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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 21 December 2016 06:36:11PM 5 points [-]

And my impression is that people are only really weirded out by these songs on behalf of other people who are only weirded out by them on behalf of other people.

Coincidentally, I was thinking today about whether people upvote some LW articles because they felt really useful for them, or just because they believe they could be useful for other people. Another instance of a similar problem.

(Specifically, I was considering writing an article explaining some more or less high-school math. Because... well, people have random blind spots, so maybe this could actually help someone. It's an experiment, and I would get feedback in form of upvotes, right? And then I was like: oh crap, people could actually upvote this article even if it wouldn't be useful for anyone, just because everyone would be like: well, this is all obvious for me, but someone else will probably benefit from reading this.)

Is there a general solution? I guess in our culture, you could just tell people "please now express how you feel about the issue, ignoring your prediction of how other people will feel about it". Or perhaps create a poll containing options in the form of "I feel X, but I predict other people will feel Y".

Comment author: Prometheus 09 August 2016 03:53:37AM 0 points [-]

Hi, I first discovered this site a few years ago, but never really participated on it. Looking back, it appears I only commented once or twice, saying something condescending about morality. Recently, I rediscovered the site, because I started noticing updates on a Facebook group (no longer) affiliated with it. What's funny is I only realized I had an account when I tried to register under the exact same User Name. I've started reading the sequences and am interested in participating in the discussions. I've thought intensely about certain topics since I was young, but I didn't really apply a scientific (or rationalist) approach to it until my Junior year of college, when I joined an Atheist community at my school. Many times, I see different sides to an issue. This isn't to say I stay on the fence for everything, but I understand most situations are complicated with at least some conflicting ideals. Looking forward to getting mercilessly pummeled when I say something irrational or factually incorrect.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 09 August 2016 07:27:31PM 0 points [-]

Hi, welcome back!

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 13 June 2016 11:46:44PM 9 points [-]

I see in the "Recent on Rationality Blogs" panel an article entitled "Why EA is new and obvious". I'll take that as a prompt to list my three philosophical complaints abouts EA:

  • I believe in causality as a basic moral concept. My ethical system absolutely requires me to avoid hurting people, but is much less adamant about helping people. While some people claim to be indifferent to this distinction, in practice people's revealed moral preferences suggest that they agree with me (certainly the legal system agrees with me).
  • I also believe in locality as an ontologically primitive moral issue. I am more morally obligated to my mother than to a random stranger in Africa. Finer gradations are harder to tease out, but I still feel more obligation to a fellow American than to a citizen of another country, ceteris paribus.
  • I do not believe a good ethical system should rely on moral exhortation, at least not to the extent that EA does. Such systems will never succeed in solving the free-rider problem. The best strategy to produce ethical behavior is simply to appeal to self-interest, by offering people membership in a community that confers certain benefits, if the person is willing to follow certain rules.
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 June 2016 10:14:01PM 1 point [-]

If we look at this issue from an angle "ethics is memetic system evolved by cultural group selection", then I guess it makes sense that (1) systems promoting helping your cultural group would have an advantage over systems promoting helping everyone to the same degree, and (2) systems that allow to achieve the "ethical enough" state reasonably fast would have an advantage over systems where no one can realistically become "ethical enough".

The problem appears when someone tries to do an extrapolation of that concept.

I am not sure how to answer the question "should we extrapolate our ethical concepts?". Because "should" itself is within the domain of ethics, and the question is precisely about whether that "should" should also be extrapolated.

Comment author: root 24 May 2016 09:45:44AM 1 point [-]

Has there ever been any investigation to their identity?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 May 2016 07:46:34PM 1 point [-]

None that I'm aware of.

I suspect that no one actually fell for the scam... or if they did, they are too ashamed to admit it... so there is nothing specific to investigate.

Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users

24 Viliam_Bur 14 May 2016 05:38PM

Recently, multiple suspicious user accounts were created on Less Wrong. These accounts don't post any content in the forum. Instead, they are used only to send private messages to the existing users.

