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Comment author: Thomas 20 December 2016 11:49:27AM *  1 point [-]

This is my stupid question:


Do not hesitate to patronize me, or whatever does it take, I'd really like to have an answer.

Comment author: Alejandro1 28 December 2016 05:07:37PM 2 points [-]

The question is analogous to the Grim Reaper Paradox, described by Chalmers here:

A slightly better example of prima facie without ideal positive conceivability may be the Grim Reaper paradox (Benardete 1964; Hawthorne 2000). There are countably many grim reapers, one for every positive integer. Grim reaper 1 is disposed to kill you with a scythe at 1pm, if and only if you are still alive then (otherwise his scythe remains immobile throughout), taking 30 minutes about it. Grim reaper 2 is disposed to kill you with a scythe at 12:30 pm, if and only if you are still alive then, taking 15 minutes about it. Grim reaper 3 is disposed to kill you with a scythe at 12:15 pm, and so on. You are still alive just before 12pm, you can only die through the motion of a grim reaper's scythe, and once dead you stay dead. On the face of it, this situation seems conceivable — each reaper seems conceivable individually and intrinsically, and it seems reasonable to combine distinct individuals with distinct intrinsic properties into one situation. But a little reflection reveals that the situation as described is contradictory. I cannot survive to any moment past 12pm (a grim reaper would get me first), but I cannot be killed (for grim reaper n to kill me, I must have survived grim reaper n+1, which is impossible). So the description D of the situation is prima facie positively conceivable but not ideally positively conceivable.

Comment author: Brillyant 26 September 2016 07:34:39PM -1 points [-]

'Tis a shame that an event like tonight's debate won't, and ostensibly never would have, received any direct coverage/discussion on LW, or any other rationality sites of which I am aware.

I know (I know, I know...) politics is the mind killer, but tonight—and the U.S. POTUS election writ large—is shaping up to be a very consequential world event, and LW is busy discussing base rates at the vet and LPTs for getting fit given limited square footage.

Comment author: Alejandro1 26 September 2016 09:37:33PM 5 points [-]

Lately it seems that at least 50% of the Slate Star Codex open threads are filled by Trump/Clinton discussions, so I'm willing to bet that the debate will be covered there as well.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Open thread, Nov. 02 - Nov. 08, 2015
Comment author: James_Miller 03 November 2015 02:25:22AM 1 point [-]

Reminds me of a joke where a kid in great pain is asked by a doctor to rate how much it hurts on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the most pain he can imagine, and the kid says "1."

Comment author: Alejandro1 03 November 2015 03:02:05AM 4 points [-]
Comment author: gjm 07 July 2015 11:38:39PM 1 point [-]

I completely agree: the fact that something isn't simple and one-dimensional and perfectly unambiguous doesn't make it completely unreal or completely useless. So, for the avoidance of doubt, if anyone says "intelligence is multidimensional and hard to measure and culturally loaded; therefore there is no such thing as intelligence" and means the Stupidest Possible Thing by that last bit rather than something subtler, then I think they're wrong.

Incidentally, so far I think everything I have posted in this discussion has been downvoted exactly twice. I guess one is Eugine/Azathoth/VoiceOfRa; would anyone like to lay claim to the second lot? I'm curious in particular, about whether there's any information in the downvotes beyond what I already have from Zoltan's disagreement with me plus the fact that, duh, I'm posting non-neoreactionary opinions in a discussion of race and intelligence, so of course VoiceOfRa is going to downvote me. So: if you're reading this and downvoted me for a reason other than seeing me as a sociopolitical enemy, you can probably improve the effectiveness of your downvote by telling me why you gave it. Thank you.

Comment author: Alejandro1 08 July 2015 02:41:56PM 0 points [-]

I guess one is Eugine/Azathoth/VoiceOfRa

I had suddenly the same suspicion about VoR today, in a spontaneous way; has there been previous discussion of this conjecture that I missed?

Comment author: ZoltanBerrigomo 06 July 2015 09:26:05PM *  2 points [-]

A. I think at least some people do mean that concepts of intelligence and race are, in some sense, inherently meaningless.

When people say

"race does not exist because it is a social construct"

or that race does not exist because

"amount of variation within races is much larger than the amount of variation between races,"

I think it is being overly charitable to read that as saying

"race is not a scientifically precise concept that denotes intrinsic, context-independent characteristics."

B. Along the same lines, I believe I am justified in taking people at their word. If people want to say "race is not a scientifically precise concept" then they should just say that. They should not say that race does not exist, and if they do say the latter, I think that opens them up to justifiable criticism.

Comment author: Alejandro1 07 July 2015 09:11:13AM 1 point [-]

It is true that normally, taking people at their word is charitable. But if someone says that a concept is meaningless (when discussing it in a theoretical fashion), and then proceeds to use informally in ordinary conversation (as I conjectured that most people do with race and intelligence) then we cannot take them literally at their word. I think that something like my interpretation is the most charitable in this case.

