# Open Thread, January 16-31, 2013

3 15 January 2013 03:50PM

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, even in Discussion, it goes here.

Sort By: Best
Comment author: 29 January 2013 07:31:39AM 15 points [-]

I just returned from the CFAR workshop! Would people be interested in a top-level Discussion post about this?

Comment author: 30 January 2013 05:07:34AM 5 points [-]

Hi Qiaochu! This is Aaron!

It was great. My mind was blown 5 or 10 times a day.

I'll write more about this, but until I do here's one example of the type of stuff I learned:

There is a big difference between a) thinking about a list of pros and cons to something, and b) actually writing the list ON PAPER (or a computer screen). (It's also important to keep listing stuff after it stops popping right in your head. There are tricks that help with this.)

Another example: Sometimes people get in arguments with you not because they disagree with something you did but because they are afraid you don't care about them.

I also made a lot of new friends. It was fun!

Comment author: 29 January 2013 04:11:46PM 4 points [-]

I'd be interested. My guess is that other LWers would be, too.

Comment author: 29 January 2013 07:49:20AM 2 points [-]

I would.

Comment author: 20 January 2013 11:04:43PM *  12 points [-]

I was homeschooled. I have pretty mixed feelings on whether this was a good thing or not. Kawoomba asked, so here:

Pros:

• No bullies

• Teaches you how to teach yourself

• No PE/sports

• Go to college early

Cons:

• Go to college early

• Limited contact with others left me pretty socially inept.

• No resources (chemistry experiments, etc)

• After Algebra II, you're on your own.

• With Saxon math books.

• No sense of position among one's peers, no sense of why one might go to college, higher learning, etc. I'm maybe +1 S.D. appearance and +3? S.D. IQ but had no idea until much much later.

• History books tend to be extremely biased (America is a christian nation, gosh darn it) (but my parents somehow mostly avoided this)

• Biology books tend to be completely wrong because you have to lie a lot when you don't believe evolution (I'm still pissed about this)

• Science/astronomy books tend to have wrong sections because you have to lie a lot when you believe the earth is 6000 years old

Of these problems, most of the really bad ones seem easy to prevent if you're aware of them. I expect I could do a really awesome job of homeschooling myself and a really terrible job of homeschooling a more normal person.

I really hated school as a kid. My best guess is that a public school with a good gifted program would have been an improvement, but one without would have been worse than what I experienced.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 01:20:37PM 2 points [-]

Doing no sport isn't good. It helps to develop a healthy body. I would however prefer methologies like Feldenkrais or Martial Arts over the standard school curriculum.

Most of the negatives that you list have to do with the way that your parents chose the books. If your parents wouldn't have been fundamental Christians they could have given you much better books.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 02:23:07PM *  2 points [-]

Doing no sport isn't good, but doing no PE can be good, given that a possible consequence of PE is that you learn to hate sport and end up doing even less of it than you would have otherwise.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 02:40:52PM 0 points [-]

doing no PE can be good, given that a possible consequence of PE is that you learn to hate s...

My first skim of this made me think I was reading and advertisement for Dapoxetine. Perhaps it's been too long since I've been in highschool...

Comment author: 21 January 2013 03:02:10PM 2 points [-]

My younger siblings did end up in some sort of group homeschool PE class. My mom tried a few things before finding that, which apparently was nice. I put it in the "pro" category only because I think I would have really hated PE. I wouldn't say my life was completely devoid of physical activity, just probably less than average.

If your parents wouldn't have been fundamental Christians they could have given you much better books.

Agree, but it's my understanding that most homeschoolers do so for religious reasons. I trust the average LWer to do a lot better on this score than the average christian.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 02:54:00PM *  2 points [-]

It would be good to have some officially recommened (not mandatory, just offered as a standard solution) list of textbooks for homeschooling, preferably free online. So everyone who would want to know what they are missing, could just read the textbooks. Also it would be helpful for parents that avoid schools for reasons other than disagreeing with the curriculum.

Perhaps one day Khan Academy or someone similar will make it. (On the other hand, one day the fundamentalists will have their own alternative version, probably called Jesus Academy.)

Comment author: 22 January 2013 02:36:13PM 0 points [-]

Martial arts are good for getting some people who aren't interested in usual team sports to enjoy being active, but they're also very bad at getting many people who do enjoy more standard activities to be active. This brings to mind Yvain's experience teaching, where he found that the most effective methods to getting to most students were exactly the ones he'd found boring as a kid.

I've never participated in a Feldenkrais session, but looking it up, it doesn't strike me as something most students would be enthusiastic about either.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 04:16:50PM 1 point [-]

My issue isn't so much with methods of teaching as with content.

I don't think that there any reason that justifies teaching a kid to jump as wide or as high as possible. The same goes for activities like shot putting. If you optimize your jumb for distance you aren't optimizing it for using your body in a way that prevents you from hurting your back.

A goal of present sport eduction is to train children to be good at the Olympic activities. I object to that goal.

As far as team sports go they aren't as bad but I still don't think they are optimzed to teach useful life skills.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 09:04:32PM 0 points [-]

A goal of present sport eduction is to train children to be good at the Olympic activities. I object to that goal.

Not in theory. If you ask school administrators or state education officials, they're more likely to tell you that it's about teaching kids discipline, teamwork, getting in shape and so on. In practice, kids' sports have become increasingly specialized and competitive, with parents investing huge amounts of time and money into their kids' training, and sports injuries, especially overuse injuries which were almost unheard of in child athletes a few decades ago, have shot up dramatically.

It's hard to restructure kids' sports programs to better address the purposes they're nominally geared towards though, because the sports activities are strongly driven by parents who want to see their kids compete.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 11:38:48PM 0 points [-]

Not in theory. If you ask school administrators or state education officials, they're more likely to tell you that it's about teaching kids discipline, teamwork, getting in shape and so on.

Getting kids to do broad jumps doesn't seem to me to maximize either discipline, teamwork or getting in shape. Schools should just cut out the whole track and field athletics business.

If you want kids to do basketball, I have no problem. Let them compete in basketball. The sport was created in the late 19th century by a physical education professor who thought a bit to create a good team sport.

While we are at a topic, there are also team sports created in the 20th cenutry. Underater hockey seems like a good candidate for a sport that provides benefits.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 02:06:47AM 0 points [-]

Getting kids to do broad jumps doesn't seem to me to maximize either discipline, teamwork or getting in shape. Schools should just cut out the whole track and field athletics business.

Track and field does do quite a lot to get students in shape; most of the fittest students I knew in high school were track athletes. And it certainly requires considerable discipline.

A large part of the trouble with changing the athletic curriculum though, is that the people who're most in need of basic, safe athletic training to improve their fitness are those who, along with their parents, are least involved in the current system. The people who participate in the system, who have the most power to shape it, are mostly sports practitioners, coaches and enthusiasts, for whom the bottom line is already written.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 02:45:11PM 0 points [-]

The people who participate in the system, who have the most power to shape it, are mostly sports practitioners, coaches and enthusiasts, for whom the bottom line is already written.

Not completely. If you go as an adult to a gym they might give you crossfit which is a modern system. They are not likely to tell you to do broad jumps.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 04:00:24PM 0 points [-]

Gyms make money by catering to what the clients want. School gyms don't care what the clients want, because the clients are a captive audience. School gyms give kids what the parents and coaches want for the kids.

Suppose that instead of paying to go to the gym voluntarily, all adults were made to go to the gym, and all adult competitive sports practitioners were selected from among gym attendees and encouraged to get into sports based on their gym performance. Gym activities would tend to become highly sports oriented, even if the nominal reason for mandatory gym attendance was to promote fitness.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 05:11:37PM *  3 points [-]

My best guess is that a public school with a good gifted program would have been an improvement, but one without would have been worse than what I experienced.

Good thing you were homeschooled then. The latter is much more common than the former.

public school with a good gifted program

What is this mythical thing you speak of? Oh, wait, you did say "America".

At the risk of being annoying by repeating myself on this point: Outside the US, UK and Tokyo (and more recently some parts of China), there is no such thing as "public schools with good gifted programs".

In fact, for most of the population, there is simply no such thing as "public schools with gifted programs". I suspect that for a significant fraction of countries, you could even drop the "public" part altogether.

On another note, most of the "Cons" listed after "After Algebra II, you're on your own" seem to be situational and just as likely to occur in a public school as in homeschooling. Including the part about a sense of position. Public high schools don't always give you a good accurate sense of your position applied in the real world, they usually instead give you a sense of how much things are broken.

So all in all, I'd say as far as education goes for most people in the world, or even for most people in first-world countries, or even for most middle-class-or-higher children living in urban environments, if the listed cons are really the worst of it then you've had a comparatively superb education.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 03:16:14PM *  4 points [-]

Outside the US, UK and Tokyo (and more recently some parts of China), there is no such thing as "public schools with good gifted programs".

This seems dubious and hard to ascertain. What evidence do you have that most other countries lack such schools?

(There are public schools for gifted children in Russia, and I'd guess in many places. The usual setup is not to filter directly by IQ, as Viliam_Bur describes (which does seem potentially socially inappropriate) but to admit students based on hard competitive tests in math/physics, and have as teachers either college professors or former math/physics olympians.)

