nacho's recent activity

  1. Comment on If correlation doesn’t imply causation, then what does? in ~science

    nacho
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    I think several of the premises of the Kalam cosmological argument are obviously and necessarily invalid. In philosophy, the way in which you abstractly recreate the world is much more important...

    I think several of the premises of the Kalam cosmological argument are obviously and necessarily invalid. In philosophy, the way in which you abstractly recreate the world is much more important than the subsequent logic.

    If the premises are wrong, the argumentation only holds true for a different world than our reality. That's a discussion for a different thread though!


    I think as a rule of thumb in daily life, a reasonable way to short-hand the difference between random correlation and possible/probable causation is the existence of a specific, plausible mechanism.

    That's the whole idea behind controlled, randomized experiments: attempting to find individual causal mechanisms by excluding all other explanations.


    I think the easiest way to refute Hume is by asking the most important question in philosophy:

    • So what?

    This question bridges the gap between theoretical philosophy and making decisions in one's life.

    The question also examines the easiest way to disprove a philosophical argument directly: If the philosophical argument necessitates a reality incompatible with our own, it's the philosophical argument that's wrong, not the observable, demonstrable reality we live in; the purported philosophical map is a wrong description of the terrain, the terrain isn't wrong.


    If Hume has come to an incredible point of insight, and we postulate that in fact causality is convenient fiction tying temporally sequential events together, so what?

    How does this change my life? If I can't prove that me pulling a trigger of a gun causes something to get shot, does it mean that the courts should let every murderer go free? how could a shooter possibly be morally culpable for firing if we can't prove cause and effect?

    In short, the Humean view of causality prevents a reasonable, functioning world, but we have that, so Hume must be wrong. (This is obviously a gross, gross simplification. Many philosophers have spent their whole lives demonstrably proving it to the best of their abilities.)


    The practical implication of correlation not implying causation in our lives is that when we are presented with a claim of causation, we should immediately ask what the mechanism is and whether it's possible, plausible or necessary.

    Essentially this is skepticism: If we don't know how, do we actually know?

    • By what mechanism(s) do essential oils supposedly work?
    • What mechanism(s) lead people deficient in vitamin D to supposedly get sicker from Covid-19?
    • What mechanisms cause global warming? Are any of these anthropomorphic? Oh, then climate change is anthropomorphic and we should do something about our emissions.

    Looking for a mechanism is an attempt at discerning result from reason in a correlation: Do kids who eat breakfast do better in school because they eat breakfast, or because breakfast-eating is a characteristic of children who come from homes/conditions that in other ways lead to doing better in school.


    Looking for causal mechanisms turns out to be a powerful tool for optimizing one's life irrespective of one's goals, so whether we can philosophically prove this is rational behavior, it's an effective short-hand in everyday life in any case.

    7 votes
  2. Comment on California will discourage students who are gifted at math in ~humanities

    nacho
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    I tested out of 3 years of math on enrollment into middle school. I wasn't an easy student in school. I cannot imagine how disruptive I would have been, bored, unchallenged and without work to...
    • Exemplary

    I tested out of 3 years of math on enrollment into middle school.

    I wasn't an easy student in school. I cannot imagine how disruptive I would have been, bored, unchallenged and without work to fill the time in class if I hadn't been allowed to skip ahead. Or if I'd been forced to slow down progression in the courses I was enrolled in during middle and high school rather than moving on.

    There was always plenty of time to help others with their homework, to attempt at teaching others things they didn't get and so on.


    This sort of system would have been a huge punishment. It would have been extremely disruptive to my learning. I wouldn't have stood a chance at developing good working habits when I'd always have finished homework in class, never would have had to pay attention to the lectures, would have learned that I could just horse around without consequence and so on. Socially, you aren't on the same footing as your peers if you're meant to teach/assist/aid them anyway.


    There would have been an economic punishment too. I started college with 7 quarters of maths and statistics completed. I graduated a semester earlier than otherwise just because of math courses. That's a lot of money and half a year of my life saved.

    It would have been extra unreasonable to be held back in math because of the knock-on effects. I wouldn't have had the math required to progress at the same rate in physics and chemistry, which in turn let me take 3 years of a tertiary language in high school with my same-age peers as a regular student in a regular class.


    Youth are allowed to excel in sports, music, theater, writing, programming, in getting (menial) work experience and a host of other fields. But society is scared of letting young people excel academically.

    Progressing faster than your peers academically, or systems that allow that is politically touchy. Saving years in school lets you get ahead in the workplace in ways that's extremely hard to catch up to, just like it's impossible to catch up to someone who's essentially become a musician extracurricularly.

