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Rationality Quotes Thread February 2015

Love it -- mainly because it invokes one of my favourite paradoxes.

If you preach hypocrisy, and you are in fact hypocritical, than you're not a hypocrite. And if you aren't a hypocrite, then you are.

The Importance of Sidekicks

“Clever kids in Ravenclaw, evil kids in Slytherin, wannabe heroes in Gryffindor, and everyone who does the actual work in Hufflepuff.”

You've already said it. But it doesn't hurt to repeat.

The Rubber Hand Illusion and Preaching to the Unconverted

I'm skeptical that experiments involving rubber hands are an effective way to gain social status.

You have some decent arguments (though ChristianKI's critiques show where they need work), but I think the weirdness factor is just too high. Even if someone were personally convinced, what happens when they try to tell their friends?

Mainly I found it very cool to read about Ramachandran and the table. It's especially interesting in the context of embodied cognition. If our mental lives are determined and made meaningful by the fact that we have physical bodies that we live in and have to make do stuff, how do we reconcile this with the notion that "There is a sense in which one’s body image is itself a ‘phantom’: one that the brain constructs for utility and convenience." ?

November 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread

In any reasonable class, the score should have exceeded 100%.

Perhaps in any ordinary class at a North American institution. But I don't think such grading schemes are reasonable -- there's more to reach for (and more humility, and much finer discrimination) when 80% is difficult to achieve.

Power and difficulty

No, you didn't.

And kudos (in the form of an upvote) to you for suggesting something to improve the niceness of rationalists -- as has been pointed out many times, that's something we should work on.

Yeah, instrumental rationality is (epistemically) easier -- on the writer as well as on the reader. Epistemic rationality requires rigor, which usually implies a lot of math. Instrumental rationality can be pretty successful with a few examples and a moderately useful analogy.

Power and difficulty

I had that problem too (from the commentary here, this lack of specific examples is the post's biggest issue) -- whatever examples I could come up with seemed distinctly unspectacular.

However, I think avoiding common failure modes -- being less wrong -- is a decent way to increase the expected value of your power.

Power and difficulty

Sure, it was snarky, but I thought it was funny.

It's a decent criticism of a decent chunk of LW, such that I don't have a great response to it. Check your accuracy at a meta-level to determine when to lie to yourself? That seems to be how this technique is used, but it feels like an unsatisfactory response.

A discussion of heroic responsibility

I'm wary of advice that doesn't generalize.

I'm wary of advice that does claim to generalize. Giving good advice is a hard problem, partly because it's so context-specific. Yes, there are general principles, but there are tons of exceptions, and even quite similar situations can trigger these exceptions.

Kant got into this kind of problem with (the first formulation of) the categorical imperative. There are many things that are desirable if some people, but not everybody, does them -- say, learning any specific skill or filling a particular social function.

What's difference between the nurse who should leave in order to take meta-level responsibility, and the nurse who should stay because she's needed as a gear?

There are several bad answers to this, and you're right to be suspicious of them. In particular, feeling like you're special is not sufficient reason to act like you're special.

But different people have different value systems and abilities. If people are given the opportunity to develop their skills (up to the limit of interest and/or natural ability), then they should differentiate their roles based on value systems.

In this case: some people want stability, family, friends etc., and some people want to change the world. (It gets difficult for those of us who want all of the above, unfortunately.) No, you don't get to dictate what other people can do with their lives. But I really think you're in no danger of doing so -- even if you do make a distinction between yourself and other nurses (which is really not arbitrary, as you seem to be afraid it is), you're just choosing your own path, not theirs.

A discussion of heroic responsibility

I probably am going to leave nursing.

This makes me sad to hear. It sounds like you've been really enjoying it. And I think that those of us here on LW have benefited from your perspective as a nurse in many ways -- you've demonstrated its worth as a career choice, and challenged people's unwarranted assumptions.

A discussion of heroic responsibility

Also, as an aside to the tangent, tangent is a strange phrase, since it doesn't actually touch the main point. Should be polar line or somesuch.

"Tangent" is perfectly appropriate -- it touches a point somewhere on the curve of the main argument, and then diverges. There is something that made the association with the tangent.

And, to further overextend this metaphor, this implies that if someone's argument is rough enough (i.e. not differentiable), then it's not even possible to go off it on a tangent.

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