's offered on honourable terms"?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 05:18:04PM *  2 points [-]

Even in that scenario, Japanese victory is conditional on the political decision of the U.S. government to accept the peace. My comments considered only the strategic situation under the assumption that all sides were willing to fight on with determination. And I don't think this assumption is so unrealistic: the American people were extremely unwilling to enter the war, but once they did, they would have been even less willing to accept a humiliating peace. Especially since the Pacific great naval offensive could be (and historically was) fought with very low casualties, and not to mention the U.S. government's wartime control of the media that was in many ways even more effective than the crude and heavy-handed control in totalitarian states.

Now, in your scenario, the U.S. would presumably see immediately that its first priority was navy rebuilding. (An army is useless if you can't get it off the mainland.) This means that by 1944, Americans would be cranking out even more ships than they did historically. I don't think the Axis could match that output even if they were in control of the entire Eurasia.

(The U-boats would have been a complicating factor. Their effectiveness changed dramatically with unpredictable innovations in technology and tactics. In actual history, they became useless by mid-1943, although Germans were arguably on the verge of introducing dramatically superior ones at the time of their capitulation. But in any case, the U-boat factor cuts both ways: Americans could swamp the Pacific with even greater numbers of U-boats and wreck the entire Japanese logistics, as they actually did.)

Comment author: 05 July 2012 02:48:52PM 1 point [-]

Even assuming a plausible scenario in which the US couldn't defeat Germany, that doesn't have anything to do with whether we could have defeated Japan standing alone.

Historically, we know it wasn't that hard for the US - despite Japan attacking first, the US adopted a "Europe First" strategy that committed approx. 2/3 of capacity to fighting Germany. Despite this, the US defeated Japan easily - there are no major victories for Japan against the US after Pearl Harbor, and Midway was less than a year after Pearl Harbor. If the US strategy is "Japan First" (doing things like transferring the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific), why should we expect the Pacific war would last long enough that Germany would be able to consolidate a victory in the east into driving the UK into peace and be able to intervene in the Pacific?

Also, why do you think an invasion of Hawaii was possible? The surprise strike was at the end of Japanese logistical capacity - I think the US wins if Japan tries a land invasion.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:37:05PM *  1 point [-]

If the US strategy is "Japan First" (doing things like transferring the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific), why should we expect the Pacific war would last long enough that Germany would be able to consolidate a victory in the east into driving the UK into peace and be able to intervene in the Pacific?

Remember the context: we are in the hypothetical where all US ships (Atlantic fleet included) were magically anihilated in the end of 1941.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:53:58PM 2 points [-]

I'm a big believer in not fighting the hypothetical, but there is no historically plausible account leading to the destruction of the Atlantic fleet. At that point, we aren't discussing facts relevant to whether FDR knew of the Pearl Harbor attack ahead of time.

The hypothetical of Pearl Harbor as the most resounding success it could possibly be (US Pacific fleet reduced to irrelevance) and Germany winning the Battle of Moscow strongly enough that it has leverage to force the UK out of the war is reasonable for discussing FDR's decision process. That's all he could reasonably have thought he was risking by allowing Pearl Harbor. As I stated elsewhere, I think FDR gets his political goals with Japan firing the first shot - there's no need for him to court a military disaster.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 04:38:03AM *  2 points [-]

Could you spell out what you mean by different definitions of "provoke"?

Anyhow, I am more concerned about the word "deliberate." The government is not a coherent actor; it does not have deliberate actions. For example, FDR explicitly rejected an oil embargo, yet oil exports stopped. Was this because his subordinates correctly interpreted his wishes? Or were they more belligerent? In Present at the Creation (p26) Acheson seems to say that he implemented the embargo by mistake, thinking that Japan had hidden assets that would keep the flow going. On the following page, he agrees to accept payment from a Latin American bank, but something goes awry, seemingly out of his control. Delong asks if FDR even knew of the embargo.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:59:02AM *  3 points [-]

Could you spell out what you mean by different definitions of "provoke"?

Well, "provocation" is one of those problematic words, in that nearly always, the party accused of "provocation" denies it -- and the act itself is therefore nearly always done in a way that attempts for some plausible deniability. So even if there is agreement on the facts of what happened, there is usually room for debate over whether an act constituted "provocation."

Anyhow, I am more concerned about the word "deliberate." The government is not a coherent actor; it does not have deliberate actions.

Of course. But under FDR, he and his inner circle did act in a fairly coherent way (and by extension, so did the entire pyramid of New Deal patronage that they headed). There were certainly individuals and institutions within the U.S. government outside of their control, but by 1941, they had been mostly side-stepped and pushed away into irrelevance.

