Will Newsome has suggested that I repost my tweets to LessWrong. With some trepidation, and after going through my tweets and categorizing them, I picked the ones that seemed the most rationality-oriented. I held some in reserve to keep the post short; those could be posted later in a separate post or in the comments here. I'd be happy to expand on anything here that requires clarity.
- Test your hypothesis on simple cases.
- Forming your own opinion is no more necessary than building your own furniture.
- The map is not the territory.
- Thoughts about useless things are not necessarily useless thoughts.
- One of the successes of the Enlightenment is the distinction between beliefs and preferences.
- One of the failures of the Enlightenment is the failure to distinguish whether this distinction is a belief or a preference.
- Not all entities comply with attempts to reason formally about them. For instance, a human who feels insulted may bite you.
- The best people enter fields that accurately measure their quality. Fields that measure quality poorly attract low quality.
- It is not unvirtuous to say that a set is nonempty without having any members of the set in mind.
- If one person makes multiple claims, this introduces a positive correlation between the claims.
- We seek a model of reality that is accurate even at the expense of flattery.
- It is no kindness to call someone a rationalist when they are not.
- Aumann-inspired agreement practices may be cargo cult Bayesianism.
- Godwin's Law is not really one of the rules of inference.
- Science before the mid-20th century was too small to look like a target.
- If scholars fail to notice the common sources of their inductive biases, bias will accumulate when they talk to each other.
- Some fields, e.g. behaviorism, address this problem by identifying sources of inductive bias and forbidding their use.
- Some fields avoid the accumulation of bias by uncritically accepting the biases of the founder. Adherents reason from there.
- If thinking about interesting things is addictive, then there's a pressure to ignore the existence of interesting things.
- Growth in a scientific field brings with it insularity, because internal progress measures scale faster than external measures.
- It's really worthwhile to set up a good study environment. Table, chair, quiet, no computers.
- In emergencies, it may be necessary for others to forcibly accelerate your learning.
- There's a difference between learning a skill and learning a skill while remaining human. You need to decide which you want.
- It is better to hold the sword loosely than tightly. This principle also applies to the mind.
- Skills are packaged into disciplines because of correlated supply and correlated demand.
- Have a high discount rate for learning and a low discount rate for knowing.
- "What would so-and-so do?" means "try using some of so-and-so's heuristics that you don't endorse in general."
- Train hard and improve your skills, or stop training and forget your skills. Training just enough to maintain your level is the worst idea.
- Gaining knowledge is almost always good, but one must be wary of learning skills.
- As soon as you notice a pattern in your work, automate it. I sped up my book-writing with code I should've written weeks ago.
- Your past and future decisions are part of your environment.
- Optimization by proxy is worse than optimization for your true goal, but usually better than no optimization.
- Some tasks are costly to resume because of mental mode switching. Maximize the cost of exiting these tasks.
- Other tasks are easy to resume. Minimize external costs of resuming these tasks, e.g. by leaving software running.
- First eat the low-hanging fruit. Then eat all of the fruit. Then eat the tree.
- Who are the masters of forgetting? Can we learn to forget quickly and deliberately? Can we just forget our vices?
- What sorts of cultures will endorse causal decision theory?
- Big agents can be more coherent than small agents, because they have more resources to spend on coherence.