Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
Odder's badges
Odder  ·  678 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Has anyone read "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" by Eliezer Yudkowsky

I don't plan to. Yudkowsky isn't remotely qualified to write a book on rationality, and he knows nothing about philosophy, computer science or cognition. He's just a sci-fi nerd with delusions of grandeur and no formal training in anything, and I know that no serious philosopher, computer scientist, or psychologist takes his work very seriously.

I have a very negative view on both LessWrong and Slate Star Codex. LessWrong is Yudkowsky's blog, of course, and he would have done better if he had bothered to read some philosophy before trying to teach others philosophy, instead of just deciding that Bayes Theorem was the answer to everything. Slate Star Codex strikes me as more irrational and reactionary than rationalist, mistaking fear, paranoia, and lack of empathy for "cold, hard logic." I'd be concerned for anyone that took anything they read there too seriously, as it seems like a precursor to nasty places like theredpill subreddit.

Odder  ·  915 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: No, You Can’t Feel Sorry for Everyone

I heavily disagree with this article. It attempts to support its ideas with science, but it does so poorly. The article takes a few general trends and preliminary studies from psychology, and then ignores all uncertainty or nuance, and takes an absolutist point of view. Additionally, the author conflates sympathy with empathy.

    Social scientists have found that in-group love and out-group hate originate from the same neurobiological basis, are mutually reinforcing, and co-evolved—because loyalty to the in-group provided a survival advantage by helping our ancestors to combat a threatening out-group. That means that, in principle, if we eliminate out-group hate completely, we may also undermine in-group love. Empathy is a zero-sum game.

    Absolute universalism, in which we feel compassion for every individual on Earth, is psychologically impossible.

In one line break, the article went from a "may undermine" to a "psychologically impossible." Also mysteriously, despite the citations elsewhere in the article, the author failed to cite what study exactly showed this. The rest of the article can now be read without assuming any scientific support, which will mostly cast it as the angry ravings of an author who does not believe in social change.

    In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke at Northwestern University’s commencement bemoaning the country’s “empathy deficit” and urging people “to see the world through those who are different from us.” ...

    And then the pendulum swung back. People do care, newspaper editorialists and social-media commenters granted. But they care inconsistently: grieving for victims of Brussels’ recent attacks and ignoring Yemen’s recent bombing victims; expressing outrage over ISIS rather than the much deadlier Boko Haram; mourning the death of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe while overlooking countless human murder victims. There are far worthier tragedies, they wrote, than the ones that attract the most public empathy

The first paragraph complained about our former lack of, or inability to empathize. The second paragraph bemoans our supposedly new ability to empathize, because we aren't empathizing about the correct things. Rather than observe that this is an improvement, the author claims that this is a manifestation of our inability to empathize properly. There are many reasons why people empathize more with Brussels than Yemen, some of which have a bit to do with the ingroup/outgroup mechanics that this article has woefully misunderstood. But that's no reason to assert that it is impossible for westerners to feel sorry for Yemen. Hell, some Westerners do feel empathy toward Yemen, hence the complaints from some that we aren't taking violence throughout the world seriously enough. Many of us meet those rare, sorrowful people who seem capable of empathy towards everyone. If some people can do it, how is it impossible?

    We can and do override our moral instincts using our more logical and deliberative mode of thinking, so the in-group vs. out-group opposition is not absolute.

Well, this got weird. The remainder of the article is a scientist with no backing in philosophy entering the philosophical realm and thinking that data is the solution to all of our problems, while ignoring the actual problems. Apparently, morality should be determined by consensus reality, or something. Also, apparently Bentham was right, and we should just try to maximize individual happiness, because science. It's almost Sam Harris levels of stupid, but with moral relativism instead.

    Think of the great progress physicists made when they acknowledged the limitations of the physical world—nothing can move faster than light, or be perfectly localized in the subatomic realm. Similarly, we will make our greatest moral progress when we accept and work within the limitations of human moral cognition, and forego an unrealistic concern for respecting difference and moral diversity at any cost.

No, this is more like when the old scientists said that the sound barrier couldn't be broken, or that the human body could not run a 4 minute mile. Just because something is hard doesn't mean it's impossible.

Odder  ·  923 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Overenthusiastic tagging of #spam in #rpg

I am the one who tagged both of the above users as spam. tacocat's explanation describes exactly why I did so. There are other users who mostly post links to one website, but with only one exception, I haven't marked any of those posts as spam.

