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Comment author: Jiro 11 August 2016 08:04:26PM 0 points [-]

An extra apple a day translates, over years, to up to 50 extra pounds.

No it doesn't. You use up more calories when you weigh more. If you eat an apple a day you will reach an equilibrium where you have just enough extra weight to burn a number of calories per day equivalent to an apple. 95 calories in an apple will still get you to about 9.5 kilograms extra, which is a lot, but not near 50 pounds and it won't increase without limit.)

Comment author: OrphanWilde 12 August 2016 05:01:59PM 0 points [-]

No it doesn't. You use up more calories when you weigh more. If you eat an apple a day you will reach an equilibrium where you have just enough extra weight to burn a number of calories per day equivalent to an apple. 95 calories in an apple will still get you to about 9.5 kilograms extra, which is a lot, but not near 50 pounds and it won't increase without limit.)

The information I have seen suggests a pound of fat requires 2-3 kilocalories per day to maintain itself, which implies a range of 30-47.5 pounds from a 95 kilocalorie deviation, which would be 13-20 kilograms.

I have no idea how accurate that is, but it doesn't matter too much, as the underlying point remains the same: People's expectations of food consumption necessary to be overweight are entirely inaccurate. Fat people think thin people must be eating almost nothing at all, thin people think fat people must be eating three hamburgers per meal, where the actual difference is quite small, relative to our out-of-whack expectations.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 10 August 2016 02:51:36AM 0 points [-]

There are fat athletes. I can believe that starting from being very sedentary is harder if you're fat.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 10 August 2016 03:19:39PM 2 points [-]

It's not just "harder", it requires skills and knowledge, which most people don't actually have.

The point is that "exercise" isn't helpful advice to lose weight. First, it's not terribly effective at it over short durations, and people need to know that what they're doing is working. Second, if somebody isn't already exercising, they're going to hurt themselves, have a six week recovery time, try again, hurt themselves, and give up on losing weight. Third, you're communicating something different than what you think you are; "Go for a walk every day" is good advice, by comparison to "exercise". The temptation is to object that that is exactly exercising - but it isn't what people think when you tell them to exercise.

I've been both. My natural tendency, absent constant pressure, is to settle 40-50 pounds over my ideal weight - and it's relatively easy for me to lose weight now, but mostly because I know it's possible. The first time I lost weight, willpower had nothing to do with it - I had a minimum-wage job that kept me constantly active, and I didn't feel like I could afford to waste money on anything but the minimum sustenance of food. So I was dieting and exercising against my preferences. Since then, I've been able to lose weight - because I knew it was possible. Without the prior experience of having lost weight, it feels like an impossible achievement.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 09 August 2016 03:15:54PM 2 points [-]

I don't recommend having this argument. It's useless in almost every respect.

There are two fundamental issues. First, most people don't understand what a Calorie looks like, and think the difference between a healthy weight and an unhealthy weight is a large amount of food, rather than a small amount of food compounded over long periods of time. Want to lose weight in a sustained and sustainable fashion? Subtract a small amount of food over a long period of time. Instead, people crash-diet, then go back to normal eating habits.

An extra apple a day translates, over years, to up to 50 extra pounds. Looking at two people's daily diets, one is overweight, one is healthy, and most people couldn't tell the difference by looking at what they ate.

The second problem is that exercise is incredibly unpleasant if you're overweight. If you're currently in shape, try tossing 50 lbs of weights into a backpack the next time you exercise. Or better yet, don't, because you could hurt yourself pretty easily in exactly the ways overweight people injure themselves when doing things like jogging.

It takes physiological issues to gain serious amounts of weight in the first place; these won't stop you from losing weight, but they'll make it harder to maintain a steady weight. Normal people fidget or otherwise increase their base level of activity when they overeat, burning off excess calories. Overweight people have to be more deliberate and conscious of these things.

Comment author: Dagon 01 July 2016 02:00:02AM 0 points [-]

There's no ban on political topics. There's a ban (or at least a consensus against) topics that tend to generate tribal defensive reactions in a significant number of readers. Politics is rife with such topics, but that doesn't mean identity with the banned thing. Some politically-relevant topics are acceptable, and some non-political topics aren't.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 01 July 2016 01:10:44PM -1 points [-]

You think that an argument that ultimately boils down to "Look how capitalism is a failure at providing basic things" isn't going to provoke defensive reactions?

This doesn't even pretend very hard.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 28 June 2016 06:20:03PM 1 point [-]

I am speaking in approximate terms, just as OrphanWilde was. That does not mean never ever having a single negative emotion, just as I presume that he was not speaking of never having any emotions of any kind.

There is plenty of devotional literature which promotes refusing negative emotions and keeping the positive ones. And while I'm sure that it does not work for some people (as in OrphanWilde's experience), it does work for others. One reason I know it works for some people is that it did work for me for many years, when I was still religious.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 29 June 2016 02:09:14PM 0 points [-]

That does not mean never ever having a single negative emotion, just as I presume that he was not speaking of never having any emotions of any kind.

I was, indeed, speaking of not having any emotions of any kind. Or rather, not qualitatively experiencing them; I'd get angry, for example, but I'd notice I was angry because my hands would start clenching of their own accord, not because I'd experience anything resembling an "anger" qualia, or have my thoughts actually influenced by my emotions. To such an extent that, because I didn't experience either lust or love or any of the variations on those two themes as an internal emotive force, I assumed for many years I was asexual.

