I have taken the survey.
I think this discussion is somewhat confused by the elision of the difference between ‘autodidact’ and ‘lone wolf’. ‘Autodidact’, in internet circles, is generally used to mean ‘anyone who learns things primarily outside a formalized educational environment’; it’s possible to be an autodidact while still being heavily engaged with communities and taking learning things as a social endeavor and so on, and in fact Eliezer was active in communities related to LW’s subject matter for a long time before he started LW. By the same token, one of the main things I took from reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography was that, despite having little formal schooling and being solely credited for many of his innovations, he didn’t actually do it alone. I doubt he would’ve been even a tenth as successful as he was without something like his Junto.
Some people will get more out of formal education than others, although getting things out of formal education is itself a skill that can be learned. (It seems to require an ability to buy into institutions on an emotional level that many of us lack. I saw college as an obnoxious necessity rather than a set of opportunities, and as a result got much less out of it than I could have. This seems to be a common mistake.) But I just don’t think it’s possible to become a spectacular writer, or even a middling one, as a lone wolf. If nothing else, you need feedback from a community in order to improve. Look at lone-wolf outsider art—it’s frequently unusual, but how much of it is good?
When you ask someone if they would like a debate platform and describe all the features and content it’ll have, they go: “Hell yeah I’d love that!” And it took me a while to realize that what they are imagining is someone else writing all the content and doing all the heavy lifting. Then they would come along, read some of it, and may be leave a comment or two. And basically everyone is like that: they want it, but they are not willing to put in the work. And I don’t blame them, because I’m not willing to put in the work (of writing) either. There are just a handful of people who are.
This is what incentive structures are for. There are quite a few people who have strong incentives to publish high-quality writing, you know...
An open-access journal for debates seems like it ought to be possible, although it’d have to actively solicit contributions (an encyclopedia for debates?) and reward them with academic status, which means you’d need solid academic backing.
Yes, so you send everyone out and hide most of the beds when the inspectors come around.
This is probably not desirable for communities with children, but it’s common for co-ops in places with those laws.
It’s a coastal, urban American custom. To a first approximation, it’s illegal to build in coastal cities and most of the land in them is uninhabitable because crime.
Would be interested if I lived in a place amenable to this. Seconding dropspindle’s recommendation of Appalachia, since that’s where I’m already planning to move if I can get a remote job.
It may be worth looking to see whether there are any large, relatively inexpensive houses near major cities that could be converted. There are a lot of McMansion developments in the suburbs north of DC that have never looked particularly inhabited.
Yes, I know. I bet Islamists don’t think highly of it either.
If Nazis got punched all the time, they would be perceived as weak and nobody would join them.
Two thousand years ago, some guy in the Roman Empire got nailed to a piece of wood and left to die. How did that turn out?
I guess the second part is more important, because the first part is mostly a strawman.
Not in my experience. It may seem like it now, but that’s because the postrationalists won the argument.
Similarly, when a third party describes SSC, they cannot credibly accuse Scott of what someone else wrote in the comments; the dividing line between Scott and his comentariat is obvious.
They can accuse Scott of being the sort of fascist who would have a [cherry-picking two or three comments that aren’t completely in approval of the latest Salon thinkpiece] far-right extremist commentariat. And they do.
I don’t feel like I can just share Less Wrong articles to many places because Less Wrong lacks respectability in wider society and is only respectable with those who are part of the LW ghetto’s culture.
That’s mostly a CSS problem. The respectability of a linked LW article would, I think, be dramatically increased if the place looked more professional. Are there any web designers in the audience?
Walled gardens are probably necessary for honest discussion.
If everything is open and tied to a meatspace identity, contributors have to constantly mind what they can and can’t say and how what they’re saying could be misinterpreted, either by an outsider who isn’t familiar with local jargon or by a genuinely hostile element (and we’ve certainly had many of those) bent on casting LW or that contributor in the worst possible light.
If everything is open but not tied to an identity, there’s no status payoff for being right that’s useful in the real world—or if there is, it comes at the risk of being doxed, and it’s generally not worth it.
The ideal would probably be a walled garden with no real name policy. I’ve considered writing a site along these lines for some time, with many walled gardens and individually customizable privacy settings like Facebook, but I’m not sure what model to base the posting on—that is, should it look like a forum, like Facebook/Reddit, like Tumblr, or what?
Let’s consider the number x = …999; in other words, now we have infinitely many 9s to the left of the decimal point.
My gut response (I can’t reasonably claim to know math above basic algebra) is:
Infinite sequences of numbers to the right of the decimal point are in some circumstances an artifact of the base. In base 3, 1⁄3 is 0.1 and 1⁄10 is 0.00220022..., but 1⁄10 “isn’t” an infinitely repeating decimal and 1⁄3 “is”—in base 10, which is what we’re used to. So, heuristically, we should expect that some infinitely repeating representations of numbers are equal to some representations that aren’t infinitely repeating.
If 0.999… and 1 are different numbers, there’s nothing between 0.999… and 1, which doesn’t jive with my intuitive understanding of what numbers are.
The integers don’t run on a computer processor. Positive integers can’t wrap around to negative integers. Adding a positive integer to a positive integer will always give a positive integer.
0.999… is 0.9 + 0.09 + 0.009 etc, whereas …999.0 is 9 + 90 + 900 etc. They must both be positive
There is no finite number larger than …999.0. A finite number must have a finite number of digits, so you can compute …999.0 to that many digits and one more. So there’s nothing ‘between’ …999.0 and infinity.
Infinity is not the same thing as negative one.
All I have to do to accept that 0.999… is the same thing 1 is accept that some numbers can be represented in multiple ways. If I don’t accept this, I have to reject the premise that two numbers with nothing ‘between’ them are equal—that is, if 0.999… != 1, it’s not the case that for any x and y where x != y, x is either greater than or less than y.
But if I accept that …999.0 is equal to −1, I have to accept that adding together some positive numbers can give a negative number, and if I reject it, I just have to say that multiplying an infinite number by ten doesn’t make sense. (This feels like it’s wrong but I don’t know why.)
The is-ought problem implies that the universe is deterministic
No. Accepting facts fully does not lead to utilitarian ideas. This has been a solved problem since Hume, FFS.
Accepting facts fully (probably leads to EA ideas,
It’s more likely to lead to Islam; that’s at least on the right side of the is-ought gap.
Language could be more or less frozen wherever it stands at the time.
No it wouldn’t—language is for signaling, not only communication. There would probably be a common language for business and travel, but languages would continue to develop normally, since people would still want to use language to determine how they present themselves.
If you never publicly state your beliefs, how are you supposed to refine them?
But if you do publicly state your beliefs, the Rebecca Watsons can eat you, and if you don’t, the Rebecca Watsons can coordinate against you.
How do you solve that?
“I believe that it’s always important to exchange views with people, no matter what their perspectives are. I think that we have a lot of problems in our society and we need to be finding ways to talk to people, we need to find ways to talk to people where not everything is completely transparent. … I think often you have the best conversations in smaller groups where not everything is being monitored. That’s how you have very honest conversations and how you can think better about the future.”—Thiel on Bilderberg
Right, and he addresses this in the article:
This lack of motivation is connected to another important psychology – the willingness to fail conventionally. Most people in politics are, whether they know it or not, much more comfortable with failing conventionally than risking the social stigma of behaving unconventionally. They did not mind losing so much as being embarrassed, as standing out from the crowd. (The same phenomenon explains why the vast majority of active fund management destroys wealth and nobody learns from this fact repeated every year.)
We plebs can draw a distinction between belief and action, but political operatives like him can’t. For “failing conventionally”, read “supporting the elite consensus”.
Now, ‘rationalists’, at least in the LW sense (as opposed to the broader sense of Kahneman et al.), have a vague sense that this is true, although I’m not sure if it’s been elaborated on yet. “People are more interested in going through the conventional symbolic motions of doing a thing than they are in actually doing the thing” (e.g. “political actors are more interested in going through the conventional symbolic motions of working out which side they ought to be on than in actually working it out”) is widespread enough in the community that it’s been blamed for the failure of MetaMed. (Reading that post, it sounds to me like it failed because it didn’t have enough sales/marketing talent, but that’s beside the point.)
Something worth noting: the alternate take on this is that, while most people are more interested in going through the conventional symbolic motions of doing a thing than they are in actually doing the thing, conventional symbolic motions are still usually good enough. Sometimes they aren’t, but usually they are—which allows the Burkean reading that the conventional symbolic motions have actually been selected for effectiveness to an extent that may surprise the typical LW reader.
It should also be pointed out that, while we praise people or institutions that behave unconventionally to try to win when it works (e.g. Eliezer promoting AI safety by writing Harry Potter fanfiction, the Trump campaign), we don’t really blame people or institutions that behave conventionally and lose. So going through the motions could be modeled purely by calculation of risk, at least in the political case: if you win, you win, but if you support an insurgency and lose, that’s a much bigger deal than if you support the consensus and lose—at least for the right definition of ‘consensus’. But that can’t be a complete account of it, because MetaMed.
I’d be surprised if Yudkowsky has read Sartre. But it’s a natural thing to do. Harry Potter is (unfortunately) the closest thing we have to a national epic we have these days… well, an Anglosphere epic, but you get the idea.
If this is the sort of thing you’re interested in, you might want to read Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities.