Rationality quotes: June 2010

post by Morendil · 2010-06-01T18:07:17.716Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 223 comments

This is our monthly thread for collecting these little gems and pearls of wisdom, rationality-related quotes you've seen recently, or had stored in your quotesfile for ages, and which might be handy to link to in one of our discussions.

223 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Theist · 2010-06-04T23:27:54.744Z · score: 26 (26 votes) · LW · GW

"I accidentally changed my mind."

my four-year-old

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-04T23:30:54.407Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that hopefully lead to a teaching moment...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-05T15:42:34.337Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It leads to a contemplative moment for me-- I suspect accidentally changing one's mind happens relatively often.

comment by phaedrus · 2010-12-21T21:35:33.229Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/12/our-secret-attitude-changes.php

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-12-21T23:22:50.268Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. I know of a couple things I've changed my mind about, but I may be unusually inclined to keep track.

comment by Benquo · 2010-06-07T20:50:04.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe you can explain to me what the lesson is here?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-07T20:57:15.288Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It depends precisely on the context of what the kid meant. But I would think that high on the list would making sure the kid understands that changing one's mind based on evidence is a good thing. And discussing with the kid why they changed their mind? Did they do so for a good reason based on facts and thinking? Or was it purely emotional?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T12:54:22.648Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did they do so for a good reason based on facts and thinking? Or was it purely emotional?

I will not teach my children that changing one's mind based on emotion is bad. Particularly not before I establish whether their emotional or logical thinking is their strong point.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-18T14:06:06.073Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I will not teach my children that changing one's mind based on emotion is bad. Particularly not before I establish whether their emotional or logical thinking is their strong point.

What do you mean by emotional thinking? And how do you determine whether someone has good emotional thinking?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T14:49:02.237Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by emotional thinking?

I was running with the distinction from the context: "A good reason based on facts and thinking vs X"

I make the observation that many (most?) people can more effectively guide their lives by doing what 'feels' right than by facts and reason. In fact, humans come wired with mechanisms which allow feelings to override reason. The quote Roko made on this very page alludes to why.

And how do you determine whether someone has good emotional thinking?

You look at whether they screw up more - When they do what they think is the right thing to do or when they go with what they feel is right. In all cases there will be times for each kind of thought and the balance will depend on personality and aptitude for various thinking patterns.

What I will NEVER do is train my children to associate "facts and thinking" with 'good' and and contrasted with 'emotional'. It takes a HUGE amount of facts and thinking to equal the quality of thought that emotions represent and quite often those that are best at giving priority to "good reason, facts and thinking" over emotions are not those who are the most successful. (Even though I'll probably like them more. ;))

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T14:49:00.977Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by emotional thinking?

I was running with the distinction from the context: "A good reason based on facts and thinking vs X"

I make the observation that many (most?) people can more effectively guide their lives by doing what 'feels' right than by facts and reason. In fact, humans come wired with mechanisms which allow feelings to override reason. The [quote Roko made on this very page](> What do you mean by emotional thinking?

I was running with the distinction from the context: "A good reason based on facts and thinking vs X"

I make the observation that many (most?) people can more effectively guide their lives by doing what 'feels' right than by facts and reason. In fact, humans come wired with mechanisms which allow feelings to override reason. The quote

And how do you determine whether someone has good emotional thinking?

You look at whether they screw up more when they ) alludes to why.

And how do you determine whether someone has good emotional thinking?

You look at whether they screw up more - When they do what they think is the right thing to do or when they go with what they feel is right. In all cases there will be times for each kind of thought and the balance will depend on personality and aptitude for various thinking patterns.

What I will NEVER do is train my children to associate "facts and thinking" with 'good' and and contrasted with 'emotional'. It takes a HUGE amount of facts and thinking to equal the quality of thought that emotions represent and quite often those that are best at giving priority to "good reason, facts and thinking" over emotions are not those who are the most successful. (Even though I'll probably like them more. ;))

comment by Benquo · 2010-06-09T19:57:48.292Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I see. Thanks.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T20:45:00.558Z · score: 25 (27 votes) · LW · GW

A certain mother habitually rewards her small son with ice cream after he eats his spinach. What additional information would you need to be able to predict whether the child will: a. Come to love or hate spinach, b. Love or hate ice cream, or c. Love or hate Mother?

-- Gregory Bateson, "Steps to an Ecology of Mind"

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-01T20:48:41.713Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Great quote! (Talk about be smacked with your own hidden assumptions...)

Got a link to the surrounding text?

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-06-01T21:48:41.119Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Care to explain to me what you got out of it? I think I might be missing the point of this quote.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T22:06:41.909Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

When you interact with someone, you may think, I will do this, so that they will do that, or think such-and-such, or feel thus-and-so; but what is actually going on for them may bear no resemblance to the model of them that you have in your head. If your model is wrong at the meta-level -- you are wrong about how people work -- then you will either notice that you have difficulty dealing with people at all, or not notice that the problem is with you and get resentful at everyone else for not behaving as you expect them to.

Here, Mrs. B.F. Skinner imagines that she is reinforcing the behaviour that she desires, of eating spinach, by providing the reinforcer, ice-cream. Or is she really punishing the consumption of ice-cream by associating it with spinach? Or associating herself with an unpleasant situation? Or any number of other possibilities.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-01T22:03:57.478Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Sure thing. For me, it was the sudden realization that I had made assumptions from the very start of reading it, and that I had ranked certain outcomes far lower than the problem -- taken in isolation -- would justify.

When I read it, I immediately thought, "Okay, rewarding a kid for eating spinach, same ol' same ol' ..."; then when I got to the end, I -- very quickly -- absorbed the insight that, in order for the process not to result in the child hating the mother, certain conditions have to hold, which are probably worthy of probing in depth.

I know all of this may sound obvious, but I really had an aha!/gotcha! moment on that one.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T21:54:24.924Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On Google Books (limited online availability, but search for "habitually").

If you Google the title, you'll find the full text on a Brazilian website; whether legally or not I don't know.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-01T20:48:57.932Z · score: -1 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Hate spinach, love ice cream, love mother. What's so difficult?

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T20:50:50.373Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

What's so difficult?

For you, understanding what was asked. The question is not, "what will happen?" The question is, "What information do you need in order to know which outcome will happen?"

Can someone explain why the parent is upvoted? Is everyone just assuming that the Bateson quote is just a sarcastic, roundabout way of asking what will happen?

ETA: In case you weren't aware, cousin_it is not joking with his comment.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-06-02T10:26:38.663Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

How dare you dispel Deep Wisdom of Master Bateson?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-06-02T10:12:01.458Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I try not to downvote people when they are right.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T15:16:55.158Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Nor, apparently, when they're not even wrong. cousin_it's reply was non-responsive.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-02T10:12:54.303Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I was surprised to be downvoted, but decided not to ask why.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T15:15:41.868Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted you because you're either completely missing the point of the quote, or you're unsuccessfully trying to be funny.

In case it's not the latter: Yes, since you already know the answer, it's easy to "infer" the result from the givens. But the question is, what additional information are you using that constrains your answer to that? That's what you need to say to solve it, not just repeat back from the answer key.

Furthermore, it's not at all clear that children get the result you claim.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-02T17:05:15.595Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I don't quite understand your objection. "Love mother" was an unconditional answer, yes. Most people love their mothers, even though the mothers did try to "shape" them in childhood with rewards and punishments. But "hate spinach" and "love ice cream" were inferred from the information in the question. The kid dislikes spinach, or the mother wouldn't need to reward him; but he does like ice cream, or the mother wouldn't use it as a reward. And I haven't heard of any cases where the mother succeeded in "shaping" the kid's food preferences like this.

