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Free copy of Feynman's autobiography for best corny rationalist joke

13 Post author: GreenRoot 04 April 2010 12:32AM

Portrait of Richard FeynmanI have an extra copy of Richard Feyman's autobiography, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Aventures of a Curious Character, which I want to give away here.

This is one of two autobiographies (along with Ben Franklin's) to actually change my life.  I've seen it quoted often on LessWrong, as Feynman has a point of view on life that fits well with the ideas we explore here.  In addition to his rationalist side, Feynman also exhibited a wonderfully free sense of humor. Even when working at the Manhattan Project, he joked around and never took himself too seriously.  I think our community would benefit if the rationalism here were likewise leavened by some self-deprecating humor.

I will mail the autobiography, at my expense, to whomever posts the best corny rationalist joke in the comments below, as judged by karma voting.  Anything goes.  Here's a little inspirational prompting:

  • How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? ...
  • Two rationalists walk into a bar. ...
  • You might be a rationalist if ...

Edit (April 12th): The winner of the corny rationalist joke contest is this one-liner by SilasBarta, which collected 17 net up-votes:

Rationalist pick-up line: "I would never cheat on you if and only if you would never cheat on me if and only if I would never cheat on you."

The runner-up (and my personal favorite) is this exchange by Bo102010, which collected 14 net up-votes.   The full comment thread for this one has an explanation and suggested refinements.

A rationalist walks into a bar with two bartenders. The rationalist asks "What's the best drink to get tonight?"

The first bartender says "The martini."

The second bartender says "The gin and tonic."

The first bartender repeats "The martini."

The second bartender repeats "The gin and tonic."

The first says again "The martini."

The second says again "The gin and tonic."

Then the first says "The gin and tonic."

The rationalist smiles and says, "I'm glad you could come to an agreement."

Thanks to everybody who contributed and voted on corny jokes.

Comments (53)

Comment author: Prismattic 27 November 2011 05:09:54PM 19 points [-]

Q: What do you call it when a bayesian loses an argument?

A: Getting your posterior handed to you.

Comment author: wnoise 27 November 2011 08:45:36PM 9 points [-]

I think this works better as "lose an argument with a Bayesian". Because then the Bayesian really does hand you your new belief.

Comment author: Tom_Talbot 07 April 2010 08:11:55PM 14 points [-]

A pickup line: "I want to update on your posterior."

Recommended accompaniment: the "buddy" gesture

Comment author: SilasBarta 04 April 2010 03:22:32AM 27 points [-]

Rationalist pick-up line: "I would never cheat on you if and only if you would never cheat on me if and only if I would never cheat on you."

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 04 April 2010 06:26:58AM 0 points [-]

first one to make me laugh out loud. +1

Comment author: MichaelHoward 04 April 2010 10:46:45PM 26 points [-]

How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

They don't screw it up. They keep it steady while the world revolves around their priors.

Two rationalists walk into a bar. ...

One to have a drink, the other to be the control.

You might be a rationalist if ...

You ask people what they think before showing them evidence so you can tell them what they think afterwards.

Comment author: Rune 04 April 2010 04:03:29AM 16 points [-]

You're a rationalist if there's a portrait of you in an attic somewhere getting increasingly irrational everyday.

Comment author: bogdanb 06 April 2010 06:47:03PM 0 points [-]

I don’t get it.

Comment author: MattPrather 11 April 2010 10:15:22PM 5 points [-]

The point is that none of us is rational.

Dorian Gray never aged because he had a magic picture of himself which actually aged for him; his image in the portrait got older and older even as he himself stayed the same age.

So a true rationalist would have a magic picture of himself "being irrational", as humans do, in his stead.

Comment author: steven0461 06 April 2010 06:49:12PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: bogdanb 08 April 2010 07:32:52AM 0 points [-]

That’s the only reference that came to my head, but how is it related to rationalism specifically?

Comment author: Rain 05 April 2010 11:15:53PM *  16 points [-]

What did one cryonically frozen head say to the other cryonically frozen head?

"Well. My subjective anticipation was way off on this one."

Comment author: neq1 06 April 2010 02:49:45PM 20 points [-]

A rationalist sits down next to an attractive woman at the bar.

He asks "are you familiar with immediate reward bias?"

"No," she responds.

"Well, people tend to place irrationally high value on immediate rewards, relative to future rewards. So, for example, they might prefer $50 today over $55 next week. This is a bias that a more rational person can take advantage of in trade negotiations. Unfortunately, I am an impatient person. With that in mind, I have an offer for you. If you agree to have sex with me ONCE tonight, I will agree to have sex with you TWICE next week."