For example, FDR explicitly rejected an oil embargo, yet oil exports stopped. Was this because his subordinates correctly interpreted his wishes? Or were they more belligerent? In Present at the Creation (p26) Acheson seems to say that he implemented the embargo by mistake, thinking that Japan had hidden assets that would keep the flow going. On the following page, he agrees to accept payment from a Latin American bank, but something goes awry, seemingly out of his control. Delong asks if FDR even knew of the embargo.

I wouldn't consider Acheson a credible source. Certainly, it's very naive to take anything written by the political actors of the New Deal/WW2 era at face value, and disentangling the real events from the available information is a task of enormous complexity and difficulty. That rabbit hole is very, very deep.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:57:25PM *  1 point [-]

Regarding the first part, the truth of that statement critically depends on how exactly you define "provoke."

I am more concerned about the word "deliberate."

• Provoking: presenting someone with a multitude of bad choices, one of them being to attack you.
• Deliberate: proceeding with an action in the hope of achieving a specific outcome.
• Deliberately provoking: presenting someone with a multitude of bad choices, hoping they will attack you because of this.

As for the second part (the supposed intentional dispersion of the carriers), I don't think that's plausible. If anything, the U.S. would have been in a similar position, i.e. at war with Japan with guaranteed victory, even if every single ship under the U.S. flag magically got sunk on December 7, 1941. So even if there was a real conspiracy involved, it would have made no sense to add this large and risky element to it just to make the eventual victory somewhat quicker.

The carrier fleet being operational was decisive in preventing an expected Japanese invasion of Midway and Hawaii, and recapturing Hawaii from the American continent would have been very difficult, if not outright impossible. What if China had surrendered or made peace with Japan? What if Germany captured Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad? What if the Japanese nuclear weapon program had succeded? What if the public opinion had turned anti-war, as during the Vietnam War?

"Guaranteed victory" sounds like hindsight bias to me. Even if the US mainland could not have been invaded, that doesn't mean the USA could not have lost the war.

Also, your heuristic about bias is broken. In the Western world outside of the U.S., people are on average, if anything, only more inclined to believe the official historical narrative about WW2.

The point is that the "official historical narrative" is different in different countries. For example, Japan has a strong culture of ignoring Japanese war crimes, in Polish textbooks there rarely is mention of Poland taking part in the partition of Czechoslovakia, Britons are generally unaware of the fact that GB declared war on Germany and not vice versa, many French think that the surrender to Germany was an action the government did not have the license to make, and so on.

The government is not a coherent actor; it does not have deliberate actions.

"The government" is an abstract concept. I am talking about a circle of people within the government who together had the power to provoke Japan, and to assure that the losses at Pearl Harbor were within reasonable bounds. I am not overly familiar with the way the U.S. government was organised at that time, but it seems to me that such a circle had to include either the president or high ranking intelligence officials, most likely both.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:34:06PM *  2 points [-]

The carrier fleet being operational was decisive in preventing an expected Japanese invasion of Midway and Hawaii, and recapturing Hawaii from the American continent would have been very difficult, if not outright impossible. What if China had surrendered or made peace with Japan? What if Germany captured Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad?

It wouldn't have mattered for the Pacific war, except by prolonging it somewhat. Even if Japan had conquered every single island in the Pacific and Indian oceans, as long as the U.S. government remained in control of the U.S. mainland, as it surely would have, it still would have had enough resources and industrial capacity to outproduce Japan in warships and other naval assets by orders of magnitude and eventually roll back the Japanese conquests by sheer overwhelming strength.

Germany arguably had some chance to win the European war, but Japan was doomed from day one.

Also, as someone has already noted, the greater importance of carriers over battleships in WW2 is itself known only from hindsight, and contrary to the prevailing beliefs of the time.

What if the Japanese nuclear weapon program had succeded?

Well, yes, you can always conceive of some deus ex machina. But it's implausible that fears about hypothetical Japanese superweapons would have influenced the strategic plans of FDR & Co. in 1941.

What if the public opinion had turned anti-war, as during the Vietnam War?

By 1941, FDR & Co. already had sufficiently strong grip on power that they comfortably knew that a war would allow them to seize complete control of the media (and all other means of propaganda) and ensure that this could never happen.

The point is that the "official historical narrative" is different in different countries

True enough, but thus typically has the form of the same official narrative with some additional spin, omission, and lying with regards to the relevant local details in order to accommodate nationalist sensibilities. In contrast, sensible, intelligent, well-informed, and yet radical criticism of the official narrative can be found, to my knowledge, only within the Old Right intellectual tradition in the U.S. (Which has been driven to the fringe for many decades, but its vestiges somehow still occasionally surface in the respectable public discourse.)

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:30:54AM 1 point [-]

The carrier fleet being operational was decisive in preventing an expected Japanese invasion of Midway and Hawaii, and recapturing Hawaii from the American continent would have been very difficult, if not outright impossible.

