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Game Theory As A Dark Art

if another bidder has bid $1, you can enter the auction with 2$ and promise the other bidder $2 if you win the auction.

A Parable On Obsolete Ideologies

thank you for this great article.

I Was Not Almost Wrong But I Was Almost Right: Close-Call Counterfactuals and Bias

You used the terms "high-need-for-closure" and "low-need-for-closure" quite a lot in you essay. Would you mind explaining what they mean and/or linking to somewhere I can look up the definition, since I am not familiar with them?

Could you maybe also explain what those tests are and how they work (the ones to measure need for closure)?

My Algorithm for Beating Procrastination

You should try to estimate as good as possible (i.e. without falling into fallacies) for yourself. Then you can still decide it's best to lie (a.k.a. self-promote). But getting false information won't do you any good.

Hearsay, Double Hearsay, and Bayesian Updates

Thanks for this article. I now finally start to understand the sense behind the judge/jury system, which I always found a little strange (compared to just a qualified judge making the whole decision).

Avoid misinterpreting your emotions

Positive emotions, too, can be correct or mistaken.

it's lines like this that make me a little uneasy about your essay. If you say that sometimes emotions are worth listening too and sometimes not, doesn't this imply that they are quite worthless as an advisor? If they are wrong roughly the same amount as they are right, that does not mean that they are "half good" it means they totally fail, as a coinflip would give you the same result. Shouldn't it then be the conclusion that one should just ignore emotion all together and rethink issues from scratch if they are somehow relevant? In other words: if you are forced to reconsider all the data given by emotional input anyway, what good is it in the first place?

Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable

Sorry for double post. Actually I did think about this again and I think there is a way to almost disprove what I said above.

I think what can and will be disproven is the idea of "Soul". Basically we already know about a lot of connections not only between brain and body function (like "which are is correlated to which operations") but we know some things about correlation brain-personality! (If you want a really good introduction on brain-mind correlations that is not overly technical, see "The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of Subjective Experience" by Marc Solms and Oliver Turnbull) So, first we have to ask us what scope the soul has. I think, that if the soul doesn't comprehend "personality", it is a totally useless concept. But then, on can disprove the existence of a soul distinct from the body: there are various cases of patients (the most notable, although probably not documented precisely enough is the one about Phineas Gage, 1823-1860) that due to damage in the brain (usually the frontal lobes) changed their personality in more or less dramatic ways.

So one definitely has (or will have, if more of those kind of findings pop up) to relinquish the idea of a soul-matter duality. And there you have your whole worldview crumbling down.

The only thing one could possibly believe in then, would be a god who created the universe. But if he isn't correlated to reality even after one's death or after the supposed apocalypse (what sense would that make if personality/soul was body-dependant?), then what difference does believing or not imply? and one definitely couldn't base morals or ethics on such an independent god...

Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable

What happens however, if one simply goes at the very core of monotheism and states "God exists, created the Universe (by Big Bang if you like), from which life arose because he built the laws of physics that way. And he will someday end the universe and create a new one with only the souls he judges good." What part of that can one disprove exactly? I'm not saying it is a valid theory, it isn't exactly because it can't be disproven. I don't know you, but the christians I know don't use the bible as their strict code of ethics and don't believe in creationism. Of course one could substitute "Flying Spaghetti Monster" for "God" in the sentence above, but the fact remains that one can never disprove that a supernatural being exists.

This, for me, means that such an existence is orthogonal to reality, and therefore one might as well ignore it. For others it means, that they might as well believe in it.

Circular Altruism

I don't know if I understood your circular argument right, but you are basically saying that if 50 years of torture for one person (50yt1) < dustspeck for a googolplex (ds10^10^100) then 50yt1>49.9999999yt10^100>49.9999998yt10^200>...>ds10^10^100

if this is not what you are saying, then I don't understand your point and ask to elucidate it. if it is, then I think there is a serious flaw here: in the 50yt1 scenario, someone is suffering, i.e. feeling pain in the ds10^10^100 scenario, there is a mere annoyance. There has therefore to be a point in that sequence, where one can consistently argue X10^Y<X'10^2Y, where X is the last "pain", X' is the first mere annoyance, therefore interrupting the chain.

I hope this is understandable.

EDIT to avoid double post: I think the kind of reasoning you are using is very, very dangerous if you try a gradual transformation between two things with different quality not just quantity. It is clear that the two extremes of the sequence have a different quality, but you are assuming the only thing that changes is quantity.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

Hello folks! I am a 18 year old italian Student who will start studying Mathematics in Germany this year. I was always interested in the way of the rational/scientific method, and since I remember tried to use it to reason about almost everything.

A month ago some friends showed me HPMoR, which I read in like 3 days and really enjoyed it. So finally I came here. I read some subsequences and various single topics, including a lot of the comments, which I found almost always very interesting.

This blog opened my eyes especially on cognitive biases thing. Often had I noted in hindsight that I had made poor decisions or evaluated a situation badly, but I never really saw how this could happen. So I am very glad to learn the causes behind those mistakes in judgment, so I'll hopefully be able to avoid them sometimes. I finally decided to register, so I might comment from time to time, when I think I have something to say.

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