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

[Link] Game Theory & The Golden Rule (From Reddit)

14 Brillyant 28 July 2017 01:54PM
Comment author: Elo 29 June 2017 05:09:56AM 1 point [-]

I gained an understanding of how to interpret zen koans. It's kinda fun and yields a very calm state of mind when playing with them in your head.

It might be useful but I didn't really go seeking this, I mostly stumbled across it.

Comment author: Brillyant 30 June 2017 04:55:16PM 0 points [-]

Okay. How do you do it?

Comment author: Viliam 16 May 2017 11:20:21AM 2 points [-]

the Calories In / Calories Out model of weight loss is correct

My opinion is that it is a "motte-and-bailey" type of a model. Technically correct, but skips some of the important parts.

Things you can control directly:

  • amount and type of food you put in your mouth
  • type and amount of exercise you choose to do
  • whether you really start doing the exercise each day, and keep doing it as long as possible

Things you cannot control directly:

  • what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Things this model doesn't even mention:

  • there are other important things about the food, not just calories

As a consequense, these things happen in real life that the model does not predict:

If you are lucky, you can actually put a lot of calories in your mouth without getting fat as a result, even if you are not exercising hard. Not sure what exactly happens, my uneducated guess is that the metabolism only takes as much calories as needed, as the rest goes to shit. (So yes, technically it is "calories out", but it is not what people proposing this model typically mean, and you have no direct control over this, i.e. you can't simply decide to lose weight by going to the bathroom more often.)

If you are unlucky, the "calories in" get converted into something that is somehow not easily accessible as an energy source. (Either because your metabolism is fucked up generally, or because your body is low on some important component, such as iron.) You know you should burn some calories, but at the same time you are weak as a fly, so you really can't. (Not because "math doesn't work", but because the linear model ignores some parts of the reality.) But you mentioned this in the "random thoughts" part.

...however, assuming that the metabolism is working more or less correctly, the model is useful.

My recommendation would be:
Step 1 -- get checked by a doctor, whether you are low on something; start taking supplements;
Step 2 -- start exercising regularly, without worrying about the "calories in" yet, just to build the momentum;
Step 3 -- get more strategic about the food you eat.

The reason I put "step 2" before "step 3" is because studing calories can take unlimited amounts of time, and can be used as a convenient excuse to procrastinate on exercising. I would also say that "add a lot of unprocessed vegetables in your food" is a good first approximation for healthy diet.

Other random thoughts:

  • don't focus too much on "weight" -- it correlates with the right thing, but is not exactly the right thing; converting 5 kg of fat into 5 kg of muscles increases your health and attractivity even if the resulting weight is the same, on the other hand dehydrating yourself decreases your weight but hurts your health;
  • shaming people for their metabolism (or just not having time to exercise because they e.g. have to work 2 jobs to survive) is bad; but enforcing a norm of tabooing information about healthy lifestyle is in my eyes even worse... essentially, because people doing the former are at least usually recognized as assholes, while people doing the latter can pretend noble intentions while in fact they contribute to avoidable premature deaths;
  • I believe that "eating a lot of unprocessed vegetables" is the essence of healthy diet, and the rest is mostly role-playing (i.e. you can eat "Mediterranean diet" and imagine being an exotic Italian, or eat a "paleo diet" and imagine being a prehistorical warrior, but the outcome is the same for the same reasons, regardless of your aesthetical preferences)
Comment author: Brillyant 16 May 2017 09:26:24PM 0 points [-]

Things you cannot control directly - what your metabolism actually does with the food you put in your mouth

Agreed. Some people have significantly higher metabolisms.

Things this model doesn't even mention - there are other important things about the food, not just calories

Agreed. I'm not talking about nutrition, just weight loss.

Comment author: ChristianKl 16 May 2017 12:49:10PM 1 point [-]

The first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes are fucking hard, but it gets easier like any habit change.

As far as I understand the literature suggest that many people succeed with the first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes only to have the yoyo-effect later in the process.

Comment author: Brillyant 16 May 2017 09:18:54PM *  0 points [-]

To the extent people yo-yo, I think the novelty wears off and old habits come back. You're often dealing with months or years of new diet versus decades of old habitual diet.

I mean you notice the differences more in the first phase of a diet. You may have some New Diet Energy! that gives you a boost and helps counter the differences.

After a while, you can get accustomed to less food.

Comment author: Brillyant 15 May 2017 05:06:07PM *  7 points [-]

Some random barely-edited thoughts on my experience with weight loss:

In the midst of a diet where I will lose 15 lbs (15.9lb, from 185.8 lb to 169.9, to be exact) in 40 days.

