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Comment author: Lumifer 13 February 2017 06:56:08AM 0 points [-]

I mean things like this.

Comment author: Protagoras 14 February 2017 01:33:07AM 0 points [-]

Hmmm, thanks, but that research doesn't seem to make any effort to distinguish people with diagnosable dementia conditions from those without, and does mention that the rates can be quite different for different people, so I can't tell whether there's anything about it which contradicts what I thought I remembered encountering in other research.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 February 2017 01:28:06AM 0 points [-]

It isn't especially hard to develop drugs for genetic diseases.

For simple genetic diseases where an uncomplicated biochemical mechanism has been knocked out and you know how to fix it. We don't know where even to start for intelligence.

Here is a different angle of view on basically the same problem: after people turn 60-70 years old, they start to become stupider and it's a fairly rapid and continuous decline. Why? We don't know. How to fix it? We don't know.

Harvard's current admissions website boasts that it provides no merit-based financial aid.

You misunderstand. Harvard, being a very rich and a very prestigious school, has a what's known as "need-blind" admission. That means that if they accept you, they will find money to pay for your education even if you're dirt poor. They will not turn away anyone who got accepted but doesn't have the money. Given this, there is no particular need for merit aid.

Comment author: Protagoras 13 February 2017 02:25:22AM 0 points [-]

I'm curious about your claim that at 60-70 years old people start rapidly becoming stupider for reason we don't know. I thought that I recalled reading that while the various forms of dementia become immensely more common with age, those who are fortunate enough to avoid any of them experience relatively little cognitive decline. Unless you mean only to say that our present understanding of Alzheimer's and the other less common dementia disorders is relatively limited, so you're counting that as a reason we don't know (it is certainly something we don't know how to fix, so you win on that point).

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 04 December 2016 01:30:19PM 1 point [-]

Which is a strange thing to say, since qualia re widely defined as appearances.

Comment author: Protagoras 08 December 2016 04:15:52AM 0 points [-]

It certainly becomes stranger when you drop a word. But either way, strangeness is rarely evidence of very much.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 28 September 2016 02:02:22PM 1 point [-]

Given that qualia ere what they appear to be., are you denying that qualia can appear simple, or that they are just appearances?

Comment author: Protagoras 01 December 2016 06:23:10PM 0 points [-]

I suppose I am denying that they are just appearances.

Comment author: Protagoras 09 March 2016 04:29:29AM 0 points [-]

The research indicates that most people's responses to any social science result is "that's what I would have expected," although that doesn't actually seem to be true; you can get them to say they expected conflicting results. Have there really been no studies of when people say they think studies are surprising, comparing the results to what people actually predicted beforehand (I know Milgram informally surveyed what people expected before his study, but I don't think he did any rigorous analysis of expectations)? Perhaps people are as inaccurate in reporting what they find surprising as they are in reporting what they expected. It would certainly be interesting to know!

In response to Investment Strategy
Comment author: Protagoras 22 January 2016 03:07:31AM 5 points [-]

Over the course of a month? The reasons you give for thinking these stocks might go up aren't things that would reliably manifest in such a short time frame, and the market generally has been down recently. I don't think what you've described here is evidence of much of anything. Probably you're no good at active investing, because the evidence seems to suggest that nobody is (the winners are just the ones who get lucky), but the reason to think that is because of the general evidence for that, not because of your personal experience over the past month.

Comment author: Protagoras 15 December 2015 10:43:42PM 1 point [-]

A lot of biological research is inherently slow, because you have to wait to observe effects on slow processes in living things. Probably the only way to get rapid research progress on immortality is with vastly superior computer models running on vastly superior computers substituting for as much as possible of the slow observing what really goes on in humans research. Though there would probably still be a lot of slow observing what goes on in humans going on in the course of testing the computer models for accuracy. Anyway, making more powerful computers, and making better computer models of biochemistry, are already areas that get huge amounts of research spending. It seems likely that still more spending would encounter diminishing returns, such that no amount of concerted effort would further speed things up very dramatically (certainly not to the level you're asking for). Though you might get the impression around here that everyone who isn't a rationalist is a death lover, in fact most people want to live longer, including very rich people, and so a lot of money gets spent on pursuing that goal; lack of progress has a lot more to do with it being hard than with lack of effort.

Comment author: Protagoras 15 July 2015 08:23:01PM 13 points [-]

I was under the impression that the research into biases by people like Kahneman and Tversky generally found that eliminating them was incredibly hard, and that expertise, and even familiarity with the biases in question generally didn't help at all. So this is not a particularly surprising result; what would be more interesting is if they had found anything that actually does reduce the effect of the biases.

Comment author: Nikario 24 December 2014 02:46:34PM *  9 points [-]

As a person with a scientific background who suddenly has come into academic philosophy, I have been puzzled by some of the aspects of its methodology. I have been particularly bothered with the reluctance of some people to give precise definitions of the concepts that they are discussing about. But lately, as a result of several discussions with certain member of the Faculty, I have come to understand why this occurs (if not in the whole of philosophy, at least in this particular trend in academic philosophy).

