Rationalist Horoscopes: Low-hanging utility generator?
(5:29:23 PM) Adelene: …horoscopes are for people who, like [mutual friend], prefer to have an authority tell them what to do. *blink*
(5:30:18 PM) Alicorn: *blink*
(5:30:50 PM) Adelene: This is an observation that my brain made just now, but it seems to make a fair bit of sense.
(5:31:18 PM) Alicorn: Plausible.
(5:32:21 PM) Adelene: Especially given that horoscopes seem not to actually make predictions about the future: They say ‘X is a good thing to do today’, not ‘X will happen today’.
(5:32:36 PM) Alicorn: *nod*
(5:32:53 PM) Adelene: …rationalist horoscopes?
(5:33:07 PM) Alicorn: like what?
(5:33:33 PM) Adelene: “Focus on granularizing your goals this week.”
(5:33:43 PM) Alicorn: hmm
(5:34:09 PM) Alicorn: divided according to some mechanism like star sign, or no?
(5:34:38 PM) Adelene: The only advantage I see to that is that it may make it more emotionally plausible.
(5:35:06 PM) Adelene: There may be some other advantage to having different people doing different things at any given time tho.
(5:35:23 PM) Alicorn: According to [other friend], birth *season* has empirically interesting effects in a few areas...
(5:36:35 PM) Adelene: I don’t think we can cash that out very well into advice, and anyway I expect that having that close of a similarity with actual horoscopes is likely to provoke a memetic immune response for most people. Could do it based on some kind of personality test tho.
(5:36:50 PM) Alicorn: *nod*
(5:39:08 PM) Adelene: Really, I think the bulk of the utility of such a thing would be in giving people generally-useful cues to work from—having any given day’s horoscope (or whatever we’d call it) be randomly picked from a set of good ones that haven’t been used recently should be just fine.
(5:39:15 PM) Alicorn: *nod*
(5:40:00 PM) Adelene: Maybe pair it with a rationality quote of the day, too.
(5:40:10 PM) Alicorn: Yessss.
I know it’s a silly idea, but it seems like it might be useful. I’ve played with random quote dispensers in the past, and if they have a good list of quotes to start with they can be surprisingly useful, in my experience—the quote might be useless 9 times out of 10, but that tenth time, when it makes you realize that a connection exists that you never would have noticed otherwise, is pretty awesome. Something like a daily horoscope might have a similar effect, but in a more practical way, getting people to consider taking actions in contexts where they wouldn’t usually consider those actions and occasionally finding an unusually good, but not intuitively obvious, match. And that’s on top of any benefits that such a system would have for people who do work better when they’re told what to do.