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Comment author: cousin_it 17 January 2018 01:19:15PM *  2 points [-]

It seems like the trichotomy is complete: wanting/liking/approving is valuing something before/while/after it happens.

Comment author: DrEinstein10 27 February 2018 07:03:50PM 1 point [-]

Thanks Elo. I already have a database full of topics and a list of related books for each topic, but they are not rated yet. I'm now looking at University websites trying to find what textbooks they use to add that information into the database, but it is open for everyone to rate and add comments to help others find the best books for each topic.

Comment author: Elo 27 February 2018 09:11:48AM 1 point [-]

Yes. Maybe look on good reads for suggestions too. And university course book suggestions

Comment author: DrEinstein10 27 February 2018 08:03:53AM 1 point [-]

Hi, I am currently building a website to find recommended textbooks for specific topics, because I personally wanted this tool and I thought it might help other students like me, and I just randomly found this webpage a few days ago. I was wondering if I could use some of the comments here for my website, I just want to share your recommendations with more people and I will obviously add links back to this webpage and include the acknowledgements . Would that be ok with you?

By the way, the website is:

I just started this project a few weeks ago, so if you have any ideas to make it better I'm open to suggestions.


Comment author: Vika_Korotayeva 23 February 2018 11:29:15PM 1 point [-]

As a person who is constantly seen as sick or rude for asking people what they mean, am glad to finally see someone who understands that a person's words can be more ambiguos to others than that person thinks. And, to the "Don't be too quick to blame someone for misinterpreting you." thing, I can add: "Don't be too quick to blame someone for asking questions."...

Comment author: Dacyn 15 February 2018 12:34:54AM *  1 point [-]

I don't know much about Clifford algebras. But do you really need them here? I thought the standard formulation of abstract quantum mechanics was that every system is described by a Hilbert space, the state of a system is described by a unit vector, and evolution of the system is given by unitary transformations. The Born probabilities are concerned with the question: if the state of the universe is the sum of where are orthogonal unit vectors representing macroscopically distinct outcome states, then what is the subjective probability of making observations compatible with the state ? The only reasonable answer to this is , because it is the only function of that's guaranteed to sum to based on the setup. (I don't mean this as an absolute statement; you can construct counterexamples but they are not natural.) By the way, for those who don't know already, the reason that is guaranteed to sum to is that since the state vector is a unit vector,

Of course, most of the time when people worry about the Born probabilities they are worried about philosophical issues rather than justifying the naturalness of the squared modulus measure.

Comment author: jrincayc 12 February 2018 03:31:33AM 1 point [-]

I have used Lulu to print the book, instructions are at: Or you could print it somewhere else that allows you to print a 650 page 8.5 by 11 inch book. (If you try it with a different place, let me know) I have read through the entire printed version and fixed all the formatting issues that I found in the beta7 release in the new beta8 release.

Comment author: BentleyDavis 10 February 2018 11:18:12PM 1 point [-]

Hello everyone, I hope you don't mind me joining in on this 8 year old post. I've been working on ideas like this since 2012 and just found this. My current experiment is Reason Score where I am working on a way to measure the reasonableness of a claim based on the pro and con claims added to it. This will hopefully reduce cognitive biases by forcing people to add reasons to affect the score instead of votes. In the least it will encourage people to think through their claims.

It's not documented well so it might be best if someone has some time to debate me on a topic and see if it provides benefit. Any takers?

In response to Be secretly wrong
Comment author: Sengachi 03 February 2018 08:07:46AM 1 point [-]

"Not if they change their minds when confronted with the evidence."

"Would you do that?"


This is where I think the chain of logic makes a misstep. It is assumed that you will be able to distinguish evidence which should change your mind from evidence that is not sufficient to change your mind. But doing so is not trivial. Especially in complicated fields, simply being able to understand new evidence enough to update on it is a task that can require significant education.

I would not encourage a layperson to have an opinion on the quantization of gravity, regardless of how willing they might be to update based on new evidence, because they're not going to be able to understand new evidence. And that's assuming they can even understand the issue well enough to have a coherent opinion at all. I do work pretty adjacent to the field of quantized gravity and I barely understand the issue well enough to grasp the different positions. I wouldn't trust myself to meaningfully update based on new papers (beyond how the authors of the papers tell me to update), let alone a layperson.

The capacity to change a wrong belief is more than just the will to do so. And in cases where one cannot reliably interpret data well enough to reject wrong beliefs, it is incredibly important to not hold beliefs. Instead cultivate good criteria for trusting relevant authority figures or, lacking trusted authority figures, simply acknowledge your ignorance and that any decision you make will be rooted in loose guesswork.

