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Open Thread, Feb. 27 - March 5, 2017

3 Post author: Elo 27 February 2017 04:32AM

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.


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Comments (253)

Comment author: MrMind 01 March 2017 10:45:28AM *  3 points [-]

This comment is just to vent some frustration at how hard it is to get thinner, a.k.a. steering system 1.
I was there, looking at the just finished, empty dish. The pasta was delicious, but I didn't need a second serving. Yet, like in a horror B-movie, I watched myself from the inside as I got up and loaded a second serving.

GAAAH!

Comment author: Viliam 01 March 2017 03:14:03PM *  2 points [-]

Did you have an alternative to eat after the first serving? Like, some vegetables or fruit? Maybe a switch from pasta-2 to an apple would be easier than from pasta-2 to nothing.

Try a precommitment like "after eating pasta, I will eat an apple... and maybe a second serving of pasta afterwards, if I will still feel like it".

(This requires buying a lot of apples in advance.)

Comment author: MrMind 02 March 2017 08:33:39AM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the suggestion. With apples I'm left hungrier than before, so I'll try with vegetables.
Strategically, the underlying principle would be: interrupt the behaviour with an equivalent one, motion for motion, but that 'lands' on a better alternative.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 03:39:51PM 1 point [-]

Actually, I'd recommend some sort of fat for satiety. Though this is an area where YMM really V so you probably should run some self-experiments and figure out whether carbs (and what kind of carbs) make you satiated or more hungry.

Comment author: MrMind 02 March 2017 04:33:05PM 0 points [-]

I already know that simple carbs make me hungrier, although it took me a long time to figure out. Fat doesn't seem to have notable effects on satiety level, while complex carb do the trick. Of course, complex carbs are the trick. I should possibly have to experiment with other kinds of fats.

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 04:41:33PM 0 points [-]

Relevant.

And I go through lots of apples if I'm still hungry (or I just have a not-hungry-but-want-to-eat mood going) after I'm done with dinner and it works for me in the same way people are describing below.

Comment author: ingive 02 March 2017 03:51:48PM *  0 points [-]

If you want to be serious, buy a food scale and measure all of your food and eat at a specific calorie target every day, the weight loss will be linear to your target weight and then maintain. This means you'll have to keep it up forever. You can eat whatever you want as long as you hit the target. Processed food that has nutrition labels are also applicable to this method. In regards to not eat more, it depends where you eat. At home, you cook the amount you need, in processed restaurants with nutrition labels you order as much as you need.

Forget buffets and fancy restaurants. Unless if you maybe fast for 24 hours after or have a well-kept habit to keep this up. That means for example approximating how much you overate and subtract it from next days calories, you'll learn as you train by measuring food.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 03:56:51PM 2 points [-]

eat at a specific calorie target every day, the weight loss will be linear to your target weight

This is not true.

Comment author: ingive 03 March 2017 11:36:31AM 0 points [-]

Yes, you are right. I'm sorry. The weight loss per day slows down over time. I wish I knew math so I could say what that curve is.

Comment author: HungryHippo 03 March 2017 09:22:20PM *  1 point [-]

Under the assumption that your daily energy expenditure is a constant proportional to your bodyweight, the resulting curve is similar to exponential decay, ~exp(-c*t).

Think radioactive material, except that instead of decaying all the way towards zero atoms, one's weightloss would stop at a bodyweight consistent with an energy expenditure equal to the energy input from the diet.

Note that this is a pretty bold assumption with many caveats.

Comment author: MrMind 02 March 2017 04:30:50PM 0 points [-]

Such method is for me unfeasible, it would mean basically retire from social life: I eat at home 3 times a week on average.

Comment author: Bound_up 27 February 2017 02:17:10PM 3 points [-]

I've heard of some kind of rationality housing or community that lives together, or close together? Are there houses like this around?

Comment author: Elo 27 February 2017 07:05:11PM 1 point [-]

There are a few around the world. There is also the accelerator project in the works.

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 February 2017 07:58:34PM 2 points [-]

Link to the Accelerator project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/664817953593844/

Comment author: lifelonglearner 27 February 2017 02:56:22PM *  1 point [-]

Yeah. One of the most well-known ones in the Bay Area is a rationalist group house called Event Horizon. I don't live there, but maybe someone more familiar can chime in?

Comment author: ingive 27 February 2017 07:12:17AM *  3 points [-]

MrMind, and the LessWrong community, it seems as I was wrong on many things as you said, by hearing more about the productivity of the people at the house. I'm not sure if you have yet started to compile information on it.

I admit that I was wrong in my prediction and that 'what is' 'ought to be' seems to yet be unresolved and that the group does have some cultish behavior. The leader is very charismatic and made some very bold predictions. What I thought then was that I had discovered the ultimate key to human behavior, that everyone could be quantified down to a 'core value' which could be changed.

Now recently, it seems as the leader has come to the conclusion that because the click was for selfish reasons, it was unproductive. So by working on that. it seems as productivity has increased, which directly implies it was unproductive during the time period we're speaking of, MrMind.

Also according to the singularity group, it seems as not 'everyone' is capable of the selfless 'click', you "had to have the necessary program to change yourself" so "the leader" has made the prediction that they will no longer grow their group. Unfortunately, it seems as they are brigading, for example, the vegan subreddit. I have made a post here I wouldn't be surprised if this could happen in other communities like this one or EA.

They do say however that reality can make you change yourself, so they're thinking about making a curriculum, maybe even bringing people in. I think, in the end, it seems as from the perspective of the super-organism, by intellectually thinking of determinism with some probability if it applies on a macroscopic level, that it is how it is.

I would say I still appreciate the work being done I think it's useful. Personally, I would use the resources leaning towards persistent non-symbolic experiences and dmn/self etc.

Comment author: Viliam 27 February 2017 01:51:42PM 0 points [-]

Much respect for being able to update on a topic that obviously means so much to you. Also, thanks for sharing the news.

Comment author: MrMind 27 February 2017 08:59:59AM *  0 points [-]

I don't like the word cult, having had some direct and indirect experiences I know how much things can become impacting, so I won't use the word in the context of the community you're talking about.
That said, most of the pseudoscientific groups that coalesce around a charismatic figure undergo, sooner or later, an evaporative cooling. This is a term first applied to communities by Yudkowsky, intended to mean that whenever reality disproves the leader, some member will leave, but the most fervent follower will remain with stronger beliefs. The more life disproves the common core identity of the group, the more those remain will be hardened into believing it despite all the contrary evidence.
It has happened for your group much sooner than I anticipated, but still I salute your spark of scepticism.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 27 February 2017 05:19:48PM *  2 points [-]

Peter McCluskey wrote a review of my book, and I wrote a response here. Thanks to Peter for writing the review!

