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See also[edit]

RationalWiki talk:What is going on in the blogosphere?#LessWrong_on_PZ - David Gerard (talk) 19:38, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

what the hell[edit]

A comment that truly blew my mind:

They are pulling in ~ 500 000 $ per year, and they did not have a bookkeeper. I did not even know that was permissible, especially how much of the spendings are flying around n renting talk spaces. Dmytry (talk) 21:04, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

You would be amazed how inept a nonprofit can actually be. Most are - as I noted in the blog post I linked above, this level of inept is actually normal - David Gerard (talk) 22:32, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
It is not normal to start a nonprofit and receive money into it (500k/year), though. The pathologies leading up to such are much more common than genuine reasons for starting a nonprofit, subsequently the pathologies are the norm for non-profits; but it is pathologies nonetheless. It is utterly pathological to process 500 grand a year of other people's money without an accountant. Only very small fraction of money gets processed like this. Dmytry (talk) 13:15, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
It's probably true that many nonprofits are incompetent. I think Luke Muehlhauser was a godsend (or singularity-send) from the point of view of Yudkowsky.--Baloney Detection (talk) 21:05, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
The main post also contains a note of how two former SIAI amployees stole 118,000 dollars. I don't know how much I would hold it against them, embezzlement is supposedly the most common crime in churches and if I'm not mistaken it happened to American Atheists too. It seems to happen to everyone more or less.--Baloney Detection (talk) 21:02, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
It's worryingly common. This LW thread sets out the problem quite accurately IME - charities tend to be a trusting lot, and will tend to be penalised for coming clean and admitting they've been embezzled (everyone will berate them after the fact for not checking better), so there are people who serially steal from charities (and it looks like SIAI got one of those). Happened to another charity I'm somewhere near recently too, and it was much the same sort of thing - David Gerard (talk) 19:43, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
As I wrote, I don't hold it against them in particular. I'm not suprised if charities (and religious congregations) are trusting of their administrators. If you are active in a charity, you are likely passionate about what the charity is doing, and probably assume likewise about others in the charity. Speaking of charities, what kind of rules are there to be considered a charity? Can I start an organization dong what-the-heck-anything and still be considered a charity, as long as I'm not running it as a business (seems to be a thin line, since many charities do indeed sell stuff)? What charitable work is the SIAI doing, for instance? Anyone who seriously thinks they are saving humanity needs a mental check.--Baloney Detection (talk) 21:01, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
It's pretty long-winded in the US but 501(c)3 status is not actually hard as such. I would guess they set up as a scientific or educational research charity - take money, spend it on research of some kind (the crucial to the human race question of how to get Bayesian angels dancing on the head of a pin), show that you're pretty much spending the money on what you said you would - but I'm not sufficiently motivated to go look up their forms. Note that you can easily set up a charity to spend money on sincere foolishness - David Gerard (talk) 21:28, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Well, sincerity is easy by omission... one has to expend effort to make nonsense that will get people to donate, and then one has to expend extra unnecessary effort to know for sure that it is nonsense and thus be insincere. Dmytry (talk) 15:24, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

"What, If Anything, Can Skeptics Say About Science?"[edit]

Daniel Loxton wrote a great blogpost on the subject. I think it is valid, it's what I try to follow when posting about anything on the Internet.

It's a real pity that Yudkowsky in particular and the LW community in general don't seem to heed this piece of advice very much, if at all.--Baloney Detection (talk) 19:58, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

