Re: Books on rationality

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Fri Jun 07 2002 - 12:13:54 MDT

On Friday, June 7, 2002, at 12:29 PM, Lee Corbin wrote:

> Gordon writes
>> Eliezer writes
>>> is more rational than the other. Both fellows, if they
>>> are not Zen masters, will be attracted by the immediate
>>> short-term temptation...
>> 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.
> Iz zat so? I'm very skeptical that it is even possible,
> let alone wise, to *always* resist short term temptation.
> (Strange that evolution never stumbled on endowing some
> creature with only long term goals.)

There's an over emphasis here on short term goals and long term goals.
It's a matter of evaluating what will happen in the future as a result
of an action and determining which tradeoff is better. In this example,
the short term tradeoff is either that I get the girl and take an easy
class or I learn something interesting and take the hard class. Long
term, I have a very low chance of chance of gaining a life long friend
or a high chance of learning something which will be useful.

Furthermore, it's not ignoring all short term goals, but those goals
that result from human biases. For example, I have two books laying on
my desk. One is a collection of short stories by PKD and the other is
on system software (the programs that make computers go). How I decide
which to read will be based on a large number of factors, but none of
them relate to my ability to reproduce (even if improved reproductive
fitness results, I give it a weighting of zero).

Sorry if my lines fold at strange places.  Lee pointed out to me that it 
was happening, but I can only see this in the archives:  when I write 
and read my messages to SL4 my lines fold nicely.  Seems to be something 
odd with my MUA that I still haven't tracked down.
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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