Assorted links

by on November 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Favorite books of John van Reenan.

2. An OK Cupid profilee of a rationalist.

3. Markets in everything.

4. The ongoing commercialization of Mecca.

5. The cardboard wheelchair, and did the Portuguese reach Australia in the 16th century?

6. The Goethe auction.

7. Glowing roads in the Netherlands.

Butter November 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Epic Fail on the e-harmony profile. He’s over-signalling intelligence. There’s a good paper about how much to optimally signal, like when you have a PhD to put it on your business card or not. This guy is going around giving out business cards that read Prof. Dr. John Doe, PhD, MA, BA. He won’t be getting laid any time soon.

Tal November 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

His profile is probably very effective for aspergery girls who like reading the kinds of things that appear on LessWrong. Yudkowsky is basically a celebrity within a small niche of hyper-nerdy rationalists, so I doubt he has much trouble getting laid by girls in that community.

Dan Weber November 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Yep. It’s often better to do something that highly attracts a small portion of people than something that moderately attracts the majority of people and still end up alone. Even serial killers get fan mail.

AC November 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

You make it sound like a cult leader or something.

AC November 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

And reading the profile again with that lens, it actually makes a lot of sense.

wiki November 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm

He’s just signaling that his ideas aren’t worth taking seriously, but if you’re enough of a nerd, he’s a celebrity.

James November 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Here’s what he thinks when people say he’s a cult leader: http://lesswrong.com/lw/4d/youre_calling_who_a_cult_leader/

Eliezer Yudkowsky November 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

And here’s what I think when people object to my OKCupid profile: http://xkcd.com/137/

SI donor November 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

@Eliezer: So no cost-benefit analysis? I’m not advocating thoughtless conformism, just intelligently weighing your interests against the interests of the organization you work for.

Roy November 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

6. Yes, but the question is, did they make it back?

My understanding is that the swivel gun is not very likeley to be Portugese, it is more likely to have belonged to a Bugis ship, but the Mahogany Ship and the Geelong Keys are far more convincing evidence. What is very clear that there was intermittent contact between what is now Indonesia and Australia in the pre 1500 era.

JR November 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm

inre: Yudkowsky

Jesus bro, ease up on the profile. Especially on the orgasm denial fetish shit. I mean, drop it on date #1 so she knows what the deal is, but profile?

I read him and Hanson and now this has me straight trippin.

Sam November 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I was about to agree, but then come to think of it, I realize I have an orgasm denial fetish, too. It’s an aroused preference that never escaped to my non-aroused self-consciousness.

mobile November 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Orgasm denial? In my household we just call that by its old name: premature ejaculation.

Andreas Moser November 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I wish you would also devote a post to my OKcupid profile: http://www.okcupid.com/profile/smartandfunny6

msgkings November 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Not sure why, the only female who’d read it here is Claudia and she’s married, happily I think.

Claudia November 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm

msgkings, not true or relevant. There are other women who read the comments and weigh in too (see example below). While I try now to expend negative energy on why links appear…it’s an inbox barfing up bits…I feel confident that MR is not branching out into online dating. (Though MR, MRU, and MR-heart would be a “fun” combo pack). In contrast, I think this is the usual big joke all the way down to the comments. I doubt the main profile is more than 10% serious. Oh but is it rational? Solve for the (one-person) equilibrium…

Cliff November 6, 2012 at 1:18 am

I didn’t get that impression at all. There are jokes, but they are obvious. I’d say 90% serious.

Claudia November 6, 2012 at 7:15 am

It’s a profile on a dating website and he says at the end he’s not looking for a date. It’s one big joke. “Obvious” is in the eye of person who gets duped or wastes their time. I don’t care what he fantasizes about doing in his private time but disingenuous words in public tire me.

Happily we all have many dimensions. I had a lot of fun the Singularity conference last year. First time I ever heard Thiel say something I agreed with. So I can’t be too hard on an organizer.

Andreas Moser November 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Damn, I shouldn’t have done this. I am just getting a lot of visits from guys now. – And I would have sworn that MR is very popular among 25-35 year old hot chicks.

Norman Pfyster November 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Naw, that would just signal low-quality posts and fruity, overpriced cocktails.

j r November 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm

+1

Careless November 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

” The most private thing I’m willing to admit I might give you the link to my blog or to my Facebook Page.”

