Comment by barry_kelly on Ethical Injunctions · 2008-10-21T06:40:02.000Z · score: -5 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Truth is overrated.

"Never try to deceive yourself, or offer a reason to believe other than probable truth"

This is just naive. What if you were abused as a child? You don't think you'd be better off not knowing the truth, and deceiving yourself?

Believing / deceiving with respect to the truth in the individual / personal and cultural domains are closely related to forgetfulness, which itself is vital for forgiveness. Lacking these virtues, we'd have wars and vendettas without end. Past truth needs discounting.

The virtue being right and hewing to the truth is little comfort to the man beaten alive by his neighbours, convinced in their own righteousness. Ethics are one thing; but when a solid simulation of display of orthodoxy is necessary for the freedom to live your life, continuing to believe the truth internally is dangerous, because you'll be liable to slip up.

Of course, these examples are relatively extreme, and most of us don't live in particularly extreme times, so in general, I agree.

Even then, the present has some trends and assumptions built into it which would be socially unpleasant to question, so it is better not to think of such things, and to wallow in easy orthodoxy...

Comment by barry_kelly on Beyond the Reach of God · 2008-10-05T18:24:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


"If you want a sufficient response to optimism, consider: is the probability that you will persist forever 1? If not, it is 0."

You're only correct if the probability is constant with respect to time. Consider, however, that some uncertain events have a non-zero probability even if infinite time passes. For example, random walks in three dimensions (or more) are not guaranteed to meet their origin again, even over infinite time:

Comment by barry_kelly on Allais Malaise · 2008-01-21T12:43:09.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I said "it's not rational for them not to be always rational": I meant to say: "it's not rational for them to be always rational".

Comment by barry_kelly on Allais Malaise · 2008-01-21T12:38:58.000Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The utility here is not just the value of the money received. It's also the peace of mind knowing that money was not lost.

As other comments have pointed out, it's very important that the game is played in a once-off way, rather than repeatedly. If it's played repeatedly, then it does become a "money pump", but the game's dynamics are different for once-off, and in once-off games the "money pump" does not apply.

If someone needs to choose once-off between 1A and 1B, they'll usually choose the 100% certain option not because they're being irrational, or being inconsistent compared to the choice between 2A and 2B, but because the inherent emotional feeling of loss from having missed out on a substantial gain that was a sure thing is very unpleasant. So, people will rationally pay to avoid that emotional response.

This has to do with the make up of humans. Humans aren't always rational - what's more, it's not rational for them not to be always rational. You should be well aware of this from evolutionary studies.