If I'm not allowed to use real-life common sense, it's not clear how I would even understand the question, let alone solve it. Okay, what additional information do you think one should need? Why?

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T17:22:18.746Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If I'm not allowed to use real-life common sense, it's not clear how I would even understand the question, let alone solve it. Okay, what additional information do you think one should need? Why?

Are you serious? The problem is to specify which "common sense" reasoning leads you to which conclusion! Yes, now that you've explained one reason why one outcome holds (even though it doesn't account for children who grow up recenting their mothers and so isn't even right on its own terms), you've given the kind of information the question is asking for.

Stating which outcome your common sense tells you would result -- which is what you did -- is non-responsive. And even now, you haven't told what conditions determine the 27 possible outcomes - just one reason why one outcome would result.

Black-box "common sense" reasoning is exactly how you stray from rationality. You should open the box, and see what's inside.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-02T17:37:09.275Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

8 possible outcomes, not 27. But I think I see your point. Let me ask some more questions in this vein:

  1. A man jumps off a 100 foot tall bridge. What additional information do you need to determine if he'll die?

  2. I have just washed my cup. What additional information do you need to determine if my cup is clean now?

  3. What additional information do you need to determine whether the Sun will rise tomorrow?

If all such questions are effective in making you open your eyes, question your assumptions and upvote away, well, then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about the nature of "rationality".

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-02T17:43:16.206Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW
  1. A man jumps off a 100 foot tall bridge. What additional information do you need to determine if he'll die?

Within what degree of confidence? He could have a parachute of some form, or a bungee cord or there could be some form of trampoline to break the fall.

Moreover, you miss the point of the original quote. The question relies on standard assumptions about how humans learn and absorb values. Since humans are very complicated entities, understanding explicitly what assumptions we make about them can be helpful.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-02T17:45:34.110Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks - point taken.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T17:46:32.742Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

8 possible outcomes, not 27

27 if you allow for "no effect", which you should.

If all such questions are effective in making you open your eyes, question your assumptions and upvote away, well, then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about the nature of "rationality".

It's true that you can construct similar questions in other domains.

But the questions you posed are different from that in the quote because it refers to a:

-more common situation with a
-more common inference that is
-more often poorly grounded and hinges on complex aspects of human sociality, which are
-more relevant to our everyday lives because of the
-more frequent occurrence of similar situations.

See also Richard's further remarks.

The rationality issue involved in the quote is one of how you come to a conclusion, and I think it's fair to say you might have missed some of the factors that come into play regarding manipulation of children, which Richard explains. There's a difference between

a) "What does your gut tell you would happen?", and
b) "What information should you use to justifiably reach a conclusion about what would happen?"

You were answering a), while the question was asking b).

comment by matt · 2010-06-03T12:36:49.809Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Silas, you're making strong arguments but mixing in emotion that makes it harder for your interlocutor to change their mind.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-03T15:59:16.661Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Understood; I've edited the GP comment to be more diplomatic and improve the formatting. Let me know what you think.

However, regarding the other comment, my question "Are you serious?" is an honest question. I don't see how cousin_it could misinterpret the question as "What is X?" when it's clearly asking "How do you know what X is?" So I don't see why his answer of "X is ..." got modded up.

comment by Morendil · 2010-06-02T17:16:22.770Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'd eventually come to hate ice cream in that kid's situation. A treat is no longer a treat when it's systematically used to manipulate you into eating something you hate.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-02T22:57:56.425Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it depends on how much you hate the spinach compared to how much you love the ice cream. People's memories of an experience are strongly affected by the last bit, so the love of the ice cream may do quite a bit to overwrite the memory of hating spinach. Almost certainly not enough to affect feelings about spinach, but probably enough to not interfere with love of mother.

comment by BenAlbahari · 2010-06-01T22:28:12.439Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

I know that most men — not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems — can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.

— Leo Tolstoy, 1896 (excerpt from "What Is Art?")

comment by diegocaleiro · 2010-06-12T07:55:28.215Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not only to recognize my mistakes, but to actually speak outloud about them frequently has given me great strengh in doing it in questions that really matter. If you have social status, it is worth sparing some change in getting used to not only being wrong, but being socially recognized as wrong by your peers...

comment by BenAlbahari · 2010-06-13T08:40:49.238Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you have social status, it is worth sparing some change in getting used to not only being wrong, but being socially recognized as wrong by your peers...

Emperor Sigismund, when corrected on his Latin, famously replied:

I am king of the Romans and above grammar.

comment by Seth_Goldin · 2010-06-03T03:40:44.532Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

He seems to have understood that 0 and 1 are not probabilities.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-06-05T20:43:49.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You know, that post is somewhat annoyingly titled. 0 and 1 are probabilities by the common definition of "probability", but defining "probability" such that 0 and 1 are not probabilities results in a system which is also consistent and useful.

comment by Matt_Duing · 2010-06-02T04:03:17.572Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

"It's wonderful how much we suck compared to us ten years from now!"

-- Michael Blume

comment by Matt_Duing · 2010-06-16T03:35:49.269Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A troubling possible implication of this is if the impact we can expect to have on existential risks diminishes over time, then as the competence of our plans and actions increases, the expected importance of those choices tends to decrease.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-06-03T18:43:52.841Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Then quit. There's no use in being a damn fool about it.

-- W. C. Fields

comment by Houshalter · 2010-06-01T20:29:38.908Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

Another Twain quote.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-06-01T20:37:23.531Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

On a similar theme:

Fiction often mixes up logical with other concepts ... For one thing, authors sometimes say "illogical" when they mean "counter-intuitive." Correct logic is very often counter-intuitive, however, which is to be expected, as logic is meant to prevent errors caused by relying on intuition.

TV Tropes

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-06-02T10:13:11.634Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I've asked this question before, but where the hell does the high-quality rationality on TV Tropes come from?

comment by Mass_Driver · 2010-06-02T14:14:04.411Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

People who can see through the conventions of entertainment and who enjoy posting about those conventions for free are likely to be much more awake than usual.

comment by gwern · 2010-11-01T23:04:10.519Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a variant on that. In fiction, everything is calculated to manipulate you or fulfill some simple recognizable pattern.

Troping is training in figuring out how the manipulation works and what the patterns are; this is a skill that carries over into everything else. (Doesn't matter if it's an author trying to manipulate you - or a bad argument.)

comment by thomblake · 2010-06-03T16:03:12.877Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This was a nice exercise in generating a host of just-so stories.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-03T16:11:44.360Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but many of these are testable. Thus for example, Oscar's hypothesis that "Things are only tropes if they happen more often in fiction that in reality, so to detect them you need an accurate map" is testable. You could take a random sample of people who edit TVtropes and test their map accuracy in completely separate areas (say things that can be often estimated with a Fermi calculation) and compare that to a general sample of people. Oscar's hypothesis suggests that the Tropers will do better.

RobinZ's point is difficult to test, but presumably if one examined in detail what pages have historically stuck around and which have been merged or deleted, one could get data that would test it.

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-03T16:24:13.594Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would also consider my thesis undermined were it demonstrated that the rate of rationally-insightful contributions to TV Tropes was significantly higher than for other notable Wikis (e.g. Wikiversity).

