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Rationality Quotes 21

5 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 January 2009 02:45AM

"The most dangerous thing in the world is finding someone you agree with.  If a TV station news is saying exactly what you think is right, BEWARE!  You are very likely only reinforcing your beliefs, and not being supplied with new information."
        -- SmallFurryCreature

"Companies deciding which kind of toothpaste to market have much more rigorous, established decision-making processes to refer to than the most senior officials of the U.S. government deciding whether or not to go to war."
        -- Michael Mazarr

"Everything I ever thought about myself - who I was, what I am - was a lie.  You have no idea how astonishingly liberating that feels."
        -- Neil Gaiman, Stardust

"Saul speaks of the 'intense desire for survival on the part of virtually everyone on earth,' and our 'failure' in spite of this.  I have often pointed out that the so-called 'survival instinct' is reliable only in clear and present danger - and even then only if the individual is still relatively healthy and vigorous.  If the danger is indirect, or remote in time, or if the person is weak or depressed - or even if required action would violate established habits - forget the 'survival instinct.' It isn't that simple."
        -- Robert Ettinger on cryonics

"We are running out of excuses.  We just have to admit that real AI is one of the lowest research priorities, ever.  Even space is considered more important.  Nevermind baseball, tribology, or TV evangelism."
        -- Eugen Leitl

"That's something that's always struck me as odd about humanity.  Our first response to someone's bad news is "I'm sorry", as though we feel that someone should take responsibility for all the $&#ed up randomness that goes on in this universe."
        -- Angels 2200

"We were supremely lucky to be born into this precise moment in history.  It is with an ever-cresting crescendo of wonder and enthusiasm that I commend you to the great adventure and the great adventure to you."
        -- Jeff Davis

Comments (6)

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Comment author: Justin2 06 January 2009 05:28:39AM 0 points [-]

Characteristically inspirational. Thanks!

Comment author: Stirling_Westrup 06 January 2009 07:08:18AM 3 points [-]

Just want to say I have a quibble with the first quote. I find that one of the most useful things in the world is to find someone or something that agrees with you on 90% of your beliefs and disagrees on the other 10%. I find that this makes it very difficult to dismiss them as idiots (after all, they share the vast majority of my beliefs) and makes me really examine that last 10% to see if I'm perhaps wrong on some of them.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 January 2009 07:23:33AM 2 points [-]

Stirling, I agree with you 90%!

(I don't necessarily endorse everything I think is worth quoting.)

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 06 January 2009 11:56:48AM 1 point [-]

@Stirling:

You may happen to be 90% wrong on some domain-specific things, because you didn't think about them very much, or because you started up a (popular and) deceptive blind alley. If the topic is controversial and high on your priority list to get right, it might be worth it to understand all sides who argue intelligently (according to more indirect cues), even if "obviously wrong". Seeing the argument along with a theory of its origin helps to either find its invalid source, or a crucial point on which you might have been wrong all along. Both help in reevaluating the origins of your own belief.

Comment author: jhl 06 January 2009 09:40:56PM 0 points [-]

"That's something that's always struck me as odd about humanity. Our first response to someone's bad news is "I'm sorry", as though we feel that someone should take responsibility for all the $&#ed up randomness that goes on in this universe." -- Angels 2200

This quote is based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word sorry.

Comment author: Mark_Carranza2 08 January 2009 03:19:11AM 0 points [-]

jhl perhaps means something similar to my take on:

"Our first response to someone's bad news is "I'm sorry", as though we feel that someone should take responsibility"

"I'm sorry" is an expression of sympathy that I [we] care that the someone has had bad news. That we choose to care, not that we are responsible.

I experience this category error fairly often in everyday conversation, "don't be sorry, "it's not your fault." I wonder about the projection going on in these situations.