Rationality witticisms suitable for t-shirts or bumper stickers

post by evand · 2013-06-15T12:56:19.245Z · score: 3 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 85 comments

What are your best short witticisms, suitable for use on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or similar location? Ideally something that might make someone reading it think, or get curious enough to ask about it. Simple in-group identification is fine too, though.

For context, therufs is spending today at the NC Maker Faire making t-shirts, and asked me for suggestions this morning. As I was still mostly asleep, I wasn't very helpful.

85 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-06-16T02:03:45.567Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You encounter a problem

Fight

Magic

  • Use Science

Run

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T17:02:38.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That looks like one of the Facebook posts by I Fucking Love Science; BTW, how about those?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-15T17:30:57.779Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone write a script to sort comments in Rationality Quotes threads by net karma per character!

comment by DanielVarga · 2013-06-18T01:44:50.002Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did exactly that after looking at this thread, and only spotted your comment when I wanted to post the results.

I skipped some obvious refinements as this was a 5 minute project.

  • 55 A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit. Alex Tabarrok
  • 45 Luck is statistics taken personally. Penn Jellete
  • 33 Comic Quote Minus 37 -- Ryan Armand Also a favourite.
  • 34 Nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time.Ken Wilber
  • 32 A problem well stated is a problem half solved.Charles Kettering
  • 48 I will not procrastinate regarding any ritual granting immortality. --Evil Overlord List #230
  • 29 The greatest weariness comes from work not done.-Eric Hoffer
  • 26 "Most haystacks do not even have a needle." -- Lorenzo
  • 24 "I accidentally changed my mind." my four-year-old
  • 31 Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. Voltaire
  • 39 People say "think outside the box," as if the box wasn't a fucking great idea.Sean Thomason
  • 38 The Noah principle: predicting rain doesn’t count, building arks does. -Warren E. Buffett
  • 37 It’s easy to lie with statistics, but it’s easier to lie without them. -Fred Mosteller
  • 30 If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.-Seneca
  • 34 It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.George Bernard Shaw
  • 34 "Working in mysterious ways" is the greatest euphemism for failure ever devised.TheTweetOfGod
  • 12 Death is the gods' crime. Unsounded
  • 24 The most practical thing in the world is a good theory. Helmholtz
  • 29 When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir? John Maynard Keynes
  • 28 Writing program code is a good way of debugging your thinking. -- Bill Venables
  • 28 It is easy to be certain....One has only to be sufficiently vague.Charles S. Peirce
  • 30 Truth is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations. — John Von Neumann
  • 31 There is one rule that's very simple, but not easy: observe reality and adjust. Ran Prieur
  • 21 Things are only impossible until they're not. -- Jean-Luc Picard
  • 24 Part of the potential of things is how they break. Vi Hart, How To Snakes
  • 25 A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library. Daniel Dennett
  • 29 We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it. Mark Twain
  • 29 The Company that needs a new machine tool is already paying for it. -old Warner Swasey ad
  • 25 "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from SCIENCE!" ~Girl Genius
  • 26 Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers. — Grossman's Law
  • 22 Most people would rather die than think; many do. – Bertrand Russell
  • 22 The only road to doing good shows, is doing bad shows.Louis C.K., on Reddit
  • 28 My brain technically-not-a-lies to me far more than it actually lies to me.-- Aristosophy (again)
  • 23 The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. Gloria Steinem
  • 27 Nature draws no line between living and nonliving. -- K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation
  • 22 It is better to destroy one's own errors than those of others. Democritus
  • 12 Reality is not optional. Thomas Sowell
  • 17 Statistics is applied philosophy of science. A. P. Dawid
  • 22 Forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today. Lawrence Krauss
  • 23 Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics. Dean Schlicter
  • 24 We are built to be effective animals, not happy ones. -Robert Wright, The Moral Animal
  • 19 Being right too soon is socially unacceptable. Robert A. Heinlein
  • 14 "Anything you can do, I can do meta" -Rudolf Carnap
  • 17 Mind is a machine for jumping to conclusions - Daniel Kahneman
  • 26 A faith which cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.Arthur C. Clarke
  • 26 Nobody panics when things go "according to plan"… even if the plan is horrifying. The Joker
  • 23 "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies." --Friedrich Nietzsche
  • 20 I honestly don't know. Let's see what happens. -- Hans. The Troll Hunter
  • 16 Luck is opportunity plus preparation plus luck.--Jane Espenson
  • 20 The singularity is my retirement plan. -- tocomment, in a Hacker News post
  • 19 Better our hypotheses die for our errors than ourselves. -- Karl Popper
  • 22 Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.-Charles Babbage
  • 19 In general, we are least aware of what our minds do best. — Marvin Minsky
  • 20 It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor.--Eric Hoffer, on Near/Far
  • 15 Keep your solutions close, and your problems closer.afoolswisdom
  • 18 "If God gives you lemons, you find a new God."-- Powerthirst 2: Re-Domination
  • 17 Truth comes out of error more easily than out of confusion.-Francis Bacon
  • 23 Opening your eyes doesn't make a bad picture worse. http://onefte.com/2011/07/17/bully-for-you/
  • 19 Know the hair you have to get the hair you want. -Pantene Pro-V hair care bottle
  • 16 The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it. -Alan Saporta
  • 16 Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse. — Wolof proverb
  • 20 Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -- Voltaire
comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-23T10:56:48.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The ones I find most T-shirtable are “Most haystacks do not even have a needle”, “Things are only impossible until they're not”, “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off”, “Reality is not optional”, and “The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.”