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-03T16:31:33.273Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How would you measure the rate of rationally-insightful contributions? I'm also not sure which wikis would be useful to test this on. Some wikis (such as say the various Wikipedias) have prohibitions on original research. Other wikis have narrow goals that will mimimze the number of rational insights. Thus, I'd expect a very low insight rate on say Wikispecies since that is devoted to cataloging existing biological knowledge.

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-03T16:43:24.108Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good points. What I was attempting to measure was the relative measure* of rationalists on TV Tropes versus other nerd communities. The part of my thesis being tested is that no notable difference need be hypothesized to explain EY's perception of unusual rationality in the wiki.

(Was I mistaken to believe that EY thought TV Tropes was unusually rational compared to other nerdy Internet communities, as opposed to compared to other Internet communities, full stop? I agree that TV Tropes is nerdier than most of the Internet.)

* i.e. fraction of population weighted by intensity of participation.

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-03T16:10:18.252Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed that - I believe it is a classic case of (warning: TV Tropes) the Rhetorical Question Blunder.

(In my defense, I tried to make mine testable.)

comment by Mardonius · 2010-06-03T09:54:19.390Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps it's due to the fact that TV Tropes' mission is essentially to perform inference on the entire body of human fiction, and create generalised models (tropes or trope complexes) from that data. In many ways, it's science applied to things that are made up!

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-06-02T17:31:26.452Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Things are only tropes if they happen more often in fiction that in reality, so to detect them you need an accurate map.

ETA: And everyone is already in hole-picking mood. So any cognitive biases showing up will be jumped on.

ETA2: What does ETA stand for anyway?

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T17:34:32.711Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

ETA = Edited to add (not "estimated time of arrival", the more common usage)

I sometimes use ETC, edited to correct, but that hasn't caught on.

ETA: And here's the LessWrong acronym list -- we need to link it from the front page.

comment by Nanani · 2010-06-03T00:59:18.428Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Where I live, ETC stands for Electronic Toll Collection and is posted at the entry ramp of toll-roads equipped appropriately.

What's wrong with just using "Edit: additional note goes here"

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-03T01:05:46.492Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's wrong with just using "Edit: additional note goes here"

That's what I use, come to think of it.

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-03T01:28:17.264Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nothing's wrong with that, but ETA is shorter and faster to type.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-06-05T20:40:30.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not necessarily; perhaps one is accustomed to typing words that start with at most one capital letter.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-02T23:40:32.847Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

CEV needs to be added. I'm not doing it myself because I'm not sure what would be a good description of it to link to.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-06-03T23:56:35.912Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's that the website is dedicated to identifying common structures that make stories entertaining, with an emphasis that they are fictional structures. It's the very use of the word "tropes" in the title. Thus the user base is a bunch of people who enjoy a lot of bad (and usually absurdly bad) t.v., yet also have fun analyzing what psychological manipulation they were supposed to have been subjected to.

Also, I know a few TVTropes addicts who are regular LW readers (from a forum on which Dresden Codak left a large impact), and wouldn't be surprised if they have contributed.

comment by Desrtopa · 2010-12-19T03:23:57.643Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am one such, but I'm not aware of any other Koala Wallopers who're regular editors of tvtropes.

comment by Nanani · 2010-06-03T00:59:52.748Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Rational Tropers. QED.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-03T01:16:43.123Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Was that a deliberate attempt at a mysterious answer? If so, I am amused.

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-03T01:39:36.781Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It looked like a joke along the lines of:

Q (on discovering a pile of eggs in a strange place): Where did these eggs come from?

A: Chickens.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2010-06-03T10:22:46.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or "Where do these stairs go?" ... "They go up."

comment by David_Gerard · 2010-11-30T09:11:12.190Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The quality on TVTropes comes from the same place as the quality on Wikipedia: obsessive nerds who want things to be right. Like Wikipedia, TVTropes has successfully set up a filter such that the good stuff tends to stick more than the bad.

Of course, it has the same problem with people wanting to add garbage as Wikipedia, as Desrtopa points out. But the overall slight bias to good seems sufficient to grow quite remarkably high quality.

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-02T13:59:19.534Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The way TV Tropes is set up, technologically and culturally, it seems relatively easy for a rational person to contribute an insight that persists - is there some systemic pattern that this effect cannot account for?

comment by Desrtopa · 2010-11-30T07:41:04.282Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think that there may be something of a sampling bias going on here. The sort of structure analysis of storytelling we do attracts some particularly intelligent and rational people, but also quite a lot who are, charitably speaking, not. It's a constant struggle to keep the prominent pages full of the stuff that's actually worth reading, and to shove the rest under a sofa when we can't get rid of it entirely.

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-02T12:43:47.833Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That article is full of goodies.

The most common mistake is to assume that logic and emotion are somehow naturally opposed and that employing one means you can't have the other. Excluding emotion doesn't make your reasoning logical, however, and it certainly doesn't cause your answer to be automatically true. Likewise, an emotional response doesn't preclude logical thinking — although it may prevent you from thinking in the first place — and if an emotional plan is successful, that doesn't make logic somehow wrong.

For a plan to be reasonable or sensible, it just has to get you in the direction you want to go by avoiding the stuff you don't want to happen. The rational plan, in the strictest sense of "rational", is the one that best achieves this. It is therefore by definition impossible for the plan with the best chance of working to be irrational, no matter how crazy it sounds when you first hear it.

comment by komponisto · 2010-06-02T00:13:52.117Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The last part deserves extra emphasis:

Correct logic is very often counter-intuitive, however, which is to be expected, as logic is meant to prevent errors caused by relying on intuition.

See also here.

comment by XiXiDu · 2010-06-08T13:43:11.513Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But there's one one thing about Star Trek for which I'll never forgive Gene Roddenberry or Star Trek: "Logic". As in, Mr. Spock saying "But that would not be logical.".

The reason that this bugs me so much is because it's taught a huge number of people that "logical" means the same thing as "reasonable". Almost every time I hear anyone say that something is logical, they don't mean that it's logical - in fact, they mean something almost exactly opposite - that it seems correct based on intuition and common sense.

If you're being strict about the definition, then saying that something is logical by itself is an almost meaningless statement. Because what it means for some statement to be logical is really that that statement is inferable from a set of axioms in some formal reasoning system. If you don't know what formal system, and you don't know what axioms, then the statement that something is logical is absolutely meaningless. And even if you do know what system and what axioms you're talking about, the things that people often call "logical" are not things that are actually inferable from the axioms.

-- Mr. Spock is Not Logical

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-01T19:42:42.242Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Were it possible to trace the succession of ideas in the mind of Sir Isaac Newton, during the time that he made his greatest discoveries, I make no doubt but our amazement at the extent of his genius would a little subside. But if, when a man publishes his discoveries, he either through a design, or through habit, omit the intermediary steps by which he himself arrived at them, it is no wonder that his speculations confound them, and that the generality of mankind stand amazed at his reach of thought. If a man ascend to the top of a building by the help of a common ladder, but cut away most of the steps after he has done with them, leaving only every ninth of tenth step, the view of the ladder, in the condition which he has pleased to exhibit it, gives us a prodigious, but unjust view of the man who could have made use of it. But if he had intended that any body should follow him, he should have left the ladder as he constructed it, or perhaps as he found it, for it might have been a mere accident that threw it in his way... I think that the interests of science have suffered by the excessive admiration and wonder with which several first rate philosophers are considered, and that an opinion of the greater equality of mankind, in point of genius, and power of understanding, would be of real service in the present age." - Joseph Priestly, The History and present State of Electricity

The section where I've added an ellipsis is a section where he discusses Newton in more detail. That entire part of the text is worth reading. Priestly wrote the book before he did his work on the composition of air. The book is, as far as I am aware, the first attempt at actual history of science. (I'm meaning to read the whole thing at some point, but the occasionally archaic grammar makes for slow reading.)

comment by bentarm · 2010-06-02T09:24:01.237Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Euler is one of the few mathematicians who provide an exception to this rule. To quote Polya (Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning):

Euler seems to me almost unique in one respect: he takes pains to present the relevant inductive evidence carefully, in detail, in good order. His presentation is "the candid exposition of the ideas that led him to those discoveries... Natural enough, he tries to impress his readers, but, as a really good author, he tries to impress his readers only by such things as have genuinely impressed himself.

