What are some Meta-Umeshsims?

post by Chris_Leong · 2017-10-02T06:57:56.610Z · LW · GW · 4 comments

Scott Aaronson wrote a blog post in which he defined Umeshisms.

Umesh was his advisor at Berkley who used to frequently repeat: "If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re spending too much time in airports."

Scott then asked his readers to provide more examples, ie.:

If you never cut yourself while shaving, you’re not shaving close enough.

If you’ve never been robbed, you’re spending too much time locking doors.

If you’ve never been rejected, you’re not asking enough. (The easiest to state, the hardest to practice.)

If you’ve never regretted a blog entry, your blog is boring.

What are some meta-Umeshisms, ie. good principles stated as a concise phrase that can easily be rephrased to apply to other situations?

I'd suggest posting meta-Umeshisms in the top-level comments (at most one per post), with derivatives posted in the second-level comments.

4 comments

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comment by AndHisHorse · 2017-10-02T22:07:49.117Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like there's really just one base Umeshism: "If you have not encountered adverse consequences, you have sunk too much value into mitigating risk."

I don't agree with this general form in all possible permutations; it could be instantiated as "If you've never been killed by a car, you've spent too much time looking both ways", and there doesn't seem to be a distinction contained in the structure that separates that example and other, less obviously wrong instantiations.

Perhaps the appropriate lesson is "If you are investing in avoiding adverse consequences, but have never suffered them, consider that you may be sacrificing too much for the sake of risk aversion." A general instruction to update in a particular direction on the proper balance between risk aversion and reward seeking, but not an absolute. However, in order to believe that, I'd like to see some evidence that the modal member of the target audience is actually overestimating the risks they want to avoid to such a degree that advice to indiscriminately avoid risk less would actually be helpful.

comment by JohnGreer · 2017-10-05T00:25:13.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This breakdown is great.

comment by Raemon · 2017-10-02T17:51:57.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I need one example of a meta-Umeshism.

comment by whales · 2017-10-03T03:40:26.453Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also from Scott, Malthusianisms and Anthropicisms.