Best of Rationality Quotes, 2011 Edition

I created a 2011 update to last year's Best of Rationality Quotes collection. (Here is the original.)

Best of Rationality Quotes 2011 (360kB page, 352 quotes)

and Best of Rationality Quotes 2009-2011 (700kB page, 706 quotes)

The page was built by a short script (source code here) from all the LW Rationality Quotes threads so far. (We had such a thread each month since April 2009.) The script collects all comments with karma score 10 or more, and sorts them by score. Replies are not collected, only top-level comments.

A year ago commenters asked for various statistics and top-lists based on the data. This year I re-ran the scripts I wrote to answer those requests. (Source code for these is also at the above link, see the README.) I added the results as comments to this post:

25 comments, sorted by
magical algorithm
Highlighting new comments since Today at 4:21 AM
Select new highlight date

Top original authors by number of quotes.

  • Feynman 28
  • Russell 26
  • Pratchett 18
  • Nietzsche 18
  • Heinlein 18
  • Einstein 15
  • Dawkins 14
  • Chesterton 12
  • Wilson 11
  • Johnson 11
  • Asimov 11
  • Taleb 10
  • Dennett 10
  • Darwin 10
  • Voltaire 9
  • Meier 9
  • Hume 9
  • Clark 9
  • Buffett 9
  • Neumann 8
  • Thoreau 7
  • Rochefoucauld 7
  • Peirce 7
  • Medawar 7
  • Keynes 7
  • Huxley 7
  • Gould 7
  • Dijkstra 7
  • Aristotle 7
  • Yudkowsky 6
  • Plato 6
  • Orwell 6
  • Munroe 6
  • Mencken 6
  • Marx 6
  • Marshall 6
  • Lichtenberg 6
  • Kant 6
  • Jaynes 6

In fact, these are mentions, not really authors. Methodology: I collected the most frequent capitalized words in the comments, threw away the ones recognized by my morphological analyzer, and did a small amount of manual postprocessing. Note that Bacon, Wells and Hawking are recognized by my morphological analyzer.

Top original authors by total karma score collected:

  • 290 Russell
  • 274 Feynman
  • 270 Pratchett
  • 195 Chesterton
  • 155 Heinlein
  • 143 Darwin
  • 142 Nietzsche
  • 141 Dennett
  • 133 Buffett
  • 129 Dawkins
  • 125 Voltaire
  • 123 Asimov
  • 107 Egan
  • 102 Einstein
  • 96 Wilson
  • 84 Descartes
  • 81 Maynard
  • 80 Plato
  • 80 Lessing
  • 78 Taleb
  • 78 Orwell
  • 78 Munroe
  • 78 Churchill
  • 76 Neumann
  • 75 Johnson
  • 74 Aristotle
  • 70 Bakker
  • 66 Hitler
  • 66 Aaronson
  • 65 Keynes
  • 64 Mencken
  • 64 Lichtenberg
  • 64 Dijkstra
  • 62 Holmes
  • 61 Marx
  • 61 Kant
  • 61 Caplan
  • 60 Miyazaki
  • 60 McArdle
  • 60 Knuth
  • 60 Hayao

G.K. Chesterton the Catholic apologist at number 5! Suhweet. (I really, really like Chesterton.)

I looked at the Chesterton quotes, they are all very rational, no discrepancy here. Here are the top ones:

It might strike people as odd, though, that most or at least half of those quotes come from books arguing for Catholicism. (They're really good! Can LessWrong start a Chesterton-is-awesome meme maybe?)

Whether Chesterton gets a positive meme or not, he remains awesome! He had a singular talent for focusing a blazing spotlight on various kinds of intellectual foolishness. More remarkably, for someone of such immense literary and intellectual accomplishment, he had an unshakable faith in the good sense of the "average man".

Maybe this is the confirmation bias talking, but it seems to me that at the highest levels of human creativity you find mostly people that are at least slightly crazy.

You should probably remove Scott, if I am correct in thinking that it's actually a combination of Adams, Aaronson and Bakker (and there might well be everything from Bon Scott to Sir Walter Scott in there).

You are right. I removed Scott. I checked the list again, and spotted and removed Winston. Now it seems legit, except for the hard-to-correct discrepancy between mention and author. (Marx and Hitler are mostly mentions.)

Does the processing throw away Aubrey de Grey as well?

It throws away de Grey but keeps Aubrey. :) But I only see two Aubrey de Grey quotes in the whole corpus: This and this.

