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In response to My Skepticism
Comment author: knb 31 January 2015 07:24:46AM 2 points [-]

I think you misspelled "skepticism" in the title.

Comment author: MattG 31 January 2015 06:13:15AM 0 points [-]

There's a good deal of research on how open offices can increase creativity, through concepts like propinquity. An open office may point to the fact that they value innovation over productivity.

Comment author: knb 31 January 2015 07:18:01AM *  1 point [-]

That's the usual argument. The Davis meta-analysis cited in that New Yorker article found that open offices hurt creativity, which is what I would expect from a more distracting environment. Anyway if there is any good counter-evidence I would like to see it.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 28 January 2015 03:29:19PM *  5 points [-]

I read a book from a guy who writes many funny stories about animals (sorry, I don't remember his name now). He described how ZOOs often try to provide a lot of space for animals... which is actually bad for non-predators, because their instinct is to hide, and if they cannot hide, they have high levels of stress (even when nothing is attacking them at the moment), which harms their health. Instead, he recommended to give the animals a small place to hide, where they will feel safe.

Recently (after reading "Don't Shoot the Dog", which I strongly recommend to everyone) when I read something about animals, I often think: "What could this imply for humans?"

For me, open-space offices are this kind of scary. I can't imagine working in an open-space office and keeping my sanity. On a second thought, it depends. I probably wouldn't mind having fellow employees in the same room, but the idea of my boss watching me all day long feels really uncomfortable.

Are other people okay with that? (Maybe they consider bosses to be their friends instead of predators.) Or is it just something that the bosses force upon us, and some of us pretend to be okay with it to signal being a "professional" (which is something like being a Vulcan rationalist)?

Could you work in a open space, where your boss would be sitting behind your back all day long? How would you rate such working environment? -- Please answer only if you are an employee in a situation where you make money for living (not a student, not the boss).

EDIT to clarify: I meant sitting in open-space office with your boss (defined as someone who is in hierarchy above you, who gives you commands, even if they are not at the very top of the company). And the boss does not have to sit literally behind your back, but spends most of the time in the room where you work, sitting in the place where they see you.


Comment author: knb 30 January 2015 02:12:18AM 4 points [-]

There's some pretty compelling research that indicates most people dislike open office designs. It also seems to lower productivity.

Which leads to the question of why so many companies use open office designs. My guess is that open offices make the company seem more cool/laid-back and less stodgy than cubicle farms. This might help to attract employees, even though it actually makes them less happy in the long-run.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 January 2015 07:03:44PM 5 points [-]

Someone here mentioned the idea that making objects very cold was a more plausible source of unexpected physics leading to extinction than high energy physics because high energy events occur in the atmosphere all the time whereas there's no reason to expect any non-artificial cause of temperatures in the millKelvin range. Does someone have a source for this observation? I'm writing a post where I'd like to attribute this properly.

Comment author: knb 28 January 2015 02:55:51AM *  4 points [-]
Comment author: knb 26 January 2015 09:02:58PM 6 points [-]

I don’t know of any very efficient method of keeping updated on new advancements, but periodically googling for articles about curing aging or Calico and searching for new scientific articles on topics in this guide seems reasonable.

Fight Aging is the number one indispensable resource for staying updated about anti-aging. I think the author is much more optimistic than I am about the prospects for anti-aging therapies, but he is clearly more knowledgeable than I am and spends a lot of time surveying the research.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 20 January 2015 05:38:55AM 2 points [-]

Scott Alexander, alias Yvain, conducted a companion survey for the readership of his blog, Slate Star Codex, to parallel and contrast with the survey of the LessWrong community. The issue I ponder below will likely come to light when the results from that survey are published. However, I'm too curious thinking about this to wait, even if present speculation is later rendered futile.

Slate Star Codex is among my favorite websites, let alone blogs. I spend more time reading it than I do on LessWrong, and it may only be second to Wikipedia or Facebook for website which I spend the most time on. Anyway, like almost everyone else reading this, I migrated to Slate Star Codex from LessWrong. So, in my mind, it seems alien to me that Slate Star Codex would have a readership that doesn't have virtually complete overlap with the LessWrong readership.

