JustinCEO Topic

Continuing the discussion from MC studies more grammar (Peikoff course):

I went through Peikoff’s grammar course before and posted my notes and homework here. Thought you might find this useful.

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Continuing the discussion from What Kind of World Do We Live In?:

Based on the video, it sounded like the other person wasn’t understanding what was being asked and was falling back to a a generic response rather than admitting they didn’t understand the question. People can be really really bad at dealing with questions involving numbers on the fly.

I think the idea that the other person was falling back on a generic response sounds plausible. That makes me think of some other things that could be going on with the other person.

First, they might just be trying to avoid what they perceive to be a potential conflict. Sometimes people get upset when they get feedback and the manager might have perceived the back and forth discussion as the beginning of a negative escalation in the conversation. If the manager thought that they were upsetting the person in the video then they might have just wanted to end the discussion without resolution rather than get their employee upset with them.

Second, the other person might be pretty insecure, especially about their communication and managerial abilities. The generic responses could be coming from a feeling of imposter syndrome. They would rather just end discussion than show any of what they perceive as flaws in their competence as a manager.

Elliot’s recent articles on peer review (such as this one) got me thinking about an issue I came across once. I briefly reviewed submissions for publication for a journal at my law school once. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember us having to review a submission and give it some kind of score or rating regarding whether it should be published in the journal. The thing is, the submissions weren’t blind, and we were told explicitly to take into account the prestige of the author/the school they were affiliated with in determining our score. I found an old article from around the time I was in law school that talks about non-blind review and raises some concerns. I remember thinking even at the time that taking prestige into account seemed profoundly unmeritocratic and biased, that that the submissions should be blind. Here is a quote from the article:

Effectively, most student-run journals use a single-blind review method to decide*
whether to publish manuscripts that they receive. 1 Authors of submissions do not know the name of the article editor(s) who make(s) an initial decision about their submissions. However, the articles editors who read submissions to student run law journals almost always know the identity of the authors whose submissions they evaluate.’ Many authors submit cover letters or C.V.s along with manuscripts when they submit to student edited law journals, and student editors routinely review these documents side-by-side with manuscripts.’ 3 In this article, I term the practice of student jownals in reviewing manuscripts without masking the author’s identity as “non-blind review.”

Non-Blind Review and Bias
Despite its prevalence, the practice of non-blind review at student edited law journals causes several harms. Research suggests that non-blind review of journal submissions makes it harder for women and non-U.S. scholars to publish, leads to prestige bias that hurts younger scholars, and undermines the perceived fairness of the submission review process among authors. Non-blind review may also reduce readers’ confidence in the reliability of the journal.

It then goes on to discuss specific categories of potential bias.

Minor grammar issue:

Philosophy has an especially high amount of controversy – or in other words, it’s a field that people are especially bad at approaching objectively. Whereas they can approach math and the hard sciences more objectively.

I believe that “Whereas” is acting as a subordinating conjunction here. Therefore, the subordinate clause should not be on its own in a separate sentence. I suggest the following rewrite:

Philosophy has an especially high amount of controversy. In other words, it’s a field that people are especially bad at approaching objectively, whereas they can approach math and the hard sciences more objectively.

Continuing the discussion from Small Help Requests:

I was looking at your Peikoff course notes and found an error in your old blog on this page:

This error shows in Chrome and Firefox.

Thanks :slight_smile:
I’ve edited the page and just left the PDF link for now.
I turned my old blog into a static site cuz I didn’t want to update multiple sites anymore and the tool I used apparently broke some stuff. If you happen to see any other errors, feel free to let me know.

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In this video, Elliot describes “The Dropout” as being overly sympathetic to Holmes. I only have watched some of the first episode, but even from that, the amount of sympathy was striking. I went back to Elliot’s video to see if he’d commented on that, since I had forgotten if he, and sure enough, he did.

The main example of sympathy I noticed was that they go out of their way to portray her as an awkward nerdy girl. They show her failing at athletics when young, listening to music alone in her room and dancing awkwardly, and getting made fun of by a mean girl clique when she’s trying to take her studies seriously when spending time in China. My interpretation is that they want to portray her as smart in order to frame things as a tragedy - actually smart girl makes bad life choices. Another example of sympathy is they show her dad crying after he loses his job at Enron. I think they want to show her as having some sort of reasonable motive for being money-focused. I also think the writers may believe that people won’t want to watch a show that’s just about a terrible person being terrible.

They could have gone in an entirely different direction. They could have portrayed her as an intellectual mediocrity who lusts after money and power, and started with scenes showing her lying, being deceptive, manipulating people, but instead they gave us a sympathetic origin story first.

BTW I looked to see if I could find anything quickly about her intelligence and came across this article based on an interview with a psychiatrist who knew her (note: he wasn’t her psychiatrist, just a psychiatrist*):

3. When Asked Scientific Questions, Holmes Talked About Her Famous Ancestors

Fuisz has a dim view of her business and technical skills and views her as a con artist. As he said, “First of all, [Theranos’s] business makes no sense. Medical testing is not a profitable business and Theranos is selling tests at below-market prices. Also, the girl has no scientific education. She is not very intelligent. She is more con than substance. She was interested in ‘How do you con people?’ Not ‘How do you win with substance?’”

