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Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 26 September 2015 10:14:55PM *  2 points [-]

Romer goes on to write:

Persistent disagreement is a sign that some of the participants in a discussion are not committed to the norms of science.

He should reread Kuhn. Kuhn says that the cause of persistent disagreement is usually the lack of a relevant and workable scientific paradigm which can identify important problems, resolve disputes, and thereby mandate researchers to come to consensus. Romer's use of the phrase "the norms of science" indicates that he believes in a singular, universal, monolithic set of principles which is valid for all types of scientific inquiry. But economists obviously cannot use the same principles as physicists, simply because they cannot run experiments. What Romer is really complaining about is that there is no good paradigm for economics, but that's not anyone's fault - the discovery and articulation of a paradigm is as difficult as doing the science that the paradigm supports. A more valid criticism of the field would be "We are trying to do science without a strong enough paradigm, and the weakness of the paradigm is preventing us from resolving our disagreements definitively. Instead of trying to do more research along the same old lines, we should go back to the philosophical foundations and re-examine what it means to do economics."

Comment author: Cyan 27 September 2015 07:36:56PM *  0 points [-]

This is a field in which the discoverer of the theorem that rational agents cannot disagree was given the highest possible honours...

In response to comment by Cyan on Beautiful Probability
Comment author: VAuroch 02 September 2015 12:27:40AM 1 point [-]

Double-blind trials aren't the gold standard, they're the best available standard. They still don't replicate far too often, because they don't remove bias (and I'm not just referring to publication bias). Which is why, when considering how to interpret a study, you look at the history of what scientific positions the experimenter has supported in the past, and then update away from that to compensate for bias which you have good reason to think will show up in their data.

In the example, past results suggest that, even if the trial was double-blind, someone who is committed to achieving a good result for the treatment will get more favorable data than some other experimenter with no involvement.

And that's on top of the trivial fact that someone with an interest in getting a successful trial is more likely to use a directionally-slanted stopping rule if they have doubts about the efficacy than if they are confident it will work, which is not explicitly relevant in Eliezer's example.

Comment author: Cyan 02 September 2015 09:28:16PM 0 points [-]

I can't say I disagree.

In response to comment by Cyan on Beautiful Probability
Comment author: EHeller 31 August 2015 05:41:06AM 2 points [-]

Hold on- aren't you saying the choice of experimental rule is VERY important (i.e. double blind vs. not double blind,etc)?

If so you are agreeing with VAuroch. You have to include the details of the experiment somewhere. The data does not speak for itself.

Comment author: Cyan 31 August 2015 05:28:39PM *  1 point [-]

Of course experimental design is very important in general. But VAuroch and I agree that when two designs give rise to the same likelihood function, the information that comes in from the data are equivalent. We disagree about the weight to give to the information that comes in from what the choice of experimental design tells us about the experimenter's prior state of knowledge.

Comment author: VAuroch 30 August 2015 08:21:21PM 0 points [-]

You can claim that it should have the same likelihood either way, but you have to put the discrepancy somewhere. Knowing the choice of stopping rule is evidence about the experimenter's state of knowledge about the efficacy. You can say that it should be treated as a separate piece of evidence, or that knowing about the stopping rule should change your prior, but if you don't bring it in somewhere, you're ignoring critical information.

Comment author: Cyan 31 August 2015 02:22:41AM *  1 point [-]

you're ignoring critical information

No, it practical terms it's negligible. There's a reason that double-blind trials are the gold standard -- it's because doctors are as prone to cognitive biases as anyone else.

Let me put it this way: recently a pair of doctors looked at the available evidence and concluded (foolishly!) that putting fecal bacteria in the brains of brain cancer patients was such a promising experimental treatment that they did an end-run around the ethics review process -- and after leaving that job under a cloud, one of them was still considered a "star free agent". Well, perhaps so -- but I think this little episode illustrates very well that a doctor's unsupported opinion about the efficacy of his or her novel experimental treatment isn't worth the shit s/he wants to place inside your skull.

Comment author: Sarunas 23 July 2015 10:22:36PM 4 points [-]
Comment author: Cyan 20 August 2015 09:56:19PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the sci-hub link. So awesome!

Comment author: [deleted] 19 July 2015 06:49:21PM *  0 points [-]

I was struggling to word the doctor parapgraph in a manner which was succinct but still got the idea across. I think query worded it better.