    To many, that becomes an issue of creating an "elite" who are at an advantage for rising to various positions of power in society. Isn't that slight injection of meritocracy just a little better than family and connections that dominate more today?

    27 votes
  3. Comment on Rental companies buy up used cars as chip crisis gets worse in ~finance

    nacho
    Link Parent
    I don't deny that the lifetime emissions from electric vehicles are vastly better than for petrol cars. I have a car. It's already been produced, transported and needs to be decommissioned. My...

    I don't deny that the lifetime emissions from electric vehicles are vastly better than for petrol cars.

    I have a car. It's already been produced, transported and needs to be decommissioned. My choice is whether to continue driving this car, or swapping it out with an electric vehicle.

    On the margin, is it now better for me to continue driving this car, or to swap it out?


    My actual average fuel consumption from driving is 4.53 liters per 100 km over the last 50,000 kilometers I've driven. A liter of petrol emits 2,3 kilograms of carbon dioxide (I'm unsure whether that's CO2 equivalents or just the actual CO2. Sources give the same number without specifying).

    My actual direct CO2 emissions as I drive my existing car are 104,2 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

    You'll notice Vancouver's example (guessing there's lots and lots of idling, city driving etc. here) gets a fuel efficiency of only 253 grams of CO2 per kilometer and spend a whopping 10,9 liters of petrol to drive 100 kilometers.

    The predicted emissions from getting a new Mitsubishi i-MiEV from the paper you link estimating emissions to 203.0g CO2-eq/km given a vehicle lifetime of 150,000 kilometers.

    So Vancouver should obviously switch on the margin to save emissions. I expect that electric vehicles are way more environmentally friendly compared to gas vehicles in city-driving settings.

    The larger the vehicle you're driving, the more positive the environmental impact of driving electric (obviously).


    Things are more complicated with my more fuel efficient car and slow, long distance driving on bad roads.

    But first, Vancouver's example gets even worse. Their emissions are actually higher than they estimate for driving with gas! Depending on gas sourcing and different sources, I should be adding on the order of 30-50% extra emissions from production and transportation of a liter of gas.

    So my 104,2 grams of CO2 per kilometer should probably be closer to 150 grams.

    Mitsubishi i-MiEV from the paper you link estimating emissions to 203.0g CO2-eq/km.

    Do other factors bring me up to that level?


    On the margin, the answer doesn't seem obvious in all cases. Swapping out your small, fuel efficient car may not be the best decision environmentally.

    I was wrong with this being the case for all cars. I don't know whether things have changed with the development of better and better electric cars, or whether it's always been true.

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Rental companies buy up used cars as chip crisis gets worse in ~finance

    nacho
    Link Parent
    I always struggle finding research on when it's environmentally best to swap out an old car. What I'm left remembering (which could be totally wrong or outdated by now) is that it's almost always...

    I always struggle finding research on when it's environmentally best to swap out an old car.

    What I'm left remembering (which could be totally wrong or outdated by now) is that it's almost always most environmental to drive a car until it cannot drive any more. The energy costs of making and transporting a new car to its first use are so high. There's also something to be said for raw material use and waste.

    As I understand it, that goes for swapping out petrol or diesel cars with electric ones too. Drive it until it won't drive anymore.


    In that sense, chip shortage is probably great for the environment. Reducing consumption, especially of electronics (that all have a large environmental impact from production) probably makes a significant difference.

    Just like graphic card shortage due to extremely environmentally unfriendly cryptomining ironically has a good environmental impact on consumer consumption of graphic cards

    6 votes
  5. Comment on Is there anything considered pseudoscientific/unscientific that you suspect has some truth to it and might be re-examined in the future? in ~talk

    nacho
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    Not being facetious, but I think a lot of boring, common sense health trends will turn out to be way more important than we think for physical and mental health. The scientific support for many of...

    Not being facetious, but I think a lot of boring, common sense health trends will turn out to be way more important than we think for physical and mental health.

    The scientific support for many of these things is much less robust or the effects are smaller than I believe them to be. I think in part because they're boring, unsexy, unprofitable things to research.

