Posts

Comments

Comment by olimay on Meetup : Princeton NJ Meetup · 2013-11-22T19:25:18.535Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How was the meeting? Did you plan to meet again soon?

Comment by olimay on Meetup : Princeton NJ Meetup · 2013-11-01T07:35:50.276Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nice~!

I'm driving to upstate New York afternoon of 11-16, but would like to meet you all at a subsequent gathering. So I hope you get together again. That time's usually good for me.

Also: Infini-T, just around the corner down Witherspoon street is also a great place to meet, if it's not too crowded. It's a bit pricier but I like the drink selection better.

Comment by olimay on Drawing Less Wrong: Should You Learn to Draw? · 2011-11-19T06:29:44.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right brained and left brained aren't real things, but the right hemisphere and left hemisphere are:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbUHxC4wiWk

...and still provide a very useful an illustrative dichotomy to work with.

Comment by olimay on How and Why to Granularize · 2011-05-18T04:56:49.632Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it makes sense to granularize when you are first learning, and when you run into problems (troubleshooting), but not once you're already familiar with the process. When you're not in learning mode, you want to consolidate as much as possible.

The software analogy is the difference between trying to run a program line by line in a debugger (pressing F8 for Step Into or what have you) versus just running a compiled or bytecode optimized version. Even worse is trying to type every line from hand into an interpreter every single time.

I understand your point, but a seemingly ridiculous amount of granularization can still be very useful if you can group certain steps. That way, you can collapse and expand sections of hierarchies as needed. You can also find new ways of doing things.

Here is a more positive example of granularization and reconsolidation applied to everyday actions.

Comment by olimay on Mini-camp on Rationality, Awesomeness, and Existential Risk (May 28 through June 4, 2011) · 2011-04-25T03:00:42.522Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I suggest putting the date in the post body as well as the title. There is who, what where, and why, so it makes sense to have a "when". (...Unless this is an intentional test!)

Comment by olimay on Rational Reading: Thoughts On Prioritizing Books · 2011-03-30T16:18:21.332Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is that it's related to what makes spaced repetition work--the process of switching forces the reader to recall the context and previous facts. See if you can even vaguely recall where you read this; I'd like to take a look at any pertinent research.

Comment by olimay on Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words · 2011-01-11T10:23:36.637Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, holy crap Divia. That is a lot of cards.

As an Anki user (yes I switched!), I would have the cards using a model where the source post is in a separate field, perhaps with the url as another field. I guess if we're trying to stick to Q/A for compatability with other SRS systems, that's not a good idea, and what I'm suggesting is a horrific amount of work if you were to do it by hand, because you'd have to redo all the cards. So, maybe these are goals for the long term, in case SRS learning really increases in popularity, and Anki decks become a good vehicle for delivery in of themselves.

Obviously I haven't actually worked my way through the new additions (or even through most of the existing ones) but I think the cloze deletions are a good change. Overall I think your later cards reflect your increasing wisdom for structuring and formatting the cards.

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Comment by olimay on Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words · 2011-01-11T09:23:53.141Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Edit: Divia posted this one above, while I was composing this comment: http://divia.posterous.com/less-wrong-sequences-as-tab-delimited-text-file ]

Unless Divia has something better, here's a rough export to Mnemosyne:

LW Sequences .mem Deck: lw-sequences.mem

LW Sequences cards in a tab-delimited file: lw-sequences.txt

Couldn't figure out how to preserve the tags. AFAICT, Mnemosyne doesn't support importing them at present.

(Psst, Zach, maybe I should've told you this earlier, but I switched over to Anki! It was a little bit painful, since I had to abandon learning info on 600 or so cards, but Anki is just that good that I'm not sorry at all. I encourage you to continue to use what you're comfortable with and will actually learn with, but it's worth watching the Anki vids! Among other things, Anki natively supports syncing across computers, and it's possible to access the decks you've synced online via a web browser... Just sayin'.)

Comment by olimay on Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words · 2011-01-11T09:04:52.276Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know a full featured app is much better, but Anki Online is completely free, and accessible via most browsers--although it requires an internet connection. Any deck you sync from the desktop (or other) version of Anki should be available via AnkiOnline.