Good post. I do find the self proclaimed 'sceptics' rather pathetic. Every one can say something witty about homoeopathy, but then run into that japanese magnetic cryonics tooth study, and say, hey, that looks interesting, unable to even put the 0.01 mT on an everyday scale from Earth magnetic field to a fridge magnet and put into the 'magic water' group, right next to homoeopathy and water magnetizers. You always have those people who go on and on about all the woo that they don't believe in, making a big deal out of it, making themselves believe they have the wits to separate woo from truth, except, alas, they can't do that even in most trivial of cases, which shows once they forget their place. Dmytry (talk) 07:05, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
I disagree with you on skeptics. Alt-medders do real harm, and it's not wrong to specialize so to speak in a single area (like some do with creationists, some with psychics and so on). My experience is that most skeptics, at least those who have spoken on it, view cryonics as a fraud. Quackwatch does, as do Shermer and deGrasse Tyson (the latter being scolded on LW for it). It is just frustrating that certain people seem unable to see that the Yudkowskian enterprise leaps out as premium Internet crackpottery. A guy who writes a lot on complicated issues about which he is clueless.--Baloney Detection (talk) 18:39, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Not completely unaware[edit]

Shit Rationalists Say - David Gerard (talk) 23:20, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

I don't really get why anyone would want to be a rationalist. I'd much rather want to be an empiricist. These terms do have historical roots, but presumably a knowledge of history isn't a virtue for a Rationalist. I can understand the general criticism that RW is snarky, but that's not just to LW, that's to everyone. I'd very much like to see how a more proper skeptical resource, say the Skeptic's Dictionary, would take on LW. For a starter, SD isn't friendly to cryonics: --Baloney Detection (talk) 17:12, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
(Claimed) neuroscientist on LessWrong goes what the hell are you people on about with this freezing brains rubbish. Extensive thread follows in which he goes "no really, you're fucked, this is actually ludicrous." It's anonymous and I don't know enough to write it up, but wow, if he's on the money he makes our cryonics article actually look startlingly optimistic - David Gerard (talk) 17:46, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Cryonics is ludicrious, that's not just his view, it's the mainstream view in medicine. Shermer wrote a good piece about it ( ) and QuackWatch considers it to be, well, quackery: --Baloney Detection (talk) 17:53, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
"Ludicrous" just means that we haven't figured out how to do a good brain cryopreservation yet, not that no one can do it, ever, because it somehow violates the principles of physics. Refer to: “Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification” (a peer-reviewed scientific paper): “Microscopic examination showed severe damage in frozen–thawed slices, but generally good to excellent ultrastructural and histological preservation after vitrification. Our results provide the first demonstration that both the viability and the structure of mature organized, complex neural networks can be well preserved by vitrification. These results may assist neuropsychiatric drug evaluation and development and the transplantation of integrated brain regions to correct brain disease or injury.” You might also refer to MIT neuroscientist Sebastian Seung's assessment of viable brain cryopreservation. He defends it as a feasible area of research in his popular book Connectome:,,,, Advancedatheist (talk) 15:42, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Please assume that we've all read that and wrote cryonics. What you've done there is conflate "the possibility of some sort of cryogenic preservation does not defy physics" with "what cryonicists do in 2012 preserves the information." BTW, mere peer review is the lowest level of being taken seriously. You have been following the discussions on LW of late, right? - David Gerard (talk) 20:31, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Any source for libertarianism to be "non-mindkilling"?[edit]

"Libertarian politics are of course the neutral baseline, it's other politics that are mindkilling."

