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Comment author: the-citizen 22 October 2014 12:38:30PM *  6 points [-]

Nice article. I was a bit unsure about your metaphor at first, but then the simulation part made it worth it.

One thing that occurs is that that while status games (PvP) are an efficient way to keep people occupied (low cost simulation), they're a pretty poor way to optimise hapiness. The majority of writing on hapiness I've seen (psychology/budhism/philosophy of hapiness etc) seems to indicate that one secret to hapiness is to stop playing PvP (and status games). Also, my anecdotal impression of political people, and for that matter heavily-status-focused generally is not one of hapiness. Perhaps that's because in most PvP, like you say, everybody is losing most of the time.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 October 2014 07:26:07PM 3 points [-]

Maybe PvP is like taking drugs: it makes you unhappy most of the time, but it is very difficult to stop. It is something you want at the moment, but would want not to want at the moment of reflection.

Comment author: ChristianKl 22 October 2014 05:36:57PM 1 point [-]

The idea that religion is primarily about belief is very popular among atheists.

If you don't have a habit to regularly use a mental tool that tool is worthless. Having the skill to solves Bayes formula is worthless if you don't have the habit to use it for non-textbook problems.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 October 2014 07:08:39PM *  3 points [-]

The idea that religion is primarily about belief is very popular among atheists.

Exactly. Belief itself is merely an opinion. I may believe the universe was created by a Great Lizard in the sky, but per se that doesn't mean anything; it only means I have a weird belief.

Some beliefs push people to action. If I believe the Great Lizard will punish me unless I eat a potato every day, I will pay attention to eating potatoes, and perhaps I will even vote for subsidies for potato producers. But that still is not a religion.

Religion is the social behavior connected with the belief system. They are mutually dependent. A part of the behavior is that you should study the belief, debate it with other believers, and maybe even try to convince non-believers. A part of the belief is that you should do the behavior, and make other people in your group do it. This is the central loop; and then there are additional behaviors and beliefs growing from it.

So, back to the original question -- even rationality in practice has this loop at its core. To believe rationally, there are some things you need to do, e.g. study, avoid mindkilling, et cetera. And to behave rationally, you have to know what is rational.

Sometimes you are in this loop without being aware of it; without reflecting on it. You were taught rational behavior; you were taught rational beliefs. But there is a risk that something will throw you out of the loop, either by a sudden change, or slowly step by step.

I think that LW rationality is about being in this loop and being aware of it. Not only we happen to be not chronically mindkilled; we also actively try to avoid mindkilling; and we know that we are doing that to keep ourselves in the rationality loop. Not only do we happen to have relatively correct beliefs about physical universe and humans; we also actively try to understand it better; and we know that we are doing that to keep ourselves in the rationality loop. Shortly, it's not just that we happen to be rational at this moment, but we are also trying to remain rational, and preferebly become even more rational.

Similarly to religions, reflective rationality is a self-preserving set of behaviors and beliefs. If you believe that X is good, you probably also believe that preserving X is good, therefore yes, I support attempts to make rationality self-preserving.

And now we are exploring what exactly does it take for a system of behaviors and beliefs to be self-preserving. Both on individual and social levels; not only because we have the goal of "raising the sanity waterline", but also because these levels interact. We are a social species; the more of us will be rational, the easier it will be for each of us. Because we can discuss our beliefs, help each other with our behaviors, solve common problems, learn from others' failures, find a company for projects that require cooperation of multiple people.

Comment author: E_Ransom 20 October 2014 07:39:51PM *  5 points [-]

I originally wanted to say that a "canon of scripture" is probably dogmatic and unnecessary, but that was mostly just anti-authoritarian attitudes speaking. After reconsidering, especially comparing to things such as the Western Canon (and the literary criticism, scholastic advancement, and cultural changes its contributed to), I would say, yes, a canon seems helpful. However, I will say that, especially with a community like LW and the rational community as a whole, there should be an important element of change to avoid dogma. No gurus, in other words.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 October 2014 06:39:40PM *  4 points [-]

The canon could be a set of books written outside of the community. For example "Thinking, Fast and Slow" would be one of the books in LW canon.

If we had enough books to cover most of the Sequences, we could tell people to read those books instead of reading the Sequences. It would be more pages, but on the other hand it would sound more acceptable to many people.

Maybe even better would be the set of books, plus a small "micro Sequence" explaining how that all fits together for us. To overcome compartmentalization and "guessing the teacher's password"; to explain in near mode that we are supposed to use that stuff, not only debate it. Also a few topics that we didn't find in any book, or for which reading the whole book would be an overkill.

In response to Power and difficulty
Comment author: undermind 22 October 2014 05:24:16AM *  3 points [-]

(My first post. I don't know if it's good enough for Main, but I thought I'd go for it. If you don't think so, move it and/or let me know.)

I would appreciate any feedback too!

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 October 2014 06:20:35PM 1 point [-]

Good article! I would appreciate more examples from the real life.

Comment author: Aiyen 20 October 2014 11:33:07PM 0 points [-]

My observation was that people said syllables that I didn't understand. As for telling if it was another language or nonsense, finding that one of the phrases actually made sense in another language would be very strong evidence for the existance of God. Proving that it was nonsense would be harder-how do you know when you've checked all the languages?

Does something like "koriata mashita mashuta amon hala" mean anything in any language anyone here knows? It sounds somewhat Japanese to me.

In response to comment by Aiyen on Questions on Theism
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 21 October 2014 02:40:31PM *  0 points [-]

finding that one of the phrases actually made sense in another language would be very strong evidence for the existance of God

Or maybe that they already heard the phrase (in a movie? at an airport?) and somehow it stuck in their memory, even if they don't speak the language.

Proving that it was nonsense would be harder-how do you know when you've checked all the languages?

