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Comment author: Viliam 10 April 2017 09:02:15AM 0 points [-]

I believe that clinical psychopaths will be overrepresented among: the ruling elite, prison population, and probably also victims of drug abuse. But given their relatively low base rate, there is a chance to win at life (or get to prison) without being one of them.

Comment author: FourFire 12 April 2017 10:07:56PM *  1 point [-]

My steelmanning of Ialdaboath's claim isn't that it is impossible to succeed without being a psychopath. (Though I would definitely agree that his perspective is rather dreary and pessimistic) It is that the paths to success in society have been distorted by psychopaths into requiring one to express psychopathic traits in order to succeed a lot more of the time than would be the case in absence of psychopaths within the ruling elite.

Comment author: Viliam 06 April 2017 01:06:56PM *  4 points [-]

This is an empirical statement, which should be either confirmed or disconfirmed by observing reality, not established by changing the vocabulary.

As far as I know, sociopaths by the clinical definition make about 1-4% of population. Those who don't have above-average intelligence probably quickly end up in prison. Therefore the smart sociopaths make maybe 0.1% of the population... I am not going to argue about the exact number here, just saying that it is a small number, therefore any definition of "winning" that applies to a large fraction of population must, for mathematical reasons, also include people who are not clinical sociopaths. Now the rest of this debate depends on how narrowly you would define "winning".

Comment author: FourFire 10 April 2017 08:30:48AM *  1 point [-]

I think ialdabaoth's claim is valid if, when measured, the most politically and culturally powerful quintile of the world population proves to be more than 1-4% clinical psychopaths.

I am assuming the top quintile of world population is what is meant by winners: people who control a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and by proxy, people.

The USA has the world's largest prison population, of ~2.2MIllion and a total population of ~316 Million (both 2013)

If we were to expect an even distribution of Psychopathy across the bellcurve of intelligence then there should be between ~1.58 Mn and ~6.32Mn Psychopaths in the US prison system. Furthermore, we should expect 35.5Mn to 142Mn worldwide prison population of 100% <100IQ psychopaths.

However it is a mere 10.3Mn (all 2013 statistics)

This indicates that at least 70%, and perhaps as many as 92% of <100IQ Psychopaths are going free worldwide, this of course does not indicate that these individuals aren't simply part of the exploited lower classes. It also says nothing about the remaining population of >100IQ Psychopaths, presumably of equal size.

There is much hubub around some tabloid 'research' along the lines of "21%of leadership positions filled by psychopaths" However I can't be bothered to validate the source so I won't claim this is true.

This leaves me with a rather weaker position than I expected before writing this but you should draw your own conclusions.

Comment author: HarryHitherto 28 March 2017 04:17:52AM 0 points [-]

New here. Trying to sort out the jargon and what not, but have immensely enjoyed reading through the posts. Stumbled upon this one and, I realize it's ten years old, but I have criticism: In the initial example, the example upon which the rest of the post was built, the Uncle was actually correct. We do NOT know how gravity works. We know how it acts upon the physical world, but as we've never discovered gravitational force carriers, we've zero knowledge of the mechanism through which it manifests.

Also, this certainly depends on how extreme you care to be, but you can certainly say with certainty whether or not science knows a thing. Example: no scientist on earth knows with any degree of scientific certainty whether or not God exists.

Comment author: FourFire 30 March 2017 11:10:38AM *  0 points [-]

Enjoy your stay!

I think most of the people who were around ten, or even six years ago now consider this place a mostly static repository of articles which are useful to refer to, rather than a dynamic community forum capable of generating more of said articles.

Comment author: shev 23 December 2016 01:49:46AM 11 points [-]

While I think it's fine to call someone out by name if nothing else is working, I think the way you're doing it is unnecessarily antagonistic and seemingly intentionally spiteful or at least utterly un-empathetic, and what you're doing can (and in my opinion ought to) be done empathetically, for cohesion and not hurting people excessively and whatnot.

Giving an excuse about why it's okay that you, specifically, are doing it, and declaring that you're "naming and shaming" on purpose, makes it worse. It's already shaming the person without saying that you're very aware that it is; you ought to be taking a "I'm sorry I have to do this" tone instead of a "I'm immune to repercussions, so I'm gonna make sure this stings extra!" tone.

At least, this is how it would work in the several relatively typical (American) social groups that I'm familiar with.

Comment author: FourFire 06 January 2017 11:24:42PM *  0 points [-]

While I agree with your sentiment, I also care substantially more about the continued success and growth of solstices than about one or two participants of such events being deeply offended.

Elo is taking a stand here, which I believe needs to be taken, and few others are due to following the social norms of pre-emptively not offending people.

I admit I am confused; is sidestepping around the issue part of Ask or Guess culture?