    Things like:

    • being physically fit
    • daily exercise
    • not being overweight
    • balanced diets
    • eating few and high quality ingredient foods
    • eating more varied vegetables
    • challenging oneself mentally through problem solving
    • having good core strength and balance and flexibility
    • avoiding unnecessary medication/supplements
    • not sitting too much, sleeping enough
    • spending time with one's own thoughts without doing other things at the same time
    • Avoiding hormone-changing products
    • lowering stress and blood pressure

    Edit:

    I should add:

    • Avoiding alcohol
    • not ingesting cannabis and other strong psychoactive drugs
    • not vaping
    • not relying on other addictive substances, like large amounts of caffeine
    13 votes
  6. Comment on The grim secret of Nordic happiness – it's not hygge, the welfare state, or drinking. It's reasonable expectations in ~life

    nacho
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    If we were to simplify the success of the Nordic Model to a single factor, whether we measure the Model's purported success by happiness or other measures, I'd argue the answer is simpler and more...

    If we were to simplify the success of the Nordic Model to a single factor, whether we measure the Model's purported success by happiness or other measures, I'd argue the answer is simpler and more boring than what's usually reported.

    Obviously there are many factors at play that interact. cultural values, degree of trust in society, historical background, natural resources, historical population and demography at technological and cultural inflex points, and yes expectations.


    However, I'd argue that if we were to focus on only a single factor, that factor should be labor rights and the resulting valuation of labor in society.

    From the early 1900s a heterogenous Nordic setting of past mini-empires and nations without independence changed pretty homogeneously to social democracies with increasing general rights.

    Worker's rights like rights to vacation, minimum wages, employee representation on company boards, employee participation in a host of processes affecting the workplace, regulation against union-busting, against unfair employee sacking -- essentially all the qualities that in the 1940s led towards more modern social democracy.

    Businesses and public employers were forced to pay much more for each worker-hour, and crucially they were forced to include employee representatives in developing and innovating in the company. The result are strong mechanisms to invest in workers. To strive for efficiency and gradual improvement, to ensure that jobs are meaningful, that workers gain responsibility otherwise your running costs are too expensive, or your workers will strike hurting your company extensively.

    You can't just use people and then fire them, throw them away and replace them with new people with new skills. That's quite literally illegal. You need to ensure that your trash collector, your plant worker and your caregiver at a retirement home can be efficient employees worth at least the same wage as new workers for over 40 years from career start to retirement.


    What follows is a system where you visit a Nordic factory and meet a skilled worker who after 20 years in the job makes decisions only the chief engineer in a similar factory in Germany would be allowed to make. Hierarchy flattens, inequality lowers and everyone by necessity is invested in public services and systems for everyone work as well as possible.

    There are large costs of having this type of system. Opportunity costs, economic costs, personal costs and state restrictions imposed on everyone. You lose people who can move elsewhere to earn much more from peak skills.

    It's up to a democratic society to determine what costs and benefits they wish to balance in what amounts. Those are (political) value judgements without right or wrong answers, but legitimate preference decisions.

    By the numbers and things you can measure, this worker- and business union model of organizing society seems to work quite well. I think that's why large international companies almost universally seem to fight tooth and nail against union participation and generalized worker rights: Caring about workers means you'd have to optimize for more than the money-number on the bottom line.


    Tl,DR: Nordic people report being more happy because they are more happy because their workplaces have to give a shit about them. It doesn't hurt that everyone's in the same boat so the expectations are more realistic, but that's not the main thing.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on Cryptocurrency is an abject disaster in ~tech

    nacho
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    There is absolutely no reason why today's cryptocurrencies should be or will be the ones that may gain mainstream adoption in a decade. To the contrary, there are very specific reasons for why...

    There is absolutely no reason why today's cryptocurrencies should be or will be the ones that may gain mainstream adoption in a decade.

    To the contrary, there are very specific reasons for why both Bitcoin, Dogecoin and all the rest are worse at being currencies than almost any new cryptocurrency someone creates.

    Additionally, there's absolutely no reason we should believe that a decentralized cryptocurrency without the backing of a large, economic powerhose (be that country, company, consortium or whatever) will be able to out-compete the exact same technology that is backed by such an entity.

    I think your point is even more powerful though: Just because some people think blockchain technology can solve problems in the future that need solving, there's no real use of crypto today, except for buying drugs or doing other illegal things. Then the blockchain itself documenting all transactions permanently, well, I wouldn't want to use crypto for those things either.

    15 votes
  8. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    nacho
    Link Parent
    It's oh so worth it. The additional voiced content is incredible. The main voice actor is just, well I don't want to spoil it even though you know the story. It really elevated the game for me....

    It's oh so worth it. The additional voiced content is incredible.

    The main voice actor is just, well I don't want to spoil it even though you know the story. It really elevated the game for me. It's got an entirely new feel.

