Sharing Discussion Methods

Suppose you try to have a discussion with someone and you use one method (one approch to how to discuss – what to say, when, how to organize it, etc.) and he uses a different method. What happens? Chaos. Your step 1 and his step 1 don't match. Your step 2 and his step 2 don't match. From your perspective, he keeps doing the wrong things. From his perspective, you keep doing the wrong things.

So it's important to communicate about your discussion method and take an interest in the discussion methods of others.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Discussion Methodologies

To have a productive discussion, you need a method of discussing. What is step 1 in a discussion? What is step 2? What is step 3?

If you don't know, or don't have it in writing, why would you think you're ready for an intellectual discussion? That means you will follow a unknown or unclear method. In that case, if the method has any flaws, then you will have a hard time in the discussion (due to using a flawed method) and have a hard time understanding why the discussion isn't working well.

If your discussion method hasn't been analyzed with conscious, critical thinking, you should expect it to have lots of flaws. And if it isn't specified in writing, you should expect to change it mid-discussion according to your biases.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Project Planning Discussion

This is a discussion about rational project planning. The major theme is that people should consider what their project premises are. What claims are they betting their project success on the correctness of? And why? This matter requires investigation and consideration, not just ignoring it.

By project I mean merely a goal-directed activity. It can be, but doesn't have to be, a business project or multi-person project. My primary focus is on larger projects, e.g. projects that take more than one day to finish.

The first part is discussion context. You may want to skip to the second part where I write an article/monologue with no one else talking. It explains a lot of important stuff IMO.


Gavin Palmer:

The most important problem is The Human Resource Problem. All other problems depend on the human resource problem. The Human Resource Problem consists of a set of smaller problems that are related. An important problem within that set is the communication problem: an inability to communicate. I classify that problem as a problem related to information technology and/or process. If people can obtain and maintain a state of mind which allows communication, then there are other problems within that set related to problems faced by any organization. Every organization is faced with problems related to hiring, firing, promotion, and demotion.

So every person encounters this problem. It is a universal problem. It will exist so long as there are humans. We each have the opportunity to recognize and remember this important problem in order to discover and implement processes and tools which can facilitate our ability to solve every problem which is solvable.

curi:

you haven't explained what the human resource problem is, like what things go in that category

Gavin Palmer:

The thought I originally had long ago - was that there are people willing and able to solve our big problems. We just don't have a sufficient mechanism for finding and organizing those people. But I have discovered that this general problem is related to ideas within any organization. The general problem is related to ideas within a company, a government, and even those encountered by each individual mind. The task of recruiting, hiring, firing, promoting, and demoting ideas can occur on multiple levels.

curi:

so you mean it like HR in companies? that strikes me as a much more minor problem than how rationality works.

Gavin Palmer:

If you want to end world hunger it's an HR problem.

curi:

it's many things including a rationality problem

curi:

and a free trade problem and a governance problem and a peace problem

curi:

all of which require rationality, which is why rationality is central

Gavin Palmer:

How much time have you actually put into trying to understand world hunger and the ways it could end?

Gavin Palmer:

How much time have you actually put into building anything? What's your best accomplishment as a human being?

curi:

are you mad?

GISTE:

so to summarize the discussion that Gavin started. Gavin described what he sees as the most important problem (the HR problem), where all other problems depend on it. curi disagreed by saying that how rationality works is a more important problem than the HR problem, and he gave reasons for it. Gavin disagreed by saying that for the goal of ending world hunger, the most important problem is the HR problem -- and he did not address curi's reasons. curi disagreed by saying that the goal of ending world hunger is many problems, all of which require rationality, making rationality the most important problem. Then Gavin asked curi about how much time he has spent on the world hunger problem and asked if he built anything and what his best accomplishments are. Gavin's response does not seem to connect to any of the previous discussion, as far as I can tell. So it's offtopic to the topic of what is the most important problem for the goal of ending world hunger. Maybe Gavin thinks it is on topic, but he didn't say why he thinks so. I guess that curi also noticed the offtopic thing, and that he guessed that Gavin is mad. then curi asked Gavin "are you mad?" as a way to try to address a bottleneck to this discussion. @Gavin Palmer is this how you view how the discussion went or do you have some differences from my view? if there are differences, then we could talk about those, which would serve to help us all get on the same page. And then that would help serve the purpose of reaching mutual understanding and agreement regarding whether or not the HR problem is the most important problem on which all other problems depend.

GISTE:

btw i think Gavin's topic is important. as i see it, it's goal is to figure out the relationships between various problems, to figure out which is the most important. i think that's important because it would serve the purpose of helping one figure out which problems to prioritize.

Gavin Palmer:

Here is a google doc linked to a 1-on-1 I had with GISTE (he gave me permission to share). I did get a little angry and was anxious about returning here today. I'm glad to see @curi did not get offended by my questions and asked a question. I am seeing the response after I had the conversation with GISTE. Thank you for your time.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XEztqEHLBAJ39HQlueKX3L4rVEGiZ4GEfBJUyXEgVNA/edit?usp=sharing

GISTE:

to be clear, regarding the 1 on 1 discussion linked above, whatever i said about curi are my interpretations. don't treat me as an authority on what curi thinks.

GISTE:

also, don't judge curi by my ideas/actions. that would be unfair to him. (also unfair to me)

JustinCEO:

Curi's response tells me he does not know how to solve world hunger.

JustinCEO:

Unclear to me how that judgment was arrived at

JustinCEO:

I'm reading

JustinCEO:

Lowercase c for curi btw

JustinCEO:

But I have thought about government, free trade, and peace very much. These aren't a root problem related to world hunger.

JustinCEO:

curi actually brought those up as examples of things that require rationality

JustinCEO:

And said that rationality was central

JustinCEO:

But you don't mention rationality in your statement of disagreement

JustinCEO:

You mention the examples but not the unifying theme

JustinCEO:

GISTE:

curi did not say those are root problems.

JustinCEO:

Ya 🙂

JustinCEO:

Ya GISTE got this point

JustinCEO:

I'm on phone so I'm pasting less than I might otherwise

JustinCEO:

another way to think about the world hunger problem is this: what are the bottlenecks to solving it? first name them, before trying to figure out which one is like the most systemic one.

JustinCEO:

I think the problem itself could benefit from a clear statement

GISTE:

That clear statement would include causes of (world) hunger. Right ? @JustinCEO

JustinCEO:

I mean a detailed statement would get into that issue some GISTE cuz like

JustinCEO:

You'd need to figure out what counts and what doesn't as an example of world hunger

JustinCEO:

What is in the class of world hunger and what is outside of it

JustinCEO:

And that involves getting into specific causes

JustinCEO:

Like presumably "I live in a first world country and have 20k in the bank but forgot to buy groceries this week and am hungry now" is excluded from most people's definitions of world hunger

JustinCEO:

I think hunger is basically a solved problem in western liberal capitalist democracies

JustinCEO:

People fake the truth of this by making up concepts called "food insecurity" that involve criteria like "occasionally worries about paying for groceries" and calling that part of a hunger issue

JustinCEO:

Thinking about it quickly, I kinda doubt there is a "world hunger" problem per se

GISTE:

yeah before you replied to my last comment, i immediately thought of people who choose to be hungry, like anorexic people. and i think people who talk about world hunger are not including those situations.

JustinCEO:

There's totally a Venezuela hunger problem or a Zimbabwe hunger problem tho

JustinCEO:

But not really an Ohio or Kansas hunger problem

JustinCEO:

Gavin

I try to be pragmatic. If your solution depends on people being rational, then the solution probably will not work. My solution does depend on rational people, but the number of rational people needed is very small

GISTE:

There was one last comment by me that did not get included in the one on one discussion. Here it is. “so, you only want people on your team that already did a bunch of work to solve world hunger? i thought you wanted rational people, not necessarily people that already did a bunch of work to solve world hunger.”

JustinCEO:

What you think being rational is and what it involves could probably benefit from some clarification.

Anyways I think society mostly works to the extent people are somewhat rational in a given context.

JustinCEO:

I regard violent crime for the purpose of stealing property as irrational

JustinCEO:

For example

JustinCEO:

Most people agree

JustinCEO:

So I can form a plan to walk down my block with my iPhone and not get robbed, and this plan largely depends on the rationality of other people

JustinCEO:

Not everyone agrees with my perspective

JustinCEO:

The cop car from the local precinct that is generally parked at the corner is also part of my plan

JustinCEO:

But my plan largely depends on the rationality of other people

JustinCEO:

If 10% or even 5% of people had a pro property crime perspective, the police could not really handle that and I would have to change my plans

Gavin Palmer:

World hunger is just an example of a big problem which depends on information technology related to the human resource problem. My hope is that people interested in any big problem could come to realize that information technology related to the human resource problem is part of the solution to the big problem they are interested in as well as other big problems.

Gavin Palmer:

So maybe "rationality" is related to what I call "information technology".

JustinCEO:

the rationality requirements of my walking outside with phone plan are modest. i can't plan to e.g. live in a society i would consider more moral and just (where e.g. a big chunk of my earnings aren't confiscated and wasted) cuz there's not enough people in the world who agree with me on the relevant issues to facilitate such a plan.

JustinCEO:

anyways regarding specifically this statement

JustinCEO:

If your solution depends on people being rational, then the solution probably will not work.

JustinCEO:

i wonder if the meaning is If your solution depends on [everyone] being [completely] rational, then the solution probably will not work.

Gavin Palmer:

There is definitely some number/percentage I have thought about... like I only need 10% of the population to be "rational".

GISTE:

@Gavin Palmer can you explain your point more? what i have in mind doens't seem to match your statement. so like if 90% of the people around me weren't rational (like to what degree exactly?), then they'd be stealing and murdering so much that the police couldn't stop them.

JustinCEO:

@Gavin Palmer based on the stuff you said so far and in the google doc regarding wanting to work on important problems, you may appreciate this post

JustinCEO:

https://curi.us/2029-the-worlds-biggest-problems

JustinCEO:

Gavin says

A thing that is sacred is deemed worthy of worship. And worship is based in the words worth and ship. And so a sacred word is believed to carry great worth in the mind of the believer. So I can solve world hunger with the help of people who are able and willing. Solving world hunger is not an act done by people who uphold the word rationality above all other words.

JustinCEO:

the word doesn't matter but the concept surely does for problem-solving effectiveness

JustinCEO:

people who don't value rationality can't solve much of anything

nikluk:

Re rationality. Have you read this article and do you agree with what it says, @Gavin Palmer ?
https://fallibleideas.com/reason

GISTE:

So maybe "rationality" is related to what I call "information technology".
can you say more about that relationship? i'm not sure what you have in mind. i could guess but i think it'd be a wild guess that i'm not confident would be right. (so like i could steelman your position but i could easily be adding in my own ideas and ruin it. so i'd rather avoid that.) @Gavin Palmer

Gavin Palmer:

so like if 90% of the people around me weren't rational (like to what degree exactly?), then they'd be stealing and murdering so much that the police couldn't stop them.
I think the image of the elephant rider portrayed by Jonathan Haidt is closer to the truth when it comes to some word like rationality and reason. I actually value something like compassion above a person's intellect: and I really like people who have both. There are plenty of idiots in the world who are not going to try and steal from you or murder you. I'm just going to go through these one by one when able.

Gavin Palmer:

https://curi.us/2029-the-worlds-biggest-problems
Learning to think is very important. There were a few mistakes in that article. The big one in my opinion is the idea that 2/3 of the people can change things. On the contrary our government systems do not have any mechanism in place to learn what 2/3 of the people actually want nor any ability to allow the greatest problem solvers to influence those 2/3 of the people. We aren't even able to recognize the greatest problem solvers. Another important problem is technology which allows for this kind of information sharing so that we can actually know what the people think and we can allow the greatest problem solvers to be heard. We want that signal to rise above the noise.

The ability to solve problems is like a muscle. For me - reading books does not help me build that muscle - they only help me find better words for describing the strategies and processes which I have developed through trial and error. I am not the smartest person - I learn from trial and error.

curi:

To answer the questions: I have thought about many big problems, such as aging death, AGI, and coercive parenting/education. Yes I've considered world hunger too, though not as a major focus. I'm an (experienced) intellectual. My accomplishments are primarily in philosophy research re issues like how learning and rational discussion work. I do a lot of educational writing and discussion. https://elliottemple.com

curi:

You're underestimating the level of outlier you're dealing with here, and jumping to conclusions too much.

Gavin Palmer:

https://fallibleideas.com/reason
It's pretty good. But science without engineering is dead. That previous sentence reminds me of "faith without works is dead". I'm not a huge fan of science for the sake of science. I'm a fan of engineering and the science that helps us do engineering.

curi:

i don't thikn i have anything against engineering.

Gavin Palmer:

I'm just really interested in finding people who want to help do the engineering. It's my bias. Even more - it's my passion and my obsession.

Gavin Palmer:

Thinking and having conversations is fun though.

Gavin Palmer:

But sometimes it can feel aimless if I'm not building something useful.

curi:

My understanding of the world, in big picture, is that a large portion of all efforts at engineering and other getting-stuff-done type work are misdirected and useless or destructive.

curi:

This is for big hard problems. The productiveness of practical effort is higher for little things like making dinner today.

curi:

The problem is largely not the engineering itself but the ideas guiding it – the goals and plan.

Gavin Palmer:

I worked for the Army's missile defense program for 6 years when I graduated from college. I left because of the reason you point out. My hope was that I would be able to change things from within.

curi:

So for example in the US you may agree with me that at least around half of political activism is misdirected to goals with low or negative value. (either the red tribe or blue tribe work is wrong, plus some of the other work too)

Gavin Palmer:

Even the ones I agree with and have volunteered for are doing a shit job.

curi:

yeah

curi:

i have found a decent number of people want to "change the world" or make some big improvement, but they can't agree amongst themselves about what changes to make, and some of them are working against others. i think sorting that mess out, and being really confident the projects one works on are actually good, needs to come before implementation.

curi:

i find most people are way too eager to jump into their favored cause without adequately considering why people disagree with it and sorting out all the arguments for all sides.

Gavin Palmer:

There are many tools that don't exist which could exist. And those tools could empower any organization and their goal(s).

curi:

no doubt.

curi:

software is pretty new and undeveloped. adequate tools are much harder to name than inadequate ones.