Comment author: ZoltanBerrigomo 06 July 2015 06:31:11PM *  7 points [-]

I was not trying to suggest that intelligence and strength are as alike as race and strength. Rather, I was motivated by the observation that there are a number of arguments floating around to the effect that,

A. Race doesn't exist

B. Intelligence doesn't exist.

and, actually, to a lesser extent,

C. Rationality doesn't exist (as a coherent notion).

The arguments for A,B,C are often dubious and tend to overlap heavily; I wanted to write something which would show how flawed those arguments are through a reductio ad absurdum.

To put it another way, even if strength (or intelligence or race) really was an incoherent notion, none of the arguments 1-7 in my post establish that it is so. It isn't that that these arguments are wholly wrong -- in fact, there is a measure of truth to each of them -- but that they don't suffice to establish the conclusion.

Comment author: Alejandro1 06 July 2015 09:12:33PM 1 point [-]

When people say things like "intelligence doesn't exist" or "race doesn't exist", charitably, they don't mean that the folk concepts of "intelligence" or "race" are utterly meaningless. I'd bet they still use the words, or synonyms for it, in informal contexts, analogously to how we use informally "strength". (E.g. "He's very smart"; "They are an interrracial couple"; "She's stronger than she looks"). What they object to is to treating them as a scientifically precise concepts that denote intrinsic, context-independent characteristics. I agree with gjm that your parody arguments against "strength" seem at least superficially plausible if read in the same way than the opponents of "race" and "intelligence" intend theirs.

Comment author: Alejandro1 14 March 2015 06:23:44PM 9 points [-]
Comment author: Astazha 05 March 2015 03:10:33AM 1 point [-]

So, I don't know how these stable time loops are supposed to work. My working model is that they function by trial and error, that time iterates through a universe until it encounters paradox, at which point it returns to pre-paradox, inserts some change into the world through prophecy or whatever, and tries again. This continues until a stable timeline is found, with an unknown number of them being discarded/destroyed. It appears from within that things worked on the first pass, but they did not. Our viewpoint never follows into one of those dead ends, but they exist(ed).

If the world really works that way, Harry would be potentially throwing his victory away by forcing a paradox. Time would have to reset to before the paradox and insert a change into the world to ensure a different outcome. He may or not be victorious in that new timeline. Harry dying was already a high probability and it would certainly resolve things to Time's satisfaction. His best chance of securing his immediate past as part of the real and continuing world would be to make sure this timeline remains self-consistent.

(Plus, he's prophesied to destroy the stars and creating a time-paradox seems like a really obvious possible way to do that.)

The only other possibility I can think of for these apparently stable timelines is that the whole universe is pre-determined and no one has any free will at all. I read something from EY about universes with time travel and he seemed to be in support of this second possibility. Any other possibilities for how this would work?

Comment author: Alejandro1 05 March 2015 04:45:32PM 3 points [-]

I think that the trial and error model is implausible; in which "time" are these trials and iterations occurring? The global determination of the whole universe seems much simpler.

I don't think it necessarily conflicts with free will, when free will is understood in a compatibilist way (which is how EY and most LWers understand it). If we agree that one can have free will in a completely deterministic universe with ordinary past-to-future causal chains, then why can't one have it in a universe where some of the chains run future-to-past?

Comment author: Error 16 January 2015 02:19:49AM *  3 points [-]

Thanks. Having the title was enough to find the post. I turned out to be looking in the wrong place. The comment was on SSC, not LW -- which I find amusing given that you were the one to respond.

The book is irritatingly expensive. I might read The Moral Animal instead. Both seem to be widely recommended around here. Searching on the former consistently turns up the latter as well, often in the same breath.

Motivation: I noticed that I can't distinguish between just-so stories and genuine evopsych insights. I think seeing a known example of it being done right might help fix that.

Comment author: Alejandro1 02 March 2015 12:07:24AM 0 points [-]

He actually said it beforehand in LW as well. Link.

Comment author: bramflakes 23 February 2015 09:36:18PM 1 point [-]

Wait a minute, aren't all human CEVs supposed to converge to roughly the same thing? (tell me if I've catastrophically misunderstood or misremembered the concept, it's been a while since I read the sequences)

Comment author: Alejandro1 23 February 2015 09:50:57PM 3 points [-]

In all details, certainly not; Dumbledore's CEV might well include reuniting with his family, which won't be a part of others' CEV.

In broad things like ethics and politics, it is hoped that different people's CEVs aren't too far apart (thanks to human values originating in our distant evolutionary history, which is shared by all present-day humans) but there is no proof, and many would dispute it. At least that is my understanding.

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