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

The Basilisk

-7 rysade 09 August 2012 06:38AM

Could someone please explain this Basilisk thing to me?

Comment author: [deleted] 02 February 2012 10:01:06PM *  12 points [-]

First, thanks to lukeprog for posting this discussion post. The Ohio Less Wrong group has been discussing elevator pitches, and the comments here are sure to help us!

I often end up pitching LW stuff to people who are atheists, but not rationalists. I think this type of person is a great potential "recruit", because they WANT a community, but often find the atheistic community a little too "patting ourselves on the back"-ish (as do I). My general pitch is that Less Wrong is like the next step: "Yeah, we're all (mainly) atheists, but now what??"

Here's an example from a recent facebook comment thread:

Other person- What exactly do atheist groups do? I went to a couple meetings of [ Freethought Group ] here at [ Local big university], but it turned out to be exactly like Sunday school but except for reading Bible verses, everyone talked about why religion was terrible. It's not exactly what I'm all about.

Me- Yeah, I hate "Rah rah, Atheism!" stuff too. I know [Person A ] and [Person B ] from lesswrong.com . I like the site because it's like..."Yeah, we've all got the atheism stuff figured out. Let's move on and see where we can go from there."

Then I point them to Methods of Rationality, and hopefully now to our meetups.

Comment author: rysade 04 February 2012 10:34:54AM 0 points [-]

I too am a member of the Ohio Less Wrong group. I was quite surprised to see this topic come up in Discussion, but I approve wholeheartedly.

My thoughts on the subject are leaning heavily towards the current equivalent of an 'elevator pitch' we have already: the Welcome to Less Wrong piece on the front page.

I particularly like the portion right at the beginning, because it grabs onto the central reason for wanting to be rational in the first place. Start with the absolute basics for something like an elevator pitch, if you ask me.

Thinking and deciding are central to our daily lives. The Less Wrong community aims to gain expertise in how human brains think and decide, so that we can do so more successfully.

I might cut out the part about 'human brains' though. Talk like that tends to encourage folks to peg you as a nerd right away, and 'nerd' has baggage you don't want if you're introducing an average person.

Comment author: Emile 30 January 2012 04:18:58PM 10 points [-]

Wikipedia seems like a much better starting point than asking Less Wrong.

Comment author: rysade 30 January 2012 04:41:07PM 5 points [-]

Ok, I read through the Wikipedia entry, and yes. It has proven to be very helpful. Thanks.

Working Through the Controlled Demolition Conspiracy

1 rysade 30 January 2012 04:11PM

I hope I'm not breaking any taboos here. It's been a while since I've come onto the discussion section and I admit I'm not too up to date on the topics.

I'm having difficulty responding to someone who is convinced that 7WTC was brought down by controlled demolition on September 11th, 2001. They're referencing the controlled-looking destruction of 7WTC and various other incriminating looking things. Thermite and thermite waste products seem to come up a lot.

Now, I have definitely noticed I'm confused here. While I hold the opinion that the towers went down because of the planes/fires (i.e. the standard explanation) I have difficulty seeing how the falsity of controlled demolition is the slam-dunk folks seem to think it is. Could somebody walk me through this?

 

[EDIT: About a million edits later, I have finally worked through the problem with my link: I needed it to be in HTML and not in the comment format.]

Comment author: Swimmer963 11 January 2012 07:50:45PM 3 points [-]

Cannabis allows connections to be made between concepts which normally seem unrelated.

Which leads to the problem of thinking up connections between ideas that are actually unrelated. Creative, interesting, neat-sounding insights are not always true insights.

Also, I suspect that different brains respond differently to this kind of experience. I know that a friend of my parents' is a mathematician by profession and frequently smokes marijuana to "help his thought process." As for myself and the small amount of personal experience I have, the feeling of being high isn't an unpleasant one and can even be fun as an experience in itself, but the quality of my thought processes drops quickly and if I'm actually trying to accomplish any kind of specific goal, being high (or drunk) quickly becomes irritating.

I do think your idea might be valid in the sense that anyone brainstorming under the influence of drugs is likely to produce more ideas than someone who is sober. Even if a lower percentage of those ideas are useful, someone whose sober thinking process is rigid or self-censored, and who thus has trouble coming up with any ideas during a brainstorm, might benefit from a little de-inhibition.

Comment author: rysade 30 January 2012 03:21:10PM 1 point [-]

At the Ohio meetup I speculated that marijuana may be useful for getting a higher score on creativity tests such as Guilford’s Alternative Uses Task.

I have not tested this idea, just speculated about it. For all I know, the experiment has been performed already.

Comment author: hankx7787 28 January 2012 04:16:46PM *  1 point [-]

and for the sake of completeness:

Thinkbest

Comment author: rysade 30 January 2012 03:11:17PM 1 point [-]

Thinkbest is an evil cybernetics corporation from D20 Modern's Cyberscape sourcebook.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 January 2012 01:47:57PM *  21 points [-]
  • Decision Tree

  • Decision Tree Foundation.

Comment author: rysade 30 January 2012 09:52:13AM 5 points [-]

How about 'The Decision Tree'?

In response to Trust
Comment author: Craig_Heldreth 29 January 2012 02:28:39PM 3 points [-]

The government security clearance manuals have documented what can be reduced to procedures and rules and whatnot. I know a guy who worked for the CIA a few years ago and he tells me the most trusted positions are the guys who do the security clearance evaluations. He said over half of them were Mormons. (Friend of a friend information is inherently untrustworthy.) One of the greatest spies in American history, James Angleton, was apparently paranoid to the brink of mental illness. It is generally a very difficult problem.

In response to comment by Craig_Heldreth on Trust
Comment author: rysade 30 January 2012 09:38:03AM 2 points [-]

Upvoted for bringing up the intelligence community's viewpoint on trust. I would say we could find some very interesting research on trust from that area. I think that because the intelligence community seems to be adversarial to a large degree. The problem of the double agent or mole, for example, would very likely lead intelligence agencies to invest heavily in metrics of trust.

The last job fair I went to I looked into a career with the CIA. I found they have extremely strict rules on who they hire, up to and including personality traits like patriotism.

Comment author: rysade 24 January 2012 07:20:21AM 3 points [-]

I hate breaking my routine. It makes me anxious, and I have to spend more energy motivating myself, and in general it’s hard. I tend to only depart from that routine when forced.

One of the most important things I consider myself to have ever done is break out of my routine. It is scarring in a serious and personal way, but it's necessary if you want to excel at anything you put your mind to.

Besides, what can guarantee that some catastrophe might break your routine against your will? Pre-empting the break is a way of ensuring that you've got a thick skin in case catastrophe strikes.

Comment author: shminux 23 January 2012 04:42:47AM 5 points [-]

Thank you for this post! You have an unusually high level of introspection, and I haven't noticed any of the standard fallacious justifications anywhere in your story. Maybe you are naturally rational, that's why LW has not changed your life much. Or maybe it enabled you to write this excellent analysis of your feelings and motivations.

Comment author: rysade 24 January 2012 07:15:53AM 0 points [-]

Would you consider yourself naturally rational, shminux? I am curious where you stand on the nature vs. nurture divide, particularly regarding rationality.

View more: Next