Irrationality Game III

The ‘Ir­ra­tional­ity Game’ posts in dis­cus­sion came be­fore my time here, but I had a very good time read­ing the bits writ­ten in the com­ments sec­tion. I also had a num­ber of thoughts I would’ve liked to post and get feed­back on, but I knew that be­ing buried in such old threads not much would come of it. So I asked around and feed­back from peo­ple has sug­gested that they would be open to a re­boot!

I hereby again quote the origi­nal rules:

Please read the post be­fore vot­ing on the com­ments, as this is a game where vot­ing works differ­ently.

Warn­ing: the com­ments sec­tion of this post will look odd. The most rea­son­able com­ments will have lots of nega­tive karma. Do not be alarmed, it’s all part of the plan. In or­der to par­ti­ci­pate in this game you should dis­able any view­ing thresh­old for nega­tively voted com­ments.

Here’s an ir­ra­tional­ist game meant to quickly col­lect a pool of con­tro­ver­sial ideas for peo­ple to de­bate and as­sess. It kinda re­lies on peo­ple be­ing hon­est and not be­ing nit­pick­ers, but it might be fun.

Write a com­ment re­ply to this post de­scribing a be­lief you think has a rea­son­able chance of be­ing true rel­a­tive to the the be­liefs of other Less Wrong folk. Jot down a propo­si­tion and a rough prob­a­bil­ity es­ti­mate or qual­i­ta­tive de­scrip­tion, like ‘fairly con­fi­dent’.

Ex­am­ple (not my true be­lief): “The U.S. gov­ern­ment was di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for fi­nanc­ing the Septem­ber 11th ter­ror­ist at­tacks. Very con­fi­dent. (~95%).”

If you post a be­lief, you have to vote on the be­liefs of all other com­ments. Vot­ing works like this: if you ba­si­cally agree with the com­ment, vote the com­ment down. If you ba­si­cally dis­agree with the com­ment, vote the com­ment up. What ‘ba­si­cally’ means here is in­tu­itive; in­stead of us­ing a pre­cise mathy scor­ing sys­tem, just make a guess. In my view, if their stated prob­a­bil­ity is 99.9% and your de­gree of be­lief is 90%, that mer­its an up­vote: it’s a pretty big differ­ence of opinion. If they’re at 99.9% and you’re at 99.5%, it could go ei­ther way. If you’re gen­uinely un­sure whether or not you ba­si­cally agree with them, you can pass on vot­ing (but try not to). Vote up if you think they are ei­ther over­con­fi­dent or un­der­con­fi­dent in their be­lief: any dis­agree­ment is valid dis­agree­ment.

That’s the spirit of the game, but some more qual­ifi­ca­tions and rules fol­low.

If the propo­si­tion in a com­ment isn’t in­cred­ibly pre­cise, use your best in­ter­pre­ta­tion. If you re­ally have to pick nits for what­ever rea­son, say so in a com­ment re­ply.

The more up­votes you get, the more ir­ra­tional Less Wrong per­ceives your be­lief to be. Which means that if you have a large amount of Less Wrong karma and can still get lots of up­votes on your crazy be­liefs then you will get lots of smart peo­ple to take your weird ideas a lit­tle more se­ri­ously.

Some poor soul is go­ing to come along and post “I be­lieve in God”. Don’t pick nits and say “Well in a a Teg­mark mul­ti­verse there is definitely a uni­verse ex­actly like ours where some sort of god rules over us...” and down­vote it. That’s cheat­ing. You bet­ter up­vote the guy. For just this post, get over your de­sire to up­vote ra­tio­nal­ity. For this game, we re­ward per­ceived ir­ra­tional­ity.

Try to be pre­cise in your propo­si­tions. Say­ing “I be­lieve in God. 99% sure.” isn’t in­for­ma­tive be­cause we don’t quite know which God you’re talk­ing about. A deist god? The Chris­tian God? Jewish?