I imagine readers of Slate Star Codex not familiar with LessWrong include: * medical professionals within a couple of degrees, socially, of Scott's professional circles * some neoreactionaries, and social justice activists, from across the blogosphere

Does anyone else have an impression of who might read Slate Star Codex who doesn't read LessWrong? Alternatively, if you don't like Slate Star Codex, or are turned off by it, I'm curious as to why. I've encountered virtually unanimous appreciation of Slate Star Codex from among my friends who read LessWrong, so I'm fascinated by the possibility of outlying opinions.

Comment author: knb 20 January 2015 07:39:02AM 2 points [-]

SSC seems to have a pretty wide fanbase on Tumblr. I'm sure he's picked up a very large non-LW fanbase over the years; he's been blogging forever.

Comment author: Konkvistador 18 January 2015 07:17:48PM *  12 points [-]

The measures proposed in the comment are essentially imposing a quarantine, that is barring some people from coming into contact with some other people, including limits on their travel. It is a logical extension of food rules.

The argument is quite well received by the very reasonable facebook rationalists crowd. However many rationalists were quite clearly squicked out by the idea of quarantine when applied to lethal diseases ( http://lesswrong.com/lw/l3u/link_the_coming_plague/ ), yet talking about the minor inconvenience of colds suddenly everyone is a utilitarian and is willing to suspend certain supposedly sacred rights.

Hypothetically make the disease in question incurable and lethal, and instead of quarantine being even more obvious an answer since it has higher externialities, it becomes even less acceptable to propose.

Something funny is going on with people's moral reasoning here and I suspect it isn't peculiar to rationalists, but reflective of something in wider culture. Consider the difference in the acceptability of proposing quarantines when it came to Sars and Ebola.

Comment author: knb 19 January 2015 01:29:39AM 3 points [-]

Related to what James Miller said, it seems analogous to the experimental finding that white American liberals are more likely to sacrifice whites (relative to blacks, at least) in the famous trolley thought experiment.

Comment author: alienist 13 January 2015 03:15:37AM 5 points [-]

The 1970s saw very serious terrorism (far worse than America) in the UK, Germany and Italy, all of which are now very peaceful countries. Did 9/11 also make terrorism un-Italian?

I don't think this applies to the German or Italian Examples, but the IRA was largely funded by Irish Americans, and 9/11 made funding a terrorist group seem at lot less like a fun expression of ethnic solidarity.

Comment author: knb 13 January 2015 10:51:54AM 2 points [-]

As I understand it, the reduction in terrorism in Ireland was essentially complete by the time of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Comment author: ilzolende 13 January 2015 07:37:18AM 1 point [-]

Thanks! It did smell like a publicity stunt, but I wasn't sure what it was trying to promote, since it wasn't promoting policy changes or some other political goal very well. I'm not sure having a presidential campaign that obviously isn't trying to get anyone elected is the best way to sell books, though.

Comment author: knb 13 January 2015 08:19:00AM 2 points [-]

I'm not sure having a presidential campaign that obviously isn't trying to get anyone elected is the best way to sell books, though.

I have a gut feeling that a lot of long-shot campaigns are more about publicity/book sales/speaking fees than a genuine desire to be elected.

To be fair to Istvan, I don't think his motive is primarily financial, since he is giving away a free Kindle version of his book.

Comment author: advancedatheist 12 January 2015 01:09:26AM 6 points [-]

Sebastian Seung’s Quest to Map the Human Brain By GARETH COOK JAN. 8, 2015


Q&A with Zoltan Istvan, Transhumanist Party candidate for the US President


Comment author: knb 13 January 2015 08:06:42AM 1 point [-]

I just downloaded the free Kindle version of Istvan's book, and it seems he's advocating a fusion of Objectivism/egoism and Transhumanism. Transhumanism and objectivism would seem to go together very naturally from a philosophical perspective, yet it seems to me that the great majority of transhumanists are left-liberals.

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