(Note how the first two send apparently contradictory messages. The next twos seem to be variations on the Litany of Gendlin; they remind of something I've read somewhere, “Deal with reality or reality will deal with you.”)

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-06-16T00:23:29.904Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If we're looking for a short, pithy statement which signals affiliation with the Less Wrong meme cluster, I think the standing all-time top rationality quote is a good place to start.

Personally, I've been hearing all my life about the Serious Philosophical Issues posed by life extension, and my attitude has always been that I'm willing to grapple with those issues for as many centuries as it takes.

-- Patrick Nielsen Hayden

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T07:32:42.767Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That sounds a little too long for a T-shirt.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-06-15T19:43:02.500Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you should not try to promote rationality this way. It's tacky (it's bad signaling (the reference class becomes all the other things which are promoted this way)).

comment by Desrtopa · 2013-06-15T23:24:27.792Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think wearing slogans on shirts is much of a way to promote anything. It's a signal of affiliation. Shirt slogans don't change people's minds, but they can help like-minded people recognize each other and view each other favorably.

Plus, as time goes on, the reference class of things which are promoted on shirts gets closer and closer to being all-inclusive.

comment by therufs · 2013-06-17T18:21:13.900Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't really have "promoting rationality" in mind; when I'm shirtmaking and not pressed for time, I aim most for "wearable and accurate self-expression", followed by "maybe eliciting a flash of recognition from a very tiny percentage of people who see the shirt".

For my own purposes, the ideal respondant to this prompt would have to be able to read my mind and see what I overlook, but any luminous aspiring rationalist might also be able to provide insight.

comment by drethelin · 2013-06-15T14:44:35.450Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

WWHJPEVD?

comment by shminux · 2013-06-15T17:45:23.482Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

with "hpmor.com" in small print underneath.

comment by iceman · 2013-06-16T00:56:15.445Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

WWPQD?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2013-06-16T03:04:51.868Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

PQWAK.

Personally, when I encounter a difficulty, I say to myself, "This wouldn't stop Akemi Homura."

comment by Error · 2013-06-20T20:12:17.311Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally, when I encounter a difficulty, I say to myself, "This wouldn't stop Akemi Homura."

