An abridged introduction to LessWrong
Tip: Open links in new tabs (CTRL+click), so this index stays open ;)
There's a lot of material on LessWrong... just glance over the list of sequences, top scoring posts, or recently promoted posts, and probably a lot of topics will catch your eye. For people who already have a science-y background who want a shorter introduction to the readership's "code base", here is my personal choice and ordering of material to read or glance at:
(Refer to the full Sequences listing if you sense any gaps in explanation, or for sequences I didn't sample from.)
1. Basic concepts: what we mean by stuff.
- Map and territory
- Improper belief
- Bayes' theorem,
- Belief in belief
2. The table of contents of How To Actually Change Your Mind, as a preview of how ideas here actually get applied.
3. Selected posts from Map and Territory (sequence):
- What do we mean by rationality?
- An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem (for those not yet familiar)
- What is evidence?
- How to convince me that 2+2=3
- Occam's Razor
- The lens that sees its flaws
4. Selected posts from Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions:
- Making Beliefs Pay Rent
- The Virtue of Narrowness
- Hindsight Bias
- Fake Explanations
- Guessing the Teacher's Password
- Fake Causality
- Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions
- The Futility of Emergence
5. Selected posts from A Human's Guide to Words (though I strongly recommending looking at the whole sequence):
- How An Algorithm Feels From Inside
- Feel the Meaning
- Taboo Your Words
- Replace the Symbol with the Substance
7. Selected posts from Reductionism (sequence), first half:
- Dissolving the Question
- Wrong Questions
- Righting a Wrong Question
- Probability is in the Mind
- Explaining vs. Explaining Away
- Fake Reductionism
8. Selected posts from Joy in the Merely Real:
- Joy in the Merely Real
- Bind Yourself to Reality
- If You Demand Magic, Magic Won't Help
- Mundane Magic
- The Beauty of Settled Science
- To Spread Science, Keep It Secret
9. Selected posts from Reductionism (sequence), second half:
10. Selected posts from Zombies and supernaturality:
- Zombies! Zombies?
- GAZP vs. Giant Look-Up Tables
- Belief in the Implied Invisible
- Zombies: The Movie
- Excluding the Supernatural
(This list is always up for revision.)
My rationalist imperative
- "I especially want to attract people in academia and positions of intellectual leadership to being actively and morally rational, since their attitudes spread to their students and apprentices. When you have an intelligent mentor who isn't using her intelligence to directly analyze and improve her own life, you're unconsciously less convinced it's a fruitful pursuit. When the opposite happens, it can really start a cascade.
- Provided such a cascade preserves peoples' sense of morality, which requires some serious care to ensure, it can be a great thing for them and the people around them."
I don't do sarcasm
On the internet, I am never being sarcastic. If you're already worried you're being tricked with meta-sarcasm, then you understand my complaint: there's simply too much sarcasm online.
So I'm inviting you to relax. Please, accept that I'm at least a half-decent person, who's publicly pre-committing to sincerity because
- I value being understood, and
- I don't take pride in deceiving others.
In particular, I consider optimism a valuable commodity when it's justified, so I never portray it sarcastically. If I say "Good for you", it's because I actually mean it.