Kellopyy

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Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

At best I might call myself aspiring rationalist (like Kenny elsewhere in this thread suggested) because I fail very often as rationalist.

As for experiences that have led me to try to be more rational...

I read Sophie's world[1] when I was about 14 years old and that inspired me to think I how I could tell if I wasn't actually living in a 'real world'.

I was curious about different beliefs humans have in my teens and if there might be truth to some of those beliefs (and which ones). After finding local christianity unsatisfying for several reasons and looking for alternatives I ended up reading a spell on internet forum that had a strong point about what works [2]

After enrolling to study psychology I read and completed excercises in SICP[3] for various reasons. It was very inspiring to read and especially 4. chapter (Metalinguistic abstraction) was very enlightening. I think that both programming and learning psychology both increased my yearning for being more rational.

There could be other events too.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie's_World
  2. http://www.chaosmatrix.org/library/chaos/rites/buff.html
  3. http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/
Issues, Bugs, and Requested Features

I'd like there to be a separate Anonymous account for posting potentially controversial posts open for all.

Problem might be that it would be used to post frivolous off-topic posts, but reddit-like votes should keep them away from most users anyway.

Advantage would that you could also see what other people have posted as Anonymous nicely collected under single account.

...And Say No More Of It

So long as the heart doth pulsate and beat, So long as the sun bestows light and heat, So long as the blood thro' our veins doth flow, So long as the mind in knowledge doth grow, So long as the tongue retains power of speech, So long as wise men true wisdom do teach. (from depths of internet and attributed to Prof. Haroun Mustafa Leon)

I will study what you write in addition to my normal readings in any case. Problem with programming, science and math is that one doesn't know how long finding an answer will take in general.

Three Worlds Decide (5/8)

So.. (even taking MST3K into account)

Akon certainly has gone mad. He believes that he is in unique position of power (even his decision markets and his Command staff is divided) and he has to make the decision NOW with great unlikely secrets revealed essentially just to him. There are too many unlikely events to believe in for Akon. I think he has failed his excercise or whatever he is living in.

Building Weirdtopia

Let's say this is supposed to be a economic weirdtopia - or something like that.

Let's suppose there is more or less constant connectivity to internet equivalent so that you can 'see' whatever other people are broadcasting as information. Twitters and facebooks of the new era are widely adopted. Essentially this will also make possible to have near perfect sousveillance.

This is world where people find meaning to their lives through stories - endless damsels in distress and knights in shining armor, wise wizards, devious politicians and whatever. People learn to change their roles in search of a meaning - perhaps broadcasting new information on their social networks. Helpful CEO of yesterday might be todays villainous power broker as boredom was creeping to their local social network and something had to be done.

One can use anything that creates a more meaningful story out of the situation. People constantly pay attention to other people to see what kind of stories they living out while trying to experience stories themselves. When someone helps you to find a more meaningful shape to the situation by acting out some role that was apparently missing you reward them with your attention and cooperation.

This would create a world where you can fairly expect that world is pleasantly suprising and complex. Everyone could expect to live out pleasant fantasies and to participate stories of other people. They would create and carve meaning from their social network.

The art of combining several stories would be perhaps most highly appreciated skill - it would mean people can expect that when spending more time around you they can find out new kinds of experiences - surprises of most pleasant kind. Letting those people to use whatever resources they need would be good idea - after all they have created interesting situations previously from whatever has been at hand.

Problem with this skill of combinatorial storytelling is of course that you have to understand what kind of stories other people are experiencing - keep tabs on people - and quickly see how those stories might be combined with stories of other people.

You could still have recurring characters in story of your life as before - and more notably perhaps there would be more chances for having your personal villains and antagonists to whom you appear as a antagonist - match made in story world. Finally killing anyone would hardly make any sense - why kill someone interesting and why kill someone uninteresting? It is so much better just leave them hanging off the cliff just to have them return later back to you with a vengeance.

Keeping tabs on lives of other heroes and villains would be interesting too - most highly talented people living out most extravagant lives would be appreciated as people setting up new standards to aspire to. Not because their trappings are better, but because they have even more fun stories to live through. They might have new and better stories that you could perhaps adapt to your own life.

Friedman's "Prediction vs. Explanation"

Knowing how theories and experiements were chosen would make this more sensible problem. Having that information would affect our expectations about theories - as others have noted there are a lot of theories one could form in ad hoc manner, but question is which of them was selected.

First theory has been selected with first ten experiements and it seems to have survived second set of experiements. If experiements were independent from first set of experiements and from each other this is quite unlikely so this is strong evidence that first theory is the connection between experiements.

Given reasonable way of choosing theories I would rate both theories as likely, but given finite resources and fallible theorists I would prefer first theory as we have evidence that it was chosen sensibly and that the problem is explainable with theory of its calibre, but only to extent how far I doubt rationality of theorist making second theory.

Leave a Line of Retreat

I was expecting to read yet another mathy post tonight, but I was dissapointed. Less mathy stuff is ok, but shouldn't really come at cost of anything intresting.

I agree with Kriti - introductory essay, post, etc would be useful.

Torture vs. Dust Specks

Since I would not be one of the people affected I would not consider myself able to make that decision alone. In fact my preferences are irrelevant in that situation even if I consider situation to be obvious.

To have situation with 3^^^3 people we must have at least that many people capable of existing in some meaningful way. I assume we cannot query them about their preferences in any meaningful (omniscient) way. As I cannot choose who will be tortured or who gets dust specks I have to make collective decission.

I think that my solution would be to take three different groups of randomly chosen people. First group would be asked that question and given chance to discuss and change their minds. Second group would be asked would they save 3^^^3 people from dust specks by accepting torture. Third group would be asked would they agree to be dust specked giving person to be tortured 1/3^^^3 chance to be saved.

If one of the latter tests would show significant preference over one of the situations I would assume it is for some reason more acceptable given chance to choose. If it would seem that people are either willing to change scenario given chance in both situations or not willing to change situation in either scenario I would rely on their stated preference from first group and go by that.

I do not think this solution is good enough.