Comment by olimay on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-10T03:07:29.179Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Only hoping I'm parsing this ramble correctly, but I agree if you mean to say:

We have plenty of people asking, "Why" but we need to put a lot more effort asking, "What are we going to do about it?"

Comment by olimay on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-10T03:02:56.065Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm surprised that you seem to be saying that LW shouldn't getting more into instrumental rationality! That would seem to imply that you think the good self-help sites are doing enough. I really don't agree with that. I think LWers are uniquely suited to add to the discussion. More bright minds taking a serious, critical look at all thing, and, importantly, urgently looking for solutions contains a strong possibility of making a significant dent in things.

Major point, though, of GGP is not about what's being discussed, but how. He's bemoning that when topics related to self-improvement come up that we completely blow it! A lot of ineffectual discussion gets upvoted. I'm guilty of this too, but this little tirade's convinced me that we can do better, and that it's worth thinking about how to do better.

Comment by olimay on Too busy to think about life · 2010-04-28T04:26:00.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First, understand the domain of the problem so you can identify poential downsides. Is this area Black Swan prone? Does this resemble Newcomb's problem at all? What do (I think) the shape of risk is here?

For most things people need to do in daily life, we might just consider the cost of further optimization against cost of remaining ignorant and being wrong as a result of that ignorance. It can ne good to be aware of the biases that Prospect Theory talks about--am I putting off reasonably winning big because I'm so afraid of losing pennies?

Comment by olimay on Navigating disagreement: How to keep your eye on the evidence · 2010-04-27T17:01:15.694Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

They had me for 20 years, and I can attest that except for the Young Earth Creationism, Phil is just about right. The position of Roman Catholic church, like that of other institutions, changes with times and with external politics and I notice that individual priests and religious education teachers often have widely divergent beliefs from what is supposedly the established party line.

I agree with your overall point because the priors required for a beleif in a Flying Spaghetti Monster are in the same order of magnitude as, say, belief in a Flying Chow Fun monster. To avoid nitpicking and the appearance of attacking a strawman, we could have picked something like the Nicene Creed, which every Roman Catholic mumbles communally every Sunday. In an in-person conversation, we could ask our interlocutor directly what he or she believes and avoid the problem of research.

If we were talking about the Great Schism, or ethno-religious tensions in 6th century Alexandria, what you just went on about would have been much more relevant. It's really very much a tangental point here. Can you see why?

Comment by olimay on The Fundamental Question · 2010-04-27T09:18:03.267Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Background: two years ago, I dropped out of college with a tremendous amount of debt. I'd failed several classes right before I dropped out, and generally made a big mess of things.

Still alive today, I'm beginning to step free of a lot of social conventions, letting go of shame and the habit of groveling, and learning to really value (and not just know I should value) important things. I am searching for how to make my strongest contribution. In the short term, that probably has to do with making a lot of money, but on the side, I have an inkling that working on my writing and learning to take in and express complicated ideas in speech, prose, poetry, and myth could come in handy. I'm only okay at helping other people with their hangups, but I think it'd be a great thing if I could get really good at overcoming my own, especially the difficult seeming ones.

I owe Michael Vassar for some particularly good advice from a few months back. He also pointed me in the direction of the ancient Cynics--they've been a huge help to me, philosophically.

Comment by olimay on Proposed New Features for Less Wrong · 2010-04-27T07:54:03.973Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Proposal 1 sidesteps the karma system mechanism too much. It wouldn't really encourage me to post more, and I don't think it'll improve quality beyond what a Discussion section would do.

Proposal 2 really doesn't address present lurkers' reluctance to comment. I would instead suggest all users get a small initial karma buffer that will absorb top post and comment downvotes. How that would work in conjuction with the top-post karma requirement, I'm not sure. The idea is to allow users to hide bad comments, give commenters a chance to integrate feedback, but still punish those who would use the "gimme's" as a chance for abuse.

I have high hopes for the discussion section--AT LEAST make sure to put in a plug for it in the not-logged-in welcome message. Having a smaller environment to practice, test out ideas, and get feedback would be great.

