If reason told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it? 2009-12-21T03:54:05.533Z
Any sufficiently advanced wisdom is indistinguishable from bullshit 2009-12-20T10:09:02.908Z
Rebasing Ethics 2009-12-15T13:56:09.689Z
Man-with-a-hammer syndrome 2009-12-14T11:31:48.237Z


Comment by Shalmanese on Rational Home Buying · 2011-08-27T09:32:55.426Z · LW · GW

Another failure of rationality is failing to understand the difference between investment goods and consumption goods. A $745,000 house may cost more to buy than a $710,000 house but you're also likely to be able to sell it for more as well. The "true" cost is not $35K, instead, it's a complex calculation of marginal mortgage payments, expected rise or fall of housing prices and cash flow considerations.

Comment by Shalmanese on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2010-09-09T04:14:02.366Z · LW · GW

"Another example of attribution error: Why would Gimli think that Galadriel is beautiful?"

A waist:hip:thigh ratio between 0.6 & 0.8 & a highly symmetric fce.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rationality Quotes: February 2010 · 2010-02-02T09:47:05.760Z · LW · GW

"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it." GK Chesterton

Comment by Shalmanese on Two Truths and a Lie · 2009-12-23T16:06:39.356Z · LW · GW

OK, so my favorite man-with-a-hammer du jour is the "everyone does everything for selfish reasons" view of the world. If you give money to charity, you do it for the fuzzy feeling, not because you are altruistic.

What would you propose as the three factual claims to test this? I'm having a hard time figuring any that would be a useful discriminant.

Thinking about this a bit, it seems most useful to assert negative factual claims, ie: "X never happens".

Comment by Shalmanese on Any sufficiently advanced wisdom is indistinguishable from bullshit · 2009-12-21T03:25:49.384Z · LW · GW

No, it's not (only) experiential knowledge. It's about the basic framework through which you view the world. More experience isn't going to help if you keep on fitting it within the same, inaccurate model.

Comment by Shalmanese on Any sufficiently advanced wisdom is indistinguishable from bullshit · 2009-12-21T03:25:01.050Z · LW · GW

If you think Christians are Christians (to pick an arbitrary example) because of time constraints, then you're in for a rude shock.

Comment by Shalmanese on Any sufficiently advanced wisdom is indistinguishable from bullshit · 2009-12-20T20:39:30.648Z · LW · GW

I'd be extremely suspicious that I'd stopped maturing if myself in 10 years could get along perfectly with myself of today. Take an informal poll of the people around you, I'll bet the vast majority of them would regard their past selves as frustratingly irritating because of all the missing advanced wisdom.

Comment by Shalmanese on Sufficiently Advanced Sanity · 2009-12-20T18:46:46.106Z · LW · GW

I think the difference here is that science is still operating under the same conceptual framework as it was 100 years ago. As a result, scientists between different eras can put themselves into each others heads and come to mutual agreement.

Sufficiently advanced wisdom to me has always been a challenging of the very framing of the problem itself.

Comment by Shalmanese on Any sufficiently advanced wisdom is indistinguishable from bullshit · 2009-12-20T14:15:15.794Z · LW · GW

Note: The converse is not true. Not all bullshit looks like advanced wisdom.

Comment by Shalmanese on The Contrarian Status Catch-22 · 2009-12-20T09:23:04.921Z · LW · GW

Huh? That is not at all what I read from Scott Aaronson on this and I don't see how your interpretation can be supported upon a close reading.

My interpretation about this is that people who are smugly contrarion suffer from their own rationality bias that leads them to a higher likelihood of truth but at the cost of a much, much higher variance.

Sure, the smug contrarians taught to wash our hands between surgery & discovered America, but they were also the ones who ushered in the French Revolution, the Cambodian Genocide & the Zimbabwe Land Reforms.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T19:20:06.544Z · LW · GW

The first person who understood nutrition didn't start on a perfect diet from day 1. Dieting is hard and we're still not very much closer to figuring out effective strategies of subverting our harmful evolutionary preferences. Rebasing ethics is at least as difficult so have some patience while it gets figured out.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T16:21:19.025Z · LW · GW

Perhaps. Could you unsimplify it for me? I don't really see where they are being less than clear in their descriptions.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T16:10:53.670Z · LW · GW

"I do not lie, I do not cheat and believe it or not, all because that is what I CHOOSE. I know right from wrong. It is in the best interests of Humankind to 'get along'. If we all killed each other off then we wouldn't be able to carry on generation after generation. Killing each other and doing harm goes against all of Evolution!"

As an aside, it's much harder to find text references to this than video links.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T16:03:31.088Z · LW · GW

It's easy: not tipping gives you an extra 18% of your dining out budget that you can spend on hookers & blow.

Better minds that I have talked about the quest for purpose in the absense of faith and I choose deliberately not to endorse any particular moral goal in this piece. selfish utilitarianism (is this really any different from hedonism?) is a good a goal as any although it's not one I personally choose as a moral end goal.

The crux of the argument is not about how you should act but you how you should fight your own moral revulsion when deciding how you should act.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T15:56:27.480Z · LW · GW

I deliberately chose an innocuous example so as to not overly trip the discussion into the specifics of the example itself. I'm not going to talk about some of the more extreme examples of what this would imply until other people do.

