Rationality Quotes July 2016

by bbleeker1 min read1st Jul 201621 comments


Rationality Quotes
Personal Blog

Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.
  • Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted 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  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
21 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:44 PM
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Crazy guy: Hey, June*! Do you know that my cabinets keep opening and closing by themselves?
June*: Well, do you believe in ghosts?
Crazy guy: Yes, I do!
June*: Maybe your place is haunted, and the ghosts just want to say hello.
Crazy guy, after thinking a while: No, I think it's just my schizophrenia.

Allegedly overheard.

They didn't anticipate what the Internet would become--because they weren't fucking insane...

Robert Evans, Cracked

Related: Stranger Than History.

I'm not sure what the lesson is here. A sane forecaster could never have been accurate? That seems like it would need some justification.

A simple justification of a slightly less extreme position is easy enough: there were many sane people who did not predict the value of the internet, indicating that being sane and smart are not sufficient to predict such things.

There are plenty of quotes from people who were supposed to be experts (or at least well-educated) saything that heavier than air flight was impossible, computers would always be room-sized monstrosities of limited use, etc. I assume that this quote is pretty much the same idea (that future technology is unpredictable), but using a technology that is 1. more recent, and thus more relatable, and 2. not simply a matter of technology, but of adapted use; that is, most smart people might have guessed that the early internet could be made faster, webpages better, and the network more comprehensive. They simply didn't see the value that this would produce, and so assumed that technology would not move in that direction.

"Being sane and smart are not sufficient" is very different from "being insane is necessary".

Compare: "they didn't think heavier-than-air flight was possible - because they weren't fucking insane".

How about "You're so cute when you're angry."?

[-][anonymous]4y 0

When the man doesn't fit the narrative change the narrative to fit the man

Our Brand is Crisis - a movie about political campaign management

-It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

George Washington, letter to his niece Harriet Washington, October 30, 1791 First president of US (1732 - 1799)

There are studies about skipping lines in supermarkets that suggest that giving a bad excuse to skip the line quite often results in the person allowing you to skip a line while giving no excuse doesn't.

Contradicts "leave a retreat" - offering someone a bad excuse to get out of a situation "You're late. Was it traffic again?" might work better for the current situation than demanding why they are late.

But in politics it might make sense.

I don't think it is a contradiction. You can think excusing oneself is a weak move while giving other people the chance to do it. I don't smoke, but I'd sell cigarettes.

[-][anonymous]4y -1

A guy named Harold Schraeder studied prevelance of chronic whiplash in Lithuania, of all things. He found the prevalence was zero. In most Western nations, a certain subset of people who get in car accidents suffer chronic disabling neck pain, presumably related to having their neck get suddenly jerked by the force of the impact. But Schrader found that this never happened in Lithuania, even though they had a lot of accidents and their cars were no safer than ours. Simotas and Shen found that there was zero whiplash in demolition derby drivers, even though they got into crashes all the time and it was basically their job description. Further studies found that accident victims with more neck injury were no more likely to develop whiplash than victims with less neck injury. Perhaps, they argue, chronic whiplash isn’t a bodily injury at all, but a culture-bound syndrome in which people who expect whiplash to exist use its symptom profile as a way of expressing their psychological tension.

Source, since you didn't link it.

Downvoted for failure to provide the source.

From the bullet at the end, I guess he tried to link it but got the Markdown wrong.

There's an edit button. It doesn't take that much work to fix formatting.

[-][anonymous]4y -2

Please stop throwing rocks because you have already broken my windshield

Our Brand is Crisis - a movie about political campaign management

So, in context this is someone trying to diffuse a dangerous situation with placating lies. How is this rationality?