I was very interested in the Rationality Boot Camp, when it was announced, but the practical limitations for someone with kids, financial commitments dependent on a full time job, etc. made it completely unfeasible. I'm still very interested in something like this and wondered if there would be any interest in a "night class" version. Perhaps webcast or broadcast live via something like skype or similar? (I guess I'm not sure if it ever happened, was cancelled, or whether it morphed or inspired the Rationality Minicamp which I know did happen.)

I see benefit in pre-committing to something organized, as my own desires to read everything LW has to offer have been only partially successful (lots of random articles here and there, and only a partial sequence). A commitment, especially one that I've paid for, will up the ante for failure. But... I just can't deal with the travel, time away from work/wife/kids, etc. all at one time for something like a Boot [Mini]Camp.

Are there any others who might find something like this beneficial?

Can anyone from the "teacher side" of the Rationality Camp speak to the feasibility of something like this? Any interest? What would the cost need to be to make this worth while? Would typical bandwidths allow for something like this?

I suppose another route would be to conduct another Boot/Mini-Camp and make the recordings available afterward?

I think in the end, it's the personal "tutor" aspect that I appreciate so much about something like this. There's something to the notion of a flesh and blood guide that really appeals to me. I could probably do the same by reading something and posting a million discussion posts on questions I have, but one who has mastered a topic just has the wonderful ability to explain it such that it finally clicks at which point all makes sense. Sometimes, without the ability to pester and prod, I can't get that with every LW post.

'Nuff rambling about this. Thoughts/comments/suggestions?

15

18 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:12 AM
New Comment

Anna, Eliezer, myself, and some others are working on rationality material, with plans to spin off a separate Rationality Org, as mentioned in SIAI's 2011 strategic plan. This will probably provide material for Less Wrong meetup groups, and also for a variety of other Rationality classes (depending on cost-benefit analyses): 3-hour introductory courses, weekend-long camps, internet courses... we're not sure. I'm currently collecting all the CogSci of rationality and beginning to talk to the leading researchers in the field. Others are spending more time looking into the org planning. Many of us are starting to develop teaching materials grounded in lessons from the CogSci literature. Luckily, LW's approach to rationality has always been grounded in the CogSci literature, instead of just ad-hoc "be skeptical, think carefully about stuff" techniques advocated by some other rationality communities.

[-][anonymous]10y 4

Has there been any consideration of paring up online tests with video (and perhaps other) material similarly to the way this is done by Khan Academy for say mathematics?

As Luke said, we're hoping to soon create materials that weekly meet-up leaders can use for training; if you can't find others for a LW meet-up in your area, someone could probably also organize an online meet-up with the same materials, although in-person interaction has benefits.

I think in the end, it's the personal "tutor" aspect that I appreciate so much about something like this. There's something to the notion of a flesh and blood guide that really appeals to me.

Any plan like this should have a good deal of time and thought spent on sorting among tutors. At a camp, each individual chooses what to ask to whom. The value of a random tutor you aren't comfortable and mentally in tune with would be low.

I think the best value would be had from getting a skype rationality chavruta and only sometimes talking to a tutor. This would give you more practice using techniques, rather than receiving instruction.

One idea would be for you to find someone who enjoys posting discussion questions and finds it easy, natural, unstressful, etc.

I just recently discovered I have a very different (apparently unique) interpretation of a post by Eliezer than many other people. I would not have noticed this without interacting actively with others. If each post is likely to be interpreted correctly 90% of the time, assuming independence (I know) two people will between them have the correct interpretation 99% of the time. I still don't know what to think about Einstein's Arrogance - if I am right and they are wrong, that would be an example of why two people are not enough to reliably discover the interpretation of ambiguous content. I think that will turn out to be the case.

In addition or alternatively, a group could have individuals who focus on a few things in depth, and lean on each other's expertise.

Any plan like this should have a good deal of time and thought spent on sorting among tutors...I think the best value would be had from getting a skype rationality chavruta and only sometimes talking to a tutor. This would give you more practice using techniques, rather than receiving instruction.

Excellent points. I'll think more about that, and hadn't previously considered this variable much. Now that you point it out, I realize that comfort with a tutor is, indeed, a very big factor.

If each post is likely to be interpreted correctly 90% of the time, assuming independence (I know) two people will between them have the correct interpretation 99% of the time.

Could you explain this further? I would have thought that two people would have a 90% * 90% = 81% chance of both having the correct interpretation.

81% chance of both having it, 99% chance of one or more having it since 10% * 10% = 1% chance of both not having the correct interpretation.

So that raises a flag 18% of the time and one can ask third parties,

Yes, this is my understanding as well. I specifically was focused on this statemetn:

...two people will between them have the correct interpretation 99% of the time.

Which is why I thought that should have been one of any two people will have the correct interpretation 99% of the time. It read as though two people would both have the correct interpretation 99% of the time. Perhaps you meant, "The correct interpretation will be brought into a group of two 99% of the time. From there, they need to figure out who has it."

"81% chance of both having it, 99% chance of one or more having it since 10% * 10% = 1% chance of both not having the correct interpretation.

Assuming that the 10% is truly random (which I doubt). But this is just a nitpick.

Is this nitpick with the contents of my comment or with assuming randomness?

with the randomness.

Gotcha, and I agree, especially around here. Though the quality of the writing and complexity of the topic probably correlates highly.

I could see going away for the weekend.

Yes, that's doable. Though... I find these sorts of things to be California-centric. Perhaps that's just where most SingInst (and thusly, hi-hitting LWers) folks reside, but the travel barrier is significant for me. The ratio of travel time to class time increases, and the money is [probably] significant. Even if a weekend course was $250/attendee, a trip to CA (going there this month) is about $320-370. That's more than the course. So... a night class or anything "virtual" is still appealing.

As I recall, the Bootcamp was subsided.

the Bootcamp was subsided.

Did you mean "subsidized"?

The post contained the following:

I guess I'm not sure if [the Rationality Bootcamp] ever happened, was cancelled, or whether it morphed or inspired the Rationality Minicamp which I know did happen.)

so my first parsing of your comment was as a (strange) way of saying it was canceled or postponed.

Yeah, subsidized. Is what I meant.

TANSTAAFL. The benefits of being in person as opposed to online need to be compared to the cost of plane tickets, not just shifting the burden. (Shifting the burden can be helpful if people have different preference strengths, but I don't think that's the most significant issue here.)

I'd love to hear more about this. While I appreciate the idea, for some budgets, it just might not be an option to spend the extra $300, despite a great desire to do so were money not an issue. Thus the choice might not be between:

  • nothing
  • online but missing the benefit of in person
  • in person and awesome

But instead between:

  • something like this
  • nothing