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retired_urologist comments on The Level Above Mine - Less Wrong

44 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 September 2008 09:18AM

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Comment author: retired_urologist 26 September 2008 02:40:04PM 7 points [-]

@EY: We are the cards we are dealt, and intelligence is the unfairest of all those cards. More unfair than wealth or health or home country, unfairer than your happiness set-point. People have difficulty accepting that life can be that unfair, it's not a happy thought. "Intelligence isn't as important as X" is one way of turning away from the unfairness, refusing to deal with it, thinking a happier thought instead. It's a temptation, both to those dealt poor cards, and to those dealt good ones. Just as downplaying the importance of money is a temptation both to the poor and to the rich.

How could the writer of the above words be the writer of today's post? Apparently (as I'm told) you knew from the days of the Northwestern Talent Search that you weren't the smartest of those tested (not to mention all those who were not tested), but certainly one of the smartest. Apparently, you were dealt a straight flush to the king, while some in history received a royal flush. What difference does it make whether someone thinks you are the smartest person they have known, unless you are the smartest person? Does a straight flush to the king meet the threshold required to develop a method for "saving humanity"? If not, why aren't you in the camp of those who wish to improve human intelligence? *awaits clap of thunder from those dealt better hands*

Comment author: faul_sname 04 December 2012 10:20:34AM 2 points [-]

It's simply dissolving some cognitive illusions he shouldn't have had in the first place, but that most of us have probably had at some point in our lives. If you've got intelligence at 2 standard deviations above average, and you overestimate your own intelligence by one standard deviation (which is probably a pretty common mistake, and if anything underestimates the effect) than you'll see that you're probably the most intelligent person you interact with on a regular basis. If you're out at 3 standard deviations, it may not be until college that you see that some of your fellow students, or at least some of your professors, are indisputably smarter than you. If you're out at 4 or 5 standard deviations, as I imagine Eliezer is (I myself can't honestly peg myself past 3.5 standard deviations, which means I'm probably around 2 standard deviations above average and can't really distinguish beyond 2 standard deviations above my own level), I have some difficulty imagining what that must be like, only that even in the things you read you won't find many minds as formidable as your (perception of) your own, and even rarer will be minds that clearly surpass your own.

But I think he is in the camp of trying to improve human intelligence (or at least human rationality, gwern seems to be the better poster child for improving human intelligence). Hence the sequences.

Comment author: Peterdjones 20 January 2013 07:30:40PM -1 points [-]

Is a home-schooled person well positioned to judge that sort of thing? They're the smartest kind in a class of one.

Comment author: lavalamp 20 January 2013 08:18:40PM 3 points [-]

Not sure how homeschooling is relevant here, but speaking as a homeschooled person: it goes both ways, you're also the stupidest person in a class of one.

Comment author: Kawoomba 20 January 2013 08:35:33PM 2 points [-]

Sidenote: I'd homeschool my kids if it were allowed where I live.

Comment author: lavalamp 20 January 2013 09:19:37PM 1 point [-]

(This seems like the wrong thread for a protracted discussion but I'm happy to say more in an open thread or via PM if you want to hear more, although it sounds like it's a moot point for you.)

Comment author: Kawoomba 20 January 2013 09:22:44PM 1 point [-]

(I do want to hear more, go ahead using any means you'd like.)

Comment author: lavalamp 20 January 2013 11:06:02PM 2 points [-]