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Comment author: JQuinton 10 June 2015 05:01:49PM -2 points [-]

Being a man greatly reduces reproductive fitness, compared to the reproductive success of women. E.g., at age 12, for example, the death rate for boys is 46 percent higher than the rate for girls. And there are probably other factors that add to less reproductive success among males besides death. Being both gay and male doesn't seem like that much of a difference.

In response to Wild Moral Dilemmas
Comment author: JQuinton 13 May 2015 04:15:33PM 3 points [-]

Most of the moral dilemmas I face in real life I've never read about in ethics or philosophy classes. Most of my real world experiences are more along the lines of decision theory/prisoner's dilemmas.

So for example, if someone has wronged me, what does moral philosophy say I should do? I'm not sure because I don't really know where to look or even if this question has been answered; to my knowledge it's never been addressed in any philosophy or ethics undergrad courses I took.

But from a prisoner's dilemma point of view, I have to juggle whether I should cooperate (let it slide) or defect (retaliate). If I let it slide, then I might be sending the signal that I'm a cooperate bot and future agents will think they can take advantage of me. But if I retaliate, then this might descend into an infinite loop of defect bot behavior. And from either of those nodes, I have to take into account the degree to which I cooperate or defect.

Comment author: JQuinton 13 May 2015 01:53:49PM 21 points [-]

A lot of LW content is based on stuff already in academia.

Comment author: 75th 06 May 2015 04:51:50AM 12 points [-]

Here's a blog post about how everyone hates each other over politics more than before. Eliezer commented on it on Facebook, hypothesizing that it's a slow-growing effect of the Internet.

I cursed aloud when I read that comment, because I've had that exact idea and an accompanying sick feeling for a while now, and this is the first time I've seen it repeated.

(it's never a good sign when Eliezer Yudkowsky is the one to express your deepest fears about why everything's and everyone's brokenness is unstoppably accelerating)

I wish to read more about the "The Internet Is Why We Can't Have Even The Few Nice Things We Almost Kind Of Once Had" phenomenon — hopefully from someone who thinks there's a way easier than developing Friendly AI to put even one evil back in Pandora's Box, but that's probably wishful thinking, and I want to read about it in any case.

(Note: I'm aware that the entire LW-affiliated rationalist community writes about how things are broken, and desires to teach people to be less broken. But right now I'm looking specifically for things about how the Internet's massive boon to free speech is way more double-edged than was anticipated.)

Anyone have any good links?

Comment author: JQuinton 06 May 2015 05:01:01PM *  3 points [-]

Here's my half-baked idea.

Since the world is becoming safer, we have less real threats to prevent general ennui and so petty status games start to take on more importance.

Saying "Everyone Is Biased" May Create Bias

13 JQuinton 05 May 2015 03:31PM

It looks like telling people "everyone is biased" might make people not want to change their behavior to overcome their biases:

In initial experiments, participants were simply asked to rate a particular group, such as women, on a series of stereotypical characteristics, which for women were: warm, family-oriented and (less) career-focused. Beforehand, half of the participants were told that "the vast majority of people have stereotypical preconceptions." Compared to those given no messages, these participants produced more stereotypical ratings, whether about women, older people or the obese.

Another experiment used a richer measure of stereotyping – the amount of clichés used by participants in their written account of an older person’s typical day. This time, those participants warned before writing that “Everyone Stereotypes” were more biased in their writings than those given no message; in contrast, those told that stereotyping was very rare were the least clichéd of all. Another experiment even showed that hearing the “Everyone Stereotypes” message led men to negotiate more aggressively with women, resulting in poorer outcomes for the women.

The authors suggest that telling participants that everyone is biased makes being biased seem like not much of a big deal. If everyone is doing it, then it's not wrong for me to do it as well. However, it looks like the solution to the problem presented here is to give a little white lie that will prompt people to overcome their biases:

A further experiment suggests a possible solution. In line with the other studies, men given the "Everyone Stereotypes" message were less likely to hire a hypothetical female job candidate who was assertive in arguing for higher compensation. But other men told that everyone tries to overcome their stereotypes were fairer than those who received no information at all. The participants were adjusting their behaviour to fit the group norms, but this time in a virtuous direction.
Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 21 April 2015 10:42:20AM 5 points [-]

The claim isn't just made with arguably useless disciplines, though. Many people argue (quite rightly, IMO) that programming doesn't just teach you to command machines to do your bidding, but also instils powerful thinking tools. So even if kids don't grow up to be software developers, it's still valuable for them to learn programming. Similar arguments could be made for law or finance.