I hope people will just go ahead and ask, "Hey, if I invested more time thinking about this, do you think it would make a good post?"

Comment by olimay on NYC Rationalist Community · 2010-04-15T17:09:12.927Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great! I'm in Plainsboro and I'd enjoy meeting you sometime soon, if you're up for it.

I go to the NYC meetings about once a month, but mostly the not-quite public ones --these aren't advertised on Meetup.com. It's for the regulars: game nights, focused discussions, and hang-out times. For example, one of our members recently hosted a poker tutorial (He's a successful gambler works in math-of-gambling.) If you're interested in those kinds of activities too, I'd encourage you to join the Google Group.

Comment by olimay on NYC Rationalist Community · 2010-04-14T21:56:34.616Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I always find it worthwhile, but maybe it's not what you are expecting or looking for. It's become a social group, with a slightly intellectual bent. It's not an attempt to recreate LessWrong in-person. The core group really has become a community, as in: make connections, understand each other, communicate, and in certain ways, offer mutual support. I find the discussion almost always stimulating, and even though I only go up once every month.

Q: Generally, what kinds of meetups would you enjoy attending?

Comment by olimay on NYC Rationalist Community · 2010-04-14T21:33:46.286Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you happen to be in Central NJ? I remember someone mention being in the vicinity of New Brunswick, but don't recall if it was you.

Comment by olimay on NYC Rationalist Community · 2010-04-04T01:30:14.838Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Discussion, mostly ad-hoc. On some occasions the discussion has been more focused it was assumed participants had read certain LW related things.

Comment by olimay on Friendly AI at the NYC Future Salon · 2010-02-19T14:20:09.309Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Jasen, is your talk and any ensuing Q&A going to be recorded? I can't be there, but: advance cheers.

Comment by olimay on Less Wrong / Overcoming Bias meet-up groups · 2009-11-05T19:39:42.125Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Neat idea! I missed this first time around, and so posted a comment on the open thread asking about creating some central regular-meetup info repo. Same general desire to connect people with meetups.

I know a little PHP (can create forms, WordPress themes/plugins and such, but I use other languages more often). Let me know how it's going and if I can be of any use.

Comment by olimay on Open Thread: November 2009 · 2009-11-05T19:20:20.763Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Meetup listing in Wiki? MBlume created a great Google Calendar for meetups. How about some sort of rudimentary meetup "register" in the LW Wiki? I volunteer to help with this if people think it's a good idea. Thoughts? Objections?

ETA: The GCal is great for presenting some information, but I think something like a Wiki page might be more flexible. I'm especially curious to hear opinions from people who are organizing regular meetups, how that's going, and interest in maintaining a Wiki page.

ETA++: AndrewKemendo has a more complex, probably more useful idea that I passed over in my overcaffeinated eagerness.

Comment by olimay on Less Wrong / Overcoming Bias meet-up groups · 2009-11-04T02:16:21.038Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it was intended to be the link title attribute--in Markdown, of course, but I didn't close a quote around what was supposed to be the title attribute's value.

I'd really like to be able to preview comments here. It would prevent me from further embarrassing myself.

Comment by olimay on Less Wrong / Overcoming Bias meet-up groups · 2009-11-04T02:10:20.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see. Thanks for the feedback! I'll see if we can get that fixed for next time.

ETA: I give you Karma for helpfulness.

Comment by olimay on Less Wrong / Overcoming Bias meet-up groups · 2009-10-30T17:14:55.120Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry we missed you! Last week we had to change locations (Georgia's Bake Shop has become too small) and at the moment we are still looking for a suitable venue for general gatherings. Are you subscribed to the mailing list? Please do!

Also, you mentioned the meeting place is "listed"... do you mean somewhere here on the main blog or on the Wiki? I was wondering if people were using the wiki to list meetup groups/locations, so we can prevent such difficulties as you experienced.

Comment by olimay on The Value of Nature and Old Books · 2009-10-26T20:15:18.520Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that one good reason to do so is that for all the ways that these works have been analyzed and surpassed in the intervening years, the reader can be sure that what is written there is not the product of manipulation by the forces that are at work in the reader's own time and place. So it represents another way to gain valuable freedom and distance.

