Here's the new quotes thread, for all those quotes you were going to post.
- Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be voted up/down separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
- Do not quote yourself.
- Do not quote comments/posts on LW/OB.
- No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
-- Richard P. Feynman, Simulating Physics with Computers, International Journal of Theoretical Physics, Vol 21, Nos. 6/7, 1982
"A Thinking Machine! Yes, we can now have our thinking done for us by machinery! The Editor of the Common School Advocate says—" On our way to Cincinnati, a few days since, we stopped over night where a gentleman from the city was introducing a machine which he said was designed to supercede the necessity and labor of thinking. It was highly and respectably recommended, by men too in high places, and is designed for a calculator, to save the trouble of all mathematical labor. By turning the machinery it produces correct results in addition, substraction, multiplication, and division, and the operator assured us that it was equally useful in fractions and the higher mathematics." The Editor thinks that such machines, by which the scholar may, by turning a crank, grind out the solution of a problem without the fatigue of mental application, would by its introduction into schools, do incalculable injury, But who knows that such machines when brought to greater perfection, may not think of a plan to remedy all their own defects and then grind out ideas beyond the ken of mortal mind!" --- The Primitive Expounder in 1847
That's a bit freaky. If someone predicted the Singularity 150 years ago, it suggests current "Singularity imminent!" predictions are far off. We snicker at "thinking machine" applied to a simple calculator, because we understand that even though arithmetic operations are sufficient to build thought, there's a long way to go from these base components to the genuine article. The analogy with current talk of intelligence is clear.
Could be. Just because it turned out not to be a ten year idea doesn't mean it will also turn out not to be a 170 year idea. People who thought their heavier-than-air flight ideas would bear fruit 400 years ago were wrong, but when the Wright brothers believed it, they were right.
Daniel Oppenheimer's Ig Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
-- Charles Darwin
Stan Young, 28-Jul-07 www.NISS.org; quoted in "Everything is Dangerous: A Controversy", a paper discussing epidemiology's failure to use things like the Bonferroni correction which has led to things like 80% of observed correlations failing to replicate (or only 1 out of 20 NIH randomized-trials replicating the original claim).
-- Wikipedia, on the reproducibility of scientific results
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
-Czeslaw Milosz, "The Captive Mind" (first sentence)
Milosz is obviously talking about Communism and the philosophy it was based on. (If you haven't read The Captive Mind, it's pretty good albeit obviously dated).
The lesson is that philosophy can be Serious Business and you ignore bad philosophy at your own peril. To paraphrase the famous Trotsky paraphrase: You may not be interested in diseased Philosophy, but diseased Philosophy is interested in you.
-- Robert Heinlein, on selection bias. From this big list of quotes.
-- John D. Cook, in a tweet.
From Wintersmith, on the ability to notice confusion rather than rationalizing:
About the intersection of math and politics through the mind of a child, Bob Murphy relates this story about his six-year-old son Clark:... (read more)
-Bruce Sterling, cyberpunk author
Just sew an extra one on first.
--Hunted Down: the detective stories of Charles Dickens (Charles Dickens)
David Friedman, Price Theory, An Intermediate Text
This sounds wrong. Biases have predictable direction, that's why they're called biases and not variance (ahem).
In some contexts it makes sense to talk about errors in opposite directions canceling out but in others it does not as errors only accumulate. Suppose one person overestimates how much they'll enjoy having an iPad and buys one when they'd be better off without one, and another person underestimates how much they'll enjoy having an iPad and doesn't buy one when they'd be better off with one. Looking at the total number of iPads sold, these errors cancel out. But looking at total human welfare, the errors just add up - two people are each less happy than they could be, which is doubly bad. Similarly, if one person gets too much medical care and another gets too little, then they both lose, one from being overtreated and the other from being undertreated.
If you look at the market as a means of aggregating information (as in prediction markets) then errors can cancel out, but when you evaluate the market as a means of distributing products to people then errors just accumulate.
This is the part that sounds (and is) wrong. It would perhaps be correct if it was "given a large number of individuals selected from mind space via a carefully crafted distribution of deviations about some mind the irrationality will average out in the aggregate". The irrationality of a large number of human individuals will not average out.
Upvoted because it provoked interesting thoughts, even though I disagree with it.
I can actually say in advance which irrational things I am likely to do on a given day. (For example, be up at 1 AM posting on Less Wrong instead of sleeping). If I know enough about a person to know their goals and approximate level of education as relates to those goals, I usually also know enough to have a sense of what types of irrational things they tend to do.
Even when errors are only random noise, modeling people as rational is different from modeling people as rational on average with random errors. If people are rational, that implies that someone with a dangerous job has properly taken the risks into account when choosing the job. But if people are rational on average with random errors, then the person who ends up with a dangerous job is probably someone who underestimated/underweighted the risks (which is a case of the winner's curse).
My sample is biased (geeks), but it seems to be mising "What makes them go 'Ooh, shiny!'"
--Garrett Hardin's 'First Law of Ecology'
(Apropos of Darwin's latest article on the difficulty of reaching useful medical results, with Vitamin E as a case-study into this maxim.)
