Less Wrong/2009 Articles/Summaries

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Free to Optimize
The Uses of Fun (Theory)

Fun Theory is important for replying to critics of human progress; for inspiring people to keep working on human progress; for refuting religious arguments that the world could possibly have been benevolently designed; for showing that religious Heavens show the signature of the same human biases that torpedo other attempts at Utopia; and for appreciating the great complexity of our values and of a life worth living, which requires a correspondingly strong effort of AI design to create AIs that can play good roles in a good future.

Growing Up is Hard
Changing Emotions

Creating new emotions seems like a desirable aspect of many parts of Fun Theory, but this is not to be trivially postulated. It's the sort of thing best done with superintelligent help, and slowly and conservatively even then. We can illustrate these difficulties by trying to translate the short English phrase "change sex" into a cognitive transformation of extraordinary complexity and many hidden subproblems.

Rationality Quotes 21
Emotional Involvement

Since the events in video games have no actual long-term consequences, playing a video game is not likely to be nearly as emotionally involving as much less dramatic events in real life. The supposed Utopia of playing lots of cool video games forever, is life as a series of disconnected episodes with no lasting consequences. Our current emotions are bound to activities that were subgoals of reproduction in the ancestral environment - but we now pursue these activities as independent goals regardless of whether they lead to reproduction.

Rationality Quotes 22
Serious Stories

Stories and lives are optimized according to rather different criteria. Advice on how to write fiction will tell you that "stories are about people's pain" and "every scene must end in disaster". I once assumed that it was not possible to write any story about a successful Singularity because the inhabitants would not be in any pain; but something about the final conclusion that the post-Singularity world would contain no stories worth telling seemed alarming. Stories in which nothing ever goes wrong, are painful to read; would a life of endless success have the same painful quality? If so, should we simply eliminate that revulsion via neural rewiring? Pleasure probably does retain its meaning in the absence of pain to contrast it; they are different neural systems. The present world has an imbalance between pain and pleasure; it is much easier to produce severe pain than correspondingly intense pleasure. One path would be to address the imbalance and create a world with more pleasures, and free of the more grindingly destructive and pointless sorts of pain. Another approach would be to eliminate pain entirely. I feel like I prefer the former approach, but I don't know if it can last in the long run.

Rationality Quotes 23
Continuous Improvement

Humans seem to be on a hedonic treadmill; over time, we adjust to any improvements in our environment - after a month, the new sports car no longer seems quite as wonderful. This aspect of our evolved psychology is not surprising: is a rare organism in a rare environment whose optimal reproductive strategy is to rest with a smile on its face, feeling happy with what it already has. To entirely delete the hedonic treadmill seems perilously close to tampering with Boredom itself. Is there enough fun in the universe for a transhuman to jog off the treadmill - improve their life continuously, leaping to ever-higher hedonic levels before adjusting to the previous one? Can ever-higher levels of pleasure be created by the simple increase of ever-larger floating-point numbers in a digital pleasure center, or would that fail to have the full subjective quality of happiness? If we continue to bind our pleasures to novel challenges, can we find higher levels of pleasure fast enough, without cheating? The rate at which value can increase as more bits are added, and the rate at which value must increase for eudaimonia, together determine the lifespan of a mind. If minds must use exponentially more resources over time in order to lead a eudaimonic existence, their subjective lifespan is measured in mere millennia even if they can draw on galaxy-sized resources.

Eutopia is Scary

If a citizen of the Past were dropped into the Present world, they would be pleasantly surprised along at least some dimensions; they would also be horrified, disgusted, and frightened. This is not because our world has gone wrong, but because it has gone right. A true Future gone right would, realistically, be shocking to us along at least some dimensions. This may help explain why most literary Utopias fail; as George Orwell observed, "they are chiefly concerned with avoiding fuss". Heavens are meant to sound like good news; political utopias are meant to show how neatly their underlying ideas work. Utopia is reassuring, unsurprising, and dull. Eutopia would be scary. (Of course the vast majority of scary things are not Eutopian, just entropic.) Try to imagine a genuinely better world in which you would be out of place - not a world that would make you smugly satisfied at how well all your current ideas had worked. This proved to be a very important exercise when I tried it; it made me realize that all my old proposals had been optimized to sound safe and reassuring.