(the quoted passed in the text is apparently from Condorcet, although I don't know the initial source)

Polya is, of course, one of the few other mathematicians who break this mould. Explicitly writing books about the process of discovery.

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T23:33:45.109Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You quoted:

of his genius would little subside

But I just read the original and it is written:

of his genius would a little subside

Now it makes more sense to me, the 'a' makes all the difference.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-01T23:36:52.237Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Mistranscription by me. Fixed now. Thanks.

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T21:58:56.757Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The book is available for free on google books, can you tell us the page nr. of the quotation please?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-01T22:20:49.823Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

575 and 576 in the edition on Google Books.

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T21:52:40.691Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a coincidence that I was thinking along these lines recently. Most science is just the result of tiny footsteps put one after the other, but when you see the final result it is impressive. Most teaching books are in fault because they only portray the end result whereas the painstaking but simple steps that lead there often in a natural way are omitted.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-01T22:48:47.995Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is an issue that has been discussed here before. Eliezer generally uses Einstein as the example rather than Newton. See for example Einstein's Superpowers and My Childhood Role Model.

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T18:30:07.115Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Conscious thought leads people to put disproportionate weight on attributes that are accessible, plausible and easy to verbalize, and therefore too little weight on other attributes. -- Ap Dijksterhuis

comment by Unnamed · 2010-06-02T02:42:35.372Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Similarly,

We think utility, or happiness, much too complex and indefinite an end to be sought except through the medium of various secondary ends ... [T]he attempt to make the bearings of actions upon the ultimate end more evident than they can be made by referring them to the intermediate ends, and to estimate their value by a direct reference to human happiness, generally terminates in attaching most importance, not to those effects which are really the greatest, but to those which can most easily be pointed to and individually identified.

-- John Stuart Mill

Unfortunately Mill gets wordy in the middle, instead of just saying "... various secondary ends. Attempting to focus directly on happiness generally terminates in..."

comment by DanielVarga · 2010-06-06T05:55:56.500Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I imagine that if my friend finally came to the conclusion that he were a machine, he would be infinitely crestfallen. I think he would think: "My God! How Horrible! I am only a machine!" But if I should find out I were a machine, my attitude would be totally different. I would say: "How amazing! I never before realized that machines could be so marvelous!"

(Raymond Smullyan)

I have found it in an OB comment by Zubon, but it was never posted as a rationality quote.

comment by Zubon · 2010-06-08T02:17:32.924Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Raymond Smullyan is a gold mine for different cached thoughts. Maybe I should start finding quotes on random pages for these threads.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2010-06-02T04:26:51.512Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW · GW

To a very great extent, the term science is reserved for fields that do progress in obvious ways. But does a field make progress because it is a science, or is it a science because it makes progress?

-Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T18:28:21.345Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Prevent all problems and get nothing done, or accept an allowable level of small problems and focus on the big things. --Timothy Ferriss

comment by Matt_Duing · 2010-06-02T04:15:13.811Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

"Sanity is conforming your thoughts to reality. Conforming reality to your thoughts is creativity."

-- Unknown

comment by imaxwell · 2010-06-08T15:36:35.079Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I would prefer to say that conforming your thoughts to reality is science, and conforming reality to your thoughts is engineering...

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-08T16:46:39.829Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Putting those together, science is sanity and engineering is creativity. Or to merge this with an aphorism of George Bernard Shaw, science sees things and asks "why?", and engineering dreams things that never were and asks "why not!"

You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'

-- G.B.S.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T13:05:08.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Putting those together, science is sanity and engineering is creativity.

Meanwhile I would want to employ a creative scientist but a sane engineer. Perhaps it is a matter of balance...

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-08T16:51:43.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Have you noticed how many G.B.S. quotes are in the top quotes list?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T19:56:25.846Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Despite the fact that you arrived in this world with nothing but an unborn Buddha-mind, your partiality for yourselves now makes you want to have things move in your own way. You lose your temper, become contentious, and then you think, "I haven't lost my temper. That fellow won't listen to me. By being so unreasonable he has made me lose it." And so you fix belligerently on his words and end up transforming the valuable Buddha-mind into a fighting spirit. By stewing over this unimportant matter, making the thoughts churn over and over in your mind, you may finally get your way, but then you fail in your ignorance to realize that it was meaningless for you to concern yourself over such a matter.

From The Dharma Talks of Zen Master Bankei, translated by Norman Waddell. Quoted by Torkel Franzén as a perfect description of Usenet flamewars.

comment by Zubon · 2010-06-03T01:19:57.844Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

all arguments online seem to follow that format. It's like a giant straw man ate a radioactive non sequitor and began rampaging through downtown Tokyo.

-- jman3030

comment by Roko · 2010-06-03T13:37:44.861Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Can someone get Yvain to photoshop up a "Fallacyzilla!"

comment by Thomas · 2010-06-05T14:43:48.709Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What I cannot build, I do not understand.

    — Richard Feynman
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2010-06-05T01:44:37.513Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Not strictly a rationality quote, but screw it, it's beautiful anyway:

I take it as a given that, during the course of my lifespan, there's always been television (not color to start with, but there was TV), that indoor plumbing and lights have always been around, flight is not only possible but commonplace and pretty much always has been, and the moon landing happened before I was born.

A part of me regrets missing the introduction of all of those exciting technologies and innovations, because to me they are all background things that just are. They aren't wondrous, they just are.

No matter where you live in history, there are always improvements that you'll appreciate, but there's always amazing stuff that was there before that you will only see as part of the world as it's always been, and will be even more amazing stuff that will come after you that would probably blow your mind if you ever had the chance to see it (or would be so far beyond your comprehension you couldn't appreciate it).

You don't truly appreciate the amazing parts of an advance unless you've watched those parts happen.

To me, computers (and video games, etc), color/stereo televisions, microwaves, mobile phones, digital wristwatches, and many of the things you no doubt take for granted are marvels. When I was a kid, they largely did not exist. Which is not to say they all of them were completely unavailable, but when I was growing up no one I knew owned any of them and they were brand new.

I both envy my grandparents (now all dead) and my yet-to-be-born grandchildren the wonders of their lifetimes that I will never see they way they do. The wonders of my grandparents are my commonplace items. The wonders of my grandchildren are probably beyond my imagination.

But that's just human nature. We want to see it all. And eventually we learn we'll never succeed. It's both heartening and saddening at the same time.

-- natehoy

comment by Jonii · 2010-06-09T19:49:58.740Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree with this. Although it's difficult to guess how people thought back then when they didn't have all these marvels of today, it's still really easy to appreciate the things themselves. Things related to cultural evolution, like basic human rights, art, modern goverments, those are a bit more difficult to see, but still, with little thought, it's easy to see much of the sheer awesomeness they have. It's also easy to see how things could easily be so much worse, and usually it's easy to check from history that yeah, things have been very much worse.

