Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

most extremely fundamental tidbits of reasoning
February 27, 2008, 11:34 pm
Filed under: thoughts

…that anyone should read.

Necessary words to *viscerally* appreciate the significance of:

plausibility argument (vs inductive, deductive, etc).

ad hoc

necessary and sufficient

top down/bottom up

possibility space



decrease inhibition


generation: (intentional/methodical), procedural, random

variation/(natural || artificial) selection

limits of human appreciation/emotions. you can’t get past “furious” or “gracious” in civilization III



selective/discernment. If you can discern, you can be selective. Selective is often good in the case of drugs (selective drugs produce desirable effects) and it allows you to narrow down to a list of potentially compatible people/tasks.


relative contribution estimation/disagreement


instrumental vs. intrinsic value (and communicability of instrumental vs. intrinsic values) to others

Impulse control:

-> impulses that go away when you don’t satisfy them

=> impulses that won’t go away when you don’t satisfy but you ca cave into later without consequences (e-mail)

=> impulses that actually must be fulfilled

other terms not as vitally important:

transfer and supposed transfer

extrapolation and overextrapolation

recognition/appreciation (the significance of action X in context Y)




prima facie (this explains more than you’d imagine – it’s why people dislike spoilers even though they’ll learn what the spoilers are for the vast majority of their lifetime anyways)



non-redundant stimuli

information content of idiosyncratic fields vs. information content of more general fields

talent identification, do we need to hurt students int he process, and identification of mistakes in the process
correspondence theory of truth

ambiguous terms to question meaning of:


natural/artificial distinction

(this has to be kept short and concise precisely because it is intended for a mass audience)

=> All forms of media are designed to appeal to human nature. Human nature is not particularly malleable. While there are some ideas and movements that can change people in such a way that they’re more receptive to the ideas/movements, the MOST successful movements/ideas will be the ones that conform to the POTENTIAL biases/interests of the PRESENT population.

=> there is no intrinsic value to educational credentials like GPA and test scores. Their value comes ONLY from statistics – that is – from a pool of people you know *very little* about, the best ways to select the most compatible students is to rely *only* on those statistics, but from a group of people you know much more about, statistics become useless.

=> if you try to apply a prescriptive rule to a group of people, you must consider the success of the prescriptive rule in a group of people who are desirably and easily *educated* to follow it, and the success of the prescriptive rule in a more realistic situation – when many people are *not* educated to follow it.

=> there are three vital traits of any theory

a) generating hypotheses/models
b) being perceptive about the world
c) analyzing things to their fundamentals

=> As Dave Barry said, people go to college to study the works of “Austen, Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Lincoln, etc.” All for who that matter, never graduated from college.

=> You will learn the vast majority of material by yourself. You will not learn it in a formal course.

=> Convictions are useless when you consider consequences, not merely actions. Some actions may be more likely than others to lead to DESIRABLE consequences, but NO action will necessarily lead to a desired consequence in ALL possible environments

=> Thus, older people will often have convictions that may be appropriate for a previous time, but not necessarily for a later time when the chain of causation is so different that the same action may lead to a totally different chain of causation, one that is undesirable

=> Some actions may be totally useless without catalysts, but they can be extremely effective with the presence of a vital catalyst.

=> Many social policies or directives are predicated upon the assumption that people cannot be trusted to find the most appropriate sources of information themselves/discern between what’s best for themselves and what isn’t best for themselves. Some socially controversial behaviors (pirating software, using performance-enhancing drugs for tests) may best be discouraged at the societal level, but may also best come without total prohibitions on use. Good prohibitions are restrictions that allow in the people who are most able to discern between what’s best for themselves and what isn’t. However, such prohibitions must be invulnerable to loopholes.

=> Information acquisition consists of motivation, attention (+attentional allocation), processing, and memory. There can be failures at ANY of those stages

=> Learning “how a process came to be” does not always guarantee that the process will act as according to “intentions”. (“intentions” does not only include human intentions, we can also think of the “intentions” of selfish genes). However, more often than not, it will act as according to supposed “intentions”

=> There are many possible chance-configurations of the world, of any society, of any system. There are fundamentals, namely, the laws of physics. But even then, the laws of physics are not necessarily fundamental relative to

=> There are different levels of appreciation for each body of material. There is also a fundamental difference between visceral appreciation and intellectual appreciation. some authors try to strive for books that appeal to audiences of different levels (that have diferent levels of appreciation).

=> there is often a lag time between intellectual appreciation and visceral appreciation. Sometimes, the lag time is effectively infinity

=> It is unadvisable for most people to value actions over outcomes. There is no intrinsic goodness/badness to most actions, if you are consequentialist.

=> respect archival

=> don’t sacrifice research for coursework (immediate feedback in research)

is it better to modify behavior or to appeal to intrinsics of people?

is it okat to be machiavellian so long as you don’t hurt anyone/potentially hurt anyone in the process?

standards of “potentiall” differ from person to person.


abstract algebra/ algebra, number fielkd, linear algebra

HR diagram/individual stars

“” theory “”

from an information theoretic POV, is extinction undesirable?

artificial selection: games like spore

spore: so exciting since it is the LEAST ad hoc software in the world

=> (biased but interesting) The anti-monopolization of knowledge that the Internet provides will help kick professionals out of the picture. It will be recognized that
then, people, when they have excellent skills in (a) searching for all
the knowledge they needed and in (cool.gif out of that huge morass of
knowledge, separating the (1) relevant and (2) accurate knowledge from
the knowledge that is BS or irrelevant to their needs. They will not
need a professional intermediary to get what they need. Instead, they
can hire smart agents (robots, by the way), that can negotiate with
online services to get what they need. The results of a genetic test
can be stored into an online database. A smart robotic agent fetches
data from that online database into a drugstore, to test for potential
drugs that the person’s body may be allergic to. It also tests for
levels of Cytochrome P450 enzymes. Those lacking the enzymes needed to
digest one drug can thus switch to another drug.

With this, who needs health professionals? Those who lack the means to
(1) search through the knowledge and (2) hire out smart agents to find
which knowledge is best for them.


February 21, 2008, 6:54 pm
Filed under: thoughts

Frankly, you must care about what others think. Not specifically of you, but of your ideas. And yes, specifically about you if you have to convince them that you’re “useful”.

Other than in math (which is special in that you can convince anyone of anything because of shared logical axioms), all other fields of knowledge have branches whose vigor is determined by how convincing their evidence is to their practitioners.

Arguments by probability must hold once arguments by certainty fail.

Moreover when you believe you act rationally and believe others appreciate that you act rationally or not, you have to ask some questions. Not everyone thinks too much. Those who don’t think too much are a lot less likely to take your arguments into full consideration and thus, it is often important to attach (addendums that make the argument appeal to human nature) along with your argument. Such addendums often convince people that “product x” is best for their needs. They are not fair as they give an advantage to those with the best understanding of human nature. Math is the only meritocratic system as it is based on shared axioms and is much less prone to abuse (relative to other fields) by people who have an uncanny talent for manipulating human nature (finding things that people react positively to).