-- The Phoenix Exultant by John C. Wright
I'd very much like to be more patient, humble, energetic, experienced, diversely skilled, productive, motivated, dedicated, disciplined, courageous, self reliant, systematic, efficient, cautious, pragmatic, sociable, polite, forgiving, courteous, cooperative, uninhibited, consistent, generous, expressive, coherent, observant, imaginative, adaptable, witty, inquisitive, gracious, tranquil, impartial, and sincere. Am I missing the intent of the quote?
In the Golden Oecumene, modifying minds is commonplace, so people are usually as patient, humble, energetic, etc as they can be. The quote is about changing more basic values. Ironjoy was a sociopath until the Curia punished him.
The HamletHenna(now) wants to be more patient, humble, energetic, experienced, diversely skilled, productive, motivated, dedicated, disciplined, courageous, self reliant, systematic, efficient, cautious, pragmatic, sociable, polite, forgiving, courteous, cooperative, uninhibited, consistent, generous, expressive, coherent, observant, imaginative, adaptable, witty, inquisitive, gracious, tranquil, impartial, and sincere.
If there were a HamletHenna(past) that did not want to be more patient, humble, energetic, ..., would HamletHenna(now) want to edit themselves into HamletHenna(past) to save the trouble of becoming more patient, humble, energetic, ...?
What's that bias called again ?
Because beauty in design isn't some arbitrary metric different than the good design metric. It's what it feels like when you pattern match to 'good design'.
You might notice your aesthetic tastes in something change once you understand more about their design (I certainly have), and I doubt you'd see so much interest in 'carbon fiber' stickers if carbon fiber weren't associated with strong light high tech stuff.
This 'Art' thing seems to be an obvious counterpoint, but I suspect its just beauty wireheading as a result of goodhearts law.
Brother Ty's seventh law
Alternate hypothesis: the inferior man hates knowledge because "Yay knowledge!" is associated with people like Mencken, who go around calling people things like "inferior man" because they're poor and uneducated.
There is nothing rationally desirable that cannot be achieved sooner if rationality itself increases. . . corollary: work to achieve Intelligence Intensification is work to achieve all our other sane and worthwhile goals.
--Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising
--"Paul Meier, Statistician Who Revolutionized Medical Trials, Dies at 87", NYT
Not sure if this excerpt has been posted here before, th guy's blog is a treasure trove.
-- Scott Adams Brain-Hat
He goes on to say:
Hope he does not read this site, then, to avoid disappointment.
"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." Jacques Monod, in On the Molecular Theory of Evolution (1974) Repost, but i just found it :)
See, there you're just confirming the original quote.
(Recommend not asking Eliezer that question if your intent is to maximize output. It seems to provoke an aversive reaction even if encouragement is intended.)
I think that often people believe other things that crowd out the true explanation, so in practice it isn't applied correctly to real-world phenomena. Then, perhaps they try to reintegrate everything under a unifying theory of "evolution".
Anthropomorphism, promiscuous teleology, not understanding the level of selection, absolutist ideas about fitness, belief in a certain philosophical type of progress, etc. are culprits.
After all the misconceptions are added, the only work left for evolution is to provide a label for the jumble!
--Napoleon Bonaparte; Napoleon: In His Own Words (1916); edited by Jules Bertaut, as translated by Herbert Edward Law and Charles Lincoln Rhodes
~ Cal Newport
"The biggest problem we have as human beings is that we confuse our beliefs with reality."
-- Alan Kay, Programming and Scaling
-- Little Wars (H. G. Wells)
That's a little opaque... I think he means: 'These war games seem like very easy problems but are actually very hard; so legislation or proposals which tackle hard problems are probably tackling really hard problems, and failure is to be expected.'
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
--Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
Joe Centofanti, master tailor. From the trailer for Men of the Cloth.
Practical answer: when my daughter does this, "Why do you think?" is proving a useful reply that gets thoughtful answers.
I can't make head or tail of this quote.
“What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets^W heuristics.” --Apologies to Andre Malraux
-- Billy Preston (Made famous in the song by Stephen Stills)
Woot, Stockholm syndrome.
-- The Axis of Awesome, in this song.
Bishop Joseph Butler
Because the mechanisms for encoding goals, planning, and updating on new information are completely different. They may malfuction in both cases, but you'll be better off looking at how it's supposed to work and how it fails than making a surface anaology with humans. Otherwise either you've just said "Both of these things break sometimes" or you're going to run off and predict economic fluctuations by analogy to mood swings or something.
an excerpt From Neal Asher's "The Gabble: And Other Stories":
"‘Same arguments apply,’ he replies, and of course they do. ‘God?’ I ask. He laughs in my face then says, ‘I try to understand it. I don’t try to cram it in to fit my understanding.’ He definitely has the essence of it there."
-- Frank Stockton, The Lady or The Tiger
Not sure if this counts as a quote...
I wasn't agreeing or disagreeing with the substance of the linked abstract -- I only meant to say that it probably didn't belong in this thread because it looked more like a link to research than what usually goes in the 'Rationality Quotes' thread.
"[Y]ou should be able to kick your own ass in ten minutes or less." - Diana Hsieh, "Modern Paleo Principles"
In addition to the general interest around here in Paleo-style diets, compare to my similar August 2010 quote.