Though much of this quote is about how awesome things are in our world, and I totally agree with that.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2010-06-09T20:42:15.389Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I guess that might depend on the person. For me, even though I can appreciate things like television and electricity on an intellectual level, I can't really appreciate them on an emotional level the way I can appreciate things like ubiquitous mobile phones or Wikipedia that weren't there when I was a kid.

comment by Roko · 2010-06-03T13:36:39.181Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Reason is the press secretary of the emotions, the ex post facto spin doctor of beliefs we've arrived at through a largely intuitive process.

comment by Randaly · 2010-06-07T04:46:09.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The source is Jonathan Haidt, right?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-07T05:43:12.780Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Whoever it was, it was clearly someone who has never proved a theorem.

Ok, in context he's talking about moral beliefs, but still.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T12:57:20.248Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We could say (with some degree of insight) that proving a theorem is something that the "press secretary" sometimes does as a hobby in its off hours.

comment by ZoneSeek · 2010-06-02T10:19:22.548Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

"You rationalize, Keeton. You defend. You reject unpalatable truths, and if you can't reject them outright you trivialize them. Incremental evidence is never enough for you. You hear rumors of Holocaust; you dismiss them. You see evidence of genocide; you insist it can't be so bad. Temperatures rise, glaciers melt—species die—and you blame sunspots and volcanoes. Everyone is like this, but you most of all. You and your Chinese Room. You turn incomprehension into mathematics, you reject the truth without even knowing what it is."

--Jukka Sarasti, rationalist vampire in Peter Watts's Blindsight. Great book on neuroscience and map != territory.

comment by pjeby · 2010-06-02T16:25:38.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

rationalist vampire in Peter Watts's Blindsight

Um, wasn't he more of a p-zombie who just happened to be rational?

(In that novel, vampires are a near-human species who lack consciousness -- so all the vampires are a bit like p-zombies, except they don't claim to be conscious.)

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T18:15:22.434Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not entirely sure what your criticism is. I'll take it as meaning 'isn't it just an arbitrary accident that the vampires happen to be more rational than humans, and not an intrinsic part of those characters?'

No. It isn't. If you remember, one of the running suggestions in Blindsight is that consciousness is a useless spandrel that sucks up tons of brainpower, and which can/will be discarded with much benefit. The vampires may be rationally superior to humans because they are p-zombies, and they evolved that way in order to effectively predict human actions and hunt them. The arbitrary accident was the cross glitch - otherwise the vampires would have won rather than died out. If the vampires could as well have been less-rational-than-humans p-zombies, that would undo that major theme.

comment by pjeby · 2010-06-02T21:04:28.676Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not entirely sure what your criticism is. I'll take it as meaning 'isn't it just an arbitrary accident that the vampires happen to be more rational than humans, and not an intrinsic part of those characters?

I actually meant that "rationalist" is a label that doesn't make sense when applied to an entity that's already rational, but I'll admit my phrasing was confusing... probably because my attention was mainly focused on trying to make a joke about p-zombie vampires. ;-)

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T18:45:31.012Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you remember, one of the running suggestions in Blindsight is that consciousness is a useless spandrel that sucks up tons of brainpower, and which can/will be discarded with much benefit. The vampires may be rationally superior to humans because they are p-zombies

Er, what? How exactly do you tell the difference between a p-zombie and a being with conscious thought? I thought the whole freaking point is that there is no way, so the story can't hinge on it, right?

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-02T20:04:58.869Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How exactly do you tell the difference between a p-zombie and a being with conscious thought? I thought the whole freaking point is that there is no way,

No, the whole point is if you have two entities, one of whom is a zombie and one of whom is conscious, there must be some physical difference in their brains. ('p-zombie' normally is used in the context of the (impossible) thought experiment where there is no physical difference in the two brains, but only one is conscious.)

In Blindsight, the vampires' brains have a very different architecture than ours, and IIRC they explicitly state they do not have consciousness.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T20:44:48.341Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, the whole point is if you have two entities, one of whom is a zombie and one of whom is conscious, there must be some physical difference in their brains. ('p-zombie' normally is used in the context of the (impossible) thought experiment where there is no physical difference in the two brains, but only one is conscious.)

Please don't misunderstand -- I agree with all of that! I meant that the whole point of using the term "p-zombie" is to specify a being with the (hypothetical) properties that it looks just like a human (or being that is normally accepted as conscious), in all physically discernable ways, but (somehow) lacks consciousness. So I was confused as to how it could affect the storyline for some being to be specified as a p-zombie, since you wouldn't know the difference.

I agree that such a being can't exist, for the standard reasons.

If the vampires actually have different brain architectures, then they shouldn't be called p-zombies, because they don't have the form of something normally conscious, like a human. It would make as much sense as saying that a rock is a p-zombie.

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-02T21:27:25.698Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the vampires actually have different brain architectures, then they shouldn't be called p-zombies, because they don't have the form of something normally conscious, like a human. It would make as much sense as saying that a rock is a p-zombie.

You're right that the term is being used incorrectly (or at least very loosely). However, I think it makes slightly more sense than calling a rock a p-zombie, since the vampires in Blindsight do behave like humans and have normal conversations like humans: that is, they would pass the Turing test. Entities like this are sometimes called "behavioral zombies" (as opposed to "physical zombies"), and it's not clear whether they are possible, though Eliezer seems to think so.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-02T18:53:54.976Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

qwern is using p-zombie slightly incorrectly. In this case, these are entities that act more or less like humans but functionally state their own lack of conscious awareness.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T19:11:20.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

gwern is using p-zombie slightly incorrectly.

Yes; in my defense, pjeby started it!

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-02T18:57:24.684Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I lack conscious awareness.

There, do you regard me as a p-zombie now?

comment by khafra · 2010-06-02T19:23:32.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"More or less" requires unpacking approximately equal in length to the novel, but the non-sentience of the vampires is weakly implied, (spoiler) juvyr gur aba-fragvrapr bs gur nyvraf gurl zrrg vf rkcyvpvg naq abg ng nyy zrgnculfvpny.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T19:54:09.789Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it was more implied by the ending, myself. (Does Blindsight really need spoilers ROT13ing? I mean, the book is right there for anyone to read.)

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-02T19:59:10.001Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The fact of information being available does not make it known. Billions of people have never read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, despite it being freely available in most places around the world, for example. The use of spoilers is not to protect the copyright of the writers, but to protect the surprise of the readers when they discover what has been written.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T13:02:40.742Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Does Blindsight really need spoilers ROT13ing? I mean, the book is right there for anyone to read.)

Nearly everything else that people do not want spoilers for is right there for anyone to consume. I do not think that is the point...

comment by magfrump · 2010-06-06T08:40:07.956Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

RobinZ seconded... I may go read both these stories due to this thread and I'd prefer not to see spoilers.

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-07T14:33:00.288Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By the way: if you like The Woman in White, try also The Moonstone. Those two are Wilkie Collins' famous stories.

comment by Kevin · 2010-06-15T04:53:21.560Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

clippy.paperclips: how many humans, as a fraction of total humans, have a belief about whether or not they are a human, and believe they are not a human?

me: this is a subculture of humans that believes they are really animals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furry_fandom

clippy.paperclips: so those are the normal ones? and it's like a war against the irrational majority?

me: bad example.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-06-08T03:22:10.015Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas

comment by Death · 2010-06-18T22:40:16.521Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

THE SCANSION IS QUITE PLEASING.

comment by Rain · 2010-06-01T23:49:33.904Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.

