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Comment author: lionhearted 27 September 2017 10:27:44PM 3 points [-]

HUGE kudos and tons of love and respect for everyone behind this. Looks great so far, I'll dig in closer and report anything I find.

Comment author: ChristianKl 29 August 2017 03:51:41PM 2 points [-]

I would like a question about the amount of hours that the person works and sleeps per week (sleep can also asked as per day).

For the sake of open science it might be worthwhile to change "You may use my data for a research paper" to "My data can be used for a research paper".

Comment author: lionhearted 07 September 2017 07:24:18AM 0 points [-]

Added, thanks.

Comment author: ChristianKl 29 August 2017 03:19:21PM 3 points [-]

Why don't you ask for the age in years, instead of providing existing batches?

Comment author: lionhearted 07 September 2017 07:24:10AM 0 points [-]

Good question.

The biggest (counterintuitive at first) best practice I read about is fighting very hard to keep it under 9 minutes to reply, since fall-off rate seems to go up very quickly after that. It's faster for people to click entries without having to type things in manually. It means worse data on some things, but higher completion rate, in theory.

Comment author: gwern 29 August 2017 03:23:04PM 4 points [-]

Perhaps you could provide some more background? Who is this being run by? Where will it be advertising and sampling from? What data will be released? What analyses will be run, and what hypotheses are you particularly looking into? Does it build on any earlier surveys by reusing questions?

Comment author: lionhearted 07 September 2017 07:23:02AM 0 points [-]

I'm running this with Kai Zau, my co-founder at Ultraworking. It's being promoted largely among people who have self-directed components to their work -- knowledge workers. Analyses, we'll see -- I'm an ok amateur statistician, and we plan to open up the whole data set, so people can go as far as they want with it. The lowest hanging fruit I'm looking for are correlations, especially unexpected ones, to investigate further. This is our first time doing it. Data released in October.

Doing a big survey on work, stress, and productivity. Feedback / anything you're curious about?

1 lionhearted 29 August 2017 02:19PM

In September, doing a big survey on work, stress, and productivity -- going to gather a bunch of possibly germane data, and then see what correlations stand out.

Current version is around 90% complete here --


Any feedback? Any data you'd be very interested in getting? We're basically guaranteed to get basic statistical significance / sample size, and might have respondents in the mid-thousands if things break right. What would you like to know? Feedback? Thanks.

Edit 7 September: it's now live here -- https://form.jotform.com/71974198606368 -- I answered a few of the top questions and read all the rest and incorporated some of the feedback. Thanks so much.

Perhaps a better form factor for Meetups vs Main board posts?

14 lionhearted 28 January 2016 11:50AM

I like to read posts on "Main" from time to time, including ones that haven't been promoted. However, lately, these posts get drowned out by all the meetup announcements.

It seems like this could lead to a cycle where people comment less on recent non-promoted posts (because they fall off the Main non-promoted area quickly) which leads to less engagement, and less posts, etc.

Meetups are also very important, but here's the rub: I don't think a text-based announcement in the Main area is the best possible way to showcase meetups.

So here's an idea: how about creating either a calendar of upcoming meetups, or map with pins on it of all places having a meetup in the next three months?

This could be embedded on the front page of leswrong.com -- that'd let people find meetups easier (they can look either by timeframe or see if their region is represented), and would give more space to new non-promoted posts, which would hopefully promote more discussion, engagement, and new posts.


Comment author: RichardKennaway 24 August 2015 01:50:58PM *  4 points [-]

There is a certain relationship between the statement "snow is white" and what you see if you look at snow. The same relationship holds between the statement "my partner is cheating on me" and what you will see if you covertly follow your partner around all day. Between the weather forecast and the weather. Between what a government says about its military activities and what you will see if find all its forces and watch what they are doing.

This concept is of fundamental importance to every aspect of life: thinking, doing, feeling, everything. It deserves a single, short, familiar word that means that thing and nothing else. That word exists: it is the word "truth". To discover truth, you must look and see, and experiment.

All of the extensions of that word to other concepts, such as "affective truth", "my truth", "spiritual truth", and so on, apply it to things that lack that fundamentally important quality: that the words match the way things are. They are ways of passing off ignorance as truth, feelings as truth, lies as truth. It saves you the trouble of looking, seeing, experimenting, and updating. You can say "this is true for me" and pull the wool over your own eyes while claiming that blindness is but truer vision.

Likewise, replacing "truth" tout court by adding limitative modifiers, like "empirical truth", "scientific truth", "rational truth", and so on, is an attempt to pretend that that fundamentally important quality is not of fundamental importance, but just one small part of a rich panoply of other ways of relating to the world. But it is not.

Feelings exist. True statements can be made about them. Whatever feelings you are having, it is true that you are having that feeling. But the feeling itself is not something that is capable of being true or false. Whenever you say "I feel that...", it is more accurate to say "I believe that..." Only when you do that can you ask, "Is this belief true?" Only when you shy away from that question will you need to say "it feels true."

Comment author: lionhearted 27 August 2015 12:35:20PM *  -2 points [-]

... is an attempt to pretend that that fundamentally important quality is not of fundamental importance ...