American public opinion may have expected such invasions, but did any serious military experts? Earl Warren and FDR's political pandering is not really strong evidence of a serious military expectation. Obviously, we know now that the Pearl Harbor attack was at the outermost of Japanese logistical capacity - they never planned an invasion of Hawaii, much less the West Coast.

Given the history, we know that transpacific projections of land forces were very possible for the United States (Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima). Why would an invasion of Hawaii be more difficult?

As an aside, I agree that FDR courted war because he wanted to join the European conflict. Lend-Lease and escorting convoys were not the acts of a neutral party. Likewise, the raw material embargos on Japan placed that nation in an untenable position. I upvoted you for asserting that FDR knew that Pearl Harbor would be attacked in time to make changes to defensive preparations at that base. From FDR's perspective, a "surprise" attack that was a stalemate instead of a defeat would have served his political goal (war with Germany) just as well.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 10:21:14AM *  1 point [-]

American public opinion may have expected such invasions, but did any serious military experts? Earl Warren and FDR's political pandering is not really strong evidence of a serious military expectation. Obviously, we know now that the Pearl Harbor attack was at the outermost of Japanese logistical capacity - they never planned an invasion of Hawaii, much less the West Coast.

There were proponents of an invasion of Hawaii within the Japanese military cabinet; I think Genda Minoru was one of them. Plans existed, but were deemed too risky and unlikely to succeed.

I never said anything about an invasion of the US West Coast, but the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian islands was supposed to be the first stage of an invasion of Alaska. Had that plan succeeded, Japan would have been in control of naval bases within reasonable distance of the US West Coast.

Given the history, we know that transpacific projections of land forces were very possible for the United States (Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima). Why would an invasion of Hawaii be more difficult?

Guadalcanal and Iwojima were within range of US forward bases. Carrying out a large-scale invasion over a distance of about 4000km is not something any military power was capable of during WW2, to my knowledge.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 05:11:00AM 8 points [-]

The "and it was not chance" bit? That requires the conspirators be non-human.

Carrier supremacy was hardly an established doctrine, much less proved in battle; orthodox belief since Mahan was that battleships were the most important ships in a fleet. The orthodox method of preserving the US Navy's power would have been to disperse battleships, not carriers. Even if the conspirators were all believers in the importance of carriers, even a minimum of caution would have led them to find an excuse to also save some of the battleships. To believe at 90% confidence that a group of senior naval officials, while engaging in a high-stakes conspiracy, also took a huge un-hedged gamble on an idea that directly contradicted the established naval dogma they were steeped in since they were midshipmen, is ludicrous.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 09:33:31PM 8 points [-]
1. Do you think that the U.S. government provoked an attack specifically on Pearl Harbor, or that they just wanted the Japanese to attack somewhere?
2. Where exactly do you place the boundary of deliberate provocation? That is, does not trying too hard to prevent the attack count, or had they have to be actively persuading the Japanese and moving the fleets into easily attackable positions?
Comment author: 04 July 2012 05:13:28AM *  5 points [-]

Upvoted, not for the assertion, but for the confidence level (I would give it 25-75%)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:38:56AM 1 point [-]

Thanks; I assumed the many upvotes came from people who considered my confidence level too high, not too low, but it's nice to have someone actually confirm that.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 10:59:36PM 4 points [-]

I have seen a few low status conspiracy theorists advocating a position like this, and eventually started to agree that provoking an attack from an enemy is a strategy the US has used several times this century, my probability for this particular incident is still around 75% at most though

Comment author: 06 July 2012 05:33:23PM 10 points [-]

Irrationality Game:

These claims assume MWI is true.

Claim #1: Given that MWI is true, a sentient individual will be subjectively immortal. This is motivated by the idea that branches in which death occurs can be ignored and that there are always enough branches for some form of subjective consciousness to continue.

Claim #2: The vast majority of the long-term states a person will experience will be so radically different than the normal human experience that they are akin to perpetual torture.

P(Claim #1) = 60%

P(Claim #2 | Claim #1) = 99%

Comment author: 09 July 2012 06:31:43PM 6 points [-]

Given these beliefs, you should buy cryonics at almost any price, including prices at which I would no longer personally sign up and prices at which I would no longer advocate that other people sign up. Are you signed up? If not, then I upvote the above comment because I don't believe you believe it. :)

Comment author: 10 July 2012 07:11:05AM 1 point [-]

Well, I agree with you that I should buy cryonics at very high prices and I plan on doing so. For the last few years I've spent the majority of my time in places where being signed up for cryonics wouldn't make a difference (9 months out of the year on a submarine, and now overseas in a place where there aren't any cryonics companies set up).

You should probably still upvote because the < 1/4 of the time I've spent in situations where it would matter still more than justify it. I should also never eat an icecream snickers again. I'll be the first to admit I don't behave perfectly rationally. :)

Comment author: 09 July 2012 10:55:20PM 1 point [-]

The person may not believe that MWI is true; the beliefs were stated as being conditional.