Comment author: 02 February 2013 02:26:16PM 3 points [-]

There are public schools for gifted children in Russia, and I'd guess in many places. The usual setup is not to filter directly by IQ, as Viliam_Bur describes (which does seem potentially socially inappropriate) but to admit students based on hard competitive tests in math/physics, and have as teachers either college professors or former math/physics olympians.

Filtering by mathematics correlates positively with filtering by IQ, but it is not the same thing. Most gifted people are not great in maths.

One of advantages of teaching in a school of children filtered specifically by IQ was that it disproved my many prejudices about high-IQ people. Those children were different from the average, but it was not easy to say how exactly; the simple explanations all failed. For example some of them were great at maths, certainly much higher ratio than in the average school, but most of them were not. Similarly with other traits -- many interesting traits were more frequent than in the normal population, and yet, even within the gifted population they remained a minority; just a greater minority than usual. If you try to filter by these traits, you will find many gifted people, but even more gifted people you will filter out.

As a student I was in a math-oriented high school. I would say most people there were highly intelligent too. Yet, it was different. The interesting aspect of the IQ-filtering school for gifted children is that you get many talents of a different kind together. Often you have one child with multiple talents -- in a math-oriented school they would probably develop some of them and supress the rest. In IQ-oriented school, they can develop their math talent during the math lessons, and e.g. artistic talent during their art lessons. Without an IQ-oriented school they would have to choose, either math or art; or at least only one of them at school, and other only in afternoon activities.

As an example: on the school for gifted children we started organizing a high-school competition in making computer games. That is not exceptional per se; there exist many other programming competitions. The difference is that in a typical programming competition, you have an exact problem, and you get points for algorithm that solves the problem. In this game-making competition you get points for multiple aspects of the game: graphics, music, storyline, presentation, and the technical flawlessness. So the programming is important, but the algorithm is not everything, other aspects matter too. In my opinion, this difference is a nice metaphor for the difference between the schools.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 04:43:52PM *  0 points [-]

My primary evidence is that Canada is more on the liberal and open side of things relating to most countries in the world, has a higher diversity of educational programs than in most places AFAIK, and is quite high up the prosperity and economic stability scale by current worldwide standards - yet it has no such things as public schools with gifted programs.

The closest to "gifted" programs there is is the International Baccalaureate program, and yet even that gets diluted and stretched into an additional unnecessary year in Quebec (the rest of Canada implements the program a bit more directly, without the additional stretch year). There is no additional content, and the program that I took here barely meets the basic requirements for the certificate of accomplishment for Middle Years of the Baccalaureate program (this I obtained together with my local Diplome du Secondaire, slightly inferior to an actual High School diploma, at age 17.)

Basically, If you're gifted here in Canada, the best you can hope for is to either get lucky with a private school filled with awesome teachers, or have excellent homeschooling. Since Canada scales rather high on the aforementioned global metrics, and I have a decent prior that Canada has a bigger per-capita education budget than most countries, it seems likely that Canada not having any such schools is much more likely in worlds where having such schools is a very rare or special thing for a country, rather than in worlds where Canada is somehow a strange cultural outlier and represents the exceptions.

I have specific evidence of such schools in the US, I remember hearing of two examples in the UK (but I don't remember the examples themselves - sorry), and I've read or heard many times of such schools in Tokyo. China pumping lots of money into anything makes the news, and I've seen a few articles that says they're expanding their current programme to get more geniuses working for them in the future.

On the other hand, while writing this and looking for some of my previous sources, I just found this.

The first thing that jumps at me is that there seems to be a lot more schools with gifted programmes in Ontario than I was led to believe, and the six random ones I checked were operating back in 2003/2004 (which is around where my family and I started looking). This suggests either that we searched incorrectly, were lied to by the counselors and advisers we consulted, that they were simply much harder to find and get into back then than they are now, or any combination of those.

At any rate, it seems I now need to re-evaluate those beliefs. One fact remains, though: Our family expended above-average effort in trying to get me to a gifted program, skip a year, or otherwise get me out of the fatal failure mode I was in, and failed utterly. I also don't see much for Quebec, unfortunately, but as the page is in English it would be expected that its writers would not be aware of french-language gifted schools, if there are any, which makes it seem more likely that there are some.

The above-average effort claim doesn't seem hard to support - the average parent would simply not care that their child is gifted and would not attempt to get them out of a "normal" school program, as far as I'm aware. Actually seeking to do anything in this case seems like the exceptional non-status-quo reaction. As for failing utterly, well, I completed my normal high school curriculum and then dropped out of cégep (pre-university college thinghy corresponding to last year of high school).

Basically, I don't have a formal education as good/equivalent to regular american high school diplomas. My experience was utterly boring and unproductive. I gained virtually no adjustment skills and still hate every moment I spend with "average" people (I literally feel like I'm interacting with inferior beings, which means I have to spend effort to suppress these feelings because they're irrational and not reflectively coherent, which means I dislike these interactions partially because of this). I have no hope of going back into higher education for at least one more year, and even then I'm not sure I want to at all. I've been trained to loathe formal education, hate those who would prevent proper reprogramming of the whole system, and generally have strong emotional responses linked to the years of boredom and (that-psychological-thing-that-felt-like-torture) whenever the subject comes up. If all of this is not considered a failure, then I consider the entity doing the considering to have a flawed and counter-productive evaluation method and point of reference.

Anyway, hopefully this rant wasn't completely pointless and useless to everyone else. If anyone has further evidence one way or another for the issue of gifted schools and how available they are, it would be welcome. If someone has evidence or arguments that could make me dissipate my vendetta against the educational system, even better - unless they have evidence that such a vendetta is a desirable and effective thing to hold, but my credence in this belief just took a large drop, and by looking at what kind of evidence I had been searching for in the past I believe I've already seen much more of the evidence for this than for its counterpart.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 05:37:34PM 3 points [-]

(My objection is primarily to your apparent overconfidence in the strong claim about the absence of such programs in most countries, for which you do seem to lack adequate evidence, and so it is incorrect to assert it in that form.)

Comment author: 28 January 2013 05:57:22PM 2 points [-]

I agree. It felt like I had more evidence, and I had a strong belief of comparative mental category to things that warrant such confidence. Thanks for leading me to debunk this.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 05:20:23PM 2 points [-]

Well, as I recall the gifted program I attended (in the States, in Texas specifically) was just harder busywork. Logic puzzles featured prominently, and there were crosswords instead of wordfinds. It was there that I formalized my hatred of formal logic problems. (The problems frequently featured concepts or information which, if you used knowledge which came from outside the puzzle, would lead you to the wrong answer. Not uncommon in logic puzzles, and completely wrongheaded; it always reeks of doublethink to me.)

Comment author: 21 January 2013 09:08:23PM 3 points [-]

I got a heavy dose of "think for yourself" from my parents that not all homeschool kids get. Some kids I knew got really huge amounts of religious indoctrination. I was well into my 20's when I finally deconverted, so I guess I did, too.

(I'm not entirely sure if they expected me to actually "think for myself" or not if it meant changing my mind about something like evolution, but regardless, I certainly did learn to do that.)

Comment author: 26 January 2013 11:58:30PM 4 points [-]

Outside the US, UK and Tokyo (and more recently some parts of China), there is no such thing as "public schools with good gifted programs". In fact, for most of the population, there is simply no such thing as "public schools with gifted programs". I suspect that for a significant fraction of countries, you could even drop the "public" part altogether.

For a few years I was teaching in a public school for giften children in Slovakia. It required IQ at least 2 standard deviations above the mean (i.e. Mensa level). Originally the requirement was both for students and teachers. Later, the requirement for teachers was dropped (because these days the schools in Slovakia consider themselves lucky to find any teachers), but it seems to me most of the teachers there would fulfill the requirement anyway.

Interestingly, it is considered perfectly "politically correct" to have special public schools focused on art or sport. Those schools are allowed to be public and to have admission criteria that most children could not pass. Only when the intelligence becomes the criterium, it somehow becomes an unacceptable elitism. The analogy with the public art schools and sport schools was successfully used when lobbying to allow creating this one school I taught at. But it was only an exception to create one experimental school. It cannot be used to create more schools like this. (In the current political climate, we are lucky that the experiment is allowed to continue, but there is no chance it would be officially declared successful. I guess there are even no hard criteria for success other than the government liking the idea.) Which is bad, because I would like to see some competition in this area.

Sometimes I think the smart people should simply support each other, regardless or even against the rest of the society. We should treat other gifted people as members of the same opressed minority, like ethnic or religious minorities do. Perhaps create secret textbooks for gifted children, or even build a shadow educational system? The internet should make it easier. -- But then I remember that Mensa tried something similar, and somehow the results are not impressive. Maybe because Mensa was too focused on measuring the raw intelligence, instead of developing rationality. We should help the gifted children to become successful and rational people. Maybe we could still find some people in Mensa who would support this goal.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 02:45:52PM *  1 point [-]

I was told we should be lucky that such school exists, because in most European countries, the mere existence of such school would be "politically incorrect".

I've gotten the same kind of response up here in Canada, heard at least one account to that effect for Russia (Moscow specifically), and south america / africa can arguably be excused because they should start by having schools in the first place (they kind of do, but not enough and not everyone has access to basic education).

As for the middle-east, well, you're either Taliban or you're a poseur heretical scrub, as far as I can tell. So the only "gifted" education available is to be a distinguished and promising elite of the religious teachings of [Insert locally favored sub-sect or religious curriculum].

