Free copy of Feynman's autobiography for best corny rationalist joke

post by GreenRoot · 2010-04-04T00:32:45.546Z · score: 13 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 54 comments

Portrait of Richard FeynmanI have an extra copy of Richard Feyman's autobiography, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Aventures of a Curious Character, which I want to give away here.

This is one of two autobiographies (along with Ben Franklin's) to actually change my life.  I've seen it quoted often on LessWrong, as Feynman has a point of view on life that fits well with the ideas we explore here.  In addition to his rationalist side, Feynman also exhibited a wonderfully free sense of humor. Even when working at the Manhattan Project, he joked around and never took himself too seriously.  I think our community would benefit if the rationalism here were likewise leavened by some self-deprecating humor.

I will mail the autobiography, at my expense, to whomever posts the best corny rationalist joke in the comments below, as judged by karma voting.  Anything goes.  Here's a little inspirational prompting:

Edit (April 12th): The winner of the corny rationalist joke contest is this one-liner by SilasBarta, which collected 17 net up-votes:

Rationalist pick-up line: "I would never cheat on you if and only if you would never cheat on me if and only if I would never cheat on you."

The runner-up (and my personal favorite) is this exchange by Bo102010, which collected 14 net up-votes.   The full comment thread for this one has an explanation and suggested refinements.

A rationalist walks into a bar with two bartenders. The rationalist asks "What's the best drink to get tonight?"

The first bartender says "The martini."

The second bartender says "The gin and tonic."

The first bartender repeats "The martini."

The second bartender repeats "The gin and tonic."

The first says again "The martini."

The second says again "The gin and tonic."

Then the first says "The gin and tonic."

The rationalist smiles and says, "I'm glad you could come to an agreement."

Thanks to everybody who contributed and voted on corny jokes.

54 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-04-04T03:22:32.855Z · score: 27 (31 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist pick-up line: "I would never cheat on you if and only if you would never cheat on me if and only if I would never cheat on you."

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2010-04-04T06:26:58.224Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

first one to make me laugh out loud. +1

comment by MichaelHoward · 2010-04-04T22:46:45.686Z · score: 26 (30 votes) · LW · GW

How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

They don't screw it up. They keep it steady while the world revolves around their priors.

Two rationalists walk into a bar. ...

One to have a drink, the other to be the control.

You might be a rationalist if ...

You ask people what they think before showing them evidence so you can tell them what they think afterwards.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-11-27T17:09:54.281Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Q: What do you call it when a bayesian loses an argument?

A: Getting your posterior handed to you.

comment by wnoise · 2011-11-27T20:45:36.768Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think this works better as "lose an argument with a Bayesian". Because then the Bayesian really does hand you your new belief.

comment by neq1 · 2010-04-06T14:49:45.401Z · score: 19 (25 votes) · LW · GW

A rationalist sits down next to an attractive woman at the bar.

He asks "are you familiar with immediate reward bias?"

"No," she responds.

"Well, people tend to place irrationally high value on immediate rewards, relative to future rewards. So, for example, they might prefer $50 today over $55 next week. This is a bias that a more rational person can take advantage of in trade negotiations. Unfortunately, I am an impatient person. With that in mind, I have an offer for you. If you agree to have sex with me ONCE tonight, I will agree to have sex with you TWICE next week."

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-04-06T14:58:36.204Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

From "A Beautiful Mind":

I don't exactly know what I am required to say in order for you to have intercourse with me. But could we assume that I said all that. I mean essentially we are talking about fluid exchange right? So could we go just straight to the sex.

::slap::

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-27T18:11:08.391Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reminds me of the “standard wager” between Marshall and Lily in How I Met Your Mother: “If [I win] we'll have sex in the bathroom, but if [you win] we'll have sex in the bathroom.”

comment by Username · 2015-04-06T22:02:41.855Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

but discount rates don't have anything to do with rationality...

comment by Bo102010 · 2010-04-04T01:18:06.504Z · score: 17 (29 votes) · LW · GW

A rationalist walks into a bar with two bartenders. The rationalist asks "What's the best drink to get tonight?"

The first bartender says "The martini."

The second bartender says "The gin and tonic."

The first bartender repeats "The martini."

The second bartender repeats "The gin and tonic."

The first says again "The martini."

The second says again "The gin and tonic."

Then the first says "The gin and tonic."

The rationalist smiles and says, "I'm glad you could come to an agreement."

comment by Sly · 2010-04-04T08:55:50.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do not understand this one, care to explain?

comment by Bo102010 · 2010-04-04T14:42:40.374Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

The first bartender states his estimate for the best drink.