Comment author: CronoDAS 06 April 2010 02:58:36PM *  13 points [-]

From "A Beautiful Mind":

I don't exactly know what I am required to say in order for you to have intercourse with me. But could we assume that I said all that. I mean essentially we are talking about fluid exchange right? So could we go just straight to the sex.

::slap::

Comment author: [deleted] 27 November 2011 06:11:08PM 3 points [-]

Reminds me of the “standard wager” between Marshall and Lily in How I Met Your Mother: “If [I win] we'll have sex in the bathroom, but if [you win] we'll have sex in the bathroom.”

Comment author: Username 06 April 2015 10:02:41PM 0 points [-]

but discount rates don't have anything to do with rationality...

Comment author: Tom_Talbot 07 April 2010 07:52:44PM 10 points [-]

A pickup line: "I'll maximise your utility if you utilise my virility."

Comment author: Benito 04 May 2014 04:36:56PM 4 points [-]

I'll maximise your utility if you utilise my masculinity.

Comment author: Strange7 04 April 2010 01:37:04AM *  12 points [-]

How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Three.

  • One to calculate a confidence interval for the torque necessary to secure a bulb without shattering it, starting from Newtonian priors and updating based on research into the yield strength of glass.

  • One to run a cost/benefit analysis on future electricity usage vs. the black-swan risks associated with insufficient lighting (those darn feathery ninjas...)

  • One to be genuinely surprised that the burnt-out bulb is still hot.

Comment author: Bo102010 04 April 2010 01:18:06AM *  17 points [-]

A rationalist walks into a bar with two bartenders. The rationalist asks "What's the best drink to get tonight?"

The first bartender says "The martini."

The second bartender says "The gin and tonic."

The first bartender repeats "The martini."

The second bartender repeats "The gin and tonic."

The first says again "The martini."

The second says again "The gin and tonic."

Then the first says "The gin and tonic."

The rationalist smiles and says, "I'm glad you could come to an agreement."

Comment author: Sly 04 April 2010 08:55:50AM 2 points [-]

I do not understand this one, care to explain?

Comment author: Bo102010 04 April 2010 02:42:40PM *  15 points [-]

The first bartender states his estimate for the best drink.

The second bartender has her own estimate, but knows that the first bartender is also qualified to make a good estimation. Her estimate of the quality of the martini thus increases. She compares her earlier estimate of the quality of the gin and tonic to the updated estimate for the martini, and finds the gin and tonic to still be the better drink.

The first bartender hears this, and increases his estimate of the gin and tonic's quality - not only does the second bartender think the gin and tonic is better, she thinks it's better even though he recommended the martini. He compares his new estimate of the quality of the gin and tonic to his estimate of the quality of the martini and finds the martini to still be superior.

Etc. etc. etc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aumann%27s_agreement_theorem).

Comment author: gwern 06 April 2010 03:03:20PM 2 points [-]

I like that a lot, but I don't think it's particularly corny. Also, may I suggest different wording? 'gin and tonic' is too long and too many syllables; it spoils the back and forth rhythm and isn't memorable. Perhaps use 2 drinks which are both one syllable?

Comment author: Larks 06 April 2010 07:42:56PM 0 points [-]

Haven't you got more iterations than is necessary for Aumann's?

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 06 April 2010 07:44:58PM 5 points [-]

Hmm? Aumann's theorem is about the infinite limit.

Comment author: Bo102010 07 April 2010 01:51:02AM 2 points [-]

It depends on how strong each favors their own drink - see (http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/01/the_coin_guessi.html) for an example to enhance you understanding.

Comment author: Rain 07 April 2010 02:27:05PM *  7 points [-]

Two rationalists walk into a bar.

After gathering first hand observations on the thought-diminishing properties of liquor and the poor quality of companionship, they both nod, evidence confirmed, and walk back out without a word.

Comment author: Aurini 05 April 2010 05:19:42PM 13 points [-]

A rationalist, a priest, a sociopath, and a pedophile walk into a bar.

He orders a drink and thinks to himself "Well, this is definitely more fun than when I used to be a Nazi."

Comment author: [deleted] 07 April 2010 01:26:35AM 10 points [-]

How many rationalists does it take to make an apple pie from scratch?

One, but first they have to build an AI that can create a whole universe.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 05 April 2010 03:45:10PM 2 points [-]

Apparently wikipedia had a link to the full text, if anyone is interested.

Comment author: Morendil 04 April 2010 05:14:34PM *  5 points [-]

Why did the rationalist cross the road?

Because his/her preference scheme assigned a high value to being on the other side.

Comment author: Morendil 05 April 2010 11:28:59AM 22 points [-]

And why did they cross back?