Incorrect. You missed the point.

It's a way to communicate with less analytical people without acting like a clueless sledgehammer that alienates people.

We might both disagree with "Serbia is the greatest country in the world" but that's not a very good argument to communicate to a Serbian who holds that view as deeply true.

Alternatively, do the Spock thing and try to instruct the average Balkan-country citizen on their "language accuracy" and see how far it gets you.

If you can get someone who asserts their opinion is "true" to grant it's true to them but not empirically true you've already won half the battle in helping them think and communicate better.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 23 August 2015 03:14:04PM *  5 points [-]

I don't think we should stop "wasting energy" disputing "affective truths". Even supposing this category of "affective truth" is useful, the main example you give is presented as empirical truth. I think such "affective truths" are usually presented as empirical truth. This is destroying the public's ability to reason. Let us at least point out the distinction.

Comment author: lionhearted 24 August 2015 03:05:54PM 0 points [-]

We're in agreement.

On Empirical Truth and Affective Truth

-1 lionhearted 23 August 2015 11:45AM

"We've always been at war with Eastasia."

Being able to be cloaked in the mantle of "truth," unfortunately, is extremely profitable to all manner of people.

In the broader rationalist community, there's a concern with actual genuine truth via empiricism -- observation, analysis, hypotheses, testing, falsifiability, the scientific method, and so on. 

We can all laugh when the North Korean government makes a declaration along the lines of "Kim Jong-un is the third greatest leader of all time, only surpassed by his Great and Illustrious ancestors, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il" -- but what's not funny is that the ability to have this statement more-or-less accepted by 25 million people is quite literally a matter of life or death for the DPRK's leadership.

If we wanted to test whether Jong-un is a Great Leader, we'd probably ask for parameters. How many scientific advancements have happened under his leadership? How was the quality of life improved? Should we measure by GDP? Solving social ills? Lower disease rates, better access to medicine, reduced rates of starvation? Perhaps a more subjective measure, like the fairness and consistency of North Korean courts, perhaps as judged by inquiring and weighing the opinions of experienced and well-respected jurists across the world?

But this exercise is worthless -- even laughable -- because the North Korean government is not resting its claims on our kind of truth, empirical truth.

It seems to me, unfortunately, that humans don't naturally differentiate between the truth of Newton's Second Law of Motion "1 N = 1 kg⋅m/s2" and the truth of statements like "X Country is the greatest country in the world."

But I contend that it would be a severe mistake to fight against how the vast majority of how people think and process: the concept of "truth" has historically never been limited to empirical truth.

Furthermore, this piece started off with a statement that most people worldwide would feel to be false despite being asserted to be true and believed by a few people; that makes the job easier.

But consider instead, "Shakespeare is truth" or "I've been living a lie."

What are these?

These statements might, indeed, be true -- for some definition of true.

Indeed, to me personally, Shakespeare is truth. Xenophon is truth. I would assert that.

Though it's a different kind of truth than Newton or Maxwell.

We could call the "truth" of someone's life, art, and aesthetics "affective truth" to differentiate it from empirical truth.

"This place feel right to me" -- true! Affectively true.

If we wanted to have this enter into common parlance, we might use the words "empirically true" and "spiritually true."

When Kim Jong-un's press secretary puts out a piece about the Dear Great Leader, they're making claims of spiritual truth.

Indeed, for many definitions of religions, the North Korean government is trying to run a religion. A religion that almost all of us would call false -- affectively false, in that it feels wrong. It isn't true. It isn't a good way to live. We can feel that, intuitively. North Korea is a lie -- in terms of the claims they make about life and living.

North Korean's mythos is, certainly, also built on a house of empirical falseness, lies, empirical untruths.

But to try to argue empiricism with someone's spirituality[*] is, generally speaking, a wasted exercise. 

We often see hyper-rational people refuting objectively false statements that politicians make -- for all the good it does them!

Politicians are often making appeals to affective truth, rather than attempting to give their best estimations and judgments of empirical truth.

I think -- I suspect -- at least, I hope -- that if we narrowly scope the definition of "empirical truth" to narrow standards of involving observation, testing, and resting as much as possible on mathematics and hard science, and only making highly parameterized statements when dealing with more subjective issues -- in this case, I think we'll be allowed to have "empirical truth" stand as it is.

Hopefully it can be technical and boring enough that we can avoid it becoming a political or religious battleground.

That's not to say there won't be heated disagreements by experts in a field about what the empirical is -- such is normal and productive -- but ideally we can stop much of the wasted energy that comes from when a rationalist is making an argument about empirical truth, the other party is making an argument about affective truth, and both sides are getting frustrated.

Comment author: James_Miller 17 October 2014 03:46:33PM 6 points [-]

Have you noticed a Flynn Effect in historical patterns?

Comment author: lionhearted 19 October 2014 01:24:31AM *  7 points [-]

Literacy and numeracy are huge, and universal literacy and numeracy anywhere at all is relatively extremely new. Those both make people think much better.

Better communications, transportation, medicine, and agricultural production also mean better mental development for all involved. So, across the board, I'd say yes, people are getting "smarter" for most definitions of smarter.

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