-- Stephen Jay Gould

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T20:38:46.561Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The value of a sword cannot be judged when the sword stands alone in a corner; only when it is wielded by an expert can one see its true worth.

-- old Chinese saying

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T19:52:38.654Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW · GW

You wouldn't believe how much time people spend looking for evidence that something couldn't possibly work for them. If they spent one-tenth the time looking for something that DID work, they'd have their problem solved almost immediately.

-- Eric Pepke

comment by Morendil · 2010-06-19T10:51:25.485Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Everyone who takes basic statistics has it drilled into them that "correlation is not causation." (When I took psych. 1, the professor said he hoped that, if he were to come to us on our death-beds and prompt us with "Correlation is," we would all respond "not causation.") This is a problem, because one can infer correlation from data, and would like to be able to make inferences about causation. There are typically two ways out of this. One is to perform an experiment, preferably a randomized double-blind experiment, to eliminate accidental sources of correlation, common causes, etc. That's nice when you can do it, but impossible with supernovae, and not even easy with people. The other out is to look for correlations, say that of course they don't equal causations, and then act as if they did anyway.

-- Cosma Shalizi on Graphical Models

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-03-06T17:26:48.742Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Obligatory xkcd reference

That said... treating correlations as evidence of causation isn't unreasonable, as long as I remember that the world is full of evidence of falsehoods as well as truths, and calibrate accordingly.

comment by TraderJoe · 2012-03-06T17:13:20.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

[comment deleted]

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-19T11:12:01.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Far too true. :)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-19T11:12:01.001Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Far too true. :)

comment by Cyan · 2010-06-02T02:45:49.786Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Using language that is appropriate in one linguistic framework in a different linguistic framework is what causes philosophical confusion and pseudo puzzles, also known as the history of philosophy.

-- Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... : Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

comment by Nic_Smith · 2010-06-02T05:14:01.745Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Looked it up in Google Books and found this gem as a chapter lead-in:

"Without logic, reason is useless. With it, you can win arguments and alienate multitudes."

I'll have to get a copy sometime.

comment by Cyan · 2010-06-02T12:41:25.595Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's very Philosophy 101; you can get more in-depth info online. But it does provide an entry into a variety of topics, and some of the jokes are real zingers.

comment by Rain · 2010-06-01T23:39:56.480Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Many receive advice; few profit by it.

-- Publius Syrus

comment by Rain · 2010-06-01T23:37:27.305Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.

-- Democritus

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-02T04:25:37.282Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The quote is good but I can't help but be bothered by the source, and wonder if rationality is really on display here.

Democritus may have had an atomic theory, but his reasons for having it were no better than those for the "earth, wind, fire and water" theory; i.e., wild conjecture.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T18:11:18.660Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

That's not true. He had perfectly good reasons for atomism in his context.

The ontological arguments of Parmenides (and as exposited by Melissus) lead to extremely unpalatable, if not outright contradictory, conclusions, such as there being no time or change or different entities. The arguments seem valid, and most of their premises are reasonable, but one of his most important and questionable premises is that void cannot exist.

Reject that premise and you are left with matter and void. How are matter and void distributed? Well, either matter can be indefinitely chopped up (continuous) or it must halt and be discrete at some point. The Pluralists like Anaxagoras take the former approach, but continuousness leads to its own issues with regard to change.* So to avoid issues with infinity, you must have discrete matter with size/divison limits - _atom_s.

So, Democritus and Leucippus are led to Atomism as the one safe path through a thicket of paradoxes and problems. Describing it as wild conjecture is deeply unfair, and, I hope, ignorant.

* One argument, if I remember it from Sextus Empiricus's Against the Physicists correctly, is that if matter really is infinitely divisible, then you should be able to divide it again and again, with void composing ever more of the original mass you started with; if you do division infinitely, then you must end up with nothing at all! That is a problem. Cantor dust would not have been acceptable to the ancient Greeks.

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-03T01:19:41.948Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

You make a good case. I repudiate my previous statement.

comment by Simony · 2010-06-15T21:29:59.909Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Also, Democritus observed Brownian motion, and realised from that the atomic nature of gas.

Smart guy.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-27T03:00:23.407Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Even if that argument is valid, it doesn't seem to rule out matter being "infinitely divisible" in the sense that it could be divided arbitrarily many times - which is what a rejection of atomism really means - just the stronger sense of being able to divide something infinitely. As an argument against atomism it seems to rely on an equivocation between these two, unless that case is somehow ruled out.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-27T03:09:56.431Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As an argument against atomism it seems to rely on an equivocation between these two, unless that case is somehow ruled out.

I don't really follow. How is arbitrarily divisible not the same as infinitely divisible? If there is some limit to the arbitrariness then it's just atomism discussed. If there is no limit, then it seems like infinity to me.

(Most of the arguments against continuity use this sort of induction; continuity causes problems at this level, and it logically causes problems on n+1 levels; therefore it causes problems on all levels.)

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-27T03:41:13.597Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If atomism is false, then for any matter and any n, the matter can be divided into n parts (whatever that may mean); this is a finite division, so if we started with a nonzero amount of "stuff" (whatever that may mean), the parts we divided it into should also comprise nonzero amounts of "stuff" that total to the original amount of "stuff". No problem there.

The apparent problem (which I would say isn't one really, but that's not the point, because there's no way the Greeks could have been expected to come up with why not) appears if you allow it to be divided into infinitely many parts, and then argue, since there was only finitely much "stuff" originally, and we've divided it into infinitely many parts, each part must have zero "stuff", but any sum of zeroes is zero.

Weak induction will reach all natural numbers, but it won't reach infinity.

comment by pengvado · 2010-10-27T02:37:49.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You should be able to divide it again and again, with void composing ever more of the original mass you started with; if you do division infinitely, then you must end up with nothing at all! That is a problem. Cantor dust would not have been acceptable to the ancient Greeks.

Would a conserved Lebesgue measure have been acceptable? I don't see why infinitely dividing matter has to reduce the amount of anything.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-27T02:54:05.024Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would a conserved Lebesgue measure have been acceptable?

Not unless you enjoy anachronisms. The Greeks probably wouldn't have liked that either; the basic point stands: if at any point one can divide it to produce a void and 2 smaller masses, then where is the 'real' mass? Any point you pick, I can turn into void. If I can do it for any point, I can do it for every point, and if every point is void...

comment by pengvado · 2010-10-27T05:04:03.002Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unless you postulate a knife with really weird properties, cutting a continuous object in half isn't turning matter into void. It's moving some of the matter without changing its density (hence my offer of conservation of volume). You can do that to every point currently occupied by an object, but only by reserving an equal amount of space that's currently void and displacing all of the matter to there.

comment by gwern · 2010-10-27T14:01:10.533Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's more of a conceptual knife - pointing out that by the definition of continuity, segment X is made of void and 2 smaller segments, Y and Z; but Y and Z are themselves made of void (and 2 smaller segments), and so on.

(Any conceptual knife just illustrates how motion was supposed to be possible in a continuous framework: the matter in the knife fits into the voids of what it is moving into.)

