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It's common for non-depressed people to say things like "I made some mistakes in the past, but it all turned out for the best in the end and I'm happy where I've ended up". A big reason for this is that for most people it is psychologically very difficult to admit that their previous mistakes have put them in a situation significantly worse than they could have been in had they made better choices.

One way to recognize such cases is to find out if people are mostly positive about how they've ended up. For example, suppose that Fred works as a lawyer for five years. Over that period, Fred mostly says that he is happy with his choice to do law. After the five years, Fred switches to a non-legal job in a major corporation. After a few years, he says that it was a mistake for him to go into law, but that he's happy how things have turned out.

So: would Eliezer_1999 have said confidently that he was happy with how things had turned out? Would he have been able to give lots of reasons why he was in a better position than Eliezer_1996?

Also: If you had gone to a university with a good AI department, then you would have encountered people doing Bayesian stuff. (The same goes for a stat department, or a philosophy department with a strong philosophy of science orientation). Would you have been better going to college rather than being an auto-didact? I'm asking non-rhetorically. What advice would you give to pre-college teenagers in something like your position in 1996?