Leonid

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

You are asking a very good question. Any person or group that is put in charge of the data might be tempted to modify the results to suit their agenda. In principle, this problem may be mitigated if there are several competing forecasting platforms. Scoring their accuracy on the same set of questions is likely to expose any systematic bias (just like it works with individual forecasters).

How will this recession differ from the last two?

|The TIPS spread implies that the market expects low inflation for a long time

Could the low spread imply that the market is skeptical about the inflation being honestly calculated by the government?

Fake Norms, or "Truth" vs. Truth

michael vassar: “ I don't think that Leonid understands what "rationalists" are. I ask him, where are you used to encountering these exotic creatures?”

From wiki: "rationalists" are people who believe that “the truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching”. I have encountered plenty of these exotic creatures (an occupational hazard). Of course, one needs to remember that subscribing to some doctrine and actually following it in a personal life are not the same things.

Fake Norms, or "Truth" vs. Truth

I suspect all of us humans lie to ourselves. We are wired that way.

The difference between self-declared “rationalists” and “believers” ("I don't care about the evidence, I just want to believe in God”) may be just different sources of self-respect. The “believer” may actually respect himself more precisely because his faith is blind (“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”). The “rationalists” taking pride in being exactly the opposite, would search for logical arguments to motivate the position that in their heart they have already chosen. This is rarely difficult to do, as rational pro and contra arguments can be made for virtually any point of view.

Existential Angst Factory

Eneasz,

Our problems are “real” only because they make suffer us or those we care for. Our looks or income, for instance, seem to be a problem only when they fall behind the common standards of beauty/average salary. In a world where obesity considered attractive and is not a danger for your health, it stops being a “real” problem. Thus if, together with our friends, children and all those we care for, we could move to the idealized virtual reality, we would solve all the “real” problems that Eliezer described.

The fact that such a move does not appeal to many rational people suggests that Existential Angst is no less “real” problem than poverty, obesity etc.

Existential Angst Factory

“If it seems to you like nothing you do makes you happy, and you can't even imagine what would make you happy, it's not because the universe is made of particle fields. It's because you're still solving the wrong problem. “

Imagine being offered an option of spending the remainder of your natural life-span inside a virtual reality machine where all your material problems (poverty, obesity, loneliness etc) are solved. Plus as an added bonus you would be able to consume unlimited quantities of virtual heroin without damaging your health or your virtual social life.

If the “meaning of life” is a meaningless concept, shouldn’t every reasonable person jump on this offer? Would you?

The Gift We Give To Tomorrow

Elliot: “Once hunting music was created, females could select mates not just by how well they hunted directly (which they often didn't directly observe), but also by the quality of their hunting music... So music became a useless display (useless for survival) used in sexual selection, like the peacock's tail. ”

The majority of people (including non-hunting females) enjoy listening to music without even trying to perform it themselves. Among those few, who did learn how to play musical instruments, most could get greater boost to their sex-appeal by devoting their time to body-building instead. Using the peacock analogy, I would say that our “musical tail” seems too large judged by its effect on the other sex.

Whither Moral Progress?

There is a tendency for older generation to feel nostalgic for the time of their youth and for the younger generation to strive for changing the status quo. So I wonder whether the modern perception of moral progress (as opposed to perennial complaints of moral degradation popular among our ancestors) comes from the youth being more economically and politically empowered than ever before, which allows it to dominate public discourse.