Nevertheless, your argument does apply to me, since I have similar beliefs (or at least worries), and I also for the most part buy your arguments on MWI. I do plan to sign up for cryonics within the next year or so, but not at any price. This is because I don"t expect to die soon enough for my short-term motivational system to be affected.

Comment author: 13 January 2013 11:33:52AM *  5 points [-]

Irrationality Game

Aaron Swartz did not actually commit suicide. (10%)

(Hat tip to Quirinus Quirrell, whoever that actually is.)

Comment author: 11 July 2012 11:03:10AM 5 points [-]

Multiple systems are correct about their experiences. In particular, killing a N-person system is as bad as killing N singlets. (90%)

Comment author: 12 July 2012 11:19:45AM 2 points [-]

From private exchange with woodside, published with auhorization

woodside:

I'm leaning heavily towards viewing this as a (not necessarily destructive) mental disorder but I'm keeping an open mind because it seems obvious that multiplicity is possible in a general sense (multiple emulations could obviously be simultaneously run on a "single" piece of fast enough hardware) but it seems like there are tons of problems when you think about a human brain doing the same.

It's not surprising that most multiples (this is my gut instinct) also have non-standard sexual orientations because so much of sexuality is tied up with hormone and chemical levels in the brain that are seperate from the map of your neural connections and these levels wouldn't appreciably change between one personality and another.

Also I'm extremely skeptical that the brain has sufficient resources from a hardware perspective to run multiple "complete" people. It seems like evolution would have preened away that much excess processing power.

MixedNuts:

How complex is it to run extra people? Most functions are certainly shared. I don't think I've heard of a case where perceptions, reflexes or language skills differed between members, motor skills are shared more often than not, and memory is a coin toss. It'd be interesting to see if disturbances at low level (e.g. strokes) affect members differently. (Meds do, but there are lots of psychological effects here.) I'd assume that most systems have just enough differences between members to make them different people, or a little less, whence medians.

I have a pet theory that multiplicity is caused by empathy going overboard. This is suggested by fictives (characters from works of fictions appearing in a system) and a few cases of people from one system joining another.

Comment author: 19 March 2013 01:36:11AM 1 point [-]

I'd say I'm reasonably confident that there is something interesting going on, but I wouldn't go as far as to say they are genuinely different people to the extent of having equal moral weight to standard human personalities.

I would guess they are closer to different patterns of accessing the same mental resources than fully different. (You could make an analogy with operating systems/programmes/user interfaces on a computer.)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:40:35PM 14 points [-]

Irrationality Game

Being a materialist doesn't exclude nearly as much of the magical, religious, and anomalous as most materialists believe because matter/energy is much weirder than is currently scientifically accepted.

75% certainty.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:49:52PM 3 points [-]

I'm having trouble understanding what you are claiming. It seems that once anything is found to exist in the actual world, people won't call it "magical" or "anomalous". When Hermione Granger uses an invisibility cloak, it's magic. When researchers at the University of Dallas use an invisibility cloak, it's science.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 04:19:44PM 1 point [-]

What I meant was that there may be more to such things as auras, ghosts, precognition, free will, etc. than current skepticism allows for, while still not having anything in the universe other than matter/energy.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 04:25:40PM 3 points [-]

Upvoted, as many phenomena that get labelled "magical" or "religious" have readily-identifiable materialist causes. For those phenomena to be a consequence of esoteric physics and to have a more pedestrian materialist explanation that turns out to be incorrect, and to conform to enough of a culturally-prescribed category of magical phenomena to be labelled as such in the first place seems like a staggering collection of coincidences.

Comment author: 06 July 2012 11:29:05AM 0 points [-]

Do materialists still exist? In order to vote on this am I to imagine what not-necessarily-coherent model a materialist should in some sense have given their irreversible handicap in the form of a misguided metaphysic? If so I'd vote down; if not I'd vote up.

Comment author: 03 February 2013 08:03:38PM 1 point [-]

Upvoted for disagreement with the quibble that there is probably room for a lot of interesting things in the realm of human experience that while not necessarily relating one-to-one with nonhuman physical reality, have significance witin the context of human thought or social interaction and contain elements that normally get lumped into magical or religious.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 02:12:59AM 1 point [-]

matter/energy is much weirder than is currently scientifically accepted.

Nitpick: do you really mean this? Current scientific theories are pretty damn weird. But not, in your view, weird enough?

