Book Review: Why Are The Prices So Damn High?

The blogger "Education Realist" disagrees with the argument that flat scores show that spending more on education hasn't resulted in any improvements. He argues that if you divide students up demographically, we have seen improvements. It's just that the shift in the composition of the student population masks that.


2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

I tend to dismiss Steven Landsburg's critique of the standard interpretation of experiments along the lines of the Ultimatum Game, since nobody really thinks it through like him. But I actually did think about it when taking this survey (which is not the same as saying it affected my response).

Humans are utility monsters

I think total utilitarianism already does that.

Humans are utility monsters

If I kill someone in their sleep so they don't experience death, and nobody else is affected by it (maybe it's a hobo or something), is that okay under the timeless view because their prior utility still "counts"?

Humans are utility monsters

The human vs animal issue makes more sense if we focus not on "utility" but "asskicking".

To what degree do you model people as agents?

I thought #3 was the definition of "agent", which I suppose is why it got that label. #1 sounds a little like birds confronted by cuckoo parasitism, which Eliezer might call "sphexish" rather than agenty.

Some highlights from Nate Silver's "The Signal and the Noise"

Does the bit on Gorbachev contain any references to Timur Kuran's work on preference falsification & cascades?

Model Combination and Adjustment

2: An outside view works best when using a reference class with a similar causal structure to the thing you're trying to predict. An inside view works best when a phenomenon's causal structure is well-understood, and when (to your knowledge) there are very few phenomena with a similar causal structure that you can use to predict things about the phenomenon you're investigating. See: The Outside View's Domain.

When writing a textbook that's much like other textbooks, you're probably best off predicting the cost and duration of the project by looking at similar textbook-writing projects. When you're predicting the trajectory of the serial speed formulation of Moore's Law, or predicting which spaceship designs will successfully land humans on the moon for the first time, you're probably best off using an (intensely informed) inside view.

Is there data/experiments on when each gives better predictions, as with Kahneman's original outside view work?

A New Interpretation of the Marshmallow Test

There's a bloggingheads episode on the marshmallow experiment, and its variations, here.

Factions, inequality, and social justice

Centrists view "radical" as a derogatory term, but I've come across lots of folks who embrace it.

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