RE: Bad Bayesian - no biscuit! (was A New Year's gift for Bayesians)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Jan 19 2005 - 16:57:35 MST

> >> Occasionally I tread on the futile task of trying to persuade people
> >> not to buy lottery tickets, and they say something along the line of
> >> "Someone has to win!" or "You can't win if you don't play!"
> >
> > When I have this conversation with intelligent lottery players, the
> > usual answer is "Yes, but it's fun to try."
> I know I've raised this point before, but I think we have different
> standards for whom we call "intelligent".

Well, when I was a math prof at UNLV, a number of my fellow math professors
liked to gamble on a regular basis.

These folks had high IQ's, decently long lists of pure-math publications,
and generally a lot of common sense and rationality in everyday life

I was a bit perplexed at the time that these highly clever and reasonable
mathematicians were at all interested in gambling, but that was before I
grasped the deep perversity of human nature as fully as I do now ;-)

> I
> understand the thriving lottery industry as the present state of affairs,
> and I ask "How can we train people not to buy lottery tickets?"

But if people buy lottery tickets because they find the emotional drama of
it FUN, then teaching them not to buy lottery tickets means either

a) teaching them not to want to have fun

b) teaching them to find different things fun than they currently do

I.e. it involves changing their motivational structure rather than their
reasoning methods, it seems to me.

Personally I have pretty much given up on teaching people not to have silly
chimp-like motivational structures. It's a damn hard problem, harder than
creating an AGI, in my opinion.

I try to guide my kids to have motivational structures that I respect, but
that's an easier problem than the more general case, since they have genetic
material that's relatively amenable to my taste, and they get a lot of
personal attention from me.... And it's still not such an easy problem, as
they've all inherited my individuality and pigheaded stubbornness along with
many of my other fine and not-so-fine traits ;-)

-- Ben G

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:50 MDT