LiveJournal Memes

post by Douglas_Reay · 2012-03-18T02:56:46.571Z · score: 14 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 3 comments

On blogging websites just as LiveJournal, memes are often in the form of a question or set of questions which a blogger answers in their own blog, then challenges their readers to answer in the readers' blogs (thus spreading).  It doesn't have to be the sort of question to which there is a 'correct' answer.  More usually the meme spreads if the questions are interesting and the answers reveal something about the personality or interests of the blogger.

Here's a recent example:

A ticket for a flight into space (an orbit and a visit to the International Space Station) arrives through the post. Assume that you meet the relevant physical requirements. You can use it, transfer it, or sell it. What do you do and why?


It occurs to me that this sort of thing might be a very accessible way to introduce people to thinking about rationality.   With the example I gave, you get people who would use the ticket because they know that if they didn't they'd always regret not having gone.  However, if the question had been phrased as them receiving money, and a space flight ticket was only one of the things listed as purchasable for that sum, they wouldn't make the same decision.


Suppose LessWrong were to compose a LiveJournal meme.   It would want to be made up of somewhere between 5 and 10 short (paragraph or less) and simple (easy reading comprehension, no obscure terms or prior reading required) questions designed to elicit answers interesting for blog readers to read, intended to introduce bloggers to the concept of a 'cognitive bias' and to thinking about what rationality actually is.

Do you have any suggestions for questions that would work well in such a meme?


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by BlueSun · 2012-03-19T01:32:05.411Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just caught myself mid sentence making an error because of cognitive bias in a situation that might make for a good question. We had a family member that was suppose to come at 6:00 tonight to visit. The person is often (but not always) late so earlier in the evening I said my estimate for them arriving was 6:30. About 6:15 we were sitting waiting for them to come and I looked up at the clock and said, "We'll they're 15 minutes late so far but I'll--" I was going to finish with "stand by estimate of 6:30" but realized that would likely not be optimal any more (or my original estimate of 6:30 wasn't optimal). Given the new information I had, I should update my belief and estimate that they'll arrive later than 6:30. So you could phrase the question:

You have invited guest over for the evening at 6:00pm. They are the type of people who are usually late (sometimes right on time, and sometimes even an hour or more late) and when making your planning you figure that their expected arrival time is 6:30pm. You continue your prep and later look up at the clock and see it is 6:15pm. Should you revise your estimate of what time they will arrive?

P.S. it is now 6:32 and they're still not here.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-03-20T22:27:33.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So when did they arrive?

comment by BlueSun · 2012-03-21T04:43:05.715Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A couple minutes before 7:00