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Is this a fair representation of frequentists versus bayesians? I feel like every time the topic comes up, 'Bayesian statistics' is an applause light for me, and I'm not sure why I'm supposed to be applauding.
A Starting Point for Defense against Flexible Dark Artists and Circumstances
In On Seeking a Shortening of the Way the assertion “Maybe we're not geniuses because we don't bother paying attention to ordinary things” caught my eye. Certainly! I said. Obviously if we were able to pay the appropriate amount of attention to every occurrence so as to gain enough data to update our models in an optimal way, we would rapidly increase our overall ability to model the world and increase our probability of insights at the level currently considered ‘genius.’
And then I remembered that I can’t really do that, on account of having crappy models of what is actually important, and thinking that i can't improve those models quickly. Whoops! I, like so many others, fail to know how much attention to pay to ordinary things so as to become a genius. C’est la vie. Fortunately the lesson here was not the factuality of the statement, which is high, but a reminder that you could probably gain benefits from paying more attention and being more disciplined in your thought.
Which is even better because it’s great advice, and eminently doable. Thanks, Yvain! So I set about paying attention to how I currently pay attention and, like usual, paid attention to the cues I get about how other people pay attention, assuming that I make the mistakes they do at least some of the time.
And then I realized… wait a minute, whenever other people aren’t actually paying attention is when I could most easily shanghai them into doing things they normally wouldn’t do (Were I a dark artist. Hypothetically.). So learning how to pay more attention and pay attention in the correct way is probably the best reflexive method of avoiding being dutch booked by people who are highly adaptable dark artists.
And here’s my low-hanging fruit of techniques to build the foundational reflexes for shortening the way. The goal is to avoid being inattentive in certain sorts of situations where I noted personal susceptibility to being taken advantage of by changing situations or flexible con artists.
Summary: Act like Suspicious, Smart, Rich People Do. Assume everyone and everything is both an opportunity and an encounter with a parasite, and don’t act like it unless it’s socially convenient. How do you do this, you say. It sounds more difficult than that, you say. On the contrary, skeptical sir! I will now present an exercise which rapidly becomes reflexive, in a manner which will cause it to become reflexive, which separates the exercise from the situation so that you can learn the requisite acting skills separately! Try this!
Ask yourself for new people , situations, arguments, and facts, what is this worth to me? What risks do I run by paying attention to this? What opportunities lie in this, if my understanding of it is correct? What risks do I run, if my understanding of it is incorrect? And you can go as much deeper as you think is valuable or are mentally capable of sustaining.
For the step-by-steppers out there (I salute you!), here’s explicitly How To start doing this in a low-cost way.
Step 1: In your journal for daily events (If you’re not keeping one of these go buy a journal and start. Without a daily log how do you know you’re actually making progress?) use Pen and Paper (The Great Equalizer!) and write down your understanding of a couple of important topics and a few simple topics (the simple topics shouldn’t take as long… right?). This will be a lot of work! But it’s only for one day, and developing this mental habit in particular and your ability to do rational yet seemingly onerous things for a brief period each day will both be massively valuable.
Step 2: When That Gets Boring, elaborate with pros and cons, an analysis of arguments, or other techniques that professionals use when it’s important (Imagine a lawyer not analyzing their opponent’s arguments, and then imagine yourself as their client.). Do a Fermi calculation (here's some practice) if it involves a number of things you don’t understand well.
Step 3: Avoid abusing this method to convince yourself you don't need to run the numbers by pretending someone else, someone biased,wrote the analysis. (Those darned Biased people, cropping up even in your own journal!) Think of how future versions of yourself will look at your thought processes (you'll be smarter then... wiser... with a knowledge ofcommon logical fallacies and the heuristics and biases literature)(you might even read Godel Escher Bach or something andblow your mind. Anything is possible!). Look over your previous analyses before deciding (sleep on it and wait on it). Developing a decent set of evidence for fermi calculations and calibration exercises will let you use the same thought processes to do this right when you don't have time to run the numbers.
Step 4: Profit.
A while ago, some posters mentioned that it would be good if LW had a forum. Earlier this week I was planning a role-playing game with some other users and decided that a forum would be a good place for us and other groups to play online. And the Less Wrong Forum was born.
Currently, the forum has three boards: Gaming, Less Wrong/SIAI Related Topics, and General/Meta. The Gaming board is for RPGs, Diplomacy, Zendo, or any other games rationalists might enjoy playing together. The LW/SIAI board is for discussing any of the topics we normally discuss on Less Wrong. The General/Meta board is for random topics and discussions of the LW site or the forum itself.
EDIT: Looks like a supermajority of commenters don't want the LW board to exist because it would be redundant with the discussion section. I'll leave it up for a bit longer, and take it down if nobody says they support it.
I encourage everyone to check out the forum and help make it a fun and useful part of the online rationalist community. Please make suggestions in the comments (or on the forum itself!) about how it can be improved.
EDIT: Due to problems with trolls, registration now requires an invite. If you want an account, say so in the comments and I or the other admin (Armok_GoB) will get you one.