Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

In response to The Winding Path
Comment author: chaosmosis 27 November 2015 08:08:40AM *  -1 points [-]

I like the vibes.

But worse, the path is not merely narrow, but winding, with frequent dead ends requiring frequent backtracking. If ever you think you're closer to the truth - discard that hubris, for it may inhibit you from leaving a dead end, and there your search for truth will end. That is the path of the crank.

I don't like this part. First, thinking that you're closER to the truth is not really a problem, it's thinking you've arrived at the truth that arguably is. Second, I think sometimes human beings can indeed find the truth. Underconfidence is just as much a sin as overconfidence, but referring to hubris in the way that you did seems like it would encourage false humility. I think you should say something more like "for every hundred ides professed to be indisputable truths, ninety nine are false", and maybe add something about how there's almost never good justification to refuse to even listen to other people's points of view.

The path of rationality is a path without destination.

I don't agree with this either, or most of the paragraph before it: there are strong trends.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 December 2012 12:47:02AM *  1 point [-]

You've conceded that your understanding of my intentions is obviously irrational, that you've utilized strawmen often throughout this discussion, and that you're using guerilla type argumentative tactics against me.

Still lies. I have directly said the opposite of that. Please leave lesswrong and go elsewhere.

and that your ego will increase existential risk by a significant amount.

If nothing else I suppose I am flattered that you believe I'm that relevant, that I have that much power to influence existential outcomes one way or the other. It seems appropriate to harness this kind of absurd lament as if it is a positive exhortation. A challenge consider what difference I could have, to evaluate what Good (whatever that means) my allegedly significant power could be harnessed towards.

If I had to guess, you're just a bully who enjoys bullying whenever they get into a context they can get away with it. You feel powerful when you portray yourself as engaging in the tactics of Machiavelli, or when you remind yourself that you have friends on this website and I don't.

I know you intend nothing more than slander but I am once more prompted to consider just what this information would mean to me were it true. If I was a bully, someone who thrives on abusing power against others and who presumably has been practiced the skills of the bully throughout my life then that would imply a certain skill-set that is valuable in certain contexts. It is a crude, distasteful skillset that I happen to find viscerally abhorrent down to the very core of my being but one that I must nevertheless acknowledge use instrumentally useful to those who use it well. Experience using Machiavellian tactics is even more useful, being far more general and adaptable than competency with petty bullying.

If I were so fundamentally instinctively orientated towards bullying and Machiavellian scheming toward power---and I credit myself with the intellect and resourcefulness to become quite proficient in whatever I'm instinctively driven to do if given three decades of experience---then that would give a very clear indication of just what my comparative advantage would be likely to be. Namely it would mean I should be making use of my natural drives being just one more asshole in a high paying and cutthroat workplace and industry (such as the pharmaceutical industry or something finance related). I would then be able to harness the economic bounty of my exploitation to achieve things I care about.

(As it happens your model of me is wrong so my development history and so comparative advantage is very different to what would be the case in the counterfactual world that operates using your assumption as a premise.)

Comment author: chaosmosis 21 December 2012 01:17:36AM *  -2 points [-]

You have repeatedly falsely portrayed my arguments as defending belligerent tone, you've used that as an excuse to curse at me, you've defended an absurd model of my intentions, you've shifted the topic of the discussion over and over again and repeatedly ignored points that you find inconvenient. You have never produced a valid response to these objections, you continue to omit them over and over and to instead redirect the topic onto personal attacks on me.

This is all evidence for my belief that you're portraying your motives here dishonestly. The repeated aggression that you've shown, given the additional fact that there's a complete lack of warrants to support it, is strong evidence for my belief that you enjoy being a jerk. You claim that you would have gone into a different line of work if that were the case, but I think that's only incredibly weak evidence.

It's not as though I should have a low prior on a human being an asshole, even if they're not in finance. It's also not as though I should privilege your assertions as to what a counterfactual world would look like over your actual observable behavior within these comments.

Comment author: thomblake 20 December 2012 02:26:50PM 2 points [-]

Can you give an example of a case where they don't overlap, that PhilGoetz is arguing about?

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 11:26:32PM *  1 point [-]

Giving one future self u=10 and another u=0 is equally as good as giving one u=5 and another u=5.

So, to give a concrete example, you have $10 dollars. You can choose between gaining 5 utilons today and five tomorrow by spending half of the money today and half of the money tomorrow, or between spending all of it today and gaining 10 utilons today and 0 tomorrow. These outcomes both give you equal numbers of utilons, so they're equal.

Phil says that the moral reason they're both equal is because they both have the same amount of average utility distributed across instances of you. He then uses that as a reason that average utilitarianism is correct across different people, since there's nothing special about you.

