Austin LW Book Club - Reading Nominations & Voting

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Tim Zook

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Jun 2, 2021, 9:19:34 PMJun 2
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Hi all,

The Austin Less Wrong Book Club recently finished reading The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef, so it's now time to nominate and vote on the next book we will be reading.

For those who aren't familiar with the book club, every week we choose a section of a book to read that everyone can complete in one week and meet via Discord/Jitsi video chat to discuss the reading. It is a great way to motivate yourself to read books you otherwise would not have and to get a chance to discuss the ideas in the books at length with the other group members.

First we will have a 1 week period for everyone to submit nominations on what book we will read next. To nominate a book, just post a reply to this thread with your book nomination and a brief explanation of why you think it would be a good book for us to read. Next Wednesday (June 9th) I will compile all the nominations that have been submitted into a poll and we will vote on which one of the nominations we will read next.

I am nominating The Age of Em by Robin Hanson. It is a book that discusses the potential impact of digitized intelligence (mind uploads or AI) on economics, governance, and society in general. I have not read it yet but it has been recommended to me several times and I think it would generate some very interesting discussions.

Looking forward to reading a new book with you all!

~Tim

Maxwell Porter

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Jun 3, 2021, 3:06:59 AMJun 3
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Thanks Tim. I’m very down for Age of Em, but I also nominate Anarchy, State, and Utopia, by Robert Nozick. It’s a classic political philosophy book about the case for minimal government. I haven’t read it but have heard strong praise from several people. If you want to engage with the philosophy of anarchy I think this is the place to look. Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchy,_State,_and_Utopia

Max

On Jun 2, 2021, at 6:19 PM, Tim Zook <zook...@gmail.com> wrote:


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Alfred MacDonald

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Jun 7, 2021, 12:44:39 AMJun 7
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I'd like to second Anarchy State and Utopia. I've had it at 10% completion for a while and this would give me incentive to work on it.

Colton Lewis

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Jun 8, 2021, 12:32:40 AMJun 8
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I nominate Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Phillip Tetlock and What Intelligence Tests Miss by Keith Stanovich.

Rachel Haywire

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Jun 8, 2021, 1:36:55 AMJun 8
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Seconding Superforcasting nomination.

On Jun 8, 2021, at 12:32 AM, Colton Lewis <colton....@gmail.com> wrote:

I nominate Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Phillip Tetlock and What Intelligence Tests Miss by Keith Stanovich.

Alfred MacDonald

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Jun 8, 2021, 2:44:14 AMJun 8
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I don't know if I can second multiple suggestions, but I'm down for What Intelligence Tests Miss by Keith Stanovich also.

Adam Chalmers

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Jun 10, 2021, 5:22:21 PMJun 10
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I once again nominate Legal Systems Very Different From Ours. The SSC review describes it as written "by anarcho-capitalist/legal scholar/medieval history buff David Friedman, successfully combines the author’s three special interests into a whirlwind tour of exotic law." I think it will be mind-expanding to get some familiarity with different ways society can be set up, because I think our imagination is often too limited to 20th century history.

Examining different legal frameworks sounds boring, but if you think about the struggles we're facing today, none of them are particularly new -- disagreement about who has what kind of power and resources, or who has the right to make decisions, or what to do if someone has slandered your reputation -- and it might be enlightening to look how different societies have solved them. I suspect legal systems from some previous civilizations might work much better with today's technological landscape.

Patrick Westropp

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Jun 10, 2021, 5:27:29 PMJun 10
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Alfred MacDonald

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Jun 11, 2021, 6:45:16 AMJun 11
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I am also down for Legal Systems Very Different From Ours. I eyeballed the table of contents at http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Legal%20Systems/LegalSystemsContents.htm and it looks dank.

Tim Zook

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Jun 11, 2021, 10:22:34 AMJun 11
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Hi all,

Apologies for the delay in sending out this email, it was supposed to go out on wednesday but I had some issues with my email provider.

Nominations are in and voting can now begin! You can vote using the following link: https://strawpoll.com/qky2r8veq

The voting will close next Wednesday at 9am (6/16/2021). After that our first meeting to read the first section of the book will be the following Wednesday.

Looking forward to reading one of these books with you all!

~Tim

Adam Chalmers

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Jun 11, 2021, 10:48:58 AMJun 11
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Tim, is it possible to get my pick added to the poll? If not I'll wait till next book choice. 

Message has been deleted

Tim Zook

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Jun 11, 2021, 11:00:32 AMJun 11
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Hi Adam,

The email was created last Wednesday when nominations closed, which is why it doesn't include your book (it wasn't delivered to the mailing list due to some issues with my email provider, which is why I re-sent it this morning). Since votes have already been cast on the poll link I sent I'd have to make a new poll to add your entry which could potentially cause confusion, and I think encouraging people to stick to the stated deadlines is a good idea. I'd be willing to adjust this policy or make an exception in this case if at least 3 people think that would be best.

