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In response to comment by [deleted] on Farewell Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)
Comment author: PECOS-9 12 January 2013 07:39:37PM 25 points [-]
Comment author: kragensitaker 21 January 2013 05:43:39PM 0 points [-]

Based on that, curing all forms of insanity would reduce suicide dramatically, by about an order of magnitude; but it's only about 3 bits of evidence, which you could argue is fairly weak evidence.

Comment author: Lapsed_Lurker 21 December 2011 01:31:20AM 0 points [-]

Not like that, at least not that I can generally detect - but I do agree that my communication skills could do with some improvement - which is odd, since I've had a 'public-facing' job for over 10 years and get a fair amount of practice talking to people and it seems that it hasn't helped :(

Comment author: kragensitaker 25 December 2011 04:46:39PM 1 point [-]

It could be that even if it doesn't seem like that to you, it sounds like that to them. Surely almost everyone has gone through lots of experiences where they interpret someone correctly to have said something offensive, at which point the offender attempts to weasel out of it; perhaps that's the template you're matching in their mind, even if it's not what you're doing. By comparison, the number of interactions where someone is trying to explain a difficult concept is pretty small, outside of certain small groups.

Comment author: Lapsed_Lurker 14 October 2011 10:19:31PM 2 points [-]

If you're worried about the reaction to group labels, then why not:

"I've been hanging out with some interesting people lately," ?

Of course, it's possible that whoever it is you're talking to will decide that you've just said that they're boring...

I meet a few people who apparently wilfully and repeatedly misinterpret what I'm saying, even when told that wasn't what I meant at all and I don't know how to deal with that.

Comment author: kragensitaker 21 December 2011 12:57:16AM 0 points [-]

I meet a few people who apparently wilfully and repeatedly misinterpret what I'm saying, even when told that wasn't what I meant at all and I don't know how to deal with that.

You mean like this?

"Man, that guy looks so gay, I just want to bash his fucking head in."

"My brother is gay."

"I didn't mean gay, I meant, like, gay."

Maybe you need to win their trust and improve your communication skills.

Comment author: kragensitaker 21 December 2011 12:43:48AM -2 points [-]

I strongly support the suggestion implied in one thread here of officially adopting the term "Lessath", the lesser folk.

Comment author: kragensitaker 21 December 2011 12:38:18AM 2 points [-]

One of my least popular comments on Less Wrong was that nobody was a "decent rationalist." Perhaps now is the time to explain what I meant by that.

Rationality is an ideal. Whether or not it's a particularly good ideal, it's definitely not a good description of any actually existing people, which proposition is approximately what this entire site is about. To me, being a "decent rationalist" would entail being decently rational: not perfectly rational, but at least mostly rational. It's clear that nobody approaches that state.

When people describe themselves as "rationalists", perhaps some of them mean that they aspire to the ideal of rationality. But it sounds like they believe that they actually practice rationality. At best, this would be dishonest boasting; at worst it would be self-delusion.

So perhaps that's why people react negatively to the label: they hear it as a claim of an implausible achievement, not a belief system or social group.

(It gets worse when you use the term to identify the social club rather than a rather broad set of beliefs, because then you end up saying that someone is not a "rationalist" or an "objectivist" or a "libertarian". It's sort of like how certain academics now use the term "philosopher" to mean "person teaching philosophy at a university" or "person submitting papers to philosophy journals", by which standard Socrates wasn't a philosopher.)

In the years that I've been watching this social group, I've struggled with the question of what to call it when talking about it to other people. "Eliezer's cult" seems unnecessarily derogatory, as does the tongue-in-cheek "Bayesian Conspiracy". "Yudkowskians" is accurate and not derogatory but perhaps unnecessarily limiting, and surely oversimplified. "Less Wrong" is the best label I have, which would make individuals "Lesswrongers".

There's another possible reason people might react negatively: in the 20th century, any number of atrocities were justified on the basis of being "scientific", "modern", or "rational": dialectical materialism, Levittown, indiscriminate use of pesticides, Mutually Assured Destruction, Schelling's losing strategy in the Vietnam war, low-cost housing developments, childbirth under anesthesia, radium water treatments, lobotomies, electroshock, The Projects, razing neighborhoods to run interstate highways through downtown, IMF neoliberal economic policies, eugenics, and so on.