However, an equally plausible interpretation is that the reason they are morally equal in the first instance is because the aggregate utilities are the same. Although average utilitarianism and aggregate utilitarianism overlap when N = 1, in many other cases they disagree. Average utilitarianism would rather have one extremely happy person than twenty moderately happy people, for example. This disagreement means that average and aggregate utilitarianism are not the same (as well as the fact that they have different metaethical justifications which are used as support), which means he's not justified in either his initial privileging of average utilitarianism or his extrapolation of it to large groups of people.

Comment author: drethelin 20 December 2012 08:55:45AM -1 points [-]

I'd just like to say that your complaints about length are pretty funny in their ironic stupidity.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 09:10:46AM *  0 points [-]

I said that length was useful insofar as it added to communication. Was I particularly inefficient? I don't think so. As is, it's somewhat ironic, but I think only superficially so because there isn't any real clash between what I claim as ideal and what I engage in (because, again, I think I was efficient). And there's not stupidly there at all, or at least none that I see. You'll need to go into more detail here.

Comment author: drethelin 20 December 2012 08:56:46AM 1 point [-]

Also, you say changing the nature of the game like it's not important. It's like you want to play basketball back before they cut the bottoms out of baskets.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 09:08:45AM -1 points [-]

I understand what you're getting at, but what specifically is important about this change? I see the added resource intensity as one thing but that's all I can think of whereas I'm reading your comment as hinting at some more fundamental change that's taking place.

(A few seconds later, my thoughts.)

One change might be that the goals have shifted. It becomes about status and not about solving problems. Maybe that is what you had in mind? Or something else?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 07 December 2012 01:39:41PM 2 points [-]

Yes, at some level one can interpret Kant as saying something like "use decision theory, not game theory."

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 08:07:14AM 1 point [-]

Quick Question, a few weeks later: would you be willing to take a guess as to what problems might have caused my comment to be downvoted? I'm stumped.

Comment author: thomblake 19 December 2012 04:55:37PM 2 points [-]

10 utilons plus 0 utilons is equivalent to 5 utilons plus 5 utilons not because their average is the same but because their total is the same.

This is incoherent. "Average is the same" and "total is the same" are logically equivalent for cases where n is the same, which I think are all we're concerned about here.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 07:31:50AM *  0 points [-]

It could be either, so he's not justified in assuming that it's the average one in order to support his conclusion. He's extrapolating beyond the scope of their actual equivalence, that's the reason his argument is bringing anything new to the table at all.

He's using their mathematical overlap in certain cases as prove that in cases where they don't overlap the average should be used as superior to the total. That makes no sense at all, when thought of in this way. That is what I think the hole in his argument is.

The Rosenhan Experiment

3 chaosmosis 14 September 2012 10:31PM

I haven't seen any links to this on Lesswrong yet, and I just discovered it myself. It's extremely interesting, and has a lot of implications for how the way that people perceive and think of others are largely determined by their environmental context. It's also a fairly good indict of presumably common psychiatric practices, although it's also presumably outdated by now. Maybe some of you are already familiar with it, but I thought I'd mention it and post a link for those of you who aren't.

There's probably newer research on this, but I don't have time to investigate it at the moment.


Comment author: TheOtherDave 14 September 2012 08:54:42PM 0 points [-]

how would a possibly insane person determine that insanity X is a possible kind of insanity?

Perhaps they couldn't. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.

Also, this approach presumes that your understanding of the way probabilities work and of the existence of probability at all is accurate. Using the concept of probability to justify your position here is just a very sneaky sort of circular argument

Sure. If I'm wrong about how probability works, then I might be wrong about whether I can rule out having X-type insanity (and also might be wrong about whether I can rule out being a butterfly).

Comment author: chaosmosis 14 September 2012 09:40:48PM *  0 points [-]

Perhaps they couldn't. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.

I didn't think that your argument could function on even a probabilistic level without the assumption that X-insanity is an objectively real type of insanity. On second thought, I think your argument functions just as well as it would have otherwise.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 14 September 2012 09:13:47PM 2 points [-]

But, if someone doesn't want to admit that logic exists or you just disagree with someone as to what logic is, there's really nothing to be done but to walk away.

That's not necessarily true. If we disagree on what logic is, I can work out the rules of what you consider logic and decide whether, using those rules, I come to a different conclusion than you do (in which case I can try to convince you of that different conclusion using your rules), or I can attempt to convince you that you're wrong via illogical means (like telling you a convincing story, or using question-begging language, or etc.). I can also do the latter if you reject logic altogether.

Comment author: chaosmosis 14 September 2012 09:36:10PM 0 points [-]

Truth, thanks.

View more: Next