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Comment author: DataPacRat 01 December 2016 01:02:25AM 3 points [-]

If you could pick one music track that, if turned into a music video, could most exemplify the emotions resulting from LW-style rationality, what would that song be?

Comment author: knb 03 December 2016 08:26:43PM 0 points [-]

I immediately thought of this.

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 November 2016 09:48:30AM 1 point [-]

Updating to changed evidence is no sign of a charlatan but behavior of good forecasters.

Comment author: knb 30 November 2016 02:21:14AM 1 point [-]

I agree, but that isn't what Adams did. Adams first claimed Trump is a master persuader who was virtually certain to win. When Trump was way down in the polls with only weeks left, Adams then switched to predicting a Clinton win, using the Trump controversy du jour as a rationale.

Updating on the evidence would have involved conceding that Trump isn't actually an expert persuader (or conceding that persuasion skills don't actually carry that much weight). In other words, he would have had to admit he was wrong. Instead, he acted like the Trump controversy of the time was something completely shocking and that was the only reason Trump was going to lose.

Comment author: ChristianKl 27 November 2016 12:22:58AM 2 points [-]

The math isn’t super important to see why it’s so cool. His model seems to be that we should try to forecast the election outcome, including uncertainty between now and the end date, rather than build a forecast that takes current poll numbers and implicitly assumes nothing changes.

I don't think the Markov Models that Silver uses assume that nothing changes. 2 of his 3 models assumed change.

When you read Silver (or your preferred reputable election forecaster, I like Andrew Gelman) post their forecasts prior to the election, do you accept them as equal or better than any estimate you could come up with?

(out of memory) A year ago I think I gave Trump 40% conditional on him winning the Republican nomination on GJOpen. I think two months ago I moved from numbers were over the GJOpen average to

Scott Adams claimed to be able to predict that Trump would persuade everyone to vote for him. While it's tempting to write him off as a pundit charlatan, or claim he doesn't have sufficient proof, we also can't prove his model was wrong either

Scott Adams predicted a Trump landslide. That scenario didn't happen, Trump lost the popular vote. He didn't get elected because he convinced the majority of the population but because of Electorate College math.

Comment author: knb 27 November 2016 02:27:59AM 1 point [-]

Adams also frequently hedged his bets and even changed his prediction once the odds for Trump appeared too long to overcome. This is pretty much what you would expect from a charlatan.

Comment author: moridinamael 21 November 2016 03:57:35PM *  2 points [-]

Have you heard of Gobekli Tepe?

Through the radiocarbon method, the end of Layer III can be fixed at about 9000 BCE (see above) but it is believed that the elevated location may have functioned as a spiritual center by 11,000 BCE or even earlier, essentially at the very end of the Pleistocene.


The surviving structures, then, not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel, they were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies. Archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries and move them 100–500 meters (330–1,640 ft) to the site. The pillars weigh 10–20 metric tons (10–20 long tons; 11–22 short tons), with one still in the quarry weighing 50 tons.


At present Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of pre-sedentary society.

I admit I am not a student of history or anthropology, but finding Gobekli Tepe seems like discovering a working grandfather clock in orbit around Saturn. It seems like it should be absolutely devastating to any narrative of history that doesn't involve large, organized civilizations in, at the latest, 9,000 BC.

Which the prevailing interpretation does not permit. It appears that rather than throwing all the old interpretations out the window, mainstream archaeological establishment has decided that those 20 ton stones were being hewn, transported and placed by ... hunter-gatherers. Teams of 500 hunter-gatherers, I guess?

I'm going to come clean and admit that I've been listening to the Joe Rogan podcast, and specifically to his guests who subscribe to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. The idea here is that humanity had started forming true civilizations before 10,000 BC, and a comet impact or airburst over one of the ice sheets caused a huge fireball and flood that led to mass extinctions and the annihilation of civilization. There seems to be a decent case for this theory, but as an uneducated bystander, I can't tell from the outside if I'm looking at crackpots who are cherry-picking evidence, or trailblazing iconoclasts who are at the forefront of the reinvention of a new paradigm.