Is there actually a source for that claim? I know Yudkowsky is a libertarian, and if I'm not mistaken one of their surveys showed that libertarianism was the most popular political ideology at LW (though falling short of being the ideology of choice for the majority). There was also someone at Poe News writing that their recommended voting was always "vote libertarian", but without any reference.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is indeed the case (transhumanism is rife with libertarians), but I'd like to see some source. If it is the case, then the source should be added for reference on the page.--Baloney Detection (talk) 19:19, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Personal opinion after long observation. Libertarian politics seems to be the accepted baseline and hardly even "politics" for purposes of invoking the "mindkilling" meme, whereas any other politics is "politics" hence "mindkilling" - David Gerard (talk) 19:36, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Ironically, that's a rather good example of the Marxist definition of ideology. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 19:46, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
The whole point of creating mindkilledness meme is to be mindkilled when its about your politics. Calling the SI bad names on LW brings less downvotes than disagreeing with the privileged white male in a rich country 's libertarianism, which as far as libertarianisms go is incredibly optimistic and extreme. The ultimate libertarianism is the dictatorship: people are free to establish one and people in power are free to oppress others, with only private police (aka bribing) in the way.Dmytry (talk) 19:54, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Oh, I had no idea about libertarianism being more of a pet issue than singularitarianism. Seems possible though, as most people there are white collar, American young males (IIRC according to one of their surveys the amount of females there is less than 10%!), in addition to how libertarians often like transhumanism (presumably they think technology will eliminate government). I agree that libertarianism is an incredibly naive ideology. Fortunately it seems to be virtually unheard of outside of the US and to a lesser extent Canada (though to be fair libertarianism seems rather fringe in the US too). Libertarians are often guilty of ignoring real world data.--Baloney Detection (talk) 19:29, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
My firmest memory of Libertarians happened in high school. I had a libertarian history teacher who would preach to us about it in class. I remember asking him, if no one paid taxes, who would pay him? He didn't really have an answer. ±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRlongissimus non legeri 19:43, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
The free market, duh. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 20:05, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Here is a pretty good show on the connection between libertarianism and transhumanism, featuring no less than Yudkowsky's main financial benefactor: No Death, No Taxes: The libertarian futurism of a Silicon Valley billionaire.--Baloney Detection (talk) 21:19, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Ah, thanks. I was trying to find that for the transhumanism article. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 01:12, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Maybe LW is to libertarianism like conservapedia is to conservatism. Also, it's funny how the libertarians there would rather love to have some strong government that could regulate AI, and want basically totalitarian, even if benevolent, rule of FAI, rather than free market between AIs and human worth being set by market price. Typical incoherence of beliefs. BTW, awesome link on the Thiel. Sheds some light as of why it came to be that he is funding this crap. I hope it won't be like Greg Egan's zendegi, with him leaving billions to SI which then proceeds to turn to waste human effort on an ultra long shot possibility that one of dumb ideas by the idea guys can be made into something worthwhile. Dmytry (talk) 21:16, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

If I'm not mistaken, Yudkowsky's political philosophy is libertarianism until friendly AI takes over. And yeah, I think that transhumanism would generally work against libertarianism. There must be some need to regulate all of these hypothetical technologies. Perhaps I'm missing something.--Baloney Detection (talk) 20:53, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Anywhere that seasteading is not immediately laughed out of the room is libertoonian la-la land. EY notes a "large overlap in the communities". You will be unsurprised to hear that Peter Thiel is also a fan of seasteading.) - David Gerard (talk) 12:56, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I literally laughed out loud about seasteading and cryonics combination. I must say tough seasteading has certain allure in form of $$$ making: you can have Chinese/Indian workers build real estate near US, and the wage gap is pretty damn big. The funny thing about libertarians is that any time they try to build anything outside comfortable realm of regulation, they get screwed out of their money. Dmytry (talk) 12:41, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Maybe I am just a dirty socialist, but if anything I find libertarianism to be one of the most 'mindkilling' philosophies of them all, next to the total opposite end of the spectrum of very strict authoritarianism. Both philosophies encourage one not to use one's brain. For very strict authoritarianism, it's 'shut up and don't think but listen to what we tell you because this is the reality we define for you.' For libertarianism I find it's often 'we don't have to figure out problems, so long as I am fine the rest of the world can burn.' There's very few cooperative strategies and solutions in the political mindset that don't involve paying somebody else who can do things for you so you don't have to. I don't know if they realize this but unifying a country is simply not EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF, it involves compromise and problem-solving. Both of which a SCREW YOU I MAKE MY OWN RULES YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO mindset don't seem to me to be very good at. ±Knightoftldrsig.pngKnightOfTL;DRgoing galt: the literal crazy train 13:03, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
If you're ever experiencing excess joie de vivre, look up seasteading on OKCupid - David Gerard (talk) 20:06, 31 July 2012 (UTC)