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Comment author: army1987 22 November 2014 05:16:38AM 1 point [-]

downvotes on articles are not publicly visible

They are too iff the user has “Make my votes public” checked in their preferences. Same with upvotes.

Comment author: gjm 22 November 2014 10:17:17AM 1 point [-]

Oh, hey, another thing I didn't know about. Thanks. Not surprisingly given that it's a non-default preference, it seems not to be used much. (I checked the 15 people in the most-karma-in-30-days list and two had it enabled: NancyLebovitz and Capla.)

Comment author: HalMorris 21 November 2014 03:45:42PM 2 points [-]

The easiest way to filter out 99 percent of this is to ignore anything that has no impact on your life (ie doesn't pay rent).

Eh? If I was renting, I think that would have an impact on my life -- so maybe this is yet another metaphor I never heard of.

If everyone was processing reality to the best of their analytical (and other) abilities, and honestly passing on the conclusions they reach then virtuosity at recognizing rational fallacies would go a lot further than I think it actually does; I'm afraid much of what we need is a social understanding of others.

Just FWIW, Aspergers types, which many I encounter here are self-proclaimed to be, have a chance to do this better than other people, because they have to do consciously what others have no idea that they're doing. By the way, book recommendation: The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. Very funny and enlightening, about an Aspergers/non-Aspergers mixed marriage. My wife and I had a good time reading it.

Comment author: gjm 21 November 2014 06:32:29PM 4 points [-]

maybe this is yet another metaphor I never heard of.

Yup. See: Making beliefs pay rent.

Comment author: HalMorris 21 November 2014 03:11:56PM 3 points [-]

Ah, another irregular verb. I am a deep and original thinker, synthesising good ideas from multiple sources without regard to ideology.

I'm going over the verbs trying to locate what you're referring to as an irregular verb. Am I making a mistake? Does "irregular verb" have some metaphorical connotation I'm not aware of?

You seem to follow with 3 likely different interpretations of the same behavior. If I understand it correctly, that is kind of interesting, I'll warrant

I am deeply suspicious when people try to explain away their opponents' beliefs, rather than defeat them intellectually

So you have a criteria for being skeptical of (I won't say "explaining away", which would be presumptuous) my arguments having to do with the style of my argument rather than its content. That is good - I think we all should have such criteria, unless we plan to intellectually take apart all of the thousands upon thousands of assertions that cross our paths.

I have been proposing one such. You just proposed another, one which is generally pretty good.

Once you criticize something as "to explain away" most of what else you say is apt to be redundant.

Comment author: gjm 21 November 2014 06:30:45PM 2 points [-]

Does "irregular verb" have some metaphorical connotation I'm not aware of?

Yes. (At least with a plausible guess at what you're aware of.) The point is precisely the observation you make that these are three descriptions of the same behaviour; the implied criticism here is that you (or some hypothetical person who somewhat resembles you) chooses very differently-biased descriptions of the same behaviour depending on whether it's your own or someone else's. (The comparison is of course with irregular verbs in natural languages -- I am / you are / he is. The main point is the difference between the "I" and "he" versions, the "you" typically being something intermediate.)

So it's more or less an accusation of insincerity. Salemicus is suggesting that you are hostile to some varieties of eclecticism when other people do them, but not when you do the same yourself. (I have no idea what evidence, if any, he has.)

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 21 November 2014 11:44:00AM *  43 points [-]

I am no PR specialist, but I think relevant folks should agree on a simple, sensible message accessible to non-experts, and then just hammer that same message relentlessly. So, e.g. why mention "Newcomb-like problems?" Like 10 people in the world know what you really mean. For example:

(a) The original thing was an overreaction,

(b) It is a sensible social norm to remove triggering stimuli, and Roko's basilisk was an anxiety trigger for some people,

(c) In fact, there is an entire area of decision theory involving counterfactual copies, blackmail, etc. behind the thought experiment, just as there is quantum mechanics behind Schrodinger's cat. Once you are done sniggering about those weirdos with a half-alive half-dead cat, you might want to look into serious work done there.


What you want to fight with the message is the perception that you are a weirdo cult/religion. I am very sympathetic to what is happening here, but this is, to use the local language, "a Slytherin problem," not "a Ravenclaw problem."

I expect in 10 years if/when MIRI gets a ton of real published work under its belt, this is going to go away, or at least morph into "eccentric academics being eccentric."


p.s. This should be obvious: don't lie on the internet.

Comment author: gjm 21 November 2014 12:28:58PM 9 points [-]

Yes.

Further: If you search for "lesswrong roko basilisk" the top result is the RationalWiki article (at least, for me on Google right now) and nowhere on the first page is there anything with any input from Eliezer or (so far as such a thing exists) the LW community.

There should be a clear, matter-of-fact article on (let's say) the LessWrong wiki, preferably authored by Eliezer (but also preferably taking something more like the tone Ilya proposes than most of Eliezer's comments on the issue) to which people curious about the affair can be pointed.