Comment author: Dagon 28 June 2016 11:29:21PM 0 points [-]

Ethics are the rules governing how preference conflicts are mediated.

Absolutely agreed. But it's about conflicts among preferred outcomes of a decision, not about preferences among disconnected world-states.

upper-class life who is unaware of suffering.

If they're unaware because there's no reasonable way for them to be aware, it's hard for me to hold them to blame for not acting on that. Ought implies can. If they're unaware because they've made choices to avoid the truth, then they're ethically inferior to the version of themselves which do learn and act.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 29 June 2016 12:50:42PM 0 points [-]

Absolutely agreed. But it's about conflicts among preferred outcomes of a decision, not about preferences among disconnected world-states.

Less about two outcomes your preferences conflict on, and more about, say, your preferences and mine.

Insofar as your internal preferences conflict, I'm not certain ethics are the correct approach to resolve the issue.

If they're unaware because there's no reasonable way for them to be aware, it's hard for me to hold them to blame for not acting on that. Ought implies can. If they're unaware because they've made choices to avoid the truth, then they're ethically inferior to the version of themselves which do learn and act.

This leads to a curious metaethics problem; I can construct a society of more ethically perfect people just by construction it so that other people's suffering is an unknown unknown. Granted, that probably makes me something of an ethical monster, but given that I'm making ethically superior people, is it worth the ethical cost to me?

Once you start treating ethics like utility - that is, a comparable, in some sense ordinal, value - you produce meta-ethical issues identical to the ethical issues with utilitarianism.

Comment author: Dagon 28 June 2016 08:33:00PM 0 points [-]

I suspect I'm more confused than even this implies. I don't think there's any numerical ethical standing measurement, and I think that cross-universe comparisons are incoherent. Ethics is solely and simply about decisions - which future state, conditional on current choice, is preferable.

I'm not trying to compare a current world with poverty against a counterfactual current world without - that's completely irrelevant and unhelpful. In a world with experienced pain (including some forms of poverty), an agent is ethically superior if it makes decisions that alleviate such pain, and ethically inferior if it fails to do so.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 28 June 2016 08:47:57PM 0 points [-]

Ethics is solely and simply about decisions - which future state, conditional on current choice, is preferable.

From my perspective, we have a word for that, and it isn't ethics. It's preference. Ethics are the rules governing how preference conflicts are mediated.

I'm not trying to compare a current world with poverty against a counterfactual current world without - that's completely irrelevant and unhelpful.

Then imagine somebody living an upper-class life who is unaware of suffering. Are they ethically inferior because they haven't made decisions to alleviate pain they don't know about? Does informing them of the pain change their ethical status - does it make them ethically worse-off?

Comment author: OrphanWilde 28 June 2016 01:52:22PM 3 points [-]

Well, I followed a policy of strict emotional regulation, and it made me anhedonic for more than a decade. I'm actively working on feeling things, whereas previously, I would have described my emotional state almost entirely in terms of equanimity, although, since I didn't know the word, I used an artful description of same. (In an emotional state, I would describe myself as balancing on top of a very narrow tower, where emotions were winds attempting to knock me down.)

Which is to say - in my experience, you don't get to pick and choose which emotions you experience. If you start refusing some, you'll discover they all fade away. This is initially extremely attractive, if you're experiencing intense negative emotions, but in the long-term, I believe the term for the mental state this produces is "clinical depression".

It's better to learn to cope with your emotions than to attempt to refuse them.

Comment author: Dagon 24 June 2016 10:49:19PM 0 points [-]

Hmm. You're getting close to Repugnant Conclusion territory here, which I tend to resolve by rejecting the redistribution argument rather than the addition argument.

In my view, In terms of world-preference, the smaller world with no poverty is inferior, as there are fewer net-positive lives. If you're claiming that near-starving impoverished people are leading lives that are negative value, I understand but do not agree with your position.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 28 June 2016 01:40:08PM *  1 point [-]

There are two problems.

In the first scenario, in which ethics is an obligation (i/e, your ethical standing decreases for not fulfilling ethical obligations), you're ethically a worse person in a world with poverty, because there are ethical obligations you cannot meet. The idea of ethical standing being independent of your personal activities is, to me, contrary to the nature of ethics.

In the second scenario, in which ethics are additive (you're not a worse person for not doing good, but instead, the good you do adds to some sort of ethical "score"), your ethical standing is limited by how horrible the world you are in is - that is, the most ethical people can only exist in worlds in which suffering is sufficiently frequent that they can constantly act to avert it. The idea of ethical standing being dependent upon other people's suffering is also, to me, contrary to the nature of ethics.

It's not a matter of which world you'd prefer to live in, it's a matter of how the world you live in changes your ethical standing.

ETA: Although the "additive" model of ethics, come to think of it, solves the theodicy problem. Why is there evil? Because otherwise people couldn't be good.

Comment author: malcolmocean 24 June 2016 05:05:30PM 1 point [-]

Honestly, I'm not sure I will. The response on LW continues to be aversively critical, so I crosspost here relatively rarely. I really appreciate your comment though, in light of that.

If you want to stay on top of my posts, I recommend my newsletter or rss.

Although perhaps your saying "continue to crosspost" is less about you wanting to read my writing in particular and more you just generally wanting LW to have long-form content on it... in which case, well, we'll see.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 24 June 2016 05:38:32PM 1 point [-]

The response on LW continues to be aversively critical

Yeeeeup.

It's not the upvotes/downvotes, either. It's the comments.

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