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Comment author: mwengler 10 February 2016 03:56:29PM 1 point [-]

This comment is in reply to some ideas in the comments below.

In my opinion, my rationality is as faith-based as is a religious person's religious belief.

Among my highest values is "being right" in the sense of being able to instrumentally effect or predict the world. I want to be able to communicate across long distances, to turn combustible fuel into safe transportation, to correctly predict what an interstellar probe will find and to be able to build an interstellar probe that will work. Looking at the world, I see much more success in endeavors like these from science and rationality than from religiosity or appeals to god. And so I adopt rationality as it supports my values.

I also want to raise healthy, happy, "good" children. My one child who dabbles in alcohol, drugs, and petty theft, I am pretty sure I could "help" him by going to church with him. I've known many people who are effective at doing things I see as good because, it seems, of their religious beliefs and participation in churches and religious communities. I liked being a Lutheran for a few years. One night I told our pastor that I just didn't believe in god. He told me he thought half the church had that happening. Even so I couldn't stay engaged.

I feel the loss of religious faith as a sorrow, or a pain, or a burr under my saddle, or something. But I can't justify it, or more importantly, I can only pretend to believe, actual belief does not seem to me to be a real option anymore.

And it turns out I have enough "faith" in scientific rationalism that I won't even pretend I believe in god. I choose to believe that staying consistent with rational principles will payoff more for me and those I care about than will falling back to the more accessible morality of religious faith. It is a leap of faith, especially in light of "rationalists win." If my son were to become an heroin addict and devote his life to petty theft, jail, and shooting up, AND I could have prevented that by bringing him to church, I will have paid a price for my faith, as much as any Christian Martyr who was harmed or whos family was harmed because he did not deny his Christian belief.

People who think their rationality does not come from a faith they possess remind me of religious people who think their belief in god is just right, that it does not come from a faith that they possess or have chosen.

Comment author: DSimon 10 February 2016 05:44:28PM 1 point [-]

Taboo "faith", what do you mean specifically by that term?

Comment author: Silhalnor 04 November 2015 09:26:44PM 0 points [-]

So, is my goal in explaining this stuff to someone to maximize efficiency at achieving their goals (warm fuzzies), or to maximize efficiency at achieving my goals (charity)? (Or maybe I want warm fuzzies and the lawyer wants charity, whatever.)

Comment author: DSimon 01 February 2016 12:51:46AM 0 points [-]

The lawyer wants both warm fuzzies and charitrons, but has conflated the two, and will probably get buzzkilled (and lose out on both measures) if the distinction is made clear. The best outcome is one where the lawyer gets to maximize both, and that happens at the end of a long road that begins with introspection about what warm fuzzies ought to mean.

Comment author: Val 19 March 2015 03:11:38PM 2 points [-]

A nice feature would be to mark a question as unanswerable, and if it gets enough flags you could overview and delete them. I just recently came across a question which asked what can be seen in "this image". Without any image attached, of course.

Comment author: DSimon 07 April 2015 01:33:11PM 1 point [-]

It would probably be best to just remove all questions that contain certain key phrases like "this image" or "seen here". You'll get a few false positives but with such a big database that's no great loss.

Comment author: BrienneYudkowsky 13 May 2013 02:38:14AM *  15 points [-]

Learn how to remember people's names.

Of course you're horrible with names. That's because you haven't learned how to learn them. You evolved to know something like 100 names at a time, so your software needs an upgrade if you want to do more than that. Use the mnemonic technique called "linking" or "chaining". This video is cheesy, but it's exactly how I do it.

Calculate the VOI on giving this a try. If you go to conferences very often, or have lots of students, or live in a large city or something, it's probably really useful to you to be able to remember names. Especially given that you can google any name you manage to remember. And consider the psychological effects! A person's name is her favorite word, and knowing it is the password to her attention.

By the way, I'd be very interested to hear from any face blind people who have experimented with this.

ETA: This is also a fantastic party trick I use all the time.

Comment author: DSimon 03 September 2014 01:48:19PM 0 points [-]

Seconded on that video, it's cheesy but very straightforward and informative.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 August 2014 05:44:33PM *  2 points [-]

.ila'a lo'e lojbo tanru cu go'e .iepei

In response to comment by [deleted] on The rational way to name rivers
Comment author: DSimon 22 August 2014 01:41:20PM 0 points [-]

.ie zo'oru'e uinai

In response to comment by [deleted] on The rational way to name rivers
Comment author: [deleted] 06 August 2014 07:29:16PM *  1 point [-]

.uanai lo'e jufra cu na clani fi lo gliban

In response to comment by [deleted] on The rational way to name rivers
Comment author: DSimon 07 August 2014 05:29:33PM 1 point [-]

.i la kristyn casnu lo lojbo tanru noi cmima

In response to The Power of Noise
Comment author: Lumifer 16 June 2014 06:16:17PM 0 points [-]

This illustrates how randomness can be used to improve market liquidity.

While an interesting idea, I believe most people just call this "gambling".

Requiring that the inputs to a piece of software follow some probability distribution is the opposite of being modular.

I don't understand this. It's perfectly fine for a module (an object) to declare what kind of inputs it will accept. Modularity in software basically means "write to the declared interface and treat internals as a black box" and I don't see why requiring a particular set of inputs is a problem.

Overall, though, I agree -- randomness is highly useful in the real world where even if an optimal solution is known to exist it is often the case that you can't spend the resources (notably, time) to figure it out.

In response to comment by Lumifer on The Power of Noise
Comment author: DSimon 17 June 2014 02:41:40PM *  2 points [-]

While an interesting idea, I believe most people just call this "gambling".

I'm not sure what you're driving at here. A gambling system where everybody has a net expected gain is still a good use of randomness.

In response to comment by itaibn0 on The Power of Noise
Comment author: Lumifer 17 June 2014 12:34:40AM 0 points [-]

I think an example of what jsteinhardt is referring to would be quicksort.

Quicksort as a piece of software does not require any particular distribution. It is perfectly happy to work with "perversely ordered inputs".

A human running quicksort with certain expectations about its performance might require a particular distribution, but that's not a characteristic of software.

Recall that the original claim was that expecting a particular distribution breaks modularity.

In response to comment by Lumifer on The Power of Noise
Comment author: DSimon 17 June 2014 02:39:43PM *  2 points [-]

A human running quicksort with certain expectations about its performance might require a particular distribution, but that's not a characteristic of software.

I think this may be a distinction without a difference; modularity can also be defined as human expectations about software, namely that the software will be relatively easy to hook into a larger system.

Comment author: itaibn0 19 April 2014 12:57:47PM 0 points [-]

Thinking about this, it seems like there should exist some version of diff which points out differences on the word level rather than the line level. That would be useful for text documents which only have line breaks in between paragraphs. Given how easy I expect it to be to program such a thing almost certainly does exist, but I don't know where to find it.

Comment author: DSimon 21 April 2014 08:12:58PM 0 points [-]

Try wdiff

Comment author: brazil84 07 February 2014 03:00:31PM 10 points [-]

All things being equal, I think I would rather be at loose ends than be dead.

That said, I would imagine that part of the problem is that many peoples' desire for immortality is informed partly by an instinctive reluctance to die -- as distinguished from a genuine preference for living over non-existence.

Comment author: DSimon 07 February 2014 04:07:41PM 1 point [-]

That might be a distinction without a difference; my preferences come partly from my instincts.

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