I have seen that philosophers (I am talking about several of them published in top-ranked, peer-reviewed journals, the kinds of articles I read, study and discuss) who discuss about a concept which tries to capture "x" have, on one hand, an intuitive idea of this concept, imprecise, vague, partial and maybe even self-contradictory. On the other hand, they have several "approaches" to "x", corresponding to several philosophical trends that have a more precise characterisation of "x" in terms of other ideas that are more clear i.e. in terms of the composites "y1", "y2", "y3", ... The major issue at stake in the discussion seems to be whether "x" is really "y1" or "y2" or "y3" or something else (note that sometimes an "yi" is a reduction to other terms, sometimes "yi" is a more accurate characterisation that keeps the words used to speak of "x", that does not matter).

What is puzzling is this: how come all of them agree they are taking about "x" while actually, each is proposing a different approach? Indeed, those who say that "x" is "y1" are actually saying that we should adopt "y1" in our thought, and by "x" they understand "y1". Others understand "y2" in "x". Why don't they realise they are talking past each other, that each of them is proposing a different concept and the problem comes just because they want all to call it like they call "x"? Why don't they make sub-indices for "x", therefore managing to keep the word they so desperately want, but without confusing each of its possible meanings?

The answer I have come up with is this: they all believe that there is a unique, best sense to which they refer when they speak about "x", even if it they don't know which is it. They agree that they have an intuitive grasp of something and that something is "x", but they disagree about how to better refine that ("y1"? "y2"? "y3"?). Instead, I used to focus only on "y1" "y2" and "y3" and assess them according to whether they are self-consistent or not, simple or not, useful or not, etc. "x" had no clear definition, it barely meant anything to me, and therefore I decided I should banish it from my thought.

But I have come to the conclusion that it is useful to keep this loose idea about "x" in mind and believe that there is something to that intuition, because only in the contemplation of this intuition you seem to have access to knowledge that you have not been able to formalise, and hence, the intuition is a source of new knowledge. Therefore, philosophers are quite right in keeping vague, loose and perhaps self-contradictory concepts about "x", because this is an important source from where they draw in order to create and refine approaches "y1" "y2" and "y3", hoping that one of them might get "x" right. ((At this point, one might claim that I am simply saying that it is useful to have the illusion that the concept of "x" really means something, even though it actually means nothing, simply because having the illusion is a source of inspiration. But doesn't precisely the fact that it is a source of inspiration suggest that it is more than a simple illusion? There seems to be a sense in which a bad approach to "x" is still ABOUT "x"))

I would be grateful if I got your thoughts on this.

P.S. A more daring hypothesis is that when philosophers get "x" right in "y", this approach "y" becomes a scientific paradigm. This also suggests that for those "x" where little progress has been made in millennia, the debate is not necessarily misguided, but what happens is that the intuition is pointing towards something very, very complicated, and no one has been able to give a formal accout of the things it refers to.

Comment author: Protagoras 25 December 2014 08:07:14PM 5 points [-]

It is almost completely uncontroversial that meaning is not determined by the conscious intentions of individual speakers (the "Humpty Dumpty" theory is false). More sophisticated theories of meaning note that people want their words to mean the same as what other people mean by them (as otherwise they are useless for communication). So, bare minimum, knowing what a word means requires looking at a community of language users, not just one speaker. But there are more complications; people want to use their words to mean the same as what experts intend more than they want to use their words to mean the same as what the ignorant intend. Partly that may be just to make coordination easier, but probably an even bigger motive is that people want their words to pick out useful and important categories, and of course experts are more likely to have latched on to those. A relatively uncontroversial extension of this is that meaning needn't precisely match the intentions of any current language speaker or group of language speakers; if the intentions of speakers would point to one category, but there's a very similar, mostly overlapping, but much more useful and important category, the correct account of the meaning is probably that it refers to the more useful and important category, even if none of the speakers know enough to pick out that category. That's why words for "fish" in languages whose origins predate any detailed biological knowledge of whales nonetheless probably shouldn't be thought to have ever included whales in their reference.

So, people can use words without anybody knowing exactly what they mean. And figuring out what they mean can be a useful exercise, as it requires learning more about what you're dealing with; it isn't just a matter of making an arbitrary decision. All that being said, I admit to having some skepticism about some of the words my fellow philosophers use; I suspect in a number of cases there are no ideal, unambiguous meanings to be uncovered (indeed, there are probably cases where they don't mean anything at all, as the Logical Positivists sometimes argued).

Comment author: gwern 01 November 2014 04:23:50PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: Protagoras 05 November 2014 03:56:01PM -1 points [-]

I thought it got off to a great start, dragged a bit in the middle (too many standard anime extremely long battles), but had a decent ending.

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