Gavin Palmer:

adequate tools are much harder to name than inadequate ones.
I don't know what that means.

curi:

we could have much better software tools for ~everything

curi:

"~" means "approximately"

JustinCEO:

Twitter can't handle displaying tweets well. MailMate performance gets sluggish with too many emails. Most PDF software can't handle super huge PDFs well. Workout apps can't use LIDAR to tell ppl if their form is on point

curi:

Discord is clearly a regression from IRC in major ways.

Gavin Palmer:

🤦‍♂️

JustinCEO:

?

JustinCEO:

i find your face palm very unclear @Gavin Palmer; hope you elaborate!

Gavin Palmer:

I find sarcasm very unclear. That's the only way I know how to interpret the comments about Twitter, MailMate, PDF, LIDAR, Discord, IRC, etc.

curi:

I wasn't being sarcastic and I'm confident Justin also meant what he said literally and seriously.

Gavin Palmer:

Ok - thanks for the clarification.

JustinCEO:

ya my statements were made earnestly

JustinCEO:

re: twitter example

JustinCEO:

twitter makes it harder to have a decent conversation cuz it's not good at doing conversation threading

JustinCEO:

if it was better at this, maybe people could keep track of discussions better and reach agreement more easily

Gavin Palmer:

Well - I have opinions about Twitter. But to be honest - I am also trying to look at what this guy is doing:
https://github.com/erezsh/portal-radar

It isn't a good name in my opinion - but the idea is related to having some bot collect discord data so that there can be tools which help people find the signal in the noise.

curi:

are you aware of http://bash.org ? i'm serious about major regressions.

JustinCEO:

i made an autologging system to make discord chat logs on this server so people could pull information (discussions) out of them more easily

JustinCEO:

but alas it's a rube goldberg machine of different tools running together in a VM, not something i can distribute

Gavin Palmer:

Well - it's a good goal. I'm looking to add some new endpoints in a pull request to the github repo I linked above. Then I could add some visualizations.

Another person has built a graphql backend (which he isn't sharing open source) and I have created some of my first react/d3 components to visualize his data.
https://portal-projects.github.io/users/

Gavin Palmer:

I think you definitely want to write the code in a way that it can facilitate collaboration.

curi:

i don't think this stuff will make much difference when people don't know what a rational discussion is and don't want one.

curi:

and don't want to use tools that already exist like google groups.

curi:

which is dramatically better than twitter for discussion

Gavin Palmer:

I'm personally interested in something which I have titled "Personality Targeting with Machine Learning".

Gavin Palmer:

My goal isn't to teach people to be rational - it is to try and find people who are trying to be rational.

curi:

have you identified which philosophical schools of thought it's compatible and incompatible with? and therefore which you're betting on being wrong?

curi:

it = "Personality Targeting with Machine Learning".

Gavin Palmer:

Ideally it isn't hard coded or anything. I could create multiple personality profiles. Three of the markets I have thought about using the technology in would be online dating, recruiting, and security/defense.

curi:

so no?

Gavin Palmer:

If I'm understanding you - a person using the software could create a personality that mimics a historical person for example - and then parse social media in search of people who are saying similar things.

Gavin Palmer:

But I'm not exactly sure what point you are trying to make.

curi:

You are making major bets while being unaware of what they are. You may be wrong and wasting your time and effort, or even being doing something counterproductive. And you aren't very interested in this.

Gavin Palmer:

Well - from my perspective - I am not making any major bets. What is the worst case scenario?

curi:

An example worst case scenario would be that you develop an AGI by accident and it turns us all into paperclips.

Gavin Palmer:

I work with a very intelligent person that would laugh at that idea.

curi:

That sounds like an admission you're betting against it.

curi:

You asked for an example seemingly because you were unaware of any. You should be documenting what bets you're making and why.

Gavin Palmer:

I won't be making software that turns us all into paperclips.

curi:

Have you studied AI alignment?

Gavin Palmer:

I have been writing software for over a decade. I have been using machine learning for many months now. And I have a pretty good idea of how the technology I am using actually works.

curi:

So no?

Gavin Palmer:

No. But if it is crap - do you want to learn why it is crap?

curi:

I would if I agreed with it, though I don't. But a lot of smart people believe it.

curi:

They have some fairly sophisticated reasons, which I don't think it's reasonable to bet against from a position of ignorance.

Gavin Palmer:

Our ability to gauge if someone has understanding on a given subject is relative to how much understanding we have on that subject.

curi:

Roughly, sure. What's your point?

Gavin Palmer:

First off - I'm not sure AGI is even possible. I love to play with the idea. And I would love to get to a point where I get to help build a god. But I am not even close to doing that at this point in my career.

curi:

So what?

Gavin Palmer:

You think there is a risk I would build something that turns humans into paperclips.

curi:

I didn't say that.

Gavin Palmer:

You said that is the worst case scenario.

curi:

Yes. It's something you're betting against, apparently without much familiarity with the matter.

curi:

Given that you don't know much about it, you aren't in a reasonable position to judge how big a risk it is.

curi:

So I think you're making a mistake.

curi:

The bigger picture mistake is not trying to figure out what bets you're making and why.

curi:

Most projects have this flaw.

Gavin Palmer:

My software uses algorithms to classify input data.

curi:

So then, usually, somewhere on the list of thousands of bets being made, are a few bad ones.

curi:

Does this concept make sense to you?

Gavin Palmer:

Love is most important in my hierarchy of values.

Gavin Palmer:

If I used the word in a sentence I would still want to capitalize it.

curi:

is that intended to be an answer?

Gavin Palmer:

Yes - I treat Love in a magical way. And you don't like magical thinking. And so we have very different world views. They might even be incompatible. The difference between us is that I won't be paralyzed by my fears. And I will definitely make mistakes. But I will make more mistakes than you. The quality and quantity of my learning will be very different than yours. But I will also be reaping the benefits of developing new relationships with engineers, learning new technology/process, and building up my portfolio of open source software.

curi:

You accuse me of being paralyzed by fears. You have no evidence and don't understand me.

curi:

Your message is not loving or charitable.

curi:

You're heavily personalizing while knowing almost nothing about me.

JustinCEO:

i agree

JustinCEO:

also, magical thinking can't achieve anything

curi:

But I will also be reaping the benefits of developing new relationships with engineers

curi:

right now you seem to be trying to burn a bridge with an engineer.

curi:

you feel attacked in some way. you're experiencing some sort of conflict. do you want to use a rational problem solving method to try to address this?

curi:

J, taking my side here will result in him feeling ganged up on. I think it will be counterproductive psychologically.

doubtingthomas:

J, taking my side here will result in him feeling ganged up on. I think it will be counterproductive psychologically.
Good observation. Are you going to start taking these considerations into account in future conversations?

curi:

I knew that years ago. I already did take it into account.

curi:

please take this tangent to #fi

GISTE:

also, magical thinking can't achieve anything
@JustinCEO besides temporary nice feelings. Long term its bad though.

doubtingthomas:

yeah sure

JustinCEO:

ya sure GISTE, i meant achieve something in reality

curi:

please stop talking here. everyone but gavin

Gavin Palmer:

You talked about schools of philosophy, AI alignment, and identifying the hidden bets. That's a lot to request of someone.

curi:

Thinking about your controversial premises and civilizational risks, in some way instead of ignoring the matter, is too big an ask to expect of people before they go ahead with projects?

curi:

Is that what you mean?

Gavin Palmer:

I don't see how my premises are controversial or risky.

curi:

Slow down. Is that what you meant? Did I understand you?

Gavin Palmer:

I am OK with people thinking about premises and risks of an idea and discussing those. But in order to have that kind of discussion you would need to understand the idea. And in order to understand the idea - you have to ask questions.

curi:

it's hard to talk with you because of your repeated unwillingness to give direct answers or responses.

curi:

i don't know how to have a productive discussion under these conditions.

Gavin Palmer:

I will try to do better.

curi:

ok. can we back up?

Thinking about your controversial premises and civilizational risks, in some way instead of ignoring the matter, is too big an ask to expect of people before they go ahead with projects?

did i understand you, yes or no?

Gavin Palmer:

no

curi:

ok. which part(s) is incorrect?

Gavin Palmer:

The words controversial and civilizational are not conducive to communication.

curi:

why?

Gavin Palmer:

They indicate that you think you understand the premises and the risks and I don't know that you understand the idea I am trying to communicate.

curi:

They are just adjectives. They don't say what I understand about your project.

Gavin Palmer:

Why did you use them?

curi:

Because you should especially think about controversial premises rather than all premises, and civilizational risks more than all risks.

curi:

And those are the types of things that were under discussion.

curi:

A generic, unqualified term like "premises" or "risks" would not accurately represent the list of 3 examples "schools of philosophy, AI alignment, and identifying the hidden bets"

Gavin Palmer:

I don't see how schools of philosophy, AI alignment, and hidden bets are relevant. Those are just meaningless words in my mind. The meaning of those words in your mind may contain relevant points. And I would be willing to discuss those points as they relate to the project. But (I think) that would also require that you have some idea of what the software does and how it is done. To bring up these things before you understand the software seems very premature.

curi:

the details of your project are not relevant when i'm bringing up extremely generic issues.

curi:

e.g. there is realism vs idealism. your project takes one side, the other, or is compatible with both. i don't need to know more about your project to say this.

curi:

(or disagrees with both, though that'd be unusual)

curi:

it's similar with skepticism or not.

curi:

and moral relativism.

curi:

and strong empiricism.

curi:

one could go on. at length. and add a lot more using details of your project, too.

curi:

so, there exists some big list. it has stuff on it.

curi:

so, my point is that you ought to have some way of considering and dealing with this list.

curi:

some way of considering what's on it, figuring out which merit attention and how to prioritize that attention, etc.

curi:

you need some sort of policy, some way to think about it that you regard as adequate.

curi:

this is true of all projects.

curi:

this is one of the issues which has logical priority over the specifics of your project.

curi:

there are generic concepts about how to approach a project which take precedence over jumping into the details.

curi:

do you think you understand what i'm saying?

Gavin Palmer:

I think I understand this statement:

there are generic concepts about how to approach a project which take precedence over jumping into the details.

curi:

ok. do you agree with that?

Gavin Palmer:

I usually jump into the details. I'm not saying you are wrong though.

curi:

ok. i think looking at least a little at the big picture is really important, and that most projects lose a lot of effectiveness (or worse) due to failing to do this plus some common errors.

curi:

and not having any conscious policy at all regarding this issue (how to think about the many premises you are building on which may be wrong) is one of the common errors.

curi:

i think being willing to think about things like this is one of the requirements for someone who wants to be effective at saving/changing/helping the world (or themselves individually)

Gavin Palmer:

But I have looked at a lot of big picture things in my life.

curi:

cool. doesn't mean you covered all the key ones. but maybe it'll give you a head start on the project planning stuff.

Gavin Palmer:

So do you have an example of a project where it was done in a way that is satisfactory in your mind?

curi:

hmm. project planning steps are broadly unpublished and unavailable for the vast majority of projects. i think the short answer is no one is doing this right. this aspect of rationality is ~novel.

curi:

some ppl do a more reasonable job but it's really hard to tell what most ppl did.

curi:

u can look at project success as a proxy but i don't think that'll be informative in the way you want.

Gavin Palmer:

I'm going to break soon, but I would encourage you to think about some action items for you and I based around this ideal form of project planning. I have real-world experience with various forms of project planning to some degree or another.

curi's Monologue

curi:

the standard way to start is to brainstorm things on the list

curi:

after you get a bunch, you try to organize them into categories

curi:

you also consider what is a reasonable level of overhead for this, e.g. 10% of total project resource budget.

curi:

but a flat percentage is problematic b/c a lot of the work is general education stuff that is reusable for most projects. if you count your whole education, overhead will generally be larger than the project. if you only count stuff specific to this project, you can have a really small overhead and do well.

curi:

stuff like reading and understanding/remembering/taking-notes-on/etc one overview book of philosophy ideas is something that IMO should be part of being an educated person who has appropriate background knowledge. but many ppl haven't done it. if you assign the whole cost of that to a one project it can make the overhead ratio look bad.

curi:

unfortunately i think a lot of what's in that book would be wrong and ignore some more important but less famous ideas. but at least that'd be a reasonable try. most ppl don't even get that far.

curi:

certainly a decent number of ppl have done that. but i think few have ever consciously considered "which philosophy schools of thought does my project contradict? which am i assuming as premises and betting my project success on? and is that a good idea? do any merit more investigation before i make such a bet?" ppl have certainly considered such things in a disorganized, haphazard way, which sometimes manages to work out ok. idk that ppl have done this by design in that way i'm recommending.

curi:

this kind of analysis has large practical consequences, e.g. > 50% of "scientific research" is in contradiction to Critical Rationalist epistemology, which is one of the more famous philosophies of science.

curi:

IMO, consequently it doesn't work and the majority of scientists basically waste their careers.

curi:

most do it without consciously realizing they are betting their careers on Karl Popper being wrong.

curi:

many of them do it without reading any Popper book or being able to name any article criticizing Popper that they think is correct.

curi:

that's a poor bet to make.

curi:

even if Popper is wrong, one should have more information before betting against him like that.

curi:

another thing with scientists is the majority bet their careers on a claim along the lines of "college educations and academia are good"

curi:

this is a belief that some of the best scientists have disagreed with

curi:

a lot of them also have government funding underlying their projects and careers without doing a rational investigation of whether that may be a really bad, risky thing.

curi:

separate issue: broadly, most large projects try to use reason. part of the project is that problems come up and people try to do rational problem solving – use reason to solve the problems as they come up. they don't expect to predict and plan for every issue they're gonna face. there are open controversies about what reason is, how to use it, what problem solving methods are effective or ineffective, etc.

curi:

what the typical project does is go by common sense and intuition. they are basically betting the project on whatever concept of reason they picked up here and there from their culture being adequate. i regard this as a very risky bet.

curi:

and different project members have different conceptions of reason, and they are also betting on those being similar enough things don't fall apart.

curi:

commonly without even attempting to talk about the matter or put their ideas into words.

curi:

what happens a lot when people have unverbalized philosophy they picked up from their culture at some unknown time in the past is ... BIAS. they don't actually stick to any consistent set of ideas about reason. they change it around situationally according to their biases. that's a problem on top of some of the ideas floating around our culture being wrong (which is well known – everyone knows that lots of ppl's attempts at rational problem solving don't work well)

curi:

one of the problems in the field of reason is: when and how do you rationally end (or refuse to start) conversations without agreement. sometimes you and the other guy agree. but sometimes you don't, and the guy is saying "you're wrong and it's a big deal, so you shouldn't just shut your mind and refuse to consider more" and you don't want to deal with that endlessly but you also don't want to just be biased and stay wrong, so how do you make an objective decision? preferably is there something you could say that the other guy could accept as reasonable? (not with 100% success rate, some people gonna yell at you no matter what, but something that would convince 99% of people who our society considers pretty smart or reasonable?)