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-27T20:08:54.455Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, so the "made of void" thing comes from the void that the knife fits into. That wasn't at all clear - it seemed like we were just talking about separating things into parts, not about the physical process of cutting.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-06-27T16:40:26.832Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Rational belief is constrained not only by the chains of deduction but also by the rubber bands of probabilistic inference. --Nick Bostrom, Anthropic Bias

comment by phaedrus · 2010-06-19T14:30:06.311Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance" - John Archibald Wheeler

comment by Morendil · 2010-06-25T07:19:04.770Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is precisely the quote I was vaguely alluding to here - thanks ever so much for pinning it down.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-25T11:15:28.781Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A more cheering version: "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder." Ralph W. Sockman

comment by cupholder · 2010-06-12T12:18:25.564Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do not ask whether a statement is true until you know what it means.

Errett Bishop

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T12:35:28.702Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bad advice.

I do not want to understand all untrue statements. Not only is there an opportunity cost associated with thinking or learning, understanding false statements can bias your brain in undesirable directions.

There are times (say, you know an expert you trust on the subject) when you can establish with acceptable confidence that a statement is not true. In such cases it is often better to not bother giving the false statement another thought.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T21:01:57.780Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"This achievement is often praised as a sign of the great superiority of modern civilization over the many faded and lost civilizations of the ancients. While our great skill lies in finding patterns of repetition under the apparent play of accident and chance, less successful civilizations dealt by appealing to supernatural powers for protection. But the voices of the gods proved ignorant and false; they have been silenced by the truth."

--James P. Carse, _Finite and Infinite Games_

comment by Rain · 2010-06-01T23:38:58.598Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I can't understand it. I can't even understand the people who can understand it.

-- Queen Juliana

comment by Morendil · 2010-06-22T11:44:24.788Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A household is a business given over to caring for small, temporarily insane people.

-- Clark Glymour, What Went Wrong: Reflections on Science by Observation

Longer version:

A household is a business given over to caring for small, temporarily insane people, a business subject to cash-flow problems, endless legal harassments, run by people who expect to have sex with each other, who occupy the same space, and who go nuts when either party has sex with anyone else. Once in marriage, a lot of people try to get out as fast as religious tradition, poverty, or devotion to children permits.

(I really like the short one for "small, temporarily insane people", but the one above will tickle many a LW reader's funny bone.)

Via CRS.

comment by toto · 2010-06-03T09:29:12.995Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When it comes to proving such obvious things, one will invariably fail to convince.

Montesquieu, "The Spirit of the Laws", book XXV, chapter XIII. (Link to the book, Original French)

comment by phaedrus · 2010-06-29T08:20:26.474Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth." -- Goethe

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-06-08T03:33:33.579Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There is no mutually exclusive distinction between "is" and "ought". There is only a distinction between "is" and "is not". If "ought" cannot find a home in what "is", then "ought" is something that "is not".

-- Alonzo Fyfe

comment by savageorange · 2010-06-08T05:24:51.447Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I find this rather gnomic. Is he admonishing us to only say 'ought' in reference to existing parts of reality? Or simply classifying ought as a nonsensical notion?

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-06-08T05:29:37.440Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Some more context, from the link:

I consider the claim that 'ought' cannot be derived from 'is' to be a very remarkable claim. It suggests that there something . . . 'oughtness' . . . that is totally distinct and separate from things that exist in the real world . . . 'isness' . . . yet is supposed to have relevance in the real world. It is referred to as a part of the real-world explanations for the movement of real matter through space-time. Yet, we are told, this 'ought' or 'should' that we are making a reference to and that has these owers is something distinct and separate from anything in the world of 'is'.

[...]

My position is that 'ought' is relevant in the real world because 'ought' is a species of 'is', and there is no mystery as to how 'is' can be relevant in the real world.

So, when I put you cannot derive 'ought' from 'is' up against 'ought' can interact with 'is' because it is a species of 'is', and I realize that one of them must be mistaken, it seems far more likely that we will find the error in the first proposition rather than the second. I would be far less surprised by a discovery that 'ought' is relevant to 'is' because 'ought' is a subset of 'is' than that there is a realm of 'ought' separate and distinct from 'is' but still relevant in the world of 'is'.

comment by Jack · 2010-06-08T05:56:42.787Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This seems... confused. The is-ought distinction is the distinction between preference and fact.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-06-08T15:30:43.467Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Preferences" are also facts about minds.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2010-06-08T15:36:48.519Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Preferences" are also facts about minds.

Not directly, there is no fixed "preference mapping" from minds to preferences that works in general. We can only hope for one that works for humans, constructed for searching preference of humans, because it won't need to work for any almost-humans or not-humans-at-all. I look at a mind and see that its preference is X, you look at the same mind and say it's Y. There is no factual disagreement, the sense of "preference" was different; and if it was the same, the purpose was lost.

comment by Simulation_Brain · 2010-06-12T06:37:25.234Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes; it's not straightforward to go from brains to preferences. But for any particular definition of preference, a given brain's "preference" is just a fact about that brain. If this is true, it's important to understanding morality/ethics/volition.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-06-22T05:44:38.538Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hello! You seem to know your way around already, but it doesn't hurt to introduce yourself on the Welcome page...

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-18T12:47:17.262Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wow. If he keeps playing around with words like that it should only take him two more paragraphs to 'prove' the existence of God.

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-19T04:10:25.476Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Really?

I interpret him to be saying something fairly non-dualistic - namely, that morality is not an ontologically basic thing separate from physics.

He also may be saying that moral claims reduce to fact claims in some sense, which is almost true (you need to throw some values in as well).

Are you coming at this from the perspective of a moral nihilist?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-19T10:23:41.823Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I interpret him to be saying something fairly non-dualistic - namely, that morality is not an ontologically basic thing separate from physics.

I did not like the particular way he was trying to make morality relate to physics. I thought it asserted a confused relationship between 'is' and 'ought'.

He also may be saying that moral claims reduce to fact claims in some sense, which is almost true (you need to throw some values in as well).

I think that was a point that he was at least trying to make and it is something I agree with.

Are you coming at this from the perspective of a moral nihilist?

No. That's for people who realise that God doesn't tell them what morality is and get all emo about it. I more take a 'subjectively objective' position (probably similar to what you expressed in the previous paragraph).

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-19T16:26:13.639Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's for people who realise that God doesn't tell them what morality is and get all emo about it.

Succinctly stated. I love it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-06-19T10:23:42.374Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I interpret him to be saying something fairly non-dualistic - namely, that morality is not an ontologically basic thing separate from physics.

I did not like the particular way he was trying to make morality relate to physics. I thought it asserted a confused relationship between 'is' and 'ought'.

He also may be saying that moral claims reduce to fact claims in some sense, which is almost true (you need to throw some values in as well).

I think that was a point that he was at least trying to make and it is something I agree with.

Are you coming at this from the perspective of a moral nihilist?

No. That's for people who realise that God doesn't tell them what morality is and get all emo about it. I more take a 'subjectively objective' position (probably similar to what you expressed in the previous paragraph).

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T18:32:15.249Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The method-oriented man is shackled: the problem-oriented man is at least reaching freely toward what is most important. --John R. Platt

comment by Craig_Heldreth · 2010-06-18T15:33:25.577Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"The Master said, Yu, shall I tell you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to know that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge."

Analects of Confucius (Wayley's translation.)

(This quotation is an epigram to chapter 1 of Harold Jeffreys' Scientific Inference, 1957, Cambridge University Press.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-17T12:49:16.646Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

“Anyone who understands systems will know immediately that optimizing parts is not a good route to system excellence,”

Gawande on information overload in medicine

comment by phaedrus · 2010-06-14T07:44:06.345Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Every conviction is a prison" ---- Nietzsche

comment by Houshalter · 2010-06-01T18:57:17.187Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

"All generalizations are false, including this one."