I admit that I Want To Believe, and that makes it hard to reason objectively, particularly in what may be an epistemically hostile environment where charlatans (or academic holdouts) may or may not be trying to manipulate what evidence makes it to the layman investigator.

Overall, this seems like an interesting field test for rationalist skills.

Comment author: knb 22 November 2016 04:32:53AM 1 point [-]

The idea here is that humanity had started forming true civilizations before 10,000 BC, and a comet impact or airburst over one of the ice sheets caused a huge fireball and flood that led to mass extinctions and the annihilation of civilization

There's no mystery about what caused the quaternary mass extinction--humans reached the Americas and wiped out the ecologically naive megafauna.

Comment author: knb 20 November 2016 07:39:02PM 1 point [-]

Hypothesized to be pushing off the quantum foam.

I'm pretty sure this does not make any sense.

Comment author: mortal 19 November 2016 02:29:30PM 0 points [-]

To readers -

Is it worth reading any historical narrative or biographical account if my aim is to improve my life in specific ways using that knowledge, if luck/survivor bias/outcome bias plays a huge part in whose life is memorialised this way?

I'll provide an example to make it clear - will reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln actually improve me in a specific way, like providing me a model for leadership, or way to handle people, or is his success based on his principles just context dependent, or the result of luck?

What I have observed: I have read the biographies of Steve Jobs, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar, and I haven't found any improvement in me, nor did I get specific insights into aspects of life, with one exception - my mindset changed to become more ambitious.

gwern (IDK if /u/gwern works here) - you have read a lot of nonfiction of this type - hell, you have recently read the Quincey autobiography. What do you think?

Comment author: knb 19 November 2016 04:36:52PM 1 point [-]

I don't really see how this could be helpful. The biographer would have to be able to discern which qualities made the person successful and translate them into actionable specifics. In practice, it's pretty hard for highly successful people to explain their own success in an actionable way even when they seem to be sincerely trying (e.g. Warren Buffet.)

Comment author: knb 18 November 2016 02:24:56AM 0 points [-]

I've played around with the Playstation VR demo at Best Buy and tried a Galaxy Gear VR at the mall, but was pretty underwhelmed by both. Are the high-end products like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive really that much better?

Comment author: knb 13 November 2016 09:25:24PM *  4 points [-]

Yudkowsky showed laughable naivete (or he was just playing dark arts) by citing a bunch of "foreign policy experts" who were against Trump. They were against Trump because they were neocons who might have a spot in a Clinton administration but certainly not in Trump's. (People who describe themselves as "experts" implying impartiality should never be taken at face value--most of the times they are advocates rather than experts.)

Hillary Clinton's state department pushed the "Arab Spring" policies which turned the middle east and north Africa into a total slaughterhouse and caused hundreds of thousands of people to die and displaced millions, causing a huge increase in tensions and threatening EU integration. I don't really see why anyone would want to trust the "expertise" of the people responsible for this. Of course, Scott Alexander supported the Libya intervention (and moralized about it obnoxiously). Has he ever admitted he was wrong?

Comment author: Lumifer 09 November 2016 03:45:19PM 7 points [-]

I gave him a 45% chance

That's actually better than most (all?) pollsters including Nate Sliver.

Comment author: knb 12 November 2016 11:40:29AM 2 points [-]

Part of the reason I estimated the chance being that high was because I thought (at that time) we were fairly likely to have a recession or major terror attack, which would swing the election to Trump. Neither of those happened, but Trump still won. More recently, II did think the big media company polls were systemically biased by at least a few points in Clinton's favor, so I give myself some credit for that.

Comment author: MrMind 09 November 2016 09:56:56AM *  10 points [-]

The most important quality for a rationalist is to admit that you were wrong and change your mind accordingly: so I will say, as an excercise in strength and calibration, that I was totally wrong.

I thought, with a high degree of probability, that Clinton was going to be the next POTUS. Instead it's Trump. My model of the world was wrong, and I'll adjust accordingly.

Comment author: knb 09 November 2016 01:53:06PM 1 point [-]

I too was wrong. I gave him a 45% chance on this site several months ago and my estimate had hardly changed by yesterday (in fact my estimate got slightly worse, down to 40%.)

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