Category Archives: Basic Rationality

Alieving Rationality

Almost six years ago, Scott wrote a post on LW about the apparent lack of strong correlation of real-world instrumental success and studying what he calls “x-rationality” – that is, OB/LW-style rationality, of the kind that’s above and beyond the regular skills … Continue reading

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On Arrogance

arrogant adjective having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. A friend of mine once mentioned on a comment written in response to some post or another in a facebook debate group that he had knowledge … Continue reading

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Absence of evidence is evidence of absence

The W’s article about Evidence of Absence is confusing. They have an anecdote: A simple example of evidence of absence: A baker never fails to put finished pies on her windowsill, so if there is no pie on the windowsill, then … Continue reading

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Beliefs and aliefs

What does it mean to believe? This is not supposed to be some Deeply Wise prod to make someone write philosophical accounts of the mystical uniqueness of human consciousness or some such. It’s an actual question about the actual meaning of … Continue reading

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How and when to respect authority

When I discussed the usefulness (or lack thereof) of Aumann’s Agreement Theorem, I mentioned that the next best thing to sharing the actual knowledge you gathered (or mind melding) was sharing likelihood ratios. But sometimes… you can’t. Well, most of … Continue reading

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Agreements, disagreements, and likelihood ratios

The LessWrong community has, as a sort of deeply ingrained instinct/rule, that we should never “agree to disagree” about factual matters. The map is not the territory, and if we disagree about the territory, that means at least one of … Continue reading

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Occam’s Razor

“Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate.“ – William of Ockham (c. 1287-1347) The more famous sentence attributed to William of Ockham, “Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem,” translated as “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity,” is absent from his … Continue reading

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Talking to laypeople (or the inference gap)

Einstein once famously said that if you can’t explain it to your grandmother then you don’t understand it yourself. I’m too lazy to look it up but I’m pretty sure that when he said that he was talking about how … Continue reading

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Other ways of looking at probability

Bayes’ Theorem is all nice and dandy, but it may not necessarily be the best thing to work with. It’s quite simple: When laid out this way, what it says is that the probability of some proposition after you learn that … Continue reading

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Don’t be so sure…

One of the great insights of Bayes’ Theorem is the gradation of belief. This is in fact not how most people intuitively reason! Most people have this intuitive feeling of black-and-white, zero-or-one, believe-or-don’t-believe. When they’re thinking about something they want to … Continue reading

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