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 February 2017 09:07:20AM 2 points [-]

When it comes to understanding the political landscape, it seems words like alt-right or neo-reactionary are labels that only match a tiny amount of people. A lot less than a million (see Scott's post on racism prevalence).

At the same time there's a pretense in the media that Trump voters (who might be 100 as large in numbers) automatically belong to either of those categories.

An interesting part of the whole Milo episode seems to be the widely exaggerated importance that's put on him. It's like the media tries to make sense of Trump by telling a story about how his supporters are alt-right because the alt-right is what's visible on the net. This increased online visibility then leads to the mistake to assume that a lot of people who aren't online think alike.

Comment author: tristanm 27 February 2017 08:04:48PM 2 points [-]

It's easier to explain things in terms of over-arching narratives - if some movement with some well-defined and explicit ideology was responsible for Trump, it becomes easier to explain his appeal, and it makes us feel like we are able to more easily make predictions about Trump and his support base. This relieves some anxiety - maybe we didn't win, but at least we have a good model of our enemy. And our narrative might be such that it says we will be able to win in the future. As long as we keep trying, staying on the morally right side according to this narrative, and so forth.

A lot of liberals, I think, were quite unsettled by the Trump phenomenon, and so part of that reaction was to turn to quasi-conspiracy type thinking, where you posit that there is this huge, but largely silent mass of people with a coherent right-wing, racist, nationalist ideology. The reason to turn to that type of thinking is largely the same for conspiracy-type thinking in general. It's actually more comforting to believe that the world is this highly predictable place, even if you are literally powerless within it.

The truth though, is that most voters do not have a coherent ideology, most vote on a small number of issues they hold to be most important, and their viewpoints might be very malleable and susceptible to the biases of various informational sources. This makes it harder to predict outcomes, because the things that are easier to measure become less valuable. We don't have a good model that predicts which issues people believe the most strongly in, what things would change peoples' opinions, or even just what kind of personality would appeal to the largest number of people.

Now this is where human behavior gets strange. When our predictions fail in a big way, this is usually evidence that our model needs to be updated in the direction of more complexity. Yes, sometimes we over-complicate things (like when we try to force the data to fit a theory by adding a lot of exceptions), but in general our models of the universe, as they gain in scope, and in explanatory power, gain in complexity. But most people, when they find out that they were really really wrong, seem to update in the opposite direction. Oh, a loud-mouthed, lying, sexist, bad-hair, anti-intellectual, guy-with-horrible-opinions-about-everything just won the election? I guess that means half the country are virulent racists!

Comment author: Lumifer 27 February 2017 08:55:27PM 2 points [-]

When our predictions fail in a big way, this is usually evidence that our model needs to be updated in the direction of more complexity.

Well, no. When predictions fail in a big way, this is usually evidence that your model is wrong and needs to be discarded. Adding epicycles helps only if you already have the basic things right and failing in a big way shows that you do NOT have the basic things right.

Comment author: tristanm 27 February 2017 09:16:24PM 0 points [-]

Well what I meant by complexity was specifically not to add epicycles, or excuses or special cases to a model we really like, but rather, replacing the model with one that has more power and precision. Yes, sometimes that means we switch to a simpler theory - heliocentrism required fewer parameters than geocentrism to make it work initially - but in general the long term trend seems to be towards models with more parameters. That doesn't mean throw away Occam's razor - just that more accurate predictions usually require a model with more knobs and levers. And that may only be because we now need to model more interactions than were there originally. Maybe our system has become entangled with another system that it wasn't interacting with before.

Comment author: Lumifer 27 February 2017 09:23:35PM *  2 points [-]

If you previous model crashed and burned, you do not need another one with "more power and precision", you need one which works.

It's common to speak of two axis of development which are called something like evolutionary/revolutionary, continuous/discontinuous, horizontal/vertical, etc. One is incremental improvement, the other is a radical jump. "More power and precision" implies you want to take the incremental improvement route. I'm arguing for the radical jump.

Comment author: tristanm 27 February 2017 11:18:12PM 0 points [-]

You may not know a priori whether your theory needs a "radical jump" or an "incremental improvement." But it still seems to be the historical case that theories tend to gain in complexity over the long term. General Relativity is more complex than Newton's Laws is more complex than Heliocentrism or Geocentrism, and String Theory is more complex than all of those. Multiverse theories add a whole new layer of parameters.

If you have a model that has worked pretty well in one regime but that completely fails in a different regime, then you probably need a new theory that is both a "radical jump" from the previous theory, but that is also likely to be more complex. You are now adding more scenarios and regimes that require prediction under one model. This new model will typically have more parameters than the previous model. As long as you have been operating under Occam's Razor reasonably well since the beginning - then as you add more variables, or as support of the distribution of the variables increases, your model has to not only operate as well as it did before in the old regime but also work well in the new regime. Think about an exponential growth model - it works just fine in the beginning when your population is small, then fails dramatically in the regime when your population saturates. You update your model to a logistic growth function which captures both regimes better, but it adds a new parameter, namely, the carrying capacity.

I'm not saying this pattern follows in literally every conceivable situation in which a theory fails. Your model may just suck, or be overcomplicated from the start. But, if we have been fairly principled about how we design our models, and gradually expand them to explain more things, then this pattern should generally hold.

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 February 2017 08:29:24PM 0 points [-]

A lot of liberals, I think, were quite unsettled by the Trump phenomenon, and so part of that reaction was to turn to quasi-conspiracy type thinking, where you posit that there is this huge, but largely silent mass of people with a coherent right-wing, racist, nationalist ideology.

And it's quite ironic if that ideology is supposedly lead by a gay person who speaks about his Black boyfriends and who has a Jewish mother.

Comment author: gjm 28 February 2017 01:46:32PM 1 point [-]

if that ideology is supposedly led by [...]

Wait, who claims that Milo Yiannopoulos is The Leader Of The Alt-Right? He's a journalist and professional shit-stirrer who associates with the alt-right, that's all.

Comment author: username2 28 February 2017 09:46:13PM *  3 points [-]

In case anyone was curious, here is a collection of how different publishers have referred to Milo:

The following publications have literally said "leader":

You can even find the literal words "the leader of the alt-right" in that order:

I have not yet found it in titlecase ("The Leader Of The Alt-Right") in a mainstream publication.

Comment author: gjm 01 March 2017 02:28:13AM 1 point [-]

Interesting. Most of those (including some with the word "leader" in) seem perfectly consistent with what I said, and the only one calling Yiannopoulos the leader of anything is the last one which is an obvious joke from start to finish -- but I agree that several of them are at any rate claiming that Yiannopoulos is at least A Leader Of The Alt-Right, which is much more defensible but still rather silly.

