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Comment author: Lumifer 14 June 2016 03:52:28PM 0 points [-]

I only glanced at the paper, but my suspicion is that they are using something like 100K cyclists per kilometre of road, not per kilometre actually cycled. They admit to not knowing the miles cycled, but if you guesstimate the number of cyclists and you know the length of roads in London, you can produce a "cyclists per kilometre of road" metric. I am not sure how meaningful it is.

Comment author: garethrees 14 June 2016 08:03:51PM *  1 point [-]

Deaths per cyclist per kilometre of road is a crazy unit of measurement. I mean, sometimes you have to report the statistic you've got rather than the statistic you'd like, but I don't see what possible practical significance this has.

The statistic we'd like to know is deaths per kilometre cycled. The average person in the UK cycles about 60 km a year (source: Department for Transport) and the population of London is about 8.5 million (source: Wikipedia), so the 19 deaths in 2006 correspond to about 3.5 deaths per 100 million kilometres cycled.

This is slightly higher than the UK average of 3.1 deaths per 100 million kilometres cycled, and on the high side for Western Europe (compare Netherlands: 1.0; Germany: 1.8; France: 3.1; Italy: 3.4).

Comment author: PhilGoetz 09 August 2014 06:29:29PM 0 points [-]

When I studied linguistics in grad school, I was taught that Japanese and Navajo have noun suffixes that indicate the physical shape of an object, e.g. "long narrow tube", "flat, paper-like", etc.

Comment author: garethrees 12 August 2014 04:13:47PM *  1 point [-]

In Japanese, these aren't noun suffixes but number suffixes, known as counters or classifiers. You don't say, "*ninjin ga san" [three carrots], but rather, "ninjin ga sanbon" [three-cylinder-shaped carrots].

Mass nouns behave in a similar way in English: you don't say "*three breads", but rather, "three loaves of bread". Also, "head of cattle", "slices of toast", "sheets of paper", "items of cutlery", etc.

In Navajo, the classifiers are verb stems.

Comment author: garethrees 09 August 2014 04:51:45PM 1 point [-]

This proposal seems like it would run aground on the actual complexity and changeability of river systems. The River Great Ouse, to take an example that's local to me, runs in four channels between Earith and its outflow at Kings Lynn (the Old and New Bedford Rivers, the Great Ouse proper, and an unnamed flood relief channel). But this is a relatively recent configuration: the Great Ouse formerly turned west at Littleport (rather than north as at present), reaching a confluence with the River Nene before flowing into the Wash at Wisbech, while the Little Ouse flowed north to Kings Lynn.

Comment author: gwern 05 July 2014 10:13:54PM *  0 points [-]

Creuncf gur fyvc bs cncre ybbxrq fbzrguvat yvxr guvf.

Gung'q arire jbex sbe n frpbaq ba n uhzna. V qba'g guvax V'ir frra nal nzovtenzf juvpu ner fb fzbbgu gung lbh pbhyq frr rvgure bar onfrq ba n cevzr jvgubhg abgvat gung gur jevgvat vf irel bqq. V pna'g rira ernq nal bs gung nzovtenz rkprcg sbe 'fcevat', fgenvavat uneq.

Comment author: garethrees 05 July 2014 10:45:42PM 0 points [-]

Gung cnegvphyne nzovtenz, fher. (Vg'f nyfb qvsvphyg gb svaq zhygvcyr zrffntrf jvgu gur fnzr unfu.) Ohg Qreera Oebja hfrq guvf nzovtenz va uvf 2007 frevrf "Gevpx be Gerng" jvgu ng yrnfg gur nccrnenapr bs fhpprff (gubhtu nf nyjnlf jvgu Oebja, vg'f cbffvoyr ur jnf sbbyvat hf engure guna gur cnegvpvcnag).

Comment author: gwern 25 August 2013 04:39:09PM *  1 point [-]

I have made it up to episode 5 of Umineko, and I've found one incident in particular unusually easy to resolve (easy enough that though the answer hasn't been suggested by anyone in-game, I am sure that I know how it was/could be done); I'm wondering how much it is due to specialized knowledge and whether it really looks harder to other people. (Because of the curse of knowledge, it's now difficult for me to see whether the puzzle really is as trivial as it looks to me.) So, a little poll, even though LWers are not the best people to ask.

In episode 5, an unknown caller phones Natsuhi in her locked personal room. He says he's predicted her favorite season of the year, and asks her what it really is. She replies 'winter', and he says that is what he predicted. She is skeptical and he tells her to look underneath a clock in her room. She does and finds a slip of paper with the word 'winter' on it: he had been there earlier and left it as proof of his prediction. Natsuhi is shocked and mystified.

How sure are you that you know how he did it?

Very No idea

How would you rate your familiarity with cryptography?

It's gibberish to me I use hashes all the time!

(Please rot13 any replies.)


Comment author: garethrees 05 July 2014 10:07:54PM *  0 points [-]

Creuncf gur fyvc bs cncre ybbxrq fbzrguvat yvxr guvf. (Qrfvtavat na nzovtenz jbhyq or nanybtbhf gb svaqvat zhygvcyr zrffntrf jvgu gur fnzr unfu.)

