Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: gworley 09 January 2017 09:04:13PM 0 points [-]

This is why I say "most" and not "all", since humans seem to be quite willing to accept conditions where their preferences are frustrated more often than they are satisfied, hence the measure of all possible humans whose lives are worth living seems greater than the measure of all possible humans whose lives are not worth living, as measured by the individual human's desire to live such a life versus not existing.

Comment author: Mac 09 January 2017 09:34:10PM 1 point [-]

You've made an argument that most human lives are worth living, not that most human lives, no matter how much suffering they contain, are worth living. I suggest you remove the "no matter how much suffering they contain" part to clearly communicate your position.

Comment author: Mac 09 January 2017 07:54:14PM *  0 points [-]

just as most human lives, no matter how much suffering they contain

Are you implying that the experience of a workaholic on subsistence wages is the maximum level of suffering achievable? If so, I strongly disagree. I can think of quite a few horrible conditions I would not trade it for, here's one: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Comment author: Mac 29 December 2016 05:32:30PM 1 point [-]

We all basically know that complex systems are unpredictable...I'm interested in how others identify complex systems...

Following from your quotes above, you could focus your search on systems for which the accuracy of predictions has been poor.

We are able to personally develop heuristics for evaluating predictions and complex systems, but sharing them with others is really tough.

FYI: This is basically the subject of the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It's by no means a rigorous examination, a little too anecdotal, but you might find it useful.

Comment author: James_Miller 24 October 2016 08:22:25PM 1 point [-]

Dry skin. During the winter the skin on my feet gets painfully dry. I have tried lots of creams and while they help, they don't eliminate the problem. I would pay $400 a year to fix this issue.

Comment author: Mac 25 October 2016 04:49:53PM *  0 points [-]

I predict your toiletries are the problem. Next time it flares up, try showering without soap or hair products for one week - only use water. It may sound gross, but this is a needed experiment.

If I've correctly identified the problem and your feet feel better, I think it would be fair if you gave $200 a year (or a $2,000 lump sum) to the charity of my choosing, don't you?

Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation or services from my recommended charity.

Comment author: Liron 24 October 2016 09:51:08PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, pain is a huge problem for people. Any advice on how to attack this problem?

Comment author: Mac 25 October 2016 02:10:34PM *  0 points [-]

Maybe you can break it down and focus on the areas that would appear to allow an effective, profitable, scalable intervention. A few thoughts:


-Clothing/brace that reduces the risk of injury?


-Objectively measuring pain is difficult. Here's an attempt.


-Mental health intervention

-Interesting article here on how VR helped a severe burn victim. Note to self: ketamine trips are insane.


-Counter irritants

-This device seems like an interesting idea, but has poor reviews.

Permanent solution

-Brain surgery? Probably isn't what you're interested in.

Comment author: Mac 24 October 2016 06:49:44PM *  3 points [-]

what's the most annoying part of your life/job?

Pain. Moderate but constant pain from old sports injuries makes me: spend money on pain meds and counter irritants, work longer hours because the pain is distracting and reduces my productivity, limit physical activity and travel, deviate from an optimal exercise routine, fall into a black hole of grumpiness occasionally.

how much would you pay for a solution?

If by "solution" you mean an easy, one-time, guaranteed fix: $10,000

Comment author: Mac 15 October 2016 01:41:14PM *  1 point [-]

Is a unit of suffering less complex than a unit of happiness, and, therefore, more likely to occur in the universe, all else equal? I realize this is an insanely difficult question, but would be interested in current opinions and any related evidence.


Comment author: DataPacRat 26 September 2016 01:45:17PM 3 points [-]

Music to be resurrected to?

Assume that you are going to die, and some years later, be brought back to life. You have the opportunity to request, ahead of time, some of the details of the environment you will wake up in. What criteria would you use to select those details; and which particular details would meet those criteria?

For example, you might wish a piece of music to be played that is highly unlikely to be played in your hearing in any other circumstances, and is extremely recognizable, allowing you the opportunity to start psychologically dealing with your new circumstances before you even open your eyes. Or you may just want a favourite playlist going, to help reassure you. Or you may want to try to increase the odds that a particular piece survives until then. Or you may wish to lay the foundation for a practical joke, or a really irresistible one-liner.

Make your choice!

Comment author: Mac 27 September 2016 02:02:00PM 0 points [-]

"Everything in Its Right Place" by Radiohead would capture the moment well; it's soothing yet disorienting, and a tad ominous.

Comment author: Mac 18 January 2016 12:53:31PM 4 points [-]

Interested if anyone has thoughts/research on this question:

Are chickens affected by the hedonic treadmill? If so, are they equally, more, or less susceptible to it? What about pigs?

Comment author: Mac 30 July 2016 04:03:27PM *  0 points [-]

I have yet to find good research on this. However, if anyone out there believes that farm animals are affected by the hedonic treadmill, and that farm animal suffering causes great disvalue, prioritizing donations to the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) might be a good idea. Part of HSA's mission is to reduce the suffering of animals during slaughter, and I find it unlikely that farm animals hedonically adapt during their short and often intensely painful deaths. It seems more likely that a chicken hedonically adapts during its time in a battery cage.

Brian Tomasik has a good piece on HSA here.

Comment author: Mac 29 July 2016 02:33:31PM *  0 points [-]
  • If you are not a Boltzmann Brain, then sentience produced by evolution or simulation is likely more common than sentience produced by random quantum fluctuations.

  • If sentience produced by evolution or simulation is more common than sentience produced by random quantum fluctuations, and given an enormous universe available as simulation or alien resources, then the amount of sentient aliens or simulations is high.

  • Therefore, P(Sentient Aliens or Simulation) and P(You are a Boltzmann Brain) move in opposite directions when updated with new evidence. As SETI continues to come up empty, the possibility that you are a floating brain in space is increasingly likely, all else equal.

Are these statements logical? Criticism and suggestions welcome.

View more: Next