Rationality quotes time!
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"Finally, a study that backs up everything I've always said about confirmation bias." -Kslane, Twitter
Most of the Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World. An example:
More of these gems, for the lazy:
Mathematically and Economically Literate World: Rapid economic growth in India and China create record sales for low marginal cost information goods that achieve cross-cultural appeal by, for example, playing to base pleasures by displaying explosions and beautiful actors.
Not really relevant, but this seems like an overstatement. Paratroopers and bombing I can see, but strafing doesn't seem to be mentioned, and I'm not aware that using airborne grapples to overturn ships has ever happened (my understanding is that the weight ratios wouldn't cooperate).
He also seems to be predicting that only one side in any given conflict will have airships, and assuming that everyone else will just keep doing what they were doing before instead of developing strategies and technologies to defend against this new threat.
Highlights from "50 Unfortunate Truths About Investing" by Morgan Housel.
In my experience, quite a few money managers generate a lot more fees then they strictly need to. Even some index funds will churn/rebalance more than necessary in order to generate a fee. When you consider the oft-cited statistic that very few managers outperform the market, and add in the fact that many they do eat the entire much of the surplus with fees, it becomes optimal to buy a good index rather than hire a financial adviser.
The problem with hiring advisers of all kinds is that you are hiring someone because they know more than you- which means you run the risk of them using their knowledge to rip you off.
Only provided you have a large initial pool of capital.
If you don't, the first few failures will knock you out at which point you stop playing the game and the future potential large success never gets realized.
Example of professing a belief - here, belief is a fashion statement, or something fun to whip out at parties, not a thing that actually constrains anticipation.
I wonder what the story would sound like if told from the perspective of the literary theorist. Perhaps a story about how philosophers like to go on and on about truth and rationality, but when pressed by a relatively intelligent interlocutor, can't even supply you with something as basic as a theory of knowledge?
If one were to fault a philosopher for not being able to generate something basic in that sense, I'd think one would also have to fault physicists for not yet having generated a Theory of Everything. A generalized theory of knowledge would be fundamental within philosophy, but that doesn't equate to being easy to generate, or impossible to work without (if it were, after all, nobody else ought to be able to get any work done without it either.)
That's because "true" or "false" are aspects of maps, and epistemologies aren't maps - they're mapmaking tools.
You don't judge tools based on their truth or falsehood; you judge them based on their usefulness towards a certain purpose.
In humans' case, I think that an epistemology's job is to act as a bridge between our naive map-making and the world - that is, an epistemology's usefulness is measured by how well humans can use it to generate maps of their territory, and how well the maps it generates conform to their territory when read by humans. (Where "territory" can mean something as bare and ephemeral as raw qualia, barring any deeper assertion of the epistemology in question).
— Donald Rumsfeld
I don't like a lot of things he did, but that's the second very good advice I've heard from Rumsfeld. Maybe I need to start respecting his competence more.
The "known knowns" quote got made fun of a lot, but I think it's really good out of context:
"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."
Also, every time I think of that I try to picture the elusive category of "unknown knowns" but I can't ever think of an example.
I guess "unknown knowns" are the counterpoint to "unknown unknowns" -- things it never occurred to you to consider, but didn't. Eg. "We completely failed to consider the possibility that the economy would mutate into a continent-sized piano-devouring shrimp, and it turned out we were right to ignore that."
That's a survivor bias.
Things that we know that we don't know we know? I run into these all the time... last night, for example, I realized that I knew the English word for the little plastic cylinders at the end of a shoelace. (I discovered this when someone asked me what an 'aglet' was.) I'd had no idea.
"A problem well put, is half solved." - John Dewey
Scott Aaronson after looking into the JFK assassination conspiracy evidence:
Huh, I didn't know Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan & John Kerry were JFK truthers (for want of a more precise term). That's kind of interesting. (I don't mean to imply that's particularly good evidence for a JFK assassination conspiracy. Scientists, philosophers & politicians are about as good as the rest of us at getting things outside their speciality wrong. I really do just mean that it's mildly interesting.)
That post nicely demonstrates some useful heuristics. Point 11 = "Hug the Query". Point 12 = "Proving Too Much". Point 14 = "Burdensome Details". Point 18 = "cock-up before conspiracy". Point 20 uses a rule of thumb I recognize but haven't seen named anywhere yet: beware of rejecting a reasonably complete, orthodox theory in favour of a contrarian theory merely because contrarians claim to have piled up an assortment of anomalous "details that don’t add up in the official account".
Working with a top secret clearance has made me much more aware of how different hardball power reality is than it is presented. Just as one might consider a predilection towards conspiracies a bias, I think I came in to that job with a bias AGAINST conspiracies. I liked believing the world is a fair place where all sorts of tricky evil secret stuff "just wouldn't be done."
