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Comment author: VAuroch 21 November 2014 09:00:19PM *  1 point [-]

That may be, but if you label them 'impossible' and dismiss them, you won't gather more evidence to prove it. And if something you consider impossible has actually happened, you're missing an opportunity to improve your model significantly.

This is in fact what happens in-context. With a preposterously-detailed description of observable events (via magic hypnosis; I didn't say the novel made sense), Gently concludes that something has happened which could not have happened as described, and that the only explanation which would explain the results involves time travel; the other person says that it's impossible, to which Gently replies this.

Comment author: Nominull 23 November 2014 09:22:04AM 1 point [-]

Yeah, I feel like in real world situations, hypothesizing time travel when things don't make sense is not likely to be epistemically successful.

Wasn't there a proverb about generalizing from fictional evidence? Especially from fiction that intentionally doesn't make sense?

Comment author: VAuroch 11 November 2014 07:02:18AM *  31 points [-]

“There is no point in using the word 'impossible' to describe something that has clearly happened.”

-- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams

Comment author: Nominull 21 November 2014 08:33:37AM 3 points [-]

That seems like a failure of noticing confusion; some clear things are actually false.

Comment author: gwern 24 June 2014 01:49:09AM *  37 points [-]

EDIT: I've removed this draft & posted a longer version incorporating some of the feedback here at http://lesswrong.com/lw/khd/confound_it_correlation_is_usually_not_causation/

Comment author: Nominull 24 June 2014 09:59:22PM 10 points [-]

This post is a good example of why LW is dying. Specifically, that it was posted as a comment to a garbage-collector thread in the second-class area. Something is horribly wrong with the selection mechanism for what gets on the front page.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 April 2014 02:06:06AM 3 points [-]

Upon reading this, he wanted to map out the argumentative space in his head and decided to try to draw a line at one end, saying "Lets not get nuts. Mercury thermometers can react differentially to temperature, but they don't know how hot it is."

In response to comment by [deleted] on Rationality Quotes April 2014
Comment author: Nominull 28 April 2014 06:31:11PM 2 points [-]

[citation needed]

In response to White Lies
Comment author: Nominull 08 February 2014 07:42:02AM -1 points [-]

You favor lying to people to scam money out of them because it would be inconvenient for your education plans to not be able to scam money out of them? That seems unethical.

In response to 2013 Survey Results
Comment author: shminux 19 January 2014 04:15:24AM 14 points [-]

Yvain is not hugely on board with the idea of running correlations between everything and seeing what sticks, but will grudgingly publish the results because of the very high bar for significance (p < .001 on ~800 correlations suggests < 1 spurious result) and because he doesn't want to have to do it himself.

The standard way to fix this is to run them on half the data only and then test their predictive power on the other half. This eliminates almost all spurious correlations.

Comment author: Nominull 19 January 2014 04:59:15AM 10 points [-]

Does that actually work better than just setting a higher bar for significance? My gut says that data is data and chopping it up cleverly can't work magic.

Comment author: Nominull 22 November 2013 05:56:12AM 55 points [-]

Are you planning to do any analysis on what traits are associated with defection? That could get ugly fast.

(I took the survey)

Comment author: BT_Uytya 25 July 2013 03:38:02PM *  6 points [-]

That sounds reasonable, but unless everything we saw about Quirrel is lie, he is unable to cast animal Patronus, being cynical sociopathic rationalist with a homicidal tendencies.

There is some possibility that Quirrel have analyzed his conversation with Harry, words about "rejection of Death as a part of natural order" and picture of stars being able to keep Dementation away and re-discovered True Patronus (there is speculation about Quirrel being enemy of Death, so it at least plausible), but True Patronus couldn't look like a snake.

PS: Your argument partly applies to the Patronus of Lucius being a snake, though.

Comment author: Nominull 26 July 2013 05:00:44AM 1 point [-]

Probably the only two things the True Patronus can look like are humans and snakes. Possibly flying squirrels?

Comment author: Leonhart 16 June 2013 10:06:18PM 2 points [-]

Well, yes, I'm often disvirtuous. I'm also often unsympathetic. These episodes reliably co-occur :)

But seriously, I'm now confused and don't think I was addressing your point. Eliezer seemed to me to be talking mostly about "uninteresting", not "unsympathetic", though I'm not clear to what extent these are orthogonal for him.

Can you unpack "sympathy" a bit? When I use it of Evil+Good character A, I think it means something like "I want to see A survive a bit longer, so that he/she can develop into character B, who is the happiest, healthiest, sanest extrapolation of A". I think Evil+Evil characters are unsympathetic/uninteresting in this sense; there's nothing there that I can extrapolate into someone I'd want to hang out with.

My brain's come up with two other possible components of 'sympathy' that strike me as somehow bad ideas (not attributing them to you): "I share some disvalued traits in common with character A, so not liking them makes me somehow hypocritical" "I'll form an alliance with A for mutual defence against social opprobrium for our shared flaw X"

Comment author: Nominull 16 June 2013 10:51:41PM 2 points [-]

It strikes me as a little awful to only care about bad people inasmuch as they're likely to become good people. Maybe I've been perverted by my Catholic upbringing, but I was taught to love everyone, including the sinners, including the people you'd never want to hang out with. This appeals to me in part because I sin and people don't want to hang out with me, and yet I want to be loved regardless.

It's possible that I am the weird one here, but shows with complex but evil characters such as Breaking Bad do seem largely popular. There is a large current in modern adult TV of these sorts of villainous antagonists, and I think it's more than just false sophistication. I think it's people with the courage to see the dark parts of themselves reflected in fictional characters.

Comment author: Nominull 16 June 2013 09:05:37PM 4 points [-]

I think this is probably being too kind to my unhandicapped abilities. Rather than handicapping myself because I'm too powerful, I think the key issue is that I see things on a metalevel and analytically, such that I can notice that there is little difference between "social adeptitude" and "manipulation". And so, in order to avoid being manipulative, I consciously avoid developing social skills. I think reflectivity and pathological non-hypocrisy are the key dynamics, not inherent manipulative ability.

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