Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: Coscott 13 March 2015 03:17:28PM *  22 points [-]

The cover is incorrect :(

EDIT: If you do not understand this post, read essay 268 from the book!

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 13 March 2015 09:20:03PM 11 points [-]

The code of the shepherds is terrible and stern. One sheep, one pebble, hang the consequences. They have been known to commit fifteen, and twenty-one, and even even, rather than break it.

Comment author: Gondolinian 20 January 2015 06:53:27PM *  0 points [-]

Sure, but the point is that the same argument applies to the flipside: everyone could've written essays like "X is fun" or "Y is fun" [...] But they chose "hard" instead. Why?

There were sixteen other students in the class. For all we know, theses about fun things could have been in the majority.

without contradiction.

If you accept what I wrote in the GP, where do you see a contradiction in the four statements? And if you don't, could you try to articulate why?

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 20 January 2015 09:36:09PM 0 points [-]

There were sixteen other students in the class. For all we know, theses about fun things could have been in the majority.

Yeah, maybe.

If you accept what I wrote in the GP, where do you see a contradiction in the four statements? And if you don't, could you try to articulate why?

No, no I don't think you had a contradiction either. I was just saying that you could do the same thing with "fun." And maybe other kids did, as you say.

Comment author: Gondolinian 19 January 2015 01:24:17AM *  10 points [-]

One kid, who had a younger sibling, picked the thesis statement: "Being an older sibling is hard." Another kid did "Being the youngest child is hard." Yet another did "Being the middle child is hard", and someone else did "Being an only child is hard." I find this as a rather humorous example of how people often make it look like they're being oppressed.

Taken at face value, the four statements aren't incompatible. Saying that being X is hard in an absolute sense isn't the same as saying that being X is harder than being Y in a relative sense, or that X people are being oppressed.

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 20 January 2015 06:16:58PM *  1 point [-]

Sure, but the point is that the same argument applies to the flipside: everyone could've written essays like "X is fun" or "Y is fun" without contradiction. But they chose "hard" instead. Why?

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 05 January 2015 02:00:47AM *  5 points [-]

I want to climb a mountain, not so I can get to the top, but because I want to hang out at base camp. That seems fun as shit. You sleep in a colorful tent, grow a beard, drink hot chocolate, walk around... ‘Hey, you going to the top?’ . . . ‘Soon.’

  • Mitch Hedberg on fun theory and the complexity of human values.
Comment author: James_Miller 01 January 2015 03:18:26AM *  1 point [-]

How many more times must this happen? How many more brilliant people must we lose because they missed a social meeting? Are we done yet?

Rachel Haywire, Twitter concerning shirtgate.

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 01 January 2015 03:06:28PM *  0 points [-]

One of the replies there is,

@RachelHaywire diverse sci/astro ppl I follow, male+female believe far more women driven from phys sci by harassment than men by geekshaming.

Reminds me of Twain's comparison of the two Reigns of Terror.

Edit: Not to mention that we didn't lose Matt Taylor. He still has the same job as a scientist with the ESA.

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 01 January 2015 02:30:26PM *  25 points [-]

An escalator can never break -- it can only become stairs. You should never see an "Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order" sign, just "Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. We apologize for the fact that you can still get up there."

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 01 January 2015 02:28:18PM 11 points [-]

Some people seem terribly smug about being right about one thing. It makes me wonder if this is, in fact, the only thing they’ve ever gotten right in their whole lives.

Ozymandias

Comment author: mindspillage 20 December 2014 08:53:35AM 4 points [-]

I wouldn't make a restricted donation to a charity unless there was a cause I really cared about but I didn't think the charity behind it was well-run and I didn't know a better way of helping that cause.

I do not consider money to keep a good charity running as "wasted"--if anything I am deeply dubious of any charity which claims to have minimal to no administration costs, because it's either untrue (the resources to manage it effectively must come from somewhere, maybe from the founders' own personal resources) or a likely sign of bad management (they think that skimping on the funds needed to manage it effectively in the name of maximizing the basket of "program expenses" is a good organizational strategy). An organization that I think is well-run wants to spend on its cause as much as possible, but is mindful of needing to spend on itself also. If it cannot spend on itself--to hire good staff, to have good training, to use resources that cost money and save time, to plan its strategy and maintain regulatory compliance, to do whatever else an efficient organization needs to do--how can it possibly have the capacity to spend well on its programs? The money to sustain that charity is providing for its cause to be effectively addressed now and into the future.

"Unrestricted" says that you believe GiveWell is competent to make these allocations correctly between itself and its recommended charities. For GiveWell in particular, if you do not believe they can do this, why do you think they can evaluate other charities' effectiveness? Presumably you want to give to the other charities because GiveWell has told you they are worth it, because you think GiveWell is competent at assessing organizational effectiveness. (For other charities, I would have lower expectations for assessment ability--but still I expect that I want to give to one in particular because it is effective at spending for its cause. There are few causes where you do not have much choice of how to direct your money to affect it. An effective one will be competent at running itself--not perfect surely, but competent enough that I don't think I will do a better job at allocating its funds than it will by giving a restricted donation.)

Also, many people's gut feelings direct them to give restricted donations to avoid "wasting" their money; it's a feel-good option but one that does not help the charity stay around in the long term. People who are more considered should compensate for that by allowing the charity to use their funds unrestricted. I have no idea if GiveWell gets grants or not, but grant support from foundations is often restricted as well; it's much harder to get grants for general operating support. But I won't start that rant here.

(For background, I've been heavily involved in nonprofits for the past 10 years, as volunteer, staff, and board.)

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 20 December 2014 03:12:41PM *  2 points [-]

For GiveWell in particular, if you do not believe they can do this, why do you think they can evaluate other charities' effectiveness?

Yeah, I think that's right. I'm the same as people who don't want to give to charities who have too much "overhead," leading to perverse incentives, as you say. GiveWell itself can be looked at as overhead for the charities it recommends, even though technically it's a different organization. As such they deserve to be supported too.

Will click "Unrestricted" in the future.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 December 2014 08:48:39PM *  1 point [-]

the distinction between mechanical and thermal energy is in the mind

The high-school definition of temperature as "a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles" (see the grandparent comment) actually erases that distinction as it defines temperature through kinetic (mechanical) energy.

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 17 December 2014 09:28:06PM 1 point [-]

I didn't read your comment carefully enough. Yes, we agree.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 December 2014 08:48:39PM *  1 point [-]

the distinction between mechanical and thermal energy is in the mind

The high-school definition of temperature as "a measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles" (see the grandparent comment) actually erases that distinction as it defines temperature through kinetic (mechanical) energy.

Comment author: B_For_Bandana 17 December 2014 09:09:28PM *  0 points [-]

Right, but we don't think of a tennis ball falling in a vacuum as gaining thermal energy or rising in temperature. It is "only" gaining mechanical kinetic energy; a high school student would say that "this is not a thermal energy problem," even though the ball does have an average kinetic energy (kinetic energy, divided by 1 ball). But if temperature of something that we do think of as hot is just average kinetic energy, then there is a sense in which the entire universe is "not a thermal energy problem."

View more: Next