You MIGHT give someone the link to your blog?

The Original D November 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm

My feedback, as someone who’s had a lot of success with online dating:

Your intro is flat. Too many facts, not enough emotion. So what if you’re a lawyer? What’s more interesting is why you became a lawyer. But make it humorous

Drop all the links to your interests. They’re distracting.

Give one example of a politically interesting place you’ve been too and what you learned there. Use emotional words about how it made you feel rather than dry facts you learn (i.e. “the state censorship makes me very angry” vs. “their rubber-stamp parliament hinders progress”)

Drop the “lonely” reference about Friday night. Makes you look needy.

Leave out “(with me)” after “you like to travel” – again, makes you look needy. An successful man travels whenever and wherever he wants. He doesn’t wait for permissions from some girl he’s never met.

londenio November 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Is it just me, or do other people find some of this okcupid profiles a bit undignified?

Emily November 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Most of them aren’t like that one.

will November 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

yeah, most of them are a lot worse

Barnley November 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Re: Hobbes. I hope Van Neeman is aware of the glaring hole in the contractarian theory of the state which is pointed out in Anthony de Jasay’s “Self-contradictory contractarianism”. That is as De Jasay says “if contracts
require an enforcer, how could there be a social contract creating an enforcer without its enforcement being assured by a meta-enforcer created by a metasocial contract, and so on in an infinite regress”. So the contractarian theory of the state is both self-contradictory, contract can remedy the impossibility of contract, and circular as cooperation requires contract which requires cooperation.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 5:41 am

Hobbes should be read positively, not normatively. Just sayin’.

DocMerlin November 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

That doesn’t help.
Spooner should have put a nail in the coffin of the contract theory, but he was ignored, because… statists gonna’ state.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 8:22 am

Think of it as a game-theoretic equilibrium, not an actual agreement.

Barnley November 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

If we think of it in a game theoretic equilibrium what we know is that in the real world people rarely face single play prisoner’s dilemma games. They face repeated prisoner’s dilemmas which can change the equilibrium to one where cooperation can be sustained. See some of the arguments in this paper http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1324407

Saturos November 7, 2012 at 3:06 am

Yes, that’s probably why morality evolved. But we need states too. A two-person game is very different from a many-person game.

Barnley November 7, 2012 at 6:54 am

But we need states too.

Perhaps we do or perhaps we don’t. I tend to lean toward the latter. However, based on Hobbesian contractarianism you haven’t really made a convincing case as to why we do indeed need states have you now.

Saturos November 8, 2012 at 4:19 am
Saturos November 8, 2012 at 4:20 am

Also: Somalia. QED.

Barnley November 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm

What you mean to say is here is an argument I agree with. While I haven’t had time to go through it thoroughly it seems like just a restatement of Hobbessian arguments (which we know are circular). What we know historically is that property rights and contract enforcement precede the state.

How does Somalia prove your point?

LB November 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I’m curious about Tyler’s intent in posting #2. I will grant Tyler that it is interesting. But he must know how it will come off to most people. Is he trying to discredit Eliezer? Or, given the link’s description, is this some sort of a smear on rationalists?

I find the profile distasteful, but it can be advantageous to remain ignorant about certain people’s personal lives. It can be hard to purge these sorts of irrelevant details from your judgment of someone’s ideas.

Emily November 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Why do you think it’s irrelevant? Whether you think it’s acceptable to have a public profile of yourself up where you talk about your sexual fetishes is an idea. Do you think it’s unrelated to his other ideas?

LB November 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm

It seems unlikely to me that Eliezer is trying to make a social statement with this. Even if he is, whatever statement he is making is almost certainly less interesting what he normally talks about.

You raise an interesting point: there may be circumstances where, e.g., leading a radical life is the best way to convey one’s ideas about how to live. I don’t have demarcation criteria but I think those cases are pretty rare.

Emily November 5, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I’m not saying that he’s trying to make a statement with this, I’m saying that he is making a statement about this whether he’s trying to or not. Ideas have consequences for how we live our lives, and that Eliezer has a public, identifiable profile up where he talks about his sexual fetishes is not some sort of randomly occurring event with no relationship to his other ideas.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 5:40 am

Or maybe he predicted this response from people like you, and finds that amusing…

LB November 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Maybe. But the post also has the first-order effect of making Eliezer look bad to lots of people. This effect was either intended or intentionally ignored.

