"Irrationality in Argument" 2010-12-17T05:46:43.337Z · score: 1 (14 votes)


Comment by omslin on New "Best" comment sorting system · 2012-07-03T06:45:17.688Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you use the Bayes approach with a Beta(x,y) prior, all you do is for each post add x to the # of upvotes, add y to the # of downvotes, and then compute the % of votes which are upvotes. [1]

In my college AI class we used this exact method with x=y=1 to adjust for low sample size. Someone should switch out the clunky frequentist method reddit apparently uses with this Bayesian method!

[1] This seems to be what it says in the pdf.

Comment by omslin on Comprehensive List of All Singularity Summit Talks and Video Links · 2011-11-18T19:29:07.802Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Adding on to that, these three links seem to be broken because of a stray %0A:

Alexander Wissner-Gross. Planetary-scale intelligence.

Tyler Cowen & Michael Vassar. Debate on the Great Stagnation.

Dileep George and Scott Brown. From planes to brains: building AI the Wright way.

Comment by omslin on Michael Lewis on Kahneman and Tversky! [link] · 2011-11-09T02:33:31.943Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think that the answer to 2 is incorrect.

Yeah. According to Google, the experiment did find that people neglect base rates:

Kahneman and Tversky (1973) observed that the mean [estimate of the probability that Jack is an engineer] in the two groups, one receiving the base rate information 30 to 70, the other receiving 70 to 30, were for the most part the same

Ironically, when analyzing the experiment, the Vanity Fair writers failed Bayes theorem in the opposite way: neglecting evidence, thus making the posterior equal to the prior.

We conclude that people don't understand Bayes.

Comment by omslin on MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own · 2011-09-28T19:01:50.812Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by omslin on MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own · 2011-09-28T16:29:38.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Students manage conflicts by simply skipping class sessions. Last semester, I often skipped two thirds of my class sessions. As long as you read lecture notes, do the work, and show up to tests, you're fine.

Comment by omslin on MIT Challenge: blogger to attempt CS curriculum on own · 2011-09-28T08:24:43.621Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

At MIT, some students take 8+ classes over ~15 weeks. This involves lots of busywork and an expectation of getting the highest grade (an A). [They also often do side projects.]

Scott Young aims to complete classes at the same rate. But he's skipping much of the busywork and requiring merely passing grades. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls it off.

I'm an MIT student and currently spend 60-100 hours/class. Taking Young's approach, I could probably average 30 hours/class, which for 33 classes might be doable in about 2 months... Maybe doing 33 MIT classes in 1 month is something for a Tim Ferriss.

Comment by omslin on Another treatment of Direct Instruction getting more into the technical details of the theory · 2011-09-05T15:25:41.378Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So, if I were to make you a bet that #1-and-#2 is true [then you should rationally accept it if] gjmgain0.01>owengain0.99..

If you seriously made such a bet, then gjm would probably update on that evidence and revise his 99% probability upwards.

[But as gjm says the bet is impractical anyway because it's too hard to resolve]

Comment by omslin on . · 2011-09-01T20:57:10.936Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

nobody has bothered much with trying to steer [discussions] closer to reality

Feels like you have forbidden knowledge. Not coincidentally, I want to know what it is.

What is it roughly? That innate differences across the sexes play a strong role in causing statistically different mating behaviors to develop? That these differences end up somewhat resembling "females want high-value sex and a devoted father while males want sex and sexually faithful partners"? That females are often attracted to high value behavior (e.g. PUA stuff)? That many people have some, possibly very vague, estimate of how sexually valuable they are, and act upon this belief? Is there any way you can quench my curiosity? It seems obvious that if you answer in general terms you won't offend anyone, as meta thought doesn't really push the emotional buttons.

PS: It has been suggested that general statements can cause worse beliefs in a group, since they're very simplified. But there should be some way of pointing to an area of the map without degrading that region of the map.

Comment by omslin on Michael Jordan dissolves Bayesian vs Frequentist inference debate [video lecture] · 2011-08-30T02:05:26.237Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Previous discussion on the same video:

Comment by omslin on [Link] Simon Cowell plans to sign up for cryonics · 2011-08-25T03:03:45.516Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Simon Cowell is known as the brutally honest [singing contest] judge. He worked himself up in the music industry and doesn't seem to be a nutjob. Personally, I think his name is good for the reputation of cryonics.

Comment by omslin on · 2011-08-07T23:42:34.060Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Animated GIFs look unprofessional.

Comment by omslin on Crime and punishment · 2011-03-26T23:16:29.158Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In rich countries, there are strong correlations between income inequality and imprisonment rates (graph), and between income inequality and homicide rates (graph). As for selection bias, the authors of the graphs took the 50 richest countries over population 3 million for which data was available. Data sources here.