curi:

this has received very little consideration from anyone and has resulted in countless disputes when people disagree about whether it's appropriate to stop a discussion without giving further answers or arguments.

curi:

lots of projects have lots of strife over this specific thing.

curi:

i also was serious about AI risk being worth considering (for basically anything in the ballpark of machine learning, like classifying big data sets) even though i actually disagree with that one. i did consider it and think it merits consideration.

curi:

i think it's very similar to physicists in 1940 were irresponsible if they were doing work anywhere in the ballpark of nuclear stuff and didn't think about potential weapons.

curi:

another example of a project management issue is how does one manage a schedule? how full should a schedule be packed with activities? i think the standard common sense ways ppl deal with this are wrong and do a lot of harm (the basic error is overfilling schedules in a way which fails to account for variance in task completion times, as explained by Eliyahu Goldratt)

curi:

i meant there an individual person's schedule

curi:

similarly there is problem of organizing the entire project schedule and coordinating people and things. this has received a ton of attention from specialists, but i think most ppl have an attitude like "trust a standard view i learned in my MBA course. don't investigate rival viewpoints". risky.

curi:

a lot of other ppl have no formal education about the matter and mostly ... don't look it up and wing it.

curi:

even riskier!

curi:

i think most projects managers couldn't speak very intelligently about early start vs. late start for dependencies off the critical path.

curi:

and don't know that Goldratt answered it. and it does matter. bad decisions re this one issue results in failed and cancelled projects, late projects, budget overruns, etc.

curi:

lots of ppl's knowledge of decision making processes extends about as far as pro/con lists and ad hoc arguing.

curi:

so they are implicitly betting a significant amount of project effectiveness on something like "my foundation of pro/con lists and ad hoc arguing is adequate knowledge of decision making processes".

curi:

this is ... unwise.

curi:

another generic issue is lying. what is a lie? how do you know when you're lying to yourself? a lot of ppl make a bet roughly like "either my standard cultural knowledge + random variance about lying is good or lying won't come up in the project".

curi:

similar with bias instead of lying.

curi:

another common, generic way projects go wrong is ppl never state the project goal. they don't have clear criteria for project success or failure.

curi:

related, it's common to make basically no attempt to estimate the resources needed to complete the project successfully and estimating the resources available and comparing those two things.

curi:

goals and resource budgeting are things some ppl actually do. they aren't rare. but they're often omitted, especially for more informal and non-business projects.

curi:

including some very ambitious change-the-world type projects, where considering a plan and what resources it'll use is actually important. a lot of times ppl do stuff they think is moving in the direction of their goal without seriously considering what it will take to actually reach their goal.

curi:

e.g. "i will do X to help the environment" without caring to consider what breakpoints exist for helping the environment that make an important difference and how much action is required to reach one.

curi:

there are some projects like "buy taco bell for dinner" that use low resources compared to what you have available (for ppl with a good income who don't live paycheck to paycheck), so you don't even need to consciously think through resource use. but a lot of bigger ones one ought to estimate e.g. how much time it'll take for success and how much time one is actually allocating to the project.

curi:

often an exploratory project is appropriate first. try something a little and see how you like it. investigate and learn more before deciding on a bigger project or not. ppl often don't consciously separate this investigation from the big project or know which they are doing.

curi:

and so they'll do things like switch to a big project without consciously realizing they need to clear up more time on their schedule to make that work.

curi:

often they just don't think clearly about what their goals actually are and then use bias and hindsight to adjust their goals to whatever they actually got done.

curi:

there are lots of downsides to that in general, and it's especially bad with big ambitious change/improve the world goals.

curi:

one of the most egregious examples of the broad issues i'm talking about is political activism. so many people are working for the red or blue team while having done way too little to find out which team is right and why.

curi:

so they are betting their work on their political team being right. if their political team is wrong, their work is not just wasted but actually harmful. and lots of ppl are really lazy and careless about this bet. how many democrats have read one Mises book or could name a book or article that they think refuses a major Mises claim?

curi:

how many republicans have read any Marx or could explain and cite why the labor theory of value is wrong or how the economic calculation argument refutes socialism?

curi:

how many haters of socialism could state the relationship of socialism to price controls?

curi:

how many of them could even give basic economic arguments about why price controls are harmful in a simple theoretical market model and state the premises/preconditions for that to apply to a real situation?

curi:

i think not many even when you just look at people who work in the field professionally. let alone if you look at people who put time or money into political causes.

curi:

and how many of them base their dismissal of solipsism and idealism on basically "it seems counterintuitive to me" and reject various scientific discoveries about quantum mechanics for the same reason? (or would reject those discoveries if they knew what they were)

curi:

if solipsism or idealism were true it'd have consequences for what they should do, and people's rejections of those ideas (which i too reject) are generally quite thoughtless.

curi:

so it's again something ppl are betting projects on in an unreasonable way.

curi:

to some extent ppl are like "eh i don't have time to look into everything. the experts looked into it and said solipsism is wrong". most such ppl have not read a single article on the topic and could not name an expert on the topic.

curi:

so their bet is not really on experts being right – which if you take that bet thousands of time, you're going to be wrong sometimes, and it may be a disaster – but their bet is actually more about mainstream opinion being right. whatever the some ignorant reporters and magazine writers claimed the experts said.

curi:

they are getting a lot of their "expert" info fourth hand. it's filtered by mainstream media, talking heads on TV, popular magazines, a summary from a friend who listened to a podcast, and so on.

curi:

ppl will watch and accept info from a documentary made by ppl who consulted with a handful of ppl who some university gave expert credentials. and the film makers didn't look into what experts or books, if any, disagree with the ones they hired.

curi:

sometimes the info presented disagrees with a majority of experts, or some of the most famous experts.

curi:

sometimes the film makers have a bias or agenda. sometimes not.

curi:

there are lots of issues where lots of experts disagree. these are, to some rough approximation, the areas that should be considered controversial. these merit some extra attention.

curi:

b/c whatever you do, you're going to be taking actions which some experts – some ppl who have actually put a lot of work into studying the matter – think is a bad idea.

curi:

you should be careful before doing that. ppl often aren't.

curi:

politics is a good example of this. whatever side you take on any current political issue, there are experts who think you're making a big mistake.

curi:

but it comes up in lots of fields. e.g. psychiatry is much less of an even split but there are a meaningful number of experts who think anti-psychotic drugs are harmful not beneficial.

curi:

one of the broad criteria for areas you should look into some before betting your project on are controversial areas. another is big risk areas (it's worse if you're wrong, like AI risk or e.g. there's huge downside risk to deciding that curing aging is a bad cause).

curi:

these are imperfect criteria. some very unpopular causes are true. some things literally no one currently believes are true. and you can't deal with every risk that doesn't violate the laws of physics. you have to estimate plausibility some.

curi:

one of the important things to consider is how long does it take to do a good job? could you actually learn about all the controversial areas? how thoroughly is enough? how do you know when you can move on?

curi:

are there too many issues where 100+ smart ppl or experts think ur initial plan is wrong/bad/dangerous, or could you investigate every area like that?

curi:

relying on the opinions of other ppl like that should not be your whole strategy! that gives you basically no chance against something your culture gets systematically wrong. but it's a reasonable thing to try as a major strategy. it's non-obvious to come up with way better approaches.

curi:

you should also try to use your own mind and judgment some, and look into areas you think merit it.

curi:

another strategy is to consider things that people say to you personally. fans, friends, anonymous ppl willing to write comments on your blog... this has some merits like you get more customized advice and you can have back and forth discussion. it's different to be told "X is dangerous b/c Y" from a book vs. a person where you can ask some clarifying questions.

curi:

ppl sometimes claim this strategy is too time consuming and basically you have to ignore ~80% of all criticism you're aware of with according to your judgment with no clear policies or principles to prevent biased judgments. i don't agree and have written a lot about this matter.

curi:

i think this kind of thing can be managed with reasonable, rational policies instead of basically giving up.

curi:

some of my writing about it: https://elliottemple.com/essays/using-intellectual-processes-to-combat-bias

curi:

most ppl have very few persons who want to share criticism with them anyway, so this article and some others have talked more about ppl with a substantial fan base who actually want to say stuff to them.

curi:

i think ppl should write down what their strategy is and do some transparency so they can be held accountable for actually doing it in addition to the strategy itself being something available for ppl to criticize.

curi:

a lot of times ppl's strategy is roughly "do whatever they feel like" which is such a bias enabler. and they don't even write down anything better and claim to do it. they will vaguely, non-specifically say they are doing something better. but no actionable or transparent details.

curi:

if they write something down they will want it to actually be reasonable. a lot of times they don't even put their policies into words into their own head. when they try to use words, they will see some stuff is unreasonable on their own.

curi:

if you can get ppl to write anything down what happens next is a lot of times they don't do what they said they would. sometimes they are lying pretty intentionally and other times they're just bad at it. either way, if they recognize their written policies are important and good, and then do something else ... big problem, even in their own view.

curi:

so what they really need are policies which some clear steps and criteria where it's really easy to tell if they are being done or not. just just vague stuff about using good judgment or doing lots of investigation of alternative views that represent material risks to the project. actual specifics like a list of topic areas to survey the current state of expert knowledge in with a blog post summarizing the research for each area.

curi:

as in they will write a blog post that gives info about things like what they read and what they think of it, rather than them just saying they did research and their final conclusion.

curi:

and they should have written policies about ways critics can get their attention, and for in what circumstances they will end or not start a conversation to preserve time.

curi:

if you don't do these things and you have some major irrationalities, then you're at high risk of a largely unproductive life. which is IMO what happens to most ppl.

curi:

most ppl are way more interested in social status hierarchy climbing than taking seriously that they're probably wrong about some highly consequential issues.

curi:

and that for some major errors they are making, better ideas are actually available and accessible right now. it's not just an error where no one knows better or only one hermit knows better.

curi:

there are a lot of factors that make this kind of analysis much harder for ppl to accept. one is they are used to viewing many issues as inconclusive. they deal with controversies by judging one side seems somewhat more right (or sometimes: somewhat higher social status) instead of actually figuring out decisive, clear cut answers.

curi:

and they think that's just kinda how reason works. i think that's a big error and it's possible to actually reach conclusions. and ppl actually do reach conclusions. they decide one side is better and act on it. they are just doing that without having any reason they regard as adequate to reach that conclusion...

curi:

some of my writing about how to actually reach conclusions re issues http://curi.us/1595-rationally-resolving-conflicts-of-ideas

curi:

this (possibility of reaching actual conclusions instead of just saying one side seems 60% right) is a theme which is found, to a significant extent, in some of the other thinkers i most admire like Eliyahu Goldratt, Ayn Rand and David Deutsch.

curi:

Rand wrote this:

curi:

Now some of you might say, as many people do: “Aw, I never think in such abstract terms—I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—what do I need philosophy for?” My answer is: In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.
You might claim—as most people do—that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure—nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” You got that from Plato. Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got it from Augustine. Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James. Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel. Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.
Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel. They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon—who got it from William James.

curi:

which is about how ppl are picking up a bunch of ideas, some quite bad, from their culture, and they don't really know what's going on, and then those ideas effect their lives.

curi:

and so ppl ought to actually do some thinking and learning for themselves to try to address this.

curi:

broadly, a liberal arts education should have provided this to ppl. maybe they should have had it by the end of high school even. but our schools are failing badly at this.

curi:

so ppl need to fill in the huge gaps that school left in their education.

curi:

if they don't, to some extent what they are at the mercy of is the biases of their teachers. not even their own biases or the mistakes of their culture in general.

curi:

schools are shitty at teaching ppl abstract ideas like an overview of the major philosophers and shitty at teaching practical guidelines like "leave 1/3 of your time slots unscheduled" and "leave at least 1/3 of your income for optional, flexible stuff. don't take on major commitments for it"

curi:

(this is contextual. like with scheduling, if you're doing shift work and you aren't really expected to think, then ok the full shift can be for doing the work, minus some small breaks. it's advice more for ppl who actually make decisions or do knowledge work. still applies to your social calendar tho.)

curi:

(and actually most ppl doing shift work should be idle some of the time, as Goldratt taught us.)

curi:

re actionable steps, above i started with addressing the risky bets / risky project premises. with first brainstorming things on the list and organizing into categories. but that isn't where project planning starts.

curi:

it starts with more like

curi:

goal (1 sentence). how the goal will be accomplished (outline. around 1 paragraph worth of text. bullet points are fine)

curi:

resource usage for major, relevant resource categories (very rough ballpark estimates, e.g. 1 person or 10 or 100 ppl work on it. it takes 1 day, 10 days, 100 days. it costs $0, $1000, $1000000.)

curi:

you can go into more detail, those are just minimums. often fine to begin with.

curi:

for big, complicated projects you may need a longer outline to say the steps involved.

curi:

then once u have roughly a goal and a plan (and the resource estimates help give concrete meaning to the plan), then you can look at risks, ways it may fail.

curi:

the goal should be clearly stated so that someone could clearly evaluate potential outcomes as "yes that succeeded" or "no, that's a failure"

curi:

if this is complicated, you should have another section giving more detail on this.

curi:

and do that before addressing risks.

curi:

another key area is prerequisites. can do before or after risks. skills and knowledge you'll need for the project. e.g. "i need to know how wash a test tube". especially notable are things that aren't common knowledge and you don't already know or know how to do.

curi:

failure to succeed at all the prerequisites is one of the risks of a project. the prerequisites can give you some ideas about more risks in terms of intellectual bets being made.

curi:

some prerequisites are quite generic but merit more attention than they get. e.g. reading skill is something ppl take for granted that they have, but it's actually an area where most ppl could get value from improving. and it's pretty common ppl's reading skills are low enough that it causes practical problems if they try to engage with something. this is a common problem with intellectual writing but it comes up plenty with mundane things like cookbooks or text in video games that provides information about what to do or how an ability works. ppl screw such things up all the time b/c they find reading burdensome and skip reading some stuff. or they read it fast, don't understand it, and don't have the skill to realize they missed stuff.)

curi:

quite a few writers are not actually as good at typing as they really ought to be, and it makes their life significantly worse and less efficient.

curi:

and non-writers. cuz a lot of ppl type stuff pretty often.

curi:

and roughly what happens is they add up all these inefficiencies and problems, like being bad at typing and not knowing good methods for resolving family conflicts, and many others, and the result is they are overwhelmed and think it'd be very hard to find time to practice typing.

curi:

their inefficiencies take up so much time they have trouble finding time to learn and improve.

curi:

a lot of ppl's lives look a lot like that.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (53)

Where Can I Start Confidently?