Building Weirdtopia

Utopia and Dystopia both confirm the moral sensibilities you started with; whether the world is a libertarian utopia of government non-interference, or a hellish dystopia of government intrusion and regulation, either way you get to say "Guess I was right all along." To break out of this mold, write down the Utopia, and the Dystopia, and then try to write down the Weirdtopia - an arguably-better world that zogs instead of zigging or zagging. (Judging from the comments, this exercise seems to have mostly failed.)

She has joined the Conspiracy
Justified Expectation of Pleasant Surprises

A pleasant surprise probably has a greater hedonic impact than being told about the same positive event long in advance - hearing about the positive event is good news in the moment of first hearing, but you don't have the gift actually in hand. Then you have to wait, perhaps for a long time, possibly comparing the expected pleasure of the future to the lesser pleasure of the present. This argues that if you have a choice between a world in which the same pleasant events occur, but in the first world you are told about them long in advance, and in the second world they are kept secret until they occur, you would prefer to live in the second world. The importance of hope is widely appreciated - people who do not expect their lives to improve in the future are less likely to be happy in the present - but the importance of vague hope may be understated.

Seduced by Imagination

Vagueness usually has a poor name in rationality, but the Future is something about which, in fact, we do not possess strong reliable specific information. Vague (but justified!) hopes may also be hedonically better. But a more important caution for today's world is that highly specific pleasant scenarios can exert a dangerous power over human minds - suck out our emotional energy, make us forget what we don't know, and cause our mere actual lives to pale by comparison. (This post is not about Fun Theory proper, but it contains an important warning about how not to use Fun Theory.)

Getting Nearer
In Praise of Boredom

"Boredom" is an immensely subtle and important aspect of human values, nowhere near as straightforward as it sounds to a human. We don't want to get bored with breathing or with thinking. We do want to get bored with playing the same level of the same video game over and over. We don't want changing the shade of the pixels in the game to make it stop counting as "the same game". We want a steady stream of novelty, rather than spending most of our time playing the best video game level so far discovered (over and over) and occasionally trying out a different video game level as a new candidate for "best". These considerations would not arise in most utility functions in expected utility maximizers.

Sympathetic Minds

Mirror neurons are neurons that fire both when performing an action oneself, and watching someone else perform the same action - for example, a neuron that fires when you raise your hand or watch someone else raise theirs. We predictively model other minds by putting ourselves in their shoes, which is empathy. But some of our desire to help relatives and friends, or be concerned with the feelings of allies, is expressed as sympathy, feeling what (we believe) they feel. Like "boredom", the human form of sympathy would not be expected to arise in an arbitrary expected-utility-maximizing AI. Most such agents would regard any agents in its environment as a special case of complex systems to be modeled or optimized; it would not feel what they feel.

Interpersonal Entanglement

Our sympathy with other minds makes our interpersonal relationships one of the most complex aspects of human existence. Romance, in particular, is more complicated than being nice to friends and kin, negotiating with allies, or outsmarting enemies - it contains aspects of all three. Replacing human romance with anything simpler or easier would decrease the peak complexity of the human species - a major step in the wrong direction, it seems to me. This is my problem with proposals to give people perfect, nonsentient sexual/romantic partners, which I usually refer to as "catgirls" ("catboys"). The human species does have a statistical sex problem: evolution has not optimized the average man to make the average woman happy or vice versa. But there are less sad ways to solve this problem than both genders giving up on each other and retreating to catgirls/catboys.

Failed Utopia #4-2

A fictional short story illustrating some of the ideas in Interpersonal Entanglement above. (Many commenters seemed to like this story, and some said that the ideas were easier to understand in this form.) <a href="/lw/xd/growing_up_is_hard/">Growing Up is Hard</a>: Each piece of the human brain is optimized on the assumption that all the other pieces are working the same way they did in the ancestral environment. Simple neurotransmitter imbalances can result in psychosis, and some aspects of Williams Syndrome are probably due to having a frontal cortex that is too large relative to the rest of the brain. Evolution creates limited robustness, but often stepping outside the ancestral parameter box just breaks things. Even if the first change works, the second and third changes are less likely to work as the total parameters get less ancestral and the brain's tolerance is used up. A cleanly designed AI might improve itself to the point where it was smart enough to unravel and augment the human brain. Or uploads might be able to make themselves smart enough to solve the increasingly difficult problem of not going slowly, subtly insane. Neither path is easy. There seems to be an irreducible residue of danger and difficulty associated with an adult version of humankind ever coming into being. Being a transhumanist means wanting certain things; it doesn't mean you think those things are easy.

