I found it in a book about rethinking aid to sub-Saharan Africa (Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo). If you google the quote it's either identified as a proverb or African proverb, so that's about as specific as I, or anyone else for that matter, can be. But I do appreciate the concern.
Whoops, didn't mean to retract that. The quote is "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - African proverb
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
Or could it have been an subconscious emotional response like bitterness or jealousy? Those get in the way of clear and rational thinking a lot. I could be totally off on this, of course, since you did say it was a bad example.
The logistic curve, for example, is extremely similar to the exponential curve for small values seeing as the latter is y' = ky and the former is y' = ky(1-y). That got Malthus with his whole doomsday arguments about population growth outstripping resources (at least for the time being).
If the book turns out to be good, it could be a good way to "spread the word," seeing as there doesn't seem to be a lot of Bayesian literature for the layman out there
Oh, i'm immediately reminded of the horrific scientific explanation in the movie 2012 that was something like, "The neutrinos are turning on us." Whatever that means.
I think people also invoke science in debates without the accompanying critical thinking skills that are supposed to go along with science, as if it's just a weapon and the more scientific "facts" you know, the better chance you'll have in winning the argument.
"If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way." --Bertrand Russell
Umm...I don't know how rigorous this explanation this is, but it might lead you in the right direction...because if you consider the Venn Diagram with probability spaces A and B, the probability space of A within B is given by the overlap of the two circles, or P(A∩B). Then you get the probability of landing in that space out of all the space in B...as in, the probability that if you choose circle B, you land in the overlap between A and B.
That's probably not what you were looking for, but hope it helps.
Yeah I know, but when I talk to people about rationality they're often like, "Don't be like Ayn Rand." I think there's been a post about it somewhere.
I actually disagree; the "Rationality" tagline is highly appropriate, especially as the singularitarians here are devoted to rational thought processes anyway in AI research.
I would, however, like to point out that the site seems to get mixed up with other groups as well:
"RationalWiki" - the highly politically partisan pro-science web page (kind of an opponent to LW, apparently.
Rationalism (philosophy) - Spinoza, Leibniz, Descartes (but they pretty much ignored empiricism so they have little to do with LW thinking)
Rationalism (Ayn Rand) - the worst kind. LW isn't a social-engineering organization, especially one committed to absolute "rational" selfishness.
So the tagline is good, but we should try not to get mixed up with those groups.