Comment author: 07 July 2012 02:32:42AM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure that the current theories aren't weird enough, but less sure that current theories need to be modified to include various things that people experience. However, it does seem to me that materialists are very quick to conclude that mental phenomena have straightforward physical explanations.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 06:23:31PM *  0 points [-]

Downvoted for agreement. (Retracted because I realized you were talking about in our universe, and I was thinking in principle)

Comment author: 03 July 2012 09:29:27PM 9 points [-]

Irrationality Game

It's possible to construct a relatively simple algorithm to distinguish superstimulatory / acrasiatic media from novel, educational or insightful content. Such an algorithm need not make use of probabilistic classifiers or machine-learning techniques that rely on my own personal tastes. The distinction can be made based on testable, objective properties of the material. (~20%)

(This is a bit esoteric. I am starting to think up aggressive tactics to curb my time-wasteful internet habits, and was idly fantasising about a browser plugin that would tell me whether the link I was about to follow was entertaining glurge or potentially valuable. In wondering how that would work, I started thinking about how I classify it. My first thought would be that it's a subjective judgement call, and a naive acid-test that distinguished the two was tantamount to magic. After thinking about it for a little longer, I've started to develop some modestly-weighted fuzzy intuitions that there is some objective property I use to classify them, and that this may map faithfully onto how other people classify them.)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:47:04PM 4 points [-]

Such an algorithm need not make use of probabilistic classifiers.

Upvoted for this sentence.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 02:11:34AM 2 points [-]

Upvoted because I can't think of any sense in which it's possible to reliably separate akrastic from non-akrastic media without a pretty good model of the reader. Wikipedia's a huge time sink, for example, yet it's a huge time sink because it consists of lots of educational but low-salience bits; that article on orogeny might be extremely useful if I'm trying to write a terrain generation algorithm, but I'll probably only have to do that at most once in my life.

On the other hand, it's probably possible to come up with an algorithm that reliably distinguishes some time-wasting content. Coming up with a set of criteria for image galleries, for example, would go a long way and seems doable.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:25:55PM 6 points [-]

Irrationality game comment:

Imagine that we transformed the Universe using some elegant mathematical mapping (think about Fourier transform of the phase space) or that we were able to see the world through different quantum observables than we have today (seeing the world primarily in the momentum space, or even being able to experience "collapses" to eigenvectiors not of x or p, but of a different, for us unobservable, operator, e.g. xp). Then, we would observe complex structures, perhaps with their own evolution and life and intelligence. That is, aliens can be all around us but remain as invisible as Mona Lisa on a Fourier transformed picture from Louvre.

Probability : 15%.

Comment author: 07 July 2012 01:54:01AM 1 point [-]

This is an interesting way to look at things. I would assert a higher probability, so I'm voting up. Even a slight tweaking (x+Îµ, m-Îµ) is enough. I'm imagining a continuous family of mappings starting with identity. These would preserve the structures we already perceive while accentuating certain features.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:42:26AM 1 point [-]

Any blob (continuous, smooth, rapidly decreasing function) in momentum space corresponds to a blob in position space. That is, you can't get structure in one without structure in the other.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 01:05:16PM 4 points [-]
1. The narrower blob, the wider its Fourier transform. To recognise a perfectly localised blob in the momentum space one would need to measure at every place over the whole Universe.
2. Not every structure is recognisable as such by human eye.
Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:33:03AM 1 point [-]

Upvoted for underconfidence; there are a lot of bases you can use.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 01:19:11PM 1 point [-]

Still, what you see in one basis is not independent on what you see in another one, and I expect elegant mapping between the bases. There is difference between

• "there exist a basis in the Hilbert space in which some vaguely interesting phenomena could be observed, if we were able to perceive the associated operator the same way as we perceive position"

and

• "there exist simple functions of observables such as momentum, particle number or field intensities defining observables which, if we could perceive them directly, would show us a world with life and civilisations and evolution"

My 15% belief is closer to the second version.

Comment author: 06 July 2012 01:41:03AM 2 points [-]

Okay, that's less likely. I'd still give it higher than 15% though. The holographic principle is very suggestive of this, for instance.

It's hard to know exactly what would count in order to make an estimate, since we don't yet know the actual laws of physics. It's obvious that "position observables, but farther away" would encode the regular type of alien, but the boundary between regular aliens and weird quantum aliens could easily blur as we learn more physics.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 12:41:49PM 7 points [-]

An alien civilization within the boundaries of the current observable universe has, or will have within the next 10 billion years, created a work of art which includes something directly analogous to the structure of the "dawn motif" from the beginning of Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra. (~90%)

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:47:55PM 5 points [-]

I'm inclined to downvote this for agreement, but haven't yet. Can you say more about what "directly analogous" means? How different from ASZ can this work of art be and still count?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:38:53AM 9 points [-]
1. The art form must be linear and intend to proceed without interaction from the user.
2. The length of the three "notes" must be in 8:8:15 ratio (in that order).
3. The main distinguishing factor between "notes", must be in 2:3:4 ratio (in that order).
4. The motif must be the overwhelmingly dominant "voice" when it occurs.
Comment author: 05 July 2012 04:01:34AM 4 points [-]

Upvoted for overconfidence, not about the directly analogous art form (I suspect that even several hundred pieces of human art have that) but about there being other civilizations within the observable universe.