John: So I must act. Don’t let life pass me by. And you only want me to act on things where I have conclusive knowledge and major, rational confidence. Where I (fallibly but substantively) know what I’m talking about. Don't overreach, you say. But what if I’m uncertain about everything and so no actions are available to me meeting that standard?

curi: It’s pretty easy to find some options. Did you brainstorm about your options and resources? How many written documents do you have about the matter?

John: No documents. I don’t know how to do that, or whether I should. I’m no master of brainstorming.

curi: Well then, could you agree that brainstorming is a promising enough lead to investigate? Could you muster some certainty about that claim? And btw, for a contrast, could you also muster some certainty that a UFO cult is a poor lead to investigate?

John: I suppose so.

curi: Well there you go. You don’t have to judge now whether brainstorming is the tool you need or whether it’ll work. You just have to judge it’s a reasonable thing to look into. Then you have something to act on. When you can’t reach conclusions about major topics, you should be able to instead reach conclusions about supporting topics like to do a research project to learn more to enable the more major conclusions. That’s how you deal with uncertainty in general. You don’t magically know everything. You learn more. If you’re not sure what knowledge you need, you explore, survey, skim, look around, and maybe even do original research.

John: Makes sense.

curi: There are many other options. Would you agree that reading is valuable?

John: Yes.

curi: So you could act based on that. You could read more regularly and get more used to reading. Make it more of an easy habit instead of a difficult obstacle. Read anything at first, yes including non-intellectual fiction. That’d be a way to act and gradually start to get more into reading. And this could all be tentative, a way of exploring potentials, so if you look into it and decide reading isn’t for you or reading is worse than you thought, that’d be OK too, you’d have learned something. It’d help you narrow your focus to other options like brainstorming. It’d have been a reasonable thing to try and you’d have gotten some value from it.

John: With standards like that, life doesn’t sound so hard. I just try something reasonable to try, and if it doesn’t work out it was still a good try?

curi: Yes indeed. I never said my way of dealing with life was harder. In fact I said it makes everything much easier.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Discussion: Analyzing a Claimed Contradiction

2020-04-20 on the FI Discord:

Freeze:

when people share examples of trump contradicting himself over short spans of time, is it often propaganda or is it a valid criticism?

curi:

it could be both. those statements don't contradict tho.

Freeze:

when he said hysteria mode, did he mean that the media was overestimating the virus and overreacting to it?

Freeze:

they seem to be contradicting to me

curi:

write out the contradiction

curi:

i think you could figure this out

Freeze:

the first statement seems to be saying that the press is overblowing the virus (and presumably its risk) while the second seems to be saying that the press did not take the risk seriously enough

Freeze:

and actually minimized it to the public

curi:

you're skipping too many steps

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

hmm what's the first step

curi:

you're getting to a contradiction by vague summarizing

Freeze:

maybe i need to look up hysteria

curi:

you need to take the actual trump text and point out the contradiction

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus

curi:

stop assuming you know which part is the problem

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start

curi:

you don't need to look anything up yet

curi:

you need an outline of what the contradiction is

Freeze:

so here im taking press and media to be synonyms

curi:

make small interpretations of the text until you get a direct contradiction

Freeze:

i am adding some information to the first statement i think

curi:

x -> y -> z -> contradicts A

Freeze:

where hysteria mode could also mean they are hysterically underestimating the risk i guess

Freeze:

but i dont think that's what trump means

curi:

assume it does contradict

Freeze:

im having trouble visualizing

x -> y -> z -> contradicts A

curi:

and that your first interpretation is right

Freeze:

ok

curi:

and then spell it out

Freeze:

small interpretations of the text

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
So the media is going crazy over the virus

curi:

take trump's actual sentences and then take some group of words and replace it with some other words you think mean the same thing

curi:

repeat until direct contradiction

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start
the media underreported the dangers of the virus from its beginning

curi:

you changed multiple things

Freeze:

ok one at a time

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start
the media underreported the risk from the start

curi:

and the purpose of some of the changes is unclear. why beginning instead of start? how does that help reach a contradiction?

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

so only changes that help

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus

the media minimized the risk from the start

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

those steps are ok

Freeze:

not sure what to do next or how to evaluate this since these two statements seem to contradict

curi:

those statements don't contradict

Freeze:

ok let me see

Freeze:

so maybe it's that the "risk" is missing from #1

Freeze:

so the press paid too much attention to the virus

Freeze:

but not enough to its risks

curi:

the 2 statements are talking about different things

curi:

one is about what the press did in the past

curi:

one is about what the press "is" doing

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

but the first quote was in the past, talking about the present, on feb 28
the second quote is more recent, April 13, and talking about the past, presumably about a similar time to feb 28

Freeze:

so it's sort of like they're talking about similar time periods

curi:

so make modifications related to that

Freeze:

ah

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press paid too much attention to the coronavirus
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

all you did is change present tense to past

Freeze:

i thought that was the needed modification

curi:

that's not what he said. you didn't make a change to something equivalent

Freeze:

to put them in the same tense

Freeze:

since they were talking about the same time

Freeze:

hmm ok

curi:

an example of a correct change is

curi:

the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus -> the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28

Freeze:

ah i see

curi:

that's still what trump said

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

so for them to contradict the second one will need to make a claim about feb 28

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

let me a try a change that does that

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from December 2019, when it started, until now, April 13

curi:

ok yeah i agree those contradict. so either one of the changes has an error or else the originals contradict. agreed?

Freeze:

yes

curi:

so now someone who thinks they don't contradict could be specific about which change they object to

Freeze:

right

curi:

and could see your reasoning

Freeze:

makes sense

curi:

the one i object is is that 'from the start' = from the start until the present. i think that phrase often means more like: from the start for a while, not forever.

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

so you think his second statement doesn't cover for feb 28

curi:

imagine if someone was tlaking about this 100 years later and said "from the start". would it go until the present day?

Freeze:

it wouldnt

Freeze:

i think it does go until feb 28 tho

curi:

why?

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

not sure

Freeze:

it just seems like a relatively short time

Freeze:

but maybe media reporting changed

Freeze:

i dont know how to find out

curi:

suppose the media downplayed it for a month and then went into hysterics. would that month of misreporting be a short time period? unimportant?

Freeze:

no

Freeze:

i think that's a possibility

Freeze:

it's possible that's what he means

curi:

so if that happened, then trump would be right?

Freeze:

i don't think we can tell from these sentences alone

Freeze:

yes he would be right

curi:

does whether someone contradicts themselves depend on the historical facts?

Freeze:

i think so yeah

curi:

logic depends on history?

Freeze:

no but im thinking that for us to figure out what he meant

Freeze:

we'd need the historical facts

Freeze:

like when someone says something ambiguous like "from the start"

curi:

suppose i said that trump was the US president in the year 2000. do you need historical facts to decide whether i contradicted myself?

Freeze:

i dont know how to find a contradiction there

Freeze:

it seems like just one statement

Freeze:

without competing parts

curi:

so ... no contradiction?

Freeze:

no contradiction

Freeze:

no historical facts needed

curi:

suppose i say

Freeze:

even if you were wrong, i dont think it would be a contradiction

curi:

1) trump was prez in 2000 2) clinton was prez in 2000 3) there was only 1 prez in 2000

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

contradiction

Freeze:

and i guess we dont need facts

curi:

do you need historical facts to decide if i contradicted myself?

Freeze:

no

curi:

a contradiction is something that woudl be wrong for all possible facts

Freeze:

ic

curi:

e.g. if i say "X and not X" there are no possible facts (values of X) that make that true.

curi:

otoh if i say "X and Y" that's false for 3 out of 4 possible sets of facts, but it's not a contradiction. you only need one way it could be true.

curi:

(the context is binary logic. X can be true or false. those are the only 2 values.)

curi:

do you know what "from X" means? (not binary logic.)

Freeze:

i think so

curi:

what?

Freeze:

in this case like a period of time

Freeze:

so it could be from x to y or from x to z

Freeze:

multiple answers

curi:

look it up

Freeze:

hmm cant find an answer immediately

curi:

really?

curi:

Freeze:

oh

Freeze:

i was trying non binary logic

Freeze:

and "from X" logic

Freeze:

Definition of from
1a—used as a function word to indicate a starting point of a physical movement or a starting point in measuring or reckoning or in a statement of limits

Freeze:

so the start point is known

Freeze:

but the end can differ

curi:

so when trump says from dec 2019, what is he telling us?

Freeze:

well he said from the start

Freeze:

i interpreted it as dec 2019

curi:

"the start" = dec 2019

Freeze:

but he's telling us that it could be from then

Freeze:

to any period after that

Freeze:

or rather

Freeze:

any point of time

Freeze:

after that

Freeze:

could be jan, feb, march etc.

curi:

he told us the starting point of something

Freeze:

yes

curi:

so what he said is

curi:

1) the media started downplaying dec 2019

curi:

2) the media did hysteria feb 28, 2020

curi:

right?

Freeze:

yes

Freeze:

curi:

so those ... clearly don't contradict?

Freeze:

hmm

curi:

could they both be true at the same time?

Freeze:

yes

curi:

does contradict mean "can't both be true at the same time"?

Freeze:

yes

Freeze:

so they dont contradict

curi:

when you have the skill to do all that analysis in ~1 second, you still wouldn't be close to being skilled enough to understand BoI.

curi:

DD has not told anyone this.

curi:

but it's very important.

curi:

if the trump thing was very very easy for you, reading BoI could still be massive overreaching.

curi:

this is very intuitive in some sense. BoI is far far more complicated than that pic.

curi:

to understand BoI you must read thousands of things that are much more complicated than the pic, evaluate them, understand how they relate to each other, etc.

curi:

more than half the individual sentences are harder than the pic

curi:

but 90%+ of the difficulty of BoI is understanding relationships between sentences, not individual sentences. understanding sentences one by one is just getting started.

curi:

to do such a thing requires a plan about how to succeed. that plan will involve things like education. but does school currently educate people to face these challenges?

Freeze:

i dont think it does

curi:

yeah. there are a lot of criticisms to make of school. but keeping it simple: which class ever told someone how to read BoI and understand it? which class ever said what steps to do, what the prerequisites are, what skills are needed, how to get them, etc?

curi:

or for any other similar book?

curi:

school maybe teaches you some of the skills you need but not all of them and especially not the bigger picture. they don't teach you what list of skills you need to read the book and why.

curi:

people need to consider 1) what their goals are, 2) how to achieve them, and 3) success/failure criteria. they do (1) sometimes and forget it sometimes or rely too much on vague intuition. (2) is even more neglected. who has considered what sort of project understanding BoI is, and what is involved in succeeded? who has brainstormed a list of what they think the prerequisites are? who has done anything to research what else to add to that list?

curi:

BoI has many arguments. they sometimes involve knowing what does or doesn't contradict. sometimes they involve more advanced things than that.

curi:

one needs to either work through the arguments one by one or be able to follow them ~instantly without any work. either you can do it in your head right away or you need to be writing down analysis and going step by step. to do write it out you need to know what you're doing, what steps to do, how to analyze. you should practice with much easier books/ideas. and then, before starting BoI, you get to at least the point that you're capable of going step by step and analyzing the book effectively.

curi:

make sense?

curi:

being able to figure it out while putting in a bunch of effort and writing out a lot of analysis is the bare minimum for being able to read the book successfully. if you don't know how to do that analysis, certainly you can't skip it.

curi:

(the context is reading to understand it. one can have other goals, e.g. reading to be impressed by how confusing it is or reading to see how hard it is, like a scouting mission)

curi:

(those goals have different requirements)

curi:

(e.g. the first one requires NOT being able to understand ~all the arguments really fast in your head. i can't do it.)

curi:

why did you leave?

curi:

~no one else can do this stuff either if you're feeling bad about that.

curi:

there are nuances like one can read for partial understanding and still get value. one can fall quite a bit short and it's still productive (for the goal of understanding the ideas in the book). we're always at the beginning of infinity and could do better. but the only ppl who have read it productively may be DD, ET, alan, ingracke. not convinced anyone else. there could easily be more ppl especially for narrow sections. it'd be unsurprising if e.g. Dawkins and several other ppl worldwide got value out of the chapter on gene evolution. but i don't know of any documented examples.

curi:

Dennis may be a useful comparison. how many ppl understood it more and better than him? and he got some personal help from me and help from FI and he's read a lot of my blog and watched a bunch of my videos and stuff, which makes it easier, gives extra help to understand it.

curi:

but Dennis is unproductive. his ideas are dumb. he's not able to understand what he's talking about well. he parrots things. he screws tons of it up. he can't add good ideas or work with the ideas or apply them in substantial new ways. if he keeps at it, his career will be a waste and a failure.

curi:

spending his whole career on this stuff still won't get anything productive done.

curi:

that wouldn't be enough.

curi:

so i classify his reading(s) of BoI as fundamentally, categorically unproductive. even if you could find, here and there, some individual sentences or even paragraphs that he understood correctly.

curi:

his partial understanding, although no doubt above zero in some ways, isn't good enough. should be viewed as failure not success.

