In an innovation workshop we were taught the following technique:
Make a list of 6 things your company is good at
Make a list of 6 applications of your product(s)
Make a list of 6 random words (Disney characters? City names?)
Roll 3 dice and select the corresponding words from the lists. Think about those 3 words and see what ideas you can come up with based on them.
Everyone I spoke to agreed that this was the best technique which we were taught. I knew constrained creativity was a thing but I think using this technique really drove the point home. I don’t think this is quite the same thing as traditional divination (e.g. you can repeat this a few times and then choose your best idea) but I wonder if it is relying on similar principles.
Fun fact: 7 survey respondents attempted to convert the number of minutes between them and their twin into a fraction of a year (e.g. 9.506E-06 years is 5 minutes). All 7 who did this were the older twin.
(I did include these people in the analysis above)
This provides evidence for the “Older twins care about being the oldest, younger twins don’t talk about it” hypothesis. I don’t think this will come as a massive surprise to anyone.
I understand that the price to swap birth order with your twin is a bowl of soup, although adjusting for 1% yearly inflation over 4000 years this now comes to 193 quadrillion bowls of soup.
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’m glad you wrote it as openness seems like the first step to knowledge. On the other, I think you’re dealing with your evidence wrongly.
To me it feels like you’ve been discovering something new (rationality) and found a way to fit it into your existing belief system. On the inside this feels like it confirms your belief system but from the outside it looks like privileging the hypothesis. One of the main things I got from Thinking: Fast and Slow was that being able to tell ourselves a convincing story feels like we’re discovering the truth but actually the convincing-ness of the story is orthogonal to truth.
If we grant that Christians invented science then maybe this can be counted as evidence for Christianity, but is it strong evidence? A rough estimate might be that 1⁄6 people who have ever lived were Christian so I don’t think that it should be overly surprising that one of them was the inventor. I know this is a horrendous method for choosing a prior but it gives an indicator that evidence of what Christians have done in the past is unlikely to be strong evidence either way.
If you count this as evidence for Christianity then you need to count similar evidence too. Should the other historical figures before the 12th century who contributed to science and maths count as evidence that their beliefs are true? Compared to the number of Christians who have ever lived, the number of ancient Greeks who ever lived is tiny so it is incredible that they got as far as they did.
To someone looking in from the outside, claiming that Christianity is different because it gave a reason for believing the world would be consistent again seems like privileging the hypothesis. Those other ancient figures seemed to assume that the world would be consistent even without Christianity so even in your belief system there doesn’t seem to be an a priori reason to believe that they couldn’t have invented the scientific method.
It took 12 centuries after Christ to invent the scientific method so it would also seem to be true that believing in Christianity wasn’t a massively strong driver towards inventing the scientific method.
To put my cards on the table, until a couple of years ago I was in a similar situation to you. I believed in Christianity and didn’t expect ever to be dissuaded.
I’m not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what changed for me. One big part of it was the realisation that I didn’t have to believe or not believe in Christianity − 0 and 1 are not probabilities. What was more I realised I already didn’t 100% believe in everything in Christianity—there were already plenty of things that I found incredibly confusing but kinda just accepted because they were part of a parcel of beliefs. I guess you might be similar but may have different issues—mine included the trinity, free will vs God’s sovereignty, differences between new and old testaments, suffering, # of fertilised eggs which never even implant into the womb (I know, that one is probably fairly idiosyncratic).
When I allowed myself to see my belief in Christianity on a scale I was able to modify how much I believed it based on evidence I saw. Before that any new evidence was judged on whether it allowed me to believe Christianity rather than whether it encouraged me to believe. I should note that from a Christian point of view this seems to be a virtue not a vice—Christianity seems to imply that you should only believe in Christianity if it is true so looking accurately at the evidence should be encouraged.
Over a few months my belief slowly waned as more evidence came in. I think the tipping point for me was realising how badly designed human intelligence is. The likelihood of God inventing something so poor in absolute terms to be the pinnacle of his creation was enough to push me over the edge. Again, this is probably fairly idiosyncratic!
I’m not sure exactly what you were hoping for in response to your introduction but I hoped my experience might be interesting to you.
It’s notable that, for countries where anti-social punishment is significant, the mean contribution across rounds doesn’t depend much on the level of anti-social punishment but more on the contributions in the first round; for the 7 countries with the most total anti-social punishment, their lines are all fairly flat.
Mean contribution and antisocial punishment (eyeballed from fig 2B in the report) aren’t correlated within the group of 7 (R2=0.08).
Mean contribution and initial contribution (eyeballed from fig 2A) are correlated within the group at R2=0.99!
So in countries with low rule of law you are stuck in whatever position you start in. Pity poor Istanbul which wasn’t really that bad at anti-social punishment but started at a low level and so were stuck there.
Imagine the experimenters had lied to each participant about what happened in round 1 to make it seem like everyone else was contributing more. Would the players stay at the high (made-up) rate of contributions for the rest of the 9 rounds?
Would it be fair to say that any historical data on successful scientists/mathematicians will be over represented by firstborns due to primogeniture inheritance laws and customs? Historically those involved in the sciences mainly had to be independently wealthy and being a first born would tend to help with that with those born after more likely to have to work for a living. Maybe famous historical lawyers would tend to be under represented by firstborns?
I’d expect this to be a fairly large selection effect similar in size to the Less Wrong survey but presumably caused by a different mechanism.
Possibly a data set which would have more bearing on the question of birth order effects in modern times would be Fields medal, Abel prize, Turing award, Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics in the last 30 years or so—I don’t have a great feel for how long ago the primogeniture inheritance thingy stopped being relevant but given an average Nobel laureate age of 59 this would mean people born since ~1930. These might be easier to find data on than Thales of Miletus too!!
My personal experience is that a separate factor of “emotional susceptibility” is very important. Tiredness, stress and repeated emotional experiences can sensitise me to feel stronger emotions.