(Why haven't I made one, if I think this? Because I suspect opinions on this point are strongly divided and it would be sad for there to be such an article but for its history to be full of deletions and reversions and infighting. I think that would be less likely to happen if the page were made by someone of high LW-status who's generally been on Team Shut Up About The Basilisk Already.)

Comment author: Azathoth123 21 November 2014 06:37:01AM *  1 point [-]

And what caused these differences between these two countries? (Hint: it's not magical corruption ray located in Mogadishu.) And how will these traits change as more people move from Somalia to France?

Comment author: gjm 21 November 2014 11:34:44AM 0 points [-]

It could be any number of things. Including the one I take it you're looking for, namely some genetic inferiority on the part of the people in country A. But even if that were the entire cause it could still easily be the case that when someone moves from A to B their productivity (especially if expressed in monetary terms) increases dramatically.

I'm actually not quite sure what point you're arguing now. A few comments back, though, your claim was that Nancy was (nearly) contradicting herself by expecting immigrants to (1) be productive in their new country even though (2) their old country is the kind of place where it's really hard to be productive, on the grounds that for #2 to be true the people in the old country must be unproductive people.

It seems to me that for this argument to work you'd need counters to the following points (which have been made and which you haven't, as it seems to me, given any good counterargument to so far):

  • There are lots of other ways in which the old country could make productivity harder than the new -- e.g., the ones I mention above.

    • Let me reiterate that these apply even if the old country's productivity is entirely a matter of permanent, unfixable genetic deficiencies in its people. Suppose the people of country A are substantially stupider and lazier than those of country B; this will lead to all kinds of structural problems in country A; but in country B it may well be that even someone substantially stupider and lazier than the average can still be productive. (Indeed I'm pretty sure many such people are.)
    • If the differences between A and B do indeed all arise in this way (which, incidentally, I think there are good reasons to think is far from the truth) then yes, if the scale of migration from A to B is large enough then it could make things worse rather than better overall. Given that the empirical evidence I'm aware of strongly suggests that migration to successful countries tends to make them better off, I think the onus is on you if you want to make the case that this actually happens at any credible level of migration.
  • The people who move from country A to country B may be atypical of the people of country A, in ways that make them more likely overall to be productive in country B.

    • Your only response to this has been a handwavy dismissal, to the effect that that might have been true once but now immigration is too easy so it isn't any more. How about some evidence?
Comment author: ike 19 November 2014 02:09:22PM 5 points [-]

That's not actually true. Anyone can easily see any posts I've upvoted here or for that matter see Gleb's upvoted posts here. The Turk task asks for the usernames, which can then be checked to see which posts they've upvoted.

Comment author: gjm 19 November 2014 02:52:25PM 2 points [-]

Yow, you're right. So:

  • upvotes on articles are publicly visible (albeit clunkily)
  • downvotes on articles are not publicly visible
  • neither upvotes nor downvotes on comments are publicly visible (other than in the aggregate).
Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 19 November 2014 11:08:15AM 5 points [-]

As usual, people completely miss the point.

If you find that people consistently miss the point of what you're writing, you might consider working to improve your communication skills. For example, I've read this sentence several times and I'm still not sure how to parse it: "They just trend towards 'objects', as opposed to 'not'." I appreciate that you're trying to tell me what I might be doing wrong, but currently you aren't explaining yourself very clearly or convincingly, so I'm not sure if what you're saying is correct or valuable.

Comment author: gjm 19 November 2014 12:31:31PM 0 points [-]

I'm pretty sure the meaning of that sentence is: "The people I am describing are more interested in impersonal objects than in people, and cope better with impersonal objects than with people".

There may be some truth in that. But it's entirely unobvious why it should tell us anything about those people's competence to offer financial advice, and (despite SanguineEmpiricist's some-of-my-best-friends response) it's hard not to suspect an attempt to exploit the halo/horns effect. (Warning: link in previous sentence is to a RationalWiki page; RW isn't super-reliable in general but this page seems OK.)

Comment author: Azathoth123 18 November 2014 08:54:06AM 1 point [-]

That argument seems to me non-responsive, fallacious, or at least inadequately fleshed out, in three different ways.

Yes, it was a Baysian not a mathematical argument.

Immigrants needn't be representative of their country of origin, in which case arguments about the average citizen in that country of origin aren't automatically relevant.

They are unless you have reason to believe the immigrants are above average.

Given, say, increasing returns to scale

Comparing per-capita GDP with populations suggests we have decreasing returns to scale.

One way to see the problem with Nancy's argument is to consider the following question: If most people from country X want to move to country Y then wouldn't it be easier for country Y to simply annex country X? You save on relocation costs and the people are now in country Y.

Comment author: gjm 19 November 2014 12:17:34PM *  0 points [-]

decreasing returns to scale

The scatterplot shown here appears to show a strong positive correlation between population and GDP per capita.

[EDITED to add: no, I'm an idiot and misread the plot, which shows a clear correlation between population and total GDP and suggests rather little between population and per capita GDP. Sorry about that. The Gapminder link posted by satt also suggests very little correlation between population and per capita GDP. So the context for my (unchanged) argument below is not "Increasing returns to scale are just one factor; here are a bunch more" but "Increased returns to scale are probably negligible; here are a bunch of things that aren't".]