Investing for the Long Slump
Higher Purpose

Having a Purpose in Life consistently shows up as something that increases stated well-being. Of course, the problem with trying to pick out "a Purpose in Life" in order to make yourself happier, is that this doesn't take you outside yourself; it's still all about you. To find purpose, you need to turn your eyes outward to look at the world and find things there that you care about - rather than obsessing about the wonderful spiritual benefits you're getting from helping others. In today's world, most of the highest-priority legitimate Causes consist of large groups of people in extreme jeopardy: Aging threatens the old, starvation threatens the poor, extinction risks threaten humanity as a whole. If the future goes right, many and perhaps all such problems will be solved - depleting the stream of victims to be helped. Will the future therefore consist of self-obsessed individuals, with nothing to take them outside themselves? I suggest, though, that even if there were no large groups of people in extreme jeopardy, we would still, looking around, find things outside ourselves that we cared about - friends, family; truth, freedom... Nonetheless, if the Future goes sufficiently well, there will come a time when you could search the whole of civilization, and never find a single person so much in need of help, as dozens you now pass on the street. If you do want to save someone from death, or help a great many people, then act now; your opportunity may not last, one way or another.

Rationality Quotes 24
The Fun Theory Sequence

Describes some of the many complex considerations that determine what sort of happiness we most prefer to have - given that many of us would decline to just have an electrode planted in our pleasure centers.

(alternate summary:)

describes some of the many complex considerations that determine what sort of happiness we most prefer to have - given that many of us would decline to just have an electrode planted in our pleasure centers.

BHTV: Yudkowsky / Wilkinson
31 Laws of Fun
OB Status Update
Rationality Quotes 25
Value is Fragile
Three Worlds Collide (0/8)
The Baby-Eating Aliens (1/8)
War and/or Peace (2/8)
The Super Happy People (3/8)
Interlude with the Confessor (4/8)
Three Worlds Decide (5/8)
Normal Ending: Last Tears (6/8)
True Ending: Sacrificial Fire (7/8)
Epilogue: Atonement (8/8)
The Thing That I Protect
...And Say No More Of It
(Moral) Truth in Fiction?
Informers and Persuaders
Cynicism in Ev-Psych (and Econ?)
The Evolutionary-Cognitive Boundary
An Especially Elegant Evpsych Experiment
Rationality Quotes 26
An African Folktale
Cynical About Cynicism
Good Idealistic Books are Rare
Against Maturity
Pretending to be Wise
Wise Pretensions v.0
Rationality Quotes 27
Fairness vs. Goodness
On Not Having an Advance Abyssal Plan
About Less Wrong
Formative Youth
Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story
Markets are Anti-Inductive
Issues, Bugs, and Requested Features
Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story... at Less Wrong
The Most Important Thing You Learned
The Most Important Thing You Learned
The Most Frequently Useful Thing
The Most Frequently Useful Thing
That You'd Tell All Your Friends
Test Your Rationality

You should try hard and often to test your rationality, but how can you do that?

Unteachable Excellence
The Costs of Rationality
Teaching the Unteachable
No, Really, I've Deceived Myself
The ethic of hand-washing and community epistemic practice
Belief in Self-Deception

Deceiving yourself is harder than it seems. What looks like a successively adopted false belief may actually be just a belief in false belief.

Rationality and Positive Psychology
Posting now enabled
Posting now enabled on Less Wrong
Kinnaird's truels
Recommended Rationalist Resources
Information cascades
Is it rational to take psilocybin?
Does blind review slow down science?
Formalization is a rationality technique
Slow down a little... maybe?
Checklists
The Golem
Simultaneously Right and Wrong
Moore's Paradox
It's the Same Five Dollars!
Lies and Secrets
The Mystery of the Haunted Rationalist
Don't Believe You'll Self-Deceive
The Wrath of Kahneman
The Mistake Script
LessWrong anti-kibitzer (hides comment authors and vote counts)
You May Already Be A Sinner
Striving to Accept
Software tools for community truth-seeking
Wanted: Python open source volunteers
Selective processes bring tag-alongs (but not always!)
Adversarial System Hats
Beginning at the Beginning
The Apologist and the Revolutionary
Raising the Sanity Waterline
So you say you're an altruist...
A Sense That More Is Possible

Why do people seem to care more about systematic methods of punching than systematic methods of thinking?

Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale
Boxxy and Reagan
Dialectical Bootstrapping
Is Santa Real?
Epistemic Viciousness

The classic failure modes of martial arts schools transfer over as direct warnings to would-be rationalists.

On the Care and Feeding of Young Rationalists
The Least Convenient Possible World
Closet survey #1
Soulless morality
The Skeptic's Trilemma
Schools Proliferating Without Evidence
Really Extreme Altruism
Storm by Tim Minchin
3 Levels of Rationality Verification

Reputational, experimental, and organizational: the different strengths of evidence needed to (a) prevent a school from degenerating, (b) systematically test particular techniques, or (c) credential individuals.

The Tragedy of the Anticommons
Are You a Solar Deity?
In What Ways Have You Become Stronger?

Brainstorming verification tests, asking along what dimensions you think you've improved due to "rationality".

Taboo "rationality," please.
Science vs. art
What Do We Mean By "Rationality"?
Comments for "Rationality"
The "Spot the Fakes" Test
On Juvenile Fiction
Rational Me or We?
Dead Aid
Tarski Statements as Rationalist Exercise
The Pascal's Wager Fallacy Fallacy
Never Leave Your Room
Rationalist Storybooks: A Challenge
A corpus of our community's knowledge
Little Johny Bayesian
How to Not Lose an Argument
Counterfactual Mugging
Rationalist Fiction
Rationalist Poetry Fans, Unite!
Precommitting to paying Omega.
Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate
Just a reminder: Scientists are, technically, people.
Support That Sounds Like Dissent
Tolerate Tolerance
Mind Control and Me
Individual Rationality Is a Matter of Life and Death
The Power of Positivist Thinking
Don't Revere The Bearer Of Good Info
You're Calling *Who* A Cult Leader?
Cached Selves
Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts
When Truth Isn't Enough
BHTV: Yudkowsky & Adam Frank on "religious experience"
I'm confused. Could someone help?
Playing Video Games In Shuffle Mode
Book: Psychiatry and the Human Condition
Thoughts on status signals
Bogus Pipeline, Bona Fide Pipeline
On Things that are Awesome
Hyakujo's Fox
Terrorism is not about Terror
The Implicit Association Test
Contests vs. Real World Problems
The Sacred Mundane
Extreme updating: The devil is in the missing details
Spock's Dirty Little Secret
The Good Bayesian
Fight Biases, or Route Around Them?
Why *I* fail to act rationally
Open Thread: March 2009
Two Blegs
Your Price for Joining
Sleeping Beauty gets counterfactually mugged
The Mind Is Not Designed For Thinking
Crowley on Religious Experience
Can Humanism Match Religion's Output?
On Seeking a Shortening of the Way
Altruist Coordination -- Central Station
Less Wrong Facebook Page
The Hidden Origins of Ideas
Defense Against The Dark Arts: Case Study #1
Church vs. Taskforce
When It's Not Right to be Rational
The Zombie Preacher of Somerset
Hygienic Anecdotes
Rationality: Common Interest of Many Causes
Ask LW: What questions to test in our rationality questionnaire?

Requesting suggestions for an actual survey to be run.

Bay area OB/LW meetup, today, Sunday, March 29, at 5pm
Akrasia, hyperbolic discounting, and picoeconomics
Deliberate and spontaneous creativity
Most Rationalists Are Elsewhere
Framing Effects in Anthropology
Kling, Probability, and Economics
Helpless Individuals
The Benefits of Rationality?
Money: The Unit of Caring
Building Communities vs. Being Rational
Degrees of Radical Honesty
Introducing CADIE
Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately
Proverbs and Cached Judgments: the Rolling Stone
You don't need Kant
Accuracy Versus Winning
Wrong Tomorrow
Selecting Rationalist Groups
Aumann voting; or, How to vote when you're ignorant
"Robot scientists can think for themselves"
Where are we?
The Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture
Open Thread: April 2009
Rationality is Systematized Winning
Another Call to End Aid to Africa
First London Rationalist Meeting upcoming
On dollars, utility, and crack cocaine
Incremental Progress and the Valley
The First London Rationalist Meetup
Why Support the Underdog?
Off-Topic Discussion Thread: April 2009
Voting etiquette
Formalizing Newcomb's
Supporting the underdog is explained by Hanson's Near/Far distinction
Real-Life Anthropic Weirdness
Rationalist Wiki
Rationality Toughness Tests
Heuristic is not a bad word
Rationalists should beware rationalism
Newcomb's Problem standard positions
Average utilitarianism must be correct?
Rationalist wiki, redux
What do fellow rationalists think about Mensa?
Extenuating Circumstances
On Comments, Voting, and Karma - Part I
Newcomb's Problem vs. One-Shot Prisoner's Dilemma
What isn't the wiki for?
Eternal Sunshine of the Rational Mind
Of Lies and Black Swan Blowups
Whining-Based Communities
Help, help, I'm being oppressed!
Zero-based karma coming through
E-Prime
Mandatory Secret Identities
Rationality, Cryonics and Pascal's Wager
Less Wrong IRC Meetup
"Stuck In The Middle With Bruce"
Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great
"Playing to Win"