Comment by omslin on Tweetable Rationality · 2011-03-12T21:03:35.690Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yesterday as a creative activity I spent a couple hours making up tweets. It was actually really fun and cathartic! The last four had something to do with rationality:

I'm a politician and I'm not going to change my opinion because it'll make me look bad. So shut up.

Cached Selves

I'm a guy. I like that girl, so it's time to project my desires onto her and rapidly turn her off.

"Anti-game" is quite common and involves being excessively nice thereby signaling very low value. Related to how humans have difficulty modeling others (typical mind fallacy? women are pickier when choosing mates than men)

I'm a persuasive writer. Time to construct an excessively detailed but improbable scenario in order to convince you. It worked!

Related to conjunction fallacy. Inspired by my experiences: more detailed writing with imagery was more effective (perhaps because it seemed more high status)

  1. Do the research and thinking (Creativity and science). 2. Make the appealing case (Charisma). Can you switch between gears?

Hold Off on Proposing Solutions. What looks smart (the confident charisma) isn't necessarily the smart thing to do. Inspired by personal experiences where political discussions were charisma competitions.

My tweets were too abstract, lacked links to LW or Wikipedia, may have been too obvious and were seen by pretty much noone.

But it sure was fun, so I encourage people to explore Alexandros' suggestion.

Comment by omslin on post proposal: Attraction and Seduction for Heterosexual Male Rationalists · 2011-02-06T06:09:26.743Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Though potentially harmful to the LW community, such a post could be quite instrumental (especially given your scholarly style) for some, so I encourage you to write it. If deemed inappropriate for LW due to its negative externalities, the post can be placed on another site (or maybe in the discussion section?).

Comment by omslin on Trying to hide bad signaling? To the Dark Side, lead you it will. · 2011-01-16T17:46:00.524Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seems to me that Richard is roughly talking about instrumental rationality, while Konkvistador is roughly talking about epistemic rationality. Let's not quibble over the word rationality.

Comment by omslin on Rational insanity · 2010-12-28T07:01:37.275Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a US reconnaissance plane over Cuba was shot down by a Soviet missile without authorization from Moscow. This "stray" shot very nearly caused nuclear war. (For more examples of a lack of government control in the Cuban Missile Crisis see section VI on this outline. By the way, it would be interesting to analyze the plentiful existential risk irrationality during this Crisis. The Crisis tapes are now declassified.)

If the US and the USSR had trouble controlling their guns, it's likely the amateurish, heavily-armed North Korean state also does.

Comment by omslin on Rational insanity · 2010-12-27T06:52:41.382Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And more generally this seems to be an instance of the anchoring and adjustment heuristic. In this case the anchor is the present situation (North Korea bombing stuff), and South Korea is evaluating the acceptableness of a policy option. Change the anchor and - voila - the evaluation changes.

Taking advantage of an enemy's thinking flaws is one of the most effective ways a small organization can influence a larger opponent. Distractions and disruptions can prompt overreaction or under-reaction. In the case of 9/11 or WikiLeaks, possibly overreaction by the US government. In the case of North Korea, possibly under-reaction by South Korea.

Comment by omslin on Rational insanity · 2010-12-27T06:29:47.282Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Broken link; the tug-of-war link should be tug-of-war.

Edit: Link works for me now

Comment by omslin on "Irrationality in Argument" · 2010-12-17T21:50:26.610Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

you could prove that (A => B) and (B => C) and (C => D) and (D => F) Justice would nod its head and agree, but then, when you turned to claim your coup de grace, A => F irrevocably, Justice would demur and revoke the axiom of transitivity, for Justice will not be told when F stands for freedom.

I think Justice really, really should let emself be told when F stands for freedom.

Since we overestimate the strength of conjunctions, transitive chains may be weaker than they appear. So unless the issue is entirely clear-cut, it's reasonable for people to fail to accept A => F. (Of course, it is true that ideally a rational person would at least consider A => F and adjust probabilities accordingly.)

Transitivity is evoked when Justice imagines F and finding the dream a pleasurable one sets about gathering cushions to prop up their slumber.

This sounds like searching for arguments to a foregone conclusion.

True. But it also sounds like the gathering of evidence using emotional tags. Direct evidence, in some areas, overwhelmingly beats a transitive chain. So although the evidence is not being gathered evenhandedly by Justice, there is a justification for this manner of thinking. I do think the "gathering [of] cushions to prop up a slumber" is adaptive and a fair representation of how people think.

What I found interesting about this blog post is that a successful person, who has tried to persuade others of his political ideas, has identified models/strategies for persuasion which strongly mirror the LW posts I have read.

I suppose there are far superior guides to persuasion with actual empirical evidence. Admittedly, those are more appropriate for Less Wrong. You people probably already find LW resonances in much of what you read anyway.