In any case, "increasing returns to scale" were just one example (and I think not the best) of how someone might be more productive on moving from (smaller, poorer, more corrupt, less developed) country A to (larger, richer, less corrupt, more developed) country B. Here, let me list some other specific things that might make someone more productive if they move from (say) Somalia to (say) France.

  • Better food and healthcare. Our migrant will likely be healthier in country B, and people do more and better work when healthier.
  • Easier learning. Our migrant may arrive in country B with few really valuable skills, but will find more opportunities than in country A to learn new things.
  • Better infrastructure. Perhaps our migrant is working on making things; country B has better roads, railways, airports, etc., for shipping the products around for sale. Perhaps s/he is (after taking advantage of those educational opportunities) working on computer software; country B has reliable electricity, internet that doesn't suck, places to buy computer hardware, etc.
  • Richer customers. Perhaps our migrant is making food or cleaning houses. People in country B will pay a lot more for this, because they are richer and their time is worth more to them. So, at least as measured in GDP, the same work is more productive-in-dollars in country B than in country A. (Is this a real gain rather than an artefact of imperfect quantification? Maybe. If people in country B are richer and their time is worth more because they are actually doing more valuable things then any given saving in their time is helping the world more.)
  • Less corruption. Many poor dysfunctional countries have a lot of corruption. This imposes a sort of friction on otherwise-productive activities -- one has to spend time and/or money bribing and sweet-talking corrupt officials, and it could have been used for something else. In country B this happens much less.
Comment author: ike 18 November 2014 08:40:39PM *  7 points [-]

Source https://archive.today/bJGcu.

Edit: I should point out that this doesn't prove that Gleb paid for upvotes, only that someone with a username of Gleb paid for Gleb to get upvotes. I'm leaving it to the moderator to determine what happened and deal with it.

Comment author: gjm 19 November 2014 10:49:29AM *  3 points [-]

The task statement there (whether or not it's a real Mechanical Turk task, whether or not it was posted by Gleb_Tsipursky) claims that Gleb_Tsipursky can see who has upvoted his articles and pay accordingly. Of course this is not true, and anyone actually setting up such a task would be unable to determine whom to pay, and would end up either paying people who never actually did anything or else not paying people who did.

I think this looks more like a framing attempt than like a genuine attempt by Gleb_Tsipursky to buy upvotes.

[EDITED to add:] Oops, the above is in fact quite wrong, as ike points out: anyone can see what articles any given user has upvoted. I still think it's quite likely that GT is being framed, but the particular reason I gave here is bogus.

Comment author: Azathoth123 18 November 2014 08:54:06AM 1 point [-]

That argument seems to me non-responsive, fallacious, or at least inadequately fleshed out, in three different ways.

Yes, it was a Baysian not a mathematical argument.

Immigrants needn't be representative of their country of origin, in which case arguments about the average citizen in that country of origin aren't automatically relevant.

They are unless you have reason to believe the immigrants are above average.

Given, say, increasing returns to scale

Comparing per-capita GDP with populations suggests we have decreasing returns to scale.

One way to see the problem with Nancy's argument is to consider the following question: If most people from country X want to move to country Y then wouldn't it be easier for country Y to simply annex country X? You save on relocation costs and the people are now in country Y.

Comment author: gjm 18 November 2014 05:21:28PM 4 points [-]

unless you have reason to believe the immigrants are above average.

You do. (For a particular sense of "above average" that's appropriate here.) The people who choose to leave country A to seek their fortune in country B are going to be (on average) atypical in a bunch of ways.

  • They will tend to be more optimistic about their prospects in country B and maybe less optimistic about their prospects in country A. It's not immediately clear what we should expect this to say about them overall, but let's "change basis" as follows: they will tend to have a higher opinion of how much better they'd do in B than in A, and this seems like it should correlate with actual prospects in B if it's a healthier country than A.

  • They will tend to be more proactive, more go-getting. This seems like it should also correlate with productive work.

  • They will tend to be actually able to get themselves from country A to country B without starving, getting arrested by overzealous police in country A or B or in between, failing to get past border controls, etc. This all seems like it would correlated with effectiveness in getting stuff done. (Both directly, and because their ability to do this will be affected by the resources they have in country A, which for multiple reasons will correlate with their ability to get things done.)

  • There will probably be differences in their relationships with other people in country A, but I'm not sure which direction the overall effect goes. (Maybe they have looser ties, and that correlates with being less good with people, and that correlates with doing badly; maybe they have good friends and family making them feel well supported and confident, and that correlates with doing well.)

Having got from A to B, they are then going to be strongly motivated to make the trouble and expense worth while, which probably means that whatever their underlying competence they will work harder and more resourcefully in country B than they would have in country A.

So there are lots of reasons to expect people who have emigrated from dysfunctional country A to more-functional country B to be more effective workers in country B than the population average in country A.

(Note: I don't think this is by any means the dominant reason to agree with Nancy and disagree with Azathoth on this point.)

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