The term "playing to win" comes from Sirlin's book and can be described as using every means necessary to win as long as those means are legal within the structure of the game being played.

Secret Identities vs. Groupthink
Silver Chairs, Paternalism, and Akrasia
Extreme Rationality: It Could Be Great
The uniquely awful example of theism
Beware of Other-Optimizing
How theism works
That Crisis thing seems pretty useful
Spay or Neuter Your Irrationalities
The Unfinished Mystery of the Shangri-La Diet
Akrasia and Shangri-La
Maybe Theism Is OK
Metauncertainty
Is masochism necessary?
Missed Distinctions
Toxic Truth
Too much feedback can be a bad thing
Twelve Virtues booklet printing?
How Much Thought
Awful Austrians
Sunk Cost Fallacy
It's okay to be (at least a little) irrational
Marketing rationalism
Bystander Apathy
Persuasiveness vs Soundness
Declare your signaling and hidden agendas
GroupThink, Theism ... and the Wiki
Collective Apathy and the Internet
Tell it to someone who doesn't care
Bayesians vs. Barbarians
Actions and Words: Akrasia and the Fruit of Self-Knowledge
Mechanics without wrenches
I Changed My Mind Today - Canned Laughter
Of Gender and Rationality
Welcome to Less Wrong!
Instrumental Rationality is a Chimera
Practical rationality questionnaire
My Way
The Art of Critical Decision Making
The Trouble With "Good"
While we're on the subject of meta-ethics...
Chomsky on reason and science
Anti-rationality quotes
Two-Tier Rationalism
My main problem with utilitarianism
Just for fun - let's play a game.
Rationality Quotes - April 2009
The Epistemic Prisoner's Dilemma
How a pathological procrastinor can lose weight (Anti-akrasia)
Atheist or Agnostic?
Great Books of Failure
Weekly Wiki Workshop and suggested articles
The True Epistemic Prisoner's Dilemma
Spreading the word?
The ideas you're not ready to post
Evangelical Rationality
The Sin of Underconfidence
Masochism vs. Self-defeat
Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism
UC Santa Barbara Rationalists Unite - Saturday, 6PM
LessWrong Boo Vote (Stochastic Downvoting)
Proposal: Use the Wiki for Concepts
Escaping Your Past
Go Forth and Create the Art!
Fix it and tell us what you did
This Didn't Have To Happen
Just a bit of humor...
What's in a name? That which we call a rationalist...
Rational Groups Kick Ass
Instrumental vs. Epistemic -- A Bardic Perspective
Programmatic Prediction markets
Cached Procrastination
Practical Advice Backed By Deep Theories

Knowledge of this heuristic might be useful in fighting akrasia.

"Self-pretending" is not as useful as we think
Where's Your Sense of Mystery?
Less Meta
SIAI call for skilled volunteers and potential interns
The Craft and the Community
Excuse me, would you like to take a survey?
Should we be biased?
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted
The End (of Sequences)
Final Words
Bayesian Cabaret
Verbal Overshadowing and The Art of Rationality
How Not to be Stupid: Starting Up
How Not to be Stupid: Know What You Want, What You Really Really Want
Epistemic vs. Instrumental Rationality: Approximations
What is control theory, and why do you need to know about it?
Re-formalizing PD
Generalizing From One Example

Generalization From One Example is a tendency to pay too much attention to the few anecdotal pieces of evidence you experienced, and model some general phenomenon based on them. This is a special case of availability bias, and the way in which the mistake unfolds is closely related to the correspondence bias and the hindsight bias.