On math curriculum, that advanced classes build off of calculus is a function of current design. They could recenter courses around statistics and have calculus be an extension of it. Some of the calculus course would need to be reincorporated into the stats courses, but a lot of it wouldn't. You're going to have a hard time convincing me that trigonometry a̶n̶d̶ ̶v̶e̶c̶t̶o̶r̶s̶ are a necessary precursor for regression analysis or Bayes' theorem. The minority of students in physics and engineering that need both calculus and statistics should not dictate how other majors are taught. Fixing the curriculum isn't an easy problem, but they've had more than a century to solve it and there seems to be little movement in this direction.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Thinking like a Scientist
Comment author: Cyan 26 July 2015 05:38:44PM *  4 points [-]

You're going to have a hard time convincing me that... vectors are a necessary precursor for regression analysis...

So you're fitting a straight line. Parameter estimates don't require linear algebra (that is, vectors and matrices). Super. But the immediate next step in any worthwhile analysis of data is calculating a confidence set (or credible set, if you're a Bayesian) for the parameter estimates; good luck teaching that if your students don't know basic linear algebra. In fact, all of regression analysis, from the most basic least squares estimator through multilevel/hierarchical regression models up to the most advanced sparse "p >> n" method, is built on top of linear algebra.

(Why do I have such strong opinions on the subject? I'm a Bayesian statistician by trade; this is how I make my living.)

In response to comment by [deleted] on Ephemeral correspondence
Comment author: EphemeralNight 28 April 2015 06:47:30PM 0 points [-]

Consciousness is the most recent module, and that does mean that. I'm sorry, I thought this was one point that wasn't even in dispute. It was laid out pretty clearly in the Evolution Sequence:

Complex adaptations take a very long time to evolve. First comes allele A, which is advantageous of itself, and requires a thousand generations to fixate in the gene pool. Only then can another allele B, which depends on A, begin rising to fixation. A fur coat is not a strong advantage unless the environment has a statistically reliable tendency to throw cold weather at you. Well, genes form part of the environment of other genes, and if B depends on A, B will not have a strong advantage unless A is reliably present in the genetic environment

Evolutions Are Stupid (But Work Anyway)

Comment author: Cyan 28 April 2015 08:11:04PM 3 points [-]

Consciousness is the most recent module, and that does mean [that drawing causal arrows from consciousness to other modules of human mind design is ruled out, evolutionarily speaking.]

The causes of the fixation of a genotype in a population are distinct from the causal structures of the resulting phenotype instantiated in actual organisms.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 April 2015 02:23:01PM *  4 points [-]

I think the "The Twelve Virtues of Rationality" actually makes an argument that those things are virtues.

It's start is also quite fitting: "The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth."

It argues against the frame of vows.

Withdrawing into mysticism where everything goes is bad. Obfuscating is bad. It's quite easy to say something that gives rationalist applause lights. Critical thinking and actually thinking through the implications of using the frame of a vow is harder. Getting less wrong about what it happens to think rational is hard.

Mystic writing that's too vague to be questioned doesn't really have a place here.

Comment author: Cyan 14 April 2015 02:48:16PM 1 point [-]

Sure, I agree with all of that. I was just trying to get at the root of why "nobody asked [you] to take either vow".

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 April 2015 06:38:48PM -1 points [-]

I believe that's why So8res referred to it as a vow to yourself, not anyone else.

Before I also haven't heard anybody speak about taking those kinds of vows to oneself.

This seems like a willful misreading of the essay's point. It seems obvious from context that So8res is referring here to motivated cognition, which does indeed have something wrong with it.

I consider basics to be important. If we allow vague statements about basic principles of rationality to stand we don't improve our understanding of rationality.

Willing is not the problem of motivated cognition. Having desires for reality to be different is not the problem. You don't need to be a straw vulcan without any desire or will to be rational.

Furthermore "Shut up and do the impossible" from the sequences is about "trying to will reality into being a certain way".

Comment author: Cyan 14 April 2015 01:46:54PM 2 points [-]

Before I also haven't heard anybody speak about taking those kinds of vows to oneself.

It's not literal. It's an attempt at poetic language, like The Twelve Virtues of Rationality.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 14 February 2015 06:46:24PM *  4 points [-]

Look at his latest post: "hey wait a second, there is bias by censoring!" The "hard/conceptual part" is structuring the problem in the right way to notice something is wrong, the "bookkeeping" part is e.g. Kaplan-Meier / censoring-adjustment-via-truncation.

Comment author: Cyan 19 February 2015 01:06:24AM *  3 points [-]

I don't disagree with this. A lot of the kind of math Scott lacks is just rather complicated bookkeeping.

(Apropos of nothing, the work "bookkeeping" has the unusual property of containing three consecutive sets of doubled letters: oo,kk,ee.)

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