The second bartender has her own estimate, but knows that the first bartender is also qualified to make a good estimation. Her estimate of the quality of the martini thus increases. She compares her earlier estimate of the quality of the gin and tonic to the updated estimate for the martini, and finds the gin and tonic to still be the better drink.

The first bartender hears this, and increases his estimate of the gin and tonic's quality - not only does the second bartender think the gin and tonic is better, she thinks it's better even though he recommended the martini. He compares his new estimate of the quality of the gin and tonic to his estimate of the quality of the martini and finds the martini to still be superior.

Etc. etc. etc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aumann%27s_agreement_theorem).

comment by gwern · 2010-04-06T15:03:20.070Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like that a lot, but I don't think it's particularly corny. Also, may I suggest different wording? 'gin and tonic' is too long and too many syllables; it spoils the back and forth rhythm and isn't memorable. Perhaps use 2 drinks which are both one syllable?

comment by Larks · 2010-04-06T19:42:56.856Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Haven't you got more iterations than is necessary for Aumann's?

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2010-04-06T19:44:58.903Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm? Aumann's theorem is about the infinite limit.

comment by Bo102010 · 2010-04-07T01:51:02.310Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It depends on how strong each favors their own drink - see (http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/01/the_coin_guessi.html) for an example to enhance you understanding.

comment by Rain · 2010-04-05T23:15:53.254Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

What did one cryonically frozen head say to the other cryonically frozen head?

"Well. My subjective anticipation was way off on this one."

comment by Rune · 2010-04-04T04:03:29.199Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

You're a rationalist if there's a portrait of you in an attic somewhere getting increasingly irrational everyday.

comment by bogdanb · 2010-04-06T18:47:03.628Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t get it.

comment by MattPrather · 2010-04-11T22:15:22.670Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The point is that none of us is rational.

Dorian Gray never aged because he had a magic picture of himself which actually aged for him; his image in the portrait got older and older even as he himself stayed the same age.

So a true rationalist would have a magic picture of himself "being irrational", as humans do, in his stead.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-04-06T18:49:12.851Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray

comment by bogdanb · 2010-04-08T07:32:52.874Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That’s the only reference that came to my head, but how is it related to rationalism specifically?

comment by Tom_Talbot · 2010-04-07T20:11:55.274Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

A pickup line: "I want to update on your posterior."

Recommended accompaniment: the "buddy" gesture

comment by Aurini · 2010-04-05T17:19:42.828Z · score: 13 (27 votes) · LW · GW

A rationalist, a priest, a sociopath, and a pedophile walk into a bar.

He orders a drink and thinks to himself "Well, this is definitely more fun than when I used to be a Nazi."

comment by Strange7 · 2010-04-04T01:37:04.121Z · score: 12 (18 votes) · LW · GW

How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Three.

  • One to calculate a confidence interval for the torque necessary to secure a bulb without shattering it, starting from Newtonian priors and updating based on research into the yield strength of glass.

  • One to run a cost/benefit analysis on future electricity usage vs. the black-swan risks associated with insufficient lighting (those darn feathery ninjas...)

  • One to be genuinely surprised that the burnt-out bulb is still hot.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-04-07T01:26:35.730Z · score: 11 (21 votes) · LW · GW

How many rationalists does it take to make an apple pie from scratch?

One, but first they have to build an AI that can create a whole universe.

comment by Tom_Talbot · 2010-04-07T19:52:44.452Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

A pickup line: "I'll maximise your utility if you utilise my virility."

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2014-05-04T16:36:56.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'll maximise your utility if you utilise my masculinity.

comment by Rune · 2010-04-04T03:31:26.534Z · score: 8 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist pickup line: "If I asked you out, would your answer be the same as the answer to this question?"

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2010-04-04T12:03:46.246Z · score: 22 (28 votes) · LW · GW

"Indeed it would: fuck right off."

comment by steven0461 · 2010-04-05T21:37:23.371Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't work as an answer. It would work without the "indeed it would".

comment by MattPrather · 2010-04-11T22:09:43.859Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do we have to be so literal? I like it better with the "indeed it would"...

comment by kpreid · 2010-04-04T11:56:11.770Z · score: -7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm downvoting this for being “can't mean ‘no’”.

comment by Rain · 2010-04-07T14:27:05.860Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Two rationalists walk into a bar.

After gathering first hand observations on the thought-diminishing properties of liquor and the poor quality of companionship, they both nod, evidence confirmed, and walk back out without a word.