Comment author: cousin_it 27 January 2018 09:36:08AM *  1 point [-]

What a beautiful comment!

Every once in a while I wonder if something like Eliezer's Lawful Creativity is true - that creativity can be reduced to following rules. And then I come across something like your comment, where a non-obvious "jump" leads to a clearly true conclusion. For humans trying to create new stuff, practicing such "jumps" is at least as important as learning the rules.

Comment author: pjeby 22 January 2018 09:46:37PM 1 point [-]

I think that using the word "valuing" adds back in confusion that this trichotomy is trying to remove. Wanting is the axis of urgency to act or not act, liking is the axis of feeling enjoyment or suffering, and approving is the axis of feeling morally elevated or disgusted. These are independent axes that can exist simultaneously regardless of time, and which are only made more vague by lumping them together as "valuing".

(Notably, one's experience can be placed simultaneously on all three axes: it is not necessary for these experiences to be separated in time. You can approve or disapprove beforehand and during, not just after. You can want while doing, as well as beforehand.)

In response to comment by rkyeun on Reductionism
Comment author: entirelyuseless 06 January 2018 01:26:22AM 1 point [-]

Nope. There is no composition fallacy where there is no composition. I am replying to your position, not to mine.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 December 2017 03:35:23PM 1 point [-]

So, some years later, and I'm surprised I was upset. I consider this to be progress.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 17 December 2017 04:28:54PM *  1 point [-]

Yep, nice list. One I didn't see: Defining a word in a way that is less useful (that conveys less information) and rejecting a definition that is more useful (that conveys more information). Always choose the definition that conveys more information; eliminate words that convey zero information. It's common for people to define words that convey zero information. But if everything has the Buddha nature, nothing empirical can be said about what it means and it conveys no information.

Along similar lines, always define words so that no other word conveys too much mutual information about them. For instance, many people have argued with me that I should use the word "totalitarian" to mean "the fascist nations of the 20th century". Well, we already have a word for that, which is "fascist", so to define "totalitarian" as a synonym makes it a useless word.

The word "fascist" raises the question of when to use extensional vs. intensional definitions. It's conventionally defined extensionally, to mean the Axis powers in World War 2. This is not a useful definition, as we already have a label for that. Worse, people define it extensionally but pretend they've defined it intensionally. They call people today "fascist", conveying connotations in a way that can't be easily disputed, because there is no intensional definition to evaluate the claim.

Sometimes you want to switch back and forth between extensional and intensional definitions. In art history, we have a term for each period or "movement", like "neo-classical" and "Romantic". The exemplars of the category are defined both intensionally and extensionally, as those artworks having certain properties and produced in certain geographic locations during a certain time period. It is appropriate to use the intensional definition alone if describing a contemporary work of art (you can call it "Romantic" if it looks Romantic), but inappropriate to use examples that fit the intension but not the extension as exemplars, or to deduce things about the category from them. This keeps the categories stable.

A little ways back I talked about defining the phrase "Buddha nature". Phrases also have definitions--words are not atoms of meaning. Analyzing a phrase as if our theories of grammar worked, ignoring knowledge about idioms, is an error rationalists sometimes commit.

Pretending words don't have connotations is another error rationalists commit regularly--often in sneaky ways, deliberately using the connotations, while pretending they're being objective. Marxist literary criticism, for instance, loads a lot into the word "bourgeois".

Another category missing here is gostoks and doshes. This is when a word's connotations and tribal affiliation-signalling displace its semantic content entirely, and no one notices it has no meaning. Extremely common in Marxism and in "theory"; "capitalism" and "bourgeois" being the most-common examples. "Bourgeoisie" originally meant people like Rockefeller and the Borges, but as soon as artists began using the word, they used it to mean "people who don't like my scribbles," and now it has no meaning at all, but demonic connotations. "Capitalism" has no meaning that can single out post-feudal societies in the way Marxists pretend it does; any definition of it that I've seen includes things that Marxists don't want it to, like the Soviet Union, absolute monarchies, or even hunter-gatherer tribes. It should be called simply "free markets", which is what they really object to and much more accurate at identifying the economic systems that they oppose, but they don't want to admit that the essence of their ideology is opposition to freedom.

Avoid words with connotations that you haven't justified. Don't say "cheap" if you mean "inexpensive" or "shoddy". Especially avoid words which have a synonym with the opposite connotation: "frugal" and "miserly". Be aware of your etymological payloads: "awesome" and "awful" (full of awe), "incredible" (not credible), "wonderful" (thought-provoking).

Another category is when 2 subcultures have different sets of definitions for the same words, and don't realize it. For instance, in the humanities, "rational" literally means ratio-based reasoning, which rejects the use of real numbers, continuous equations, empirical measurements, or continuous changes over time. This is the basis of the Romantic/Modernist hatred of "science" (by which they mean Aristotelian rationality), and of many post-modern arguments that rationality doesn't work. Many people in the humanities are genuinely unaware that science is different than it was 2400 years ago, and most were 100% ignorant of science until perhaps the mid-20th century. A "classical education" excludes all empiricism.

Another problem is meaning drift. When you use writings from different centuries, you need to be aware of how the meanings of words and phrases have changed over time. For instance, the official academic line nowadays is that alchemy and astrology are legitimate sciences; this is justified in part by using the word "science" as if it meant the same as the Latin "scientia".

A problem in translation is decollapsing definitions. Medieval Latin conflated some important concepts because their neo-Platonist metaphysics said that all good things sort of went together. So for instance they had a single word, "pulchrum", which meant "beautiful", "sexy", "appropriate to its purpose", "good", and "noble". Translators will translate that into English based on the context, but that's not conveying the original mindset. This comes up most frequently when ancient writers made puns, like Plato's puns in the Crito, or "Jesus'" (Greek) puns in the opening chapters of John, which are destroyed in translation, leaving the reader with a false impression of the speaker's intent.

I disagree that saying "X is Y by definition" Is usually wrong, but I should probably leave my comment on that post instead of here.

In response to Neural Categories
Comment author: morimacil 08 March 2018 06:43:39AM *  0 points [-]

"And lo, Network 1 exhibits this behavior even though there's no explicit node that says whether the object is a blegg or not. The judgment is implicit in the whole network!! Bleggness is an attractor!! which arises as the result of emergent behavior!! from the distributed!! learning rule."

The judgement is implicit on the network, which has a certain number of nodes, denoting certain characteristics.

This is EXACTLY the same principle as looking things up in a dictionary. You look up the definition (the characteristics that are taken into account for forming that group), and then once you have the defining criteria, it is an emergent property.

Bleggness is not an inherent quality of the object itself. Bleggness is an inherent quality of the characteristics that were pre-defined into the network.

Just like the network on the right: The characteristics of a human are predefined, entered into the network, and then the network calculates whether you are a human or not, in accordance with the given definition.

Comment author: Elo 27 February 2018 07:30:50PM 0 points [-]

Better ranked universities tend to use the best books. But you might have to gather a few "opinions" before you agree with that.

Comment author: sara-34 23 February 2018 05:32:10AM 0 points [-]

How so? Would internalizing and understanding the color of the sky prevent him from exploring?

I would argue that the color of the sky does matter because all of the other reactions described are realistic reactions, and the shape of their society will be altered by this new information. It's possible that any other discovery he makes on the surface will never actually come to be appreciated or used by the rest of humanity as they fight while he's in the wilderness if he doesn't take into consideration what will happen when others see the sky..

Comment author: sara-34 23 February 2018 05:17:55AM 0 points [-]

Ferris definitely had the most pro-science reaction. I worry about drawing conclusions about the "best" approach out of these archetypes. Ferris is the one that doesn't think for a moment about the societal impact his discovery will have. That's OK, but it's not necessarily a good guiding principle for behavior. Everyone depicted had realistic reactions that would be viewed as better or worse by different groups.

I'm not saying that you're wrong - at all. My very first reaction was that Ferris is "right." But I think which one we think of as "right" says a lot about our existing values.

Comment author: Lorien 21 February 2018 09:40:08PM 0 points [-]

To some extent, those are also signs of someone low on the social hierarchy (or someone who feels low on the social hierarchy), and a punitive culture that punishes individuals for brainstorming or otherwise being visibly wrong.

In response to Value Deathism
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 February 2018 04:17:53PM 0 points [-]

"But of course the claims are separate, and shouldn't influence each other."

No, they are not separate, and they should influence each other.

Suppose your terminal value is squaring the circle using Euclidean geometry. When you find out that this is impossible, you should stop trying. You should go and do something else. You should even stop wanting to square the circle with Euclidean geometry.

What is possible, directly influences what you ought to do, and what you ought to desire.

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