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Rationality Quotes September 2013

I woke up one time with both arms completely numb. I tried to turn the light on and instead fell out of bed. I felt certain that I was going to die right then.

For-Profit Rationality Training

Rationality is a lot like grammar: it's good to have for any job, everybody learns most of what they'll ever learn as kids, and you lose it when you drink. The main difference is that people don't think of it as something to be learned.

As money-making operations go, there are quite a few that teach rationality without calling it that. QA and troubleshooting are both huge IT sectors that are entirely about applied rationality, and if you can prove that your rationality program benefits those organizations, you will get work from IT managers.

3DaFranker9yThat comparison is very impressive in its accuracy. It also clearly illustrates, for me, the massive critical failure of modern educational institutions to optimize for learning. Grammar is basically the very first thing a kid has to learn when entering school. Philosophy and rationality are barely even considered remotely approachable until far, far later, usually at a bachelors' level, if ever. Traditional view, even among philosophy and humanities teachers, seems to be that even basic rationality is "way too complex" for a child to learn. Anecdotal evidence: My personal experiment, with my younger sister, seems to demonstrate that younger minds are even better at learning and internalizing rationality. Anyway, to come back from that tangeant, I'll reiterate that I like the comparison between rationality and grammar. I also really hope good formal training regimens for rationality can be made in the very near future, be that through comparing with best available grammar training and martial arts training and QA/troubleshooting methods or through other means.
Game Theory As A Dark Art

Of course, it all gets into careful opponent analysis then, which makes the whole exercise quite fuzzy and into "well, Tom really hates the new guy, so he'll probably vote no because he's ornery" territory. All the directors are basing their decisions on the decisions of each other, since there is no reward for acting alone. Again, a second confederate in the beginning makes all the difference.

Game Theory As A Dark Art

Even without a precommitment etc., there isn't direct incentive to be the first or second "yes" vote, only the third. If you had two shills on the board, it's a much stronger scenario.

4Scott Alexander9yBut since there's such a strong incentive to be the third, if you are the second-most-senior-director and know that all the directors are strawmen-rational-actors, you can be pretty confident that if you vote yes, the most-senior-director will also vote yes.
Game Theory As A Dark Art

Your lackey proposes as follows: “I move that we vote upon the following: that if this motion passes unanimously, all members of the of the Board resign immediately and are given a reasonable compensation; that if this motion passes 4-1 that the Director who voted against it must retire without compensation, and the four directors who voted in favor may stay on the Board; and that if the motion passes 3-2, then the two 'no' voters get no compensation and the three 'yes' voters may remain on the board and will also get a spectacular prize - to wit, our com

... (read more)
3Xachariah9yIt seems to me the best option is to pass the proposal 3-2. Take 66% of the company's 51% share to regain board appointments, re-appoint the two who had to resign, and then kick off the lackey and get somebody else. They're buying back 34% of their shares for free.

This seems much like the Prisoners' Dilemma. Yes, you can avoid it easily if you can talk beforehand and trust everyone to go through with their precommitments. If you can't talk or you don't trust what they say, then it's much harder to avoid. After all, if the first two directors cooperated with the plan by voting no, then the second two directors would have a very high incentive to defect and vote yes.

In practice people are usually able to solve these for much the same reasons they can usually solve prisoners' dilemmas - things like altruism and reputational penalties.

1complexmeme9yAgreed. Pretty sure even if the other board members didn't see the exact nature of the trap, they'd still find it obvious that it is a trap, especially considering the source.
Evolutionary psychology as "the truth-killer"

"Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it's only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can't trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science? If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?" -Timothy Keller

This is so laden with assumptions that are not substantiated t... (read more)

Neuroscience basics for LessWrongians

Really, it can go either way, since saying things without being forced increases your belief in them (I imaging donating to charity does, as well).

[SEQ RERUN] The Comedy of Behaviorism

I don't buy that lying requires believing the lies even a little bit. Internalization may be important, but understanding religious thought and being able to speak about it convincingly doesn't require belief by any means.

It seems transparent that bad liars are exhibiting stress tics rather than trying to protect their internal narrative given the techniques for becoming a better liar (i.e. relax, practice, be confident) and the similarity to nervous people telling the truth when they're worried they'll get in trouble for it anyways (in the face of interrogation, for instance).

Building Weirdtopia

Or excellent skin-conductivity!

Procedural Knowledge Gaps

I had this problem for a long time, which can be embarrassing doing phone support, especially one with frequent callers that know my name and voice (one of only two men and we have distinct voices and greetings). I started intentionally using callers name's three times in every call and reaped several benefits: 1) I actually remember their names when they call back, 2) I'm better at remembering names having been told only once (even outside of work), and 3) my customer satisfaction scores had a marked and sustained increase.