Outside of learning about the context/history of some field of thought, I think that's the general reason people give for recommending "classic" works of nonfiction.

Older works can also differ in their presentation, which can make them more interesting. You bring up Euclid, so I feel I'm free to mention I really, really wish I'd learnt Calculus from a high-level text like Courant, instead of Stewart and Sallas+Hille+Etgen. I would've have become more enthusiastic about math much earlier. (Maybe. Ah, counterfactuals.)

Comment by olimay on Near and far skills · 2009-10-26T20:01:07.996Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a good point: part of the general issue is whether the information we're acquiring is relevant. Feedback from doing (whether procedural or propositional) is probably more relevant to the task you're trying to accomplish than information gleaned from a broad search, like reading newspapers, etc--and experience can greatly help to establish just how important the information is.

Comment by olimay on Near and far skills · 2009-10-26T19:52:53.900Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like main problem in the examples you give is overconfidence about our ability to transform propositional knowledge into procedural knowledge.

Overweighting the propositional knowledge we have beforehand can cause us to discount ignore important information that we might pick up by doing--it can inhibit our ability to be empirical through the mechanisms of familiar biases. Planning fallacies, and problems of being unable to respond to unforseen circumstances--or recognize opportunity!--can come soon after.

Seems similar to the distinction Taleb makes between 'Practitioners' and 'Theorists', actually. I tend to be of the Not yet! I don't know enough! group, so this summer I've been trying to find ways to encourage myself to be more of a practitioner than a theorist in certain domains of life.

My problem was more an emotional need to know as much as I can about the task and the context of the task before executing, or even practicing. I think this is a "nerd" tendency. Even excluding the epistemological pitfalls there is an opportunity cost for putting something off until later that needs to be part of the calculation.

Comment by olimay on New Haven/Yale Less Wrong Meetup: 5 pm, Monday October 12 · 2009-10-08T19:17:44.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I have a friend at Yale (Neuro/Psych) who doesn't read this blog, but expressed interest in the Summit. I'll send this info over to him; thanks!

Comment by olimay on Rationality Quotes - June 2009 · 2009-06-16T18:00:30.829Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have suspected that history, real history, is more modest and that its essential dates may be, for a long time, secret. A Chinese prose writer has observed that the unicorn, because of its own anomaly, will pass unnoticed. Our eyes see what they are accustomed to seeing.

--Jorge Luis Borges

Comment by olimay on With whom shall I diavlog? · 2009-06-06T08:32:52.180Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to see Mencius Moldbug versus...

...Mencius Moldbug.

Not for insight or informational content, but perhaps as a sort of Théâtre de l'Absurde.

I think Robin has been right in not wasting his time further.

Comment by olimay on Open Thread: June 2009 · 2009-06-01T23:53:34.417Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Um, then this is not a "safe" AI in any reasonable sense.

Comment by olimay on Catchy Fallacy Name Fallacy (and Supporting Disagreement) · 2009-05-21T21:44:53.802Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's room for some confusion as to who commits the fallacy. If the speaker correctly classifies a mistake (that really is a mistake) as part of a category of structurally related mistakes, that's hardly a fallacy. The fallacy is, as you point out, taking a nice sounding label itself as evidence. Using quotes from famous people creates a similar danger.

I think there is a name for this effect, "association" or "framing" or something. But whatever.

Comment by olimay on Catchy Fallacy Name Fallacy (and Supporting Disagreement) · 2009-05-21T20:42:55.565Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a sometimes-useful heuristic that falls under the strategy of "communicating honestly and effectively".

If everyone understands well enough what named fallacies actually are (what they describe) to see where they might apply, of course we can save time and continue what we were talking about. Not the case, most of the time, so--right.

It's not just wasteful that other people will be persuaded by a fancy label: it's also that it might sidetrack the discussion into what the label refers to. Is X art? Is Y really consciousness?

The question to ask (to yourself as well) when tempted to use a fallacy, "Does referencing this named fallacy resolve disgreement by revealing object-level mistakes?"

