Making Beliefs Pay Rent (In Anticipated Experiences)

  • Our great strength and our great weakness is that we can model the unseen
    • Can build network of causes connected to sensory experience
    • Can build network of causes disconnected from sensory experience
  • Empiricism - constant ask what your beliefs predict and what they prohibit
  • Maintain a list of things that would falsify your beliefs
  • Don’t ask what to believe, ask what to anticipate

Taboo Your Words

  • Replace words with definitions to clarify points of disagreement
  • Tabooing words can dissolve disagreements caused by differing interpretations of the same word
  • Tabooing words can reveal disagreements caused by using the same word to paper over distinctions between two concepts
  • If a philosophical term is giving you trouble, try to formulate the argument without using that term at all

Confidence Levels Inside and Outside An Argument

  • Confidence levels inside an argument - probability estimate generated by model
  • Confidence levels outside an argument - probability estimate generated by model and probability of model being correct
  • Doubt in validity of model should push you back towards your priors
  • If your model is coming up with very low or very high probabilities, examine the assumptions behind the model

Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People

  • If you’re irrational, more knowledge can hurt you
  • People are way more likely to use knowledge about biases to knock down arguments they disagree with than arguments they agree with
  • Biases and fallacies can be fully general counterarguments if you’re not careful about applying them properly

If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing With Made Up Statistics

  • Imperfect information still beats zero information
  • Fermi-estimating statistics can still give you enough information to make decisions
  • Just thinking about and going with the base rate can counteract many cognitive biases
  • Applying made-up models can train us to notice where our intuitions are wrong