Comment author: username2 01 March 2017 02:58:40AM 0 points [-]

To be explicit, my primary goal was to collect empirical data on how publications introduce Milo (as opposed to contradicting you).

Comment author: Lumifer 28 February 2017 03:47:31PM 0 points [-]

Milo is an agent provocateur, a professional troll, and, cough, a pain in the ass X-D

Comment author: Viliam 28 February 2017 11:31:12AM *  1 point [-]

And more importantly, he cannot stop talking all the time about how gay he is and that his boyfriends are black.

Because there are many e.g. gays who disagree with SJWs, but they can easily be reframed as e.g. "privileged white males". If you focus the attention to their aspects that fit the narrative, it is much easier to ignore those aspects that don't (i.e. "a gay disagrees with SJWs" is a paradox, but "a cis white male disagrees with SJWs" is a confirmation of the worldview, so the key is to make you only think about the latter). With Milo such strategy is impossible, because if you let him talk for 10 seconds, he will remind you that he is gay and that his boyfriends are black. That will be the first and the last thing he will say, and everyone in the audience will remember that. His frame is unshakeable. The only way to stop people associating him with gayness and black boyfriends is to completely prevent him from being seen and heard. Which is quite difficult considering he works for media.

Comment author: Brillyant 01 March 2017 07:00:40PM *  0 points [-]

At the same time there's a pretense in the media that Trump voters (who might be 100 as large in numbers) automatically belong to either of those categories.

This* seems obviously false. Do you have any evidence for this?

For instance, 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. From my background in that community and many discussions with current members, I can tell you there are many reasons they voted for Trump...almost none of them overlap with anything I know of the neoreactionary or alt-right movements.

Edit - * The idea there is a "pretense* in the media seems as false as the claim itself. Outlets I watch/read often note the Trump constituency is diverse.

Comment author: ChristianKl 01 March 2017 09:10:15PM *  0 points [-]

For instance, 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump. From my background in that community and many discussions with current members, I can tell you there are many reasons they voted for Trump...almost none of them overlap with anything I know of the neoreactionary or alt-right movements.

Given that you are not referencing any media article I don't see how "for instance" makes sense here.

But you are right that I have overstated the case, I likely have red too many articles about Milo.

Comment author: Brillyant 01 March 2017 09:25:54PM 0 points [-]

Given that you are not referencing any media article

It's Pew's data, if I recall. It was widely cited after the election.

This was just one instance of many I recall where non-alt-right/NRx types were found to vote for Trump in significant numbers.

Comment author: sone3d 08 March 2017 09:45:18PM 1 point [-]

Any way to find all Eliezer Yudkowsky posts which are not in Rationality: From AI to Zombies? is there a list out there?

Comment author: Elo 08 March 2017 11:38:59PM 0 points [-]

exclusively the ones that are not in the book? I am not aware of any lists, you can try the wiki and see if anything is there. this might help https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Less_Wrong/All_Articles

Comment author: MaryCh 05 March 2017 07:09:15PM 1 point [-]

Is there any platform where one can sell (or just offer up without fee) research ideas, framed as literature reviews + approximate Materials & Methods? For example, I have no chance to do research right now, but I have some crazy old drafts that I'd gladly share for free:)

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 March 2017 06:55:27AM 0 points [-]

I would expect that there isn't a market where people pay for this.

Students in need of research ideas are bachelor's and master's thesis are the major demographic that needs research ideas. I'm not sure whether professors usually have enough research ideas in your domain to hand out to their students.

Comment author: MaryCh 06 March 2017 08:15:03AM 0 points [-]

Oh, professors have lots. They seldom have the time to frame them, though.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 March 2017 09:08:33AM 1 point [-]

It might be possible to have a "thesis ideas" reddit channel.

Comment author: MaryCh 06 March 2017 10:47:15AM 0 points [-]

Oh! I don't use reddit, so I didn't think of it. Thank you.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 03 March 2017 06:38:15PM 1 point [-]

I've recently noticed that LW seems to have a general culture of being quite accepting of self-critique, even if the critique itself isn't that good.

I'm wondering if other people have noticed this and if this is what we'd want?

(we seem to be signal boosting critiques more than just normal good content)

Comment author: Dagon 05 March 2017 04:51:31AM 2 points [-]

Generally I think of self-critique as one of the best paths toward becoming stronger and more correct. If the critique itself isn't that good, then helping to refine it does actually help the seeker to make better use of the critique.

I certainly prefer self-critique over other-critique, and really do NOT want outgroup-critique to be part of our normal behaviors. I wouldn't want to give up more expository or theoretically exploratory posts, but I don't think they're exclusive.

With downvoting disabled, we have lost one channel to guide the mix of posts we accept, but it was always a relatively coarse tool. Just failing to upvote and not commenting on posts that don't interest you is likely almost as effective.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 05 March 2017 03:58:35PM 0 points [-]

Great; thanks for your thoughts on this.

When you put it explicitly, it does seem like having more channels to see where you're erring (which self-critique can do) can be helpful for improvement.

Comment author: Bound_up 27 February 2017 02:14:41PM 1 point [-]

The fine-tuning argument for God says that the universal constants have to be what they are to allow for order that permits life, so someone must have set them to allow for life.

A common rebuttal is to say that there might be a multiverse, each universe having different constants, so, inevitably, one would have the right ones for order, and thus, life.

A common rejoinder is that there is no evidence for such a multiverse.

A common return is that quantum mechanics, per the Many Worlds Interpretation, already suggests, and did so many years ago, that there is a multiverse of sorts.

Now, my question. Does the MWI actually posit universes with different constants, or just it posit universes all with the same constants, with the only differences being in whether subparticles zig or zag?

Comment author: Viliam 28 February 2017 11:08:28AM 1 point [-]

Tegmarks mathematical multiverse goes beyond quantum physics. It posits (infinitely) many universes with wildly different rules. Some of them have quantum physics, some of them have (something that on surface resembles) classical physics, some of them have a rectangular grid with simple rules, etc.

MWI is about one specific universe we live in, which seems to be governed by a specific set of rules, although there is a possibility that some "constants" in those rules are actually not as constant as they may seem locally. But still, it would be generally the same system of rules everywhere, only with locally different parameters.

Back to the fine-tuning argument, MWI is a response to "is it not a magical coincidence that Earth happens to have the right distance from the Sun?", the theories about locally different physical 'constants' are a response to "is it not a magical coincidence that the constants have the right value, so that e.g. matter can exist?", and the Tegmark multiverse is a response to "is it not a magical coincidence that the laws of physics are flexible enough to allow you all the previously mentioned excuses?".

