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Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 12:55:37AM *  26 points [-]

[Survey Taken Thread]

By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.

Let's make these comments a reply to this post. That way we continue the tradition, but keep the discussion a bit cleaner.

Comment author: Jonni 26 March 2016 12:22:48PM 42 points [-]

Survey: taken.

Comment author: dspeyer 05 January 2016 08:17:15AM 15 points [-]

There's a sort of Gresham's Law of conversations. If a conversation reaches a certain level of incivility, the more thoughtful people start to leave.

--Paul Graham

Comment author: Jonni 18 January 2016 12:30:32PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: Constant2 22 November 2007 08:30:32AM 5 points [-]

One does, in real life, hear of drugs inducing a sense of major discovery, which disappears when the drug wears off. Sleep also has a reputation for producing false feelings of discovery. Some late-night pseudo-discovery is scribbled down, and in the morning it turns out to be nothing (if it's even legible).

I have sometimes wondered to what extent mysticism and "enlightenment" (satori) is centered around false feelings of discovery.

An ordinary, commonly experienced, non-drug-induced false feeling with seeming cognitive content is deja vu.

Comment author: Jonni 06 September 2011 05:25:19PM *  3 points [-]

It looks like you're saying drug-induced discovery always turns out to be wrong when sobriety returns. I think this is a generalisation.

Psychoactive drugs induce atypical thinking patterns. Sometimes this causes people to have true insights that they would not have achieved sober. Sometimes people come to false conclusions, whether they're on drugs or not.

In response to Allais Malaise
Comment author: PK 23 January 2008 06:52:51PM 0 points [-]

I have a few questions about utility(hopefully this will clear my confusion). Someone please answer. Also, the following post contains math, viewer discretion is advised(the math is very simple however).

Suppose you have a choice between two games...

A: 1 game of 100% chance to win $1'000'000 B: 2 games of 50% chance to win $1'000'000 and 50% chance to win nothing

Which is better A, B or are they equivalent? Which game would you pick? Please answer before reading the rest of my rambling.

Lets try to calculate utility.

For A, A: Utotal = 100%*U[$1'000'000] + 0%*U[$0]

For B, I see two possible ways to calculate it.

1)Calculate the utility for one game and multiply it by two B-1: U1game = 50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[$0] B-1: Utotal = U2games = 2*U1game = 2*{50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[$0]}

2)Calculate all possible outcomes of money possession after 2 games. The possibilities are: $0 , $0 $0 , $1'000'000 $1'000'000 , $0 $1'000'000 , $1'000'000

B-2: Utotal = 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$2'000'000]

If we assume utility is linear: U[$0] = 0 U[$1'000'000] = 1 U[$2'000'000] = 2 A: Utotal = 100%*[$1'000'000] + 0%*U[$0] = 100%*1 + 0%*0 = 1 B-1: Utotal = 2*{50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[0]} = 2*{50%*1 + 50%*0} = 1 B-2: Utotal = 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$2'000'000] = 25%*0 + 25%*1 + 25%*1 + 25%*2 = 1 The math is so neat!

The weirdness begins when the utility of money is non linear. $2'000'000 isn't twice as useful as $1'000'000 (unless we split that $2'000'000 between 2 people, but lets deal with one weirdness at a time). With the first million one can by a house, a car, quit their crappy job and pursue their own interests. The second million won't change the persons' life as much and the 3d even less.

Lets invent more realistic utilities(it has also been suggested that the utility of money is logarithmic but I'm having some trouble taking the log of 0): U[$0] = 0 U[$1'000'000] = 1 U[$2'000'000] = 1.1 (reduced from 2 to 1.1)

A: Utotal = 100%*[$1'000'000] + 0%U[$0] = 100%*1 + 0%*0 = 1 B-1: Utotal = 2*{50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[0]} = 2*{50%*1 + 50%*0} = 1 B-2: Utotal = 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$2'000'000] = 25%*0 + 25%*1 + 25%*1 + 25%*1.1 = 0.775

Hmmmm... B-1 is not equal to B-2. Either I have to change around utility function values or discard one of them as the wrong calculation or some other mistake I didn't think of. Maybe U[$0] != 0.

Starting with the assumption that B-1 = B-2 (U[$1'000'000] = 1 U[$2'000'000] = 1.1), then 2*{50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[0]} = 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$2'000'000]

solving for U[$0]: 2*{50%*1 + 50%*U[0]} = 25%*U[$0] + 25%*1 + 25%*1 + 25%*1.1 1 + U[$0] = 0.25*U[$0] + 0.775 0.75*U[$0] = -0.225 U[$0] = -0.3

B-1 = B-2 = 0.7 Intuitively this kind of makes sense. Comparing: A: 100%*[$1'000'000] = 50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[$1'000'000] to B: 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$2'000'000] = 50%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$2'000'000]

A (=/>/<)? B 50%*U[$1'000'000] + 50%*U[$1'000'000] (= />/<)? 50%*U[$1'000'000] + 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$2'000'000] the first 50% is the same so it cancels out 50%*U[$1'000'000] (= />/<)? 25%*U[$0] + 25%*U[$2'000'000] 0.5 > 0.2 The chance to win 2 million doesn't outweigh how much it would suck to win nothing so therefore the certainty of 1 million is preferable. The negative utility of U[$0] is absorbed by it's 0 probability coefficient in A.

Or maybe calculation B-1 is just plain wrong, but that would mean we cannot calculate the utility of discrete events and add the utilities up.

Is any of this correct? What kind of calculations would you do?

In response to comment by PK on Allais Malaise
Comment author: Jonni 06 September 2011 01:33:43PM 0 points [-]

A bird in the hand is indeed worth 2 in the bush.

Comment author: thomblake 10 August 2009 10:17:06PM 9 points [-]

If it's the right answer in reality, then it's the right answer in a hypothetical. People use their actual cognitive faculties for pondering hypotheticals, not imaginary ones.

Comment author: Jonni 03 September 2011 02:51:01PM 0 points [-]

They may do, but they are still missing many of the physical reactions one might have to genuinely being offered large sums of money - excitement, adrenalin etc - and these are bound to have some effect on people's decision making processes.

Perhaps a way around this would be to conduct several thought experiments with a subject in one sitting, and tell them beforehand that 'one of the offers in these thought experiments is real and you will receive what you choose - although you will not know which one until the end of the experiment'.

This would be a good way to induce their visceral reactions to the situation, and of course, disappointingly perhaps, a more modest-sum-involving thought experiment at the end could provide them with their dividend.

Also worth noting: Deal or No Deal (UK version) demonstrates the variety of reactions and strategies people have to this sort of proposition. The US version is just silly though :)