Comment author: gjm 04 January 2017 11:58:10AM 2 points [-]

I'm unsure about the overall rights and wrongs, but surely this is definitely incorrect: you could e.g. have said "I know whose child it was that was making the noise, and it was definitely not Alicorn's".

Comment author: FourFire 06 January 2017 11:16:19PM *  0 points [-]

I wonder where this form of communication lands in Ask, Tell, or Guess Culture?

Comment author: Alexandros 27 November 2016 10:40:52AM *  66 points [-]

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos on the top banner, is it them?), who the moderators are, who is working on it in general. I know tricycle are helping with development, but a part-time team is only marginally better than no-team, and at least no-team is an invitation for a team to step up.

  2. the no politics rule (related to #1) -- We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW. Oddly enough I recently saw it linked from the front page of realclearpolitics.com, which means that not only has discussing politics not harmed SSC, it may actually be drawing in people who care about genuine insights in this extremely complex space that is of very high interest.

  3. the "original content"/central hub approach (related to #1) -- This should have been an aggregator since day 1. Instead it was built as a "community blog". In other words, people had to host their stuff here or not have it discussed here at all. This cost us Robin Hanson on day 1, which should have been a pretty big warning sign.

  4. The codebase, this website carries tons of complexity related to the reddit codebase. Weird rules about responding to downvoted comments have been implemented in there, nobody can make heads or tails with it. Use something modern, and make it easy to contribute to. (telescope seems decent these days).

  5. Brand rust. Lesswrong is now kinda like myspace or yahoo. It used to be cool, but once a brand takes a turn for the worse, it's really hard to turn around. People have painful associations with it (basilisk!) It needs burning of ships, clear focus on the future, and as much support as possible from as many interested parties, but only to the extent that they don't dillute the focus.

In the spirit of the above, I consider Alexei's hints that Arbital is "working on something" to be a really bad idea, though I recognise the good intention. Efforts like this need critical mass and clarity, and diffusing yet another wave of people wanting to do something about LW with vague promises of something nice in the future (that still suffers from problem #1 AFAICT) is exactly what I would do if I wanted to maintain the status quo for a few more years.

Any serious attempt at revitalising lesswrong.com should focus on defining ownership and plan clearly. A post by EY himself recognising that his vision for lw 1.0 failed and passing the batton to a generally-accepted BDFL would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath. Further, I am fairly certain that LW as a community blog is bound to fail. Strong writers enjoy their independence. LW as an aggregator-first (with perhaps ability to host content if people wish to, like hn) is fine. HN may have degraded over time, but much less so than LW, and we should be able to improve on their pattern.

I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of a hn-style aggregator, with a clear, accepted, willing, opinionated, involved BDFL, input from the prominent writers in the community (scott, robin, eliezer, nick bostrom, others), and for the current lesswrong.com to be archived in favour of that new aggregator. But even if it's something else, it will not succeed without the three basic ingredients: clear ownership, dedicated leadership, and as broad support as possible to a simple, well-articulated vision. Lesswrong tried to be too many things with too little in the way of backing.

Comment author: FourFire 27 November 2016 07:29:53PM *  4 points [-]
  1. I agree completely.

  2. Politics has most certainly damaged the potential of SSC. Notably, far fewer useful insights have resulted from the site and readership than was the case with LessWrong at it's peak, but that is how Yvain wanted it I suppose. The comment section has, according to my understanding become a haven for NRx and other types considered unsavoury by much of the rationalist community, and the quality of the discussion is substantially lower in general than it could have been.

  3. Sure.

  4. Codebase, just start over, but carry over the useful ideas implemented, such as disincentivizing flamewars by making responses to downvoted comments cost karma, zero initial karma awarded for posting, and any other rational discussion fostering mechanics which have become apparent since then.

  5. I agree, make this site read only, use it and the wiki as a knowledge base, and start over somewhere else.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 15 April 2012 08:42:52AM 29 points [-]

I've lurked here for over a year and just started posting in the fan fic threads a month ago. I have read a handful of posts from the sequences and I believe that some of those are changing my life. Sometimes when I start a sequence post I find it uninteresting and I stop. Posts early in the recommended order do this, and that gets in the way every time I try to go through in order. I just can't be bothered because I'm here for leisure and reading uninteresting things isn't leisurely.

I am noise and I am part of the doom of your community. You have my sympathy, and also my unsolicited commentary:

Presently your community is doomed because you don't filter.

Noise will keep increasing until the community you value splinters, scatters, or relocates itself as a whole. A different community will replace it, resembling the community you value just enough to mock you.

If you intentionally segregate based on qualifications your community is doomed anyway.

The qualified will stop contributing to the unqualified sectors, will stop commending potential qualifiers as they approach qualification, and will stop driving out never qualifiers with disapproval. Noise will win as soon as something drives a surge of new interest and the freshest of the freshmen overwhelm the unqualified but initiated.