Comment author: Bound_up 28 February 2017 01:21:35PM 0 points [-]

I've not heard of Tegmark before. It sounds like if it's true, then it's a great answer to the fine-tuning question. Is it all speculation, or is this a hypothesis with some evidence to it?

Comment author: Viliam 28 February 2017 03:49:15PM 0 points [-]

See Mathematical universe hypothesis on Wikipedia.

The multiple universes proposed by Tegmark are causally disconnected; nothing that happens in one of them can in principle influence what happens in the others. So we cannot do experiments with other universes. (This is different from quantum physics, where the parallel branches start connected, and for a short time we can interact with them.)

We could try to provide an indirect evidence. If we can make the theory more specific -- what exactly counts as a possible universe, and what measure do the universes have -- perhaps we could make statements in the form of "X % of universes have a property P", and then compare it with the properties of our universe. For example, if we could list 100 properties that universes have with probability 50%, and then find out that our universe has approximately half of them, that could be considered a statistical evidence. Assuming that our universe is a typical one; but statistically speaking, that is what we should assume. Problem is, some of these properties may interfere with a possibility of life, so maybe it should instead be "X % of universes containing life have a property P"... which is easy to say, but I have no idea how to do it (how do you, looking at mathematical equations describing a universe, determine the probability or measure of life in such universe).

Note that this is connected with problems such as "why does anything exist, instead of nothing" and "why these laws of physics, instead of different laws". Tegmark hypothesis provides a kind of explanation for both: our laws of physics are just the local rules of this universe, other universes have other rules; and there is nothing special about a universe existing, things that are in the same universe exist relatively to each other (and don't exist relatively to things in other universes).

In some sense, this has similar aesthetics as the Einstein's relativity -- which may sound like a stupid argument, except that some scientific discoveries were indeed made this way: by assuming that more symetric laws are somehow better than the less symetric ones, or that rules using only local information are somehow better than the ones assuming some global state. Or more simply, if we take the progress of science as "there is nothing special about Earth, there are many planets" and "there is nothing special about this random situation, there are many parallel quantum worlds", it feels like "there is nothing special about this universe existing, there are many alternative universes" continues the pattern.

Which doesn't mean that everything is (equally likely) possible, just like the theory of relativity doesn't mean that. I think that Tegmark hypothesis still assumes that more simple universes are in some sense more likely than the less simple ones (which explains why our universe is understandable, sometimes by relatively short equations, as opposed to having zillions of insanely complex rules), and a more serious theory built on this could possibly give us some specific numbers and equations. -- But again, the anthropic principle complicates this: maybe there are universes with laws of physics more simple than ours, but much less friendly to evolution of an intelligent life. This would be difficult to put into an equation.

Comment author: gjm 28 February 2017 01:36:43PM 0 points [-]

Speculation.

There are other kinds of multiverse theory that are less speculative. For instance, if "inflation" is right then it seems likely that it produces "eternal inflation", which yields infinitely many universes that might have different fundamental constants (though the same kind of fundamental laws).

(And of course either MWI or a spatially infinite universe will produce what might as well be a multiverse, if you don't need the fundamental constants of physics to be different between "universes".)

Comment author: MrMind 28 February 2017 08:53:56AM 1 point [-]

The problem is that "quantum mechanics" is not really a theory. It's a framework, or a language if you will. There's a classical quantum mechanics, there's a semi-classical quantum mechanics, there's quantum field theory, there are various unified field theories, and so on. All of them, although they are very different, can be called quantum mechanics and be the subject of different interpretations.
Classical quantum mechanics does not predict different cosmological constants. Semi-classical might, for example, for the value of the inflaton. Other theories might have different derivations altogether.

Comment author: Bound_up 28 February 2017 10:40:08AM 0 points [-]

But if there is some version with different constants, it's not MWI, or anything most people have heard of, is that right?

Meaning that this rebuttal to the fine-tuning argument is not a good one.

Comment author: MrMind 01 March 2017 08:07:06AM 0 points [-]

MWI is an interpretation of quantum mechanics, ergo is applicable to all of the theories mentioned before. You can have MWI in classical, semi-classical, etc.
Meaning that it is a rebuttal, although how much good depends on how much credit you give to a theory that predicts different cosmological constants.

Comment author: Bound_up 01 March 2017 01:11:28PM 0 points [-]

But MWI allows for different constants without predicting them, right? It would be a mistake to say that the case and evidence for MWI is evidence for a different-constants system, which itself has much less (almost no?) evidence for it, making this line of reasoning a very weak rebuttal?

Am I getting this right?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 28 February 2017 03:53:07AM *  1 point [-]

No, MWI does not have varying constants. Cosmological inflation seems to be about a changing cosmological constant. I think "eternal inflation" is an elaboration emphasizing more variation of the parameters.

Added: No, that's not quite right. Inflation is the pretty much empirical claim that the cosmological constant has changed. That strongly implies that other parameters can change. But do they change enough in interesting ways? Chaotic/eternal inflation is a dynamic theory about how the cosmological constant changes. It implies that the universe is very big, so the other parameters have room to run wild.

Comment author: Bound_up 28 February 2017 10:40:25AM 0 points [-]

So, this is a bad rebuttal to the fine-tuning argument, no?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 28 February 2017 03:54:48PM 0 points [-]

Equivocating between MWI and inflation, as in your dialogue, is bad.* But asking whether a specific argument is bad is usually a wrong question. I think your dialogue is a confused memory of a coherent argument. Inflation is pretty much accepted and that is definitely evidence for chaotic inflation, although perhaps quite weak evidence. And chaotic inflation is pretty much the right multiverse for the full argument.

* Maybe that is the fault of Tegmark, who calls MWI a multiverse, unlike most people; but, as Viliam notes, he does make some anthropic fine-tuning arguments via MWI and ordinary inflation.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 27 February 2017 08:05:30PM *  0 points [-]

There ought to be one fundamental set of rules. This fundamental set of rules may or may not shake out into different local sets of rules. Assuming that these local rulesets arise from aspects of quantum state, then MWI is capable of realizing an arbitrarily large number of them.

String Theory, for instance, has a mindbogglingly large number of wildly varying possible local rulesets - 'compactifications'. So, if String Theory is correct, then yes, this is taken care of unless the number of compactifications yielding rules even vaguely like ours is unexpectedly small.

Comment author: Bound_up 28 February 2017 11:00:26AM 0 points [-]

Okay, but the best theory, MWI, does not suggest different constants, and the theory that does is not particularly well thought of, am I understanding this right?

