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2014 Survey Results

P Supernatural: 6.68 + 20.271 (0, 0, 1) [1386]

P God: 8.26 + 21.088 (0, 0.01, 3) [1376]

The question for P(Supernatural) explicitly said "including God." So either LW assigns a median probability of at least one in 10,000 that God created the universe and then did nothing, or there's a bad case of conjunction fallacy.

Rationality Jokes Thread

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. It collapses into a gravitational singularity.

When should an Effective Altruist be vegetarian?

I tried something vaguely similar with completely different assumptions. I basically ignored the number of animal deaths in favor of minimizing the amount of animal torture. The whole thing was based on how many animals it takes before empathy kicks in, rather than an actual utility comparison.

I instinctively distrust animal-to-human utility conversions, but the ideal version of your method is better than the ideal version of mine. I do recommend that meat eaters do what I did to establish an upper bound, though. It might even convince someone to change their behavior, since it's based solely on convincing the human they already have the preference for eating less meat.

Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

Do you think we currently need more inequality, or less?

Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014

Compared to technological progress, there has been little or no social/political progress since the mid-18th century - if anything, there has been a regression

Regression? Since the 1750s? I realize Europe may be unusually bad here (at least, I hope so), but it took until 1829 for England to abolish the husband's right to punish his wife however he wanted.

What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong?

I once walked around a university campus convincing people that it's impossible to see the Moon during daylight hours. I think it was about 2/3 who believed me, at least until I pointed up.

What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong?

Just that moment. I definitely didn't follow any of its implications. (Other than "if I say this then people will react as if I said an obvious true thing.")

What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong?

I once believed that six times one is one.

I don't remember how it came up in conversation, but for whatever reason numbers became relevant and I clearly and directly stated my false belief. It was late, we were driving back from a long hard chess tournament, and I evidently wasn't thinking clearly. I said the words "because of course six times one is one." Everyone thought for a second and someone said "no it's not." Predictable reactions occurred from there.

The reason I like the anecdote is because I reacted exactly the same way I would today if someone corrected me when I said that six times one is six. I thought the person who corrected me must be joking; he knows math and couldn't possibly be wrong about something that obvious. A second person said that he's definitely not joking. I thought back to the sequences, specifically the thing about evidence to convince me I'm wrong about basic arithmetic. I ran through some math terminology in my head: of course six times one is one; any number times one is one. That's what a multiplicative identity means. In my head, it was absolutely clear that 6x1=1, this is required for what I know of math to fit together, and anything else is completely logically impossible.

It probably took a good fifteen seconds from me being called out on it before I got appropriately embarrassed.

This anecdote is now my favorite example of the important lesson that from the inside, being wrong feels exactly like being right.

Questions on Theism

The main prediction that comes to mind is that if Christianity is true, one would expect substantially more miracle claims by Christians (legitimate claims plus false ones) than by any other religion (false claims only).

This also assumes there isn't some saturation point of people only wanting to talk about so many miracles. (Ignoring buybuydandavis' point, which probably interacts with this one in unfortunate ways.) If people only forward X annoying chain emails per month, you'd expect X from each religion. The best we can hope for is the true religion having on average slightly more plausible claims since some of their miracles are true.

Questions on Theism

It wasn't actually a muscular condition. My friend is surprisingly unwilling to spread this around and only told me under the extreme circumstances of me telling her I might be about to become an atheist. I wanted to change enough that if she read this on the Internet she wouldn't know it was about her.

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