Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: mattnewport 13 April 2010 12:11:32AM *  5 points [-]

I prefer Yeats' phrasing:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Comment author: MattPrather 14 April 2010 09:13:48PM *  1 point [-]

By the way, I am uncertain as to how to think about the quantification (number / proportion / "ballpark estimate") of real people who fit the concept of Russel's "wiser people", or Yeats' "best".

How far off would I be if I were to estimate the quantity of such wiser and better people as "less than one third of the population of any given tribe" ?

Is anyone brave enough to say it should be thought of as a drastically smaller quantity?

Is anyone brave enough to realize how much they themselves actually fit the description for the "fools and fanatics" or "worst" -- and then, after realizing it, actually become the better?

Or am I perhaps better off to not pick at the idea?

In response to Ureshiku Naritai
Comment author: MattPrather 13 April 2010 07:52:46PM *  8 points [-]

I am new to the site in the sense that last week I didn't know the names of anyone who posts here, but I have been putting in the time to try to "catch up" on the issues that current posters and commenters think important.

As the top-scoring post is currently about the limitations of generalizing from one's own mind, I thought Alicorn was quite savvy to admit she was predicating her post upon lots of gooey self-exposure, and that admission primed me to read the rest of the post must less skeptically.

Even as posters may most often strive to say things that are true beyond the doubt of bias, I found this post very illuminating in its own right, because it is an account of a person fighting and gaining ground in her battle to live fruitfully as a mind which strives to be rational yet is fundamentally not so.

Now, to go get acquainted with the rest of living luminously.

Edit: Pronouns changed!

Comment author: MattPrather 13 April 2010 12:04:25AM 4 points [-]

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

In response to Ugh fields
Comment author: MattPrather 12 April 2010 11:51:54PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for sharing the new name and/or new idea about this Ugh Field.

At first I skimmed your paper, but I soon decided to read it word-for-word.

As I read it, I scanned my memories (primarily of my life, but also of the lives of people I had known) looking through a filter for where the putative Ugh Field concept could increase my understanding of life.

What I have to report for now is I think I shall keep the idea in my head and wait until I see the Ugh (Barrier) "happening" to myself or someone else in real life. I like doing field experiments in the field of rationality.

Comment author: Unknown_Healer 15 October 2007 07:58:32PM 1 point [-]

Michael,

You 'expect' to live forever, i.e. consider it more likely than not? Outside of quantum immortality and similar views about other multiverse concepts, that seems to go beyond the evidence. Unless thermodynamics can be circumvented we will almost certainly die for lack of resources, even if we don't suffer aging or succumb to existential risks or other sudden dooms.

Comment author: MattPrather 12 April 2010 06:18:15AM 0 points [-]

You're killin' me, Smalls!

  1. I'll admit my own ignorance concerning whatever "quantum immortality" and "multiverse" mean.

  2. If this was the TV show "Jeopardy!" and for the Daily Double I was supposed to tell the name of the Law which proves in the textbook that we would almost certainly die for lack of resources, even if we could live forever -- if I was really there -- I would probably guess "The Second Law?", and then pray...

  3. I'm no Einstein, but at least I know the textbooks alone do not suffice to carry any inferences made from them.

  4. Do you have something other than a theory to prove that my mind is fundamentally doomed to extinction by "thermodynamics", and is there really certain "evidence" of that?

Comment author: bogdanb 06 April 2010 06:47:03PM 0 points [-]

I don’t get it.

Comment author: MattPrather 11 April 2010 10:15:22PM 5 points [-]

The point is that none of us is rational.

Dorian Gray never aged because he had a magic picture of himself which actually aged for him; his image in the portrait got older and older even as he himself stayed the same age.

So a true rationalist would have a magic picture of himself "being irrational", as humans do, in his stead.

Comment author: steven0461 05 April 2010 09:37:23PM 6 points [-]

This doesn't work as an answer. It would work without the "indeed it would".

Comment author: MattPrather 11 April 2010 10:09:43PM *  2 points [-]

Do we have to be so literal? I like it better with the "indeed it would"...