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In response to Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: 9eB1 01 October 2017 08:04:25PM 8 points [-]

I love that the attempt is being made and I hope it works. The main feedback that I have is that the styling of the comment section doesn't work for me. One of the advantages of the existing LessWrong comment section is that the information hierarchy is super clear. The comments are bordered and backgrounded so when you decide to skip a comment your eye can very easily scan down to the next one. At the new site all the comments are relatively undifferentiated so it's much harder to skim them. I also think that the styling of the blockquotes in the new comments needs work. Currently there is not nearly enough difference between blockquoted text and comment text. It needs more spacing and more indenture, and preferably a typographical difference as well.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 04:11:51AM 1 point [-]

With respect to TV Tropes, I'd note that while it is nominally organized according to those indexes, the typical usage pattern is as a sort of pure garden path in my experience.

I have encountered a truly shocking degree of variation in how people use TVTropes, to the extent that I've witnessed several people talking to each other about this were each in utter disbelief (to the point of anger) that the other person's usage pattern is a real thing.

Generalizations about TVTropes usage patterns are extremely fraught.

Comment author: 9eB1 17 September 2017 02:47:31PM 0 points [-]

Sure.

Since then I've thought of a couple more sites that are neither hierarchical nor tag-based. Facebook and eHow style sites.

There is another pattern that is neither hierarchical, tag-based nor search-based, which is the "invitation-only" pattern of a site like pastebin. You can only find content by referral.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 12:19:42AM 3 points [-]

… [we] still feel that we want a way to archive content on the site into more hierarchical or tag-based structures. I am very open to suggestions of existing websites that do this well…

This is a slightly odd comment, if only because "hierarchical or tag-based structures" describes almost all extant websites that aggregate / archive / collect content in any way! You would, I think, be somewhat hard-pressed to find a site that does not use either a hierarchical or a tag-based structure (or, indeed, both!).

But here are some concrete examples of sites that both do this well, and where it plays a critical role:

  • Wikipedia. MediaWiki Categories incorporate both tag-based and hierarchical elements (subcategories).
  • Other Wikis. TVTropes, which uses a modified version of the PmWiki engine, is organized primarily by placing all pages into one or more indexes, along many (often orthogonal) categories. The standard version of PmWiki offers several forms of hierarchical (groups, SiteMapper) and tag-based (Categories, pagelists in general) structures and navigation schemes.
  • Blogs, such as Wordpress. Tags are a useful way to find all posts on a subject.
  • Tumblr. I have much beef with Tumblr, but tags are a sensible feature.
  • Pinboard. Tags, including the ability to list intersections of tag-based bookmark sets, is key to Pinboard's functionality.
  • Forums, such as ENWorld. The organization is hierarchical (forum groups contain forums contain subforums contain threads contain posts) and tag-based (threads are prefixed with a topic tag). You can search by hierarchical location or by tag(s) or by text or by any combination of those.
Comment author: 9eB1 17 September 2017 03:13:06AM 0 points [-]

That is very interesting. An exception might be "Google search pages." Not only is there no hierarchical structure, there is also no explicit tag structure and the main user engagement model is search-only. Internet Archive is similar but with their own stored content.

With respect to TV Tropes, I'd note that while it is nominally organized according to those indexes, the typical usage pattern is as a sort of pure garden path in my experience.

In response to Priors Are Useless
Comment author: 9eB1 21 June 2017 02:17:15PM 6 points [-]

Now analyze this in a decision theoretic context where you want to use these probabilities to maximize utility and where gathering information has a utility cost.

In response to Change
Comment author: 9eB1 07 May 2017 07:14:59AM 2 points [-]

This was incomprehensible to me.

Comment author: Lumifer 03 April 2017 05:04:30PM 4 points [-]

Tyler Cowen and Ezra Klein discuss things. Notably:

Ezra Klein: The rationality community.

Tyler Cowen: Well, tell me a little more what you mean. You mean Eliezer Yudkowsky?

Ezra Klein: Yeah, I mean Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex. Julia Galef, Robin Hanson. Sometimes Bryan Caplan is grouped in here. The community of people who are frontloading ideas like signaling, cognitive biases, etc.

Tyler Cowen: Well, I enjoy all those sources, and I read them. That’s obviously a kind of endorsement. But I would approve of them much more if they called themselves the irrationality community. Because it is just another kind of religion. A different set of ethoses. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the notion that this is, like, the true, objective vantage point I find highly objectionable. And that pops up in some of those people more than others. But I think it needs to be realized it’s an extremely culturally specific way of viewing the world, and that’s one of the main things travel can teach you.

Comment author: 9eB1 04 April 2017 10:15:50PM 0 points [-]

Bryan Caplan responded to this exchange here

Comment author: Lumifer 03 April 2017 05:04:30PM 4 points [-]

Tyler Cowen and Ezra Klein discuss things. Notably:

Ezra Klein: The rationality community.