Wednesday depends on us.
How to come up with verbal probabilities
Fighting Akrasia: Incentivising Action
Fire and Motion
Fiction of interest
How Not to be Stupid: Adorable Maybes
Rationalistic Losing
Rationalist Role in the Information Age
Conventions and Confusing Continuity Conundrums
Open Thread: May 2009
Second London Rationalist Meeting upcoming - Sunday 14:00
TED Talks for Less Wrong
The mind-killer
What I Tell You Three Times Is True
Return of the Survey
Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices
Allais Hack -- Transform Your Decisions!
Without models
Bead Jar Guesses

Applied scenario about forming priors.

Special Status Needs Special Support
How David Beats Goliath
How to use "philosophical majoritarianism"
Off Topic Thread: May 2009
Introduction Thread: May 2009
Consider Representative Data Sets
No Universal Probability Space
Wiki.lesswrong.com Is Live
Hardened Problems Make Brittle Models
Beware Trivial Inconveniences
On the Fence? Major in CS
Rationality is winning - or is it?
The First Koan: Drinking the Hot Iron Ball
Epistemic vs. Instrumental Rationality: Case of the Leaky Agent
Replaying History
Framing Consciousness
A Request for Open Problems
How Not to be Stupid: Brewing a Nice Cup of Utilitea
Step Back
You Are A Brain
No One Knows Stuff
Willpower Hax #487: Execute by Default
Rationality in the Media: Don't (New Yorker, May 2009)
Survey Results
A Parable On Obsolete Ideologies
"Open-Mindedness" - the video
Religion, Mystery, and Warm, Soft Fuzzies
Cheerios: An "Untested New Drug"
Essay-Question Poll: Voting
Outward Change Drives Inward Change
Share Your Anti-Akrasia Tricks
Wanting to Want
"What Is Wrong With Our Thoughts"
Bad reasons for a rationalist to lose
Supernatural Math
Rationality quotes - May 2009
Positive Bias Test (C++ program)
Catchy Fallacy Name Fallacy (and Supporting Disagreement)
Inhibition and the Mind
Least Signaling Activities?
Brute-force Music Composition
Changing accepted public opinion and Skynet
Homogeneity vs. heterogeneity (or, What kind of sex is most moral?)
Saturation, Distillation, Improvisation: A Story About Procedural Knowledge And Cookies
This Failing Earth
The Wire versus Evolutionary Psychology
Dissenting Views
Eric Drexler on Learning About Everything
Anime Explains the Epimenides Paradox
Do Fandoms Need Awfulness?
Can we create a function that provably predicts the optimization power of intelligences?
Link: The Case for Working With Your Hands
Image vs. Impact: Can public commitment be counterproductive for achievement?
A social norm against unjustified opinions?
Taking Occam Seriously
The Onion Goes Inside The Biased Mind
The Frontal Syndrome
Open Thread: June 2009
Concrete vs Contextual values
Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions
Would You Slap Your Father? Article Linkage and Discussion
With whom shall I diavlog?
Mate selection for the men here
Third London Rationalist Meeting
Post Your Utility Function
Probability distributions and writing style
My concerns about the term 'rationalist'
Honesty: Beyond Internal Truth
Macroeconomics, The Lucas Critique, Microfoundations, and Modeling in General
indexical uncertainty and the Axiom of Independence
London Rationalist Meetups bikeshed painting thread
The Aumann's agreement theorem game (guess 2/3 of the average)
Expected futility for humans
You can't believe in Bayes
Less wrong economic policy
The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What To Do About It
Let's reimplement EURISKO!
If it looks like utility maximizer and quacks like utility maximizer...
Typical Mind and Politics
Why safety is not safe
Rationality Quotes - June 2009
Readiness Heuristics
The two meanings of mathematical terms
The Laws of Magic
Intelligence enhancement as existential risk mitigation
Rationalists lose when others choose
Ask LessWrong: Human cognitive enhancement now?
Don't Count Your Chickens...
Applied Picoeconomics
Representative democracy awesomeness hypothesis
The Physiology of Willpower
Time to See If We Can Apply Anything We Have Learned
Cascio in The Atlantic, more on cognitive enhancement as existential risk mitigation
ESR's comments on some EY:OB/LW posts
Nonparametric Ethics
Shane Legg on prospect theory and computational finance
The Domain of Your Utility Function
The Monty Maul Problem
Guilt by Association
Lie to me?
Richard Dawkins TV - Baloney Detection Kit video
Coming Out
The Great Brain is Located Externally

People don't actually remember much of what they know, they only remember how to find it, and the fact that there is something to find. Thus, it's important to know about what's known in various domains, even without knowing the content.

