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 762nd post is Forcing Anthropics: Boltzmann Brains. But at this point in Less Wrong’s history, most of Eliezer’s posts are news posts or other short posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.
Outlawing Anthropics: An Updateless Dilemma continues the discussion of timeless decision theory.
The Lifespan Dilemma begins with a discussion of Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion, and graduates to the larger dilemma.
The Anthropic Trilemma gives another problem that Eliezer can’t solve.
Privileging the Hypothesis opens:
Suppose that the police of Largeville, a town with a million inhabitants, are investigating a murder in which there are few or no clues – the victim was stabbed to death in an alley, and there are no fingerprints and no witnesses.
Then, one of the detectives says, “Well… we have no idea who did it… no particular evidence singling out any of the million people in this city… but let’s consider the hypothesis that this murder was committed by Mortimer Q. Snodgrass, who lives at 128 Ordinary Ln. It could have been him, after all.”
I’ll label this the fallacy of privileging the hypothesis.
Next, Eliezer reiterates that I’m Not Saying People Are Stupid. Frequentist Statistics are Frequently Subjective launches another critique of frequentist statistics. Next is The Contrarian Status Catch-22 and The Correct Contrarian Cluster.
Other posts I won’t summarize:
- The 9/11 Meta-Truther Conspiracy Theory
- High Status and Stupidity: Why?
- Normal Cryonics
- That Magical Click
- Logical Rudeness
- You’re Entitled to Arguments but not (that particular) Proof + Appendices
Conversation Halters is a nice list, including:
Appeal to egalitarianism – something along the lines of “No one’s opinion is better than anyone else’s.” Now if you keep talking you’re committing an offense against tribal equality.
Appeal to common guilt – “everyone is irrational now and then”, so if you keep talking, you’re claiming to be better than them. An implicit subspecies of appeal to egalitarianism.
Appeal to inner privacy – “you can’t possibly know how I feel!” It’s true that modern technology still encounters some slight difficulties in reading thoughts out of the brain, though work is underway as we speak. But it is rare that the exact details of how you feel are the key subject matter being disputed. Here the bony borders of the skull are being redeployed as a hard barrier to keep out further arguments.
Appeal to personal freedom – “I can define a word any way I want!“ Now if you keep talking you’re infringing on their civil rights.
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