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Comment author: Emile 14 April 2014 08:50:34PM 3 points [-]

Thanks for the weekend! Got to put a face on a few names, and talk of interesting things ...

Random notes:

  • The nametag thing was a good idea
  • The systematic schedule slip was a bit annoying (and predictable), and beginning/end times could have been enforced a bit more strictly.
  • I liked the learning workshop, and the one on mnemonics, and the one on Fermi estimates; but there were interesting ideas dispersed in all workshops.
  • Something to avoid for the next mnemonic workshop: an exercise where people can be asked to form a vivid mental link between "vomit" and <something edible> (... though ... I imagine that might sometimes be a useful hack to improve one's diet by eliminating some particular unhealthy things from it ...)
  • I was a bit surprised by how hard I found it to understand some people's German accent ...

I would probably have preferred less workshop and more interesting side discussions, though I'm not sure of a good way of ensuring that the side discussions stay of high quality.

Overall the organizers did a great job at finding a usable location in a nice part of town for so many people, finding places to eat for everybody, etc.

Comment author: MattG 12 April 2014 02:29:27AM 0 points [-]

people should spend more effort trying to resolve their differences and/or look for compromises that satisfy everybody, rather than taking sides and defending "their side".

Case in point. This a value judgement that not everybody shares.

Comment author: Emile 14 April 2014 08:20:53AM 1 point [-]

Calling this a "value" does not clear things up here (I view the word "value" with suspicion, it's a bit of a curiosity stopper).

If by that you mean a terminal value, then I don't think humans really differ much in terms of terminal values (except when it comes to "I value myself, you value yourself", etc.), though they may often act as if they did (i.e. consider their "enemies" to be mutants) - I think people (even here) are too quick to claim that their values are Terminal Values That Can't Be Changed And Are Not Up For Discussion.

If you mean instrumental value, then maybe all people don't share that value, but they should (because it indirectly helps them reach their other values), for roughly the same reason should cooperate on the prisoner's dilemma with "others like them".

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 13 April 2014 01:40:26PM 2 points [-]

Another is that people have different information, which leads them to different conclusions. You don't need to be stupid to be wrong.

Comment author: Emile 14 April 2014 08:16:32AM *  0 points [-]

Well, "stupid" in the broad sense (as in "all humans are stupid, not "muggles who haven't been Enlighthented By Saint Eliezer are stupid") - if two people have different information and come to different conclusions, and notice they disagree, they should still be able to try to share that information see if it makes them closer, rather than going "OMG you must be evil!!!".

Comment author: MattG 10 April 2014 06:07:36PM 4 points [-]

This ignores quite a few other possible explanations. The most obvious to me is that people have different values.

Comment author: Emile 11 April 2014 08:43:43AM 2 points [-]

There are several ways to understand "people have different values":

The easy case: Japanese people in Tokyo value each other more than they value Mexicans in Mexico, and vice-versa. This falls squarely in my second category. I don't think there's too much debate about whether those people "really" value each other that way.

The tougher case: some people claim to value, say, "freedom", whereas others claim to value "marriage" or "respecting your elders" or "art" or "self-actualization" (and more complicated values). And often those differences will lead to political opposition, trying to pull laws one way or another.

BUT, I think that this is the wrong approach. Saying "our values are different" is a curiosity stopper, people should investigate whether they really have different values, or whether they just disagree about something empirical (like "does grading children help them learn in the long run?" or "which of social taboos around sex, or sex education is more effective at preventing unwanted teenage pregnancies?"), and people should spend more effort trying to resolve their differences and/or look for compromises that satisfy everybody, rather than taking sides and defending "their side".

Comment author: Emile 10 April 2014 08:37:44AM 3 points [-]

There seem to be plenty of cases where some seems to think it's a perfectly sensible use of their time to be an activist in favour of law X, and other people think it's a perfectly sensible use of their time to be an activist against law X. Same goes for politician Y or party Z. And people also seem inclined to donate money for/against law X / politician Y/party Z.

(In your lists, Effective Altruism, World Peace and Global Warming don't fall under this pattern, but immigration, crime and maybe educational policy do)

Two possible explanation:

  • People are stupid, and pick causes for reasons that are very unrelated to how good they actually are -> in this case, additional effort figuring out which causes are actually worthwhile seems much better.
  • People are actually acting out of self-interest, in order to give "their group" more power and prestige and influence as opposed to "their group", in which case, it's not irrational, but it's also not really something that admirable either.

There's also the combination, where hapless irrational activists are suckered into spending energy in support of something that is just some kind of power play by a group they're not really part of.

Anyway, "read and learn" seems better both for figuring out which issues are worthy of support, and for figuring out how to better support those issues.