Overall, your post very much nails all I've seen, though if I had to conjecture the simplest hypothesis I can to explain this behavior and connotation, it would be that people have this belief that everyone has an equivalent amount and distribution of strengths and weaknesses; There cannot be one human who is physically fit, much more intelligent than normal, good-looking, hard-working, and psychologically stable. If all the observable traits are there, one of the less-observable ones must be broken - "This kid is not normal, stay away from him, he could be dangerous."

Comment author: 21 January 2013 08:52:09PM 1 point [-]

So all in all, I'd say as far as education goes for most people in the world, or even for most people in first-world countries, or even for most middle-class-or-higher children living in urban environments, if the listed cons are really the worst of it then you've had a comparatively superb education.

I guess enough people have said similar things to me that it's time to update my opinion. Certainly, it could have been much worse.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 09:32:06PM 2 points [-]

Indeed. I do agree that by the standards we should hold ourselves to, or at least the standards I wish we had, your education doesn't sound all that appealing at all.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 11:52:08PM 0 points [-]

At the risk of being annoying by repeating myself on this point: Outside the US, UK and Tokyo (and more recently some parts of China), there is no such thing as "public schools with good gifted programs".

To add to the other countries people have mentioned, Australia has them too.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 09:42:12AM *  1 point [-]
• History books tend to be extremely biased (America is a christian nation, gosh darn it) (but my parents somehow mostly avoided this)

• Biology books tend to be completely wrong because you have to lie a lot when you don't believe evolution (I'm still pissed about this)

• Science/astronomy books tend to have wrong sections because you have to lie a lot when you believe the earth is 6000 years old.

These three seem like one point (biased curriculum.)

</nitpick>

I'm surprised by the socialization ones; I thought there were studies saying homeschoolers were actually socialized just fine, thank you? (It's possible you were just unusual in this regard, I guess.)

Comment author: 21 January 2013 02:52:37PM 3 points [-]

These three seem like one point (biased curriculum.)

Agree, similar points, I split it out because it's apparently possible to be relatively sane about american history and relatively insane about evolution, which I wouldn't have expected. From my large sample size of two or three, other homeschoolers I know got both or neither.

I thought there were studies saying homeschoolers were actually socialized just fine, thank you?

I have two hypotheses; first, most of my social-interaction-hours growing up were spent with adults. As a result I got (I think) very good at impressing adults, but pretty much didn't understand my peers at all. I'm not sure if the studies can confirm or refute this, I haven't looked in detail. I wouldn't trust homeschoolers themselves to be rational about this. It's also worth noting that homeschooling is not terribly unified, my experience may have been atypical. Second hypothesis is that I started life out with -3 S.D. social skills and public school wouldn't change that.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 02:27:23PM 2 points [-]

I have two hypotheses; first, most of my social-interaction-hours growing up were spent with adults. As a result I got (I think) very good at impressing adults, but pretty much didn't understand my peers at all.

Incidentally, I suspect that it would be great if most kids spent most of their time interacting only with adults, so that when they did meet each other kids, much of the painful conflict and pointless costly signaling associated with typical teenage years could just be skipped over.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 03:15:50PM 0 points [-]

Hm. I was going to say that I don't think that policy will have that effect-- but after a bit of thought, I'm not quite sure if I know what you mean by "painful conflict and pointless costly signaling associated with typical teenage years." Can you give an example?

Comment author: 22 January 2013 04:43:34PM *  4 points [-]

Things like smoking and excessive drinking for the sake of showing that you're Cool and Rebellious for doing the exact things that the adults say you shouldn't do, for example. It's easy to see why that kind of behavior might emerge in an environment where other kids your age are your ingroup that you want to impress, and adults are the outgroup that you can attack in order to distinguish yourself. But if adults were actually the ingroup you were trying to impress, it seems like people would be more likely to try to impress them by actually acting more mature, and that "maturity is high status" would carry over even to the more limited interactions they had with folks their own age.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 05:32:47PM 0 points [-]

I see. I guess I am an example in favor of your theory. I'm not entirely sure that this is an unambiguously good thing, though, because sometimes you should impress your peers in ways adults would not approve. Or, to put it another way, the optimal balance of grown-up-ness and fun shouldn't have a factor of 0 for either category...

(I suppose if the adults were never wrong about classifying things as fun-but-harmful, then I'd change my mind.)

Comment author: 29 January 2013 03:32:07AM *  0 points [-]

What was bad about the Saxon program for you? I liked its spaced repetition; though being taught in a private school by a retired engineer probably masked any shortcomings in the textbooks. Should I stop recommending Saxon math?

Comment author: 29 January 2013 03:43:11AM 0 points [-]

Well, I don't actually know. I do know that math/physics in college was a lot easier, not sure if due to teacher or that it was review for me or what. I'm the sort of person that just wants to understand the concepts and really hates rote repetition, so I can't say I enjoyed it. (I write computer programs to do the rote repetition!)

Mostly I was saying that because I had a public school math teacher express pity upon learning that I learned with Saxon. Maybe it's just fine for some people?

Comment author: 21 January 2013 07:53:37PM *  0 points [-]

History books tend to be extremely biased

When I read this I thought “yes they are, but aren't teachers biased as well?”, but then I read the following two bullets and I realized you might have had in mind a waaaaaay higher level of bias than I had.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 09:16:15PM 0 points [-]

Some of the books have a lot of material on how "godly" the founding fathers were, how america is like the fulfillment of prophecies, etc. I have no idea how bad normal history books are, though. For my folks, the opposite meme sort of won ("christians are a tiny, persecuted minority in this country"). Some people manage to believe both memes at the same time, but not my parents.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 07:15:50PM 0 points [-]

I don't know much about the US, but here in Italy, until one or two decades ago, some people say history textbooks tended to have a left-wing bias whereby communists in the 20th century (esp. WWII) were depicted in a more favourable light; and then they were called out for this and they've probably overcompensated for that. (I don't know much about 20th-century history from anywhere else, so I won't judge myself.)

Comment author: 15 January 2013 03:53:52PM *  10 points [-]

I'm moving to Los Angeles. I leave on the 21st. If anyone along this or another route wants to give me a shower and bed for a night, it will soon be your chance to do so!

By the way, I am Grognor. I created this account because I didn't want to get karma for posting open threads or the monthly rationality quotes threads.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 05:42:18AM 12 points [-]

That's a particularly clever way of circumventing this. Almost against the spirit of the prediction...

Comment author: 16 January 2013 02:05:39PM 2 points [-]

If you need a shower and a bed after just two hours of driving, you're probably doing something wrong; but I'll wave when I guess you're going past Tampa.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 02:32:06PM 1 point [-]

Downvoted for being mean.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 02:45:16PM 4 points [-]

I think khafra was trying to say that he's too close to the starting location to be of any use.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 02:58:17PM 4 points [-]

Yes; thank you for getting it, and thanks to MileyCyrus for letting me know I succumbed to the illusion of transparency.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 03:22:45PM 2 points [-]

Yeah, your original statement is a tricky type of communication to pull off. I think it only works if everybody knows that everybody knows that "OpenThreadGuy is smelly" is so obviously false that it's not even in your hypothesis space. (And unfortunately, the fact that it's not in your hypothesis space makes it difficult to notice the other way to read the comment.) I think that makes it basically impossible for it to work over the internet.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 06:30:58AM 1 point [-]

Your route comes within 10 minutes of my place in Phoenix. PM me if you want to coordinate.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 06:03:45PM 9 points [-]

I thought I'd share this story about a recent, very strange event involving fixing a problem with a large inferential distance. I don't know what I should conclude from it, but, even with what I've said about "real understanding", I didn't expect this to happen.

At work, my technical lead wanted to spend a day with me to fix a bug that was causing major problems in our site. In order to be helpful on this task, however, I had to get up to speed on the infrastructure of the website. So my lead started the day by explaining it to me, and I made sure to ask for clarification on anything I either didn't understand OR (and this is important) that I could not connect with the rest of the system (in my mental model of it).

The discussion eventually turned to the matter of what happens when you commit a change to the code, i.e., update it to a slightly newer version.

On that topic, he eventually explained, "Next, the 1st server tells the other (redundant) servers to act as if they were upgraded to the new version of the code (in technical jargon, it changes the "dependencies" of the other servers and their resulting "virtual environment".) But before it actually updates the other servers' code to the new version, it does one final sanity check, and if that fails, it does not proceed with updating the servers.

"See the problem, Silas? The dependencies and code are out of sync on all the other servers because the former was upgraded while the latter was not. So it crashes when it tries to use something that it didn't expect to use."

I replied, "So, then why not wait until the final test passes before telling the other servers to upgrade their dependencies?"

Short pause as my lead thinks. "Yeah, that would solve this problem."

Well, it turned out this wasn't some toy problem to teach a lesson; it had actually caused several emergencies. And all my lead had to do to solve the problem was walk through the process the site uses for updating to a new version.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 02:30:07PM 3 points [-]

This isn't uncommon. I've had lots of experiences where I go over to someone else's desk to help with some bug/compile error/etc, but they figure out the cause while explaining the problem, or after I ask a "stupid" question.

Conclusion: try explaining your problems to an inanimate object on your desk. Sometimes the solution is obvious, if you can activate all the necessary concepts in your brain at the same time...