You're correct in that modifying tipping behavior by itself would probably not be worth being a dick about in the same way that just switching to low fat milk is probably not worth absorbing all of our science of nutrition & dieting about. You have to be able to see the cumulative effects of a complete rebasing before you can judge it's ultimate utility.

As for whether it's worth it, I think you need to look at where a person wants to be vs where they actually are. Looking out in the world, I don't see a lot of rationalists of the type who inhabit this board who are rich, powerful, admired, have happy marriages or have fulfilled the potential they believe they have. I'm not promising that you'll have all of that if you just rebase your ethics but If you happy not to try just so you can keep your warm fuzzy moral feelings, that's, of course, your own choice.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T15:25:10.661Z · LW · GW

That may or may not be so but I'm going by what leading atheists claim. The only reason I finally wrote this was because I just got back from a screening of Collapse where Hitchens was espousing some Brotherhood of Man nonsense while weaseling out of directly confronting the issue of why secular morality looks suspiciously like christian morality warmed over.

Comment by Shalmanese on Rebasing Ethics · 2009-12-15T15:22:46.985Z · LW · GW

Not tipping when the social expectation is not to tip is no big deal. But not tipping when it's culturally expected of you is being a dick and that's what I'm talking about.

Comment by Shalmanese on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom · 2009-12-13T14:32:57.981Z · LW · GW

Wasn't there a post here a while back that talked about how anyone positing a confidence of 0.999 on something non-trivial was most likely to be suffering from their own cognitive biases?

Comment by Shalmanese on You Be the Jury: Survey on a Current Event · 2009-12-10T00:38:05.467Z · LW · GW

my somewhat admittedly sketchy reasoning:

I go to the University of Washington where there is considerable interest in the case. Of the people who have only been marginally involved in the case, most believe that Amanda Knox is innocent. Of the people who are interested in the case, many believe she is guilty. There's an obvious hometown effect here which biases towards innocence so I'm assuming those who look into the case are taking that into account when and still reach a guilty verdict.

Therefore, I assign a 70% probability to Amanda Knox being guilty (+ or - 30%).

Comment by Shalmanese on Intuitive differences: when to agree to disagree · 2009-10-01T00:55:47.856Z · LW · GW

When you encounter a road block, you don't need to give up. You can simply emulate each other's intuitions and proceed with as a provisional argument (assuming your world view is true...).

Comment by Shalmanese on Your Most Valuable Skill · 2009-09-28T03:39:37.257Z · LW · GW

As far as rationality is concerned, it's achieving the place of what I call "rational ignorance". An awareness of the limits of your rationality and how you overestimate how rational you are:

Comment by Shalmanese on Let Them Debate College Students · 2009-09-12T09:25:00.448Z · LW · GW

In every debate I've heard of, the pro-evolution people believe that the evolution side soundly thrashed the creation side and the pro-creation people believe that the creation side thrashed the evolution side.

This subjectivity over even who won makes debates eminently pointless for convincing anyone of anything.

Comment by Shalmanese on Mathematical simplicity bias and exponential functions · 2009-08-28T16:08:32.869Z · LW · GW

"All models are wrong, some are useful" - George Box

Comment by Shalmanese on How inevitable was modern human civilization - data · 2009-08-21T17:41:59.984Z · LW · GW

The bias is that we don't even notice things that occured once. How important is there that we have a moon? That we have a continent that spans east-west? That the K-T impact happened exactly when it did?

There could be a hundred other crucial factors which we never even noticed because nobody thought they were important to the development of civilization.

Comment by Shalmanese on How inevitable was modern human civilization - data · 2009-08-21T16:37:22.261Z · LW · GW

Our observations are biased because anything that occurs multiple times is very easy to see but something that occurs only once could be completely missed as an essential step towards civilization because we assume it was inevitable.

Comment by Shalmanese on Absolute denial for atheists · 2009-07-18T05:08:53.582Z · LW · GW

There is no rational argument against quantum suicide and the truth of it easily tested. The longer you live without knowing about quantum suicide, the less optimal your life will turn out. At the same time, you cannot look to anyone else's success as social proof for you to do it, you have to be the first.

Comment by Shalmanese on The Two-Party Swindle · 2008-01-01T13:34:38.000Z · LW · GW

I object to your assertion that football players are paid disproportionate salaries relative to other fields. What does the average football player make? It's tricky to answer because it depends on who you regard as a football player. If you include everyone in the minor leagues, everyone playing college football, every high school quarterback who seriously considered a footballing career, then the average is quite low because the majority of "football players" make $0.

The reason why top footballers are paid enormous sums of money is because lots of people want to play football and the incentive structure is heavily skewed towards lavishly rewarding a small group of people. There are other fields with similar characteristics like writing. Restricting our sample to just the NFL is like arguing that authors are overpaid based on the average salaries of those on the NYT best sellers list.

Drug dealing is another good example, individual drug kingpins rake in far more than the highest paid football player could even imagine but the average pusher on the street is earning less than they would working minimum wage at McDonalds ("An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances." Steven D. Levitt and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh; Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2000, 115(3), pp. 755-89.