Freeze:

i fell asleep. I'm back now. Will quote and respond as appropriate

Freeze:

one thing i wanted to ask was: can schooling ever be free of coercion? maybe if it's voluntary? but how you weed out self-coercion in students? i remember ingracke pointing out this problem with tutoring, where even volunteer students are self-coercing the vast majority of the time

Freeze:

yeah. there are a lot of criticisms to make of school. but keeping it simple: which class ever told someone how to read BoI and understand it? which class ever said what steps to do, what the prerequisites are, what skills are needed, how to get them, etc?
or for any other similar book?
none of them really

Freeze:

one needs to either work through the arguments one by one or be able to follow them ~instantly without any work. either you can do it in your head right away or you need to be writing down analysis and going step by step. to do write it out you need to know what you're doing, what steps to do, how to analyze. you should practice with much easier books/ideas. and then, before starting BoI, you get to at least the point that you're capable of going step by step and analyzing the book effectively.
this kinda reminds me of you saying (paraphrase): it's like people saying "doing long division on paper is too hard, so I'll do it in my head"

doubtingthomas:

the only ppl who have read it productively may be DD, ET, alan, ingracke. not convinced anyone else. there could easily be more ppl especially for narrow sections.
@curi what about artur ekert?

curi:

why are you considering him?

curi:

@Freeze so it all makes sense to you?

doubtingthomas:

I know of a paper he wrote with DD. When I read that I feel real overreaching. I feel he might has some good understanding of other DD ideas as well.

curi:

i assume you mean a physics paper? mb he understands the multiverse chapter of BoI pretty well. idk. same thing as dawkins might understand the gene evolution one.

doubtingthomas:

yes. it's called Machines, Logic and Quantum Physics

doubtingthomas:

I could've asked for anyone else mentioned in the acknowledgement page

Freeze:

Has ekert written or talked about any philosophy stuff?

doubtingthomas:

I see you point

Freeze:

so it all makes sense to you?
let me see if i can rephrase what i understand so you can judge

curi:

in short, everyone DD knows personally is bad at philosophy or else they would be an FI poster. he would have gotten them to participate in discussions long ago.

doubtingthomas:

i can accept that

doubtingthomas:

Has ekert written or talked about any philosophy stuff?
@Freeze i don't think so. but that paper itself can be considered philosophy

Freeze:

the analysis you led me thru re: contradiction is a core skill to understanding BoI (and probly any set of complex ideas)
one has to be really good at it such that it is very easy.
on top of that, the skill involved in understand the ideas in BoI and linking them together is much more advanced than this kind of analysis.
A plan is needed to succeed at understanding BoI.
Our current education system doesn't prepare people well enough to productively read something like BoI.
Knowing about contradictions is just one of the many skills needed to understand BoI.
If one can slowly make progress, step by step, by writing out analysis as they read BoI, then that's ok. But it's the bare minimum needed to understand the book. Anything less than that and it'll be a failure.

curi:

yes, great

Freeze:

so i definitely failed at understanding the ideas in BoI

Freeze:

but i guess i succeeded at getting curious about these ideas and finding FI

Freeze:

not something i planned obviously

Freeze:

BoI was fun to read

curi:

my comments focused on the goal of understanding the book. trying it out to get a preview and be curious is an example of a different goal that's easier to achieve.

doubtingthomas:

same is true for understanding any good ideas right?

curi:

approximately. The Goal is a lot easier to understand than BoI. but still hard.

curi:

maybe ppl are successful at a 1000x higher rate. could be more idk. hard to guess.

curi:

@Freeze so next steps?

Freeze:

not sure

Freeze:

i was thinking of making that tree i said i would make

Freeze:

on a DD idea I liked

curi:

which tree freeze?

Freeze:

https://ptb.discordapp.com/channels/304082867384745994/482766203983626255/692813027392618672

Just make a tree about a DD topic you're interested in, with at least 3 nodes.

curi:

another suggestion: brainstorm things that'd help with understanding BoI


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Overreaching Discussion

How can we understand, manage and deal with our error rate and our error correction rate/capacity? How can we avoid being overwhelmed with errors? How can we succeed more? How can we know what we're talking about instead of blundering around lost and confused?


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)

Praise from David Deutsch

These quotes give some information about what David Deutsch thought of me and why. They help explain why he chose to spend thousands of hours having discussions with me, primarily one-on-one. I’m providing the quotes to help set the record straight because some people have spread misinformation.

2003: “I'm sure you can do it as well as I”. The context here was writing a reply to someone about physics.

2003: “Yes you did [get it right]. Excellent.” Context is that DD and I had disagreed regarding our mental models of a person in a philosophy discussion. Their new messages made it clear that I was right.

2005: “The reason I liked you right away is that you have a mind like a racing car.”

2006: “as I told you, you remind me of Feynman.” And elaborating on one of the ways I reminded DD of Feynman: "He [Feynman] did have huge energy. But, despite winning the Nobel prize and starting off many fruitful projects, I have the feeling that his mind was like an engine that was never engaged to drive anything worthy of it. Was shaking itself to pieces.”

2007: “he [Feynman] was basically in the same position [as you are regarding boredom]. He had this industrial strength meat grinder in his brain, which was designed to grind up entire oxen every few seconds, but he seldom had any oxen.”

Paraphrase from memory (maybe from 2006-8 range): “You’re the second faster learner I’ve ever met, after Feynman.”

Paraphrase from memory (this was early, maybe 2003): “Are you using software to calculate those derivatives?” Me: “No, I’m doing them in my head.” DD: “I’m surprised you could do them so quickly and accurately.” Context: Derivatives are calculus and DD has seen some of the best physicists calculate (and he’s top tier himself).

Regarding DD writing The Beginning of Infinity, for years he sent me draft chapters of the book and highly praised my responses, saying they improved the book. I don’t want to share what he said about other people or give specifics, so paraphrasing his highest and broadest praise statement: “Your comments on BoI are much better and much more useful than anyone else’s.” This is one of the reasons DD asked me to create and own the BoI website and BoI Forum (BoI Forum discussion was later merged into the FI Forum, which is still active today). It’s also why he wrote “especially” before my name in the book’s acknowledgements.

These quotes are all from one-on-one private written conversations. I’ve shared them, only after careful consideration, because some of DD’s associates have been engaged in a many-year campaign to undermine and attack my reputation with lies, smears and gossip. Part of the false narrative is to downplay the extent of my association with DD, how much he liked me, and why. DD has not publicly contradicted the misinformation nor attempted to set the record straight. So I’ve provided some factual information about the matter. Relevant to that, DD said in 2010: “I am not mad [at you] and do not hold a grudge.” He has never made a contrary statement or withdrawn any of the praise.

Note: Due to extensive interaction for over a decade, DD and I had complex, non-standard, personalized, private policies for handling privacy and permissions. I’ve taken that into account (but won’t explain the policies to protect our privacy). I’ve minimized the quotes to a few that contradict the false narrative.

FYI, the amount Feynman comes up is unrepresentative. Searching for Feynman was an easy way to find quotes.

The purpose of this post is to provide some information that was not previously available and to counter misinformation. For a broader summary see e.g. The History of Taking Children Seriously.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Evaporating Clouds

Topic for discussing Evaporating Clouds (aka Conflict Clouds). Share Clouds and discuss solutions!

Evaporating Clouds are a problem solving tool created by Eli Goldratt. Learn about them from his books: Read The Goal then It's Not Luck (the sequel which explains Clouds). They are easy to read novels. I also highly recommend everyone read Goldratt's The Choice. It's about philosophy discussions with his daughter and it's also easy reading.

You can also learn about Conflict Clouds by signing up for the $5/month Media Posts tier on my SubscribeStar (support my work and get perks – like Patreon). Today I posted a summary of how Conflict Clouds work with a bunch of examples. Here's a preview image showing the info shared:


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)

Polyamory, Polygamy, BDSM and Rational Thinking Skills Discussion

From the Fallible Ideas Discord.


Freeze:

Some stuff I read today and liked (some of it was re-reading):

Freeze:

https://fallibleideas.com/common-preferences

Freeze:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_preference

Freeze:

http://curi.us/2086--the-choice-passage-dealing-with-conflict

Freeze:

http://curi.us/1539-autonomy-respecting-relationships

Freeze:

Anyone getting into a romantic relationship, without some good explanation of what they will do differently, is setting themselves up for immense suffering. A good explanation of how one will avoid suffering will have to be something that hasn't been tried a thousand times without solving the problem or else we can't really expect it to work. It will also have to be exposed to critical evaluation and pass.

Freeze:

shared it in the other chat but ppl disagreed heavily

Freeze:

I didn't spend much time or effort trying to explain once they stopped giving explanations

Freeze:

i also agreed with the idea that sex feels good because we put so much effort into making it so

Freeze:

it's interpreted that way by our culture

Freeze:

the main things ppl disagreed with were: Sex doesn't feel intrinsically good, we make it so. People can always find common preferences and get what they want. (at first they argued that compromises ARE common preferences, and that the definition says so. Then I pulled up the definition and showed how a key part of compromises are concessions. Then they said that you can't always get what you want, and I disagreed with that, saying that common preferences are ways of people getting what they want without sacrifice)

Freeze:

I agreed with the following

Freeze:

ARR has room for refinement and advancement but has also reached a number of conclusions and figured some things out.

For example, monogamy is not rationally defensible. Nor is love. Nor the way people approach sex, and sexual relationships. These things are mistakes as well as static memes, and they have been refuted by ARR's criticism.

ARR also has some things which may seem like its own conclusions, but which are really conclusions of TCS or the general worldview behind ARR. For example, it rejects compromise and sacrifice, and insists that conflicts should be resolved in a rational, truth-seeking way. It says human interaction should be non-coercive and people should seek common preferences. It says problems are soluble and not a part of life to simply accept, and that people can change and improve their preferences.

Freeze:

Confidently I say, "The second obstacle is that people's perception is that conflicts are a given and that the best we can do is to seek a compromise."

Bitterly Father remarks, "In academia we are encouraging that devastating mistake. Under the glorifying title of 'optimization' we invest considerable efforts to teach students, not how to remove conflicts, but how to waste time finding the 'best' compromise. What a waste of talent."

Freeze:

@Wisp looks like you also disagree about some of this. we can make a tree if u want

Wisp:

not at the moment, I am in them middle of solving a problem and it might interfere with it

curi:

i partially disagree with a bit of that fyi

curi:

or at least ppl get misled by it

Freeze:

oh?

Freeze:

are there any common misconceptions you can point out

curi:

1) in general poly = MORE LOVE, MORE ROMANCE. most ARR ppl thot mono bad, poly good

Freeze:

i think you explained that in a post somewhere

curi:

yes

Freeze:

oh i remember a podcast

curi:

in general poly ppl are fucking retarded and dumber than normal ppl

Freeze:

where you talked about poly not always being better

curi:

like way dumber

Freeze:

and it being situational

Freeze:

https://curi.us/files/podcasts/polygamy.mp3

curi:

if u wanna do something non-traditional u need to nkow wtf ur doing

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

because traditions have knowledge

curi:

if ur need a top tier thinker, be alone or mono, those are the normal options

Freeze:

if you dont have good arguments against traditions, follow them

curi:

or like poly hookups when ur young and it's not srs relatinoships. that's normal. im not a fan of promiscuity but whatever.

curi:

ya that podcast should say my current views fine

curi:

iirc

Freeze:

how would it interfere with a current problem @Wisp?

Freeze:

are you worried it might change your mind about something and thus change your approach/desire for the relationship etc.?

Wisp:

curi: in general poly ppl are fucking retarded and dumber than normal ppl

Wisp:

how do you reach that conclusion?

curi:

reading some of their stuff and talking to some

curi:

obviously not 100% applicable but it's a major pattern

JustinCEO:

i thot u might say guesses and crit curi

curi:

and i mean just retarded about relationships, not dumber re other stuff

curi:

not like lower IQ

Wisp:

ah I see

Freeze:

in this podcast curi explains how poly ppl value sex and love

Wisp:

what does retarded about relationships means?

curi:

their ideas are stupid and make their lives worse than normal stuff, cause lots of problems

curi:

and they are unreasonable about it

Freeze:

their error correction is also worse about those ideas?

curi:

their error correctino might just be avg

curi:

so... bad

Freeze:

ah

curi:

not enuf for unconventional stuff

curi:

when u do poly u run into more errors + esp more errors that don't already have well known solutions

JustinCEO:

does "in general" include or exclude religiously motivated poly people

curi:

poly ppl can get less useful advice from most books, magazines, websites, friends, podcasts

curi:

i dont' recall any poly i have exposure to being highly religiously motivated

curi:

don't think i'm familiar with that

JustinCEO:

kk

Freeze:

like polygamous mormons or something?

Freeze:

i think curi is referring to polyamory primarily

Wisp:

What if they dont process jealousy and understand power dynamics more? Thus having a more smoother relationship? For exmaple people in the bdsm community seem to handle these emotions much better.

curi:

i assume the islam version is awful

Freeze:

polygamy secondarily?

JustinCEO:

fundamentalist mormons and muslims are the two examples that i'm aware of, ya

curi:

wisp i think a lot of them claim something like that but just aren't aware of what's going on and have bad self-understanding

curi:

i think the bdsm community is awful too

curi:

normal ppl also generally have bad self-understanding too. it's just they are following safer default lifestyle so it does less harm.

curi:

islam is really sexist, idk how sexist mormons are today

Freeze:

so it's like one of the best ways to improve the lives of lots of people is to improve the general, default traditional knowledge quality?

Wisp:

default life style according to you is just social conditioning, what is the guarantee that is it actually safer?

JustinCEO:

the mormons that do poly are a small splinter group afaik

Freeze:

it's been through lots of error correction wisp

Freeze:

traditions embody a lot of knowledge

curi:

it's safer b/c ppl have spent millenia fixing the worst ways it hurts ppl

Freeze:

they have been criticized over time and improved

Freeze:

there are some static memes in traditional knowledge that make things worse afaik

Freeze:

but yeah, the worst issues have been improved

Freeze:

if u start from scratch, it's far more likely u'll do worse

Freeze:

that's why it's better to make incremental improvements

curi:

Wisp what's ur background or profession? do u happen to know programming?

Wisp:

do you really think social rules are that easily fixable? they have only improved through thinkers actually protesting and trying to fix stuff. BDSM on the other hand is not as bound by social norms and people are free to invent and re-invent rules that work

Wisp:

very quickly

Wisp:

I am a PhD candidate, computer science

curi:

ok cool. it's like if u have very big, complex computer software that is 20 years old. over those 20 years ppl fixed a million bugs. if u start from scratch u will make a million new bugs. rewrites tend to be bad.

curi:

and it's much, much worse to rewrite when the code is live in production the entire time and u have no test server and no dev environment, which is how IRL works

Wisp:

starting from scratch but in a new environment that makes it easy to de-bug

Wisp:

the conditions are different

curi:

the idea of BDSM community u present is like "we are more rational, so we can use our rational problem solving to do better than tradition". in practice they are in fact just as dumb as everyone else and do worse.

curi:

IME

curi:

and it's predicted by theory too

Freeze:

IME = In My Experience

Wisp:

ah ok

curi:

if they were any good at reason why don't they discuss Popper or something and write some good philosophy essays

Wisp:

because that is not their objective?