Comment author: 18 January 2013 07:18:16AM 5 points [-]

Its called rubberducking, after a guy who (allegedly) used a rubber duck as the inanimate object.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 04:18:22PM *  8 points [-]

I'm writing this from an airplane on the way to Berkeley CA for the CFAR workshop. Thank you Yvain, Alicorn, and MBlume for lending me a couch before the workshop, and ShannonFriedman for doing the same after.

Edit: Thanks also to Shannon's Zendo housemates Nisan, AlexMennen, and Peter_de_Blanc.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 03:17:56PM *  7 points [-]

I would like to be president. That way, I could do what I think would be best for the country. Now, people always like to be very very modest and say "Well, I don't particularly want to be the president, but if the people want me..." I think that's a lot of nonsense. If you are a politician and you're the leader of a party, then you should want to get government power in your hands that you may be able to work out all these ideas and visions that you've harbored so long for your country.

--Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma on BBC's Desert Island Disks.

I'm posting this because a while ago, someone linked to a Moldbug piece about it not being socially possible for politicians to admit that they want power. The interviewer says that Aung San Suu Kyi is the only politician she's interviewed who was willing to say that she wants power.

The other unique thing Aung San Suu Kyi did was to ask for a piece of music she hadn't heard before for one of her eight disks for the desert island.

Comment author: 18 January 2013 06:12:14AM 7 points [-]

I've noticed that LessWrong is really hard to read and navigate on a mobile device. The right side-bar takes up a significant amount of the screen, and when entering text into a comment box it tends to zoom in so that you can only see half of what you are typing. You can zoom out, but then it becomes rather hard to read. I'm using a fairly large Android phone with the default Chrome browser. When I switch to Firefox, there is a weird issue where sidebar text is tiny but main body text is readable. Is there any chance of a mobile-optimized version of the site?

Comment author: 15 January 2013 04:21:38PM 7 points [-]

I'm moving to SF bay area next month. (Hired by large well-known tech company!) It seems like a number of you live there. I'm interested in misc tips, suggestions on where to live, upcoming meetups, etc. I know a few people in the area, but not that many, so I'm looking to expand my social circle, something I'm traditionally not very good at... Feel free to PM me or comment here.

Comment author: 15 January 2013 06:53:29PM 3 points [-]

Welcome! There are weekly LW meetups in Mountain View and in Berkeley. Subscribe to the bayarealesswrong list to find out more.

Comment author: 15 January 2013 09:50:13PM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: 17 January 2013 05:56:43PM 6 points [-]

Link to an article polling attendants to a quantum foundations conference:

Those who chose Everett as their favorite interpretation were 18% (that is 6 respondents out of 33). Copenhagen (however interpreted) is still dominant, and only 9% believe in objective collapse.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 08:44:10AM *  5 points [-]

Some weird results in that poll... 42% believe Copenhagen is the correct interpretation, but only 30% believe that Bohr's view of QM is correct or will ultimately turn out to be correct. So at least 12% don't think Copenhagen is Bohr's view, which leaves me wondering what they think it is. The natural assumption would be that they think of Copenhagen as an objective collapse theory (in contrast to Bohr's instrumentalism), but that can't be right because "objective collapse" was a separate and much less popular answer. I do notice, though, that the percentages on the interpretation question add up to more than 100, so perhaps some (or all) of the people who chose "objective collapse" also chose "Copenhagen".

Also surprised that while 18% of respondents chose Everett, only 9% believe that the randomness in quantum mechanics is neither fundamental nor irreducible. What the what?

Comment author: 06 February 2013 02:19:57PM 0 points [-]

Because most determinists aren't everettians? Quite simple

Comment author: 08 February 2013 04:43:06AM 2 points [-]

No, look at the stats again. There are fewer determinists than there are Everettians. That's what I found puzzling. Some of the Everettians in that poll evidently believe in fundamental or irreducible quantum randomness, which suggests they don't really know what Everettianism is.

Comment author: 08 February 2013 04:46:29AM 3 points [-]

Some of the Everettians in that poll evidently believe in fundamental or irreducible quantum randomness, which suggests they don't really know what Everettianism is.

(Or, conceivably, that they are using 'randomness' differently and/or wrongly).

Comment author: 19 January 2013 07:11:53PM *  0 points [-]

I think we discussed that earlier; at least, I remember adding it to the Wikipedia list of polls based on a LW mention.

Comment author: 15 January 2013 04:44:13PM *  5 points [-]
Comment author: 15 January 2013 05:07:33PM 6 points [-]

Abstract:

Despite the prominent loss of motor skills, artistic capacities remain preserved in Parkinson's disease (PD). Furthermore, artistic creativity may emerge in art-naïve PD patients treated with levodopa and dopamine agonists. The present review discusses reported PD patients who developed enhanced artistic skills under anti-Parkinsonian therapy and the course of this phenomenon in the clinical context. It is unclear whether creative drive is related to dopamine dysregulation, and the mechanisms remain speculative. The delineation of the particular constellation that enables this emergence in PD patients may shed light on the comprehension of the concept of creativity in general.

From the OP's Science Daily link:

It's possible that these patients are expressing latent talents they never had the courage to demonstrate before, she suggests. Dopamine-inducing therapies are also connected to a loss of impulse control, and sometimes result in behaviors like excessive gambling or obsessional hobbies. An increase in artistic drive could be linked to this lowering of inhibitions, allowing patients to embrace their creativity. Some patients have even reported a connection between their artistic sensibilities and medication dose, noting that they feel they can create more freely when the dose is higher.

Waits for the LW self-medicating crowd to buy up levodopa and Piribedil with their bitcoins

Comment author: 15 January 2013 06:49:58PM 4 points [-]

Waits for the LW self-medicating crowd to buy up levodopa and Piribedil with their bitcoins

Levodopa (L-DOPA) seems to be legally and commercially available as a supplement.

Comment author: 15 January 2013 05:33:19PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, I thought it would appeal to transhumanists.

The interesting question is how you get increased artistic ability without the gambling. It might be a variant on wireheading. What makes for a hunt for significance which isn't sidetracked by a mere feeling of significance? I've heard that part of the hook for gambling is a feeling that winning and losing have meaning beyond the money.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 10:47:05PM *  4 points [-]

I just finished Marginal Revolution University's first (and currently only) course, on Development Economics. My thoughts are: there's some pretty interesting content there, and the material itself seems correct & fair. There's no shortage of content, including far more material on India than I expected, and there's many interesting topics.

But the course has teething pains. What problems does it have?

• Video chunks generally make under-use of visual aids; later videos often are really just Cowen or Tabarrok talking but with a generic background hiding them.
• The questions after each segment are very low-quality - I was often able to answer them without even watching the video, but others were just random factoids like an exact percentage for a random paper.
• They name sources and papers for further reading (great!), but fail to actually link them so you would have to manually type down each paper title into Google and maybe find a copy. More than a trivial inconvenience.
• Ordering of videos can be weird: I think quite a few videos appear in the course listing twice, which is both confusing and wastes my time. I must have watched a dozen videos on Amartya Sen...
• There are any number of small errors like questions having the wrong wording or apparently being attached to the wrong video or the completion certificate not being added to profiles. Comments have pointed many of them out, but they don't seem to have been fixed.
• Participation in comment sections is very low, and many of the comments are bad.
• IIRC, material seems to've been marked optional which is not, for example the Solow model math videos were optional but several math questions appear on the final quiz

When MRU was announced, I found myself wondering why MRU is not just being done on Coursera or Udacity or something: are Cowen & Tabarrok's comparative advantages really in setting up a whole new MOOC infrastructure? By the end of the course, I was still thinking this. Hopefully they'll gradually fix the technical issues, provide hyperlinks to further reading & citations, good comments will gradually accrete, the questions after each video will be improved, etc... but why didn't they just start the course somewhere else and focus on content from day 1?

Comment author: 18 January 2013 09:59:49PM 4 points [-]

Did a post purporting to solve the decision theory by srn347 just vanish from the forum, including all the comments? I thought one cannot delete other people's comments.

Comment author: 20 January 2013 01:55:08PM *  3 points [-]

This being possible is a known bug.

(I saw a cache of the post on Google Reader; it was a well-known observation elevated to the status of an all-powerful epiphany, and the post was also probably an early draft, since it was missing details mentioned at the beginning, which might be why it got deleted or hidden by the author.)

Comment author: 19 January 2013 04:05:13AM 0 points [-]

Huh, well apparently one can, if one deletes their own post.

Comment author: 20 January 2013 01:35:59PM 1 point [-]

As far as I know, actually deleting a post requires admin access: if you delete your own post, it just removes your authorship notice and de-indexes it from the list of posts, but it's still available if you know the URL. E.g. Roko's ugh fields post is still around.

Comment author: 20 January 2013 05:07:28PM 1 point [-]

How about moving it to drafts?

Comment author: 20 January 2013 05:55:15PM 0 points [-]

Ah, I hadn't thought of that.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 08:18:08PM *  4 points [-]

I'm Starting a New Blog

As suggested by some I'm starting a new blog. I prefer communities to lonely things such as one man blogs, especially if the latter have long periods of inactivity. Originally discussed here.