    6 votes
  9. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    nacho
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    I've been playing Disco Elysium. The voice acting and writing is incredible. It's an absolutely hilarious RPG centered around role playing the different parts/systems that make up the body of the...

    I've been playing Disco Elysium.

    The voice acting and writing is incredible. It's an absolutely hilarious RPG centered around role playing the different parts/systems that make up the body of the body of the protagonist.

    For me this is the front runner for the best game (fully released) in 2021. It's definitely in my top 3 of best written video games ever, if not the best.

    I cannot recommend this game enough.

    11 votes
  10. Comment on The US military will fully leave Afghanistan on September 11, twenty years after the 9/11 attacks in ~news

    nacho
    Link Parent
    When you say "we're leaving on the _____", essentially you've lost all bargaining power and all power to guarantee the results of any negotiations local parties agree to. Even if you just say "We...

    When you say "we're leaving on the _____", essentially you've lost all bargaining power and all power to guarantee the results of any negotiations local parties agree to.

    Even if you just say "We want to leave," that's essentially empowering those who want to fill the power vacuum after you leave without them giving up anything. They just have to do nothing and wait.


    I hope Afghanistan and the results of interventions in the Middle East after the turn of the millenium serve yet again to remind people that you can't swoop in and enforce democracy on a society that isn't used to that way of governance and expect good results.

    For a democracy to function, there needs to be a culture of democracy so you just don't get a tyranny of a small majority that eventually leads to dysfunction. Societies need to be build from the ground up, it's not about swooping in.

    7 votes
  11. Comment on Russia outlaws same-sex marriage and Trans people adoption in ~lgbt

    nacho
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    Living in a country that borders Russia, this was widely reported, both in the context of taking European attention off of Putin allowing himself further presidential terms recently. But also in...

    Living in a country that borders Russia, this was widely reported, both in the context of taking European attention off of Putin allowing himself further presidential terms recently.

    But also in the context of either trying to take international attention away from the increase in soldiers near/in Crimea or to try to avoid international attention on Russia's increasing bigotry due to focus on the Crimea-situation, depending on who you talk to.

    7 votes
  12. Comment on SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas argues for regulating large internet platforms as common carriers in ~tech

    nacho
    Link Parent
    If only the legislators would, you know, legislate so it wasn't up to the courts deciding this decades overdue based on (necessarily) old laws that didn't consider this. When laws are hundreds or...

    If only the legislators would, you know, legislate so it wasn't up to the courts deciding this decades overdue based on (necessarily) old laws that didn't consider this.

    When laws are hundreds or thousands of pages, they're almost always technology specific. As technology develops ever quicker, that in itself is a huge problem.


    I think it's very interesting Thomas is the author of the opinion. It seems almost written to get at public debate on the issue with language like this section:

    Though digital instead of physical, they are at bottom communications networks, and they “carry” information from
    one user to another. A traditional telephone company laid
    physical wires to create a network connecting people. Digital platforms lay information infrastructure that can be
    controlled in much the same way. And unlike newspapers,
    digital platforms hold themselves out as organizations that
    focus on distributing the speech of the broader public. Federal law dictates that companies cannot “be treated as the
    publisher or speaker” of information that they merely distribute. 110 Stat. 137, 47 U. S. C. §230(c).

    I have to say it's surprising that even someone as conservative as Thomas then immediately goes on to elaborate:

    The analogy to common carriers is even clearer for digital
    platforms that have dominant market share

    The ruling was surprisingly uplifting news for those of us in networking in various ways.

    5 votes
  13. Comment on Twitch will ban users for 'severe misconduct' that occurs away from its site in ~tech

    nacho
    Link Parent
    I think it's great and that it only makes sense to do. Most twitchers build their entire audience/platform off twitch and then branch out. If they then bully/abuse/ send their followers on or...

    I think it's great and that it only makes sense to do.

    Most twitchers build their entire audience/platform off twitch and then branch out. If they then bully/abuse/ send their followers on or otherwise do bad things with that audience they've built on twitch on a different platform they've branched out to, twitch needs to react.

    Otherwise twitch becomes a safe-haven for building mobs you can leverage elsewhere.


    In online streaming, like for every other public figure, deplatforming the worst folks isn't about what platform they're on, but not giving bad people a huge audience on your platform, irrespective of where you discover they're a bad person.

    13 votes
  14. Comment on I'm moving between apartments soon. Do you have any advice or protips on the logistics of moving? in ~life

    nacho
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    What stuff do I actually need? What items can I throw out before packing? What items do I have that are just memories? These Items I can just photograph, keep the images then throw out the images....