I now think (> 50% probability) that the bulk of society is coddled in a belief that things are fair and the world works in a warmish fuzzish way, but that the interactions especially between states and non-state power organizations (terrorists in common usage) is essentially without rules. If you can concieve of a way to get an advantage, it will be R&D'd and if it is workable it will be used.
I figure with just above 50% probability JFK was lone-assasinated purely on the basis that in 50 years with so much attention something would have broken, probably, if there was more to break. It would not matter to me much if it turned out to be a conspiracy of some sort, even if it was covered up, it would be par for the course in my current world view, either way.
Meaning I would be careful imputing too much superiority to myself over Russel, Sagan and/or Kerry purely on the basis of thinking JFK was lone-assasinated.
From a commenter called "ThisIsMyRealName" over at Slate
Said the engineer to the engineers.
Interestingly, advertiser, lawyers, and financial traders all have in common that they are agents who play zero-sum or almost zero-sum games on behalf of someone. People who represent big interests in these games are compensated well, because of the logic of the game: so much is at stake that you want to have the best person representing you, so these people's services are bid up. But there is still the feeling that the game is wasteful, though perhaps unavoidably so.
Also, problematically for first sentence, I don't think many people would necessarily come up with the four professions named, especially "advertiser" and "salesperson", if asked to name the most important professions in the modern world, and some important professions, like "scientist", are widely valorized, while others, like "engineer", are at the least not reviled.
Not nearly as much as you think, the game is in a sense locally zero sum, but it greatly benefits the wider system if the right person wins. Hint: consider what would happen if court cases or the resource allocation problems implicit in stock trading were decided by coin flips.
Also contrast with warriors, they really do engage in almost zero-sum games on behalf of someone else, and their game is much less optimized to increase the odds of the right side wining, and yet they're generally considered valiant heroes. The reason being that they were necessary even in the tribal period, so our instincts have evolved to take them into account.
— Wilson and Shea, Illuminatus!
A patient who believes they are Samson inaccurately believes they have a weakness: their hair being cut. By cutting their hair, you trigger their imaginary weakness, which decreases the amount that they resist, and thus you do not have to pin them down with orderlies.
Think of PCP-driven berserkers flipping cars with their mere, ordinary human strength, fully unleashed without regard to injury or death, and you've got some notion of the problem posed by a delusional man who thinks he's Samson.
Presumably in the same spirit, when treating mental patients who think they're Superman, expose them to glowing yellow rocks. That said, does this sort of thing actually work in real life?
Do you have evidence that car flipping really happens?
Scott R. Bakker, The White-Luck Warrior
When he studied which psychological studies were replicatable, and had to choose whether to disbelieve some he'd previously based a lot of work on, Brian Nosek said:
(via ciphergoth on twitter)
From The Matrix Original Script (the wording is slightly different in the movie).
As a side note, never take pills from strange people in empty werehouses who found you on the internet.
That depends, how were their reviews on Silk Road? :P
I'm wary of being in werehouses at all. They could turn back to people at any time!
Impressive, but it does have a pretty dramatic possible failure state where Tyson's response is "I suggest we settle this by punching each other." (In deed if not in word.)
I think the cleverness is in the violation of Tyson's expectations about how the encounter will go. Ayer went off script and that seems to have nonplussed Tyson.
And so philosophyboxing was born.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. -Samuel Beckett
- G. T. W. Patrick
--Socrates in Gorgias (Paragraph break mine, to make it slightly less of a wall of text. This has shown up before, in a somewhat different form.)
A classic illustration of how to use (and how to not use) conditional probabilities:... (read more)
-- R. Preston McAfee, Introduction to Economic Analysis
"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power."
-Lao Tzu (c.604 - 531 B.C.)
Expressed in pictures rather than words, but a great example of how to respond to humanity-threatening calamities:
Sidenote: Almost every Minus comic is wonderful, and there aren't that many of them (you can read the whole series in an hour).
Is your hypothesis, "Eliezer wants to save the world from doom, and this picture is inspirational."? If so, I think you nailed it.
The girl with the bat, in the context of the comic, is actually basically omnipotent.
Not only is she entirely capable of destroying the asteroid and eliminating whatever threat it represents using a baseball bat, given the content of the other comics, I think there's actually a reasonable chance that she consciously or subconsciously created the asteroid in the first place to give herself something to do.
Minus is about as despicable as any ordinary child of seven or so would be if they were also omnipotent.
Which is to say she's kind of horrifying, but not with any sort of deliberation involved.
Scott R. Bakker, The White-Luck Warrior
--Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.50
If you get one bitter cucumber, asking for its cause may be a waste of time. But if you get a lot of bitter cucumbers, spending some time on changing that might give net positive utility.
One shouldn't compare apples to oranges. But it's fair to say both are food.