Some problems have been noted by several users on discussing topics from a perspective rather interesting to me on LessWrong. I don't think this is likely to be a better venue for them in the future and has been degrading in this regard for several months, so we've decided to discuss them elsewhere. It still is a great site for some other topics and I may hang around for this, I don't want to be a splitter though we will probably have blackjack and hookers. LWers having blogs elsewhere is a good thing!

So far ErikM, Athrelon, paper-machine and MichaelAnissimov as well as several other LWers have said they would like to join as co-authors. If anyone else is interested please respond to this post or PM me your email adress? Details on the new blog will be discussed via email.

I don't have a good idea for a name yet, so I'd very much appreciate any suggestions. :)

Comment author: 16 January 2013 11:37:04PM 4 points [-]

Comment author: 16 January 2013 11:39:35PM 2 points [-]

You impressed me in several virtual LW meetup and IRC conversations, I'm quite excited to hear you wish to join. Welcome aboard!

Comment author: 17 January 2013 12:35:58AM *  0 points [-]

Well this is embarrassing... I guess the reactionary is always a few years behind the times. Moved comment.

Edit: I thought I made the mistake but apparently there was a mistake in the title.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 02:26:59PM 4 points [-]

Are donations to the Singularity Institute tax deductible in Australia?

Comment author: 17 January 2013 05:20:42AM 1 point [-]

Are donations to the Singularity Institute tax deductible in Australia?

From what I have been able to research they are not. See for example.

Comment author: 29 January 2013 11:06:16PM 3 points [-]

At a Meetup recently we were talking about various qualities people have. Someone mentioned agreeableness / disagreeableness. I consider myself agreeable while the group said that disagreeableness is a valuable quality (Steve Jobs was given as an example of someone highly successful & highly disagreeable). I brought up another quality, which I tried to describe as "true to self-ness" -- that is, I can get along with people easily, reply to things I disagree with by saying, "I see what you're saying", but in the end, my true belief is unshaken. The example I brought up in the discussion was someone who goes to church every day for a year, goes through the rituals, and in the end is still a hardcore atheist. The group mentioned that "going through the motions" as if you believe something makes it more likely for you to actually believe it. It seems to me different people are more or less susceptible to this due to some quality that they have. What is this quality called?

Comment author: 30 January 2013 06:33:59AM *  0 points [-]

I think it is valuable to signal agreeableness in most but not all contexts; in the context in which Steve Jobs worked it might have been valuable to signal disagreeableness to enhance an impression of brilliant iconoclasm. Privately, it's probably a bad idea to think of yourself as either particularly agreeable or particularly disagreeable; the extent to which you agree or disagree with people in private should vary a lot more than either of those adjectives suggest (depending on who you're agreeing or disagreeing with). I don't have an answer to your actual question, though.

Comment author: 26 January 2013 07:16:08PM 3 points [-]

An article that may be of interest to some was posted by the New Yorker criticizing Nate Silver's focus on Bayesian statistics. I don't find the arguments particularly compelling, but here it is: link

Comment author: 25 January 2013 01:48:46PM 3 points [-]

I'm beginning research for a literature review on the up-and-coming use of Bayesian methods in experimental psychology (as part of my MSc course). Does anyone have any cool examples/references they'd like to point me at? Thanks!

Comment author: 25 January 2013 04:46:00PM 4 points [-]

Have you looked at http://www.indiana.edu/~kruschke/ 's papers?

Comment author: 27 January 2013 05:03:41PM 2 points [-]

I have - thanks, though!

Comment author: 24 January 2013 12:24:49AM 3 points [-]

Is there a discussion anywhere of the epistemic issues involved in timeless or acausal decision theory? For example, if it's about acausal trade between agents: how do you know about the other agent's existence and properties? How do you figure out what agents are out there, that care about what you do, and about whose actions you should care? If you don't have a rational basis for your beliefs about the existence and nature of the agents you imagine to be on the other side of an acausal trade, can you even be said to be trading?

Comment author: 25 January 2013 04:11:34PM 0 points [-]

Comment author: 25 January 2013 05:30:45AM 0 points [-]

Isn't acausal trade supposed to be able to work with agents that could have existed, but don't?

Comment author: 19 January 2013 03:22:14PM *  3 points [-]

Wei Dai's tool to show all of a user's contributions on the same page no longer seems to work. Does anyone have an alternative?

Comment author: 19 January 2013 06:46:49PM 5 points [-]

Funny, it's broken for me too. I know it was just working on 10 January because I did a full archive of all my comments/posts.

You know what, I bet that it was the update to the user profiles where http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern got moved to http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern/overview/

So probably an easy fix.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 09:12:33PM 7 points [-]

Yes, you're right, thanks for the diagnosis. It should be fixed now. Next time somebody please PM me, or reply to one of my comments, so I'll get the red envelope. (Or visit my website and email me, in case I take a break from LW.)

Comment author: 19 January 2013 09:44:55PM 1 point [-]

Looks fixed.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 07:16:33PM *  0 points [-]

Works fine for me now. Thank you.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 12:59:36PM 3 points [-]

What the author describes doesn't exactly promote rational thinking in the kids, rather telling them how to win arguments, but there is a degree of evaluation-of-argument in there ("Mary should give you the car because she's a pig?") and it teaches a useful skill early. Rationalists should win after all.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 03:21:52AM 3 points [-]

I recently noticed "The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant" under the front page's Featured Articles section, which caused me to realize that there's more to Featured Articles than the Sequences alone. This particular article (an excellent one, by the way) is also not from Less Wrong itself, yet is obviously relevant to it; it's hosted on Nick Bostrom's personal site.

I'm interested in reading high-quality non-Sequences articles (I'm making my way through the Sequences separately using the [SEQ RERUN] feature) relevant to Less Wrong that I might have missed, so is there an archive of Featured Articles? I looked, but was unable to find one.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 05:24:19AM 3 points [-]

The featured articles are controlled by the wiki, and thus the history is accessible, if awkward.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 06:41:40AM 1 point [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: 15 January 2013 06:11:06PM 3 points [-]

I'm running a bookclub on my blog for Naming Infinity: A True Story of Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity about how the development of set theory was influenced by Russian Orthodox theology and vice versa. Folks are welcome to pop back in Feb, when posts on the topic go up, but you should PM or email me if you're interested in reading along and contributing guest posts.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 07:07:47PM *  6 points [-]

How Bitcoin Dies by Mencius Moldbug

I encourage readers to see the whole thing, but I wished to emphasise a few points (bolded them).

Obviously, I have no inside information at all and am just speculating - as a devout student of the fascinating organism that is USG. However, my guess is that this event will happen soon - ie, probably in 2013. Why? Because of the ECB report on Bitcoin, which quoth:

*All these issues raise serious concerns regarding the legal status and security of the system, as well as the finality and irrevocability of the transactions, in a system which is not subject to any kind of public oversight. In June 2011 two US senators, Charles Schumer and Joe Manchin, wrote to the Attorney General and to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration expressing their worries about Bitcoin and its use for illegal purposes. Mr Andresen was also asked to give a presentation to the CIA about this virtual currency scheme. *

Further action from other authorities can reasonably be expected in the near future.

Neighbor, if you're at all involved with BTC, I'd advise you to heed this remarkably direct warning. You'll note that (a) the people who wrote this report do have inside information (since the ECB and our own dear "other authorities" operate, of course, in practice as a single global institution) and (b) these are people with actual power, and people with actual power tend to do what they say they're going to do - regardless of how Reddit might feel about the matter.

...

And when it comes to USG, and USD - creating a successful distributed digital currency is what I call "coup-complete." Ie, as a difficult problem, it is fundamentally equivalent to the well-known difficult problem of regime change. Are coups impossible? No, of course not. What's impossible, however, is pulling a coup when you don't know you're even trying to pull a coup.

Government control (excuse me, "public oversight") of all major monetary transactions is one of the basic attributes of sovereignty in the modern world. If you can get away with "money laundering," ie, circumventing this control, you can get away with anything. If you can systematically disable it, perhaps you yourself are the new regime. You're certainly on the way.

Indeed, if we all traded in our dollars and dollar assets, and fully restandardized the global monetary system on BTC (technically a far superior design), it's quite possible that Satoshi Nakamoto himself would simply emerge as our new global overlord. I suspect he'd be richer than the Rockefellers. How do you indict that?

My guess, solely from the broad public hint above, is that the collective bureaucratic decision to unleash the full right arm of USG on BTC was almost certainly made in 2012 or even 2011. An easy decision - since it makes a lot of work for all the deciding agencies. Meanwhile, the Bitcoin economy is buzzing merrily along, as if there was nothing wrong at all with Bitcoin. Technically and economically, there is nothing wrong. It's a remarkably beautiful architecture - in fact, I would say, a genuine work of art in the field of system software. Its problems are entirely political.

...

Comment author: 24 January 2013 08:58:07PM 2 points [-]

If the government is competent enough to shut down BTC by force (which I kinda doubt), then they're probably competent enough to do something (for them) better: spread the meme that BTC is untraceable and then trace the illicit transactions. I don't think the average user of BTC is capable of pulling off an information-theoretically-untraceable transaction, if such a thing is possible at all. And how can you be sure that the FBI/CIA isn't actually running the coin-mixers?