Freeze:

it is though

curi:

b/c u need to test ur actually not just an arrogant fool. try to objectively test ur knoweldge qualty and skill

Freeze:

error-correction is their objective

Freeze:

Popper revolutionized that field

curi:

rational ppl don't just assume their self-judgment is true

curi:

they look for ways to find out it might not be

curi:

and if ppl are are actually god tier at rational problem solving, they could be superstars in philosophy just be writing it down a bit

Wisp:

I am not calling them rational or philosophers , I am saying that their unique environemnt lets them change rules much faster, so even if they use a dumber algo to do it (not popper's method) they might have a better success rate through random walks

curi:

if they can get it practical and approachable enuf to work for sexual relationships, it should also actually work for ppl thinking about easier shit like doing a startup and getting rich

curi:

changing rules faster doesn't help nearly enuf if u have no clue what to chagne to or how to think well or how to tell what is working or not

Wisp:

then how is it different from the emprical stuff PUAs do? how do they have more merit?

Wisp:

trying and changing things

Wisp:

and seeing what works

curi:

some PUAs had scientific attitudes and put in a lot of work over years at ... figuring out how the status quo works, which is much easier than changing how ppl live.

curi:

i'm unaware of any BDSM material with similar rational quality

Wisp:

I see, makes sense

curi:

and even if they had equal skill they'd still fail

curi:

cuz their thing is harder

Wisp:

so there is a threshold of hardness where this kind of method fails?

curi:

PUA community is really exceptional and unusual, even for that level of difficulty most attempts fail

curi:

it's from usenet

curi:

usenet and its culture is dead now 😦

Wisp:

what is usenet?

curi:

it's basically the old school internet forums when the internet was full of early adopters

Wisp:

I see

curi:

it died in sept 1993 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

curi:

or began dying then

Wisp:

a few months after my birth

curi:

it died to what is essentially analogous to mass immigration

curi:

they couldn't assimilate the AOL users fast enuf

curi:

the FI google group is usenet legacy. it's similar forum style (and it started in 1994...)

curi:

nowaways it's very very hard to get anyone to join that sort of email forum instead of facebook, reddit, twitter, discord, etc.

Wisp:

I think these kinds of problems instead of having linear difficulty levels are more like different types of problems, so saying something is harder is not as useful?

curi:

there's some of that but some types (going against tradition) are broadly much harder than others (not challenging tradition)

Wisp:

but polygamy and probably bdsm has been tradition in societies? Its not a new concept. I will have to check my claim though

curi:

the atheists doing poly today are not following ancient polygamous customs and don't live in a society where polygamy is normal

curi:

i'm not very familiar with history of bdsm. i think actual cruelty was common and men had power over women. that's pretty different than what ppl are trying to do today.

curi:

i think a bit of bdsm play isn't necessarly a big deal at all but when it's more of a lifestyle one is involved in then it's a bad subculture and kinda similar to and overlapping poly

curi:

A theory of why ppl like BDSM and related is they (esp the girl) don't want the responsibility of choosing to have sex, for which they feel shame and guilt. It helps remove that by fooling themselves (it doesn't rationally take away responsibility). This explanation doesn't fit with the BDSM ppl being rational and good at solving problems.

curi:

long term mono relationships and marriage are also good at removing the shame and guilt of having sex, anyway.

curi:

(far from perfect tho)

curi:

(it's a hard thing to remove)

curi:

it's also often not just the shame and guilt of sex itself but of particular sex acts, fantasies, weaknesses (revealing imperfect physical characteristics) etc.

curi:

poly is also fundamentally harder than mono b/c more ppl involved is more complicated

curi:

very similar to how i advise ppl to only have one child. every added child is more complexity and they will fuck up enuf with just one.

curi:

mixing poly + any kids is a mess

curi:

also btw tons of young ppl think they don't want kids and never will, then a few years later they do. the belief they will never want kids is one of the things that can make their poly ideas seem viable to them.

curi:

ppl who fuck around with poly stuff for a few years when they are young isn't so important, it's kinda just like promiscuity in general, but trying to make it a lifestyle for decades is different.

curi:

and doing it for a few years while expecting it to last a lifetime, but then stopping, is generally bad. ur wrong about how ur life works. ur plan didn't work.

Wisp:

A thought comes to mind vis a vis mono vs poly relationships, there are two kinds of sexually reproducing species "gladiatorial" and "par bonding". After observing humans, we seem to show behaviour from both, including physical features associated with both. a lot of variation is observed. And I agree that maintaing a long ploy relationship is very hard. i have seen one healthy poly relationship among a friend of mine but eventually it did not last beyond a few years. Five years I think.

Wisp:

But that also seems to be the failure or success rate of mono relationships, considering the dataset of poly is much smaller

curi:

i don't think animal behavior is relevant to humans b/c we think in ways they don't. i've got a lot of material on animal intelligence fyi.

Wisp:

I would not say its completely irrelevant, after all there are besides creating new knowledge every other system is the same

Wisp:

you cannot dismiss physical reality when discussing human behaviour

curi:

knowledge is the dominant factor

Wisp:

but you said most people are dumb and not rational, which means knowledge is not the dominant factor and biological behaviour is

curi:

no, dumb and irrational are types of knowledge. they are bad ideas, not no ideas and letting biology dictate.

Wisp:

I see

curi:

like uhh scientology is irrational knoweldge

curi:

nothing to do with animals

curi:

or biology

Wisp:

what about the skinner box and how they are used in casinos, works on both animals and humans

Wisp:

means there is a commonality

Wisp:

knowledge of how other spices work can be applied in understanding humans, is my point

curi:

i think ppl are badly wrong about how they analyze that stuff and a lot of "neuroscience" stuff

Wisp:

why treat the mind or studying humans as different from studying say photons

Wisp:

the methodology

Freeze:

photons don't have knowledge

curi:

there's so much complexity it's more enlightening to look at higher level

curi:

like not reading machine code for complex software

Wisp:

at some point you need to look at the lower level to re-create it

Wisp:

or alter it

curi:

not necessarily but often ya

curi:

it's good to study neurons

curi:

but ppl trying to base psychology conclusions on neurons today are getting it wrong

Wisp:

thats ok, error correction will fix that

curi:

well they don't have rational philosophy or methods

curi:

it's not being fixed currently. broken field.

Wisp:

do you think most scientists dont have a rational philosphy?

curi:

yeah

Wisp:

then how has so much progress been made in 2k years?

curi:

minority have been productive, not majority

curi:

the ratio was better in the past when there were way fewer scientists

curi:

now we draw too many ppl into the field who are dumb and think university will teach them to think well (it mostly doesn't)

curi:

and a lot of them chase grants and prestige and promotions for their careers

curi:

social climbing instead of real science

Wisp:

which I think was done even before

curi:

yes some. it's been expanded a lot with e.g. massive govt funding of science which i think offhand is mostly post WWII

curi:

and university being for ~everyone now instead of just early adopters

curi:

it's not just individual cleverness at issue tho. lots of smart ppl believe common, mainstream ideas like induction which lead them wrong.

curi:

philosophy is the ~worst field and is hurting the others by spreading really bad ideas

Freeze:

greg is an inductivist :FeelsBadMan:

curi:

most scientists are not philosophers and have not carefully investigated the correct philosophy ideas themselves. they outsource that thinking to philosophy experts who have failed the world.

curi:

most philosophers lack a scientific mindset and are less rational than the avg scientist but nevertheless are allowed to be deemed experts on philosophy of science and spread methodology

curi:

there has been pushback. many scientists now disrespect philosophers. but the stuff they believe came from philosophy anyway. they broadly don't understand its history and the alternative philosophies.

curi:

it's hard to sort the mess out

curi:

just disrespecting philosophers won't fix it for ppl

curi:

if u just don't listen to the latest crap philosophers say and believe the stuff in science books ... ur just getting stuff philosophers told scientists a while ago

curi:

with ppl being mis-educated to believe the wrong ideas, most scientists aren't effective. plus parenting destroys most ppl's minds by age 10 anyway so they aren't cut out to be scientists without a lot of help/fixing that we don't currently know how to do...

Wisp:

wait a minute how do philosphers actually help creating knowledge/

Wisp:

they are just arm chair scientists

Wisp:

where is the work?

curi:

philosphers write about topics like what the methods of science are

curi:

how learning works

curi:

how to think rationally

curi:

these ideas are used by all other fields

curi:

u can't do anything without ideas about critical thinking, avoiding bias, etc

Wisp:

ok yeah , agreed

curi:

when philosophers fuck this up then it screws everyone else who is accepting their crap

Freeze:

all knowledge is created thru guessing and criticizing

Freeze:

empirical testing is only one form of criticism

Freeze:

plenty of criticism happens in human minds

JustinCEO:

grass cures colds etc

curi:

lots of ppl think they are ignoring philosophers but lots of philosophy ideas are common sense or spread around anyway, even if u aren't getting them directly from a philosopher

Freeze:

wait a minute how do philosphers actually help creating knowledge/
they are just arm chair scientists
where is the work?
this shows some serious misconceptions imo

Freeze:

about how knowledge is created, what "work" is, and where the value is in philosophy

curi:

maybe it just shows he knows what most philosophers are like today

Freeze:

i guess

curi:

they earned that disrespect

JustinCEO:

:\

Freeze:

many scientists are like this too though

Freeze:

even if they do experiments

Freeze:

they're wasted experiments

curi:

Now some of you might say, as many people do: “Aw, I never think in such abstract terms—I want to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—what do I need philosophy for?” My answer is: In order to be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems—i.e., in order to be able to live on earth.
You might claim—as most people do—that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure—nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” You got that from Plato. Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got it from Augustine. Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James. Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel. Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.
Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel. They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon—who got it from William James.

JustinCEO:

LOL

JustinCEO:

curi

JustinCEO:

i had the window open, was reaching for the paste

curi:

from Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand, chapter 1. highly reccommend reading chapters 1-2

curi:

and maybe 11

Freeze:

someone from the other discord who is training to be an experimental physicist, when i brought up the value of epistemology

I have done zero philosophy of science, and plan on doing none
I don't think it's useful as a physics/math double major, as a physicist, or as a person

Freeze:

i said i don't give a flying fuck about philosophy because it doesn't create a quantum computer or solve the many body problem or create better telescopes to learn more about space

Freeze:

>_<

Freeze:

i think philosophy does all these things

curi:

that means he will pick up philosophy ideas secondhand (or third or fourth), here and there, and never think about them much. disaster!

Freeze:

i have zero reason to learn more, or to learn it "correctly"
because philosophy doesn't advance science
research does

Freeze:

my response

Freeze:

philosophy governs research

curi:

it's maybe the word "philosophy" he hates

curi:

mb switch to: critical+rational thinking methods/skills

Freeze:

we can sit in dark rooms and discuss your many worlds shit all day but that doesn't mean anything until someone mathematically or experimentally proves it true or false

curi:

which is one branch of philosophy which not everyone even associates with philosophy

Freeze:

yeah disgussing methods of thinking doesn't solve problems freeze

JustinCEO:

wtf

Freeze:

doing an experiment or doing the math does

Freeze:

he's like a hardcore experimentalist

curi:

see with scientists like that a lot of ppl waste their careers... he'll have to get lucky to accomplish much

Freeze:

you can sit on a high horse all day and discuss how philosophically correct something is but that doesn't advance the science

curi:

(or change his mind)

JustinCEO:

does he think learning is relevant to doing science?

curi:

what he's saying to you are ARGUMENTS. how does one evaluate whether an argument is correct and should be believed? with critical and rational thinking methods and skills...

curi:

he's trying to use those RIGHT NOW

JustinCEO:

cuz lots of learning is learning how to think about and approach various kinds of problems

JustinCEO:

well he's not convincing freeze so that just proves philosophy is useless curi

JustinCEO:

qed

Freeze:

so how does philosophy solve open problems in science and math then
how does philosophy demonstrate the temperature dependence of the decay of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 nanowires

curi:

it's a tool not a full solution...

Freeze:

yikes

Freeze:

an argument is correct if the math or experiment backs it up

JustinCEO:

you could say like

curi:

yeah freeze there is a LOT of this in the world

JustinCEO:

how does language per se demonstrate the temperature dependence of the decay of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 nanowires

curi:

shut up and calculate skool as DD calls it

Freeze:

it doesn't have any sort of relevance if it doesn't

JustinCEO:

and then use that and say there's no value in knowing a language

curi:

and anti-conceptual inductivism etc

Freeze:

philosophy is a tool the same way a spoon is a tool
a spoon doesn't help me prove a theorem

Freeze:

geez

JustinCEO:

and just be like "well show me how comma rules help demonstrate the temperature dependence of the decay of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 nanowires, motherfucker"

Freeze:

Wisp:

pyro I think freeze is just trying to change your definition of philosophy to what it actually is

curi:

yeah the world is fucking broken and desparately needs the stuff i work on...

Freeze:

i guess so

JustinCEO:

:\

curi:

it's a good example

curi:

he's hostile not just wrong

curi:

makes it harder

JustinCEO:

ya


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Stop Using Google Search

Google search is heavily politically biased, on purpose. They are much worse than the alternatives. Stop using them. Change your default search engine. They are controlling what information you find online. They intentionally make it harder to find my stuff and the stuff of many right wing people.

This has been revealed by Project Veritas and by many, many examples people have found. I have personally researched it on a few topics including the search results for this website. I just found another egregious example where everyone but Google makes it easy to find my plagiarism post. Even just searching for the book without using plagiarism as a keyword you can easily find it if you aren't using Google. But searching for the exact title of the blog post still won't find it with Google – you have to actually put the title in quotes for it to come up.

I have one computer set to Yahoo search by default, another to DuckDuckGo, and my phone to Bing. Using a variety is safer – there’s less chance that a problem with one site will prevent you from ever finding some info.

Change your default search engine today. Seriously. Stop letting Google's bias influence your understanding of the world.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (11)

Dennis Hackethal, Plagiarist

Dennis Hackethal (DH) published the book A Window on Intelligence: The Philosophy of People, Software, and Evolution – and Its Implications on 2020-03-13. The book heavily plagiarizes Elliot Temple (ET, myself) and David Deutsch (DD, who was ET’s mentor, colleague and close friend for over 10 years). DH repeatedly uses their ideas without giving credit and tries to present them as DH’s own ideas.

