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Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently

CiteULike is quite nice for this.

Connotea is a similar "personal research library" service but it doesn't let you store PDFs, just links to articles.

Optimal Employment

Even considering that, the 3% figure still seems wildly implausible. This would require something like 90% of the population thinking they pay 0% taxes, and the remaining 10% thinking they pay 30% taxes (which is still an underestimate).

The PDF that Louie linked to doesn't explain what the numbers mean. Surely there would be lots of articles about this epidemic of grossly underestimating taxes. Can anyone provide more evidence?

Statistical Prediction Rules Out-Perform Expert Human Judgments

This is a great article, but it only lists studies where SPRs have succeeded. In fairness, it would be good to know if there were any studies that showed SPRs failing (and also consider publication bias, etc.).

The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

Here is a very similar post on Ask Metafilter. (It is actually Ask Metafilter's most favorited post of all time.)

The Mathematics of Beauty [link]

Here's an insightful comment on the article:

http://www.reddit.com/r/math/comments/ezm6s/the_mathematics_of_beauty/c1c87ts

This is the same reason that when shopping on Amazon I ignore the reviews from people who rated the product 1 or 5 stars. They often have an ulterior motive of trying to damage/help the image of the product as much as possible.

Techniques for probability estimates

Related positions include operations research analysts and quants at finance firms.

Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others...

It's a useful exercise for aspiring economists and rationalists to dissect charity into separate components of warm fuzzies vs. efficiency. However, maybe it's best for the general population not to be fully conscious that these are separate components, since the spirit of giving is like a frog: you can dissect it, but it dies in the process (adaptation of an E.B. White quote).

Lemma: we want charity to be enjoyable, so that more people are motivated to do it. (Analogy: capitalist countries let rich people keep their riches, to create an incentive for economic growth, even though it might create more utility in the short term to tax rich people very highly.)

Consider this quote from the article:

If he went to the beach because he wanted the sunlight and the fresh air and the warm feeling of personally contributing to something, that's fine. If he actually wanted to help people by beautifying the beach, he's chosen an objectively wrong way to go about it.

Sure, but making the lawyer conscious of this will give him a complete buzzkill. He will realize that he was unconsciously doing the act for selfish (and kind of silly) reasons. Your hope in telling him this is that he will instead opt to use his $1000 salary to hire people, but I question whether he would actually follow through with that kind of giving in the long run, since his unconscious original motive was warm fuzzies, not efficiency. In effect, you may have prevented him from doing anything charitable at all. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

So, this article is great fodder for someone trained in rationalist/economic thought, but keep in mind that this type of thinking makes many people uneasy.

Smart people who are usually wrong

These people comment only on difficult, controversial issues which are selected as issues where people perform worse than random.

Related, maybe they only comment when they have something original and unorthodox to say (selection bias). It's easy to echo conventional wisdom and be right most of the time; for a smart person it's more exciting to challenge conventional wisdom, even if this gives them a higher risk of being wrong. In other words, maybe they place a lower priority on karma points, and more on building their muscles for original thought.

Example 1: In my youth, I tried to only hold beliefs I could derive myself, rather than accepting what was told to me. As a result, I held many unorthodox beliefs, many of which turned out to be wrong. Statistically, I would have had a better track record if I had just accepted the conventional view.

Example 2: Robin Hanson. I think he is wrong a lot of the time, but he also thinks for himself a lot more than I do, and has advanced human thought way more than I have. He could easily hold more conventional views and increase his accuracy, but I'm sure he finds the risk and challenge appealing.

Link: Compare your moral values to the general population

I had the same issue with the Schwartz test. It seems not to correct for people who rate everything high (or low).

Rationality Quotes: November 2010

Talib Kweli is nonreligious, so I'm not changing the meaning of the quotation. "God" is often used poetically. Example:

"Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not."

Albert Einstein

Even if Kweli were religious the point would not be to put words in his mouth, but to reapply a beautiful quotation to another context where it is meaningful.

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