So, this is a bad rebuttal to the fine-tuning argument.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 06 March 2017 05:55:54PM 0 points [-]

MWI is orthogonal to the question of different fundamental constants. MWI is just wavefunction realism plus no collapse plus 'that's OK'.

So, any quantum-governed system that generates local constants will do under MWI. The leading example of this would be String Theory.

MWI is important here because if only one branch is real, then you need to be just as lucky anyway - it doesn't help unless the mechanism makes an unusually high density of livable rules. That would be convenient, but also very improbable.

Comment author: Bound_up 07 March 2017 10:26:45PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, Luke

Can you clarify? The first part sounds like MWI is irrelevant to the question of fine-tuning of universal constants. Are you saying that if only one Everett branch was real, then it would be unlikely to have things like a planet under the right circumstances for life, but that is accounted for by MWI, since it explores all the permutations of a universe with constants like ours?

If I'm getting this, then that means MWI accounts for things like "why is the earth in the right place" kinds of things, but not "why is the proton this particular mass" kinds of things

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 10 March 2017 07:50:04PM 0 points [-]

Well, if the laws of the universe were such that it were unlikely but not impossible for life to form, MWI would take care of the rest, yes.

BUT, if you combine MWI with something that sets the force laws and particle zoo of the later universe as an aspect of quantum state, then MWI helps a lot - instead of getting only one, it makes ALL† of those laws real.

† or in case of precise interference that completely forces certain sets of laws to have a perfectly zero component, nearly all. Or if half of them end up having a precisely zero component due to some symmetry, then, the other half of these rule-sets… etc. Considering the high-dimensional messiness of these proto-universe-theories, large swaths being nodal (having zero wavefunction) seems unlikely.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 27 February 2017 08:53:38AM *  1 point [-]

Why is the end of a PhD maintained as such a stressful and panic-filled process?

Comment author: moridinamael 27 February 2017 04:44:34PM *  2 points [-]

Aligned with what Dagon said, there is no particular incentive driving for it to be otherwise.

Somewhat more cynically, I have observed that it is very much to the professor's advantage to be able to credibly assert that you are "still N months away from graduating", where N is whatever number they feel like using in that moment to manipulate you to whatever ends they wish. Maybe they want to dissuade you from taking an internship. Maybe they want you to focus more on your research and less on your courses. Regardless, it seems the universal state is that the academic adviser will push back on your stated graduation date objectives, and since the entire system is designed around inhibiting any kind of firm commitment to a graduation plan, they can always win the argument.

For me, a lot of the panic came from the unreasonable number of documents that needed to be filed with certain gaps of time between them, such that you need to have document A signed and filed several months before being permitted to submit document B, and then document C could only be filed if document B was accepted, but it took an uncertain amount of time for that to happen, and meanwhile the deadline for graduation is approaching, etc.

Comment author: Dagon 27 February 2017 02:38:25PM *  0 points [-]

Answer 1: Moloch likes it this way - no participant thinks it's the best plan, but everyone is afraid that making it easier and more certain will reduce their power.

Answer 2: It's a powerful signal and in order to remain so it must be costly. If it weren't so difficult and uncertain (leading to stress and panic), it wouldn't signal as well.

Comment author: ingive 04 March 2017 10:40:39PM *  0 points [-]

This is a stupid question, but if someone gives the probability of 20% that B will win, and 80% that A will win, why do they say 'polls were wrong' 'predictions were wrong' if it turns out that B won?

Would an accurate prediction be "100% that B will win"? If they say 99% they are losers either way. I really do not understand. Maybe I have a tumor and it's impacting my cognition, haha.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 March 2017 11:15:40PM 1 point [-]

if someone gives the probability of 20% that B will win, and 80% that A will win, why do they say 'polls were wrong' 'predictions were wrong' if it turns out that B won?

If that's a single someone, saying "he was wrong" is not quite correct.

However if a hundred someones gave these probabilities, it would be reasonable to say "forecasts were wrong" (note the plural).

Comment author: ingive 05 March 2017 02:49:56PM 0 points [-]

Yes, you are right on the point. I wanted to ask:

"If many forecasts say the probability is 80% that A will win, 20% that B will win, why do they say the forecasts were wrong if B wins?"

Wrong implies bivalence, binary thinking, duality: it implies right. A probability cannot be binary, it's infinite. My brain has a hard time understanding why it's reasonable... Kind of Orwellian.

So to my point. Forecasts were only wrong if they say A will win, but B wins. Is this not correct? Stating 80% in hindsight is equal to stating 0%, and even before that it's 0% or 100% or it's void, nothing, of no substance...

Comment author: Lumifer 06 March 2017 01:18:14AM 0 points [-]

Well, think about it this way.

You have a certain stable process that generates forecasts. You generate a forecast: 80% for A, 20% for B. B happens. You generate another forecast: 80% for C, 20% for D. D happens. You generate another forecast...

If events that you forecast at 20% keep happening and events you forecast at 80% keep not happening, how many forecasts do you need to recognize that your forecast-generating process is wrong?

Comment author: PECOS-9 05 March 2017 06:06:06AM 0 points [-]

That would not be reasonable if we were talking about something like a prediction of whether a 5-sided die would come up with the number 1. Why are polls any different?

Comment author: Lumifer 06 March 2017 01:24:28AM 0 points [-]

Because the polls are supposed to be different and all forecasts about a 5-sided die are the same.

Imagine yourself collecting forecasts and updating on them. With the die, many forecasts will not change your expected probabilities because these forecasts are basically all the same. When you hear another one, the amount of information you have doesn't change. That is not (supposed to be) the case with polls.

If one forecast says 80% vs 20% and another, different forecast using, say, a different methodology or different sources, also says 80% vs 20%, your expected probabilities should be >80% vs <20%, how much more and less depends on how much do you believe the forecasts are correlated.

If you hear many different forecasts saying 80:20, you expectation should not be 80:20.

Comment author: PECOS-9 06 March 2017 02:30:37AM 0 points [-]

I still don't see the difference.

Are you saying that if many forecasters predict that something has an 80% probability of happening and they all use different methodologies, I should expect it to happen with greater than 80% probability? Why?

Comment author: Lumifer 06 March 2017 02:38:04AM 0 points [-]

Use the simple Bayesian updating on the evidence. A new, different forecast is a new piece of evidence.

Comment author: Dagon 06 March 2017 02:46:55PM 0 points [-]

If they were independent, then it would be trivial to update on each of them and arrive at a meta-forecast much greater than 80%. But they're really not. Many of them are based on the same polls, news, and historical behaviors. They may have different models, but they're very much not independent forecasts.

Comment author: Lumifer 06 March 2017 03:29:24PM 0 points [-]

If they were independent ... But they're really not.

