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Comment author: dogiv 23 June 2017 03:50:09PM 0 points [-]

Are you talking about a local game in NY or a correspondence thing?

Comment author: Screwtape 23 June 2017 05:44:45PM 0 points [-]

I am not in New York actually! (I took a bus in to the solstice from out of state.) My first choice would be to play over some form of VoIP like Discord, leaning on Roll20 if imagery or dicerollers were a problem. I'm on Eastern Standard Time and work a nine to five, but have a fairly flexible schedule other than that.

My second choice would be a play-by-post arrangement, which are easier to schedule but take longer to build up a sense of camaraderie. I think Chesscourt is the only rationalist forum I've heard of? ("Forum" here meaning "built for indefinite replies to a single thread" which may or may not be the technical definition of that word.) That said, I could pretty easily do both: a three hour Discord session with one group, and a forum thread on a reply-a-week basis elsewhere.

That said, if there are three to five rationalists hanging out in the rural parts of VT who want to hang out in meatspace, you all should let me know =D

Comment author: Screwtape 20 June 2017 04:09:15AM 2 points [-]

There have been a couple of community building projects put forward that got me thinking about this, and then over in the post about ways to make the community better it was suggested that some people might want to get to know other lesswrongers through D&D*. I love that idea. Tabletop RPGs are the fastest way I know of to build a connection with someone that doesn't leave scars. While the concept of an 'expert' in those games is sort of goofy, I figure I've got plenty of experience and interest in them to run something or organize a LessWrong RPG group. I haven't been terribly active around LessWrong itself, but I'm the guy who ran the Dungeons and Discourse game with the boring machine about a year ago and I'm also the guy who infodumped about Exalted at the NY Solstice afterparty if you wanted nerd credentials.

Who would want to play?

*D&D is used here as a generic name for these sorts of games, sort of like how if I ask for a Kleenex I mean any sort of disposable thing I can sneeze in. I've got a bunch of systems and genres I could grab from, depending on what people thought sounded cool.

Comment author: denimalpaca 13 June 2017 07:37:26PM 0 points [-]

you can fault them for not properly updating but you can't fault them for inconsistency.

They're still being inconsistent with respect to the reality they observe. Why is the self-consistency alone more important than a consistency with observation?

Comment author: Screwtape 13 June 2017 08:27:47PM 0 points [-]

You are correct that both sorts of things could be called inconsistency, and as soon as I come up with a better way to phrase that difference I'll edit.

I think being consistent with observations + priors is better than being consistently wrong. I also think being wrong in known ways is better than being wrong is unknown ways. Imagine driving a car with a speedometer that's always ten miles an hour under what you're actually going, or using a clock that's twenty minutes fast. You know you're getting wrong answers, but you can do an adjustment in your head to correct for it. If your speedometer is off by a random amount that changes at random times, it's both inconsistent with observation and inconsistent with itself, and therefore useless. You can't adjust or compensate, you just have to ignore it. (Or get used to getting pulled over :p)

In response to Any Christians Here?
Comment author: Screwtape 13 June 2017 06:01:42PM 2 points [-]

I'd consider myself a rationalist, and also a christian. I don't expect to convince any of the former to join the later (or vice versa) but to give some explanation there are three main reasons.

  1. I alieve in the christian god, probably as a result of being raised by a protestant pastor and in a small rural town where the overwhelming majority of people were some form of protestant. I spent half a decade calling myself an atheist after making the intellectual realization that the evidence wasn't pointing that way, but I still consistently behaved as though it was. At this point, I feel like it's more honest to report based on how I know I think 'under the hood' so to speak. To reverse the metaphor of the dragon in the garage; if the garage-owner keeps making predictions as though there is a dragon and keeps being surprised when those predictions turn out false, you can fault them for not properly updating but you can't fault them for inconsistency.

  2. Calling myself christian has advantages for me. I live in a small rural town that's overwhelming protestant. My entire family sans two people are christian. My girlfriend's entire family is christian. All of my childhood friends are christian. I like going to church, the food at the potluck is pretty good, and everyone I know around here tithes ten percent to the best charity we can find already. Calling myself an atheist would impose social costs, wouldn't change much about my day to day life, and as mentioned in point 1 it wouldn't exactly be the truth. There are absolutely times to defy the majority, but I don't think my situation is one of those.

  3. The statistics for believers having better life outcomes seem persistent, but intellectually I'm pretty sure they're a combination of confounding and placebo. They also only seem to apply to people who sincerely hold those beliefs. That said, I'm in the right population to be affected by it, so fighting my alief probably means putting myself in a statistically worse population. Since five years of reading more atheist texts, attempting to let good arguments against my faith sink in, and trying to get my system 1 to update on failed predictions has failed to work, and since shouting my intellectual disagreement from the rooftops will mostly mean I don't get delicious pot luck every weekend and won't have the catharsis of prayer when I need it, I'm alright with accepting my faith as both an alief and a belief. I make my system 2 bets as separately as I can, and count on other parts of humanity to hopefully protect me from any black swans I'm missing.

(I'm less machiavellian about this than I come across here. This probably makes more sense if you accept that this alief is pretty firmly lodged in my head, but that everything else seems to update successfully as needed. )

Comment author: cousin_it 12 June 2017 02:42:28PM *  0 points [-]

Is this true for anyone: "If you offered me X right now, I'd accept the offer, but if you first offered me to precommit against taking X, I'd accept that offer and escape the other one"? For which values of X? Do you think most people have some value of X that would make them agree?