Scott R. Bakker, The White-Luck Warrior
Everybody's a complex person. Everybody. Everybody's nuanced. -Jack Abramoff
Not sure, actually, dude was a corrupt lobbyist, so presumably he was emphasizing that he had his reasons for the stuff he got up to.
I like it as a reminder that everyone is their own story's protagonist. Its easy for me to view someone as the jerk who cut in front of the traffic, but presumably their own narrative includes a compelling reason for their seemingly antisocial behavior.
-- Karl Marx
-- Shimon the Digger
“It’s easy to put your head down and just work on what you think needs to be done. It’s a lot harder to pull your head up and ask why.” - Rework
“What does a fish know about the water in which he swims?” - Albert Einstein
Sort of a well known quote, but it's not here, and it's amazing, so I figured I'd submit it.
"The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity." - Vinod Khosla
“I have thought for a long time now that if, some day, the increasing efficiency for the technique of destruction finally causes our species to disappear from the earth, it will not be cruelty that will be responsible for our extinction and still less, of course, the indignation that cruelty awakens and the reprisals and vengeance that it brings upon itself…but the docility, the lack of responsibility of the modern man, his base subservient acceptance of every common decree. The horrors that we have seen, the still greater horrors we shall presently see, a... (read more)
-- Fine Structure
(potential spoilers removed, so if this dialogue doesn't make sense, be assured that it makes sense in context)... (read more)
Given that this quote essentially advises ignoring priors, I don't see what's so Bayesian about it.
Would you mind explicitly stating the prior that it's advising to ignore?
That said, it could also be taken as advising you not to double-count your priors by using them to discount the evidence. Imagine you've drawn a ball from an urn, and the ball looks blue to you — but your priors say that 99% of the balls in that urn are red. How much time do you want to spend questioning the validity of your color vision or the lighting before you consider that you drew a rare ball?
Well, it's possible to be wrong about your own feelings. The question that matters is "later, after transitioning, would I feel better or worse than I do now", which isn't necessarily infallibly correlated to your current feelings.
And yet there are plenty of sports fans that question the legitimacy of other fans, based on accidental characteristics.
I.e., "You can't be an Auburn fan, you're a goddamn Yankee!"
Which, in essence, is the same problem I think: there's all sorts of semantic and pragmatic meaning attached to concepts like gender (and fandom!) that exist outside of the mind of the individually engendered or fanatic person, which cause other people to feel that their own meaning is being betrayed by that person. In a weird way, I think this is part of a failure to keep one's identity small - when people include potentially falsifiable beliefs-about-the-world/beliefs-about-others in their own identity, they risk having that identity thrown into crisis whenever those beliefs are challenged.
-- Zombie Neitzsche
If we could achieve eternal life through the clever use of linguistic ambiguity, then post-structuralist continental philosophers would have defeated death long ago. What would the world be like, I wonder, if all forms of cleverness were useful? A candidate for weirdtopia, probably.
That's only if we take the Flynn effect at face value. No one does, because the implications are nonsense.
Go back in time and the average intelligence will be lower, but that's only because of a longer tail on the lower end of the distribution (the usual suspects: nutrition, lead poisoning, child abuse, iodine deficiency ...). On the smarter end, it's relatively unchanged because of diminishing returns.
The Flynn effect has many proposed, non mutually-exlusive causes, but an actual secular increase in real brain horsepower is not among the big ones.
Not a very good one, though. Most of the ancients that people pay attention to these days are the ones who were well-fed and well-read; it's strongly suspected much of the Flynn effect is population-wide increases in those two variables (as well as similar things like reduced disease load).
I have a historian standing next to me right now who says the lead poisoning story is BS and people who propagate it should be shot/severely eye-rolled at. He says that:
-Romans did drink lead-sweetened wine but
-only lower class romans did so because they could not afford better
-lead-sweetened wine continued to be drunk up until the 18th century
-While some people undoubtedly died, saying it caused the fall of the Roman Empire is a ridiculous just-so story
-particularly because the sweetener was used centuries before and after the fall with no increasing usage leading up to the fall
-and the eastern Roman empire continued to exist for another thousand years anyway.
I will attempt to fix the quote:
If you're good at something, never do it for free.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I'm good at blowing bubbles with bubble gum. I have yet to charge anyone for doing it.
I suppose you could say that as long as I gain pleasure from blowing bubbles I'm not doing it "for free" but that makes the statement very trivial. Under normal interpretations of "for free", the statement is wrong because there's no demand from anyone else that I blow bubbles.
I'd correct that statement to "if you're good at something, never do it under market value", which raises the possibility that I would still do for free things like blowing bubbles that have no market value.
Gum bubble fetish camming?
I don't see the Ledger Joker as irrational, merely insane. It's just his morality and ethics that are horrible. As far as reaching his goals, he is extremely (unrealistically) competent. You don't flawlessly account for every move your opponents make, in advance, for 98% of your visible career, by being totally irrational.