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

Comment author: mare-of-night 30 July 2014 07:38:58PM 0 points [-]

Ah, thanks :) I figured that different diets are good for different people, since that's what seemed to happen for people I know. But I wanted to find out how common and how extreme that sort of thing is, since if people are getting results like "I can handle going to school now", then people should be more aware of it than they are.

I'm pretty sure I already know the most important reactions for me - I've gotten to the point that there's not anything really really wrong anymore. I didn't expect the rest to just be in a book somewhere, since what I've already found out by experimenting doesn't match up to any known pattern other than "diet does stuff".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 July 2014 01:55:15AM 0 points [-]

You might want to poke around Chris Kresser's blog-- he's a non-doctrinaire paleo guy, and his commenters include a lot of people with unusual symptoms.

Comment author: mare-of-night 30 July 2014 07:38:58PM 0 points [-]

Ah, thanks :) I figured that different diets are good for different people, since that's what seemed to happen for people I know. But I wanted to find out how common and how extreme that sort of thing is, since if people are getting results like "I can handle going to school now", then people should be more aware of it than they are.

I'm pretty sure I already know the most important reactions for me - I've gotten to the point that there's not anything really really wrong anymore. I didn't expect the rest to just be in a book somewhere, since what I've already found out by experimenting doesn't match up to any known pattern other than "diet does stuff".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 July 2014 01:53:18AM 1 point [-]

You might want to poke around Chris Cresser's blog-- he's a non-doctrinaire paleo guy, and his commenters include a lot of people with unusual symptoms.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 July 2014 08:11:59AM *  2 points [-]

I think this is still too logical to work. Each step of an argument is another place that can be attacked. And because attacks are allowed to be illogical, even the most logical step has maybe 50% chance of breaking the chain. The shortest, and therefore the most powerful argument, is simply "X offends me!" (But to use this argument, you must belong to a group whose feelings are included in the social justice utility function.)

Now that I think about it, this probably explains why in this kind of debates you never get an explanation, only an angry "It's not my job to educate you!" when you ask about something. Using arguments and explanations is a losing strategy. (Also, it is what the bad guys do. You don't want to be pattern-matched to them.) Which is why people skilled in playing the game never provide explanations.

I hope your rationalist toucan is signed up for cryonics. :P

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 July 2014 01:32:07AM 2 points [-]

I'm sure it depends on where you hang out, but I've seen plenty of explanations from social justice people. A sample

Comment author: Velorien 29 July 2014 03:22:59PM 1 point [-]

I'm not an economist, but doesn't that in turn harm the people who are still in the UK, because money is being moved out of the country rather than being reinvested in the UK economy?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 July 2014 04:23:49AM 0 points [-]

On the other hand, work is being done in the UK, but money is being taken out-- this should lower prices, at least for a while.

Comment author: Velorien 29 July 2014 01:14:09PM *  1 point [-]

They even forbid beneficial muggle-wizard trade, which probably results in the deaths of millions of muggles.

Insofar as everyone dies eventually, and thus the purpose of medicine in general may be thought of as life extension rather than death prevention, and magical healing vastly increases wizard lifespans, it may be said that forbidding beneficial muggle-wizard trade results in the deaths of billions of muggles. Every single muggle who dies of old age, magically-treatable illness or non-instantly-fatal injury is a muggle who would have lived significantly longer if not for the ban.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 July 2014 04:15:47AM 0 points [-]

The wizard population is very small compared to the muggle population, and I don't think there's much in the way of reducing the amount of time wizards need to put into healing magic. (Compare this to the efficiencies gained from vaccination and antibiotics.)

The lack of wizard healing makes some difference, but probably more like tens or hundreds of thousands of muggles who don't get healed.

On the other hand, if wizards were public about their abilities, a higher proportion of wizards (even low-powered wizards) in the muggle population would be identified and trained, and there would presumably be knowledge of methods for integrating wizard and muggle medicine. The results still wouldn't be all muggles having access to the best of wizard healing magic.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 20 July 2014 07:10:34PM 3 points [-]

I guess I agree with you on some more meta level. LessWrong as it is now, is not optimal. (Yeah, it is very cheap to say this; the problem is coming to a solution and an agreement about how specifically would the optimal version look like.) LessWrong as it is now is a result of a historical process, and technical limitations given by almost unmaintainability of Reddit code. If we tried to design it from the scratch, we would certainly invent something different, with the experience we have now.