I agree. That's why calculating the "combined" forecast is hard -- you need to estimate the degree of co-dependency. But as long as the forecasts are not exactly the same, each new one gets you a (metaphorical) bit of information and your posterior probability should creep up from 80%.

Comment author: PECOS-9 06 March 2017 02:45:40AM 0 points [-]

But why is it a piece of evidence pointing to greater than 80% instead of 80%?

Comment author: Lumifer 06 March 2017 06:41:35AM 0 points [-]

Basically it depends on the source of uncertainty. If all the uncertainty is in the random variable being modeled (as it is in the die example), adding more forecasts (or models) changes nothing -- you still have the same uncertainty. However if part of the uncertainty is in the model itself -- there is some model error -- then you can reduce this model error by combining different (ideally, independent) models.

Imaging a forecast which says: I think A will win, but I'm uncertain so I will say 80% to A and 20% to B. And there is another, different forecast which says the same thing. If you combine the two, your probability of A should be higher than 80%.

Comment author: Viliam 03 March 2017 05:05:39PM 0 points [-]

A new post in the ancient Welcome Thread. Linking here for higher visibility.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 05:11:07PM 0 points [-]

There is a newer copy in a less ancient Welcome Thread already.

Comment author: ChristianKl 03 March 2017 11:12:45AM 0 points [-]

Some alternative medicine like Mercola source recommend colloidal silver as an antibiotic.

I asked for evidence on Skeptics.SE and it seems nobody run the studies to see whether it's effective as an antibiotic.

Given that we seem to be short on antibiotics for some antibiotic resistant strains, is there a good reason besides the fact that you can't patent the drug that we didn't run the trials to find out whether it works?

Comment author: Brillyant 01 March 2017 07:11:01PM 0 points [-]

Could a mega celeb win the U.S. Presidency?

Say, Beyonce in 2024?

I'm thinking someone with a huge active social media following, universal name recognition, attractive and charismatic, significant financial resources, history of political activism, strategic demographic appeal, progressive politics as a backlash to whatever Trump gets done over the next 8 years...

Is the probability non-negligible? More so now that Trump won, right?

Comment author: tristanm 02 March 2017 09:06:18PM 1 point [-]

Elon Musk? He's definitely a celebrity in some sense, if not an entertainer, and he at least carries the full list of adjectives you laid out.

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 10:18:40PM 0 points [-]

Sure. (Though he isn't U.S. born) Or Bill Gates.

(But) I'm most interested in considering the probability of people whose primary draw as a candidate is fame they gained through something like the entertainment industry, for example. Because the skill set necessary to succeed seems to have little to do with being an effective POTUS.

Trump is still a "business man", so Lumifer is right that it's reasonable to assume he's at least a competent manager. The same could be said of Musk or Gates.

Comment author: tristanm 03 March 2017 06:04:47PM 0 points [-]

Ashton Kutcher might be a better possibility - investor, venture capitalist, manager of a human rights organization. Highly well known (but only because of acting), and would almost certainly be a foil to Trump in many ways.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 06:38:23PM *  1 point [-]

Ashton Kutcher

<grin>

So, lessee, a pretty face who dropped out of college, was Demi Moore's boy-toy for a while, is rich (apparently it's now spelled as "investor"), a student of Kabbalah, has a Russian (for certain values of "Russian") wife. Clearly, prime presidential material.

Oh, and he is not a "manager" of a human-rights organization. He is on their board of directors which translates to "gives money to" and was a co-founder during his boy-toy phase.

Comment author: tristanm 03 March 2017 06:53:22PM 1 point [-]

has a Russian (for certain values of "Russian") wife.

Clearly we could never have a president with even the slightest hint of Russian connections. No sir.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 08:53:02PM 1 point [-]

Well, that's what the left-wing media keeps telling me nowadays... :-P

Comment author: Brillyant 03 March 2017 06:49:14PM *  0 points [-]

I agree Ashton Kutcher doesn't pass my initial presidential smell test. But I'm not sure Trump did either, especially as a GOP candidate...

Thrice married. Foreign born trophy wife. Only recently pro life. Just fine with gay marriage. Not terribly fiscally conservative. Prone to vulgarity. Bromantic af with Putin. Proud adulterer & pussy grabber. Orange.

GOP: We'll take it!

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 08:26:18PM *  0 points [-]

GOP: We'll take it!

Actually, I think it was more like this:

No. No! No!!! Nooooooo!!!!! OK, whatever... Wait, what?

Comment author: tristanm 03 March 2017 07:25:08PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, definitely the "pretty boy" thing is the biggest problem for Kutcher - even if it turns out he's a better businessman than Trump. There's something about that kind of personality where I think most people would have a hard time taking him seriously.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 09:19:44PM 0 points [-]

Don't think he was born in the US.

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 09:45:33PM 1 point [-]

Neither was Obama.

Comment author: MrMind 03 March 2017 08:46:27AM 1 point [-]

As far as I can tell from the evidence gathered online, he was. Do you have access to other evidence strongly pointing to the contrary?

Comment author: Brillyant 03 March 2017 02:28:16PM 1 point [-]

I was joking.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 03 March 2017 02:38:06PM 1 point [-]

Poe's law, dude!

Comment author: Lumifer 01 March 2017 09:16:59PM 1 point [-]

Kanye West would be MUCH more entertaining in this scenario X-D

Comment author: Brillyant 01 March 2017 09:32:59PM 0 points [-]

I don't think he has the broad popularity to win.

Maybe Ellen Degeneres?

Comment author: Lumifer 01 March 2017 09:38:38PM 1 point [-]

We're not talking about realistic scenarios.

But is your list of candidates filtered by (not white) OR (not straight)? X-)

Comment deleted 01 March 2017 10:11:56PM [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 01 March 2017 10:19:09PM *  1 point [-]

I am talking about realistic scenarios.

LOL

Do you think Trump possesses a specialized 'Politics Skill' that Ellen or Beyonce don't? If so, what is it?

Sure. It's called "Competent Manager".

Charismatic candidate with deep pockets and a large, engaged social media following?

KIM KARDASHIAN FOR PRESIDENT!!!

Alternatively, I would be willing to support Johnny Depp provided he promises to stay in the character of Captain Jack Sparrow for the entire four years.

P.S. On a bit more serious note, media told you Trump is a narcissistic airhead. He went on to win the election. You drew the conclusion that any narcissistic airhead can become POTUS. That was the wrong conclusion to draw. The right conclusion is that the media lied to you.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 02 March 2017 08:16:55PM 2 points [-]

P.S. On a bit more serious note, media told you Trump is a narcissistic airhead. He went on to win the election. You drew the conclusion that any narcissistic airhead can become POTUS. That was the wrong conclusion to draw. The right conclusion is that the media lied to you.