DH came to ET in Dec 2018 and initially treated ET like a mentor he was thrilled to have found and be able to learn from. Finally DH found an expert who knew a ton about the topics DH was interested in, and had good ideas instead of bad ones (in DH’s opinion, most experts are terrible, but DD and ET have great wisdom). And ET was actually accessible to learn from, unlike most experts! DH joined ET’s discussion forums and got lots of learning help. DH left after 5 months (DH stopped using the forums and stopped speaking to ET or ET’s associates) and DH refused to say why. That’s around the time DH started writing the book. Later, posting elsewhere on the internet, DH communicated that he has a hateful attitude towards ET and ET’s associates (even though DH still seems to be a huge fan of their ideas and even filled his book with their ideas). Despite cutting contact, DH continued reading ET’s writing.

The below post goes over some examples of how DH’s book plagiarizes ET and DD, and also does some copyright infringement. This is the sort of egregious, extensive plagiarism that gets people expelled from universities. It’s not just a little bit. The book should never have been published and should be withdrawn from the market.

There's also a video where I watch and comment on Justin reading and commenting on this post.

Even though the book has a bunch of ET’s ideas in it, DH provided ET no opportunity to comment before the book was published, did not provide a courtesy copy to ET, and didn’t even notify ET about the book’s existence after publication. This is after DH had personal tutoring sessions to learn from ET, discussed on ET’s forums and his chatrooms, and more. He directly learned material from ET, put it in the book, and didn’t even notify ET, in addition to not giving credit in the book.

Despite relying so much on ET’s and DD’s ideas, DH still introduces a bunch of his own mistakes. The book may alienate readers from the ideas in addition to stealing credit.

Part of the problem is DH’s incompetence. He had no business writing a book. He doesn’t know how to cite things. He screws up badly when speaking about some Richard Dawkins material. He flames Nick Bostrom inappropriately. He gives DD credit in a few places, often inadequately, but then gives zero credit to DD in the majority of cases. However, it’s not just incompetence. DH’s intentional malice is clear because, for example, ET’s name literally isn’t in the book even once, even though it’s packed with ET’s ideas. Details for all of these points are covered below.

DH’s response to the issue is also covered below. He admits he screwed up and expresses his confidence that the book has lots of plagiarism. DH says he’ll fix the plagiarism if ET finds it for him, but then immediately breaks his word and refuses to even read documentation of the problems that he’d just requested. As unbelievable as this is, it’s all documented below since DH put it in writing.

As a likely further response, this website was DOSed (sent extra traffic to break the website so pages don’t load) shortly after DH saw a draft of this blog post, but before it was posted. Whoever did that is a criminal and the timing of the DOS seems unlikely to be a coincidence. The DOS was presumably done by DH or someone he told about his plagiarism. I don’t recall this website ever being intentionally DOSed before, while this DOS was clearly intentional (it’s not just e.g. a web spider ignoring robots.txt). For security reasons, I won’t provide technical details. I’ll just say the attack quickly made the website stop loading for anyone. If DH isn’t involved in this crime, he should provide the evidence he has about the crime, such as who he told about the plagiarism issue and thereby provided motive to. I’ve contacted DH about this. If DH won’t help catch the criminal, all civilized people should shun him even more than they should for his plagiarism. Note as context that DH has a recent history of breaking laws, associating with criminal(s), and lying in defense of criminal(s).

Note: I haven’t read much of DH’s book and don’t plan to. I just skimmed a few parts and searched for keywords. There are probably many other issues which I don’t discuss here. My impression from skimming was that there were a bunch more problematic issues that I didn’t read more about. The parts I comment on were easy to find fast. I did look at all instances of DD’s name (20), ET’s name (zero) and ET’s websites (3), so I know what credit was given to them. I didn’t check if other people like Karl Popper were plagiarized or not. The below is only lightly edited because it’s good enough to communicate the info and I want to get back to educational writing and philosophy research ASAP.

Copied Sentence

Yellow quotes like this are from DH’s book:

Criterion of universality – x is a universal y if it can do all the z’s all the other y’s can do

This sentence comes from when ET was teaching DH what universality is. One part of the educational help DH got was a discussion involving 20 emails. In it, ET wrote (Feb 2019):

X is a universal Y if it can do any Z that any other Y can do.

DH had trouble understanding. He wrote e.g. “I think I'm still confused about universality.”. But after further educational efforts by ET, DH understood the idea enough to copy that sentence into his book and plagiarize the topic in general.

I (ET) recognized this sentence immediately when I saw it. It was a major topic I educated DH about. The sentence is highly distinctive. This isn’t plausibly an accident.

Here’s another example of the plagiarism related to universality:

Whichever way one chooses to define domains in which to look for universality, it is crucial to pick useful qualifiers and determine meaningful domains.

This is an important idea (which is closely related to the Criterion of Universality above) that ET had to explain to DH multiple times before DH finally understood it. And the idea is original to ET, not common knowledge. But no credit is given.

Plagiarism and Copyright

Plagiarism is taking credit for ideas or writing that isn’t yours. Plagiarism is DH’s main offense. It’s the thing that gets people flunked out of university classes for being unethical.

Copyright protects the specific form of a work but not the ideas or concepts. It’s the thing that gets lots of YouTube videos taken down and people get sued over it. It’s a well known law in widespread use.

So DH could write about a criterion of universality in his own words and it would only be plagiarism (if he didn’t give credit) but not copyright infringement. But when he uses ET’s words in his book without quoting them or giving credit, then it’s copyright infringement. To avoid breaking the law, DH has to write his own words instead of borrowing sentences that ET wrote. (The slight rewordings don’t make it OK. You can’t get around copyright that easily.)

Note that copyright has an exception called “fair use”. If DH had quoted ET’s sentence and said ET wrote it, then it wouldn’t be a copyright violation, even without ET’s permission to use the sentence. Fair use allows quoting a little bit of someone’s writing for e.g. critical commentary or educational purposes, but it doesn’t allow taking credit for other people’s work.

Copied Question and Plagiarized Chapter

It is essential to ask, “hard to vary given what constraint?”.

Those quote marks indicate dialog or speech, not a quote from another author. But it’s actually an exact quote from me, without credit.

I wrote it here (2019-06-01) and more prominently in this blog post (2019-07-17) where I was discussing with Bruce Nielson, an associate of DH who is named in the acknowledgments. Even if I hadn’t told this directly to DH’s associate, we know DH kept reading my blog even after he stopped discussing with me because he uses later material from my blog in his book.

Much of the rest of the chapter is paraphrasing ET without credit, such as this sentence:

We want an implementation to be hard to vary while still solving the problem(s) it purports to solve.

ET has said things like this many times, e.g. a 2011 formulation on the FoR email group:

knowledge is information that is hard to vary while solving the problem [that it’s designed or adapted to solve] equally well or better.

Although DH’s phrasing is based on ET’s writing, much of this concept was originated by DD. DD isn’t credited for it either.

The chapter has one footnote about one specific idea:

I first came across the idea of using multiplication as an example of knowledge in computer programs here: http://web.archive.org/web/20190701184215/https://curi.us/988-structural-epistemology-introduction-part-1, which is in turn based on the concept of structural epistemology, which goes back to David Deutsch and Kolya Wolf.

DH doesn’t give any credit in the main text and doesn’t give my name or a direct link to my website. And DH understates how much material he got from ET’s posts (of which there are three other main ones, on the same topic, that ET emailed to DH, by DH’s request, on 2018-12-24. The posts supplemented the discussion where ET taught DH about it verbally.)

With just this one cite and no mention of ET’s name, DH spends most of ch. 3 explaining ET’s work (some of which, as ET has acknowledged, DD helped with or originated; DH doesn’t credit DD either). DH borrows extensively from ET’s way of teaching and explaining these issues, for a whole chapter, and provides just one endnote mentioning where he got the general idea of using multiplication as an example. But ET didn’t just mention multiplication would be a nice example, ET gave examples and showed how to use them to explain some big ideas, and DH is plagiarizing all that (with, as usual, some added errors mixed in, and some key ideas omitted, so it’s screwed up but still easily recognizable as based on ET’s work).

Other ET Endnotes

The easiest way to find more plagiarism of ET is to check the endnotes. There are two more which indirectly reference ET’s website while refusing to give his name. First:

[33] Hans Hass, “The Human Animal,” as quoted on http://web.archive.org/web/20190702162345/https://curi.us/272-algorithmic-animal-behavior

You’d never know from this endnote that ET has made multiple videos about this specific topic and had multiple discussions about it. ET’s educational material is where and how DH learned what to say about the Hans Hass quotes he borrowed from ET’s blog post (just like DH was only able to partially understand universality due to ET’s educational efforts, for which no credit was given).

Hans Hass gets his name in the main text of the book too, not just in the note, as is appropriate. But ET’s name isn’t in the book once.

The whole section on ‘Animal “Learning”’ is heavily based on the ideas of ET and DD, including ET’s category of blog posts about animal intelligence. ET also has made several videos on the topic, had several debates, and had many earlier discussions about it on the email forums. They are distinctive ideas which DH plagiarized.

We can explain this easily and well through the existence of an inborn pathfinding algorithm whose results just need to be stored in memory for later retrieval.

DH got this specifically from ET. DH didn’t know it until ET taught it to him personally.

Before learning from ET, DH actually had conventional/mainstream views about animal intelligence. No credit is given for radically changing DH’s conclusions on these matters and teaching him the entire point of view he’s writing in the book.

The last endnote related to ET is:

[36] As far as I am aware, the notion of such a meta-algorithm was first introduced in the form of a “fail-safe” (but its significance underestimated) here: http://web.archive.org/web/20200207181124/http://curi.us/2245-discussion-about-animal-rights-and-popper

This includes an unargued, unexplained, unreasonable claim that ET made a mistake! ET’s extensive knowledge of an obscure subject is not evidence that ET underestimates it. ET’s bringing up something original (as DH believes it to be) is not evidence that he doesn’t realize it’s significant.

Again ET’s name isn’t given and this is only an endnote so a reader could easily never realize that even this little bit of partial credit was given. DH uses the term “meta-algorithm” 95 times in the book, inspired by ET and no one else (according to DH’s own account), but doesn’t give ET meaningful credit. I actually think DH is confused about the issue and its originality (it’s already in widespread use by programmers, which DH apparently hasn’t noticed, but certain applications of it to animals are original to DD and ET), but I won’t get into it more.

Note that the link here goes to a post ET wrote in Nov 2019, over six months after DH had stopped speaking to ET without explanation. It shows DH was still reading ET’s work and using it for his book, including specifically ET’s posts relating to animal intelligence.

Another plagiarism example is DH’s discussion of golden rice and the precautionary principle. Is it a coincidence that ET wrote about golden rice and the precautionary principle, also in Nov 2019 while DH was reading ET’s work and writing the book? That ET post also explains a non-standard view of Pascal’s Wager and then DH writes something similar about Pascal’s Wager in another part of the book. DH did change it by incorrectly lowercasing the “w” in “Wager”, even though it’s a proper noun.

DD Plagiarism

I skimmed DH’s book and noted a few topics discussed which are distinctively associated with DD. Then I searched for every time DD’s name was used to give DD credit. Subtracting the times DD got credit from the list, the rest are plagiarism.

Topics plagiarized from DD include: Problems are soluble, problems are inevitable, various universality stuff including the jump to universality (using DD’s exact phrase "jump to universality” seven times), reach, and criteria for reality. These are major ideas from DD’s books, especially The Beginning of Infinity (BoI). They are highly original and distinctive ideas which DH gives zero credit for. DH’s book title “A Window on Intelligence” is also based on DD’s chapter title “A Window on Infinity” in BoI, without credit.

Topics where DD got some credit include: Structural epistemology, hard to vary, universal explainers, static and dynamic memes, Church-Turing-Deutsch principle, and "If you can’t program it, you haven’t understood it.”. In the first 3 of those 6 cases, DD’s name only appears in an endnote, not in the main text of the book, so most readers still won’t know it’s DD’s idea. Also there’s no text crediting DD for the Church-Turing-Deutsch principle, it’s just implied by DD’s name being in the principle’s name. But Deutsch is a pretty common name and there’s no mention it’s the same guy and no citation to DD’s book, BoI, where DD talks about is as the “Church-Turing conjecture” (so DH is using material from DD’s book, with no cite to the book or explicit credit, and DH changed the name, which is a typical example of how he distorts the ideas he plagiarizes enough to screw them up a bit while still leaving them recognizable as other people’s ideas).

There’s also an endnote linking to a DD blog post. I didn’t read that part of the book to investigate further.

Besides the list of plagiarized DD topics above, all the other DD topics in the book are also plagiarized, since they aren’t some of the few topics where credit was given.

The appropriate action is to credit DD by name in the main text every time one of DD’s major ideas is introduced, at minimum. As a comparison, in The Fabric of Reality (FoR) DD shares a few criticisms of Thomas Kuhn, who is a relatively minor topic (the index indicates that Kuhn comes up on only 11 pages in a 22 page section of the book, and isn’t mentioned at all elsewhere). Nevertheless, Kuhn’s name is used 26 times, while DD’s name is used 20 times in DH’s book where DD is basically the main theme of the whole book. (I don’t think it makes much difference to this comparison because Kuhn only comes up in one part of the book, but FYI DD’s book is around 40% longer than DH’s.)

Misrepresenting Association with DD

From the acknowledgements:

David Deutsch, whose books were some of the inspirations for this book, for tirelessly answering my many questions over the years.

This isn’t true. I have lots of info about this from both DD and DH. I’d rather not get into personal details about the relationship between DD and DH unnecessarily because I know DD generally prefers his life isn’t made public. I’ll provide more info if DH disputes my claim that his statement is untrue. (I’ll interpret that dispute as DH wanting this to be a public matter and granting permission to share everything he told me about it, so it wouldn’t even be a little bit discourteous to share.)

Speaking generally about info that’s already public: When DD actually tirelessly answers questions over many years, you end up with e.g. ~8000 emails from him (over half private), like I have, as well as millions of words of personal chat logs. DH has nothing like that. If DD actually was interested in talking with DH much, then DD would be credited for reading and commenting on some of the book, too. If he tirelessly answered many questions, why not read the whole book? But surely DD’s unlimited energy would extend to commenting on some book material (which is presumably some of DH’s highest quality writing, so some of the stuff DD would most want to read or respond to). DH hardly knows DD and is trying to exaggerate a name drop in order to climb the social status hierarchy.

DH, btw, contrary to various pro-criticism and pro-reason themes of his book, has actually admitted to me that he’s a social climber who cares deeply about public perception of him. DH doesn’t want anything negative said about him regardless of whether it’s true or false. I’m under no obligation to keep those particular messages private, but am sticking to only a paraphrase as a courtesy since they aren’t currently available by Google search. I’m not exaggerating. If DH denies this, I’ll provide exact quotes.

