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Steve_Sailer comments on The Martial Art of Rationality - Less Wrong

42 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 November 2006 08:00PM

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Comment author: Steve_Sailer 24 November 2006 07:48:48PM 10 points [-]

I think you are accepting the advertising hooey of martial arts dojos too much at face value. Most people don't take martial arts for all the abstracted reasons that appear in the brochures, but because they want to feel they can win fights with other people.

Similarly, people don't want to learn how to be rational for the sake of being rational. Instead, you have to sell rationality for more human ends, such as being able to win arguments, or make money, or understand a particular field such as baseball statistics. You can learn a lot of general lessons about rationality from reading Bill James on baseball statistics, but it's not very exciting to study rationality for the sake of being rational.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 09 October 2012 08:01:44PM 10 points [-]

I did judo as a child. At first it was because my parents thought I'd develop physical self-confidence that way. It worked (and judo's something I'd recommend to any boy), but it doesn't take much training before you can win fights against most people. After that you stay interested because you want to beat other people at judo, just like any other sport.

So you might sell your rationality dojos as being about winning arguments, but pretty soon I imagine that the practitioners might get more interested in being right.

Most people will get very competitive the minute they've got something they can measure. Is there any form of transport which isn't raced? And most non-competitive people will get very competitive the moment they're in a fight they can win.

Suddenly I'm imagining a room where the sensei is describing the Amanda Knox case, and the students are asking him questions and debating with each other, and after all the talking is done, people place and take bets on the result at various odds, and then the sensei reveals the actual answer and the correct reasoning. And ranking points are transferred accordingly, and there is a ladder on the wall where names are listed in order with the scores.

I already reckon I could seriously enjoy such a game. Who wants to play?

Comment author: [deleted] 09 October 2012 08:04:57PM 2 points [-]

I'm in as long as we don't discuss the Amanda Knox case.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 10 October 2012 07:18:19PM 20 points [-]

I mentioned it only because it seems to have been a unique triumph for Less Wrong. I'd read about the case, and thought nothing of it particularly. And then people here started saying "Look at it from a probabilistic point of view", and so I did, and after a few hours head-scratching and diagram-drawing I realized that it was almost certainly a miscarriage.

I mentioned this to a few people I know, and they reacted pretty well as you'd expect to a middle-aged man suddenly getting a bee in his bonnet about a high-profile sex murder case involving pretty girls.

When she was eventually acquitted, various people said "How did you do that?". And the mathematically minded types were quite impressed with the answer, while the muggles think I've got some sort of incomprehensible maths-witchcraft thing that I can do to find out the truth.

Which is exactly the sort of thing you might want to sell, if you can find a way to teach it.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 October 2012 07:21:35PM 18 points [-]

Er, you have some sort of incomprehensible maths-witchcraft thing that you can do to find out the truth.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 October 2012 07:29:33PM 1 point [-]

Fair enough.

Comment author: shminux 10 October 2012 10:38:32PM 2 points [-]

I mentioned it only because it seems to have been a unique triumph for Less Wrong.

Why has it been so unique? Surely there are plenty of high-profile predictions one can make using the same Bayesian techniques? (Or one can simply ask gwern, who is apparently well calibrated after a thousand or so recorded predictions.)

Comment author: somervta 11 October 2012 09:28:07PM 0 points [-]

The key here was in applying Bayes, not in being especially calibrated.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 12 October 2012 05:49:53PM 2 points [-]

Well actually I was just wondering about that.

What other claims like 'Amanda Knox is innocent' can we make, in the sense that (a) they're counter common thinking (b) we're pretty sure we're right (c) there's likely to be a resolution in our favour soon?

The Amanda Knox thing was a surprising prediction that came true. More of those would be neat.

Comment author: Morendil 10 October 2012 08:58:30PM 0 points [-]

cough GJP cough

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 11 October 2012 10:20:22AM 0 points [-]

GJP?

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 11 October 2012 10:23:00AM *  4 points [-]

GJP?

The Good Judgment Project is basically a prediction tournament. If The Sequences are like kata and PredictionBook is like randori, then prediction tournaments are like competitive Judo.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 12 October 2012 05:50:34PM 0 points [-]

Thanks. Signed up for it.

Comment author: Morendil 11 October 2012 11:34:00AM 0 points [-]