...or that certain narcissistic airheads could become POTUS but not necessarily all of them?

Comment author: MrMind 03 March 2017 09:00:45AM 1 point [-]

The right conclusion is that the media lied to you.

Meh, that depends. One can access many unfiltered Trump's media: his Twitter account, for example; his live speeches, and so on.
On one hand, media lie (or more charitably, distort) all the time, but unless one is placing his faith on one and only one channel, by weighted averaging different media sources and accessing unfiltered streams, one can arrive to a pretty accurate assessment.
My main point is that we are far from helpless in forming a correct opinion about the world that we live in.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 03:38:51PM 1 point [-]

My main point is that we are far from helpless in forming a correct opinion about the world that we live in.

True, but that requires effort. Moreover, if the "correct opinion" does not match the prevailing mores of your social circle, you will have... problems.

We are not helpless, but most people don't bother.

Comment author: Sly 04 March 2017 09:54:52PM 0 points [-]

Trump is pretty clearly narcissistic. People just don't actually care as long as said person is wearing their tribal colors.

What the media was wrong about is how much people cared.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 March 2017 11:18:06PM 1 point [-]

Trump is pretty clearly narcissistic.

Depends on your baseline: compared to normal people, yes, but compared to politicians/celebrities I'm not sure. He's just... more blunt about it :-D

Comment author: Brillyant 01 March 2017 10:55:39PM *  0 points [-]

LOL

Like at the correspondents dinner where Obama, et al mocked Trump's chops for/chances of being president?

Or all through out the 18 months leading up to last Nov?

How'd that work out for the LOLers?

Competent Manager

Hm. What sort of skills do you think this involves? Confidence? The ability to motivate & communicate ideas clearly?

KIM KARDASHIAN FOR PRESIDENT!!!

I don't think this is as likely as somebody like Beyonce, Ellen, Justin Timberlake—someone who has displayed intelligence and charisma.

It's about the a) simplicity of voting, b1) the power of name recognition and b2) social media, c) the two party system that ensures a relatively close contest, and d) tribalism that kills minds and makes Evangelicals vote for a guy who brags about grabbing women by their genitals at 81%

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 March 2017 12:04:38PM 2 points [-]

Hm. What sort of skills do you think this involves? Confidence? The ability to motivate & communicate ideas clearly?

Delegating complex tasks to other people and see that they get done..

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 03:03:29AM 2 points [-]

How'd that work out for the LOLers?

You are making an error in equating all lollerskates.

But in the spirit of fair warning I will disclose upfront that I'm not taking this subthread seriously and that I'm going to snort and giggle, make indecent gestures and bad jokes (example: do you know what the mascot of the Democrats is? It's an ass! That would be so appropriate for Bey's presidential bid!)

What sort of skills do you think this involves?

Do you know any competent managers? What kind of skills do they have?

Beyonce, Ellen, Justin Timberlake—someone who has displayed intelligence and charisma.

Ahem. You know they all min-maxed for charisma and treated int as the dump stat, right?

It's about the a) .. b) .. c) .. d)

Well, you've figured out the US elections. Do you think you have a bright future as a political consultant? If not, why not?

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 02:26:40PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for the fair warning.

The question is more about celebrity and social media having the ability to get people elected regardless of that person's actual credentials to be the CEO of America.

You seem to be getting hung up on the particular names of the celebrities I am mentioning. Why?

Ronald Reagan was a shitty actor before his gov't career; Arnold Schwarzenegger was the same; Jesse Ventura was a wrestler/actor.

Trump seems to me to be more a result of the phenomenon whereby a celebrity uses their profile and name recognition as the overwhelming means for getting elected *, rather than displaying any "managerial competencies".

In the last two decades, the internet + millennials, yada, yada. Therefore, I'm asking about how much this phenomenon may have been accelerated...to the point where a pure mega celeb could win a November popularity/beauty contest in which there is no requisite IQ/current events awareness test given at the polls.

Again, we just elected Trump in the U.S. when such a thing had been considered virtually impossible according to most credible experts.

You're saying Trump's win was possible where other celebs' wins are not because manager skills.

And also because he wears suits, I presume?

Edit - * Along with a two party system that makes a roughly even split of the vote likely.

Comment author: ChristianKl 03 March 2017 11:35:27AM 1 point [-]

Trump seems to me to be more a result of the phenomenon whereby a celebrity uses their profile and name recognition as the overwhelming means for getting elected *, rather than displaying any "managerial competencies".

"Managerial competencies" aren't visible on TV but they affect a lot of decisions that have to be made while running a campaign. Decisions that can be good or bad and given that the margin by which he won wasn't that big making slightly worse decisions might have cost him the election.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 02 March 2017 08:23:26PM 1 point [-]

such a thing had been considered virtually impossible according to most credible experts.

Some credible experts had given him about 1% chance of winning, but IIRC most of them gave him chances of the order of 20%, which hardly counts as "virtually impossible" IMO.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 03:54:24PM *  1 point [-]

The question is more about celebrity and social media having the ability to get people elected regardless of that person's actual credentials to be the CEO of America.

First point: a president is not a CEO. The distinction matters.

Second point: the electorate does not care about "actual credentials" and has not been caring for many decades by now. I'm not sure what credentials would those be, anyway.

Third point: social media has NOT demonstrated its ability to elect a president. Trump was not elected on the strength of his social media game.

Ronald Reagan was a shitty actor before his gov't career; Arnold Schwarzenegger was the same; Jesse Ventura was a wrestler/actor.

So draw the conclusion: your success as an actor/celebrity/etc. is not really relevant to your chances at getting elected to a political office. Being a celebrity is useful, but it's about as useful as, say, being tall.

whereby a celebrity uses their profile and name recognition as the overwhelming means for getting elected

Citation needed. I do not think this is the case with Trump.

a thing had been considered virtually impossible according to most credible experts

So draw the conclusion: these were not experts and their words are not credible.

And also because he wears suits, I presume?

Nah. Hillary was famous for her pantsuits. Didn't help :-P

Comment deleted 03 March 2017 07:34:42AM [-]
Comment deleted 03 March 2017 08:51:39AM [-]
Comment author: ChristianKl 02 March 2017 12:20:03PM 0 points [-]

Do you think Trump possesses a specialized 'Politics Skill' that Ellen or Beyonce don't? If so, what is it?

Trump dominated the news cycle by doing things that are newsworthy. As a result he got a lot of attention. I don't think Ellen Degeneres would do that the same way.

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 02:49:06PM *  0 points [-]

Can you explain, in your view, what Trump did to get a lot of attention that another huge celebrity could not do?

