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Comment author: MaryCh 09 June 2017 09:05:48AM 1 point [-]

Yvain once wrote a cute (but, to my mind, rather pointless) post about "rational poetry" or some such; but do rationalists even like poetry as a form of expression? Empirically?

If you want to say something in more detail, please leave a comment.


Comment author: Strangeattractor 12 June 2017 07:08:48AM 0 points [-]

I like some poetry. Often in the form of song lyrics, or Shakespeare's plays.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 03 May 2017 01:51:33PM 2 points [-]

One thing that I find helps with getting clear goals in my mind is to think of it in chunks of time, and revisit it every now and then, for example every 4 months. I think of them more as priorities than goals. For the next 4 months, my priorities are 1) X 2) Y 3) Z 4) A. Or I think of things in smaller chunks of time, such as 2 weeks, especially when there is more uncertainty in my life.

I think sometimes people get hung up a bit of thinking of goals as being eternal never-changing things. And there might be some like that, though I categorize those as aspirations.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 17 March 2017 05:06:52AM 4 points [-]

I don't live in the Bay Area, nor do I wish to move there, but I have some thoughts.

It may be that the way to accomplish this is to start a housing co-operative, or a non-profit organization.

The Rochdale principles, which many co-operatives adopt are: Open, voluntary membership. Democratic governance. Limited return on equity. Surplus belongs to members. Education of members and public in cooperative principles. Cooperation between cooperatives.

If that seems like something you can live with, then you might want to go the co-op route. If you want to have more control over who joins, and the "open voluntary membership" is a sticking point, then a non-profit might serve your needs better.

In Canada, where I live, becoming a registered charity is much more difficult than becoming a non-profit. In the United States, it is easier to get charity status. My friendly neighbourhood local makerspace, founded by a bunch of my friends, decided to be a non-profit rather than a registered charity or a co-op.

You might find resources related to housing co-operatives or non-profit governance that could help. They have some experience with being able to resolve disputes and keep community standards. I know of some where I live, but I'm not familiar with what's available in the Bay Area. Resources about intentional communites might help too. This is anecdata, but I've heard mostly horror stories about intentional communites, and mostly good things about co-ops, and co-ops near where I live in Ontario are sought-after places with long waiting lists even when they don't include government-funded subsidized housing, so if I was going to set this up I'd lean more toward the co-op side of things.

Comment author: ingive 28 February 2017 12:51:44AM *  0 points [-]

My wishing for the world is intellectual masturbation, so my practical actions in this consensus reality matter the most (instrumental rationality). But if thinking stops (epistemic rationality by persistent non-symbolic experiences) I do not care in a sense, I go insane in relation to the consensus reality but sane to the non-symbolic way of being.

So the way to solve this is to have a good system to remember me of my chores, goals, and choices which we would call rationality in the consensus reality. Otherwise, I might simply no longer be efficient from what I learn of the consensus reality. My memory might even be impaired.

Some think that the way for us to return to these states is by AGI and simply overcoming the limits of the human brain, but humans have done it for thousands of years, possibly with more ease.

See this article, Ben Goertzel is doing the interview: http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/08/08/engineering-enlightenment-part-one/

So what I think that I want is a persistent non-symbolic state, symbols make no sense, it's a bit Orwellian. But empirical feeling, indiscriminate love and so on makes a lot of sense. Of course, everything will function as it used to be ('I'-thought have never existed in the first place), but it will still be different. But from the place I am, I need (and I think humanity) need some system in which the computer keeps a track of what my goals and so on were before the persistent non-symbolic state.

This beautifully falls into a nice merging with machines, I think, let that which is unconscious, and always will be (machines), be our thinking, for we are non-symbolic I think. :)

Comment author: Strangeattractor 28 February 2017 08:47:56AM 0 points [-]

You say "intellectual masturbation" like it's a bad thing. :)

Comment author: tristanm 21 February 2017 12:54:59AM 12 points [-]

Hi LW, first time commenting on here, but I have been a reader / lurker of the site for quite some time. Anyway, I hope to bring a question to the community that has been on my mind recently.

I have noticed an odd transformation of my social circle, in particular, of the people whom I have basically known since I was young, and are about the same age as me. I'm wondering if this is something that most people have observed in other people as they moved into adulthood and out into the world.