If you fire Akemi Homura at an immovable object, the object retroactively disappears.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-06-20T20:28:06.707Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because "If you fire Akemi Homura at an immovable object, you miss" just doesn't sound impressive.

comment by Error · 2013-06-21T11:52:35.551Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which is a shame; aesthetically I like your version better.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-06-17T19:13:24.895Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

PQWAK

WTF?

comment by arundelo · 2013-06-17T20:30:43.761Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This, I suppose.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-06-17T20:59:53.991Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This, I suppose.

Ahh. Thanks. Bizarrely enough Avada Kedavra occurred to me immediately but it took me a minute to find "Professor Quirrel" even sandwiched between a (confirmed) AK and a HJPEV.

comment by Lambda · 2013-07-19T01:15:51.385Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Um.. I feel like I'm in the out-group now. What does this (and the stuff below) mean?

comment by Atelos · 2013-07-19T01:26:48.795Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You've seen/heard about the What Would Jesus Do thing, yes? This is that but with references to the Harry Potter as a Rationalist fanfic Yudkowsky is doing.

What Would Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres Do

What Would Professor Quirrel Do

Professor Quirrel Would Avada Kevadra (the Killing Curse, very efficient for removal of obstacles :P)

comment by Morendil · 2013-06-16T01:31:21.710Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Keep calm and apply Bayes' Rule" below a Tudor crown logo.

I'm wondering if pictures vs text-only makes a difference in how effectively a t-shirt will prompt questions or conversations.

Also, whether the class of which the above is an instance - hitching a ride on an already well-known meme - wins over originality.

Wish someone would run a proper experiment :)

comment by evand · 2013-06-16T16:12:52.999Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this is my favorite so far. Thanks!

comment by taelor · 2013-06-16T16:55:29.547Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A witty saying proves nothing -- Voltaire

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T16:11:47.902Z · score: 5 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wearing clothes with slogans written on them is a bad idea socially. It is quite unlikely that anyone will ask you about it, and even less likely that such an interaction will result in any good. All the negative social effects are likely to overshadow the few positive encounters you may have. Even if you wear the clothes with the slogan in the appropriate social context, like a Less Wrong meetup, they don't add any value.

If you wanted to talk to someone about rationality, what do you think would help more in impressing them: a rationalist wearing normal, stylish clothes, or a rationalist wearing a t shirt with a slogan printed on it?

It is difficult to explain why clothes (or vehicles) with slogans printed on them are bad for you. If it helps, consider that the vast majority of people you see outside are not wearing clothes with witticisms, they have all decided that it is not beneficial. The exceptions are mainly religious, political, and other extremists.

comment by maia · 2013-06-15T16:28:45.651Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this depends very much on your social circle and social goals. Wearing clothing with slogans on it is a high variance strategy: high attractiveness to a few people, low or even negative attractiveness to others. Wearing slogan-less clothing is more low variance; probably no one will object, but likely none of your responses will be as positive as the maximum positive response from wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it. Both strategies can be useful, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Personally, I wear shirts with nerdy slogans on them, and anecdotally have had several positive interactions with people who came up to me to say "I like your shirt." (And I doubt I've lost much by turning people off.)

Also, I'm unconvinced that, in a casual context, wearing a shirt with a slogan on it is as negative as you suggest. I see people wearing shirts with slogans I don't get all the time, and I think I just ignore them, or occasionally ask what they mean (which rarely gets me very far conversation-wise, but doesn't cause me to dislike the person).

On the other hand, if you're trying to project an aura of Serious Grownup, it's probably a bad idea.

EDIT: Unless you're talking about shirts with controversial slogans, I suppose. That's even more high-variance, but again, in some contexts could still be a good idea. (I was thinking of things like "Engineering: It's like math, but louder.")

comment by CAE_Jones · 2013-06-16T05:51:15.742Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shirts I've gotten comments on that I took as positive:

  • "When all else fails, send in the Wookiee."
  • A shirt with the Mortal Kombat logo. My father and I have identical shirts; his got someone in a Bst-Buy to chase him down and ask if he could have it. Mine has gotten positive comments from older Chinese women and Tai Chi practicianers.
  • "Those who pretend they know everything annoy those of us who do." This one tends to get reactions every time I wear it.
  • My Green Lantern shirt has gotten a reaction or two.