And even if you did, someone could still claim it is some extinct language from thousand years ago, or a secret language of angels, or perhaps the text is spoken backwards, or...

Does something like "koriata mashita mashuta amon hala" mean anything in any language anyone here knows? It sounds somewhat Japanese to me.

Google Translate says it means: "Huh beneath Mashuta Amon was Korea". Definitely a revelation... or someone watching too much anime.

Comment author: army1987 19 October 2014 12:38:37PM *  3 points [-]

Even if a bad programmer did 200 times as many interviews as a good programmer, that would mean that about half the programmers can't do FizzBuzz, which is still unsettling.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 20 October 2014 11:53:27AM *  2 points [-]

If your idea of a "bad programmer" is someone who studied programming, but had unimpressive results, then yes, the idea that half the programmers can't do FizzBuzz is unsettling.

However, the set of "bad programmers" also includes crazy people who believe they understand programming without any good reasons; overconfident people who used Excel for a few months and now believe they know everything there is about using computers; etc. It is not so difficult to believe that these people are as numerous as the real programmers.

In other words, instead of a less skilled programmer, imagine a non-programmer with an extreme case of Dunning–Kruger effect.

By the way, I wonder how much this effect is culture-dependent. There seems to be something in the American culture that supports overconfidence, at least in job interviews.

Comment author: Aiyen 15 October 2014 07:26:08PM 2 points [-]

Have I ever personally experienced a miracle?

I've seen people pray in tongues, felt an overwhelming sense of God's presence, had it reported that my face was glowing during prayer once (I held up a hand to see if I could see any reflected light; no dramatic effect, wasn't sure if I saw the light or the power of suggestion), that sort of thing.

I haven't seen anything super dramatic, but enough to be convinced that either God is real, or human beings are frighteningly good at self-deception.

In response to comment by Aiyen on Questions on Theism
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 20 October 2014 11:20:00AM 0 points [-]

I've seen people pray in tongues

I have seen people speaking nonsense syllables in altered mental states. (I am using the "rationalist taboo" technique here.) Was your observation any different from this?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 20 October 2014 10:35:31AM *  2 points [-]

I am thinking about how to make history more interesting for people, to bring it to near mode.

Perhaps writing a series of fiction books about immortal individuals who start at the beginning of history and observe first-hand everything that happens around them. And make them move so that they are present at all important events in given country. However, they shouldn't influence the events, because that would be against the goal of describing the real historical causes. Could comment on the events, or even give advice to important people, though.

Or make it a group of people, so that there is one of them at each important event. Actually, if it is a group of people, they don't even have to be immortal. But there should be some common identity, so the reader has a reason to follow there people. Perhaps they are a family? Or maybe the common identity is not even necessary; just good writing.

Shortly, I imagine a long series of novels that are easy to read, and if you read all of them, they give you a decent understanding of history.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 12 October 2014 12:16:29AM 2 points [-]

First of all, mea culpa.

I should have provided more context to assuage confusion. The Talon is an alternative social justice publication at a local university. Their editorial board overlaps with the skeptic community in Vancouver itself, which is quite insular, which overlaps with the rationality meetup in Vancouver, too.

There has been some ideological bickering, name-calling, and signaling allegiance to a coalition of classic skeptic community v. Less Wrong perspectives on the Internet, and at various meetups, maybe at pubs, in Vancouver. I myself, among others, may not have engaged in discussions, or debates, as judiciously as would have been prudent. This also involved arguments over articles written on Slate Star Codex, which 'social justice warriors', as some call them(selves), find upsetting.

However, none of us here on Less Wrong knew there was enough chatter going around that the first time I meet a journalist, he knew who I was, and asked him why my friends held such peculiar beliefs that are out of line with mainstream scientific consensus if we're 'rationalists'. He was a friendly guy I actually like, but his misconceptions seemed worrisome, if he wanted to profile people I know personally. I don't want a schism rising in my neck of the woods where my friends and I are seen as kooky neckbeards as soon as we enter a public space.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 October 2014 09:06:36PM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, when someone is very famous on LW, then even if they publish something on their private blog, it feels like an "idea connected with LW", especially if the readerships overlap. :(

No idea what to do about this. I support Scott's right to write whatever he wants on his blog; and the rules of LW do not apply for his blog. On the other hand, yes, people will see the connection anyway. It's like when someone is a celebrity, they lose their private life, because everything they do is a food for gossip.

(Heck, Scott doesn't even write under the same name on LW and SSC. But everyone knows anyway. What a horrible thing; not only one has to hide their true name, but even keep their individual pseudonyms hidden from each other.)

why my friends held such peculiar beliefs that are out of line with mainstream scientific consensus if we're 'rationalists'.

Uhm, I missed the connection somewhere. As far as I know, social justice warriors are not mainstream scientific consensus. And Scott doesn't blog about many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. :)

Okay, now seriously. I think you maybe overestimate the mainstream status of SJWs. What's upsetting for them, is not necessarily upsetting for an average person. And optimizing for them... pretty much means following their doctrines, or avoiding discussing any social issues.

(Connotationally: I am not saying "upsetting SJWs is okay", although I am also not saying it isn't. Just that SJWs are not mainstream. So do we worry about the image in the eyes of mainstream, or in the eyes of SJWs?)

Comment author: gjm 09 October 2014 12:45:54AM *  3 points [-]

Don't you mean:

I've a diary
To get my thoughts in order
This is how it works:

To keep myself terse
All entries must be haikus
Thus I don't ramble.

[EDITED to add: of course strictly these aren't actually haiku since the 5-7-5 thing is just a surface feature, but I conjecture BenSix's diary entries also mostly aren't.]

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 10 October 2014 02:51:55PM *  1 point [-]

Beauty and reason
In reports of every day
Rationality

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