From my view, he seemed to get lots of headlines just for being a celebrity and running for POTUS simultaneously.

Not unlike OJ made headlines for being a celeb and being on trial for murder at the same time.

Comment author: MrMind 03 March 2017 08:53:49AM 1 point [-]

From my view, he seemed to get lots of headlines just for being a celebrity and running for POTUS simultaneously.

It cannot be just that: Trump has run for presidency other times, but it didn't get the same coverage. This time something else has changed, whether in him or in his sourroundings.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 04 March 2017 05:57:18PM 0 points [-]

Trump only ran once before, in 2000, and then only for the nomination in a third party. He also speculated about running as a Republican in 2012, but I don't think he gave any speeches. He did get some coverage.

Comment author: Brillyant 03 March 2017 03:12:20PM 0 points [-]

Agreed.

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 March 2017 03:20:54PM *  0 points [-]

He made headlines by saying outrageous things. Then he stranded his ground.

Comment author: Brillyant 02 March 2017 03:54:01PM 0 points [-]

What would keep other celebs from doing that?

Comment deleted 03 March 2017 09:14:59AM [-]
Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 03 March 2017 01:24:22AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Brillyant 03 March 2017 03:21:34PM 1 point [-]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Katy Perry, Rosie O'Donnell and Beyonce are on the list and seem to fit the criteria I'm curious about.

Acting skill seems as if it would be very helpful in a political campaign. And just general confidence in a public forum.

You don't need to actually know anything; you just need to convince people you know things.

Trump's last speech has been mostly praised as one of his most presidential. This is, in large part, because he read what other people wrote for him in a president-sounding voice and didn't deviate much from the script and ad lib like he normally does.

I would think Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep or DiCaprio could be pretty damned captivating from the podium or even in debates with a bit of a crash course in current affairs.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 March 2017 05:18:30PM *  2 points [-]

And just general confidence in a public forum.

Media celebrities are used to adoration. I wonder about their resilience -- how would they handle deliberate, sustained, and direct hostility in a public forum.

You don't need to actually know anything; you just need to convince people you know things.

I suspect this is not as easy as it looks, especially when you need to remain convincing over many months in the face of opposition.

In general, there is an important requirement for presidential candidates: they must be able to survive a team of smart, persistent, and malicious lawyers digging through their past and their private life for any dirt. I suspect the process is highly unpleasant for the target and I suspect many celebrities will... have difficulties here.

Comment author: MrMind 02 March 2017 08:29:26AM 0 points [-]

Could a mega celeb win the U.S. Presidency?

Of course. Celebrity and POTUS-y go hand in hand since the beginning of time. Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Trump...

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 03:37:52PM 0 points [-]

Schwarzenegger was merely a governator. Since he was born outside of the US he is not eligible to run for President.

Comment author: MrMind 03 March 2017 08:49:20AM 2 points [-]

I know, but he was at the time at the peak of his popularity, and I give a low-to-moderate probability that in a counterfactual world where this was not an impediment, he could have won the Presidential election.

Comment author: moridinamael 02 March 2017 03:38:43PM 0 points [-]

Yet. Growth mindset.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 March 2017 04:13:49PM 0 points [-]

Since he was born outside of the US he is not eligible to run for President.

Yet. Growth mindset.

Right. He should make the acausal trade with John Connor so that after a few time loop iterations he gets born (or recreated out of molten metal or something) on the good ol' soil of the good ol' US of A.

Comment author: Bound_up 27 February 2017 02:11:37PM 0 points [-]

I'm looking for a link I saw on SSC once, with some poetry written by a woman who took drugs every day for a year or so. Any ideas?

Comment author: arundelo 27 February 2017 03:37:13PM *  2 points [-]

This was probably Aella, who took LSD every week for ten months.

I'm not finding the poetry on a quick scan of aellagirl.com but it rings a bell with me too. It might also be on aellagirl.tumblr.com (which, be warned, has a fair amount of NSFW images).

Comment author: Thomas 27 February 2017 07:37:12AM 0 points [-]

No new problem this week.

But has anybody even tried to solve the last week's problem?

Comment author: cousin_it 27 February 2017 08:56:08AM *  2 points [-]

Maybe it was too hard.

Here's another problem that might be easier. Make an O(n log n) sorting algorithm that's simple, stable, and in place. Today you can only get two out of three (merge sort isn't in place, heap sort isn't stable, and block sort isn't simple).

Comment author: cousin_it 05 March 2017 11:33:50AM *  1 point [-]

I've read some papers (Trabb Pardo, Huang-Langston 1, Huang-Langston 2, Munro-Raman-Salowe, Katajainen-Pasanen 1, Katajainen-Pasanen 2) and there seems to be a "wall" at sqrt(n) extra space. If we have that much space, we can write a reasonable-looking mergesort or quicksort that's stable, in place and O(n log n). But if we have strictly O(1) space, the algorithms become much more complicated, using a sqrt(n) buffer inside the array to encode information about the rest. Breaking through that wall would be very interesting to me.

Comment author: gjm 02 March 2017 02:49:28PM 1 point [-]

This claims to be a stable in-place sort and doesn't seem outrageously complicated. I haven't verified that it is stable, in-place, or in fact a sort at all.

Comment author: cousin_it 02 March 2017 02:56:36PM *  2 points [-]

It's O(n log^2 n) because it merges subarrays using something like STL's inplace_merge which is O(n log n). Devising an O(n) in-place merge, and thus an O(n log n) merge sort, is much harder. GrailSort and WikiSort have working implementations, both are over 500 lines.

Comment author: gjm 02 March 2017 07:39:01PM 0 points [-]

Ah, good catch.

Comment deleted 02 March 2017 01:14:53PM *  [-]
Comment author: Thomas 27 February 2017 09:17:39AM 1 point [-]

This is an EXCELLENT problem. The industry needs this kind of algorithm very much. Three quarters of the industry is too stupid to use it, but one quarter would be delighted.

Unfortunately, the most probable solution of this problem is the proof that this kind of sorting algorithm doesn't exist.

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 February 2017 09:32:21AM 0 points [-]

What does "simple" mean here?

Comment author: cousin_it 27 February 2017 09:58:55AM *  0 points [-]

Just use any definition that feels reasonable to you. If you have two solutions that are simple under different definitions, I want to see both!

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 February 2017 12:08:42PM 1 point [-]

I'm not seeing how it's an issue if an algorithm isn't simple, so I'm interested in why you consider a certain simplicity to be desireable.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 27 February 2017 08:09:52PM 1 point [-]

I haven't been following these threads, so I didn't even realize they were weekly. I'll take a look.

Comment author: Thomas 28 February 2017 06:24:25AM 0 points [-]

Be brave and good luck!