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Comment author: Pierre-Andre 21 April 2009 01:58:17PM 5 points [-]

Given a finite amount of time in a day, I have to decide how to use it. While I can afford to take a quick look at each comment when there are only few of them, I have no choice but to ignore some when there are pages of them (and other top-level posts to read). One nice thing with the karma system is the "best to worst" comments order: I can read the first ones and stop reading when encountering too many "boring" ones in a row (but maybe not "boring" enough to merit a downvote).

However, if many people use a similar algorithm to mine, the "bad" comments won't be read often and thus won't get further downvotes. Worst: the "good but new" comments (starting at 0) can get stuck in that pool of unread comments.

Vladimir_Nesov suggested to add a "mediocre" voting option affecting karma by -0.3 (instead of the -1 or +1). I would instead suggest a "I read this" button, worth 0 karma, together with some counter indicating the total amounts of votes irrespective of them being -1, 0 or +1. When you read a post/comment, you always vote: -1 if you judge it bad, +1 if you judge it good and 0 if you are not ready to do any of the previous.

With such a device, people could once in a while "sacrifice" some of their time reading low karma comments with few total reading count. Moreover, the current -4 threshold for hiding a post could become a function of this total count (some kind of variance).

Comment author: Pierre-Andre 17 April 2009 05:59:27PM *  3 points [-]
  • Handle: Pierre-Andre
  • Name: Pierre-André Noël
  • Age: 26
  • Gender: Male.
  • Location: Québec City, Québec, Canada
  • Education: B.Sc. Physics, M.Sc. Physics and currently midway through Ph.D. Physics.
  • Research interests: Dynamics, networks, dynamics over networks, statistical mechanics.
  • Newcomb: Commited to one-box if facing a decent Omega.
  • Prisoner: Cooperate if I judges that the other will.

I discovered OB some months ago (don't remember how) and reads both OB and LW. For now, I am mostly a lurker.

I have been raised as a Catholic Christian and became atheist midway through high school. I think that Science should take a clear position on the topic of religions, for the good of mankind.

I plan to write top-level posts on some of the following topics when I will have the time (and the karma) to do so.

  • Beyond the fad: the word "emergence" carries > 0 information.
  • Telling the truth.
  • Universal priors.
  • Many Bayesian-related topics.

By the way, does the "be half accessible" request holds for LW too?

In response to comment by ciphergoth on Where are we?
Comment author: swestrup 03 April 2009 04:15:56AM 2 points [-]

Montreal, Canada

In response to comment by swestrup on Where are we?
Comment author: Pierre-Andre 03 April 2009 01:56:18PM 1 point [-]

Québec, Qc, Canada.

In response to Helpless Individuals
Comment author: Pierre-Andre 30 March 2009 02:01:20PM 13 points [-]

In conservation biology, flagship species play the role of cute puppies:

These species are chosen for their vulnerability, attractiveness or distinctiveness in order to best engender support and acknowledgment from the public at large. Thus, the concept of a flagship species holds that by giving publicity to a few key species, the support given to those species will successfully leverage conservation of entire ecosystems and all species contained therein.

This is fighting a bias with a bias: people do not care as much as they should about conservation while they care too much of cute puppies. Science in general could adapt this technique: use "popular" subjects to attract funds to "good but unpopular" subjects.

If this is too much of the "dark side" for you, umbrella species might be more appropriate.

Comment author: James_Miller 25 March 2009 02:21:45PM 11 points [-]

Rather than just gambling with money, people could gamble with their lives. A global warming denier, for example, could announce that he is so sure that the earth will not be significantly warmer in ten years than it is today that if he is wrong about this he will kill himself. A legal system that enforced such a promise would, clearly, make it possible for someone to very credibly communicate the sincerity of his beliefs.

Comment author: Pierre-Andre 25 March 2009 03:36:24PM *  5 points [-]

Scary, voted up.

This can be pushed further: law/moral/ethics are often "holding us back". The use of dissection of human body has been forbidden/allowed many time in history and this affected our knowledge of anatomy and medicine. Many physical and psychological experiments that have been done before cannot be reproduced today, for they were "unethical".

It doesn't have to be Nazis experimentations. Informed consent requires that the person knows that he is under study, which might skew the results.

Some famous experiments were even against the legislation of that time: Louis Pasteur has tested his rabies vaccine illegally.

This vaccine was first used on 9-year old Joseph Meister, on July 6, 1885, after the boy was badly mauled by a rabid dog. This was done at some personal risk for Pasteur, since he was not a licensed physician and could have faced prosecution for treating the boy. However, left without treatment, the boy faced almost certain death from rabies.

Comment author: Annoyance 20 March 2009 02:23:15PM -1 points [-]

"Except that we are free to adopt any version of rationality that wins."

There's only one kind of rationality.

Comment author: Pierre-Andre 20 March 2009 04:26:06PM 3 points [-]

True, but that "one kind of rationality" might not be what you think it is. Conchis's point holds if you use "rationality" = "everything should always be taken into account, if possible" or something alike.

A "rational" solution to a problem should always take into account those "but in the real word it doesn't work like that...". Those are part of the problem, too.

For example, a political leader acting "rationally" will take into account the opinion of the population (even if they are "wrong" and/or give to much importance to X) if it can affect his results in the next election. The importance of this depends on his "goal" (position of power? well being of the population?) and on the alternative if not elected (will my opponent's decisions do more harm?).