Thanks,
~Tim

William Kiely

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Jun 11, 2021, 12:15:08 PMJun 11
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I'd like to add and vote for Adam's pick, Legal Systems Very Different Than Ours.

On Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:59 AM Tim Zook <zook...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Adam,

The email was created last Wednesday when nominations closed, which is why it doesn't include your book (it wasn't delivered to the mailing list due to some issues with my email provider, which is why I re-sent it this morning). Since votes have already been cast on the poll link I sent I'd have to make a new poll to add your entry which could potentially cause confusion, and I think encouraging people to stick to the stated deadlines is a good idea. I'd be willing to adjust this policy or make an exception in this case if at least 3 people think that would be best.

Thanks,
~Tim

On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 9:59 AM Tim Zook <t...@zookatron.com> wrote:
Hi Adam,

The email was created last Wednesday when nominations closed, which is why it doesn't include your book (it wasn't delivered to the mailing list due to some issues with my email provider, which is why I re-sent it this morning). Since votes have already been cast on the poll link I sent I'd have to make a new poll to add your entry which could potentially cause confusion, and I think encouraging people to stick to the stated deadlines is a good idea. I'd be willing to adjust this policy or make an exception in this case if at least 3 people think that would be best.

Thanks,
~Tim

On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 9:48 AM Adam Chalmers <lewaa...@gmail.com> wrote:

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Colton Lewis

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Jun 11, 2021, 1:19:17 PMJun 11
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I would approve Adam’s pick. 

Colton Lewis

On Jun 11, 2021, at 11:15 AM, William Kiely <wjk...@gmail.com> wrote:



zook...@gmail.com

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Jun 11, 2021, 4:47:14 PMJun 11
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Hey guys,

To be clear, I have nothing wrong with Adam's book, Legal Systems Very Different Than Ours, I voted for this book last time it was nominated and would vote for it again. What was in question here was whether an exception should be made to the enforcement of the deadlines specified here. Please indicate clearly if you have an issue with the enforcement in this case.

Thanks,
~Tim

Colton Lewis

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Jun 11, 2021, 7:04:04 PMJun 11
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Nomination was one day late, and did come before the announcement that nominations were closed. 

I would make an exception. 

Colton Lewis

On Jun 11, 2021, at 3:47 PM, zook...@gmail.com <zook...@gmail.com> wrote:



Adam Chalmers

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Jun 11, 2021, 10:15:44 PMJun 11
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Sorry, I misread the closing date, no worries. I'll propose it again next time :)

Tim Zook

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Jun 16, 2021, 3:06:20 PMJun 16
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Hi all,

The voting for the next book club has resulted in a tie. The votes visible on StrawPoll.com show Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction at 7 votes and and Anarchy, State, and Utopia at 6 votes, however Jeff voted on Discord for Age of Em and Anarchy, State, and Utopia, saying he was unable to vote via StrawPoll.com due to it blocking his IP. Therefore both Superforecasting and Anarchy, State, and Utopia are tied at 7 votes. I've created a runoff poll to decide which of these we will be reading next, the voting will close this Saturday, June 19th: https://strawpoll.com/u47oe4bkr

~Tim

Colton Lewis

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Jun 16, 2021, 5:54:04 PMJun 16
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I'll make one last case for Superforecasting.

First, Jeff's vote to make it a tie was not expressed on Discord until
9:30 AM (though I recognize his inability to vote on strawpoll was)
when the email says the vote closes at 9 AM (which we all should have
understood to be Central Time). It missed the deadline. Counting his
vote is inconsistent with rejecting Adam's nomination of Legal Systems
Very Different From Ours for missing the deadline. Superforecasting
should have won uncontested. I'm aware this is nit picking, but the
point stands.
Second, this is the third time Superforecasting has been nominated.
The first time it also did very well and only lost a runoff vote
because Tim claimed he accidentally voted for the wrong thing. If it
loses in a runoff again, it feels like the people voting for it got
cheated.
Third, it is one of CFAR's recommended books and directly relevant to the group.

None of this is a big deal. I will abide by the runoff and happily
participate in discussion of either of these books, but wanted to make
my thoughts known.

Please vote Superforecasting.
> To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/austin-less-wrong/CAGYC5aUYxHLa3H8Qhcp07%3DuvHkMy_C3oF%2B16e8ySPmb_KyoAcg%40mail.gmail.com.

Tim Zook

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Jun 16, 2021, 7:21:46 PMJun 16
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Hi Colton,

I would be fine with excluding Jeff's votes because they were technically past the deadline I sent if that's what people want to do, I'm honestly not sure I understand what the consensus here is anymore. To be honest one of the major motivations I had for allowing it was because you had objected to me being strict about the deadline when Adams book was a day late for nomination, and I don't want to enforce rules excessively when it doesn't make sense. I thought it would make sense to be more lenient here considering the amount of time Jeff missed the deadline by was objectively tiny (30 minutes?) and also considering the fact that Jeff seems to have been blocked from the normal voting procedures, which was a circumstance that didn't apply in Adams case.

