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Shut up and multiply

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You know what? This isn't about your feelings. A human life, with all its joys and all its pains, adding up over the course of decades, is worth far more than your brain's feelings of comfort or discomfort with a plan. Does computing the expected utility feel too cold-blooded for your taste? Well, that feeling isn't even a feather in the scales, when a life is at stake. Just shut up and multiply.

Due to scope neglect, framing effects, and other cognitive biases, the result of an expected utility calculation may be intuitively unappealing, perhaps even horrifying. And yet, intuition is not the most reliable guide for what policies will actually produce the best results, particularly in cases where we can actually do calculations with the relevant quantities. The ability to shut up and multiply, to trust the math even when it feels wrong is a key rationalist skill.

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