You’re probably right. It would be 10x more useful if it offered some specifics as to what’s bad about the post, though. As it is, it’s just a differently-shaped downvote.
I have no idea whether this is intended as a compliment or a criticism.
There’s something odd about this:
The bad news is that, ignoring the minority of proactive rescuers, there were no moral supermen.
If you’re looking for moral supermen, why would you ignore the minority of proactive rescuers? Aren’t they exactly what you’re looking for? The fact that they’re a small minority isn’t a reason to ignore them—no one expects “supermen” to be common.
Given that the post starts out by framing the issue in terms of “moral supermen” and saying it would be good to understand who they are and how they got that way, it seems a bit odd that it ends by deciding to ignore the only candidates we have for moral supermen, and saying that if you ignore those then there are no moral supermen.
(It may well be that in fact to an excellent approximation there weren’t any moral supermen, and that even those proactive morally-motivated rescuers were that way for some specific reason that doesn’t have much to do with generally better morality on their part. But why not at least look?)
The posts available for review are presented in (what I guess is) a consistent order that is (so far as I know) the same for everyone. I expect this to mean that posts presented earlier will get more votes. If, as seems plausible, most of the things in the list aren’t bad enough to get a “no” vote from most voters, this means that there is a bias in favour of the earlier posts in the list.
Related: keeping track of which posts I’ve looked at is a bit of a pain. Obviously I can see which ones I’ve voted non-neutral for, but there’s no obvious way to distinguish “decided to stick with neutral” from “haven’t looked yet”. So long as the order of presentation is consistent, I can just remember how far through the list I am, but (see above) it’s not obviously a good thing for the order of presentation to be consistent. And this phenomenon incentivizes me to process posts in order, rather than deliberately counteracting the bias mentioned above by trying to look at them in a random order.
Some of these posts have almost no content in themselves but link to other places where the actual meat is. (The two examples I’ve just run into: “Will AI see sudden progress?” and “Specification gaming examples in AI”.)
Are we supposed to vote on these as if they include that external content? If the highest-voted posts are made into some sort of collection, will the external content be included there?
I think this
I have lost some touch with what ‘rationality’ is, and I think the concept ‘rationality’ is less personally meaningful to me now.
is useful information in itself, in that it suggests that maybe Circling, or some other things that for whatever reason tend to accompany it, may tend to move people who do it away from LW-style “rationality” with time. Whether that’s a good thing (because LW-style “rationality” is actually too narrow or something of the kind) or a bad thing (because LW-style “rationality” is still more or less the best that’s on offer, and moving away from it almost inevitably means not thinking so clearly) is a separate question, of course.
There are surveys, but I think it may have been a few years since the last one. In answer to your specific question, LWers tend to be smart and young, which probably means most are rich by “global” standards, most aren’t yet rich by e.g. typical US or UK standards, but many of those will be in another decade or two. (Barring global economic meltdown, superintelligent AI singularity, etc.) I think LW surveys have asked about income but not wealth. E.g., here are results from the 2016 survey which show median income at $40k and mean at $64k; median age is 26, mean is 28. Note that the numbers suggest a lot of people left a lot of the demographic questions blank, and of course people sometimes lie about their income even in anonymous surveys, so be careful about drawing conclusions :-).
In the bomb example, it looks to me as if you have some bits backwards. I could be misunderstanding and I could have missed some, so rather than saying what I’ll just suggest that you go through double-checking where you’ve written “left”, “right”, “empty”, etc.
It’s not obvious to me that either the difficulty or the techniques would be the same for those other objectives as for Brexit. A canny political operative uses techniques appropriate for specific goals, after all.
If your goal is simply to get the UK out of the EU, for whatever reason and in whatever fashion, and if you don’t mind what harm you do to society in the process, then “all” you need to do is to stir up hatred and suspicion and fear around the EU and what it does and those who like it, and find some slogans that appeal without requiring much actual thought, and so forth. Standard-issue populism.