Fuisz argued that when questions were raised about her technical knowledge or business acumen she changed the subject to her illustrious ancestors. As he told me

With her family’s background – [her great, great grandfather, Christian R. Holmes, was a surgeon who had Cincinnati General Hospital named after him and married the daughter of Charles Fleischmann who founded the yeast company and was her great, great, great grandfather] – why is she so insecure? That family background was part of the con. She would be introduced and when questions were asked about her scientific knowledge or business acumen, these family members would be brought up.

Holmes’s con job clearly worked on [Donald L. Lucas, a very influential venture capitalist who helped her out]. As he said in the Berkeley interview

She had no background in business, and so it’s quite presumptuous for somebody to say, “I’m going to be president of the company.” But there’s an important distinction. That’s what I felt when I [first] met her. After spending a lot more time with her, I learned her great-grandfather was an entrepreneur and started Fleischmann’s – packaged yeast. It was very successful. So that was one side, that’s the entrepreneur side, but she was in the medical side. Ah! It turns out later, the hospital very near where they lived is named after her great uncle who was involved with medicine. So she came by both of the two talents necessary here, one medicine and the other entrepreneurship, quite naturally. You could just see it the way she handles things, the way she thinks.

More on Theranos, saw this on Wikipedia and was struck by the evasion of responsibility or acknowledgement of wrongdoing by Shultz (emphasis added):

In a 2019 media statement, Shultz praised his grandson for not having shrunk “from what he saw as his responsibility to the truth and patient safety, even when he felt personally threatened and believed that I had placed allegiance to the company over allegiance to higher values and our family. … Tyler navigated a very complex situation in ways that made me proud.”[68]

Imagine taking pride over a family member’s courageous stance against your enablement of fraud/lies/patient harm while sidestepping whether or not you enabled those things.

BTW if you click through for the full statement in the cited news article on Wikipedia, it says:

I have learned – from my experiences beginning in World War II, in private industry, and in the various public service positions I have been privileged to fill – that the people in the field are closest to the issues and are the best sources of wisdom whenever a problem arises. That was certainly the case here.

  1. Note how he brings up his WW2 service and career background, which is a topic change that reminds me of Holmes bringing up her ancestors.
  2. He apparently didn’t learn “that the people in the field are closest to the issues and are the best sources of wisdom”? Like, he failed to apply that lesson, so what is he talking about?

Continuing the discussion from MC studies more grammar (Peikoff course):

Can you define the difference?

How would you accurately judge the difference?

Do you think you might be motivated to view mistakes as more from “honest” mistakes than from carelessness? If so, how would you account for that potential bias when trying to determine which category an error was in?

Regarding “Italy owes a historic debt to her great sculptors.”, 1) you won’t find the verb “owe” in lists of linking verbs, 2) if “owes” is a linking verb, then “debt” would be the subject complement, but I think that clearly doesn’t make sense. “Debt” isn’t providing more information about “Italy”, it’s the thing Italy owes; compare the relationship there to, for example, “The sky is blue.”

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I judge it by if I write something that I feel uncertain or confused about vs something I don’t. If I have doubts over what I’ve written then I’m confused/guessing/acting on an idea which I have criticisms of.

Otherwise I have certainty and the error is a result of some mistake in knowledge or problem solving taking place. Maybe making mistakes in skimming. Maybe making mistakes in remembering what each word can be used as, which I think is not uncommon as I’ve never tried to study words seriously before so I approximately know a lot of words but don’t know their classifications without stopping to think about it.

I was thinking of the debt as a property of Italy like if you used “has” instead of “owes.” You might be right that “owes” is not a linking verb, it means more than “has” and establishes some sort of a relationship.

I don’t think I’ve come across a list of linking verbs before. I looked for some after your comment and found a bunch of different lists in different articles (they all seem to miss some things that other lists have.) Do you have a good list of them? Otherwise I’ll compile a list from the sources I found to have a more comprehensive list.

You skipped over my question “Can you define the difference?” without giving a yes or no. This is relevant, because then you proceeded to make what I think is an error based on an implied definition of what a careless guess is.

One definition of “careless” is “not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors.” You seem to be saying that you judge something to be a careless guess if you write something when you feel confused or uncertain. If I were to come up with a definition of a careless guess based on what you said, it might be “claiming something is true when one is uncertain or confused.” While ignoring warning signs like that reflects a type of carelessness, defining a careless guess in such a way defines it too narrowly, because it excludes other examples of careless guesses from the scope of what counts as a careless guess.

One important category of careless guesses is guesses resulting from using a bad method, or failing to use a good method, when one should have known better. Using a bad method would be an example of “not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors”, since if one had given the matter sufficient thought or attention, one would have not used the method. You said:

Looking for examples of concepts you are studying is a pretty well known method. Looking for lists of linking verbs is a case of looking for examples of a concept. It sounds like you failed to do that here before I suggested it. I would suggest that this failure was an example of carelessness, and that guesses which resulted from the failure would be careless guesses. (Another alternative is that you’re very new to learning things, but I don’t think you’re very young, so I don’t think that applies).