I would say that ever since I was a teenager I considered myself a "rationalist". What that has meant exactly has of course been updated over the years, but I would say that my approach to knowledge hasn't fundamentally changed (like I didn't suddenly become a postmodernist or anything). As soon as I understood what science and empiricism were about, I knew that my life would revolve around it in some way. And, what made me very close to the people who would be my best friends throughout high school and college, is that they felt pretty much the same way I did. At least I very much believed they did. My happiest moments with them, when I was about 16 to 18, involved lengthy, deep, and enjoyable discussions about philosophy, science, politics, and current events. I was convinced we were all rationalists, that we were fairly agnostic about most things until we felt that we had come to well-argued conclusions about them, and were always willing to entertain new hypotheses or conjectures about any topic that we cared about.

Fast-forward about ten years, and it seems like most of those people have "grown out of" that, like it was some kind of phase most people go through when they're young. All important questions have been settled, the only things that seem to matter now are careers, relationships, and hobbies. That's the impression I get from my various social media interactions with them, anyway. There are no debates or discussions except angry political ones, which mostly just consist of scolding people, or snarky comments and jokes. Politically, most people I know have gone either hard-left or hard-right (mostly hard-left, since everyone I know grew up on the west coast). But what's striking to me is how hivemind-ish a lot of them have become. It's really impossible to have a good discussion with any of my old friends anymore. I realize that sounds a little complain-y, but what I emphasize is that this a particular observation about the people I grew up with, not the older people I've known like family members, and not the people in my current social circle.

Ok, sure, it's possible that I just picked bad friends back then. But I think this is a little bit unlikely, since the reason we were drawn together in the first place is our shared interests and similar way of thinking. But I feel like I have basically stuck to the same principles that I had even back then. I've tried to avoid becoming too deeply attached to any one subculture or "tribe" - and there have been many opportunities to do so. What makes me believe my observation might be a more common phenomenon is that it seems to be shared by the people I'm close to now. It appears to me that there is something that alters a person's psychology as they move into adulthood, and through college in particular. And that this alteration makes people less "rational" in a way. And whatever causes that is traumatic enough that it encourages people to cluster into groups of very like-minded individuals, where their beliefs and way of life feel extremely safe.

I'd also like to emphasize that I'm not saying that our views and beliefs have simply diverged. This has mostly to do with the way that people think, and the way that they communicate ideas.

I wonder if anyone else has had this observation, and if so, what the possible explanations might be. On the other hand, maybe I have gone through the same change in my psychology, but simply fail to notice it in myself.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 26 February 2017 08:03:36AM 1 point [-]

I think the impression you have of the people may have been influenced by seeing them primarily through social media. Have you talked to them in person? It might be different. The format of social media makes having nuanced discussions difficult, and emphasizes the more tribal posts.

Another thing to consider is that their priorities may have changed more than their approach to life. They may be applying empiricism to how to advance in a career, or how to be a good parent. There is a limited amount of time in a day, and they may have enough time to do only a few things well. Also, sleep deprivation, common among new parents, can make thinking clearly more difficult. Once children get older, parents get a bit of their balance back.

Comment author: Viliam 06 February 2017 09:59:34AM 3 points [-]

What advice would you give to a 12-years old boy who wants to become great at drawing and painting?

(Let's assume that "becoming great at drawing and painting" is a given, so please no advice like "do X instead".)

My thoughts: There is the general advice about spending "10 000 hours", for example by allocating a fixed space in your schedule (e.g. each day between 4AM and 5AM, whether I feel like doing it or not). And the time should be best spent learning and practicing new-ish stuff, as opposed to repeating what you are already comfortable with over and over again. So for example, you could decide to spend one lesson trying to get the shadows right, another lesson trying to get the perspective right, etc.

Related things you should study: perspective, anatomy.

You should probably try different tools, e.g. acrylic paint, watercolor, chalk; or different styles, e.g. realistic or cartoon; if only to get outside of your comfort zone once in a while.

I suppose there are some great books to read, and useful online websites for beginning painters, but I am not familiar with this area. A list with a short description would be appreciated.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 08 February 2017 05:28:33PM 1 point [-]

I once went to a workshop on Sumi-e painting at the local Japanese cultural centre, and it changed how I look at paintings. So I'd recommend taking a Sumi-e class, or these days, I suppose watching Sumi-e tutorials on Youtube might do.

In general, getting an idea of how different cultures look at visual arts can be eye-opening. In addition to learning by doing, going to different museums and galleries can be a way to learn about art from many different time periods and cultures in different mediums.