Within the fortress of qualification things will be okay. They might never feel as good as you think you remember, but when you look through that same lens from further ahead you might recognize a second Golden Age of Whatever. Over time less new blood will be introduced, especially after the shanty town outside the fortress burns to the ground a couple times. People will leave for the reasons people leave. The people left will become more insular and self referential. That will further drive down new blood intake.


What are you going to do about it?

The best steps to take to sustain the community you value in this instance may be different than the best steps to take to build a better instance of the community.

Comment author: FourFire 22 November 2016 10:03:36PM 0 points [-]

I'm responding to congratulate you on your correct prediction.

I see this account hasn't been active in over four years.

Comment author: moridinamael 21 November 2016 03:57:35PM *  2 points [-]

Have you heard of Gobekli Tepe?

Through the radiocarbon method, the end of Layer III can be fixed at about 9000 BCE (see above) but it is believed that the elevated location may have functioned as a spiritual center by 11,000 BCE or even earlier, essentially at the very end of the Pleistocene.


The surviving structures, then, not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel, they were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies. Archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries and move them 100–500 meters (330–1,640 ft) to the site. The pillars weigh 10–20 metric tons (10–20 long tons; 11–22 short tons), with one still in the quarry weighing 50 tons.


At present Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of pre-sedentary society.

I admit I am not a student of history or anthropology, but finding Gobekli Tepe seems like discovering a working grandfather clock in orbit around Saturn. It seems like it should be absolutely devastating to any narrative of history that doesn't involve large, organized civilizations in, at the latest, 9,000 BC.

Which the prevailing interpretation does not permit. It appears that rather than throwing all the old interpretations out the window, mainstream archaeological establishment has decided that those 20 ton stones were being hewn, transported and placed by ... hunter-gatherers. Teams of 500 hunter-gatherers, I guess?

I'm going to come clean and admit that I've been listening to the Joe Rogan podcast, and specifically to his guests who subscribe to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. The idea here is that humanity had started forming true civilizations before 10,000 BC, and a comet impact or airburst over one of the ice sheets caused a huge fireball and flood that led to mass extinctions and the annihilation of civilization. There seems to be a decent case for this theory, but as an uneducated bystander, I can't tell from the outside if I'm looking at crackpots who are cherry-picking evidence, or trailblazing iconoclasts who are at the forefront of the reinvention of a new paradigm.

I admit that I Want To Believe, and that makes it hard to reason objectively, particularly in what may be an epistemically hostile environment where charlatans (or academic holdouts) may or may not be trying to manipulate what evidence makes it to the layman investigator.

Overall, this seems like an interesting field test for rationalist skills.

Comment author: FourFire 22 November 2016 02:41:00PM *  2 points [-]

Archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries and move them

I wouldn't take this claim for granted, perhaps I can contact one of these archaeologists, to check how they reached their estimate?

There's not many pixels in this source but it explains a concept for low manpower block moving using simple tools probably available to pre-farming civilizations.

Comment author: MrMind 21 November 2016 11:25:29AM *  2 points [-]

A little bit of a wild idea: what if the concept of a single unified identity is a social construct?

I'm reading "RESTful web API", O'Reilly's book about the REST protocol, which contains this sentence: "Just as one person may be addressed by different names in different contexts", then gives as example a friendly surname, a Twitter handle and a formal salutation. Reading that sparked an association: back when there were no social media, and even further away in time when there was no Internet at all, we all had one name: our complete name, given to us by our parents / family.
But then context started to multiply, and so did names: email addresses, chat nicknames, social media handles, etc.

But what if it's the reverse? What if we have only one name because technology was not advanced enough to presents us with different contexts? What if different handles reflects a true disposition of our mind, that has remain hidden because technology wasn't sufficiently advanced?

This would tie neatly with the presence of conflicting beliefs and behaviours (beliefs and aliefs), and the problem of anthropic identities.

Comment author: FourFire 22 November 2016 02:29:05PM 1 point [-]

That might be true, but the fact remains that one person is still completely dependent on and consequently bound to one neural substrate, and the support system for said neural substrate, which permits us (for now) to tie a person's personality to their distinct 'body'.

This remains true even in the spectrum of cases when multiple personalities or possibility even people (appear to) inhabit or share the same neural substrate.

If the substrate is disrupted, the indivdual(s) are destroyed.

This will not always be the case, once technology progresses to such an extent that synthetic and digital persons living in distributed neural substrates become first possible at all and then commonplace in society, the the above statement will be false and a society wide identity crisis will emerge for those not born into the new status quo.

We biological humans, with our antiquated instincts for people in single bodies will be old & regressive compared to the zeitgeist of society.

Comment author: James_Miller 28 October 2016 06:07:16PM *  11 points [-]

Comment author: FourFire 22 November 2016 02:09:55PM *  0 points [-]

Found my favourite version:

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