Though I would still give that at least 20%.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:43:15AM 2 points [-]

Cool. Upvoted immediate parent for specificity and downvoted grandparent for agreement.

Comment author: 06 July 2012 09:33:01PM 2 points [-]

The probability of this would seem to depend on the resolution of the fermi paradox. If life is relatively common then it would seem to be true purely by statistics. If life is relatively rare then it would require some sort of shared aesthetic standard. Are you saying aesthetics might be universal in the same way as say mathematics?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 04:02:35AM 5 points [-]

The case for atheistic reductionism is not a slam-dunk.

While atheistic reductionism is clearly simpler than any of the competing hypotheses, each added bit of complexity doubles the size of hypothesis space. Some of these additional hypotheses will be ruled out due to impossibility or inconsistency with observation, but that still leaves a huge number of possible hypotheses that each add take up a tiny amount of probability mass, but they add up.

I would give atheistic reductionism a ~30% probability of being true. (I would still assign specific human religions or a specific simulation scenario approximately zero probability.)

Comment author: [deleted] 09 July 2012 10:18:38PM *  4 points [-]

It is plausible that an existing species of dolphin or whale possesses symbolic language and oral culture at least on par with that of neolithic-era humanity. (75%)

Comment author: 09 July 2012 11:00:21PM *  6 points [-]

Is "it is plausible" part of the statement to which you give 75% credence, or is it another way of putting said credence?

Because cetacean-language is more than 75% likely to be plausible but I think less than 75% likely to be true.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 09:16:32PM *  4 points [-]

I proposed a variation on this game, optimized for usefulness instead of novelty: the "maximal update game". Start with a one sentence summary of your conclusion, then justify it. Vote up or down the submissions of others based on the degree to which you update on the one sentence summary of the person's conclusion. (Hence no UFOs at the top, unless good arguments for them can be made.)

If anyone wants to try this game, feel free to do it in replies to this comment.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 03:47:12AM 6 points [-]

Downvoted for agreement: you did in fact propose the specified variation.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 10:48:57PM 1 point [-]

He didn't state his confidence level. Since his probability estimate for this is likely much higher than mine, I upvoted.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 06:51:28PM 3 points [-]

Meta-discussion Comment

Comment author: 06 July 2012 09:14:47PM 6 points [-]

I suspect many of the upvotes in this are being done out of an assessment of the interestingness of well-writtenness of a comment rather than disagreement. If this weren't the case I would expect boring and obviously untrue statements to be at the top, instead the top comments are interesting and more boring ones are hovering around zero.

I suspect upvoting comments you enjoy reading becomes reflexive in long time users, so overriding that instinct requires conscious system 2 effort.

Comment author: 03 July 2012 07:35:43PM 1 point [-]

Thanks Hariant!

Comment author: 05 July 2012 12:11:52AM 1 point [-]

Just want to make sure I'm understanding the terminology. Saying I'm 10% confident of proposition X is equivalent to saying I'm 90% confident in not-X, right?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 07:41:52AM 3 points [-]

Yes. However, since the point of the game is to display beliefs that you hold and others don't, you should choose the phrasing that makes your confidence higher than LW's. That is: if you think other LWers are 5% confident of X, then you should say you're 10% confident of X; and if you think other LWers are 15% confident of X, then you should say you're 90% confident of not-X.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:32:58AM 5 points [-]

Irrationality Game

Prediction markets are a terrible way of aggregating probability estimates. They only enjoy the popularity they do because of a lack of competition, and because they're cheaper to set up due to the built-in incentive to participate. They do slightly worse than simply averaging a bunch of estimates, and would be blown out of the water by even a naive histocratic algorithm (weighted average based on past predictor performance using Bayes). The performance problems of prediction markets are not just due to liquidity issues, but would inevitably crop up in any prediction market system due to bubbles, panics, hedging, manipulation, and either overly simple or dangerously complex derivatives. 90%

Hanson and his followers are irrationally attached to prediction markets because they flatter libertarian sensibilities. 60%

Comment author: 05 July 2012 08:02:41AM 7 points [-]

would be blown out of the water by even a naive histocratic algorithm (weighted average based on past predictor performance using Bayes)

Markets can incorporate any source or type of information that humans can understand. Which algorithm can do the same?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:47:55AM 17 points [-]

They do slightly worse than simply averaging a bunch of estimates, and would be blown out of the water by even a naive histocratic algorithm (weighted average based on past predictor performance using Bayes)

Fantastic. Please tell me which markets this applies to and link to the source of the algorithm that gives me all the free money.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:57:57AM 2 points [-]

Unfortunately you need access to a comparably-sized bunch of estimates in order to beat the market. You can't quite back it out of a prediction market's transaction history. And the amount of money to be made is small in any event because there's just not enough participation in the markets.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 08:00:07AM *  13 points [-]

And the amount of money to be made is small in any event because there's just not enough participation in the markets.