Another thing that changed my perspective is a book called An Eye For Fractals by Michael McGuire. It taught me to break down things into different types of shapes when looking at them, and to appreciate a different kind of beauty than is usually taught to children. It is an exploration of Benoit Mandelbrot's famous quote

"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line." - Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, 1983.

Comment author: morganism 05 February 2017 08:20:21PM 1 point [-]

an essay on Alzheimer's plaques as microbial protection, and link to study on it that i had lost (sic).



"people who have been infected by certain types of bacteria are 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease; in March 2016, 33 international researchers co-signed an editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease imploring others to seriously consider that Alzheimer’s could have an infectious cause."

Comment author: Strangeattractor 08 February 2017 04:57:51AM 0 points [-]

Alan Macdonald has autopsied brains of people who had dementia and Alzheimers, and has pictures of the cystic form of Borrelia bacteria in those brains.


Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 February 2017 08:31:49AM 0 points [-]

Nonfiction Books Thread

Comment author: Strangeattractor 07 February 2017 05:09:08PM 0 points [-]

And The Weak Suffer What They Must by Yanis Varoufakis https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/books/and-the-weak-suffer-what-they-must/nation-books-us-edition/

This is the book that Yanis Varoufakis wrote after resigning from being Greece's finance minister in 2015. It gives his perspective on the events he was part of, attempting to negotiate with the European Union and other creditors on behalf of Greec, and also on the history of the failed policies leading up to those events.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 February 2017 08:31:49AM 0 points [-]

Nonfiction Books Thread

Comment author: Strangeattractor 07 February 2017 05:01:09PM 0 points [-]

Women Who Love Psychopaths by Sandra L. Brown, Liane J. Leedom is a book that I wish I'd had years ago. It might have saved some of my friends from learning about what it's like to date a sociopath the hard way. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3234469-women-who-love-psychopaths

The dynamic described in the book also seems sadly relevant to what's going on in the political realm these days.

Comment author: Strangeattractor 07 February 2017 04:54:03PM 0 points [-]

This paper by Kenneth Marcus describes a rhetorical technique called Accusation In A Mirror, which was used in Rwanda in the events leading up to genocide. Here's a quote which summarizes the technique.

"The basic idea of AiM is deceptively simple: propagandists must “impute to enemies exactly what they and their own party are planning to do.” In other words, AiM is a rhetorical practice in which one falsely accuses one’s enemies of conducting, plotting, or desiring to commit precisely the same transgressions that one plans to commit against them. For example, if one plans to kill one’s adversaries by drowning them in a particular river, then one should accuse one’s adversaries of plotting precisely the same crime. As a result, one will accuse one’s enemies of doing the same thing despite their plans. It is similar to a false anticipatory tu quoque: before one’s enemies accuse one truthfully, one accuses them falsely of the same misdeed.

"This may seem an unlikely means of inciting mass-murder, since it would intuitively seem likely not only to fail but also to backfire by publicly telegraphing its speakers’ malicious intentions at times when the speakers may lack the wherewithal to carry out their schemes. The counter-intuitiveness of this method is best appreciated when one grasps that its injunctions are to be taken literally."

From: Marcus, Kenneth L., Accusation in a Mirror (2012). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 357 - 393, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2020327

Comment author: Strangeattractor 07 February 2017 04:55:10PM 0 points [-]

The Marcus 2012 paper references a 1999 Human Rights Watch report that has a few more details:

"The propagandist proposes two techniques that were to become often used in Rwanda. The first is to "create" events to lend credence to propaganda. He remarks that this tactic is not honest, but that it works well, provided the deception is not discovered. The "attack" on Kigali on October 4-5, 1990 was such a "created" event, as were others – the reported discovery of hidden arms, the passage of a stranger with a mysterious bag, the discovery of radio communications equipment – that were exploited later, especially during the genocide.

The propagandist calls his second proposal "Accusation in a mirror," meaning his colleagues should impute to enemies exactly what they and their own party are planning to do. He explains, "In this way, the party which is using terror will accuse the enemy of using terror." With such a tactic, propagandists can persuade listeners and "honest people" that they are being attacked and are justified in taking whatever measures are necessary "for legitimate [self-] defense." This tactic worked extremely well, both in specific cases such as the Bugesera massacre of March 1992 described below and in the broader campaign to convince Hutu that Tutsi planned to exterminate them. There is no proof that officials and propagandists who "created" events and made "accusations in a mirror" were familiar with this particular document, but they regularly used the techniques that it described.

From: Human Rights Watch, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, 1 March 1999, 1711, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/45d425512.html

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