But I'm also quite certain that context matters. Family, polite old ladies, nerds (of varying extremes), and Chinese people tend to be the majority of people I interacted with once I got to eighth grade and my anti-idiot filters successfully limited my interactions with anyone else. (Nowadays it's just family, but I've gone into that elsewhere.) I'm sure an "Of course I care! That's why I'm calculating probabilities!" would get (mostly neutral or positive) reactions, but how that translates into real world applications I can only imagine (I physically cannot read body language and a non-negligible number of people might be artificially polite to me because of my eyes).

comment by Nornagest · 2013-06-16T06:33:02.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wearing slogan-less clothing is more low variance; probably no one will object, but likely none of your responses will be as positive as the maximum positive response from wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it.

Depends what you're wearing instead. T-shirts with cute slogans on them are nowhere near the only way to make an impression with your clothes; in fact, I'd consider them a pretty cheap and lazy way to send a message as such things go.

You're probably right if I'm to take a plain T-shirt and Levi 501s as the implied alternative, though.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T19:09:59.990Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True. This works for attractiveness as well. Generally stylish clothes will give you low variance, while dressing to please a specific crowd (goths, emo rockers, etc.) will give you high variance.

comment by Morendil · 2013-06-16T01:21:11.967Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is difficult to explain why clothes (or vehicles) with slogans printed on them are bad for you.

On many occasions "difficult to explain" turns out to be a hint for "not actually true".

the vast majority of people you see outside are not wearing clothes with witticisms

Indeed. The vast majority are wearing clothes bearing advertisement for various brands. I would think twice before concluding that they have decided that is beneficial.

comment by maia · 2013-06-16T03:31:44.283Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would think twice before concluding that they have decided that is beneficial.

I dunno. Brands can be a pretty effective status symbol. (That reasoning might not be explicit, though.)

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T07:06:05.567Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On many occasions "difficult to explain" turns out to be a hint for "not actually true".

Is this actually an useful heuristic? It seems to me that most things in the world are very difficult to explain truthfully, but especially this case.

We can probably agree that wearing a puffy shirt would be a bad idea, but can anyone really easily explain why?

Perhaps someone could explain why some specific item of clothing is not fashionable, and I am at fault to some extent here, because I have not studied the psychology of fashion in enough depth to eloquently explain this. I am not aware of many people who have attempted to explain specific fashions in a manner that could withstand rational analysis, however.

In earlier centuries, costume rules were a matter not merely of following fashion but of obeying the law of the land. No knight under the rank of lord was permitted to wear a tunic that failed to cover his buttocks.

If the explanation for the original point was: "You can't wear t-shirts with slogans because the King has decreed it against the law", would that be a much more satisfying answer? If so, then the answer you're looking for is that these days fashion is slightly more democratic, but the rules of costume are still mainly decreed by the people with the highest social status, and they have judged t-shirts with slogans on them unfashionable for anyone below a specific rank.

There are better explanations for fashion certainly, but those require intricate knowledge of immensely complex systems, with the system in this case being the synergistic combination of all human animals - all of human society. It is only my opinion, and someone could easily prove me wrong by doing it, but it seems to me that truly explaining a particular fashion in a holistic sense would be a task that well deserves the description — "difficult".

Desmond Morris writes well about the subject in his book "Peoplewatching". I found it to be one of the better written and argued writings in the field.

comment by Morendil · 2013-06-16T11:12:34.318Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Simply as a matter of empirical counter-example, let me point you to the many online tee stores that make an apparently healthy business of selling (among other things) tee-shirts with slogans on them.

Puffy shirts are also worn with beneficial effects by many women - and, if we looked hard enough, a few men as well.