Comment author: Screwtape 12 June 2017 08:44:34PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure I'm parsing the question correctly. Attempting to set X = five dollars, I get "If you offered me five dollars right now, I'd accept the offer, but if you first offered me to precommit against taking five dollars, I'd accept that offer and escape the other one." Precommitting against taking five dollars seems strange.

My best interpretation is "If you offered me X right now, I'd accept the offer, but if you first offered me Y to precommit against taking X, I'd accept that offer and later wouldn't take X." If that interpretation is close enough, then yes. If you offered me the opportunity to play Skyrim all day right now, I'd accept the offer, but if you first offered me a hundred dollars to precommit against playing Skyrim all day, I'd accept that offer and later wouldn't take the opportunity to play Skyrim all day. That seems too straightforward though, so I don't think I'm interpreting the question right.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 03 May 2017 01:02:01AM 0 points [-]

LessWrong: kind of an odd place to find references to Christian ethical literature.

Comment author: Screwtape 12 June 2017 05:44:14PM 0 points [-]

You'd think that, but rationalist spaces are pretty much the only places where people recognize what I'm referencing.

Comment author: Lumifer 07 June 2017 06:04:09PM 0 points [-]

If you'd like to do some overwatch or play some D&D*, I'm game.

I feel a LessWrong corporation in Eve would be a very interesting experiment.

Comment author: Screwtape 07 June 2017 07:48:17PM 0 points [-]

This is one of those cases where "interesting" is usefully ambiguous between good and bad, isn't it?

Comment author: Screwtape 07 June 2017 05:49:26PM 0 points [-]

It may be useful to distinguish between the goal-oriented skills of rationality (The Craft) and the people who gathered around the effort to build those skills (The Community) when talking about this. For example, if everyone was very careful and diligent about their posts on LW, but there was also a Discord channel full of people making whale puns and jokes about using one boxing glove on omega, would that fit what you want?

Because that exists. As Elo says in another post, there's a slack, a discord or two, an irc, a sort of loose constellation of tumblrs, etc.

I'm glad of the existence of a high standards place of discussion. I like reading the higher quality posts on Less Wrong, even if I don't usually have the motivation to write in that vernacular. I'm also glad that of the diaspora surrounding it that trade some quality of discussion for humour value. That said, I know I have a similar feeling about speaking up in the discord that I do about approaching a cluster of people talking to each other- an irrational impulse that I'll be interrupting Important People and won't measure up. This is basically the same feeling I have IRL, and my solution is the same. (Mentally suck in my gut, put on a smile, and do it anyway.) Even once I successfully speak up in a crowd, I can sometimes feel like I glanced off, that the contact was shortlived. I went to the NY Solstice last year, and despite having a really good time and meeting a bunch of people, I have to admit I haven't kept up any of those contacts like I'd hoped would happen.

I think a solution might be something like differentiating your warm fuzzies and your effective altruism. Lets keep Less Wrong's quality filter about where it is, while sometimes using it as a common place from which to spin off fun groups if we want. And, in the interests of attempting a solution- If you'd like to do some overwatch or play some D&D*, I'm game. I suspect an open invite to a tabletop game on the open thread wouldn't be badly received, and I've actually been considering that as a very low scale version of the community building efforts.

*I'm using D&D as a generic term here. I'd actually probably reach for Dungeon World, Exalted, or Chuubo's before I went for Dungeons & Dragons proper.

Comment author: MaryCh 07 June 2017 05:10:38PM 0 points [-]

Got another customer who wanted a book for a childof less than 1 y.o. Are there any simple things I can tell them besides "their vision is just developing, come back later"? Because I have the feeling this one didn't quite believe me.

Comment author: Screwtape 07 June 2017 05:35:13PM 1 point [-]

Dr. Seuss has nice pictures. So do travel almanacs. Yeah, the kid probably isn't going to get a whole lot out of them, but you can hold the kid and turn the pages and maybe read a bit at them while they chew on a corner.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 02 June 2017 05:20:55PM 0 points [-]

I want to get started with some basic budgeting / financial 101.

Are there any good mobile apps / things I may want to check out as a first start?

Comment author: Screwtape 06 June 2017 08:57:13PM 1 point [-]

This is not strictly speaking an app, but it is a thing; if you can do most of your spending using a debit card or paypal or somesuch, I've found making a once-a-month habit to copy last month's expenditures onto the end of an ever-growing CSV gives me a really nice pile of data that can be fed into all sorts of other programs. Excel or Google Spreadsheet alone lets me arrange it in ways that can be helpful. I'm sure budgeting programs can do sorting or analysis that a basic spreadsheet can't, but most of my 'huh, I'm curious about X in my budget' moments can be solved with some basic excel.

The most important benefit for me is being able to simply ask it to make a line chart of the total; that gives me a gut feeling for whether I'm gradually saving more or if I'm losing money over time, and lets me look for regular patterns. Being able to sort last month by cost is also great for just being aware of what's hitting me the hardest so I can prioritize.

(Actually, the most important benefit to me is this nice steadily growing line that feels like winning on a gut level. By some magic I have turned numbers into a motivation that's stronger than my desire to order pizza, and this is very useful voodoo. YMMV.)

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