Either way, I give a low probability of bitcoin vanishing in the next year. 5%? 10%? I think I put down 5% on gwern's predictionbook entry.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 08:59:56PM *  3 points [-]

This makes sense if you assume the USG shutting down bitcoin is likely to actually be about the illicit transactions. Moldbug isn't making that assumption. Neither would I.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 09:27:59PM 7 points [-]

He seems to model government as a single agent that plans and executes according to its best interests.

I model government as a collection of agents, mostly incompetent, with different incentives and interests.

If BTC indeed drops to zero via the mechanism he outlines in the coming year, I will be impressed and increase my opinion of him, which is (at the moment) somewhat low (this article being the only thing of his I've read).

Comment author: 24 January 2013 09:32:27PM 1 point [-]

It's also worth noting that most (all?) of BTC's supposed regime destroying powers depend on its magical ability to allow untraceable transactions (e.g., to avoid income tax). Since I don't think it has that ability, it follows that I don't think it's as much of a threat to governments.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 07:21:09PM *  2 points [-]

Interesting, I can't recall an article Moldbug wrote with which I would agree as strongly as with this one. Maybe his recent spur of activity is worth following after all, just ignore the comment section.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 07:30:34PM 7 points [-]

I see Moldbug continues to ignore TGGP's offer of a bet on his claim that Bitcoin will probably go to zero in 2013. I'd be happy to bet, say, \$50 with either you or Konkvistador that it won't go to - zero seems unfair, so maybe 5 cents - in 2013.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 09:32:05PM *  0 points [-]

I wish he accepted the bet, it would increase how seriously I take him (not very much except this article). I'm willing to predictionbook it and make a karma bet on it. Sorry I'm really poor and waaaay to risk averse. Its irrational I know :(

I put 30% chance on BitCoin on your 5 cents benchmark by January 1st 2014.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 09:35:26PM 4 points [-]
Comment author: 24 January 2013 09:00:41PM 1 point [-]

Gwern's comment was good but about two thirds of the commenter's are horrid.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 04:33:42PM 6 points [-]
Comment author: 17 January 2013 12:34:53AM *  9 points [-]

I'm Starting a New Blog

As suggested by some I'm starting a new blog. I prefer communities to lonely things such as one man blogs, especially if the latter have long periods of inactivity. Originally discussed here.

Some problems have been noted by several users on discussing topics from a perspective rather interesting to me on LessWrong. I don't think this is likely to be a better venue for them in the future and has been degrading in this regard for several months, so we've decided to discuss them elsewhere. It still is a great site for some other topics and I may hang around for this, I don't want to be a splitter though we will probably have blackjack and hookers. LWers having blogs elsewhere is a good thing!

So far ErikM, nyan_sandwich, Athrelon, paper-machine, KarmaKaiser and MichaelAnissimov as well as several other LWers have said they would like to join as co-authors. If anyone else is interested please respond to this post or PM me your email adress? Details on the new blog will be discussed via email.

I don't have a good idea for a name yet, so I'd very much appreciate any suggestions. :)

Comment author: 17 January 2013 09:52:46PM 6 points [-]

I think it would be a good idea to cross post or link to your blog posts in Discussion, at least until people like myself get a feel for whether this blog is something we want to follow on its own. I don't know if there are strong community pressures against making posts that are just links to your own blog, though.

Comment author: 18 January 2013 05:43:59AM 1 point [-]

I don't think there are any such community pressures, as long as a summary accompanies the link.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 11:33:52AM 3 points [-]

Comment author: 17 January 2013 09:10:14PM *  0 points [-]

You're still in the 2012 thread.

Edit: No, wait, this is apparently posted in 2013 but labeled 2012. Bah.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 05:18:59PM 2 points [-]

So something I've mused about before..

I think it'd be good to train yourself as an accurate reporter somehow - for example the ability to accurately summarise an article, or report on something someone said.

This is an area where I feel personally slightly weak, in that I often tend to exaggerate and use hyperbole when it's not appropriate.

I have visions of some sort of game - one person picks an article, and the other has to write an accurate summary of it, without distortion. Maybe a third person then grades the two versions? I'm not sure how to inject the fun part.

It seems likely this is already some sort of recognised writing technique, perhaps studied by journalists.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 04:55:25PM 2 points [-]

Does anyone know about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation? It can apparently be used to stimulate concentration, 'flow' and allow low level wireheading.

Seems like if its as easy as the article implies it might be cheaper and more effective than nootropics for cognitive enhancement etc.

Comment author: 23 January 2013 05:27:42PM 1 point [-]

There's a reddit on the topic.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 07:34:50PM 1 point [-]

If you search LW, you'll see it's come up before. No one's reported impressive results yet.

Comment author: 28 January 2013 04:28:18PM 0 points [-]

I'm tempted to self experiment on this. But I suspect that without a background in neuroscience I might end up accidentally taking stupid risks.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 10:00:07AM 2 points [-]

So I was watching my daily Glenn Beck when I found this passionate video of his talking about a coming Singularity, uploaded 1/17/13.

Kurzweil, law of accelerating returns, exponential growth with that famous Chinese chess board example, the whole shebang.

Also doing powers of 2 like a baws.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 09:31:12PM 1 point [-]

Well, there's not much interest in the Singularity around LW. Did he say anything about an intelligence explosion?

Comment author: 01 February 2013 07:53:31PM 0 points [-]

He also had a chapter on it in a recent book, discussed here.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 10:53:39PM 2 points [-]

What is the exact origin of the term 'confirmation bias'? Wikipedia asserts it was coined by Wason, but cites only a 2002 article (of which I can only see the abstract); the Wason paper linked by our own wiki article doesn't seem to use the phrase.

Comment author: 20 January 2013 01:48:18PM 1 point [-]

Numerous authors (e.g., Popper, 1959) argue that scientists should try to fulzih) rather than confirm theories. However, recent empirical work (Wason and Johnson- Laird, 1972) suggests the existence of a confirmation bias, at least on abstract problems. Using a more realistic, computer controlled environment modeled after a real research setting, subjects in this study first formulated hypotheses about the laws governing events occurring in the environment.

The citation is to

WASON, P.C. and JOHNSON-LAIRD. P.N . (1972). Psychology of Reasoning: Structure and Content. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Comment author: 21 January 2013 11:47:47PM *  1 point [-]

Google doesn't find "confirmation bias" in that book. (It does find "confirmation" and "bias"---the latter appearing at least twice in the phrase "bias towards verification". The "verification" terminology suggests Popper's verification|falsification dichotomy, which at least according to Johnson-Laird was the inspiration for Wason's 2-4-6 task.)

(Also, how did you get an OCR error in your quote there?)

Comment author: 22 January 2013 08:36:56AM 1 point [-]

(Also, how did you get an OCR error in your quote there?)

Copied the quote from the PDF of the paper, which somebody had presumably run through OCR.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 02:39:38PM *  2 points [-]

I'm seeing things like

$P(A|B) = \frac{P(B | A)\, P(A)}{P(B)}$

in the wiki (instead of rendered math), and I can't figure out why.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 05:29:06PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the report. I've created a ticket on the issue tracker.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 07:04:01AM *  2 points [-]

Empirical estimates suggest most published medical research is true

http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.3718

OK, so now we need a meta-analysis of these meta-analyses...

Comment author: 19 January 2013 07:09:45PM 2 points [-]

I don't think it works in the sense of refuting the earlier results by Ioannidis etc.

Remember that much of that previous work is based on looking at replication rates and changes as sample sizes increase - so actually empirical in a meaningful way.

This simply aggregates all p-values, takes them at face value, and tries to infer what the false positive rate 'should' be. It doesn't seem to account in any way for the many systematic errors involved or biases or problems in the process, only covers false positives and not false negatives (so ignores issues of statistical power, which is a serious problem in psychology, anyway, although I think medical trials are better powered).

I'd take their estimate of a 17% false positive rate as a lower bound.

I also question some other aspects; for example, they dismiss the idea that the false positive rate is increasing because it hits p=0.18 - but if you look at pg11, every journal sees a net increase in false positive rates from the beginning of their sample to the end, although there's enough variation that the beginning/end difference doesn't hit 0.05. So there is a clear trend here, and I have to wonder: if they looked at more than 5 journals over a decade, would the extra data make it hit significance? (A 0.5% increase each year is very troubling, since that implies very bad things for the long-term.)

I liked their data collection strategy, though; scraping - not just for hackers!

We wrote a computer program in the R statistical programming language (http://www.R-project.org/) to collect the abstracts of all papers published in The Lancet, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), The British Medical Journal (BMJ), and The American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) between 2000 and 2010. Our program then parsed the text of these abstracts to identify all instances of the phrases “P =”, “P <”, “P ≤”, allowing for a space or no space between “P” and the comparison symbols. Our program then extracted both the comparison symbol and the numeric symbol following the comparison symbol. We scraped all reported P-values in abstracts, independent of study type. The P-values were scraped from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ on January 24, 2012. A few manual changes were performed to correct errors in the reported P-values due to variations in the reporting of scientific notation as detailed in the R code. To validate our procedure, we selected a random sample (using the random number generator in R) of abstracts and compared our collected P-values to the observed P-values manually. The exact R code used for scraping and sampling and the validated abstracts are available in the Supplemental Material.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 09:55:05PM 0 points [-]

Yep, I agree. This is definitely an (optimistic) lower limit. Good that these studies are gaining attention, though a systemic change would be needed to get us out of this.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 05:54:31PM 1 point [-]

Now to the details of the paper. Based on the word “empirical” title, I thought the authors were going to look at a large number of papers with p-values and then follow up and see if the claims were replicated. But no, they don’t follow up on the studies at all! What they seem to be doing is collecting a set of published p-values and then fitting a mixture model to this distribution, a mixture of a uniform distribution (for null effects) and a beta distribution (for non-null effects). Since only statistically significant p-values are typically reported, they fit their model restricted to p-values less than 0.05. But this all assumes that the p-values have this stated distribution. You don’t have to be Uri Simonsohn to know that there’s a lot of p-hacking going on. Also, as noted above, the problem isn’t really effects that are exactly zero, the problem is that a lot of effects are lots in the noise and are essentially undetectable given the way they are studied....So, no, I don’t at all believe Jager and Leek when they write, “we are able to empirically estimate the rate of false positives in the medical literature and trends in false positive rates over time.” They’re doing this by basically assuming the model that is being questioned, the textbook model in which effects are pure and in which there is no p-hacking.