I have 95% certainty I will reach this goal in the appointed time. Even if I don't reach exactly 169.9lb, I'll be close, so whether or not I hit the exact number is arbitrary for my purposes. (I'm losing some weight to see if it helps a lingering back injury.)

I'm just eating a disciplined diet and working out according to a consistent schedule.

My diet is simple and not starvation-y at all. Most people wouldn't do it because it's repetitive (I literally eat the same thing nearly everyday so I can know my calorie intake without any counting.)

My workout isn't hard but most people wouldn't do it because...I don't know why, it's just my experience that people won't. It's 4-5 days per week of 30-60 minutes cardio and 30-60 minutes of weight training. I have a back injury that's limiting me, so it's nothing terribly rigorous.

...

In my years at health clubs, talking to health-club-going people, I've seen all the evidence I'll ever need to believe, basically, the Calories In / Calories Out model of weight loss is correct.

My opinion of the rationality community's view of weight loss is that it's bad. In fact, it is what I would consider anti-advice—the sort of thing you would introduce someone to if you wanted them to fail at weight loss. (Like in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan gives Rachel McAdams Swedish weight-gaining bars and tells her they are for weight loss.)

...

Some of my rough and random thoughts on managing weight:

  • Lean muscle mass is responsible for ~65% of individual differences in BMR.
  • People have significant differences in metabolism that are probably genetic predispositions. These differences can mean people who behave identically (same diet and exercise routine) will end up with very different weights.
  • No one should be shamed for their weight anymore than someone should be shamed for their height. (This is obvious, but needs to be said 'cuz "fat shaming" is an applause light used by the crowd who thinks anything resembling a simple CICO model for weight loss is bad and cruel.)
  • You shouldn't necessarily care about weight loss and our culture is fucked up for making people feel bad about their weight.
  • Losing weight can be really hard.
  • Diet is a central component to our lives, and changes in diet make people emotional, tired, etc.
  • Weight is a very personal issue and body image's importance in our culture, for better or worse, can not be overstated.
  • Exercising is a hard habit to adopt.
  • People lie. Self-reporting of diet and exercise is full of inaccuracies.
  • Changing your diet and exercise routine is akin to changing other habits and is subject to the same sorts of difficulties and failure modes.
  • The first 2-5 weeks of big diet changes are fucking hard, but it gets easier like any habit change.
  • Atkins, and other low carb diets, work because 'Murican diets are high calorie AND carb-centric. Cutting all carbs for a while means also cutting your total calories significantly. The published woo reasons why they work are mostly bullshit. It's just calorie cutting while giving you a shot at forming different long-term diet habits.
  • There may be some foods that speed metabolism, some foods that are good to eat at certain times during the day, some food that satiate more than others for any given person, etc...
  • But the Eat Less/Exercise More model is tried and true.
Comment author: gwern 05 April 2017 07:45:08PM *  12 points [-]

Sleep is also an interesting example of pathologies in American high schools. Why do they start so insanely early though every teacher knows that first period is a waste of time and every parent knows what happens to teenagers' circadian rhythms? The answers always seem to come down to the incentives: high school isn't actually about learning but is more about daycare and sports and the convenience of organized groups like teachers or parents, and when push comes to shove, the latter win.

Comment author: Brillyant 06 April 2017 09:02:23PM 0 points [-]

and sports

It is?

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: Brillyant 04 April 2017 04:47:54PM 1 point [-]

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.

It did seem to be a pretty bold and frontal critique. And "irrationality community" is probably silly. But I agree LW, et al has at times a religious and dogmatic feel to it. In this way the RC becomes something like the opposite of the label it carries. That seems to be his point.

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.

Yes. Yes.

If this wasn't exactly the mental image I had of Lumifer before, then it is now.

Maybe a bit more Satan than cartoon

Comment author: Lumifer 04 April 2017 12:01:36AM 8 points [-]

You haven't answered the question.

LW is a specialized website/forum/community. Each day a vast torrent of news engulfs us -- Susan Rice was involved in wiretapping Trump, NBER published a paper on the value of flexible work using the example of Uber drivers, a cute puppy got its tummy scratched. LW ignores almost all of it and for good reasons. Randomly pulling out pieces of flotsam and jetsam streaming past and plopping them into LW is not a particularly useful activity.

Comment author: Brillyant 04 April 2017 04:19:30PM 0 points [-]

Susan Rice was involved in wiretapping Trump

Found Sean Hannity.

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.

Comment author: Brillyant 29 March 2017 09:47:26PM 0 points [-]

The tallest player to ever play in the NBA was Gheorghe Mureșan, who was 7'7". He was not very good.

He wasn't? He average 15 pts and 10 rebounds (and 2 blocks) as a 24 year old in the NBA. He had injuries, but was effective for a time when healthy.

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: 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!

View more: Next