It's not so much what you wear, I suspect, as how and when you wear it that matters; the various communities that one moves in have codes, and there are relatively predictable consequences of going against those codes. For instance, if you work as a trader at a financial institution you incur detrimental consequences by wearing anything other than suit and tie. But successfully flouting these conventions can paradoxically be beneficial; if you break the codes just enough and get away with it you are rising above the herd.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T11:59:35.246Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Johnny Depp can wear a puffy shirt because he is the king. The rest of us are probably better off saving our puffy shirts for Halloween.

But yes, what you say is true. If you are awesome enough, you can wear a rationalist slogan t-shirt and make it work.

comment by Morendil · 2013-06-16T13:22:44.657Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Johnny Depp can wear a puffy shirt because he is the king. The rest of us...

Special Pleading Objection?

If you are awesome enough, you can wear a rationalist slogan t-shirt...

Or if you are attending a Hacker News meetup, or a software development conference, or an event taking place at a university, or... I'll stop there: I am predicting (and happily committing to update if I turn out to be wrong) that in these venues, wearing a witty t-shirt will a) score points and b) optimise for striking up conversations with strangers.

comment by gwern · 2013-06-17T03:09:01.905Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Special Pleading Objection?

But Johnny Depp is special: he's Johnny Depp. He's an elite. And breaking (fashion) rules may be part of why he continues to be perceived as an elite (I'm thinking particularly of Kleef et al 2011 in http://lesswrong.com/lw/dtg/notes_on_the_psychology_of_power/ ).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-17T16:24:44.349Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or if you are attending a Hacker News meetup, or a software development conference, or an event taking place at a university, or...

i.e., places where people already have some kind of idea who you are. (If you are Johnny Depp, everywhere is a place where people already have some kind of idea who you are, but if you aren't...)

See Things You Can't Countersignal.

comment by evand · 2013-06-17T03:03:06.973Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is borne out by my experience, and seems like it more closely matches my social life. It also seems like a better predictor for what sorts of text I find myself noticing on shirts ("noticing" intentionally worded so as to include observational biases).

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T15:06:59.081Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Special Pleading Objection?

Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by this. The meaning of my post was that high status folk set the trends, and have an easier time introducing new fashions to the society at large. This was in relation to your (valid) point that "how and when" you wear clothes matters.

Or if you are attending a Hacker News meetup, or a software development conference, or an event taking place at a university, or... I'll stop there: I am predicting (and happily committing to update if I turn out to be wrong) that in these venues, wearing a witty t-shirt will a) score points and b) optimise for striking up conversations with strangers.

Sounds sensible. Dressing in clothes that signal your geekiness (meaning here the demographic you describe) is probably a safe bet in such a crowd.

comment by Morendil · 2013-06-16T17:23:52.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by .

Pointing out that your argument appears to be a form of special pleading - you introduced a general rule ("wearing puffy shirts is bad"), I pointed out counterexamples (Depp, also women), you picked one of these and said "but he is special".

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T19:58:10.142Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see. Through counterexamples we can demonstrate anything to be acceptable fashion in certain scenarios.

The puffy shirt is irrelevant (I feel like arguing but let me try and resist that). I found your counterexamples about t-shirts to be stronger evidence, and I did adjust my beliefs. I can offer you no good evidence on how people on average perceive t-shirts with slogans on them.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-06-15T17:47:37.254Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you wanted to talk to someone about rationality, what do you think would help more in impressing them: a rationalist wearing normal, stylish clothes, or a rationalist wearing a t shirt with a slogan printed on it?

In impressing them? Probably the former, unless the slogan happens to strike them as clever.

In bringing me to their attention and encouraging them to approach me in a crowd full of people wearing normal stylish clothes and T-shirts with non/anti-rationalist slogans? Undoubtedly the latter.

In encouraging them to approach me in a crowd full of people wearing T-shirts with rationalist slogans? It's very hard to say, I don't expect either to have much effect there..

What do you expect in those scenarios?