One of the authors replies in the comments:

That being said, our paper is a direct response to the original work, which defined “correct” and “incorrect” in the medical literature by the truth of the null hypothesis. We totally agree that that is a very debatable definition of correct. However, we felt it was important to point out that when using that definition you can actually estimate the rate of false discoveries with principled methods. These methods are well justified in the statistical literature and we took pains to point out our assumptions in both the paper and the supplemental material. Whether you agree with those assumptions is of course, a totally reasonable thing to talk about.

Comment author: 15 January 2013 05:19:08PM *  3 points [-]

Does the

"If you don't know what you need, take power"

quote have any origin before Final words? I searched for it but only found it in a post on heuristics that linked back there.

The quote appeals to me to the extent that I'm considering adopting it as a general life strategy, but I'd like more discussion around it and arguments for or against. (If you have any feel free to post here.)

Comment author: 16 January 2013 05:39:27AM 2 points [-]

I haven't seen anything, and I thought it was original to Eliezer's story.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 03:18:50AM 1 point [-]

Possibly relevant: What You'll Wish You'd Known.

In the graduation-speech approach, you decide where you want to be in twenty years, and then ask: what should I do now to get there? I propose instead that you don't commit to anything in the future, but just look at the options available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterward.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 12:40:30PM 2 points [-]

(BTW, anyone played Adventure Story by Matt Roszak? Later levels feature a monster that made me think of Suicide Rock.)

Comment author: 19 January 2013 04:44:35AM 1 point [-]

I've played and loved all of Matt Roszak's games. He is good at making games.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 09:21:01PM 1 point [-]

Heh, I saw the reddit thread for that and was going to link Suicide Rock.

Comment author: 29 January 2013 03:37:48PM *  2 points [-]

Aaron Jacob aka Graaaaaagh, has been doing a reading of the Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives sequence from Moldbug on his Youtube channel. So far:

Comment author: 31 January 2013 03:02:06PM *  0 points [-]

Someone seems to have downvoted all of my comments. And, surmising by what I said to him, it seems to have been private messaging.

(If there is some way to check this and) this is true, this is an abuse of the karma system. I do not have many comments, so it is not so much a big deal, but I liked my comments, except the one I retracted (note it is the only one which did not get any downvotes just now), and I don't like unfairness.

This person has been rightly accused of trolling and causing needless drama and insufficiently epistemic prudence, and he definitely runs a whole lot of accounts, so I recommend the banhammer.

Comment author: 31 January 2013 05:52:44PM *  7 points [-]

That reads like "A WITCH! A WITCH! BURN HIM!"

Someone with a negative score can't downvote.

Comment author: 01 February 2013 12:33:06PM *  2 points [-]

dmytry/private_messaging's main account currently has 873 karma.

Comment author: 01 February 2013 03:40:50PM *  3 points [-]

Didn't use it. In fact I lost access to it (I was rather pissed off with this whole enterprise and changed password to something I don't remember). I didn't downvote this guy, my guess is one of 14 people that upvoted my retort to his post did, possibly after my retort got deleted and his remark did not get deleted.

Comment author: 31 January 2013 07:12:31PM *  -3 points [-]

Someone with a negative score can't downvote.

What about the dedicated silent downvote-sockpuppets at zero karma?

Comment author: 31 January 2013 07:29:37PM *  10 points [-]

Still can't downvote. The maximum number of downvotes you can give is 4 times your karma, which is zero with zero karma. So you have to keep gaining karma in order to keep downvoting, and a karmassassination would take a while to save up for.

Comment author: 02 February 2013 08:48:37PM 3 points [-]

I should point out that there is no comparable limit on upvoting, AFAIK, so it may be possible to make 10 accounts, post 1 comment on each, get +9 on each (by having the other 9 accounts upvote the 10th account's 1 comment), and now you have 10 * 9 * 4 = 360 total downvotes available (10 accounts with +9 karma and 4 downvotes for each karma point).

Comment author: 03 February 2013 05:07:38PM 0 points [-]

True. And that is per comment, so if each puppet makes ten comments before you start the circle jerk you can make ten times as many downvotes as that, assuming that you click quickly enough. But then there are also people who downvote comments that they think have too good scores, so unless your comments actually are good you will have to make and multi-upvote more and more comments to keep constant karma.

Comment author: 03 February 2013 05:53:42PM 3 points [-]

So much criminal energy. I should've become an investment banker.

Comment author: 02 February 2013 07:52:43PM 0 points [-]

On an unrelated note, I wish to thank you all for all the upvotes. All of you except you-know-who. grumble grumble downvoting my Star Trek fan art, thought I wouldn't find your new community grumble grumble

Comment author: 05 February 2013 06:42:13AM *  0 points [-]

This would imply a bug or exploit if you're right about the perpetrator: users get a pool of downvotes equal to 4x their karma (upvotes aren't capped), and private_messaging's karma is deeply negative. Given that I've heard downvoted users complaining about this behavior before, I think it's safe to assume that it's at least partly working.

private_messaging does have positive 30-day karma, so it may be indicative of a (presumably unintended?) lower bound on karma for this feature's purposes. Alternately you might be dealing with a sockpuppet with better public behavior. Anything more specific depends on technical details I'm not privy to; might be worth asking someone who knows.

Comment deleted 01 February 2013 09:18:36AM *  [-]
Comment author: 01 February 2013 09:53:57AM 4 points [-]

Dear MIRI:

This is ludicrous behaviour.

What the fuck are you thinking? I mean, really. What the fuck?

Comment author: 02 February 2013 08:19:55PM 1 point [-]

I'm not MIRI affiliated, and not saying this to proudly display my banners. But when an account is labelled as destructive/trollish and it is explicitly stated that his/her comments are subject to be removed whenever encountered, then such deletions should come as no surprise.

Consider you labelled someone as a troll and wanted to dissuade him/her from having a presence at your forum. Would you need to sift through every comment of his/her checking whether it has some merit or not? That's asking for a lot and may be counter productive, allowing that person to build credibility which can then be used to have a more attentive audience when presenting the content that's considered trollish/destructive.

Comment author: 02 February 2013 09:22:01PM 0 points [-]

You're using the passive voice a lot there ... who decided these things?

Comment author: 05 February 2013 10:04:38AM 4 points [-]

David - you're a strong critic of lots of stuff about CFAR, MIRI, Less Wrong. Have any of your comments ever been deleted?

Comment author: 05 February 2013 10:12:14AM 1 point [-]

I recall that I'm in quite a few of the vast fields of comment deleted, though I don't have a string to show you to hand (my comment history is long and annoying to dredge through a page at a time), so I offer only my admittedly fallible memory. I haven't noticed individual targeted zappings of any. I suspect I've had less deletions than Dmytry because I like LW really, I just find its all-too-human stupidities as annoying as any and have an unfortunately defective tact filter.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 12:10:21PM 15 points [-]

No, you've "had less deletions" because you're often mistaken, but you're not a fucking troll and there's an obvious fucking difference. I don't think you've ever run afoul of the deletion policy unless you were in a general thread that was getting stomped.

It seems to me that the claim that criticism is being targeted for deletion is obviously false, and I remark that it is amazing what people will talk themselves into when they find it politically convenient to believe. But I'm not deleting your comments claiming so, because that's got nothing to do with the stated and practiced moderation policies.

Obviously, trolls will post "critical" comments to provoke reactions and so that they can scream censorship afterward (concern trolling) but there's lots, and lots, and LOTS of non-troll criticism on LW which doesn't get deleted. Like, you know, the meta stuff in this open thread. It brought the trolls out to play and the trolls got deleted - and what's left is more than 50% critical, which is a normal day on LW.

I hope that clears things up.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 06:16:13PM 4 points [-]

From my limited experience running and helping to run channels and forums, life is easier when you have clearly defined ground rules, and any deletion is stamped with something like "violation 3.1 (a)", the way it is on traffic tickets.

Additionally, a simple and clear appeal process goes a long way toward reducing temper flare-ups. Some of the meta rules tend to be

• appeal request can only be made by the original post/comment author in PM. Appeal decisions are final.

• appeal notice and appeal outcome is posted in the thread, which is locked for the duration of the appeal and permanently if the decision stands, with all downstream comments deleted at the discretion of the moderator.

• all discussion of forum rules and moderation decisions must happen in a single thread "forum rules".

