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19 posts tagged with rationality.
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$100 Invested in 100 $1 Lottery Tickets

The thrill and rush of possibly winning started to wear off after about the twentieth losing ticket. Each card had a couple of “Life” symbols on them, and every time you got a second you just dreamed of seeing the third one under the remaining graphite. However it never appeared and never will and it just kind of turned depressing. How could people put themselves through this humiliation and teasing every day of their lives?
The classic criticism of the lottery is that the people who play are the ones who can least afford to lose; that the lottery is a sink of money, draining wealth from those who most need it. Some lottery advocates . . . have tried to defend lottery-ticket buying as a rational purchase of fantasy—paying a dollar for a day's worth of pleasant anticipation, imagining yourself as a millionaire. But consider exactly what this implies. It would mean that you're occupying your valuable brain with a fantasy whose real probability is nearly zero—a tiny line of likelihood which you, yourself, can do nothing to realize. . . . Which makes the lottery another kind of sink: a sink of emotional energy. [via]

posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on May 18, 2013 - 154 comments

“Mom, I maximize your utility.”

The Economics of Caring There's something deeply flawed about an economic system that measures utility but not the attachments we feel to another person, or to one's homeland.
posted by infini on Dec 2, 2012 - 26 comments

Why are men so emotional?

"I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else." Jen Dziura in The Gloss: "When men are too emotional to have a rational argument."
posted by escabeche on Nov 18, 2012 - 85 comments

Less Wrong: The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

For years, my self-education was stupid and wasteful. I learned by consuming blog posts, Wikipedia articles, classic texts, podcast episodes, popular books, video lectures, peer-reviewed papers, Teaching Company courses, and Cliff's Notes. How inefficient! [...] What if we could compile a list of the best textbooks on every subject? That would be extremely useful.
Less Wrong, a community dedicated to rationality, is compiling a list of The Best Textbooks on Every Subject.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Mar 25, 2012 - 49 comments

Metacognitive training for schizophrenia suffers (and everybody else)

Metacognitive training is a useful complementary treatment approach to schizophrenia. MCT aims at sharpening the awareness of patients for a variety of cognitive biases (e.g. jumping to conclusions, attributional biases, over-confidence in errors), which are implicated in the formation and maintenance of schizophrenia positive symptoms (especially delusions), and to ultimately replace these biases with functional cognitive strategies. Researchers at the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf have developed an MCT program, comprised of eight modules targeting common cognitive errors and problem solving biases in schizophrenia. [more inside]
posted by aeschenkarnos on Jul 2, 2011 - 16 comments

No they don't

People argue just to win, assert researchers. Rationality may have evolved simply to let people feel triumphant; internet inevitable. [more inside]
posted by klangklangston on Jun 14, 2011 - 97 comments

Baez/Yudkowsky

John Baez (mathematical physicist and master popularizer, former operator of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics, current promoter of the idea that physicists should start pitching in on saving the world) interviews Eliezer Yudkowsky (singularitarian, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality," promoter of the idea that human life faces a near-term existential threat from unfriendly artificial intelligence, and that people can live better lives by evading their cognitive biases) about the future, academia, rationality, altruism, expected utility, self-improvement by humans and machines, and the relative merit of battling climate change and developing friendly AIs that will forstall our otherwise inevitable doom. Part I. Part II. Part III. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Apr 2, 2011 - 47 comments

What science fiction thinks of science

Six or seven stances science fiction movies take towards science. From John Holbo at Crooked Timber. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Jan 26, 2011 - 50 comments

Learning to underthink a plate of beans.

On Self-Delusion and Bounded Rationality A short story by M.I.T. faculty member Scott Aaronson about a woman whose rationality got in the way of her happiness. [more inside]
posted by Obscure Reference on Jul 24, 2010 - 92 comments

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

"You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That's not just an arbitrary rule, it's implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signaling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can't just visualize a whole cat's anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the neurology? How can you go on thinking using a cat-sized brain?" McGonagall's lips were twitching harder now. "Magic."

Eliezer Yudkowsky — rationalist, AI pontificator and singularitarian — writes Harry Potter fan fiction. (previously)
posted by teraflop on Apr 6, 2010 - 67 comments

Premanand will not recant

Basava Premanand, rationalist and founder of The Indian Skeptic, is dying. [more inside]
posted by vanar sena on Sep 28, 2009 - 17 comments

"More Right" was too political

Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to "the art" of rationality. It revolves around discussion of short essays. Less Wrong is a project of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute and a companion site to Overcoming Bias (previously; how to read). [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Mar 6, 2009 - 36 comments

An alternate universe of rationality.

In an alternate universe, the golden mean is found, moderation is possible, and everyone on MeFi will hear their counterparts point of view first.
posted by phyrewerx on Apr 3, 2008 - 56 comments

Door Game

The predictably irrational door game. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Feb 22, 2008 - 39 comments

Myth-busters have the odds against them

Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach. "The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies (PDFs) show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths." [Via Firedoglake, more at MindHacks.]
posted by homunculus on Sep 5, 2007 - 53 comments

The kind of rationality that's... not.

The neurophysiology of political reasoning: "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones." But where do we get our initial biases? (via)
posted by anotherpanacea on Jul 16, 2006 - 21 comments

It's raining today, so Gore won't get my vote...

Behavior in the voting booth. (by Louis Menand)
posted by advil on Sep 10, 2004 - 7 comments

Entheogens

Are psychedelic drugs good for you? Taken with proper caution, John Horgan, author of Rational Mysticism, believes they can be.
posted by homunculus on May 8, 2003 - 36 comments

Here is an excellent article on Rationality versus Values. Personally though, I'd rather be free of more mundane risks such as traffic accidents than say, extraordinary risks such as being held hostage in a theatre... but that's just my opinion.
posted by titboy on Oct 28, 2002 - 10 comments

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