Aren't prediction markets just a special case of financial markets? (Or vice versa.) Then if your algorithm could outperform prediction markets, it could also outperform the financial ones, where there is lots of money to be made.

In prediction markets, you are betting money on your probability estimates of various things X happening. On financial markets, you are betting money on your probability estimates of the same things X, plus your estimate of the effect of X on the prices of various stocks or commodities.

Comment author: 18 July 2012 01:10:46AM 1 point [-]

The IARPA expert aggregation exercises look plausible, and have supposedly done all right predicting geopolitical events. I would not be shocked if the first to use those methods on financial markets got a bit of alpha.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 03:53:49AM 1 point [-]

Down-voted for semi-agreement.

There are simply too many irrational people with money, and as soon as it became popular to participate in prediction markets, the way it currently is to participate in the stock market, they will add huge amounts of noise.

Comment author: 09 July 2012 06:29:07PM 8 points [-]

The conventional reply is that noise traders improve markets by making rational prediction more profitable. This is almost certainly true for short-term noise, and my guess is that it's false for long-term noise, i.e., if prices revert in a day, noise traders improve a market, if prices take ten years to revert, the rational money seeks shorter-term gains. Prediction markets may be expected to do better because they have a definite, known date on which the dumb money loses - you can stay solvent longer than the market stays irrational.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 04:22:47PM 0 points [-]

If you think Prediction Markets are terrible, why don't you just do better and get rich from them?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 08:37:54AM 1 point [-]

histocratic

A new word to me. Is this what you're referring to?

Comment author: 05 July 2012 04:45:43AM 3 points [-]

There is no dark matter. Gravity behaves weirdly for some other reason we haven't discovered yet. (85%)

Comment author: 05 July 2012 07:09:21AM 2 points [-]

Many such "modified gravity" theories have been proposed. The best known is "MOND", "Modified Newtonian Dynamics".

Comment author: 04 July 2012 08:00:16AM 2 points [-]

Irrationality game

I have a suspicion that some form of moral particularism is the most sensible moral theory. 10% confidence.

Moral particularism is the view that there are no moral principles and that moral judgement can be found only as one decides particular cases, either real or imagined. This stands in stark contrast to other prominent moral theories, such as deontology or utilitarianism. In the former, it is asserted that people have a set of duties (that are to be considered or respected); in the latter, people are to respect the happiness or the preferences of others in their actions. Particularism, to the contrary, asserts that there are no overriding principles that are applicable in every case, or that can be abstracted to apply to every case.

According to particularism, most notably defended by Jonathan Dancy, moral knowledge should be understood as knowledge of moral rules of thumb, which are not principles, and of particular solutions, which can be used by analogy in new cases.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 05:51:05PM 7 points [-]

Upvoted for too low a probability.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 09:29:25AM 2 points [-]

What do you mean by the "most sensible moral theory"?

And what the hell does Dancy mean if he says that there are rules of thumb that aren't principles?

I would weight this lower than .01% just because of my credence that it's incoherent.

Comment author: 05 July 2012 10:43:24AM *  5 points [-]

Perhaps a workable restatement would be something like:

"Any attempt to formalize and extract our moral intuitions and judgements of how we should act in various situations will just produce a hopelessly complicated and inconsistent mess, whose judgements are very different from those of prescribed by any form of utilitarianism, deontology, or any other ethical theory that strives to be consistent. In most cases, any attempt of using a reflective equilibrium / extrapolated volition -type approach to clarify matters will leave things essentially unchanged, except for a small fraction of individuals whose moral intuitions are highly atypical (and who tend to be vastly overrepresented on this site)."

(I don't actually know how well this describes the actual theories for particularism.)

Comment author: 05 July 2012 04:50:54PM 2 points [-]

MWI is unlikely because it is too unparsimonious (not very confident).

Comment author: 06 July 2012 07:29:28PM 2 points [-]

Irrationality Game:

I believe Plato (and others) were right when they said music develops some form of sensibility, some sort of compassion. I posit a link between the capacity of understanding music and understanding other people by creating accurate images of them in our head, and of how they feel. 80%

Comment author: 06 July 2012 07:36:55AM 1 point [-]

Irrationality Game:

The Occam argument against theism, in the forms typically used in LW invoking Kolmogorov complexity or equivalent notions, is a lousy argument: its premises and conclusions are not incorrect, but it is question-begging to the point that no intellectually sophisticated theist should move their credence significantly by it. 75%.

(It is difficult to attach meaningfully a probability to this kind of claim, which is not about hard facts. I guesstimated that in an ideally open-minded and reasoned philosophical discussion, there wold be a 25% chance of me being persuaded of the contrary.)

Comment author: 16 January 2013 06:47:57PM 0 points [-]

To the extent that it's begging anything, it's begging a choice of epistemology. If no intellectually sophisticated theist should take it seriously, what epistemology should they take seriously besides faith? If the answer is ordinary informal epistemology, when I present the Occam argument I accompany it with a justification of Occam's razor in terms of that epistemology.

Comment author: 16 July 2012 08:20:09PM 0 points [-]

Theists are usually not rational about their theism. So there are relatively few arguments that bite.

Comment author: 16 July 2012 08:24:55PM 0 points [-]

Notice that I said "should move their credence", not "would". It is not a prediction about the reaction of (rational or irrational) real-life theists, but an assessment of the objective merits of the argument.

Comment author: 20 July 2012 02:37:30AM *  1 point [-]

Irrationality game comment

The importance of waste heat in the brain is generally under-appreciated. An overheated brain is a major source of mental exhaustion, akrasia, and brain fog. One easy way to increase the amount of practical intelligence we can bring to bear on complicated tasks (with or without an accompanying increase in IQ itself) is to improving cooling in the brain. This would be most effective with some kind of surgical cooling system thingy, but even simple things like being in a cold room could help

Confidence: 30%

Comment author: 20 July 2012 03:35:45AM *  3 points [-]

The nice thing about this one is that it's really easy to test yourself. A plastic bag to put ice or hot water into, and some computerized mental exercise like dual n-back. I know if I thought this at anywhere close to 30% I'd test it...

Comment author: 27 July 2012 08:40:17PM 1 point [-]

Self-experimentation seems like a really bad way to test things about mental exhaustion. It would be way too easy to placebo myself into working for a longer amount of time without a break, when testing the condition that would support my theory. Might wait until I can find a test subject.

Comment author: 27 July 2012 08:50:55PM 4 points [-]

If you got a result consistent with your theory, then yes it might just be placebo effect, but is that result entirely useless; and if you got a result inconsistent with your theory, is that useless as well?

Comment author: [deleted] 03 February 2013 09:44:32PM 1 point [-]

INSERT THE ROD, JOHN.

Comment author: 11 October 2012 12:39:23AM 1 point [-]

Overheating your body enough to limit athletic performance (whether due to associated dehydration or not) is probably enough to impair the brain as well. Dehydration is known to cause headaches.

I think the effect exists. But what's the size, when you're merely sedentary + thinking + suffering a hot+humid day?

Comment author: 07 August 2012 08:50:17PM 0 points [-]

Some indirect evidence from yawning, with a few references: http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep0592101.pdf

Comment author: 04 July 2012 02:36:32AM -1 points [-]

Irrationality game

Moral intuitions are very simple. A general idea of what it means for somebody to be human is enough to severely restrict variety of moral intuitions which you would expect it to be possible for them to have. Thus, conditioned on Adam's humanity, you would need very little additional information to get a good idea of Adam's morals, while Bob the alien would need to explain his basic preferences at length for you to model his moral judgements accurately. It follows that the tricky part of explaining moral intuitions to a machine is explaining human, and it's not possible to cheat by formalizing moral separately.

Comment author: 04 July 2012 07:19:43AM 1 point [-]

Comment author: 14 July 2012 03:09:33AM *  0 points [-]

Irrationality game comment

The correct way to handle Pascal's Mugging and other utilitarian mathematical difficulties is to use a bounded utility function. I'm very metauncertain about this; my actual probability could be anywhere from 10% to 90%. But I guess that my probability is 70% or so.

Comment author: 08 July 2012 07:05:21AM -1 points [-]

Irrationality Game

The Big Bang is not the beginning of the universe, nor is it even analagous to the beginning of the universe. (60% confident)

Comment author: 01 August 2012 10:37:17PM *  0 points [-]

The Mona Lisa currently exposed at the Louvre Museum is actually a replica. (33%)

Comment author: 09 July 2012 12:17:32PM -1 points [-]

Irrationality game:

Different levels of description are just that, and are all equally "real". To speak of particles as in statistical mechanics or as in thermodynamics is as correct/real.

The same about the mind, talking as in neurochemistry or as in thoughts is as correct/real.

80% confidence

Comment author: 04 February 2013 05:17:24AM *  1 point [-]

Irrationality game:

Humanity has already recieved and recorded a radio message from another technological civilization. This was unconfirmed/unnoticed due to being very short and unrepeated, or mistaken for a transient terrestrial signal, or modulated in ways we were not looking for, or was otherwise overlooked. 25%.

What are the rules on multiple postings? I have a cluster of related (to each other, not this) ones I would love to post as a group.