But I guess a part of the problem is general for web discussions, and seems to me somehow analogical to Gresham's law: "lower-quality content drives out higher-quality content". Specifically, people say they prefer higher-quality content, but they also want quantity on demand. However high quality there would be on a website, if people come a week later and find no new content, they will complain. But if there is a new content every week, people will learn to visit the site more often, and then they will complain about not having new content every day. There will never be enough. And the supply of the high-quality content is limited. If the choice is given to readers, at some point they will express preference for more content, even if it means somewhat lower quality. And then again, and again, until the quality drops down dramatically, but each single step felt like a reasonable trade-off.

There is also a systematic bias, that people who spend more time procrastinating online have more voice in online debates... for the obvious reasons. So the community consensus for "how much new content per day or per week do we actually need?" will be mostly given by the greatest online procrastinators, which means the answer will pretty much always be "more!"

So it would seem the solution for keeping the quality level is to remain very selective in accepting new content, even when it is met with disapproval of majority of the community. Which will provide not just anger, but also hundreds of rationalizations. (If we don't have in average three new articles in Discussion every day, it means LessWrong is dying, and something must be done! Let's post all Open Thread comments as separate articles.) But there is another problem...

It's not just about readers, but also about writers. Writers want readers. Also, new writers are born from (a small minority of) readers. When the readers move to a different place, the old writers will start feeling lonely. And the new writers, they will publish even their high-quality content at the new place, because now this is their place. The tribe has moved elsewhere.

Something similar to what you want already exists. It's here: the MIRI blog. But there is no debate there, because the tribe is not there: it's at LessWrong. -- Okay, this is probably not exactly what you wanted. But my point is: Imagine that tomorrow, LW will split into two website: LW1 will contain exactly what you want, and LW2 will contain everything else. At the first moment, you will be satisfied. Most of readers will move to LW2, because there will be more content and more debate. They will check LW1 homepage once in a day, then once in a week, then once in a few months. And then, gradually, even the LW1 writers will slowly switch to publishing on LW2... because that's where most of the readers will be; and the authors want to have readers. And after some time, the LW1 will be practically dead, and LW2 will be exactly what Less Wrong is now, and with the same complaints.

What if we link LW1 and LW2 together, so that everyone who has a user account on LW2 will automatically have a user account on LW1, and also LW2 homepage will display new articles on LW1 and vice versa. That will keep the lower-quality debate on LW2 and yet every new content on LW1 will immediately attract all LW2 readers. Writing for LW1 will have the same audience as LW2, just higher status! Isn't that a best-of-both-worlds solution?

Unfortunately, I have just reinvented "Main" and "Discussion". Which, as we already know, is not satisfying.

At this moment, I simply don't know what to do anymore. I mean, I could try to come up with some plausible-sounding ideas, but I don't trust them anymore.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 July 2014 02:02:11AM 1 point [-]

One solution might be a reputation net-- people who liked this also liked that. With luck, there'd be a cluster of people who want the same sort of thing you do.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 26 July 2014 11:05:38PM 4 points [-]

How many billion people would be better off if allowed to immigrate to GB?

Utilitarianism is about counting everyone's utility the same. "Shut up and multiply" - where multiply is the number of people, not a weighting factor for how much you give a shit about them. That weighting factor should be 1 for all.

Not that I'm a utilitarian. But a libertarian utilitarian would have his work cut out for him to overcome the basic tenets of non initiation of force and weighing everyone's utility equally to justify limiting immigration.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 July 2014 03:14:26PM 0 points [-]

If immigration is open, it doesn't just benefit the people who move to the UK. It also benefits family members who stay behind-- the immigrant will probably send money home.

Comment author: chaosmage 29 July 2014 12:42:35PM 3 points [-]

I've started to play with directed graphs kind of like Bayesian networks to visualize my belief structures. So a node is a belief (with some indication of confidence), while connections between graphs indicate how beliefs influence (my confidence in) other beliefs.

This seems useful for summarizing complex arguments, easy to memorize, and (when looking at a belief structure that's bigger than my working memory) for organizing and revising thought.

However, there are a few decisions in how to design the visual language of such graphs that I can't see obvious solutions to. If I include necessity and sufficiency, which seems really useful, how does that square with the confidence calculations? How should I represent negation (the other logical connectives are fairly obvious)? Should I have different types/shapes of nodes, and if so, which?