Comment author: JQuinton 21 April 2015 05:49:26PM 3 points [-]

Slightly off topic, but I both program and play guitar and for the longest time I was wondering why I was getting an overwhelming feeling of the two bleeding into each other. While playing guitar, it would "feel" like I was also coding. Eventually I figured out that the common thread is probably the general task of algorithm optimization.

There's no way for me to tell if programming made me a better guitar player or vice versa.

Comment author: JQuinton 10 April 2015 08:39:14PM 3 points [-]

It might be a more valuable use of cognitive resources to recognize where bias in general comes from.

Rote memory tasks are good for trying to, say, guess the teacher's password. But it's a lot more efficient if you know what cognitive biases feel like and correct for that feeling ahead of time. In general, anytime something just feels right, you should trust but verify. Hindsight bias feels right when we look at things that already happened. Confirmation bias feels right when we see information that confirms what we already believe. Motivated skepticism feels right when we encounter information that challenges our beliefs. It feels wrong to argue against our ingroup.

As an example of what I mean: I knew a mathematics grad student for a while. Once I asked him (because I had forgotten) what the quadratic equation was. Surely, he's in grad school for math and memorized all of that stuff right? Wrong. He didn't know, but he did know how to derive it from (I'm guessing) certain principles in math. He re-figured it out and showed it to me.

Comment author: [deleted] 04 March 2015 09:24:47AM *  1 point [-]

Why does everybody seem to be so worked up about whether religion is true or not and call it theism or atheism? My Central European experience is that it is largely an institution, custom, habit, social expectation, identity, a way of expressing things and all that, but people did not really believe for 150 years at least, so it is not really something meant to be true for a long time now. I know there are people in the US Bible Belt who still mean it, and they have angry atheist children, but how comes the majority of Internet discussion kinda revolves around them? How many people on LW want to approach the topic from the angle Max Weber and similar scholars did?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Stupid Questions March 2015
Comment author: JQuinton 04 March 2015 06:10:42PM 12 points [-]

I think the "everybody" is really an American-centric thing. As far as I can tell, all of the New Atheist types are non-European, or who focus most of their polemics on American audiences.

I've never lived in Europe, but this was my experience growing up in the US:

  • "You don't believe in Jesus/God? I must not have raised you right"
  • "You've treated me better than all of my previous boyfriends/girlfriends, but you don't believe in Jesus so I'm breaking up with you"
  • "You're new to the area? Where did you move from? Oh, Nowhereville, Alabahoma? I'm from Otherplace, Nevexico. So what church do you go to?"
  • "How come you're not going to the prayer breakfast/luncheon?"
  • "You didn't get the job/your car broke down/lost your wallet/etc.? Don't worry, god has a plan for you"
  • "Can you believe these scientists and their evolution/global warming/sciency science talk? They'll say anything to reject god, right? My pastor says XYZ so therefore it's true"

I've lived in a lot of places in the US and in my experience the places where this sort of stuff doesn't happen are mainly large cities like NYC or San Francisco. And even then, it has to be the parts of those cities that are leaning on the more affluent side of things. It's not just a USA Bible-Belt phenomenon... I've actually never lived in or visited the Bible Belt so it must be a lot worse there.

Comment author: JQuinton 21 January 2015 09:07:03PM -1 points [-]

Seems like the same sort of bias reference class as the status quo bias.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 December 2014 06:52:14AM 5 points [-]

I don't see why. Non-agents simply don't fit the definition of "god", so equivocating on the definition of "god" from "world-changingly powerful agent" to "abstract personification of causality itself" does not really shed any light on anything.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Rationality Quotes December 2014
Comment author: JQuinton 02 January 2015 10:53:58PM 2 points [-]

Non-agents simply don't fit the definition of "god"

This is false. Not only does the LW wiki have a definition of "god" that is a non-agent, the study of theology points one to numerous gods that people believe in that are non-agents. There's a reason that many of the popular monotheisms refer to their god as a personal god; it stands in contrast to the heresy of a non-personal (i.e., non-agent) god.

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