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T18:30:32.719Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Impressing, persuading - the difference between these is mostly insignificant when dealing with non-rationalists. I chose the word due to my belief that rational argument is an inefficient method for spreading rationality. If you encounter a non-rationalist, you may rationally explain him why rationality is great, but if you leave a good impression on an emotional level, he'll probably remember the lesson about rationality much longer. Ideally we probably want to do both. Arguing people into changing their way of thinking is vastly more difficult than creating in them a desire to change. This tends to be supported by studies in psychology - people are much more likely to do things and be happy about it when their own brain gets to explain why they are doing it.

A practical example of this would be a popular movie star speaking about rationality on Oprah. Regardless of what the star said, interest in rationality would almost certainly increase, and so would the average level of rationality, even if slightly. (If the star spoke well, the effect would be larger, of course.) I'm quite certain that this would have a much larger effect on spreading rationality than having someone in a t-shirt make an argument about rationality in front of the same amount of viewers.

How many Less Wrong users have become more rational, not because of any rational arguments they read, but because they were impressed by Yudkowsky or someone else? I'll be the first to admit that being impressed by the people here was a significant factor in getting me to study rationality in more depth.

Getting people to change their ways of thinking is extremely difficult. I say that wearing a dorky T-shirt while attempting this will only make the task more difficult.

comment by drethelin · 2013-06-15T19:58:24.348Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not optimizing my clothing for the vast majority of people, and neither should most lesswrongers.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T20:03:25.387Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For whom should we be optimizing our clothing for, then?

comment by drethelin · 2013-06-15T20:33:57.801Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This list is not in order of importance 1) Strangers you want to have conversations with. 2) People you already regularly see. 3) People you want to attract or significant others you already have. 4) Comfort and your own enjoyment. 5) You can also anti-optimize your clothing to filter out people you don't want to interact with. 6) People who you want to hire you. 7) People you are trying to sell things to.

It's also important to remember that you can wear different clothing at different times. In some of these cases, especially salesmanship, optimizing your clothing will be very similar to optimizing it for the vast majority of people. But the point is optimizing for the majority isn't a good thing in and of itself, it's a path to an end.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-06-17T23:17:59.040Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe mugs would work better than t-shirts for some environments.

comment by evand · 2013-06-15T17:41:12.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I'm going to wear clothing with words, is there any marginal harm to having it be rationalist themed? I frequently find myself in situations where it's the norm, regardless of whether it's a good idea instrumentally. My system one says conforming there is good, but it's possible I'm wrong there.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T19:06:12.343Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The question is, can you make people think: "I would like to be as awesome as that person. I see he is wearing a rationality shirt. I should check that out." ?

Here are two alternatives:

  • People might think that rationality is something that's only for nerdy looking folk who wear +1 epic shirts.
  • People's brains might associate rationality with other concepts that are often seen on shirts, such as Jesus and Guns.
comment by maia · 2013-06-16T03:34:29.459Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People's brains might associate rationality with other concepts that are often seen on shirts, such as Jesus and Guns.

Oh no. We'd better stop writing in words. They might associate us with literate religious people.

Seriously though, do you live in a place where you see a lot of people wearing religious or gun-related T-shirts? I have only ever seen one person wear a T-shirt explicitly about Jesus.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T12:17:36.362Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't understand. It seems to me that it would be very easy to make rationality seem like a (religious) cult. Wearing dorky clothes, knocking on people's doors to spread the joy, and handing out pamphlets praising our savior Rationality. We could even send volunteers to beg for money at airports: "Hello sir, would you like to help prevent the coming end of the world?"

comment by maia · 2013-06-16T14:05:23.696Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just don't associate T-shirts with religion as strongly as you do, I think.

This might be because I see a lot of people wearing nerdy T-shirts, or T-shirts associated with various interests/groups, like DnD, heir fraternities, or professional groups (chemical engineering society, etc.). From that perspective, having a rationality T-shirt just falls into one of those categories, and is therefore OK. It's just another medium that some people with certain interests use to signal to each other.

