The first piece in the Noticing Confusion Sequence frames the reader as a novice pundit that wants to do good punditry with minimal effort. The fictional reader-as-novice-pundit quickly surmises that there's no math to leverage to estimate which outcomes are likely to occur: that the price of an asset to will rise, stay the same, or fall before your next show. As such, you have a lot of discomfort in deciding how to dedicate preparation time to the upcoming segment of punditry. After all, you have finite time to prepare for the segment, finite time for the segment (and a perfect division by 3 would underserve the reality of the price move), and your success is dependent on your ability to tell a good story about what happened. All this despite your inability to know the future before it occurs.

The article proceeds to a pronounced pause in our fictional self's thinking that festers a mental discomfort about our inability to solve the aforementioned problem sans mathematics. We are encouraged to investigate the mental discomfort of this haplessness, and follow it along the probabilistic intuition that thinking people tend to have. From the article

And yet… even in your uncertain state of mind, it seems that you anticipate the three events differently; that you expect to need some excuses more than others. And—this is the fascinating part—when you think of something that makes it seem more likely that bond prices will go up, then you feel less likely to need an excuse for bond prices going down or remaining the same. It even seems like there’s a relation between how much you anticipate each of the three outcomes, and how much time you want to spend preparing each excuse. Of course the relation can’t actually be quantified.

This agitation will point us towards a heuristic or methodology for updating our beliefs in correspondence to this intuition: this felt sense that you are more drawn to certain outcomes and your willingness to expect some outcomes more than others must be founded on something - even if you haven't exactly put words to what that something is.

This piece is laying the early bricks of the Bayesian thinking and the idea of a Bayesian update. Indeed, in a mathematics-light fashion, the next sequence makes both the barriers to changing belief and seeing with fresh eyes the main target for the bulk of 50 articles before taking a different tact in convincing the aspiring Rationalist that both

  • changing your beliefs will be difficult, and
  • it is highly possible, especially if you're willing to catch all the likely self-defenses.
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