Tyler Cowen: Well, tell me a little more what you mean. You mean Eliezer Yudkowsky?

Ezra Klein: Yeah, I mean Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex. Julia Galef, Robin Hanson. Sometimes Bryan Caplan is grouped in here. The community of people who are frontloading ideas like signaling, cognitive biases, etc.

Tyler Cowen: Well, I enjoy all those sources, and I read them. That’s obviously a kind of endorsement. But I would approve of them much more if they called themselves the irrationality community. Because it is just another kind of religion. A different set of ethoses. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the notion that this is, like, the true, objective vantage point I find highly objectionable. And that pops up in some of those people more than others. But I think it needs to be realized it’s an extremely culturally specific way of viewing the world, and that’s one of the main things travel can teach you.

Comment author: 9eB1 04 April 2017 04:06:36PM *  5 points [-]

I think no one would argue that the rationality community is at all divorced from the culture that surrounds it. People talk about culture constantly, and are looking for ways to change the culture to better address shared goals. It's sort of silly to say that that means it should be called the "irrationality community." Tyler Cowen is implicitly putting himself at the vantage point of a more objective observer with the criticism, which I find ironic.

Where Tyler is wrong is that it's not JUST another kind of culture. It's a culture with a particular set of shared assumptions, and it's nihilistic to imply that all cultures are equal no matter from what shared assumptions they issue forth. Cultures are not interchangeable. Tyler would also have to admit (and I'm guessing he likely would admit if pressed directly) that his culture of mainstream academic thought is "just another kind of religion" to exactly the same extent that rationality is, it's just less self-aware about that fact.

As an aside, I think Lumifer is a funny name. I always associate it with Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast, and with Lucifer. Basically I always picture your posts as coming from a cross between a cartoon candle and Satan.

Comment author: bogus 29 March 2017 06:17:28PM 1 point [-]

It's pretty much set by the time you are an adult, and we know of nothing besides iodine deficiency that has a meaningful impact on it in the context of a baseline person in modern society.

This is not really true, AFAICT. There are so many health conditions that result in recognizable cognitive impairment that I see no reason to assume that the "baseline person in modern society" is effectively maximizing her realized IQ. Even something as common as major depressive disorder can impact cognition in ways that will make people measurably less effective at work. And let's not forget more permanent things like eating too many lead flakes as a kid, which can still have an impact on the "baseline person" long after lead paint has fallen out of use.

Comment author: 9eB1 29 March 2017 07:42:26PM 0 points [-]

You are correct, there are things that can negatively impact someone's IQ. With respect to maximizing, I think the fact that people have been trying for decades to find something that reliably increases IQ, and everything leads to a dead-end means that we are pretty close to what's achievable without revolutionary new technology. Maybe you aren't at 100% of what's achievable, but you're probably at 95% (and of course percentages don't really have any meaning here because there is no metric which grounds IQ in absolute terms).

Comment author: ragintumbleweed 29 March 2017 05:21:56PM *  0 points [-]

First of all, thank you, 9eB1. This is exactly the kind of a charitable, informed, and thoughtful response I was hoping for. I appreciate your feedback. Also, you clearly know more about psychometrics than I do, so I will tread carefully in response.

The tallest player to ever play in the NBA was Gheorghe Mureșan, who was 7'7". He was not very good. Manute Bol was >almost as tall and he was good but not great. By contrast, the best basketball player of all time was 6'6" [citation needed]. In >fact, perhaps an athletic quotient would be better for predicting top-end performance than height, since Jordon, Lebron and >Kareem are all way more athletic than Muresan and Bol.

Not sure this is true. The average great athlete is probably around average height. And there are only a few of those in the NBA.

That said, NBA teams are pretty savvy about breaking down the specific characteristics that lead to NBA success. Not just height, but speed, quickness, vertical leap, ability to jump up and down multiple times, wingspan, shooting ability at different distances. There is plenty of specificity in NBA talent analysis. Height matters, but other factors matter, too. And those factors can and have been quantified.

Cardio ability and muscular strength are at odds, so that would be at least two plausible stable factors. This argument is on >Wikipedia here. Personally, in light of the dramatic differences there are between the different parts of an IQ test battery, I >find this fact surprising and underappreciated. Most people do not realize this, and the folk wisdom is that there are very >clear different types of intelligence.

Based on my quick research, I'm not sure that it is true that cardio and muscular strength are at odds.

I agree that IQ is plenty interesting by itself. My goal with this article was to explore the boundaries of that usefulness and explore the ways in which the correlations break down. And your feedback helps me a get a better sense of where those areas are.

To be honest, I very much doubt that actual IQ researchers would disagree with your second thesis. My argument would be >that for most fields there is enough randomness that you would not expect the most intelligent person to also be the most >lauded. Even Einstein had to have the luck to have the insights he did, and there were undoubtedly many people who were >just as smart but had different circumstances that led to them not having those insights.