Like I said: do you see it differently? Are most of the T-shirts with slogans you see people wearing religiously-related?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T18:05:03.938Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess there are huge geographical (and age-cohort) variations in this kind of stuff.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-16T15:38:01.767Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Religion was an example, coming from the general category of social subgroups that carry a large impact on identity and create a sense of exclusivity, which also includes every group you described.

I would rather not see rationality marginalized into such categories, in anyone's mind.

comment by maia · 2013-06-16T19:10:25.641Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, you think it is bad for rationality to be a) strongly associated with a person's identity, and/or b) create a sense of exclusivity, or belonging to a group. Is that right?

Maybe I'm missing something obvious here, but... why do you think this is a bad thing?

comment by evand · 2013-06-15T22:46:34.991Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Uhh... my question was much closer to "What would make me think 'Hey, that's a cool rationality shirt!'?".

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-06-16T06:23:57.445Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree. I think it pays to advertise, and loudly.

I think that was one of Harry Browne's principles in How I found Freedom in an Unfree World. Can't say that I've put it to good effect, but if you have low prevalence ideas (if you're here, you do) and you want to meet similarly minded people, you need to enhance your sampling somehow.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-06-15T17:04:58.263Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is difficult to explain why clothes (or vehicles) with slogans printed on them are bad for you. If it helps, consider that the vast majority of people you see outside are not wearing clothes with witticisms, they have all decided that it is not beneficial. The exceptions are mainly religious, political, and other extremists.

It's interesting that you mention religion in the same paragraph in which you advocate forming beliefs based on the behaviour of the masses.

comment by hedges · 2013-06-15T17:58:11.671Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there a better method for forming beliefs about fashion than observing the people whose sense of style you want to understand?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T17:11:38.724Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Or more generally, what a message means by observing which people send it when; e.g., the way people learn their native language.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-15T17:39:43.135Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The beliefs he advocate forming are about what stuff communicates, and the behaviour of the audience sounds like a perfectly good way to base such beliefs on. (You found out what “cat” or “shit” meant (denotatively and connotatively) in English by noticing what circumstances English speakers used “cat” and “shit” in, didn't you?)

comment by lukeprog · 2013-06-15T17:27:29.003Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What do you mean and how do you know it?

comment by ygert · 2013-06-16T08:57:29.255Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What do you think you know, and how do you think you know it?

comment by RowanE · 2013-06-15T17:41:09.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do I know that what I mean to say is true, or how do I know what it is that I really mean?

comment by DataPacRat · 2013-06-15T15:16:14.010Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fortunately, I keep a quotefile for just such an occasion. Here are some of the pithier entries:

Peace if possible, truth at all costs. -- Martin Luther

Trust, but verify -- Russian saying

Live forever or die trying

I intend to live forever. So far, so good. -- Rick Potvin

Give me immortality or death. -- Nick de Jongh

"I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very creative"

TANSTAAFL -- Heinlein

What you don't know will kill you. -- The Cynic's Book of Wisdom

Half of knowledge is knowing the questions. -- The Cynic's Book of Wisdom

Look behind the curtain. -- The Cynic's Book of Wisdom

Plus a couple of my personal favorites:

Why should I believe that?

Then again, I could be wrong.

comment by Nominull · 2013-06-16T05:05:01.510Z · score: 12 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Peace if possible, truth at all costs. -- Martin Luther

The fact that he started some really bloody wars over something that didn't even turn out to be true should maybe give us some pause before we endorse virtues like this.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-06-16T16:34:34.569Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

His frankly obscene antisemitic fantasies don't speak very well for him, either.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-06-15T19:10:43.099Z · score: 12 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very creative"

For the love of God, don't put this on a shirt, especially if a male is going to wear it at some point.

comment by Dorikka · 2013-06-16T04:50:24.641Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it provides useful information about the person wearing the shirt!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-15T21:38:25.874Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've always favored the quote:

"Ignorance is never better than knowledge." --Enrico Fermi

(This is supposed to be sourced in the book "Atoms in the Family: My life with Enrico Fermi", but I can't find the quote via Google Books, and it's a fair drive to the nearest library that has it.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-15T22:04:05.453Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Ignorance is never better than knowledge." --Enrico Fermi

Not never.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T03:11:11.351Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not saying that basilisks can't exist, but as of writing they don't exist. (And yes, I've found and read LW's 'basilisk').

