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Comment author: CalmCanary 21 June 2015 06:34:58PM 1 point [-]

So if I spouted 100 billion true statements at you, then said, "It would be good for you to give me $100,000," you'd pay up?

Comment author: faul_sname 21 June 2015 07:58:54PM 1 point [-]

If those 100 billion true statements were all (or even mostly) useful and better calibrated than my own priors, then I'd be likely to believe you, so yes. On the other hand, if you replace $100,000 with $100,000,000,000, I don't think that would still hold.

I think you found an important caveat, which is that the fact that an agent will benefit from you believing a statement weakens the evidence that the statement is true, to the point that it's literally zero for an agent that you don't trust at all. And if an AI will have a human-like architecture, or even if not, I think that would still hold.

Comment author: Romashka 22 May 2015 11:12:17AM 1 point [-]

No, I meant rather what between-different-fields-of-biology observations you might have. It doesn't matter what you study, specifically. It's more like 'but why did those biochists study the impact of gall on probiotics for a whole fortnight of cultivation, if every physiologist knows that the probiotic pill cannot possibly be stuck in the GI tract for so long? thing.' Have you encountered this before?

Comment author: faul_sname 22 May 2015 11:17:16AM 0 points [-]

I can come up with a few examples that seemed obvious that they wouldn't work in retrospect, mostly having to do with gene insertion using A. tumefaciens, but none that I honestly predicted before I learned that they didn't work. Generally, the biological research at my institution seemed to be pretty practical, if boring. On the other hand, I was an undergrad, so there may have been obvious mistakes I missed -- that's part of what I'd be interested in learning.

Comment author: JonahSinick 21 May 2015 12:14:15AM *  3 points [-]

To return to your original question, on the overt information-exchange layer you see your statement "I am smarter than almost everyone here" as a neutral fact about the world which you believe is true. Now, analyze that statement on the signal-exchange level. What does it imply to hairless bipedal apes?


I'm not as oblivious as it sounds :-).

My mistake was in greatly underestimating the extent to which LWers are like this, given the unusually high IQ and the explicit goal of refining the art of rationality. I thought "these people are different so I don't have to worry about that."

The situation is that not all humans react negatively when someone else says "I'm better than all of you." That's the way almost all humans react, but having a sense of self-worth rooted in relative status is not biologically inevitable. It's possible to rewire status motivations so that they're rooted in the extent to which you're achieving a goal. Empirically, people who learn to do so are much more productive.

My problem was that I didn't know that you didn't know this: I didn't realize that you had no way of knowing that it's biologically possible for somebody to genuinely not care about relative status. I didn't know that you didn't know what Poincare wrote:

Science keeps us in constant relation with something which is greater than ourselves; it offers us a spectacle which is constantly renewing itself and growing always more vast. Behind the great vision it affords us, it leads us to guess at something greater still; this spectacle is a joy to us, but it is a joy in which we forget ourselves and thus it is morally sound.

He who has tasted of this, who has seen, if only from afar, the splendid harmony of the natural laws will be better disposed than another to pay little attention to his petty, egoistic interests. He will have an ideal which he will value more than himself, and that is the only ground on which we can build an ethics. He will work for this ideal without sparing himself and without expecting any of those vulgar rewards which are everything to some persons; and when he has assumed the habit of disinterestedness, this habit will follow him everywhere; his entire life will remain as if flavored with it.

Comment author: faul_sname 22 May 2015 10:52:54AM 6 points [-]

My mistake was in greatly underestimating the extent to which LWers are like this, given the unusually high IQ and the explicit goal of refining the art of rationality. I thought "these people are different so I don't have to worry about that."

I suspect that you're correct that you don't have to worry about arrogance as a strong communication barrier here -- I noticed that you registered as arrogant, but didn't really count it against you. Based on the other comments, it sounds like most readers did the same.

There's a lot of conversation about status in the LW-sphere, particularly in the Overcoming Bias region. Since you wrote a post on social skills, and since that post did not seem to be using the social skill of status management, several commentators felt that it was worthwhile to tell you.

Comment author: Romashka 22 May 2015 06:50:59AM 2 points [-]

Thank you, I will do it ASAP, I'm just a bit rushed by PhD schedule and some other work that can be done only in summer. Do you have similar observations? It would be great to compile them into a post, because my own experience is based more on literature and less on personal communication, for personal reasons.

Comment author: faul_sname 22 May 2015 10:45:51AM 1 point [-]

I really don't have any similar observations, since I mostly focused on biochem and computational bio in school.