Procedural Knowledge Gaps

I can't tell if people actually don't care or if they are just oblivious, but I hate when people try to strike up a conversation while I'm using a public toilet. Bad when it's a urinal, worse when it's a stall. Maybe this falls under "spaces where people go to get work done"?

Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

Apparently, the correction was in the form of altering essay and story questions to de-emphasize sports and business and ask more about arts and humanities. This hasn't been terribly effective. The gap is smaller in the verbal sections, but it's still there. Given that the entire purpose of the test is to predict college grades directly and women do better in college than men, explanations and theories abound.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

Of course, if you use IQ testing, it is specifically calibrated to remove/minimize gender bias (so is the SAT and ACT), and intelligence testing is horribly fraught with infighting and moving targets.

I can't find any research that doesn't at least mention that social factors likely poison any experimental result. It doesn't help any that "intelligence" is poorly defined and thus difficult to quantify.

Considering that men are more susceptible to critical genetic failure, maybe the mean is higher for men on some tests because the low outliers had defects that made them impossible to test (such as being stillborn)?

0OnTheOtherHandle9yThe SAT doesn't seem to be calibrated to make sure average scores are the same for math, at least. At least as late as 2006, there's still a significant gender gap [http://perfectscoreproject.com/2011/06/sat-gender-gap/].
Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

You'd have to raise the bar really far before any actual gender-based differences showed up. It seems far more likely that the cause is a cultural bias against intellectualism in women (women will under-report IQ by 5ish points and men over-report by a similar margin, women are poorly represented in "smart" jobs, etc.). That makes women present themselves as less intelligent and makes everyone perceive them as less intelligent.

0Desrtopa9yNot a rigorously conducted study, but this [http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/mofo-and-other-mysteries/] (third poll) suggests a rather greater tendency to at least overestimate if not willfully over-report IQ, with both men and women overestimating, but men overestimating more.
5juliawise9yDoes anyone know of a good graph that shows this? I've seen several (none citing sources) that draw the crossover in quite different places. So I'm not sure what the gender ratio is at, say, IQ 130.
The Power of Positivist Thinking

"Rationalists should win," mathematical tautology. Perfectly rational bayesian expected utility maximizers do just that. As humans, it is a good heuristic to avoid privileged rituals of thought.

There can be value in tautology for the purpose of drawing attention to an important point: "oh, I'm not winning, I am not a rationalist, then."

3[anonymous]9yExactly. When you are currently not holding one million dollars from one-boxing, then you are being irrational (assuming monotonically increasing utility from money), and should self-modify accordingly.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

I always think of that in the context of conflict resolution, and refer to it as "telling someone that what they did was idiotic, not that they are an idiot." Self-identifying is powerful, and people are pretty bad at it because of a confluence of biases.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

Specifically, her non-fiction work (if you find that sort of thing palatable) provides a lot more concrete discussion of her philosophy.

Unfortunately, Ayn Rand is little too... abrasive... for many people who don't agree entirely with her. She has a lot of resonant points that get rejected because of all the other stuff she presents along with it.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

It is particularly not rational to ignore the effect of your unconscious in your relationships. That fight is a losing battle (right now), so if having happy relationships is a goal, the pursuit of that requires you pay attention.

There is almost no average IQ differential, since men pad out the bottom as well. Greater chromosomal genetic variations in men lead to stupidity as often as intelligence.

Really, this gender disparity only matters at far extremes. Men may pad out the top and bottom 1% (or something like that) in IQ, but applied mathematicians aren... (read more)

7OnTheOtherHandle9ySorry, you're right, I did know that. (And it's exasperating to see highly intelligent men make the rookie mistake of saying "women are stupid" or "most women are stupid" because they happen to be high-IQ. There's an obvious selection bias - intelligent men probably have intelligent male friends but only average female acquaintances - because they seek out the women for sex, not conversation.) I was thinking about "IQ differentials" in the very broad sense, as in "it sucks that anyone is screwed over before they even start." I also suffer from selection bias, because I seek out people in general for intelligence, so I see the men to the right of the bell curve, while I just sort of abstractly "know" there are more men than women to the left, too.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)

Hello! I'm David.

I'm 26 (at the time of writing), male, and an IT professional. I have three (soon to be four) children, three (but not four) of which have a different dad.

My immediate links here were through the Singularity Institute and Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which drove me here when I realized the connection (I came to those things entirely separately!). When I came across this site, I had read through the Wikipedia list of biases several times over the course of years, come to many conscious conclusions about the fragility of my ... (read more)