Comment author: Xachariah 08 April 2014 02:09:38PM *  2 points [-]

Surely that can't be correct.

Intuitively, I would be pretty ready to bet that I know the correct bookbag if I pulled out 5 red chips and 1 blue. 97% seems a fine level of confidence.

But if we get 1,000,004 red and 1,000,000 blues, I doubt I'd be so sure. It seems pretty obvious to me that you should be somewhere close to 50/50 because you're clearly getting random data. To say that you could be 97% confident is insane.

I concede that you're getting screwed over by the multi-verse at that point, but there's got to be some accounting for ratio. There is no way that you should be equally confident in your guess regardless of if you receive ratios of 5:1, 10:6, 104:100, or 1000004:1000000.

Comment author: Emile 08 April 2014 06:03:04PM 1 point [-]

I concede that you're getting screwed over by the multi-verse at that point, but there's got to be some accounting for ratio. There is no way that you should be equally confident in your guess regardless of if you receive ratios of 5:1, 10:6, 104:100, or 1000004:1000000.

Yeah, that's why I added "(in that context)" - i.e. we are 100% sure that those two hypotheses are the only one. If there's even a 0.01% chance that the distribution could be 50% / 50% (as is likely in the real world), then that hypothesis is going to become way more likely.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 April 2014 11:26:31AM 0 points [-]

From "Bayes' Theorem":

In front of you is a bookbag containing 1,000 poker chips. I started out with two such bookbags, one containing 700 red and 300 blue chips, the other containing 300 red and 700 blue. I flipped a fair coin to determine which bookbag to use, so your prior probability that the bookbag in front of you is the red bookbag is 50%. Now, you sample randomly, with replacement after each chip. In 12 samples, you get 8 reds and 4 blues. What is the probability that this is the predominantly red bag?

... a blue chip is exactly the same amount of evidence as a red chip, just in the other direction ... If you draw one blue chip and one red chip, they cancel out. So the ratio of red chips to blue chips does not matter; only the excess of red chips over blue chips matters. There were eight red chips and four blue chips in twelve samples; therefore, four more red chips than blue chips. ...

We can now see intuitively that the bookbag problem would have exactly the same answer, obtained in just the same way, if sixteen chips were sampled and we found ten red chips and six blue chips.

Did I misunderstand something, or does the last quoted sentence contradict the whole previous explanation? Please check after me.

If I am correct and this is a mistake, it should be fixed both on Eliezer's page and in the Sequences ebook.

Comment author: Emile 08 April 2014 11:40:26AM *  3 points [-]

No, it looks perfectly fine to me; "8 reds and 4 blues" is the same evidence as "10 red and 6 blues", or for that matter, as "104 reds and 100 blues" (in that context) - what counts is the difference, not the ratio.

Comment author: Emile 07 April 2014 07:48:52PM 5 points [-]

As others have said, you should probably rewrite this post if you want to engage in constructive discussion; a few suggestions:

  • No point in talking about posting this in main, you'll probably get more views and comments in discussion anyway (non-promoted things in main tend to be ignored...)
  • You seem to be using "free will" differently than most people here, that would need work (either find a better term, or give an explanation about how your use is different)
  • Spell Eliezer's name correctly
  • What's with the big spaces at the end?

Also, I don't identify as a militant atheist and am quite sympathetic to some religious views, and I don't think I'm far outside the norm here.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 03 April 2014 07:19:28AM 2 points [-]

A question about site mechanics: I can no longer find EYs "My April Fools' Day Confession" post in Main. It is just not listed there neither by rating nor by time. I can navigate toward it from comments or bookmarks.

Checking this a bit I find that this is only filtered if I'm logged in. And I remember that something like this happened some weeks ago with another post which was moved between Main and Discussion.

Is this a bug or is this some kind of filtering feature I don't get?

Comment author: Emile 03 April 2014 12:19:33PM 1 point [-]

Has it ever been on LessWrong? I only ever saw it on Facebook...

Comment author: ephion 03 April 2014 02:55:35AM 2 points [-]

A circuit refers to doing many exercises at the same time -- instead of doing a set of squats, resting for a minute, then doing another set of squats, you'd do a set of squats, a set of pushups, a set of rows, rest for a bit, and then go back through doing squats, etc...

It's unnecessary to rest that long unless you are doing a brutally intense bodybuilding style workout, and you're taking the drugs necessary to see results from it. Full body routines done frequently are best for strength.

If you max out the difficulty on the variations (should take you a while -- 3x8 handstand pushups is no joke), then adding weight is the next step. A barbell setup is the most effective way, but a plate-loaded dumbbell setup can be very space efficient.

Comment author: Emile 03 April 2014 12:18:52PM 0 points [-]

Okay, thanks for the details!

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