• no public discussion allowed of a particular moderation decision in the moderated thread itself or any thread other than the "forum rules" thread (redundant, but usually necessary).

The main goal is, of course, shifting the discussion from the cries of "censorship!" over a particular moderation decision to that of forum rules.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 09:30:28PM 5 points [-]

Some of what people call "trolling" (on the net in general, not LW specifically) amounts to asymmetrical resource starvation attacks against humans. This sort of troll can be modeled as thinking, "What's the least work I can do, that will elicit the costliest response from the mods / regulars / other suckers?"

If the process for dealing with alleged trolls is itself costly for mods or regulars, then it becomes a vulnerability.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 08:55:55PM 1 point [-]

there's lots, and lots, and LOTS of non-troll criticism on LW which doesn't get deleted. Like, you know, the meta stuff in this open thread

Or, for example, the most-upvoted post in LW's history.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 09:07:49PM -1 points [-]

Or, for example, the most-upvoted post in LW's history.

It's been deleted now AFAIK, but this post was dismissed as an outlier due to Karnofsky's relative celebrity. Establishing an historical trend (which does exist, as far as I recall) would be more useful evidence.

Comment author: 04 February 2013 11:59:38PM 6 points [-]

I did.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 10:14:32AM 0 points [-]

Well, fair enough. It still strikes me as problematic, potentially quite severely so, but it is in fact yours to keep all the pieces of.

Comment author: 05 February 2013 06:25:19AM 0 points [-]

Comment author: 01 February 2013 11:17:21AM 0 points [-]

What had the comment been saying before deletion?

Comment author: 05 February 2013 09:27:47PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: 16 January 2013 04:36:41PM 1 point [-]

Can someone make a Chrome extension that tells me when LW gets a new article (either in discussion or main)? That would help me not check it 100 times a day. It could be as simple as lighting up when this link changes.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 09:01:25PM 5 points [-]

Comment author: 19 January 2013 10:44:17PM 0 points [-]

This is the feed I use for Main posts: http://lesswrong.com/.rss

(but it has a longer lag than my feeds for other sites, but the time it pops up in Greader, there are way more comments than I expect)

Comment author: 26 January 2013 05:46:17PM *  1 point [-]

Nicotine gum users survey: http://www.stoptabac.ch/en/Gums/

Takes about 10 minutes; you can not answer any question that is inapplicable (as a great many of them are, since I have never used a tobacco product).

Past research using this survey:

Comment author: 26 January 2013 06:08:24PM 0 points [-]

Do you still use Nicotine gums, following your tests?

Comment author: 26 January 2013 06:33:51PM *  1 point [-]

Yes.

EDIT: I should explain that a little more: the one test was not definitive. It would've been nice if I could have shown a real effect on WM, but effect or no effect, the literature on nicotine & mental performance seems solid enough to override one particular kind of test.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 12:54:58PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: 23 January 2013 10:38:15PM 1 point [-]

Site question: In my miniprofile, near the karma score, there is another number. What is the meaning of that number?

Comment author: 23 January 2013 10:47:52PM 3 points [-]

It's your karma for the past 30 days. (It should say this if you hover your mouse pointer over it, which doesn't help if you don't have a mouse pointer.) It's not computed in real time so it's sometimes out of sync with your total karma.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 01:28:13AM 1 point [-]

Are the Ratonalist Conspiracy anything to do with LW?

Comment author: 19 January 2013 03:10:53AM 4 points [-]

Yes. That's Alyssa Vance's blog and she's one of us.

Comment author: 19 January 2013 01:52:12AM 0 points [-]

At least on article has been cross-posted and I saw a lot of LW related terms just skimming it so I assume it at least has a LWer writing it.

Comment author: 18 January 2013 11:34:23PM 1 point [-]

I have a question about timeless physics. If the future state of the universe is only based on the current state with no reference to time then what determines how much the universe changes from state to state? Removing time seems to reintroduce Zeno's paradox. Either the universe changes in discrete steps or something else has to keep track of how much the universe changes at each step and the only way I can think of to measure how much it changes is a derivative with respect to "time".

Any better insights?

Comment author: 19 January 2013 04:37:59PM *  0 points [-]

Do you think continuous spatial + temporal dimensions have problems continuous spatial dimensions lack? If so, what and why?

Comment author: 21 January 2013 06:42:22PM 0 points [-]

It may be that I don't have a good understanding of quantum mechanics. In Newtonian mechanics the state of the universe is dependent on the prior position and velocity of and forces on all the particles. The velocity and forces are both expressed in terms of the derivative of time so if time was removed from the equations Zeno's paradox would imply that either nothing could ever move or that motion was discontinuous whenever the next state of the universe was calculated.

From browsing wikiepdia it looks like that there are time-dependent as well as time-independent Schrödinger equations used for moving and stationary states, respectively. Is it actually possible to express the entire universe as a single time-independent equation? If so, does that mean that what we actually experience at any "time" is just a random sample from the steady-state probability distribution? Does that mean we should always expect the universe to tend toward some specific distribution (maybe just the heat death)?

Comment author: 22 January 2013 12:16:06AM 2 points [-]

Is it actually possible to express the entire universe as a single time-independent equation?

Yes.

If your original question, "what determines how much the universe changes from state to state?", is meant to refer to spacelike "states", then the answer (which requires only general relativity) is the geometry of spacetime. But the "states" in the Wheeler--DeWitt equation are spacetimes, so in that context "the universe" differs "from state to state", but it doesn't "change."

Comment author: 17 January 2013 05:18:30AM 1 point [-]

Does the list of all articles include posts in discussion? If not, is there another list that does? Finally, is there some interesting reason that it stops in August 2012, or is that just a result of people not updating it? Thanks.

Comment author: 22 January 2013 03:28:37PM 1 point [-]

Does the list of all articles include posts in discussion?

No.

If not, is there another list that does?

http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/recentposts

Finally, is there some interesting reason that it stops in August 2012

It seems useless to me, but I sometimes still update the list when people bring it up (I've just updated it). The original purpose was to have a place to reference concepts that correspond to articles, but people are no longer doing that (for the most part, references to the concepts only got filled in for the earlier posts from the Sequences).

Comment author: 22 January 2013 02:29:55PM 0 points [-]

Pretty sure it's just because of people not updating it.

Comment author: 16 January 2013 10:41:28AM 1 point [-]

I'm looking for a personal event log app for my android phone. The closest thing I've found is Tap Log (thanks to whoever it was on the IRC channel who suggested it), but I'd ideally want something that logs to an online service where I can manipulate the data more easily.

The app does allow CSV exports, so I could cobble together my own online service for doing this, but I'm amazed this doesn't exist already. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Comment author: 24 January 2013 10:00:59PM 0 points [-]

Older Brain Is Willing, but Too Full

Learning becomes more difficult as we age not because we have trouble absorbing new information, but because we fail to forget the old stuff, researchers say. (...)

Think of it as writing on a blank piece of white paper versus a newspaper page, the difference is not how dark the pen is, but that the newspaper already has writing on it.”

Lots of implications e.g. about life extensions not being identity preserving without memory augmentation. Someone write a discussion post on the study. Hey you, you do it. Don't look behind you, I mean you.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 10:53:48PM 2 points [-]

It's a mouse study, and genetically tweaked mice at that... From the sound of the summary, it sounds like it should be directly examined in humans. Until there's a human confirmation, I don't think it's worth a discussion post.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 11:09:44PM 0 points [-]

Not exactly something that's easy to confirm in humans. Of course the mice were genetically tweaked, it would be ... hard to measure an effect of a genetic factor without having experimental groups differing in that factor in a closely defined way.

Is the conclusion speculative? Absolutely. Then again, so is a lot of what we're discussing around here, and there is a reason the study made it into Nature (Impact Factor of 36).

Comment author: 28 January 2013 05:54:28AM *  1 point [-]

Nature (Impact Factor of 36)

Ioannidis suggests that better journals produce less accurate research. A separate effect is that generalist journals are spread too a thin and can't competently referee. (eg, one editor can be highly biased towards his friends without the other editors being able to tell)

Comment author: 03 February 2013 01:47:51PM 2 points [-]

The statistician Andrew Gelman likes calling Science and Nature "the tabloids" because they attract the sort of research which is most exciting (and hence the most unexpected and most likely to be false).

Comment author: 24 January 2013 11:12:25PM 0 points [-]

Not exactly something that's easy to confirm in humans.

Memory interference should be measurable just from timings. The more neurobiological claim of there being a lack of synapse downregulation... I'm not sure. Maybe some imaging approach like PET can show it.

Comment author: 24 January 2013 11:19:36PM 0 points [-]

Here, have a look. And that's just measuring a surrogate parameter, blood flow. Anything with a neuron-level resolution requires electrodes stuck into the brain.

As for memory interference being measured just from timings, can you elaborate on that? The question is on the role of certain genetic factors, do you mean a study with a large number of genetically screened subjects? That may work. I'm still waiting for the sequencing cost to come down further ... it's the great medical bottleneck of our time.

Comment author: 17 January 2013 09:33:36AM 0 points [-]

In the Interview with Adam Ford Michael Vasser mentions a series of papers on efficient market biases at presence of risk by Brad Delong and somebody whose name I can not make out (Samus? Samuls?). Does anybody know which papers is he referring to?