Indexical inconsistency.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 05 April 2010 06:24:21AM 5 points [-]

Rationalists do it while entangled.

Comment author: Rune 04 April 2010 03:31:26AM 8 points [-]

Rationalist pickup line: "If I asked you out, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?"

Comment author: ciphergoth 04 April 2010 12:03:46PM 22 points [-]

"Indeed it would: fuck right off."

Comment author: steven0461 05 April 2010 09:37:23PM 6 points [-]

This doesn't work as an answer. It would work without the "indeed it would".

Comment author: MattPrather 11 April 2010 10:09:43PM *  2 points [-]

Do we have to be so literal? I like it better with the "indeed it would"...

Comment author: [deleted] 07 April 2010 08:09:12PM 2 points [-]

A rationalist and a christian argue about the existance of god. When the rationalist is bored he finally says: "Listen, the probability of god existing is about as small as winning the lottery, so if you win the lottery next week we can talk." They meet again next week and the christian did in fact win the lottery so the rationalist says: "Yeah, I calculated it again and it's more like winning the lottery twice." The week after they meet again and much to the horror of the rationalist the christian won the lottery a second time. He doesn't know what to answer so they part again and meet again the third week. The rationalist says: "Well, the probability of that happening was insignificantly small, so I think I need to update my beliefs and acknowledge the fact that there might be a god." Says the christian: "Well, I just realized I am rich now. I don' think I believe in god anymore."

Comment author: brian_jaress 06 April 2010 07:45:51AM *  2 points [-]

A theologian, a lawyer, and a rationalist meet at a cocktail party.

"Theology is the most intellectually demanding field," says the theologian. "The concepts are so abstract, and many key texts are obscurely written."

"Oh please," says the lawyer. "I once knew a bright fellow who became a theologian because he couldn't make it as a lawyer. He read and studied and tore his hair out, but he just couldn't get how the law works."

"I've got you both beat," says the rationalist. "Rationalism is so hard, no one's figured it out!"

EDIT: Too bad there's no prize for the lowest rated joke. Sorry if this joke offended people. It wasn't meant to reflect badly on any of the characters or anyone in real life.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 15 February 2012 03:16:42PM 1 point [-]

I don't think people were offended -- it probably just didn't make them laugh. The punchline's rather weak -- or else I don't get it.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 April 2010 04:55:41PM 1 point [-]

Two which the theologian and the lawyer reply, "Of course they have! It's just the art of proving that Socrates is mortal!"

Comment author: YYUUUU 05 April 2010 10:15:47AM 1 point [-]

Rationalist overheard in hell:

“…I was on-track for upstairs until they found my frozen brain - what a fucking stupid idea that was…”

Comment author: gwern 06 April 2010 03:04:38PM 2 points [-]

I don't follow.

Comment author: YYUUUU 07 April 2010 02:27:12AM 3 points [-]

Let me try a rewrite...

Rationalist overheard in hell:

"... I wouldn't even be down here if they hadn't found my frozen brain - talk about a Smoking Gun..."

Comment author: Tom_Talbot 07 April 2010 07:08:33PM 33 points [-]

Awww... Don't downvote YYUUUU, It's rationalist anti-humour! What a great idea!

How do you prevent a rapidly self-replicating em from driving wages down to subsistence level?

HIT IT WITH AN AXE


A p-zombie walks into a bar but is fundamentally incapable of perceiving its situation and so to derive humour would be exploitative.


A guy walks into an AI conference and says he thinks he can create Friendly AI using complex emergent chaotic simulated paradigms.

So I stabbed him.

Comment author: JGWeissman 04 April 2010 05:03:49AM 1 point [-]

Rationalist pickup line: "Hey baby, you want to mutually cooperate in a Prisoner's Dilemma?"

Comment author: YYUUUU 08 April 2010 08:47:21AM 0 points [-]

How do you irritate a rationalist?

Sprinkle magic-dust on her ears so they grow large on Mondays

Comment author: Nic_Smith 05 April 2010 11:07:17PM 0 points [-]

Politics is like d-CON; it kills rationality.

Comment author: LucasSloan 06 April 2010 12:29:18AM 1 point [-]

Can someone explain this? I think it has something to do with D&D, but rat isn't something that I'm aware of.

Comment author: Rain 06 April 2010 12:32:23AM 2 points [-]

d-CON is a brand of rat and mice killer products.

Comment author: Tom_Talbot 07 April 2010 06:42:29PM *  8 points [-]

The obscurity of that rationalist pun is abayesing.

Comment author: [deleted] 15 February 2012 02:35:06PM *  -1 points [-]

Rationalist pick-up line: Hey baby, mind if I touch up your priors?