I think that mistakes “in knowledge or problem solving” could count as careless if they involve “not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors.”

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I like lists like this one because they group linking verbs together conceptually rather than just dumping them into a big disordered pile of a list:

Permanent linking verbs

  • be
  • become
  • seem

Sensory linking verbs

  • appear
  • feel
  • look
  • smell
  • sound
  • taste

Conditional linking verbs

  • act
  • constitute
  • come
  • equal
  • fall
  • get
  • go
  • grow
  • keep
  • prove
  • remain
  • stay
  • turn
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A post was merged into an existing topic: MC studies more grammar (Peikoff course)

I think your interpretation of my usage is accurate. This is the usage I intended when I wrote the project goal. This may have been a mistake and I may have unwittingly failed my project goal by setting it incorrectly.

Here is a very clear conclusion “goalpost”: If I am convinced that my usage of careless guesses listed here is too narrow and there are other forms of careless guesses which I made that it does not cover, I will concede that I failed my project goal.

To me you seem to be saying that every time someone uses a bad method that means they have not given it sufficient thought or attention. I don’t think this is true; I don’t think there is any amount of thought and attention that can result in never using a bad method.

I misspoke, I should have said “a complete list” rather than just “a list”. I had seen some lists before but didn’t know if you had one really good/definitive one.

It’s true that I did not check a list of linking verbs with my decision of how to class owes. I don’t think I remembered at the time that linking verbs are a very select list, and decided classification based on how I thought the word was being used.

I would agree that this kind of failure would be an example of carelessness and guesses resulting from it would be careless guesses. But that doesn’t mean that all errors that result from this failure would count as guesses. Errors in this situation could just be carelessness.

Agreed that they could count as careless, however this also does not connect to them being guesses.

I think there is a problem of diminishing returns in practising and it’s better to just do the practise with my best current ideas rather than doing a ton of extra study first to try for 100% every time, I do this knowing that I could give more thought or attention which might reduce my error rate. I would consider it an error to spend time doing extra study first to get more correct answers in an exercise, so I don’t consider this careless. Would you call this careless?

Continuing the discussion from MC studies more grammar (Peikoff course):

I think that’s an unreasonable interpretation. I don’t see a purpose to adopting that interpretation other than to dismiss/not engage with/rationalize hostility towards anonymous86. Anonymous86 complained about you showing “no interest in” engaging with what they said. I think they would have been fine with you showing some interest piecemeal. That might be the best approach anyways, since if you did a whole big reply at once you might go off the rails in some way, so it’d be better to try smaller chunks first and course correct as needed. They also complained about a lack of your appreciation for pointing out potential errors, which I thought was fair. Maybe go read their post again and try to look at it more objectively and less in a combative framework.

If you were disinterested in replying now, what would change later?

I think I figured out what’s going on here. You are interpreting anonymous86 as being needy for a detailed reply from you, really curious about what was going on in your reply, and so on. You’re viewing anonymous86’s posts from the perspective of a second-hander. But what anonymous86 was actually doing was offering some objective, dispassionate commentary on some bad stuff you were doing. You were causing a problem on the forum by being hostile and disengaged, and anonymous86 was calling it out. They weren’t actually “so interested” in your bad reply, per se (IMHO).

If you aren’t open to even trying out people’s suggestions from this forum, why are you posting your homework on this forum?

If you think spending time replying to stuff here is a roll of the dice, why pretend to be interested in participating in the forum?

Did you read what I wrote? I talked about trying to examine one example. I even emphasized the “one”. And you reply with “Do you think it’s reasonable to expect me to reply to everything someone says all at once?” (emphasis added). This is not engaging with the literal words I wrote. You are ignoring them. I’m not sure what the point of writing them is if you’re going to do that.

You’re now foisting your inappropriate and unreasonable interpretation of anonymous86’s words onto me as well. You want to pretend you’re being asked to make an unreasonable commitment of energy and time in order to rationalize disregarding criticism. This is irrational.


I was careful to include a qualifier with my statement, which is “when one should have known better.” You seem to be criticizing my statement as if those words were not present. If any use of a bad method resulted in careless guesses, then, given human fallibility, every guess might be a careless guess, since there could always be a better method one has yet failed to dsicover. That’s not what I was saying or implying.

This is one of the most important facts about them, especially for purposes of identification.

I think a failure to use reasonable methods is problematic. So is a failure to engage with criticism when errors are pointed out. You should correct all the errors you do or reasonably should know about. Failing to do that is wasting time and energy (and your life).

This is similar to the other thread where you tried to frame things as people asking you to do giant replies all at once in order to rationalize not replying at all. Here, you’re trying to rationalize using bad/broken methods by bringing up the specter of having to be some super studious striver who’s afraid to make a mistake. False dichotomy.