Controlling your inner control circuits
What's In A Name?
Atheism = Untheism + Antitheism
Book Review: Complications
Open Thread: July 2009
Fourth London Rationalist Meeting?
Rationality Quotes - July 2009
Harnessing Your Biases
Avoiding Failure: Fallacy Finding
Not Technically Lying
The enemy within
Media bias
Can chess be a game of luck?
The Dangers of Partial Knowledge of the Way: Failing in School
An interesting speed dating study
Can self-help be bad for you?
Causality does not imply correlation
Recommended reading for new rationalists
Formalized math: dream vs reality
Causation as Bias (sort of)
Debate: Is short term planning in humans due to a short life or due to bias?
Jul 12 Bay Area meetup - Hanson, Vassar, Yudkowsky
Our society lacks good self-preservation mechanisms
Good Quality Heuristics
How likely is a failure of nuclear deterrence?
The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You
"Sex Is Always Well Worth Its Two-Fold Cost"
The Dirt on Depression
Fair Division of Black-Hole Negentropy: an Introduction to Cooperative Game Theory
Absolute denial for atheists
Causes of disagreements
The Popularization Bias
Zwicky's Trifecta of Illusions
Are You Anosognosic?
Article upvoting
Sayeth the Girl
Timeless Decision Theory: Problems I Can't Solve
An Akrasia Anecdote
Being saner about gender and rationality
Are you crazy?
Counterfactual Mugging v. Subjective Probability
Creating The Simple Math of Everything
Joint Distributions and the Slow Spread of Good Ideas
Chomsky, Sports Talk Radio, Media Bias, and Me
Outside Analysis and Blind Spots
Shut Up And Guess
Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics
Missing the Trees for the Forest
Deciding on our rationality focus
Fairness and Geometry
It's all in your head-land
An observation on cryocrastination
The Price of Integrity
Are calibration and rational decisions mutually exclusive? (Part one)
The Nature of Offense

People are offended by grabs for status.