Top quote contributors by statistical significance level:

  • 0.00251 (17.61 in 18): Tesseract
  • 0.00278 (34.00 in 3): Oscar_Cunningham
  • 0.00340 (26.60 in 5): Alejandro1
  • 0.00370 (57.00 in 1): michaelkeenan
  • 0.00421 (13.61 in 54): Rain
  • 0.00553 (30.00 in 3): benelliott
  • 0.00607 (17.64 in 14): DSimon
  • 0.00691 (16.00 in 20): Yvain
  • 0.00835 (25.25 in 4): peter_hurford
  • 0.00893 (23.20 in 5): Maniakes
  • 0.00951 (45.00 in 1): Mycroft65536
  • 0.00977 (32.50 in 2): Eugine_Nier
  • 0.01266 (20.83 in 6): Unnamed
  • 0.01321 (43.00 in 1): Liron
  • 0.01354 (13.04 in 50): MichaelGR
  • 0.01796 (40.00 in 1): bentarm
  • 0.02142 (24.00 in 3): Manfred
  • 0.02578 (16.60 in 10): GabrielDuquette
  • 0.02744 (15.83 in 12): Jayson_Virissimo
  • 0.03485 (25.00 in 2): Automaton
  • 0.03949 (21.33 in 3): Miller
  • 0.04067 (13.10 in 29): RobinZ
  • 0.04112 (15.36 in 11): James_Miller
  • 0.04165 (16.38 in 8): MinibearRex
  • 0.04178 (16.86 in 7): sketerpot
  • 0.04359 (19.25 in 4): Costanza
  • 0.04649 (29.00 in 1): abcd_z
  • 0.04649 (29.00 in 1): JamesAndrix
  • 0.04669 (19.00 in 4): jaimeastorga2000
  • 0.05147 (15.88 in 8): MichaelHoward
  • 0.05177 (28.00 in 1): summerstay
  • 0.05236 (14.46 in 13): Nominull
  • 0.05327 (20.00 in 3): J_Taylor
  • 0.05327 (20.00 in 3): Kyre
  • 0.05758 (27.00 in 1): jasonmcdowell
  • 0.05867 (22.00 in 2): knb
  • 0.06377 (21.50 in 2): Vladimir_M

Top quote contributors by total karma score collected:

  • 1122 RichardKennaway
  • 735 Rain
  • 652 MichaelGR
  • 560 anonym
  • 545 gwern
  • 540 Eliezer_Yudkowsky
  • 380 RobinZ
  • 347 CronoDAS
  • 320 Yvain
  • 317 Tesseract
  • 258 billswift
  • 247 DSimon
  • 216 Thomas
  • 215 Kutta
  • 190 Jayson_Virissimo
  • 188 Nominull
  • 179 lukeprog
  • 169 NancyLebovitz
  • 169 James_Miller
  • 166 GabrielDuquette
  • 155 Konkvistador
  • 150 Nic_Smith
  • 143 djcb
  • 140 Kaj_Sotala
  • 136 ata
  • 133 scav
  • 133 Alejandro1
  • 131 MinibearRex
  • 127 MichaelHoward
  • 125 Unnamed
  • 124 Patrick
  • 120 Cyan
  • 118 sketerpot
  • 118 Morendil
  • 116 Maniakes
  • 115 Rune
  • 115 ABranco
  • 113 roland
  • 109 wedrifid
  • 108 Alicorn

By the way, looking at the data it is obvious that more recent comments have a very large advantage in the karma collection game. Similarly, a quote has an enormous disadvantage if it is added in the middle of the month when thread activity has died down already. It would be more fair to normalize by, say, median karma score of the given month, and again by median karma score of the day of the month, but I think nobody cares that much.

The same list only for this year's comments:

  • 373 RichardKennaway
  • 372 gwern
  • 266 MichaelGR
  • 242 Tesseract
  • 179 lukeprog
  • 173 DSimon
  • 169 Nominull
  • 166 GabrielDuquette
  • 161 billswift
  • 155 Konkvistador
  • 149 Thomas
  • 141 CronoDAS
  • 133 Alejandro1
  • 131 MinibearRex
  • 123 scav
  • 116 Maniakes
  • 114 Kutta
  • 107 Patrick
  • 102 Oscar_Cunningham
  • 102 Jayson_Virissimo
  • 101 peter_hurford
  • 100 James_Miller
  • 96 anonym
  • 92 Dreaded_Anomaly
  • 90 benelliott
  • 89 Alicorn
  • 86 Risto_Saarelma
  • 86 NancyLebovitz
  • 85 MichaelHoward
  • 83 RobinZ
  • 80 wedrifid
  • 78 Bugmaster
  • 77 Costanza
  • 75 djcb
  • 72 Manfred
  • 65 Eugine_Nier
  • 65 [deleted]
  • 63 Nic_Smith
  • 61 Miller
  • 60 J_Taylor

This is great. Thanks for putting in the time to make it.

You are most welcome. One year ago it was a nontrivial effort, about two workdays in total. This year it would have been trivial, had I documented the process then. Now I finally have the scripts and documentation mostly in order, so I think next year this will be really easy.

Thanks, nice work.

The comment: 13 points Hey 02 November 2011 09:01:09AM is maybe something you want to remove.