Comment by olimay on Rationality quotes - May 2009 · 2009-05-20T07:06:01.097Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I guess it implies the extra cost of optimizing the useless task. Mostly agreed, though.

Comment by olimay on Share Your Anti-Akrasia Tricks · 2009-05-20T04:50:56.042Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pay the price of procrastination. This one is for those who are chronic procrastinators. Give your trusted friend some amount of money and have him incrementally pay it back to you as you accomplish your goals. For instance, once you finish a page of your essay by a certain time, he'll give you a quarter of your money back. Being productive will never seem easier.

It sounds like a good idea, but it's never worked very well for me. I've tried monetary and other forms of incentives. Sometimes it would work, but over the longer term some part of me began to get more and more desensitized to failing. During some periods, it actually put me into a mode of learned helplessness, and even despair, where "akrasia" can describe nearly every aspect of life.

In general, I find that using negative incentives to motivate distracts me. Instead of taking action, the increasing salience of the possibility and consequences of failure makes it more likely to "hide" or just give up.

Comment by olimay on Share Your Anti-Akrasia Tricks · 2009-05-20T00:41:13.947Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Here's my context:

I failed out of a prestigious university (rather, I threw myself out before they could) because I just couldn't get work done. (Underachieving, chronically disorganized, call me whatever.) In the process I also ran myself into a huge amount of debt (did I mention I'd been in and out of there for six years before I quit?)

I run into repeated difficulty doing things most people find easy: sitting down and getting work done, waking up in the morning, estimating the amount of time it will take to get somewhere. I want to change the present course of my life. I know how a reasonable person in general conducts himself. Why can't I be like that? I understand what I am supposed to do, but on certain critical, common tasks, I fail. It's getting harder for me to achieve positive net outcomes, as the bad consequences of previous mistakes stack.

Blah blah blah.

I'm concerned with akrasia for much more than just procrastination. And, of course I'm concerned with plain old rationality: in the conventional sense and the Eliezer "win" sense. (I obviously don't have much of a grip on either.) I have trouble remembering when the last time I really did "win" was.

In summary: my reasons for wanting to learn about and discuss ways to be more rational in thought and action? I'm very bad at both. And it matters to me a great deal to get much, much better.

Comment by olimay on Where are we? · 2009-04-17T01:53:35.847Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Princeton area. I'm good to meet up in NYC too.

Comment by olimay on Where are we? · 2009-04-17T01:47:53.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I said Princeton above, since it's my mailing address (and recognizable to non-locals.) Close enough, I guess, and anyway I've recently been spending most of my time (here) in Frist.

Comment by olimay on Where are we? · 2009-04-17T01:44:08.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Princeton, NJ. Easy train ride up. I visit NYC every other weekend.

Comment by olimay on Less Wrong Facebook Page · 2009-03-28T00:03:30.719Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good idea. I think this will be helpful in organizing potential LW meetups.

Comment by olimay on Spock's Dirty Little Secret · 2009-03-27T03:11:03.606Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that bolded text is a bit too much, particularly given the typography used here on LW. I think emphasis is fine, though.

Comment by olimay on A Sense That More Is Possible · 2009-03-16T05:49:57.505Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Yvain, do check out pjeby's work. I have to admit I some points I found myself reading OB as a self help attempt. I'm glad I kept up, but dirtsimple.org was the blog I was actually looking for.

Your point about mysticism is interesting, because I find pjeby's perspective on personal action and motivation has a strange isomorphism to Zen thought, even though that doesn't seem to be main intention. In fact, his emphasis seems to be de-mystifying. One of his main criticisms of existing psychological/self-help literature is that the relatively good stuff is incomprehensible to the people who need it most, because they'd need to already be in a successful, rational action mindset in order to implement what's being said.

Anyway, I hope pjeby chimes up so he can offer something better than my incomplete summary...