Feynman the Popperian

Feynman was familiar with Popperian philosophy and even taught it (though not without mistakes).

Source: Me? (Regarding Feynman’s familiarity with Popperian philosophy.)

AFAIK I’m the only person to publicly make that claim (until DD joined my discussion to back me up). And I, unlike DH, gave sources and evidence.

I figured it out from Feynman’s books but DD already knew it from talking with Feynman IRL and also from DD’s knowledge of the physics community. I shared the idea and many people thought I was an idiot until I convinced DD to share part of his knowledge too.

As to Feynman teaching Popperian philosophy, that’s a misleading exaggeration from some little fragments Feynman taught. And, despite being the source of the idea, I don’t know what mistakes DH is talking about and he doesn’t explain or give any source.

Here, again, DH uses me or DD as an unacknowledged source but then screws the idea up some too. He uses enough of our idea that it’s distinctive and recognizable, but also throws in stuff we don’t agree with. So giving credit would be problematic because DH doesn’t separate what he got from us from his own misconceptions.

Sources: I have a blog post Feynman the Popperian from 2008 but the main material is on email discussion groups, particularly the Fabric of Reality (FoR) group based on DD’s book. Yahoo recently deleted the archives for all groups but you can get the archive from my ebooks page.

I also told DH about this directly, e.g. from 2019-03-03 I told him “i think Feynman read and understood Popper well.”

Here’s DD posting to the FoR group, 2011-05-02, responding to one of my critics. The quote DD responds to is cut from the middle of a paragraph in a rant directed against me:

On 2 May 2011, at 3:41pm, John Clark wrote:

There is in fact no hard evidence that Feynman even knew that a fellow by the name of Karl Popper ever existed.

For what it's worth, I happened to mention Popper in the one conversation I had with Feynman, sometime in the 80s, and he did not say "who's that?" but replied meaningfully to the point. So that's evidence he had heard of Popper at that time. What he knew of him, I have no empirical evidence of, because Popper was peripheral to the conversation and I never got round to pursuing the matter.

Wheeler, on the other hand (my boss and Feynman's thesis advisor and subsequently his collaborator), knew a lot about Popper and was honoured and delighted when Popper quoted one of Wheeler's aphorisms as a chapter epigraph. Wheeler and I discussed Popper in detail on several occasions and I tried to persuade him to become a Popperian -- ultimately without success, because he preferred Polanyi (!). Nevertheless there were specific aspects of Popperian philosophy of science that he very much agreed with, especially that scientific theories are not derived from anywhere, that they are conjectural and full of errors, and that science makes progress by correcting these errors.

-- David Deutsch

(For what it’s worth, DD told me what he and Feynman said to each other. I consider that conversation fully convincing that Feynman knew a ton about Popper, but unfortunately DD prefers not to share the details publicly.)

DH Is Incompetent at Citation

[6] Karl Popper, “Back to the Presocratics”

[10] Karl Popper’s translation in “Back to the Presocratics”

These citations do not follow any of the standard style guidelines for cites. Nor, worse, do they provide enough information for someone to find what Popper wrote. DH gives the name of an essay without saying what it is (book, essay, TV show, what) or saying what book it can be found in. DH elsewhere cites books and TV shows using the same format (quote marks around the title) that he here uses for citing an article within an unnamed book. In those cases, at least he’s giving an author and the overall title of the thing in question, so it’s less bad. Here he left out the name of the book he’s citing!

DH even screws up referring to his own writing:

Dennis Hackethal, Misconceptions About Evolution, 2020

Dennis Hackethal, What Is the Difference Between a Person and a Recording of That Person?, 2020

What book, journal or website has those articles? All DH gives is a title but no link or indication of what type of work they are. It’s not enough info to look them up and read them.

People who don’t know how to cite – and are unable or unwilling to learn or to use a tool that creates properly formatted citations for you (those tools are readily available for free) – should not be writing books with 86 end notes and 35 bibliography entries. Maybe if DH had learned the basics of what he was doing before publication, he would have found out what plagiarism and copyrights are in addition to how to cite, but instead he acted irresponsibly and unethically.

DH Is a Jerk

Although large portions of the book are about DD’s ideas, Nick Bostrom, who is brought up as a target to attack (not as a source of ideas DH advocates), is named more times than DD. Here’s a sample of what DH says about Bostrom and his book Superintelligence:

Oxford has produced … some of the worst [intelligence research] (Nick Bostrom).

Bostrom is [a] slave of [irrational ideas]

[Bostrom’s] book is such a nauseatingly pessimistic attempt to snuff out AGI

[Bostrom’s] book is a slaveholder’s manual. To say this is not an exaggeration, nor is it metaphorical

[Bostrom’s book is a] Gestapo-style manual

DH does give some intellectual reasoning related to these attacks. I think the reasons are partially right but I also disagree significantly. The reasoning is unfair to Bostrom and would be inadequate to make these attacks even if DH was right about all the issues. If you read the book to see the context of the Bostrom quotes and understand the arguments, you may agree with DH’s claims somewhat more, but you won’t find they get any nicer.

Lots of the reasoning DH uses for attacking Bostrom on AI alignment and slavery is plagiarized from ET. DH also plagiarized the view of a new AGI as similar to a child needing an education. Comments like “If you build an AGI, you are a parent.” are taken from ET. (The AGI material is easily recognizable and distinctive while also being changed enough to screw it up). BTW, elsewhere DH also brings up parenting to talk about it being an area heavy with static memes, which is again something he got from ET.

DH also slanders the U.S. south and other slave-holding societies throughout history, by implication, by suggesting that slaveholders only ever gave slaves the minimum food/shelter/etc. to keep their slaves alive to get acceptable work out of them.

A slaveholder needs to keep his slaves alive so that they continue to work for him. He improves their wellbeing only to the point where they can perform the work to an acceptable degree. This degree can be much lower than what promotes comfort or health, resulting in tremendous suffering.

Although I’m not a fan of slaveholders, this is an unfair attack that doesn’t accurately represent slavery throughout history. There have been many times that slaveowners were kind to slaves and even voluntarily freed them. Not all slaves were horribly mistreated (some were horribly mistreated, e.g. in the silver mines of ancient Greece, including too often being mistreated to the point that they didn’t stay alive, contrary to what DH says). I suspect DH is thinking in terms of game theory but hasn’t read about slavery in actual societies.

Richard Dawkins

Another odd use of the concept of slavery is:

the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins discovered that organisms are protective shields genes build around themselves. Organisms are the slaves that genes use to spread through the population.

and

Like all organisms, human bodies are the slaves that genes use to achieve this purpose.

First of all, the term “survival machine” appears 96 times in Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene. That’s why I still remember it even though I haven’t read the book for many years. Why doesn’t DH use the right term? The term “shield” is only in the book once in a different context (DNA membranes). Dawkins’ term is more accurate and descriptive, and somewhat different (a machine does more than a shield, e.g. machines have moving parts and could plausibly hunt for food, while shields don’t). DH has distorted Dawkins’ viewpoint and is getting stuff wrong even before the stuff about slaves.

The stuff about slavery is confused, is a poor explanation of survival machines, and is being unfairly associated with Dawkins, who never said it. To make it harder to tell that Dawkins never said it, DH gives no cite here, not even mentioning which of Dawkins’ books he’s talking about.

Not being plagiarized by DH is a mixed blessing because he misrepresents people’s views when he does name them.

Dennis Hackethal’s Comments

I contacted DH when I first saw a major issue in the book, which was the criterion of universality issue. He responded agreeing that he was in the wrong and that the book should be changed. He also informed me of his belief that his book had many more problems of a similar nature. He asked me to do the work of documenting them for him and send him all of the problems at once.

In my reply, I provided DH with what he’d asked for. He wanted a bunch of problems at once instead of one by one. He had said he would review what I sent him. I sent him a pre-publication copy of this blog post which wasn’t very different than the final version.

DH replied that he wouldn’t read or review any of the plagiarism problems with his book because he didn’t have time – which means because there were too many problems with his book, so it was too much to read. But he’d asked for everything at once, and I didn’t even send him anything near a comprehensive review of the book’s errors. Rather than read whatever amount he’d been willing to read (e.g. only 5 problems for the whole book?), he decided to read none of them.

Besides breaking his word about reviewing the problems I sent him at his request, DH’s reply also said he’d consulted a lawyer and implied that he would only deal with copyright violations not plagiarism. The unstated reason is that copyright violations break the law while plagiarism is unethical but is not generally against the law. So DH is knowingly and intentionally a plagiarist. I tried to double check this with him but he didn’t reply.

I know this is shocking beyond belief so here are quotes. Here is DH agreeing that he made a mistake about the criterion of universality:

it looks like you did tell me that [sentence], in which case the right thing to do is to credit you

He then proposed to add an endnote, with no mention of mentioning ET’s name anywhere in the book, and while still leaving ET’s sentence in the main text of the book with no quotation marks, as if DH wrote it.

Here’s DH stating his belief that the book has more issues of a similar nature (copyright violation and plagiarism) based on incorrect speculation about how ET was reading it:

judging by the passage you're at, it looks like you're still pretty early on in the book. As I'm sure you will find more issues

DH continued with his request for information about the copyright and plagiarism problems to be sent all at once in one long document covering the whole book:

I suggest you finish reading the book so I can review your suggestions and make any applicable edits in one go.

Note how DH is “sure” there are more issues in the book, but intends to do nothing about them unless and until ET explains them to him. In the meantime, DH won’t even try to fix the issues in his book that he’s “sure” are there. (Of course it’s not ET’s job to point out DH’s plagiarism to him. ET did DH a huge courtesy by sending him lengthy documentation of some of the many plagiarism issues.)

In DH’s second email, he began by forgetting that he’d asked for all the info at once, and expressing his disinterest in revising his book to fix the plagiarism:

I don't have time to read your blog post.

He then brought up his lawyer and changed the subject to only be copyright, not plagiarism.

ET’s reply asked:

You only replied about copyright. Are you saying you’re unwilling to address plagiarism issues?

DH did not reply.

Want more proof? Here are screenshots of DH’s two emails. Email 1 and email 2.

Conclusion

DH’s book is full of plagiarism. He tries to pass off other people’s ideas as his own in order to manipulate public perceptions of him. He plagiarizes heavily from at least ET and DD (who have a bunch of important and original ideas that aren’t very well known, so they are particularly good targets to plagiarize). It also has at least two copyright infringements where it uses ET’s writing (as DH’s words, no quote or credit) instead of just copying and paraphrasing ideas from ET and DD without credit.

Although some of the problems are due DH’s incompetence, it was his responsibility to learn what plagiarism is and how to give credit before publishing a book. And surely he’s heard of plagiarism and could have investigated the matter before acting so unethically. And DH has done this partly maliciously and partly in an attempt to climb the social status hierarchy.

The book should be withdrawn from the market and would need massive revisions to be ethical. Ethically, it’d need to be withdrawn from the market while those revisions were made, otherwise DH would be intentionally committing plagiarism during that time. The revisions would also need to be documented so people would know what was changed and could check whether that was acceptable; hiding the version history of the book or being vague about the revisions would be unacceptable.

If you’re considering a business or personal relationship with DH, or an intellectual collaboration, or even just reading his book, I suggest you reconsider. If you’re already involved with DH, I suggest raising the plagiarism issue with him and then disassociating from him if you reach the conclusion that his plagiarism is extensive and indefensible.

DH received credible information that the book contained plagiarism, agreed that it did, stated he believed his book contained more plagiarism, asked to be told problems, received that info, and refused to read it. This is all on purpose.


I will update this post if anything substantial changes, e.g. if Dennis Hackethal stops being a plagiarist or helps investigate the DOS crime.


There's also a video where I watch and comment on Justin reading and commenting on this post.


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Weinstein vs. Veritas

Comments on podcast: The Portal 26: James O’Keefe: What is (and isn't) Journalism in the 21st century

i listened to Eric Weinstein spend 2 hours talking to James O’Keefe (of Project Veritas) and beat around the bush the whole time. (I listened in Overcast at 2.5x or 3x base speed for different parts, with SmartSpeed automatic silence removal adding an additional speed boost too).

lots of stuff was interesting in the small picture, locally interesting, but Weinstein was supposed to be sharing his disagreement and criticism. Which was basically:

i think what you’re doing is way less effective than it could and should be because my social circle sees your name and then irrationally ignores every fact associated with it.

he never quite said that clearly, and he never really got to step 2: what specific actions should O’Keefe do differently to avoid that problem? is that the fault of O’Keefe or the social circle? what downsides would the alternative actions have?

he brought up a few specifics: he’d like O’Keefe to pixelate more faces, leave out more names, and focus more on companies/organizations not individuals.

he thinks normal people, who aren’t the problem, are scared of veritas.

O’Keefe said how body language, facial expressions, and other details help paint a more vivid picture that communicates more to people

Weinstein mentioned briefly something about how O’Keefe could start milder and escalate. like do pixelated video, then if ppl don’t care enough, release non-pixelated. this struck me as just clueless about marketing. veritas has access to limited public attention and uses it well. can’t afford extra versions (except in appendixes for ppl who want extra details). can’t just lead with something 50% effective and then try to get more attention later when ppl don’t care.

Weinstein was extremely arrogant and kept talking himself up and how advanced and smart and shit he and his audience are. He was hard to listen to. I only put up with it because i liked listening to O'Keefe.

and that was pretty much it for 2 hours.

basically Weinstein just wants O’Keefe to somehow make stuff more acceptable to Weinstein’s (bad) social circle. and O’Keefe doesn’t know how to do that without ruining it, and Weinstein had no substantive suggestions, and the social circle has bad taste.

Weinstein seems to think that maybe if O’Keefe added more appendixes explaining the tough choices he makes, and how he worries over the right actions and the balance between informing the public and avoiding hurting anyone unnecessarily ... then that would make things better. i doubt it. i think Weinstein’s social circle would come up with other complaints and excuses if some of their current ones were changed. i think he’s friends with a bunch of elite social climbers and social climbers who want to be elite, and they are invested in The System (the powers that be; the status quo cultural leaders; the power of the mainstream media; the deep state; etc) that Veritas is a threat to. I think Weinstein himself is in a mixed, confused position of disliking The System in some significant ways but also having partial allegiance to it and being friends with lots of people involved with it. He’s just confused.

I knew almost zero about Weinstein going in, just that he's Intellectual Dark Web associated. Have followed O'Keefe and Veritas for a while and like them.


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