Norman November 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Don’t remember who and on what blog’s comments said this: “Eliezer Yudkowsky, Harlem Globetrotters of intellectuals”. Still think it’s the very best description of the guy.

Eliezer Yudkowsky November 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

FYI: 382 people have visited my OKCupid profile so far, running about 20-to-1 male-to-female, and none of the latter that I saw were from the SF Bay Area, so I’m not hoping too strongly for any dates from this. Oddly enough, a disproportionate number of those women seem to be from the Chicago area – I have no idea why this might be, but am posting it anyway because it’s true. (Small sample size, don’t draw overly strong conclusions.)

So the moral is: If you get your OKCupid profile featured on Marginal Revolution, try to be female; and failing that, at least try to live in Chicago.

Can I get a link to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality at some point? It’s even more interesting than my OKCupid profile.

TGGP November 5, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Oddly enough, the Chicago LW scene seems to punch far below the city’s population-weight.

SI donor November 6, 2012 at 2:37 am

So what purpose, exactly, does having a publicly available dating profile with lots of incriminating-by-mainstream-standards stuff on it serve for someone who is trying to popularize some already-very-wacky ideas? Especially given that your “polyamory dance card is mostly full at the moment”.

The cost-benefit analysis is pretty clear to me, here…

BTW, this seems like an exemplar of a larger trend of the Singularity Institute and its staffers being terrible at PR. See also: http://lesswrong.com/lw/2l8/existential_risk_and_public_relations/ Come on, guys! Consequentialism!

The Original D November 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Having a full dance card signals scarcity, which counter-intuitively is more attractive to women.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 5:36 am

It’s even more interesting than my OKCupid profile.

It is indeed. (Update, please!)

src November 6, 2012 at 6:55 am

Haven’t you noticed your affinity for Chicago ladies by now?

Eliezer Yudkowsky November 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Fair point.

So Much For Subtlety November 6, 2012 at 1:55 am

Who the Hell cheats to become a Rabbi? I mean, forget why you would even want to. Consider the bigger picture. You’re not fooling anyone you know. In particular you’re not fooling the Big Guy. Who, you know, will know, or at least a belief He will know seems to be a pre-requisite for the job. Actually even for just wanting the job. Who wants to be a Rabbi but isn’t afraid of pissing Him off?

DocMerlin November 6, 2012 at 7:22 am

How many reformed Rabbi actually believe in God? I have met some who do not.

IVV November 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

A priesthood grants a special cachet, reputation, prestige, and temporal power within a religious community. I could easily imagine someone wanting access to the hearts and minds of others without a belief in the religion they hold.

Mark Thorson November 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

You get to put it on your OK Cupid profile.

vt November 6, 2012 at 2:29 am

7. I’ve seen glowing road markings in France ten years ago. Not on the highway, but on regular roads. I figured they were supposed to be a cost-reduction invention as the roads lacked any illumination – the road is lighting up in front of you from your own lights. I was wondering why they’re not used more extensively as they’re pretty awesome.

liberalarts November 6, 2012 at 7:09 am

The Goethe Auction link is super interesting…but it does not tell what the response from Goethe’s publisher was? Did the publisher bid or refuse to play Goethe’s game? Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 8:39 am

Goethe’s scheme doesn’t seem as good as a second-price auction. A lot depends on what Goethe chooses to ask. Doesn’t he want to accept bids that are lower than what he expects the full value to be? Even if not, he still doesn’t want to put that expected value too high, doesn’t want to exclude too many bids. So doesn’t the publisher simply guess the highest price that Goethe would be willing to risk offering, and bid no higher than that?

gwern November 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Read the PDF in the link; Goethe’s agent betrayed him and told the publisher what the price was, so the publisher paid the minimum (and made beaucoup $$$ off the poem). Goethe did much better years later when auctioning off his complete works – the winning publisher didn’t turn a profit for years/decades.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

“I’m a great fan of Bach’s music, and believe that it’s best rendered as techno electronica with heavy thumping beats, the way Bach intended.”

His mind is truly beyond my ken.

Saturos November 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

What’s the consensus view on Freeman and Medoff (cited by Van Reenen)?

Urso November 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

On the glowing roads: “Roosegaarde says this technology has been around for years, on things like baby food.”

Remind me never to buy any Dutch baby food.

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