AndrewH's observation and opportunity costs
Are calibration and rational decisions mutually exclusive? (Part two)
Celebrate Trivial Impetuses
Freaky Fairness
Link: Interview with Vladimir Vapnik
Five Stages of Idolatry
Bayesian Flame
The Second Best
Bayesian Utility: Representing Preference by Probability Measures
The Trolley Problem in popular culture: Torchwood Series 3
Thomas C. Schelling's "Strategy of Conflict"
Information cascades in scientific practice
The Obesity Myth
The Hero With A Thousand Chances
Pract: A Guessing and Testing Game
An Alternative Approach to AI Cooperation
Open Thread: August 2009
Pain
Suffering
Why You're Stuck in a Narrative
Unspeakable Morality
The Difficulties of Potential People and Decision Making
Wits and Wagers
The usefulness of correlations
She Blinded Me With Science
The Machine Learning Personality Test
A Normative Rule for Decision-Changing Metrics
Recommended reading: George Orwell on knowledge from authority
Rationality Quotes - August 2009
Why Real Men Wear Pink
The Objective Bayesian Programme
LW/OB Rationality Quotes - August 2009
Exterminating life is rational
Robin Hanson's lists of Overcoming Bias Posts
Fighting Akrasia: Finding the Source
A note on hypotheticals
Dreams with Damaged Priors
Would Your Real Preferences Please Stand Up?
Calibration fail
Guess Again
Misleading the witness
Utilons vs. Hedons
Deleting paradoxes with fuzzy logic
Sense, Denotation and Semantics
Towards a New Decision Theory
Fighting Akrasia: Survey Design Help Request
Minds that make optimal use of small amounts of sensory data
Bloggingheads: Yudkowsky and Aaronson talk about AI and Many-worlds
Oh my God! It's full of Nash equilibria!
Happiness is a Heuristic
Experiential Pica
Friendlier AI through politics
Singularity Summit 2009 (quick post)
Scott Aaronson's "On Self-Delusion and Bounded Rationality"
Ingredients of Timeless Decision Theory
You have just been Counterfactually Mugged!
Evolved Bayesians will be biased
How inevitable was modern human civilization - data
Timeless Decision Theory and Meta-Circular Decision Theory
ESR's New Take on Qualia
The Journal of (Failed) Replication Studies
Working Mantras
Decision theory: An outline of some upcoming posts
How does an infovore manage information overload?
Confusion about Newcomb is confusion about counterfactuals
Mathematical simplicity bias and exponential functions
A Rationalist's Bookshelf: The Mind's I (Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett, 1981)
Pittsburgh Meetup: Survey of Interest
Paper: Testing ecological models
The Twin Webs of Knowledge
Don't be Pathologically Mugged!
Some counterevidence for human sociobiology
Cookies vs Existential Risk
Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking
Great post on Reddit about accepting atheism
Optimal Strategies for Reducing Existential Risk
Open Thread: September 2009
Rationality Quotes - September 2009
LW/OB Quotes - Fall 2009
Knowing What You Know
Decision theory: Why we need to reduce "could", "would", "should"
The Featherless Biped
The Sword of Good
Torture vs. Dust vs. the Presumptuous Philosopher: Anthropic Reasoning in UDT
Notes on utility function experiment
Counterfactual Mugging and Logical Uncertainty
Bay Area OBLW Meetup Sep 12
Decision theory: Why Pearl helps reduce "could" and "would", but still leaves us with at least three alternatives
Forcing Anthropics: Boltzmann Brains
Why I'm Staying On Bloggingheads.tv
An idea: Sticking Point Learning
FHI postdoc at Oxford
Outlawing Anthropics: An Updateless Dilemma
Let Them Debate College Students
Pittsburgh Meetup: Saturday 9/12, 6:30PM, CMU
The Lifespan Dilemma
Formalizing informal logic
Timeless Identity Crisis
The New Nostradamus
Formalizing reflective inconsistency
Beware of WEIRD psychological samples
The Absent-Minded Driver
What is the Singularity Summit?
Sociosexual Orientation Inventory, or failing to perform basic sanity checks
Quantum Russian Roulette
MWI, weird quantum experiments and future-directed continuity of conscious experience
Minneapolis Meetup: Survey of interest
Hypothetical Paradoxes
Reason as memetic immune disorder
How to use SMILE to solve Bayes Nets
The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover
Ethics as a black box function
Avoiding doomsday: a "proof" of the self-indication assumption
Anthropic reasoning and correlated decision making
Boredom vs. Scope Insensitivity
Minneapolis Meetup, This Saturday (26th) at 3:00 PM, University of Minnesota
The utility curve of the human population
Solutions to Political Problems As Counterfactuals
Non-Malthusian Scenarios
Correlated decision making: a complete theory
The Scylla of Error and the Charybdis of Paralysis
The Anthropic Trilemma
Your Most Valuable Skill
Privileging the Hypothesis
Why Many-Worlds Is Not The Rationally Favored Interpretation
Intuitive differences: when to agree to disagree
NY-area OB/LW meetup Saturday 10/3 7 PM
Regular NYC Meetups
Open Thread: October 2009
Why Don't We Apply What We Know About Twins to Everybody Else?
Are you a Democrat singletonian, or a Republican singletonian?
Scott Aaronson on Born Probabilities
'oy, girls on lw, want to get together some time?'
When Willpower Attacks
Dying Outside
Don't Think Too Hard.
The Presumptuous Philosopher's Presumptuous Friend
The First Step is to Admit That You Have a Problem
Let them eat cake: Interpersonal Problems vs Tasks
New Haven/Yale Less Wrong Meetup: 5 pm, Monday October 12
Boston Area Less Wrong Meetup: 2 pm Sunday October 11th
LW Meetup Google Calendar
I'm Not Saying People Are Stupid
How to get that Friendly Singularity: a minority view
The Argument from Witness Testimony
Link: PRISMs, Gom Jabbars, and Consciousness (Peter Watts)
What Program Are You?
Do the 'unlucky' systematically underestimate high-variance strategies?
Anticipation vs. Faith: At What Cost Rationality?
The power of information?
Formal method for evaluating and quantifying ethicality and morality of human actions
End of 2009 articles