-Mark Twain

comment by Thomas · 2010-06-01T18:45:39.265Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Arthur Conan Doyle

comment by khafra · 2010-06-02T15:59:31.712Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I'm embarassed to bring this up again, because I seem to quote steven0461 too often--but, in something close to his words; "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains is likely more improbable than an error in one of your impossibility proofs."

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-06-01T20:16:43.271Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

...Or you've just missed something. If all you're left with is improbable you notice that you are confused. I've always thought that quote was off.

Then again, Sherlock never did miss anything.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-08-08T11:35:16.202Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I also just noticed a Sherlock quote with exactly this meaning:

When a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions, it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.

Sherlock's a more rounded rationalist than he's given credit for.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T17:57:38.351Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Then again, Sherlock never did miss anything.

To the contrary, he was roundly defeated on at least one occasion.

comment by Thomas · 2010-06-02T12:04:26.717Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am sorry gentlemen, but this quote of Holmes is the very essence of rationalism as I see it.

comment by orangecat · 2010-06-02T00:29:45.519Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I reject that entirely," said Dirk, sharply. "The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something which works in all respects other than one, which is just that it is hopelessly improbable? Your instinct is to say, `Yes, but he or she simply wouldn't do that.'"

Douglas Adams

comment by [deleted] · 2010-06-01T23:08:29.752Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There is no evidence that is so strong that it will justify a statement no matter how improbable you initially considered it. Thus, as Oscar points out, this quote is off.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-06-01T18:54:05.514Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In Bayes/Pearl terminology, knowledge of an effect destroys the causes' independence (d-connects them), and ruling out a cause shifts probability onto the remaining causes.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-06-03T18:22:10.328Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How does a Bayesian rule out a cause?

comment by D_Alex · 2010-06-07T04:30:26.846Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As a rationality quote, "... must contain the truth" would have been better.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-18T10:28:13.154Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In order to ask a question you must already know most of the answer. —Answerer, in Ask a Foolish Question in the anthology Citizen in Space by Robert Sheckley

Found here

comment by khafra · 2010-06-09T11:08:22.898Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

- Beta Ray Bill

comment by PeterS · 2010-06-01T20:27:22.652Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sufferers must be sustained by a hope so strong that no conflict with reality can smash it - so strong, indeed, that no fulfilment could ever satisfy it...

-Nietzche

comment by [deleted] · 2010-06-03T08:23:56.651Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

del

comment by PeterS · 2010-06-01T20:14:08.727Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The universe will expand, then it will collapse back on itself, then will expand again. It will repeat this process forever. What you don't you know is that when the universe expands again, everything will be as it is now. Whatever mistakes you make this time around, you will live through on your next pass. Every mistake you make, you will live through again, & again, forever. So my advice to you is to get it right this time around. Because this time is all you have.

-KPAX

(I do not present this as an endorsement of the Big Bounce hypothesis.)

comment by novalis · 2010-06-02T03:56:27.404Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How could you distinguish a repeating process consisting of the entire universe, from that process happening only once?

comment by PeterS · 2010-06-02T04:08:19.712Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If it were truly repeating, you couldn't. Unless you were a KPAXian and the screenwriters wrote it to be so.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-06-02T02:02:29.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The idea of the eternal recurrence didn't originate with that movie.

comment by PeterS · 2010-06-02T03:58:25.894Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know. What's your point?

I was presenting the quote along the lines of UDT, and this.

comment by orthonormal · 2010-06-03T00:46:45.409Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. It just bugs me on a status level to have an idea that was well-stated by famous philosophers quoted from K-PAX instead. I realize I'm being irrational here.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-01T19:55:00.451Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes exhausted from toil and endeavour

I wish I could sleep for ever and ever

But then this assertion my thinking allays

I shall be doing that one of these days.

-- Piet Hein

comment by Mardonius · 2010-06-01T23:01:36.520Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

speak for yourself Sir, I intend to live forever

-Jonathan Frakes, as William T Riker

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-02T06:36:36.078Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A fine intention. But until we make the technology, we are still, after all, only mortal.

"Had we but world enough and time

But we don't

So let's get on with it."

-- Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress" (abridged)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2010-06-02T10:17:13.291Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Your original quote asserts a definite fate, not a fate which would occur if some particular technology were to remain uninvented.

That is not dead which can eternal lie
And with strange aeons even death may die

-- H. P. Lovecraft

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-02T10:22:07.852Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Piet Hein is definitely dead.

comment by gwern · 2010-06-02T17:59:49.496Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Everybody has got to die, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case."

--author William Saroyan, letter written to his survivors

comment by cousin_it · 2010-06-02T10:20:39.845Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Holy shit, this the first time ever that I realized the relationship between this Lovecraft quote and classic OB/LW topics. Scary.

comment by dclayh · 2010-06-02T20:05:42.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You mean you missed it back in February? :)

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-02T04:31:47.439Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I love Piet Hein :)

For many system shoppers it's

a good-for-nothing system

that classifies as opposites

stupidity and wisdom.

Because by logic-choppers it's

accepted with avidity:

stupidity's true opposite's

the opposite stupidity.

or

Wisdom is

the booby prize

given when you've been

unwise.

comment by phaedrus · 2010-06-16T22:47:51.635Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." -- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

(This is not necessarily a rationalist quote, but yet, it kinda is :))

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T18:31:48.533Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The unconscious naturally weights the relative importance of various attributes. Conscious thought often leads to suboptimal weighting because it disturbs this natural process. --Ap Dijksterhuis

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-01T23:35:55.771Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure this is a very rationalist quote. In particular, many judgments people make and many biases come into play at a non-conscious level. We generally need to make a conscious effort to correct for those biases.

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T23:45:11.356Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes and no. You are right about a lot of biases originating from the unconscious. But the other way is also possible, the smart human who does something stupid because he has a good theory of how it should be done. Or choosing a picture because of some salient verbalizable reason instead of just taking the one you like the most without necessarily being able to explain why, etc...

There is more on this topic in "The rational unconscious: Conscious versus unconscious thought in complex consumer choice" by Ap Dijksterhuis and in Jonah Lehrer "How we decide".

comment by roland · 2010-06-01T18:31:12.834Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In addition, conscious thought can lead us to rely on weird little theories. --Ap Dijksterhuis

comment by Rain · 2010-06-01T23:46:10.514Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Man's mind is a mirror of a universe that mirrors man's mind.

-- Joseph Chilton Pearce

comment by simplicio · 2010-06-10T16:44:44.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this true?

It seems to me man's mind is a mirror of a universe (in the sense of modelling it), full stop.

comment by Blueberry · 2010-06-02T20:21:00.474Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Simply responding with a Randian quote doesn't show that government doesn't work.

-- JoshuaZ

comment by RobinZ · 2010-06-02T20:27:33.701Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • Do not quote comments/posts on LW/OB.

-- Rationality quotes: June 2010.

comment by blandestk · 2010-06-07T15:40:12.596Z · score: -5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

"Sometimes to feel like a man you have to dress like a woman."

comment by JoshuaZ · 2010-06-07T15:40:50.171Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Uh, what does this have to do with rationality at all?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-06-08T09:47:38.256Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It would certainly be more interesting if there really was a connection to rationality, but I suspect this is just a random drive-by.

comment by Randaly · 2010-06-07T23:23:29.028Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Counter-signalling?