Marion Z.


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85 is really not that low. It's an entire standard deviation above the usual threshold for diagnosis of intellectual disability. It puts the guy in the 16th percentile. I would not expect that person, who as he says has gone to college and done well there, to have issues writing coherent sentences.

No, around the same level as Socrates. 

We are sure with 99%+ probability both were real people, it would be possible but really difficult to fake all the evidence of their existence. 

We are sure with quite high but lesser probability that the broad strokes of their life are correct: Socrates was an influential philosopher who taught Plato and was sentenced to death, Muhammad was a guy from Mecca who founded Islam and migrated to Medina, then returned to Mecca with his followers. 

We think some of the specific details written about them in history books might be true, but definitely not all of them. Muhammad might have lived in a cave during his young life, and Socrates might have refused to escape from his death sentence, etc.

Anecdotally, I started casually reading Less Wrong/Overcoming Bias when I was 12. I didn't really get it, obviously, but I got it enough to explain some basic things about biases and evidence and probability to an uninitiated person

Agreed on the first point, learning about lying is good. On the parenting bit, I'll preface this by saying I don't have kids but this seems like a great way to create a "dark rationalist". I am not perfectly or near-perfectly honest, though I admire people who are and think it's probably a good idea, but rewarding skilled lies as a training tool feels dangerous. 

Neutral on the second point, Santa may in fact be a useful deception but I think there are associated downsides and I don't feel strongly either way.

Absolutism can be useful because parents are supposed to be constants in their childrens' lives, reliable and consistent. Absolute rules such as "I will not say literally false things to my child ever" build a lot of trust, implicit and explicit, especially when you have demonstrated your willingness to adhere to it in situations where you really really don't want to. And parent-child trust is, anecdotally, by far the most influential factor on young adult happiness I have ever seen. 

The Aes Sedai have the advantage that Robert Jordan is writing books, and whenever he needs to demonstrate that Aes Sedai can capably mislead while telling the truth, he arranges the circumstances such that this is possible. In real life, seriously deceiving people about most topics on the fly - that is, in a live conversation - without making untrue statements is pretty hard, unless you've prepared ahead of time. It's not impossible, but it's hard enough that I would definitely have a higher baseline of belief in the words of someone who is committed to not telling literal lies.

Sorry for doing such an insane necro here, and I'll delete if asked, but I don't think this is right at all. Broadly, in the real world, I accept the premise "avoiding listening to opposing positions is bad." I do not believe that "if you really don't think you could stand up to debate with a talented missionary, maybe you aren't really an atheist" because I don't think it scales up. 

I am a human, I have mechanisms for deciding what I believe that are not based on rationality. I have worked very hard to break and adapt some of those mechanisms to align more with rationality, but they still exist.  An arbitrarily good debater/absurdly charismatic person could absolutely, with time, override all of the work that has been done to make me accept things like logic and evidence as the basis for the world. In truth, I'm not sure that such a charismatic or intelligent person exists on Earth, and if they did I don't know why they would want to convince me of these things, but I can imagine a person who would and could. And I do not think that being able to imagine that person means I should stop believing in what I believe, because I am not a perfect rationalist. 

In practice, your answer is almost always right. If Adolf Hitler is charismatic and convincing enough to override your "nazism is bad" belief, you probably didn't hold it very strongly or are not doing rationalism very well, or he is right (just to clarify, he is not). You should expect that he cannot convince you, and if you have a decent reason to read his work you should not avoid it for fear of being convinced. But the argument doesn't generalize 100% of the time, is all I'm saying

But you've perfectly forgotten about the hoodlum, so you will in fact one box. Or, does the hoodlum somehow show up and threaten you in the moment between the scanner filling the boxes and you making your decision? That seems to add an element of delay and environmental modification that I don't think exists in the original problem, unless I'm misinterpreting. 

Also, I feel like by analyzing your brain to some arbitrarily precise standard, the scanner could see 3 things:  You are (or were at some point in the past) likely to think of this solution, you are/were likely to actually go through with this solution, and the hoodlum's threat would, in fact, cause you to two-box, letting the scanner predict that you will two-box.

I mean I think the obvious answer is that an adult isn't universally entitled to their parents subsidizing their law school tuition. The actual concern is that people can brainwash their kids from a very early age, so they don't see the choices they actually have as legitimate, but I think that's a nearly intractable problem in any system. You could fix it, but only with absurd levels of tyranny.

Only replying to a tiny slice of your post here, but the original (weak) Pascal's wager argument actually does say you should pretend to believe even if you secretly don't believe, for various fuzzy reasons such as societal influence, and that maybe God will see that you were trying, and that sheer repetition might make you believe a little bit eventually

That seems entirely reasonable, insofar as the death penalty is at all. I don't think we should be going around executing people, but if we're going to then we might as well save a few lives by doing it

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