But let’s suppose you want universal basic income and you want it because you think it will help people and make society better. Then:
The “stir up fear and hatred” template doesn’t work so well, because what you’re doing isn’t a thing that can readily be seen as fighting against a shared enemy.
The “stir up fear and hatred” template may be a really bad idea even if it works, because it may do more damage to society than the reform you’re aiming for does good.
The details of what you do and how you do it may matter a lot: some versions of universal basic income might bankrupt the country, some might fail to do enough to solve the problems UBI is meant to solve, some might be politically unacceptable, etc. So you need to sell it in a way that lets a carefully designed version of UBI be what ends up happening.
The available evidence does not suggest (to me) that Cummings has a very specific version of Brexit in mind, or that he is sufficiently concerned for the welfare of the UK’s society and the individuals within it to be troubled by considerations of societal harm done by the measures he’s taken, or of whether he’s ending up with a variety of Brexit that’s net beneficial.
I would have preferred to say the foregoing without the last paragraph, which is kinda object-level political. But it’s essential to the point. When Viliam says it’s easier to burn a building down than construct it, I think he is saying something similar: if, as it seems may be the case, Cummings doesn’t actually care whether he does a lot of harm to a lot of people, then he has selected an easier task than would be faced by someone trying to bring about major reforms without harming a lot of people, and the methods he’s chosen are not necessarily ones that those who care about not harming a lot of people should emulate.
How clear is it that he specifically got all those things to happen? There were definitely other people involved, after all. Cummings’s own account of what happened no doubt ascribes as much agency as possible to Cummings himself, but there are possible explanations for that other than its being true.
Some “theories that can explain everything” may actually have the property that they can explain any individual observation but constrain what combinations of observations we can observe.
Consider, for instance, a vague but strongly adaptationist version of evolutionary psychology: it says that all features of human thought and behaviour have their origins in evolutionary advantage. Pretty much any specific feature of thought or behaviour can surely be given some sort of just-so-story explanation that will fit this theory, but it might be that feature 1 and feature 2 require mutually incompatible just-so stories, in which case the theory will forbid them both to occur; or at least that no one is able to come up with a plausibly-compatible pair of stories, in which case the theory will predict that features 1 and 2 are unlikely to occur together.
Arguably all theories are actually somewhat like this.
Fair enough! I suspect some low-probability predictions will be of that sort and some of the other, in which case there’s no simple way to adjust for overconfidence.
I don’t think you want to lower all predictions uniformly; some predictions here are stated with figures below 50%, for instance.
One better approach might be to reduce the log odds by some factor. If we pick 10% then we get substantially smaller changes than your proposal gives; maybe reduce the log odds by 25%? So if someone thinks X is 70% likely, that’s 7:3 odds; we’d reduce that to (7:3)^0.75 which is the equivalent of a probability of about 65.4%. If they think X is 90% likely it would become 83.9%; if they think X is 50% likely, that wouldn’t change at all.
(Arguably simpler but seems less natural to me: reduce proportionally not the probability but the difference from 50% of the probability. Say we reduce that by 25%; then 70% becomes 50% + 0.75*20% or 65%, quite similar to the fancy log-odds proposal in the previous paragraph. Things diverge more for more extreme probabilities: 90% turns into 50% + 0.75*40% or 80%, and 100% turns into 87.5% where the log-odds reduction leaves it unchanged.)
I think one could argue that “have you brought board games?” isn’t really intended to include the insides of yet-unopened presents in its scope, in which case you weren’t really lying.
(I’m not sure whether I would argue that. It might depend on whether Christmas Day was nearer the start or the end of your stay...)
Arguably the “natural” way to handle the possibility that you (the examiner) are in error is to score answers by (negative) KL-divergence from your own probability assignment. So if there are four options to which you assign probabilities p,q,r,s and a candidate says a,b,c,d then they get p log(a/p) + q log(b/q) + r log(c/r) + s log(d/s). If p=1 and q,r,s=0,0,0 then this is the same as giving them log a, i.e., the usual log-scoring rule. If p=1-3h and q,r,s=h,h,h then this is (1-3h) log (a/(1-3h)) + h log(b/h) + …, which if we fix a is constant + h (log b + log c + log d) = constant + h log bcd, which by the AM-GM inequality is biggest when b=c=d.
