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How is that 'weaselly'? Say there is a criminal who confesses to a crime, and quite obviously did it, but the police failed to properly Mirandize them, or otherwise unlawfully elicited the confession. Legally, you should find them not guilty, even if they likely committed the crime. Not guilty does not equal innocent.


For what it's worth, the chimps have me convinced.


I love that link. It reminds me of a poster I once saw which gave instructions on how to make electric generators, fixed wing aircraft, penicillin, and the like for prospective time travelers.


Great link. It reminds me of my freshman astronomy lab which actually had us students calculate for instance the diameter and mass of the Earth and sun, and through the semester moved up to the level of using parallax and blackbody spectra to calculate distance to various stars.


Pre-scientific societies have managed to build quite complex machinery. For instance the Antikythera mechanism, Roman textile mills, Egyptian irrigation systems, etc. Is it possible aliens could develop something as complex as a calculator without first attaining scientific literacy? If so electronics wouldn't necessarily prove scientific literacy to them.


True, but would you agree that it is more likely that rational entities attain spaceflight capabilities? Also, rationality is likely to share some universals, whereas religion seems far less likely to.


Funny story, but it raises a good point. Perhaps an expression of curiosity would be enough to convince them of our worthiness.


I like how pragmatic you're being. I am new here, but one of the things that attracted me to this site was the fact that much of the material is simply above my head. That's hard to find in informal public online communities outside of academia, and I feel that the very challenge of trying to wrap my head difficult material is an absolute necessity for keeping my math and statistics skills sharp. However, different people have different bars that they want to reach, and I do agree that more accessible material is a great idea. As for me, I have a voice for radio and a knack for stating difficult theories in an accessible way, so I think a good microphone will be my next purchase for my computer. Making a Youtube video or two on rationality would be a great way for me to contribute to this goal.


I certainly agree that it can seem that rationalists are lonelier, I'm just posing an alternate reason why. Though, perhaps your post deserves a more thoughtful reply than I gave.

Unfortunately, the question seems to be a difficult one to answer. First, we need to find a way to determine whether or not rationalists truly are more lonely. Loneliness seems like a tricky variable to quantify. Some ideas that spring to mind: You could measure the size of social circles using social network data or self-report surveys. Simply measure self-reported loneliness. Measure loneliness with some sort of psychological screening like you would measure introvertedness or conscientiousness. Record how often someone goes out with friends. Rationality might be easier to measure, except that I think self-report data would be unreliable, as it seems likely that like intelligence or competence at a given task, rationality would be underrated by those that have it and overrated by those who don't, but I'm sure the folks here at less wrong or elsewhere could write up a survey that measures it fairly well.

Then only once these variables are quantified, would we be able to see if there even is a correlation to begin with. Though it could be explained a number of ways. Rational people are attracted mainly to other rational people, and there are fewer rationalists than non-rationalists. Human social ques are emotionally rather than logically based. Rational people are more likely to be candid about sensitive topics, scaring away non-rationalists. People with psychological traits such as placement on the Asperger's scale or high introversion could be conducive to rationality and not conducive to social aptitude. Or a combination of any of these. it's an interesting topic, but I think we are a long way from being able to draw any big rational conclusions about it yet.


Perhaps you have conflated correlation and causation. It is possible that loners, or people who are less concerned with group conformity simply have more time and resources to devote to their rationality.

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