Comment by olimay on Closet survey #1 · 2009-03-16T02:31:23.567Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think most people would agree with that statement, if you ask them to think about it a little more. Happiness, or "expected happiness" is just one term in the utility function. There is also "expected unhappiness" which might encompass things like suffering, pain, negative emotions. The concept of utility tries generalize enough to add these things together, but at an everyday conceptual level these seem to be different things (nevermind about how emotions manifest physically.) For instance, we can be happy about one thing and yet about another e.g. "my infant daughter is beautiful, but I'm sad that my parents did not live long to share this joy with us." People seem to understand this: in English we have the word "bittersweet", and the juxtaposition of joy and melancholy seems to be present in many other languages and cultures.

Back to the question of value: are people more eager to avoid loss than to pursue potential gains (of the same order of magnitude?) Experience points to most people putting more effort into keeping what they have, even if they are relatively unhappy with their situation. Part of this is probably evolved defaults of the brain influencing even what you might call conscious decision making.

And don't forget about morality. Although we might try to reconcile the two, there is often some tension between doing what is "right" and doing what we expect may make us happier.

Comment by olimay on Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story · 2009-02-27T23:06:54.906Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I can't trace my present efforts at rationality back to one "Aha" moment; and trying to do so feels akin to applying the Sorites paradox to subjective experience: lots of problems there. But, for what it's worth, I remember certain events and thoughts I associate with "breakthroughs"--spans of time after which, I became more eager and aware of my own biases.

Here are a few that I remember:

Like many other people, confronting my religious beliefs was a milestone. I'd grown up Roman Catholic, and as a child Christian myth and metaphysics excited my imagination. As I encountered other belief systems I found interesting I tended to engage in apologetics (aka feeding my confirmation bias). Through people I respected in the martial arts I was introduced to aspects of Buddhism and Taoism that seemed, to me, to have some truth to them. Maybe this is akin to what Robin Hanson describes: I wanted to bridge the gap between social groups that I liked. Internally, I began to adjust my religious beliefs to be looser, more "mystical", less dogmatic, to accommodate the beliefs of other people. The big breakthrough happened while taking survey course in Western literature that included readings in Judaic and Christian texts. Looking at these texts from a strictly literary perspective had a big effect on me. I panicked and read The Case for Christ, but in the end I concluded that a strictly literary perspective on the Bible was the really most valuable way to actually engage with "The Bible" if you're actually searching for truth. In my head I saw a thousand exegetical scholars and apologists spread across history, all frantically waving their hands.

"How dangerous is self preserving belief," I thought, staring down at the tracks, waiting for the downtown A train at 34th Street. "And how utterly comfortable." I felt immensely alone in that moment, scared about having to confront the people I care about and their treasured beliefs, and say, "You're wrong."

An experience last year made the idea how biases can just friggin screw things up much more apparent to me. I had a friend and mentor I admired as one of the most a) intelligent and b) altruistic people I'd ever met. In short, what happened was she accused me of doing something bad to her that I did not do. I didn't hear this from her directly: she just stopped talking to me, and I had to really bug our mutual friends. What was she had accused me of doing was utterly ridiculous, but I understood that it would be nearly impossible to convince her otherwise. My friend is the kind of person who makes negative conclusions about people with immense consternation, something I used to think was a virtue. But once she had decided I, an important and close person, had done something bad, no level of discussion could convince her otherwise. She could muster the equivalent of a thousand apologists to defend her existing belief. (Example of intelligent people shooting themselves in the foot.) Aside from the fact that I had just lost a very dear and important friend, I was angry, so angry that someone so good and smart could make such a fatal error. We talk about cognitive biases in public policy, in global catastrophic risk, as an obstacle to human progress and knowledge. But here I experienced a very dramatic and personal example of irrationality's consequences. Likely she'll go on the rest of her life with the belief that a close friend of hers had betrayed her. I do think that avoiding the destruction of the world, and preventing the purposeless deaths of all people is a more important to study rationality. This was just an up-close reminder to me that the dangers of irrationality are here, now, and devastating consequences do lie in wait. I wish I didn't need such an experience, and I know should be careful with hos it influences my beliefs and actions in the future. Robin Hanson's point is especially relevant here when he asks if our transition to rationality was rational. This was a very emotional reaction to a bad occurrence. Yet it is what, at least initially, increased my desire to be, shall I say it, Less Wrong.