I'm not sure what to say about your insinuation that I lied about misclicking the wrong book when voting that one time. I will admit that my previous mistake was sloppy and that I should have just accepted it instead of trying to correct it after the fact, I didn't consider at the time that people would think that I was trying to be preferential about how I ran the voting procedures or something, it was foolish of me to stir up potential ill will over something so minor. It was never my intent to make anyone feel "cheated" and I'd be open to suggestions if anyone has thoughts on how to make the voting process more fair.

Thanks,
~Tim

Colton Lewis

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Jun 17, 2021, 12:38:24 AMJun 17
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Tim,

I think it will be moot anyway based on the current votes. Like I
said, my objection was nit picking and I am fine with either a loose
or a tight interpretation of deadlines, but please be consistent with
which you pick.

I did not intend to insinuate you lied that one time. Please don't
think I did. I am not complaining about book club generally and
appreciate your running it.
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Tim Zook

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Jun 17, 2021, 10:49:28 AMJun 17
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Hi Colton,

Since no one else has commented on this at all, I'll leave this particular decision as it stands. However in the future I'll try to be consistent about enforcing the deadlines as written. Everyone please try to be conscientious about submitting your votes before the absolute last minute if possible.

I'm genuinely confused how I'm supposed to interpret "Tim claimed he accidentally voted for the wrong thing" as anything but an implication that some sort of deliberate falsification is going on, but I'll leave it be.

~Tim

Colton Lewis

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Jun 17, 2021, 1:06:15 PMJun 17
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Sorry for using the word “claimed”. I can see how that could have cast doubt I didn’t mean to cast.

Colton Lewis

chanj...@gmail.com

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Jun 17, 2021, 1:51:09 PMJun 17
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One of these days I'll get around to writing a cryptographically secure anonymous polling platform that we can all use - with blockchain, and webhooks...

While I wouldn't suggest withdrawing the runoff poll now, since that would cause more confusion, I would've been okay with withdrawing my vote. In my opinion, avoiding any hint of motivated stopping/continuation is a valid reason to enforce a voting deadline strictly. I caveated my vote with "If it's not too late" because at the time I didn't know whether the deadline had passed - I saw that someone had linked to the poll in Discord and mentioned that the deadline was "this morning," but I didn't think to check back here to figure out the exact time.

Some tips I've learned from running surveys:
  • Assume that the survey could be linked from anywhere without context. For example, this survey's description reproduces the same text as the announcement email, and the title says "Fall 2020" so that people don't confuse it with other similar surveys that they may have in their browser history.
    • Recommendation: Indicate the poll deadline in the description.
  • If possible, use some technical means to enforce the deadline. After we did the Texas Freeze meetup, I shared a notes doc and asked that anyone who wanted make edits do so by a certain deadline (let's say it was 6 AM on March 3) so that their edits could make it into the LW article. I woke up at 7 AM, made a copy of the notes, and started compiling them into prose, a process which took about 2 hours. But after I posted the LW article I noticed that someone had added a bunch of stuff to the notes after 7 AM. That person's efforts were wasted because the fact that the doc was still editable gave the impression that I was still accepting edits, even though the stated deadline had passed. I could've avoided this by locking editing at 7 AM.
    • Recommendation: When creating a poll on strawpoll.com, you can click "Advanced settings" and set a deadline.
  • Prefer a later deadline over an earlier one, if nobody could've acted upon the results in the meantime anyway. For example, with the Fall 2020 meetup survey, the purpose was gather information to discuss in the meetup on November 7. Since the meetup is at 1:30 PM, it wouldn't have made sense to close the survey at 8 AM, because people who forgot about the survey until 9 AM would think that their contribution had been excluded unnecessarily.
    • (I'm not sure if this applies to book club surveys.)

Tim Zook

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Jun 18, 2021, 10:45:51 AMJun 18
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Thank you for the advice Jeff, I appreciate it. I was already considering using StrawPoll's deadline system, I will do so for future votes. I'll also experiment with using Google Forms for the nominations so we can do something similar there.

Thanks,
~Tim

Tim Zook

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Jun 19, 2021, 10:27:32 AMJun 19
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Hi all,

The votes are in and Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Phillip Tetlock will be the next book that we are reading together. Our first meeting reading the book will be next Wednesday, at 7:00PM CST on Wednesday, June 23rd. Everyone should read the first chapter of the book before then and we will discuss the first chapter together and discuss how much to read next. Looking forward to reading this new book with you all!

Thanks,
~Tim

Rachel Haywire

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Jun 23, 2021, 6:53:35 PMJun 23
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Hey there! Where is the link for this meeting?

On Jun 19, 2021, at 9:27 AM, Tim Zook <zook...@gmail.com> wrote:



alexander zavoluk

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Jun 23, 2021, 7:38:21 PMJun 23
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We meet on this Jitsi: https://meet.jit.si/AustinLWBookClub (Jisti doesn't seem to work on all browsers; I have trouble with firefox but it runs on chrome)

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