    What stuff do I actually need?

    • What items can I throw out before packing?
    • What items do I have that are just memories? These Items I can just photograph, keep the images then throw out the images.
    • What things do I think I use but don't? Pack out things as you actually use them to avoid filling storage space with clothes you never wear, and things you don't miss.
    • What things have you considered replacing for a while? A move is a good time to do those replacements.
    3 votes
  15. Comment on Megathread: April Fools' Day 2021 on the internet in ~misc

    nacho
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    The Norwegian Meteorological Institute have spent "many years" on a groundbreaking new weather-service. You can now pick your own weather. Just change the forecast from whatever it currently is to...

    The Norwegian Meteorological Institute have spent "many years" on a groundbreaking new weather-service. You can now pick your own weather. Just change the forecast from whatever it currently is to the weather you want. https://twitter.com/Meteorologene/status/1377497201706958850

    10 votes
  16. Comment on ‘Stories are chosen due to editorial merit’ and ‘newsworthy updates’ - BBC in ~news

    nacho
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    Playing devil's advocate (and strictly that), with a Prime Minister who's got an undisclosed amount of children with various other partners, who's got a documented history of affairs (including...

    Playing devil's advocate (and strictly that), with a Prime Minister who's got an undisclosed amount of children with various other partners, who's got a documented history of affairs (including reportedly the start of his relationship with his current partner while being married to the previous one), how newsworthy is yet another Johnson infidelity-complex?

    For pretty much every other head of government in the world this would be a much more important story for voters to know about and to be extensively covered.


    Even so, I'm fascinated by the UK electorate as a group and the Conservative party having managed to have this guy win elections consistently throughout his career.

    It's an extremely bad look for the BBC to be pulling punches in ways they obviously wouldn't be if this were someone from a different party. With such an important global news presence, it aids regimes who want this to seem like just another state-run media outlet, just like their authoritarian government's english language one.

    Fascinating story on a meta-media level.

    7 votes
  17. Comment on Could a Norway boycott of the Qatar World Cup change the future of football – football fans are asking leaders of the game difficult questions in ~sports

    nacho
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    The protests on this World Cup are more than a decade too late. It's like protesting someone building a skyscraper on the lot one over as they've gotten to the fifth floor. Granted, many of the...

    The protests on this World Cup are more than a decade too late. It's like protesting someone building a skyscraper on the lot one over as they've gotten to the fifth floor.

    Granted, many of the players protesting now were young children when it was decided that Qatar would get to host the cup. Most of the players who could have been held to account for this are long since retired. Most of the folks who awarded the cup are also long gone

    3 votes
  18. Comment on How to create a sudoku masterpiece in ~games

    nacho
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    In contrast to what's said in the video, I'd strongly recommend watching this creation video before watching the solve (which is an extremely entertaining video in itself) :...

    In contrast to what's said in the video, I'd strongly recommend watching this creation video before watching the solve (which is an extremely entertaining video in itself) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaFiPBjDZ6U

    That way, even if you aren't super experienced (or if you are) with how to solve these kinds of sudoku-variant puzzles, you can see how an expert solver gradually finds a unique feature that unravels a puzzle in a truly unique way even though they've done thousands of similar puzzles before.

    4 votes
  19. Comment on Weekly US politics news and updates thread - week of March 29 in ~news

    nacho
    Link Parent
    Or just have people submit US political news as stand-alone submissions whenever they please. The volume of contetnt is way down. I'd argue it never was a problem and needed these threads in the...

    Or just have people submit US political news as stand-alone submissions whenever they please.

    The volume of contetnt is way down. I'd argue it never was a problem and needed these threads in the first place, but now it surely stifles conversation more than it's a benefit.

    8 votes
  20. Comment on So ... The Expanse in ~tv

    nacho
    Link Parent
    You've put into words a lot of my thoughts on The Expanse here much better than I could. The plots just don't catch me. Seasons one, two and three were engaging. The seasons after just don't get...

    You've put into words a lot of my thoughts on The Expanse here much better than I could. The plots just don't catch me. Seasons one, two and three were engaging. The seasons after just don't get me on board. I think the show can be salvaged, but only if that happens in the start of the next season.

    (Season two of For All Mankind started out poorly. The last couple of episodes have been on par with much of season one as far as I'm concerned. It's the stuff regarding an alternate past and how that impacts society that's much more engaging to me than the specific astronauts/characters.)

    3 votes