AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky is something of an expert at human rationality, and at teaching it to others. His hundreds of posts at Less Wrong are a treasure trove for those who want to improve their own rationality. As such, I’m reading all of them, chronologically.
I suspect some of my readers want to “level up” their rationality, too. So I’m keeping a diary of my Yudkowsky reading. Feel free to follow along.
His 658th post is Formative Youth, which calls us to acknowledge how powerfully formative our childhood years are – continued in Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story and The Most Important Thing You Learned… That You’d Tell All Your Friends. Next: Markets are Anti-Inductive.
At this point in Less Wrong history, others other than Yudkowsky begin to make contributions, for example Robin Hanson with Test Your Rationality. But, for the purposes of this series, I will stick to Yudkowsky’s posts on Less Wrong.
- Unteachable Excellence
- Teaching the Unteachable
- No, Really, I’ve Deceived Myself
- Belief in Self-Deception
- Moore’s Paradox
- Don’t Believe You’ll Self-Deceive
- Striving to Accept
Next, Eliezer discusses Schools Proliferating Without Evidence in psychology, though of course the problem is even worse in philosophy! How to halt the problem? Maybe pay attention to 3 Levels of Rationality Verification.
Next is The Pascal’s Wager Fallacy Fallacy:
And the one said, “Isn’t that a form of Pascal’s Wager?”
I’m going to call this the Pascal’s Wager Fallacy Fallacy.
You see it all the time in discussion of cryonics. The one says, “If cryonics works, then the payoff could be, say, at least a thousand additional years of life.” And the other one says, “Isn’t that a form of Pascal’s Wager?”
The original problem with Pascal’s Wager is not that the purported payoff is large. This is not where the flaw in the reasoning comes from. That is not the problematic step. The problem with Pascal’s original Wager is that the probability is exponentially tiny (in the complexity of the Christian God) and that equally large tiny probabilities offer opposite payoffs for the same action (the Muslim God will damn you for believing in the Christian God).
However, what we have here is the term “Pascal’s Wager” being applied solely because the payoff being considered is large – the reasoning being perceptually recognized as an instance of “the Pascal’s Wager fallacy” as soon as someone mentions a big payoff – without any attention being given to whether the probabilities are in fact small or whether counterbalancing anti-payoffs exist.
You’re Calling *Who* a Cult Leader? laughs at the fact that many consider Eliezer Yudkowsky and Paul Graham cult leaders. Next is a bloggingheads on religion. On Things That Are Awesome tries to analyze awesomeness. Hyakujo’s Fox is a Zen koan.
The Sacred Mundane argues that religion twists the experience of sacredness.
Back to The Craft and the Community sequence:
- Your Price for Joining
- Can Humanism Match Religion’s Output?
- Church vs. Taskforce
- Rationality: Common Interests of Many Causes
- Helpless Individuals
Next are two excellent posts on rationalist charity, which are summed up nicely in their titles: