Re: Books on rationality

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Thu Jun 06 2002 - 21:34:39 MDT

My my, I go to the theater and the list gets tons of posts. I should go
more often. :-) BTW, "Nunsense" is a very funny play that you should
go see if you have a chance. With great actors and a bit of
improvisation, it's so funny even a rabid atheist or a `lowly'
Protestant (remember, the title is *Nun*sense) will be laughing.

On Thursday, June 6, 2002, at 05:04 PM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> is more rational than the other. Both fellows, if they are not Zen
> masters,
> will be attracted by the immediate short-term temptation, will see the

Well, you don't *have* to be a Zen master, but it does help. This
example comes from personal experience, because at one time this is the
kind of thing I would have done. I've moved beyond that and it simply
doesn't happen anymore. If that makes me a Zen master, thank you for
the compliment. ;-)

> Cultural stereotypes are formed by observing departures from what is
> believed to be the cultural norm. In this case more rational people,
> as a
> result of structural differences in the thought process, emergently
> tend to
> attend to long-term goals more than less rational people. This emergent

I've been thinking, when I give examples, this is the biggest hurdle I
have to get around. It's not enough to say "here's an example of
someone thinking rationally", I have to say "here's an example of
someone thinking rationally, and here's why it's rational and why it
would be irrational given these situations". I hope that would get
across the point that it's not the behavior but the motivation that
makes an action rational.

> I have found that, despite all common wisdom, the most critical part of
> being really creative lies in narrowing down inventiveness to correct
> ideas,
> not in "brainstorming". I don't need brainstorming. I'm inventive
> enough
> already. What's needed is inventiveness that hits correct targets and
> comes
> up with ideas that are *really* true and not just ideas that *sound*
> true.

While I see your point of view, many of us are not that creative yet, so
we are forced to resort to more brute force measures when we're outside
of our domain of great creativity. Personally, I'm only so creative
that I don't have to rely on brainstorming in the realm of Tetris, but
only because I've played the game for thousands of hours and become a
master. Step away from Tetris and I'm just like everyone else, where
being creative means thinking up some good ideas, some not so good
ideas, and learning how to pick out the good ideas and make them better.

> Real rationality is very, very rare.

Well, re the Zen Master comment, I guess you found some. :-P (I kid; I
still have a bit of irrationality to work out.)

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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