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prase comments on Bayes' Theorem Illustrated (My Way) - Less Wrong

126 Post author: komponisto 03 June 2010 04:40AM

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Comment author: prase 03 June 2010 09:28:38AM *  20 points [-]

In my defense, we've had other elementary posts before, and they've been found useful; plus, I'd really like this to be online somewhere, and it might as well be here.

It's quite interesting that people feel a need to defend themselves in advance when they think their post is elementary, but almost never feel the same obligation when the post is supposedly too hard, or off-topic, or inappropriate for other reason. More interesting given that we all have probably read about the illusion of transparency. Still, seems that inclusion of this sort of signalling is irresistible, although (as the author's own defense has stated) the experience tells us that such posts usually meet positive reception.

As for my part of signalling, this comment was not meant as a criticism. However I find it more useful if people defend themselves only after they are criticised or otherwise attacked.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 03 June 2010 11:21:22AM 6 points [-]

It's conceivable that people being nervous about posts on elementary subjects means that they're more careful with elementary posts, thus explaining some fraction of the higher quality.

Comment author: prase 03 June 2010 12:59:12PM *  5 points [-]

It is possible. However I am not sure that the elementary posts have higher average quality than other posts, if the comparison is even possible. Rather, what strikes me is that you never read "this is specialised and complicated, but nevertheless I decided to post it here, because..."

There still apparently is a perception that it's a shame to write down some relatively simple truth, and if one wants to, one must have a damned good reason. I can understand the same mechanism in peer reviewed journals, where the main aim is to impress the referee and demonstrate the author's status, which increases chances to get the article published. (If the article is trivial, it at least doesn't do harm to point out that the autor knows it.) Although this practice was criticised here for many times, it seems that it is really difficult to overcome it. But at least we don't shun posts because they are elementary.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 03 June 2010 01:09:19PM 17 points [-]

A piece of advice I heard a long time ago, and which has sometimes greatly alleviated the boredom of being stuck in a conference session, is this: If you're not interested in what the lecturer is talking about, study the lecture as a demonstration of how to give a lecture.

By this method even an expert can learn from a skilful exposition of fundamentals.