I knew that this quote would get this sort of response...

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T07:30:33.449Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you also read Bostrom's paper? (I would now point out the example of spoilers for fiction works, but then you might reply by pointing out the study finding that spoilers make fiction works more enjoyable for the average person. OTOH, not all people are average.)

comment by fortyeridania · 2013-06-16T15:12:18.780Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I knew that this quote would get this sort of response...

Maybe you should have addressed this concern in advance?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-06-16T19:42:50.547Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm tapping out now.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-06-17T23:31:04.995Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

All syllogisms have three parts, therefore this is not a syllogism

American Non-Sequitur Society--We don't make sense, but we do like pizza

Any slogan simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker is too simple to do any good

Ask me about my vow of silence

Circular Definition: see Circular Definition

Circular logic is self-validating. Therefore, it is correct.

Does this program halt?

I shouldn't make sweeping generalizations, but we all do it.....

I think my brain has a mind of its own

If I'd known grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them first

If if' statements had nothen' clauses,

If there were no rhetorical questions, what would we do with our hypothetical answers?

If words could speak, I wonder what they'd say

If you don't go to other people's funerals, they won't go to yours

I've got nothing to say--don't make me say it twice

The map is not the territory, but you can't fold up the territory and put it in your glove compartment

Objectivity is in the eye of the beholder

Practice atheism, the religion of the gods!

The Theorem Theorem: If if, then then

What color is a chameleon on a mirror? The same color as the chameleon on the other side of the mirror

What do you look like when you aren't visualizing anything?

What do you mean, YOU'RE a solipsist?

Which came first, the future or the past?

Why did Douglas Hofstadter cross the road? To make this riddle possible

Yes, but what if this weren't a rhetorical question?

What part of gestalt didn't you understand?

The Two Rules 1) Don't tell people everything you know

I went on a nostalgia trip. It wasn't as good as it will be.

Universal Solvent Corporation, Container Research Division

The invisible and the non-existent often look very much alike

because circular reasoning works [wrapped around into a circle]

NO MEMES! Pass it on

Circular reasoning fails because [wraps around in a circle]

Omt ndlss vwls

Circular reasoning working because circular reasoning fails because.... [wrapped around in an infinity sign]

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

I will not violate causality yesterday

Contrary to Occam's Razor, patients can have as many diseases as they damn well please.

I'm so Meta, Even This Acronym

If you use a slippery slope argument once, you'll use it for everything

Who are you to question why your god doesn't want me to believe in him?


And here's one that people are likely to ask about: The voices in my head are SATB.

comment by novalis · 2013-06-17T05:42:24.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want funny and pithy, I would recommend Catharine G. Evans, @aristosophy on twitter.

comment by therufs · 2013-06-16T12:58:43.750Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The shirt I ended up making said "small creature" (alluding to the quote from Contact.) I'm not sure if anyone "got it", but quote recognizeability wasn't on my list of goals. (Roughly in order of priority, these were: have a fresh shirt hanging up, that I could make quickly, that I might want to wear again.)

Participants mostly made shirts with names, Dr. Who references, and homages to Minecraft.

comment by evand · 2013-06-16T16:11:45.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I got it :) But you were a bit busy at the point where I was thinking "Hey, that's pretty cool!", and then I didn't remember to say anything later...

So, I thought it was a good choice :)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-06-16T06:13:18.885Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The power of accurate observation is called cynicism by those who have not got it.

  • George Bernard Shaw
comment by Armok_GoB · 2013-06-18T22:45:31.119Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recommend just put Bayes theorem on it. That way, those who don't get it will see "random equation" instead of "controversial statement I disagree with", thus making you look smart rather than obnoxious.