It turns out that conflating your position with knowledge and rationality, and your opponent's position with ignorance and insanity, is such an effective rhetorical strategy that you can use it to ram through all sorts of terrible ideas. Perhaps because of this, a lot of people have developed a sort of memetic allergic reaction to explicit claims of rationality.

Comment author: soreff 02 August 2011 02:49:20PM 4 points [-]

It is a plausible argument, but it seems at least partially incompatible with known international differences within the wealthy industrialized world. "Using the most recently available data, the ILO has determined that the average Australian, Canadian, Japanese or Mexican worker was on the job roughly 100 hours less than the average American in a year -- that's almost two-and-a-half weeks less. Brazilians and British employees worked some 250 hours, or more than five weeks, less than Americans.". I'd expect very similar zero sum competitions to exist in all of these nations, yet the work hours have substantial differences.

Comment author: kragensitaker 13 August 2011 03:09:56PM 10 points [-]

If we accept the premise that most of this work is being spent on a zero-sum game of competing for status and land, then it's a prisoner's-dilemma situation like doping in competitive sports, and a reasonable solution is some kind of regulation limiting that competition. Mandatory six-week vacations, requirements to close shops during certain hours, and hefty overtime multipliers coupled with generous minimum wages are three examples that occur in the real world.

A market fundamentalist might seek to use tradable caps, as with sulfur dioxide emissions, instead of inflexible regulations. Maybe you're born with the right to work 1000 hours per year, for example, but you have the right to sell those hours to someone else who wants to work more hours. Retirees and students could support themselves by getting paid for being unemployed, by some coal miner, soldier, or sailor. (Or their employer.) This would allow the (stipulated) zero-sum competition to go on and even allow people to compete by being willing to work more hours, but without increasing the average number of hours worked per person.

Comment author: TimFreeman 11 August 2011 09:07:53PM 10 points [-]

The process of vitrifying the head makes the rest of the body unsuitable for organ donations. If the organs are extracted first, then the large resulting leaks in the circulatory system make perfusing the brain difficult. If the organs are extracted after the brain is properly perfused, they've been perfused too, and with the wrong substances for the purposes of organ donation.

Comment author: kragensitaker 13 August 2011 03:48:32AM 2 points [-]

Oh, thank you! I didn't realize that. Perhaps a process could be developed? For example, maybe you could chill the body rapidly to organ-donation temperatures, garrote the neck, extract the organs while maintaining head blood pressure with the garrote, then remove the head and connect perfusion apparatus to it?

In response to Zombies: The Movie
Comment author: Hopefully_Anonymous 20 April 2008 08:29:56AM 1 point [-]

Eliezer, is this enlightenment or foil-seeking? You don't seem to be addressing the strongest discussions of uncertainty regarding the subjective conscious experience, which is where the action should be in a blog community this relatively ingtelligent. It seems to me you're looking for easy foils to slay, sort of like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Randi (and before them, Gould). I think that's sucking up discussion oxygen here, and'll end up driving away the more intelligent posters to other online venues. Worst case scenario, it'll help dampen interesting discussion by smart people, like was done for years regarding the distribution and heritability of intelligence (in this case regarding the subjective conscious experience and discernment technology).

Comment author: kragensitaker 12 August 2011 01:30:33AM 5 points [-]

Need it be one or the other? I was just reading Chalmers's Singularity paper, came to the bit where he says, "Although I am sympathetic with some forms of dualism about consciousness," and decided to reread this page. Which is hilarious.

Comment author: kragensitaker 11 August 2011 09:08:28PM 5 points [-]

Rebate schemes are not merely betting on consumer laziness; they are also a means of price discrimination. If you really need that $200, you're more likely to fill out the form.

Comment author: Annoyance 07 May 2009 05:55:53PM 16 points [-]

I fear the massive levels of abuse it could bring -- the possibility that someone would commit suicide because their organs can take care of their family and they can't, that someone's organs could be used as collateral in a loan à la Merchant of Venice, and of course, the temptation to gain the organs of others by force..

Only the last is an abuse. The preceding points were merely uses that you're uncomfortable with.

I wish people would get this straight. Just because you're uncomfortable or disapproving of a particular utilization of a right or ability doesn't constitute an abuse of that right or ability.

Comment author: kragensitaker 11 August 2011 09:02:34PM 5 points [-]

Because "disapproving of" means that the right or ability doesn't comply with the speaker's moral values, while "abuse" means that the right or ability doesn't comply with objectively correct moral values?

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