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March 31, 2009


wait until everyone forgets about this post and then post it disguised as something completely different.

IDK, we could like... bet on stuff.

I don't think your main worry is sufficient reason not to play with the idea. I can imagine a very workable web-app that would:

  1. Email nicknamed users "some info on a new topic"; it could (should?) be anything – news stories, research papers, submitted tests, etc.
  2. And provide limited time "to make estimates" (and submit them); they could be limited to a specific set of fixed statements, or free-form

Such a mound of data would be fun to analyze, even accounting for the uncontrolled experimental setting. Looking at specific topic categories would make up for "... the fact that some topics test one's rationality more severely than others."

Or maybe you could require estimates to post comments on selected topics.

I don't see any tremendously good use available right now. I'd just as soon save something like this until better institutions were or began to be set up.

First I want folks to ponder: how best could we spend this limited resource to test our rationality?

Is it an intelligent use of our time to do so? We all agree that there is not enough rationality in the world, that there should be more. In that case, why not just use some cheap scale that can show a relative change in rationality, rather than worrying about the absolute amount?

When we percieve the world becoming saturated with rationality, then maybe we need to worry about accurate absolute measures.

>My main worry about this approach is it doesn't get at the fact that some topics test one's rationality more severely than others. It can be much harder to be honest when you care a lot about a topic, when others care about your opinion, or when you don't expect your opinions to be scored against reality anytime soon. How can we test rationality in these cases?

my take on this is: we can test rationality in these cases just as easily as in any other case, and what we would then surely find is that "in these cases" people are less rational.

if i understand you correctly, you seem to be assuming that there is such a thing as "how rational a person ACTUALLY is", but that when their thinking is muddled by phenomena of social psychology their "actual" rationality doesn't quite show - ? i'm not sure i understand you correctly, because that assumption seems far fetched to me. why would there be a fixed, "actual" rationality?

Could someone give an example of what is meant by a reversal test? I don't want to spoil the scoring system for anyone that takes it however. My score is adding up to a negative number which isnt on the scale.

Stuart, a cheap scale for showing rationality change wold be welcome.

Seb, I didn't mean to imply we are equally rational on all topics.

How Spend Rationality Test?

Buy pronoun?


Why pronoun?

All he needs is the marker to.

I don't think there's any great reason to put off the test. Mostly I found it raised philosophical issues when I was "self-deceptive", like the meanings of "sometimes" and "always" and the difference between intent and execution. It's an interesting read but probably won't give any great revelations to a reader of this blog.

I though it was interesting that I'm a "nice guy" even though I give a lot of not-nice answers (do people lie, do I lie, do I get mad, etc.) I'm thinking of adopting and it makes me wonder what I should teach a child about morality. Is it better to teach the "standard way" that lying, cheating, etc. is wrong and have the child self-deceive to do it when appropriate? Or is is it better to teach the "cynical nice guy" approach I've come around to, which is that in the intensely social and cooperative world humans inhabit, you should be "nice" most of the time because that's how you get along and get ahead?

Spend them on monitoring people under fMRIs to see if we can detect neural correlates of rationalization and the like.

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