I'm actually not entirely sure what details you're thinking of -- I'm imagining something like the influence of selective pressure from other members of the same species, which could cover things like how redwoods are so tall because other redwoods block out light below the canopy. On the other hand, insight into the dynamics of population biologists and those studying plant physiology would also be interesting.

According to the 2014 survey we have about 30 biologists on here, and there are considerably more people here who take an interest in such things. Go ahead and post -- the community might say they want less of it, but I'd bet at 4:1 odds that the community will be receptive.

Comment author: Romashka 18 May 2015 02:10:11PM 6 points [-]

I do have something specific in mind (about how plant physiology is often divorced from population research), but I am in a minority here, so it might be more interesting for most people to read about other stuff.

Comment author: faul_sname 22 May 2015 06:09:43AM 0 points [-]

I, for one, would be interested in such a post.

Comment author: ahbwramc 21 May 2015 02:43:53PM 2 points [-]

I feel like there are interesting applications here for programmers, but I'm not exactly sure what. Maybe you could link up a particular programming language's syntax to our sense of grammar, so programs that wouldn't compile would seem as wrong to you as the sentence "I seen her". Experienced programmers probably already have something like this I suppose, but it could make learning a new programming language easier.

Comment author: faul_sname 22 May 2015 02:03:46AM *  2 points [-]

Syntax highlighting, and a compiler that highlights errors as you type them (e.g. SyntasticCheck for vim). It's really useful.

Comment author: Emily 21 April 2015 08:58:24AM 0 points [-]

This is interesting, because it's almost crazy to me that you'd call a strawberry sour - almost as crazy as calling it bitter! Strawberries are really really sweet in my experience. (Unless it was a very unripe one, I suppose?) Although, I'm not hugely keen on them because of texture issues, so possibly I just haven't picked up on sourness...? Sometimes I think I don't taste foods as well when I'm nervous about potential texture variations (for some reason I can get a strong "yuck" reaction from this).

Comment author: faul_sname 25 April 2015 10:30:54AM 0 points [-]

It's almost crazy to me that you wouldn't call strawberries sour. Strawberries taste quite sour to me, and quite sweet as well. I've always thought of sourness as relating to acidity (strawberries and grapefruits actually have pretty similar pH's). I perceive bitterness to be entirely different (strawberries are not bitter, grapefruits are slightly to moderately bitter, depending on the grapefruit, kale is very bitter to me but not at all sour).

Comment author: metatroll 01 April 2015 09:22:11PM 1 point [-]

You must be joking. The relevant test is "reading comprehension", and Less Wrong comprehensively failed. This essay says many things with which rationalists would agree, if they had been said differently. But some collective cognitive occlusion has apparently

notices the date

Oh. So you are joking. I guess you got me. looks away Well played, well played.

metatroll is the author of Confessions of a Failed Troll.

Comment author: faul_sname 02 April 2015 06:46:11AM 0 points [-]

I think that the relevant joke was that this was a rambling, 2000 word restatement of "politics is the mind killer".

Comment author: Dentin 01 April 2015 04:25:03PM 3 points [-]

This is a blatant attempt to advertise the amazon book link at the bottom of the post. The post itself could have been generated by Markov chain, and is devoid of interesting content and ideas. Downvoting.

Comment author: faul_sname 02 April 2015 02:10:59AM 0 points [-]

Look at the date.

Comment author: CBHacking 12 February 2015 09:47:16AM 6 points [-]

It also raises worrying considerations about how passwords are stored in the database. Passwords should never be stored in plain text, nor with reversible encryption. Instead, each account should store a password verifier value (and a salt, unique to the user).

A password verifier is the result of running a password, its salt, and possibly another input that isn't kept in the DB all through a function that produces some deterministic value that is nigh-impossible to brute force. A property of password verifiers is that they produce output of a constant length, regardless of the input length. This makes it easy to allow arbitrary-length passwords because any actual limit you impose is artificial and exists for some reason other than your database schema.

For those familiar with hash functions: a raw hash, even a long or fancy one like the new SHA3 family, is a bad password verifier function. However, it does exhibit the desired properties with regard to length. In fact, you can build a decent PVF out of cryptographic hash functions; see PBKDF2.

Comment author: faul_sname 14 February 2015 02:20:34AM 2 points [-]

The worrying questions have somewhat less worrying answers. Here is the cause of the length limit of 20 (in r2/r2/templates/login/html):

 <input id="passwd_${op}"
name="passwd_${op}" type="password" maxlength="20"/>

Removing the maxlength="20" restriction on password fields allows longer passwords without a problem (I'm actually unsure why that's there in the first place -- it doesn't actually prevent a malicious actor from sending a 1 GB password, as it's a client-side check).

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