3256Joined May 2015


Somehow I never thought about it that way.  Point conceded.

The analogy survives and if anything becomes more meaningful, but is now harder to explain to a general audience:  After training humans exclusively on inclusive genetic fitness, with a correlation in the outer environment to high-calorie foods, humans ended up preferring something that didn't exist in the ancestral environment, lacks correlations to micronutrients that were reliably in ample supply in the ancestral environment and didn't need to be optimized over, has some resemblance to things that were important/scarce like the taste of sugar and salt and fat (if the sugar hasn't been replaced with allulose), but where it ultimately depends on properties like "the ice cream is cold rather than melted" that don't match to anything obvious at a surface glance about the ancestral environment; and on the whole, the thing that starts to max out human tastebuds seems almost impossible to have called in advance by any simple means.

If you want the old form of the analogy, "male humans scrolling Tumblr porn" works (2D images not present in ancestral environment, Coolidge effect superstimulated).  Hopefully I or somebody can think of a more general-audiences-friendly transparent example of a superstimulus than that one.

FYI:  IIRC/IIUC, Bryk is the one who made up the thing about my having a harem of submissive mathematicians whom I called my "math pets".   This is false; people sufficiently connected within the community will know that it is false, not least since it'd be widely known and I wouldn't have denied it if it were true.  I am not sure what to do about it simply, if someone's own epistemic location is such that my statements there are unknowable to them as being true.

It is known to me that Bryk has gone on repeating the "math pets" allegation, including to journalists, long after it should've been clear to her that it was not true.

My own understanding of proper procedure subsequent to this would be to treat Bryk as somebody having made a known false allegation, especially since I don't know of any corresponding later-verified/known-true allegations that she was first to bring forth; and that this implies we ought to cross everything alleged by Bryk off any such lists, unless there's independent witnesses for it, in which case we can consider those witnesses and also reconsider the future degree to which Bryk ought to (not) be considered as an evidential source.

(If I am recalling correctly that Jax started the "math pets" thing.)

IIRC, Jax is Bryk is the one who made up the "math pets" allegation against me, which hopefully everyone knows to be false.  I don't know anything about the state of the rest of the allegations against Michael, but if I'm recalling correctly that Jax is that particular known-false-accuser, we probably want to subtract anything from Jax and then evaluate the rest of the list.

The usual argument, which I think is entirely valid, and has been delivered by famouser and more famously reputable people if you don't want to trust me about it, was named the "Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect" by Richard Feynman.  Find something that you are really, truly an expert on.  Find an article in TIME Magazine about it.  Really take note of everything they get wrong.  Try finding somebody who isn't an expert and see what their takeaways from the article were - what picture of reality they derive without your own expertise to guide them in interpretation.

Then go find what you think is a pretty average blog post by an Internet expert on the same topic.

It is, alas, not something you can condense into a single webpage, because everybody has their own area of really solid expertise, even if it's something like "the history of Star Trek TOS" because their day job doesn't lead them into the same level of enthusiasm.  Maybe somebody should put together a set of three comparisons like that, from three different fields - but then the skeptics could worry it was all cherry-picked unusual bad examples, even if it hadn't been.

I will note that I do think that the great scientists of recent past generations have earned more of our respect than internationally famous journalistic publications, and those scientists did not speak kindly of their coverage of science - and that was before the era of clickbait, back when the likes of the New York Times kept to notably higher editorial standards.

I think you can talk to any famous respectable person in private, and ask them if there should be a great burden of skepticism about insinuating that a "major international publication" like TIME Magazine might be skewing the truth the way that Aella describes, and the famous respectable person (if they are willing to answer you at all) will tell you that you should not hold that much trust towards TIME Magazine.

I'd absolutely bring the same kind of skepticism.  I would refuse to read a TIME expose of supposed abuses within LDS, because I would expect it to take way too much work to figure out what kind of remote reality would lie behind the epstemic abuses that I'd expect TIME (or the New York Times or whoever) would devise.  If I thought I needed to know about it, I would poke around online until I found an essay written by somebody who sounded careful and evenhanded and didn't use language like journalists use, and there would then be a possibility that I was reading something with a near enough relation to reality that I could end up closer to the truth after having tried to do my own mental corrections.

I want to be very clear that this is not my condescending advice to Other People who I think are stupider than I am.  I think that I am not able to read coverage in the New York Times and successfully update in a more truthward direction, after compensating for what I think their biasing procedures are.  I think I just can't figure out the truth from that.  I don't think I'm that smart.  I avoid clicking through, and if it's an important matter I try to find a writeup elsewhere instead.

I've had worse experiences with coverage from professional journalists than I have from random bloggers.  My standard reply to a journalist who contacts me by email is "If you have something you actually want to know or understand, I will answer off-the-record; I am not providing any on-the-record quotes after past bad experiences."  Few ever follow up with actual questions.

A sincere-seeming online person with a blog can, any time they choose to, quote you accurately and in context, talk about the nuance, and just generally be truthful.  Professional journalists exist in a much stranger context that would require much longer than this comment to describe.

I mean the human tendency, not the EA tendency.  TIME does it because it's effective on their usual audience.  EAs, evidently, have not risen above that.

If you think there's an actual problem, I think the correct avenue is doing a real investigation and a real writeup.  Trying to "steelman" a media version of it, that is going to be incredibly and deliberately warped, adversarially targeted at exploiting the audience's underestimate of its warping by experienced adversaries, strikes me as a very wrong move.  And it's just legit hard to convey how very wrong of a move it is, if you've never been the subject of that kind of media misrepresentation in your personal direct experience, because you really do underestimate how bad it is until then.  Aella did.  I did.

I also attest that Aella is, if anything, severely underconveying the extent to which this central thesis is true.   It's really really hard to convey until you've lived that experience yourself.  I also don't know how to convey this to people who haven't lived through it.  My experience was also of having been warned about it, but not having integrated the warnings or really actually understood how bad the misrepresentation actually was in practice, until I lived through it. 

Trying to "steelman" the work of an experienced adversary who relies on, and is exploiting, your tendency to undercompensate and not realize how distorted these things actually are - which is the practical, hard-earned knowledge that Aella is trying to propagate - seems like a mistake.

(Actually, trying to "steelman" is a mistake in general and you should focus on passing Ideological Turing Tests instead, but that's a much longer conversation.)

Numerous people on rationalityTwitter called it way before Feb 20th, and some of those bought put options and made big profits.  This must be some interesting new take on "rational expectations".   https://twitter.com/ESYudkowsky/status/1229529150098046976?s=20&t=IGOl9Mzj1FYtcPYd1F52AQ

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