Tag Archives: rationality

The Tails Coming Apart As Metaphor For Life

[Epistemic status: Pretty good, but I make no claim this is original] A neglected gem from Less Wrong: Why The Tails Come Apart, by commenter Thrasymachus. It explains why even when two variables are strongly correlated, the most extreme value … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 191 Comments

Book Review: The Black Swan

I. Writing a review of The Black Swan is a nerve-wracking experience. First, because it forces me to reveal I am about ten years behind the times in my reading habits. But second, because its author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is … Continue reading

Varieties Of Argumentative Experience

In 2008, Paul Graham wrote How To Disagree Better, ranking arguments on a scale from name-calling to explicitly refuting the other person’s central point. And that’s why, ever since 2008, Internet arguments have generally been civil and productive. Graham’s hierarchy … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 435 Comments

God Help Us, Let’s Try To Understand Friston On Free Energy

I’ve been trying to delve deeper into predictive processing theories of the brain, and I keep coming across Karl Friston’s work on “free energy”. At first I felt bad for not understanding this. Then I realized I wasn’t alone. There’s … Continue reading

Self-Serving Bias

Alex Tabarrok beat me to the essay on Oregon’s self-service gas laws that I wanted to write. Oregon is one of two US states that bans self-service gas stations. Recently, they passed a law relaxing this restriction – self-service is … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 626 Comments

Book Review: Inadequate Equilibria

I. Eliezer Yudkowsky’s catchily-titled Inadequate Equilibria is many things. It’s a look into whether there is any role for individual reason in a world where you can always just trust expert consensus. It’s an analysis of the efficient market hypothesis … Continue reading

Does Age Bring Wisdom?

[Related: Can It Be Wrong To Crystallize Patterns?] I. I turn 33 today. I can only hope that age brings wisdom. We’ve been talking recently about the high-level frames and heuristics that organize other concepts. They’re hard to transmit, and … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 349 Comments

Non-Expert Explanation

SSC’s review of postmodernism got very mixed reviews. Some of them made a good point: why should I be trying this at all? I’m not a postmodernist, I’m not a philosophy professor, surely someone much more qualified has already written … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 194 Comments

Why Not More Excitement About Prediction Aggregation?

There’s a new ad on the sidebar for Metaculus, a crowd-sourced prediction engine that tries to get well-calibrated forecasts on mostly scientific topics. If you’re wondering how likely it is that a genetically-engineered baby will be born in the next … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 172 Comments

Yes, We Have Noticed The Skulls

[Related: Tyler Cowen on rationalists, Noah Smith on rationalists, Will Wilkinson on rationalists, etc] If I were an actor in an improv show, and my prompt was “annoying person who’s never read any economics, criticizing economists”, I think I could … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 617 Comments