When I'm bored, I go to global feed and mark things as spam. Here's my rationale:

1. If a user has commented, or shared posts from any other user, I do not mark their posts as spam.

2. If a user comments on their own posts when someone responds, I also don't mark their posts as spam.

3. If a user has self-promoted several posts in a row that have no shares or comments, I mark their posts as spam. If someone continuously posts things that no one in this community has interest in, it's spam.

4. If someone posts a new post every day, from the same website, then they're posting far more than most other people in the community. This is a good indicator, but not a guarantee, of spam. Most quality posts are not released on a daily basis, because good writing takes longer to read than it does to write.

I have no real problem with self-promotion. A fair amount of our regular uses do it. But I do have a problem with users who are not at all otherwise engaged with the community self-promoting. I have a rather low toleration for "blogspam" as it's commonly called on reddit, and I don't like people using online communities that they are not members of as an advertising platform. I don't think I'm alone in thinking this.

If 6d6rpg and rangergames want to comment on this, I'd be glad to hear their opinions. Assuming they are people, and not bots. If most people would prefer me to block these users rather than mark them as spam, I'll do so, but I marked those posts as spam assuming that most hubskians did not want to see those posts, either. As klein mentioned, if you follow #rpg and block #spam, you should still see those posts, so Devac, I know I'm not inconveniencing you directly.

Also, I'd like to point out that hubski does not work like reddit. #rpg isn't a subreddit, and the content posted with that tag isn't only visible to people who follow that tag. As such, it isn't like reddit, where I can safely ignore posts that don't interest me by not subscribing to #rpg. I would have to block #rpg, which I don't want to do, because several posts using that tag do interest me, just not those posted in excess by a few users. Any post, no matter the tags shows up to everyone who doesn't filter them. It's how Hubski is designed. This is a very small site, so the design works well.

Odder  ·  1014 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Radicalizing the Romanceless

Man, there's a lot in this post I disagree with. I mostly want to focus on the "nice guys don't feel like they're owed sex," because it's bullshit.

    “I am a nice guy, how come girls don’t like me?”

This is a non sequitur, which is why it gets so much ridicule. Yeah, most "nice guys" are probably actually nicer than Henry, but the types of people they want to date probably don't want to date Henry, either. But Henry and his presumably large number of relationships don't even matter to why the nice guy isn't getting laid.

What these "nice guys" should be confronting is why no one seems to want to date them. "Being nice" isn't a selling point, if anything it's a prerequisite. If you want people to like you, you need to be the kind of person people want to be around, or you are creating a double standard for yourself over everyone else. How many of these supposedly "nice" men want to date a woman whose only positive quality is that she's "nice"? I'd wager it's probably close to none because that's a stupid metric for judging people. The only reason "nice" even gets brought up by these guys is that they've latched on to the Henry archetype, an imagined other who gets what they want (several relationships with attractive women) but who shouldn't deserve it because Henry broke the social norms or whatever.

SSC guy brings up what he calls the "worse response humanly possible" at the beginning, and he might be right in that being rude to someone is ineffective. But the fact that a low-wage earners latches onto the Ivy league sinecure as his objet petit a is just as toxic as the "nice guy" who latches onto Henry, except the low-wage earner probably isn't going to stalk his desired job or follow it around obsessively wanting to be its friend. The bile from tripe like XOJane or Jezebel sells because it's readers assumedly are or know someone who has a male "friend" who they find completely romantically unengaging, yet who follows them around obsessively despite how clear they have made their intentions. Similar media exist for low-wage earners as well, of course, and they're primarily entertainment for those who already "get it."

The response itself is cruel, but it also seems to be the only way to get though that the world is a place full of people who want things, and that if your only selling point is that you are a "hard worker"or a "nice guy" that you've fundamentally misunderstood the way things work to an extent where there isn't anything nice to say to you anymore.

When the nice guy wonders why he doesn't get as much sex as Henry, he is the one who commodifies sex, and he does make it seem as if he is owed sex, if not by anyone, then at least by someone. He isn't specifically naming any girl who should have sex with him (or maybe he is, but let's assume the best), but he is saying there is some girl out there who should have had sex with him by now. Why would she decide to do such a thing? The "nice guy" is utterly mystified how to answer this, because it requires confronting something about himself that needs to change, so instead he brings in all this shit about Henry and how he's successful.

You can say you don't believe you are owed sex, but if you think the reason you aren't having sex doesn't lie within you, where do you think it lies?

Oddly, slatestarcodex has the last psychiatrist in his sidebar. I doubt the reverse would be true, if TLP had a sidebar. I remember a bit TLP did a while ago related to this, and I can't help thinking that a "nice guy" who obsesses about a Henry is the same as a loser who wishes he was Don Draper.