I agree that luck plays a huge role in Einstein being Einstein. But I also think that to achieve the top levels of success at any specific endeavor, other factors besides IQ matter a lot, too. Hard work, intransigence, contrarianism -- these personality characteristics were probably determinative in him becoming who he was.

Comment author: 9eB1 29 March 2017 07:23:15PM *  0 points [-]

I agree that IQ is plenty interesting by itself. My goal with this article was to explore the boundaries of that usefulness and explore the ways in which the correlations break down.

The Big 5 personality traits have a correlation with some measures of success which is independent of IQ. For example, in this paper:

Consistent with the zero-order correlations, Conscientiousness was a significant positive predictor of GPA, even controlling for gender and SAT scores, and this finding replicated across all three samples. Thus, personality, in particular the Conscientiousness dimension, and SAT scores have independent effects on both high school and college grades. Indeed, in several cases, Conscientiousness was a slightly stronger predictor of GPA than were SAT scores.

Notably, the Openness factor is the factor that has the strongest correlation with IQ. I'm guessing Gwern has more stuff like this on his website, but if someone makes the claim that IQ is the only thing that matters to success in any given field, they are selling bridges.

Comment author: 9eB1 29 March 2017 01:39:23AM *  4 points [-]

The tallest player to ever play in the NBA was Gheorghe Mureșan, who was 7'7". He was not very good. Manute Bol was almost as tall and he was good but not great. By contrast, the best basketball player of all time was 6'6" [citation needed]. In fact, perhaps an athletic quotient would be better for predicting top-end performance than height, since Jordon, Lebron and Kareem are all way more athletic than Muresan and Bol.

I will attempt to explain the strongest counterargument that I'm aware of regarding your first thesis. When you take a bunch of tests of mental ability and you create a correlation matrix, you obtain a positive manifold, where all the correlations are positive. When you perform a factor analysis of these subtests, you obtain a first factor that is very large, and secondary through n-iary factors that are small and vary depending on the number of factors you use. This is suggestive that there is some sort of single causal force that is responsible for the majority of test performance variation. If you performed a factor analysis of a bunch of plausible measures of athleticism, I think you would find that, for example, bench press and height do not participate in a positive manifold and you would likely find multiple relevant, stable factors rather than 1 athletic quotient that accounts for >50% of the variation. Cardio ability and muscular strength are at odds, so that would be at least two plausible stable factors. This argument is on Wikipedia here. Personally, in light of the dramatic differences there are between the different parts of an IQ test battery, I find this fact surprising and underappreciated. Most people do not realize this, and the folk wisdom is that there are very clear different types of intelligence.

The second point I would make regarding your first thesis is that there are plenty of researchers who don't like g, and they have spent decades trying to come up with alternative breakdowns of intelligence into different categorizations that don't include a single factor. Those efforts were mostly fruitless, because every time they were tested, it turned out that all the tests individually correlated with g still. Many plausible combinations of "intelligences" received this treatment. Currently popular models do have subtypes of intelligence, but they are all viewed sharing g as an important top-level factor (e.g. CHC theory) rather than g simply being a happenstance correlation of multiple factors. In this case absence of evidence is evidence of absence (in light of the effort that has gone into trying to uncover such evidence).

To be honest, I very much doubt that actual IQ researchers would disagree with your second thesis. My argument would be that for most fields there is enough randomness that you would not expect the most intelligent person to also be the most lauded. Even Einstein had to have the luck to have the insights he did, and there were undoubtedly many people who were just as smart but had different circumstances that led to them not having those insights. Additionally, there is a thing called Spearman's law of diminishing returns, which is the theory that the higher your g is, the less correlated your subtype intelligences are with your g factor. That is, for people who have very high IQs, there is a ton more variation between your different aspects of intelligence than there is for people with very low IQs. This has been measured and is apparently true, and would seem to support your thesis. It is true that these two observations (the factor decomposition and Spearman's law) seem to be in tension, but hopefully one day someone will come through with an explanation for intelligence that neatly explains both of these things and lots more besides.

Unrelated to your two theses, I think the fact that IQ correlates with SO MANY things makes it interesting alone. IQ correlates with school performance, job performance, criminality, health, longevity, pure reaction speed, brain size, income, and almost everything else (it seems like) that people bother to try correlating it with. If IQ hadn't originally come from psychometric tests, people would probably simply call it your "favor with the gods factor" or something.

There are enough correlations that any time I read a social sciences paper with statistics on outcomes between people with different characteristics, I always wish they would have controlled for IQ (but they never do). This may seem silly, but I think there is definitely an argument that can be made that IQ is "prior to" most of the things people study. We already know that IQ can't be meaningfully changed. It's pretty much set by the time you are an adult, and we know of nothing besides iodine deficiency that has a meaningful impact on it in the context of a baseline person in modern society.

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