Y’all know this already, but just a re­minder: prefer­ences ain’t be­liefs. Down­vote prefer­ences dis­guised as be­liefs. Beliefs that in­clude the word “should” are are al­most always im­pre­cise: avoid them.

That means our lo­cal the­ists are prob­a­bly gonna get a lot of up­votes. Can you beat them with your con­fi­dent but per­ceived-by-LW-as-ir­ra­tional be­liefs? It’s a challenge!

Ad­di­tional rules:

  • Gen­er­ally, no re­peat­ing an al­tered ver­sion of a propo­si­tion already in the com­ments un­less it’s differ­ent in an in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant way. Use your judge­ment.

  • If you have com­ments about the game, please re­ply to my com­ment be­low about meta dis­cus­sion, not to the post it­self. Only propo­si­tions to be judged for the game should be di­rect com­ments to this post.

  • Don’t post propo­si­tions as com­ment replies to other com­ments. That’ll make it di­s­or­ga­nized.

  • You have to ac­tu­ally think your de­gree of be­lief is ra­tio­nal. You should already have taken the fact that most peo­ple would dis­agree with you into ac­count and up­dated on that in­for­ma­tion. That means that any propo­si­tion you make is a propo­si­tion that you think you are per­son­ally more ra­tio­nal about than the Less Wrong av­er­age. This could be good or bad. Lots of up­votes means lots of peo­ple dis­agree with you. That’s gen­er­ally bad. Lots of down­votes means you’re prob­a­bly right. That’s good, but this is a game where per­ceived ir­ra­tional­ity wins you karma. The game is only fun if you’re try­ing to be com­pletely hon­est in your stated be­liefs. Don’t post some­thing crazy and ex­pect to get karma. Don’t ex­ag­ger­ate your be­liefs. Play fair.

  • De­bate and dis­cus­sion is great, but keep it civil. Link­ing to the Se­quences is barely civil—sum­ma­rize ar­gu­ments from spe­cific LW posts and maybe link, but don’t tell some­one to go read some­thing. If some­one says they be­lieve in God with 100% prob­a­bil­ity and you don’t want to take the time to give a brief but sub­stan­tive coun­ter­ar­gu­ment, don’t com­ment at all. We’re invit­ing peo­ple to share be­liefs we think are ir­ra­tional; don’t be mean about their re­sponses.

  • No propo­si­tions that peo­ple are un­likely to have an opinion about, like “Yes­ter­day I wore black socks. ~80%” or “An­tipope Christo­pher would have been a good leader in his lat­ter days had he not been de­throned by Pope Sergius III. ~30%.” The goal is to be con­tro­ver­sial and in­ter­est­ing.

  • Mul­ti­ple propo­si­tions are fine, so long as they’re mod­er­ately in­ter­est­ing.

  • You are en­couraged to re­ply to com­ments with your own prob­a­bil­ity es­ti­mates, but com­ment vot­ing works nor­mally for com­ment replies to other com­ments. That is, up­vote for good dis­cus­sion, not agree­ment or dis­agree­ment.

  • In gen­eral, just keep within the spirit of the game: we’re cel­e­brat­ing LW-con­trar­ian be­liefs for a change!

I would sug­gest plac­ing *re­lated* propo­si­tions in the same com­ment, but wildly differ­ent ones might de­serve sep­a­rate com­ments for keep­ing threads sep­a­rate.

Make sure you put “Ir­ra­tional­ity Game” as the first two words of a post con­tain­ing a propo­si­tion to be voted upon in the game’s for­mat.

Here we go!

EDIT: It was pointed out in the meta-thread be­low that this could be done with polls rather than karma so as to dis­cour­age play­ing-to-win and get­ting around the hid­ing of down­voted com­ments. If any­one re­s­ur­rects this game in the fu­ture, please do so un­der that sys­tem If you wish to test a poll for­mat in this thread feel free to do so, but con­tinue vot­ing as nor­mal for those that are not in poll for­mat.