Cyan

Cyan's Comments

Rationality Quotes Thread September 2015

This is a field in which the discoverer of the theorem that rational agents cannot disagree was given the highest possible honours...

Beautiful Probability

I can't say I disagree.

Beautiful Probability

Of course experimental design is very important in general. But VAuroch and I agree that when two designs give rise to the same likelihood function, the information that comes in from the data are equivalent. We disagree about the weight to give to the information that comes in from what the choice of experimental design tells us about the experimenter's prior state of knowledge.

Beautiful Probability

you're ignoring critical information

No, it practical terms it's negligible. There's a reason that double-blind trials are the gold standard -- it's because doctors are as prone to cognitive biases as anyone else.

Let me put it this way: recently a pair of doctors looked at the available evidence and concluded (foolishly!) that putting fecal bacteria in the brains of brain cancer patients was such a promising experimental treatment that they did an end-run around the ethics review process -- and after leaving that job under a cloud, one of them was still considered a "star free agent". Well, perhaps so -- but I think this little episode illustrates very well that a doctor's unsupported opinion about the efficacy of his or her novel experimental treatment isn't worth the shit s/he wants to place inside your skull.

Thinking like a Scientist

You're going to have a hard time convincing me that... vectors are a necessary precursor for regression analysis...

So you're fitting a straight line. Parameter estimates don't require linear algebra (that is, vectors and matrices). Super. But the immediate next step in any worthwhile analysis of data is calculating a confidence set (or credible set, if you're a Bayesian) for the parameter estimates; good luck teaching that if your students don't know basic linear algebra. In fact, all of regression analysis, from the most basic least squares estimator through multilevel/hierarchical regression models up to the most advanced sparse "p >> n" method, is built on top of linear algebra.

(Why do I have such strong opinions on the subject? I'm a Bayesian statistician by trade; this is how I make my living.)

Ephemeral correspondence

Consciousness is the most recent module, and that does mean [that drawing causal arrows from consciousness to other modules of human mind design is ruled out, evolutionarily speaking.]

The causes of the fixation of a genotype in a population are distinct from the causal structures of the resulting phenotype instantiated in actual organisms.

The path of the rationalist

Sure, I agree with all of that. I was just trying to get at the root of why "nobody asked [you] to take either vow".

The path of the rationalist

Before I also haven't heard anybody speak about taking those kinds of vows to oneself.

It's not literal. It's an attempt at poetic language, like The Twelve Virtues of Rationality.

The Truth About Mathematical Ability

I don't disagree with this. A lot of the kind of math Scott lacks is just rather complicated bookkeeping.

(Apropos of nothing, the work "bookkeeping" has the unusual property of containing three consecutive sets of doubled letters: oo,kk,ee.)

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