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Having spent a good amount of time on Google Memegen myself, I think what you describe would actually be a misuse of the "guy drinking beer" meme. It's supposed to be something about laziness (so an EA-flavored related meme here would be something like: "earning to give does more harm than good? better do nothing!"). It's based on the original burned-out-college-student/lazy-college-senior meme, where the punchline is supposed to be that you're happy you don't have to do some task.

There's actually a big problem with using Brier scores for open-ended questions like this, which is that the optimal option if you're, say, 50% confident you have the right answer, is to instead report "Don't know / bleeblabloo, probability 0.0001". Then you get a good Brier score for knowing you would be wrong.

We ran this at our meetup today and it was the subject of much discussion. A big conclusion seemed to be that Brier scores work best when there is a fixed, limited number of possibilities to guess from; when the number of possibilities is large/unknown and you can guess "I don't know," you get this bad behavior.

We came up with a kind of hacky solution that gave you negative points for wrong answers and positive points for right ones, scaled to the probability you gave, plus regular Brier scores for the True/False questions. It's unlikely that solution was a proper scoring rule, but it was somewhat better in removing the incentive to always guess "[wrong answer] with probability epsilon."


More info:

I skipped through 90% of the text of this example without it detracting much from the main point of the post. I think it would be better with much less text and with translation of the jargon used.

It's worth noting that Twitter polls are easily corrupted/manipulated by someone trying deliberately to do so. But no one is likely do that unless they know you take the results seriously. It's anti-inductive: the more you use them, the less useful they get.

Even if it benefited people in the short term, releasing a gene drive without consulting the local government would likely lead to a huge backlash

But has anyone asked a local government?

There's a wonderful Econtalk segment on this issue:

The authors wrote a book on property rights in everyday life, and how they differ from legal property rights. The example of airline seats is a case where, if you survey people, they give basically 50/50 answers about who "owns" the airspace in front of an airline seat, and therefore whether reclining the seat is appropriate.

Their belief is that it is actually in the airline's interests for this to be ambiguous. This is because when paying for an airline seat, people naturally assume that they will have the right to both recline and the right to not have the person in front of them recline. The airline doesn't want to mediate this conflict, because they want to continue to sell seats to people who optimistically believe they will have access to both. So the airline has no desire to give a clear pronouncement either way, because that will lower the perceived value of a seat.

Hey, one year later, just wanted to say thanks for writing this post. I found the Feeling Good podcast really interesting and I've also bought and read Feeling Great, and I find myself often going back to the ideas in the book and podcast to help me with different situations. I think going through the exercises in the book helped me out a lot with medical anxiety. So, thank you for the recommendation!

I wrote some more potentially-disagreeable statements for the DC meetup today. Here are the ones that were actually controversial:

  • If I had the option to have my brain uploaded with perfect accuracy into a simulated life better than my current life, but only if it destroyed my physical brain and body in the process, I would take it.
  • Having more children today improves the world overall.

A good way to find good statements for this is asking random attendees: "What view do you have that you think lots of people here might disagree with?"

Couple more examples that came up from that:

  • Believing in the supernatural gives you benefits that you can't achieve without such beliefs.
  • If I had the option to use a Star Trek teleporter (which breaks down your body atom-by-atom and reassembles it somewhere else), I would/would not.
  • Morality exists independent of people in the world.

I rewrote the pair sorting code to pull from the output of a Google form, so you can just copy-paste and click a button to get the output. Should be easier to use than the Jupyter notebook version, and maybe easier/more robust than doing it finger-wise.

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