So I'd like to see the work of others who have done similar diagrammatic depictions of belief networks, to play with them and see what works for me. I've seen influence diagrams, but I'm not convinced the choices made there are obviously the best ones. Does anyone have pointers to other existing Bayesian diagram schemes I should look at?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 July 2014 01:30:15PM 0 points [-]

Would it work to use red connections to indicate negations? If red is too emphatic, how about connections with dashes crossing the main line? How about thickness of lines to indicate how sure you are of a connection?

Comment author: Qwake 29 July 2014 09:36:25AM 1 point [-]

"Memory is the framework of reality" This quote just popped into my head recently and I can't stop thinking about it.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 July 2014 01:27:41PM 1 point [-]

Or...

Memory is the framework of "reality".

Damn, now I want quote-marks with percentages attached.

Comment author: sediment 28 July 2014 10:21:55PM *  43 points [-]

I recently made a dissenting comment on a biggish, well-known-ish social-justice-y blog. The comment was on a post about a bracelet which one could wear and which would zap you with a painful (though presumably safe) electric shock at the end of a day if you hadn't done enough exercise that day. The post was decrying this as an example of society's rampant body-shaming and fat-shaming, which had reached such an insane pitch that people are now willing to torture themselves in order to be content with their body image.

I explained as best I could in a couple of shortish paragraphs some ideas about akrasia and precommitment in light of which this device made some sense. I also mentioned in passing that there were good reasons to want to exercise that had nothing to do with an unhealthy body image, such as that it's good for you and improves your mood. For reasons I don't fully understand, these latter turned out to be surprisingly controversial points. (For example, surreally enough, someone asked to see my trainer's certificate and/or medical degree before they would let me get away with the outlandish claim that exercise makes you live longer. Someone else brought up the weird edge case that it's possible to exercise too much, and that if you're in such a position then more exercise will shorten, not lengthen, your life.)

Further to that, I was accused of mansplaining twice. and then was asked to leave by the blog owner on grounds of being "tedious as fuck". (Granted, but it's hard not to end up tedious as fuck when you're picked up on and hence have to justify claims like "exercise is good for you".)

This is admittedly minor, so why am I posting about it here? Just because it made me realize a few things:

  • It was an interesting case study in memeplex collision. I felt like not only did I hold a different position to the rest of those present, but we had entirely different background assumptions about how one makes a case for said position. There was a near-Kuhnian incommensurability between us.
  • I felt my otherwise-mostly-dormant tribal status-seeking circuits fire up - nay, go into overdrive. I had lost face and been publicly humiliated, and the only way to regain the lost status was to come up with the ultimate putdown and "win" the argument. (A losing battle if ever there was one.) It kept coming to the front of my mind when I was trying to get other things done and, at a time when I have plenty of more important things to worry about, I wasted a lot of cycles on running over and over the arguments and formulating optimal comebacks and responses. I had to actively choose to disengage (in spite of the temptation to keep posting) because I could see I had more invested in it and it was taking up a greater cognitive load than I'd ever intended. This seems like a good reason to avoid arguing on the internet in general: it will fire up all the wrong parts of your brain, and you'll find it harder to disengage than you anticipated.
  • It made me realize that I am more deeply connected to lesswrong (or the LW-osphere) than I'd previously realized. Up 'til now, I'd thought of myself as an outsider, more or less on the periphery of this community. But evidently I've absorbed enough of its memeplex to be several steps of inference away from an intelligent non-rationalist-identifying community. It also made me more grateful for certain norms which exist here and which I had otherwise gotten to take for granted: curiosity and a genuine interest in learning the truth, and (usually) courtesy to those with dissenting views.
Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 July 2014 01:25:32PM 3 points [-]

I wasn't sure about doing discussion of the specific point, but other people are....

http://www.moveandbefree.com/blog/laziness-doesnt-exist

Here's an example from someone who believes strongly in cultivating internal motivation-- the opposite of shocking yourself if you don't do enough crudely monitored exercise.

The punishment approach to exercise arguably makes people less likely to exercise at all, and I think it increases the risk of injuries from exercise.

There really is a cultural problem-- how popular is the approach from the link compared to The Biggest Loser and boot camps for civilians?

Sidetrack: I'm imagining a shock bracelet to discourage involvement in pointless internet arguments. How would it identify them? Would people use it?

View more: Next