Many users have received a copy of the same message, but different variants exist, too. Here are the examples I know about. If you have received a different variant, please post it in a comment below this article:


Hi good day. My boss is interested on donating to MIRI's project and he is wondering if he could send money through you and you donate to miri through your company and thus accelertaing the value created. He wants to use "match donations" as a way of donating thats why he is looking for people in companies like you. I want to discuss more about this so if you could see this message please give me a reply. Thank you!


hi. ive made 500k+ the last half year on esport betting and i can show proof. i was a great poker player before that so i have reason to believe i am good and wellsuited at this. i want to offer free education to one of the efw people that have their priorities straight in this world and will work towards minimising existential risk. the higher intelligence the better. ultimately i would like to offload some work to someone because currently i am gettin gquite a bit burnt out and i would like to study finance, and having someone take advantage of the incredible ineffeciencies in this area is of huge importance. i would like to discuss this with someone and how to make it real, and have exchange of thoughts on all of the aspects on how to best do it. i can post proof and make donations to miri to show im serious so that we or someone else could have a discussion about it


I don't know yet about anyone who replied and got scammed, so this is all based on indirect evidence. If you got scammed, please tell me. If you are ashamed, I can publish your story anonymously. Your story could help other potential victims.

Most likely, the scheme is the following:

  1. The scammer will send you money.
  2. Then they will ask some of the money back because they changed their mind, or they mistakenly sent you more than they wanted, or their financial situation suddenly changed, or whatever.
  3. After receiving the money from you, they will flag the original transaction as a fraud, so they get back the money they originally sent you, plus the money you sent them back. Then they disappear, or it will turn out they used a stolen identity, etc.

(Thanks to ChristianKl for explaining the system in the Open Thread.)

If you replied to the original message and now you are already in the middle of the process, please inform your bank as soon as possible! Even if the step 2 didn't happen yet, so you can still get out without losing money, warning your bank about the scammer could help other potential victims.


Warning: If you have already received a check or a payment confirmation, and someone is asking you to send the overpayment back quickly, do not send anything. The check or the payment confirmation is fake, and the goal is to make you send money before you find out. (Thanks to qsz for explaining.)

Comment author: gjm 20 April 2016 12:42:21PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 20 April 2016 09:14:33PM 1 point [-]


Comment author: shminux 08 April 2016 07:30:23PM 6 points [-]

Not this month, but a few months back... Successfully hypnotized people over text chat on several occasions. Surprisingly easy once the subject is willing and trusts you.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 April 2016 07:43:44PM 1 point [-]

Congratulation! By the way, were those subjects mathematicians/programmers? Because I was told (by someone who uses hypnosis professionally) that those are the most difficult ones to hypnotize.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 07 April 2016 02:13:12AM 0 points [-]

"Featured Articles" is such a "best of," but that isn't obvious. But the other list is clearly marked "recent."

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 08 April 2016 07:40:57PM *  0 points [-]

Maybe at the front page the "Recent Promoted Articles" and "Featured Articles" should move on the top, and the "Less Wrong is…" description should be below them.

Or maybe even articles first, map of meetups second, and the website description on the bottom. And the bullet points in the description are unnecessarily large.

Things at the top of the page are more likely to be noticed.

Comment author: gjm 06 April 2016 01:34:11PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 06 April 2016 08:42:50PM 2 points [-]

Removed (both the comment and the user).

Comment author: kephasp 30 March 2016 01:19:07PM 2 points [-]

We have a pretty stupid banking system if you can cancel a transaction after the target has had time to make a transaction back to you. Or it should be straitghforward and fee-less to cancel that second transaction as a consequence.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 March 2016 07:44:38PM *  0 points [-]

I am not an American, and the American ways of transferring money are mysterious to me. When I want to send money from point A to point B, I log into a web page, fill in the required data, confirm the data, and in a day or two the money is there. If I understand it correctly, the American way to do this is to personally go to the bank, take a paper form, write the data on the paper, deliver the paper to the target, and the target must take the paper to their bank.

It was a huge surprise to learn this, because I automatically assumed that the American ways of dealing with money must be more advanced and more convenient, just because of having more experience with internet and capitalism in general. But now I guess that the American system is simply a victim of its own inertia: these methods were invented and became a norm before the internet, and now people are resistent to the change, because no one wants to experiment with the new methods when their own money is involved.

Still, I agree that the second transaction should be cancellable after the first transaction was cancelled. Not sure what is the trick here. Maybe the scammer wants the part of their money returned using a different method (one that does not allow cancelling, or has shorter deadlines). Maybe the plan is that most people will not notice the cancelling of the first transaction, or be busy enough that they miss the deadline for cancelling the second one. Maybe there is some psychological trick preventing the victim from cancelling. Really, I don't know (and not being familiar with the American system, even if I read an explanation, there is a chance I would misunderstand it).

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