This differs from the “expected log score” I described above only by an additive constant. One way to describe it is: the average amount of information the candidate would gain by adopting your probabilities instead of theirs, the average being taken according to your probabilities.
The “two ice cream cups from Hsee (1988)” image is broken—I think it was hosted on old-LW and has now gone away. So I found the paper and uploaded a new copy of the image to imgur. Here it is.
I think the phrase “marginal people” is distracting in something a bit like the way “counterfactual people” is.
Maybe I’m confused about what you mean by “the personal stuff”. My impression is that what I would consider “the personal stuff” is central to why ialdabaoth is considered to pose an epistemic threat: he has (allegedly) a history of manipulation which makes it more likely that any given thing he writes is intended to deceive or manipulate. Which is why jimrandomh said:
The problem is, I think this post may contain a subtle trap, and that understanding its author, and what he was trying to do with this post, might actually be key to understanding what the trap is.
and, by way of explanation of why “this post may contain a subtle trap”, a paragraph including this:
So he created narratives to explain why those conversations were so confusing, why he wouldn’t follow the advice, and why the people trying to help him were actually wronging him, and therefore indebted. This post is one such narrative.
Unless I’m confused, (1) this is not “a somewhat standard LW critique of a LW post” because most such critiques don’t allege that the thing critiqued is likely to contain subtle malignly-motivated traps, and (2) the reason for taking it seriously is “the personal stuff”.
Who’s saying, in what sense, that “the personal stuff were separate”?
Why would it make sense to “exclude the personal stuff”? Isn’t the personal stuff the point here?
Sure, 2 knows something 1 doesn’t; e.g., 2 knows more about how unlikely B is. But, equally, 1 knows something 2 doesn’t; e.g., 1 knows more than 2 about how unlikely C is.
In the absence of any reason to think one of these is more important than the other, it seems reasonable to think that different probability assignments among the various wrong answers are equally meritorious and should result in equal scores.
… Having said that, here’s an argument (which I’m not sure I believe) for favouring more-balanced probability assignments to the wrong answers. We never really know that the right answer is 100:0:0:0. We could, conceivably, be wrong. And, by hypothesis, we don’t know of any relevant differences between the “wrong” answers. So we should see all the wrong answers as equally improbable but not quite certainly wrong. And if, deep down, we believe in something like the log scoring rule, then we should notice that a candidate who assigns a super-low probability to one of those “wrong” answers is going to do super-badly in the very unlikely case that it’s actually right after all.
So, suppose we believe in the log scoring rule, and we think the correct answer is the first one. But we admit a tiny probability h for each of the others being right. Then a candidate who gives probabilities a,b,c,d has an expected score of (1-3h) log a + h (log b + log c + log d). Suppose one candidate says 0.49,0.49,0.01,0.01 and the other says 0.4,0.2,0.2,0.2; then we will prefer the second over the first if h is bigger than about 0.0356. In a typical educational context that’s unlikely so we should prefer the first candidate. Now suppose one says 0.49,0.49,0.01,0.01 and the other says 0.49,0.25,0.25,0.01; we should always prefer the second candidate.
None of this means that the Brier score is the right way to prefer the second candidate over the first; it clearly isn’t, and if h is small enough then of course the correction to the naive log score is also very small, provided candidates’ probability assignments are bounded away from zero.
In practice, hopefully h is extremely small. And some wrong answers will be wronger than others and we don’t want to reward candidates for not noticing that, but we probably also don’t want the extra pain of figuring out just how badly wrong all the wrong answers are, and that is my main reason for thinking it’s better to use a scoring rule that doesn’t care what probabilities candidates assigned to the wrong answers.