Comment author: garethrees 05 January 2014 11:09:16PM *  3 points [-]

I once attended an apologetical talk given by the Christian Union at my college. (They were offering free food.) The invited speaker presented a version of C. S. Lewis's trilemma: liar, lunatic or lord? (a kind of proof by alliteration).

I spoke to the speaker afterwards and took him to task for presenting such a silly argument, which I said was hardly likely to convince anyone not already a Christian. He freely admitted the logical flaws in the trilemma argument, and said that his own personal justifications for belief were quite different—he appealed, if I recall correctly, to his personal experience and to William Paley's argument from design—but he said that these kinds of justifications didn't go down so well with the members of the Christian Union who had invited him to speak, and that the trilemma was "the kind of thing people expected to hear" at these events. So this one speaker was quite clear about the nature of the audience for an apologetical lecture.

Comment author: garethrees 05 January 2014 07:43:28PM *  1 point [-]

I have never been able to get the Socratic Method to work on the Internet. In theory the Socratic Method is effective because the student has to reason their own way to the conclusion, and so they end up knowing it more deeply and thoroughly than if they were just told the conclusion by the teacher. But somehow it never works for me.

I think part of the problem is that the Socratic Method relies on the participants agreeing to take on the appropriate roles in the discussion. In particular, the "student" has to agree to play the role of the student, so that when the "teacher" asks them to consider such-and-such, they actually do consider it.

Here's an example in which I try to help someone learn how to solve puzzles involving conditional probabilities. But he does not agree that I have any right to teach him, and so nothing is communicated.

The other problem is that the Socratic Method requires a very long interaction, with a lot of back and forth. In person you can keep someone focused on a difficult issue until they resolve it. But conversations on the Internet rarely go on long enough for a difficult point to be resolved, and it is easy for a participant who finds themselves in an uncomfortable position to abandon the discussion.

Comment author: Vaniver 05 January 2014 03:46:08PM *  12 points [-]

Hmmm. This looks almost identical to an anecdote involving Wittgenstein and Malcolm (among other places, repeated here), with the names and nationalities changed. Any idea which is the original?

Comment author: garethrees 05 January 2014 04:39:10PM *  22 points [-]

I think gwern is teasing us: there is no such quotation in Sluga's Heidegger's Crisis, or at least I cannot find it in the Google Books version. Perhaps gwern has taken the Wittgenstein/Malcolm story and swapped Britain for Germany to make a point about the universal applicability of the philosopher's rebuke.

But for what it's worth:

  • The date in the Heidegger version of the story is very suspicious: in 1939 Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty; he did not become Prime Minister until May 1940 and it is only with hindsight that we see his significance (even in 1940 most political actors seem to have thought that Lord Halifax would be a better choice for Prime Minister than Churchill).

  • The version of the anecdote featuring Wittgenstein and Malcolm is backed up by a citation to Malcolm's Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir where Malcolm quotes the letter from Wittgenstein at length. Also, the 1939 date for the original quarrel about "national character" is a better fit to this story, because in 1939 no-one could doubt the significance of Hitler, and assassination attempts on Hitler were by that point a fairly regular occurrence.

Comment author: rkyeun 04 September 2013 08:26:02PM 2 points [-]

That makes Egan the thing Yudkowsky is the biggest fan of. It does not make Yudkowsky to be Egan's biggest fan.

Comment author: garethrees 14 September 2013 06:52:38PM 4 points [-]

"Biggest fan" here is hyperbole for "a very big fan".

Comment author: ThisSpaceAvailable 20 August 2013 07:11:37AM 0 points [-]

I got an "uploader has not made this video available in your country" message for the first video, but your "explanations" for the other two aren't valid. The first is just a fancy way of accusing Derren Brown of using a stooge, which is given as not being a valid explanation, and once we entertain this possibility, the question becomes vacuous. It's like if someone asks you "Here's a chess position, how do you force checkmate?" and your answer is "I'd point a gun at my opponent's head and order him to move his queen out of the way". There's lateral thinking, and then there's just refusing to accept basic assumptions that are necessary for there to be a puzzle in the first place. Your explanation for the third video is similarly invalid. You have to assume that the video is an accurate account of the encounter, just as you have to assume, when watching a play, that any character that is declared dead by the another character is, in fact, dead. A puzzle where the "solution" consists of rejecting the assumption that the person telling the puzzle to you is accurately presenting the nature of the puzzle is not a puzzle.

"I have two coins in my pocket. The value of them add up to 35 cents, and neither of them is a quarter. What are they?" "I don't know." "A dime and a quarter." "But you said neither of them is a quarter." "Yeah, I lied."

Comment author: garethrees 20 August 2013 09:13:09AM *  4 points [-]

You say that my explanations "aren't valid" because I "have to assume" various facts. Why do I have to make these assumptions? Your argument is that these tricks must be fair puzzles. But Derren is not in the business of making fair puzzles, he is in the business of entertaining television audiences. He is under no obligation to play fair, and he is quite willing to use your belief that he plays fair in order to fool you.

My explanations for tricks two and three don't just explain the effect, but also a number of details of the presentation that would otherwise be mysterious or arbitrary. The technique in trick two (which is well-known among magicians under the name "vafgnag fgbbtr") explains, among other things, the flat affect of the man whose mind is supposedly being read (why doesn't he seem as amazed as the woman?) The technique in trick three explains not only why Derren is dressed like a clown, but also the sequence of camera cuts.

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