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2010-04-05T06:24:21.506Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalists do it while entangled.

comment by Morendil · 2010-04-04T17:14:34.086Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Why did the rationalist cross the road?

Because his/her preference scheme assigned a high value to being on the other side.

comment by Morendil · 2010-04-05T11:28:59.895Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

And why did they cross back?

Indexical inconsistency.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-04-07T20:09:12.421Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

A rationalist and a christian argue about the existance of god. When the rationalist is bored he finally says: "Listen, the probability of god existing is about as small as winning the lottery, so if you win the lottery next week we can talk." They meet again next week and the christian did in fact win the lottery so the rationalist says: "Yeah, I calculated it again and it's more like winning the lottery twice." The week after they meet again and much to the horror of the rationalist the christian won the lottery a second time. He doesn't know what to answer so they part again and meet again the third week. The rationalist says: "Well, the probability of that happening was insignificantly small, so I think I need to update my beliefs and acknowledge the fact that there might be a god." Says the christian: "Well, I just realized I am rich now. I don' think I believe in god anymore."

comment by brian_jaress · 2010-04-06T07:45:51.622Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

A theologian, a lawyer, and a rationalist meet at a cocktail party.

"Theology is the most intellectually demanding field," says the theologian. "The concepts are so abstract, and many key texts are obscurely written."

"Oh please," says the lawyer. "I once knew a bright fellow who became a theologian because he couldn't make it as a lawyer. He read and studied and tore his hair out, but he just couldn't get how the law works."

"I've got you both beat," says the rationalist. "Rationalism is so hard, no one's figured it out!"

EDIT: Too bad there's no prize for the lowest rated joke. Sorry if this joke offended people. It wasn't meant to reflect badly on any of the characters or anyone in real life.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-02-15T15:16:42.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think people were offended -- it probably just didn't make them laugh. The punchline's rather weak -- or else I don't get it.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-04-09T16:55:41.980Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Two which the theologian and the lawyer reply, "Of course they have! It's just the art of proving that Socrates is mortal!"

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2010-04-05T15:45:10.123Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently wikipedia had a link to the full text, if anyone is interested.

comment by YYUUUU · 2010-04-05T10:15:47.487Z · score: 1 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist overheard in hell:

“…I was on-track for upstairs until they found my frozen brain - what a fucking stupid idea that was…”

comment by gwern · 2010-04-06T15:04:38.711Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't follow.

comment by YYUUUU · 2010-04-07T02:27:12.891Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Let me try a rewrite...

Rationalist overheard in hell:

"... I wouldn't even be down here if they hadn't found my frozen brain - talk about a Smoking Gun..."

comment by Tom_Talbot · 2010-04-07T19:08:33.213Z · score: 33 (35 votes) · LW · GW

Awww... Don't downvote YYUUUU, It's rationalist anti-humour! What a great idea!

How do you prevent a rapidly self-replicating em from driving wages down to subsistence level?

HIT IT WITH AN AXE


A p-zombie walks into a bar but is fundamentally incapable of perceiving its situation and so to derive humour would be exploitative.


A guy walks into an AI conference and says he thinks he can create Friendly AI using complex emergent chaotic simulated paradigms.

So I stabbed him.

comment by JGWeissman · 2010-04-04T05:03:49.044Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist pickup line: "Hey baby, you want to mutually cooperate in a Prisoner's Dilemma?"

comment by YYUUUU · 2010-04-08T08:47:21.440Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

How do you irritate a rationalist?

Sprinkle magic-dust on her ears so they grow large on Mondays

comment by Nic_Smith · 2010-04-05T23:07:17.972Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Politics is like d-CON; it kills rationality.

comment by LucasSloan · 2010-04-06T00:29:18.306Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can someone explain this? I think it has something to do with D&D, but rat isn't something that I'm aware of.

comment by Rain · 2010-04-06T00:32:23.548Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

d-CON is a brand of rat and mice killer products.

comment by Tom_Talbot · 2010-04-07T18:42:29.196Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

The obscurity of that rationalist pun is abayesing.

comment by MichaelHoward · 2010-04-04T22:46:13.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How many rationalists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? They don't screw it up. They keep it steady while the world revolves around their priors.

Two rationalists walk into a bar. ... One to have a drink, the other to be the control.

You might be a rationalist if ... You ask people what they think before showing them evidence so you can tell them what they think afterwards.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-15T14:35:06.571Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalist pick-up line: Hey baby, mind if I touch up your priors?