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What are some low-information priors that you find practically useful for thinking about the world?

There‘ll always be time for the timeless literature later but the timely literature gives you the most bang for your buck if you read it now.

That's not true, because one's lifespan is limited. If you're constantly focusing on the timely, you in fact will not have time for the timeless.

How far along are you on the Lesswrong Path?

Why is there such a large gap of exploration into emotions on Lesswrong. Is it because they are colloquially the anathema to rationality?

I don't think that's accurate. In fact, Eliezer says as much in Why Truth?. He explicitly calls out the view that rationality and emotion are opposed, using the example of the character of Mr. Spock in Star Trek to illustrate his point. In his view, Mr. Spock is irrational, just like Captain Kirk, because denying the reality of emotions is just as foolish as giving in wholeheartedly to them. If your emotions rest on true beliefs, then they are rational. If they rest on false beliefs they are irrational. The fact that they are instinctive emotions rather than reasoned logic is irrelevant to their (ir)rationality.

I think LessWrong has actually done a fairly good job at avoiding this mistake. If we look at the posts on circling [1], [2], for example, you'll see that they're all about emotions and management of emotions. The same applies to Comfort Zone Expansion, ugh fields, meditation and Looking, and kenshō. It's just that few of them actually mention the word "emotion" in their titles, which might lead one to the false assumption that they are not about emotions.

When a status symbol loses its plausible deniability, how much power does it lose?

I don't think so, actually. The average age for entering Harvard, as an undergraduate is 18 years old. I don't think there's any faster way of meeting people who are likely to be influential. Even if you do something high-variance like starting a company, is that going to get you meeting the same sorts of people right away that getting into Harvard will? Probably not.

What are the open problems in Human Rationality?

And what game have those "big guns" allowed you to bag that the lesser guns of "ordinary common sense" would not have?

There are lots of people who do lots of amazing things without having once read Kahneman, without having once encountered any literature about cognitive biases. If we are proposing that rationality is some kind of special edge that will allow us to accomplish things that other people cannot accomplish, we had better come up with some examples, hadn't we?

What's Your Cognitive Algorithm?

Super naive question: given all we know about the myriad ways in which the brain fools itself, and more specifically, the ways that subconscious mental activities fool our conscious selves, why should we trust introspection? More specifically, why should I believe that the way I perceive myself to think is the way I actually think (as opposed to an abstraction put up by my subconscious)?

My model is that any psychological model that relies on introspection is going to be inherently flawed. If we want to learn how people think, we should observe their actions, and carefully watch how people behave in response to different stimuli and situations. I think asking people how they think tells us more about how they rationalize their thinking than it does about how they actually think.

The Economic Consequences of Noise Traders

That's a good thing to point out, though, it's also worth pointing out that Fama's papers on the efficient market hypothesis date from 1965. Neither the Efficient Market Hypothesis nor the responses to it are fresh results at this date.

Also worth pointing out is that both DeLong, et. al. and Fama's original paper long predate the recent growth of low-fee index funds.

Self-Predicting Markets

In the long run, the smarter agents in the system will tend to accrue more wealth than the dumber agents.

Only if the smarter agents also have similar amounts of capital as the dumber agents. As Delong, Shleifer, Summers and Waldman showed, dumb agents can force smart agents out of the market by "irrationally" driving market prices up or down far enough to exhaust the limited capital reserves of the smart agents.

Self-Predicting Markets

“Nail in the coffin of the EMH” is a fun phrase to say, but as always, the bottom line is that if you’re so sure, why aren’t you shorting Hertz?

Because the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. It's entirely possible that Hertz is incorrectly valued, but if you short Hertz now, then you had better have enough liquidity to survive the margin calls caused by irrational exuberance.

Self-Predicting Markets

We have to remember that businesses don't go bankrupt because they're unprofitable. Businesses go bankrupt because they're unable to make payments on their debt. The two are related, but not identical. It's possible that Hertz, as a company, is fundamentally solvent, but was caught out by a combination of high debt load and a sudden shortfall in cash flow. We've seen the same with airline bankruptcies in the past. The business can be fundamentally profitable, but a combination of thin margins and high capital requirements means that any sudden shortfall in cashflow means bankruptcy as the business is suddenly unable to make payments on the loans that it has taken out. The bankruptcy process (Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection) is designed to give legal protection to a business so that it can renegotiate its loans and emerge as a functional business without being liquidated.

I haven't run the numbers on Hertz myself, but it did seem to be a profitable business before the coronavirus pandemic caused all travel to basically go to zero. It's entirely possible to think that, at some point, the pandemic will end, and at that point people will want to start traveling and renting cars once again. Buying Hertz shares now, when they're almost valueless, is a cheap way to bet that a recovery will occur.

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