A Personal Rationality Wishlist

post by DanielFilan · 2019-08-27T03:40:00.669Z · score: 43 (26 votes) · LW · GW · 54 comments

Contents

  Punishing honesty vs no punishment
  ‘The anime thing’
  When and how to increase neuroticism
  Virtue of bicycles
  Does my sleepy self know whether I should be sleeping?
None
54 comments

At one point I compiled a list of conundrums relating to rationality that come up in my life. Instead of solving them, I thought I’d write up a selection of them, since that’s easier and maybe other people will solve them.

Punishing honesty vs no punishment

In some cases, you might want people to comply with some rule that they might otherwise wish to break, but the only way to check if they have complied is to ask them and hope that they’re honest (or perhaps there’s another, much more expensive, way to check). Examples:

There’s a dilemma: how should one enforce such a rule? If you just ask people, and punish them if they say that they didn’t comply, then you’re incentivising people to lie to you. But if you don’t ask, the rule doesn’t get enforced. Abstractly, it seems like you just can’t enforce such a rule at all, but it seems to me that often people are able to be honest in the face of punishment, so not all hope is lost. How should I think about these situations? In practice, how should I decide the enforcement mechanism?

According to David Friedman’s recent book on legal systems, in saga-period Iceland, there was a much larger penalty for killing somebody if you failed to confess as soon as was practical. This suggests one solution: estimate the likelihood of discovery of violation of a rule conditioned on the violater being dishonest, and set the punishment of that high enough that it’s worth it for rule violaters to be honest. But this leaves open the question of how in practice to estimate this probability, calculate the appropriate punishment level, and how much effort to put into detection of rule violations when nobody has confessed to a violation.

‘The anime thing’

Once, a friend of mine observed that he couldn’t talk about how he didn’t like anime without a bunch of people rushing in to tell him that anime was actually good and recommending anime for him to watch, even when he explicitly asked them not to. Similarly, another friend of mine went to a coding bootcamp, only to discover that she intensely disliked coding, and would basically be unable to do it as a career, causing her to decide to switch to her previous worse-paying job. When she talked about this, often other people would suggest coding jobs for her to take, or remind her that coding pays much better than her other options.

I think that the responses that my friends received are instances of the same phenomenon, which I’ll call ‘the anime thing’ (since I came across the anime example first, and don’t have better name). Why does the anime thing happen? In what other situations might it happen? If one wanted it to not happen, how would one go about that?

When and how to increase neuroticism

Many people have advice on how to become more relaxed, calm, and happy. But presumably it’s possible to be too relaxed, calm, and/or happy, and one should instead be anxious, angry, and/or sad. How can I tell when this is the case, and what should I do to increase my neuroticism in-the-moment? Or could it really be true that humans are universally biased towards feeling unpleasant emotions?

Virtue of bicycles

It seems to me that bicycles are an unusually wonderful device.

I want more of that in my life. How should I get it? Should I be deriving any deep lessons from how great bicycles are?

Does my sleepy self know whether I should be sleeping?

When I’ve just woken up from sleeping, often I’ll have a strong impression that it would be a good idea to go back to sleep, or at least stay in bed and daydream. It seems plausible that this is a bad idea - as Marcus Aurelius reminded himself in his journal:

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.

On the other hand, I gather that sleep is in fact important for us biological humans. And probably the way my body lets me know that is by making me sleepy.

On the third hand, I just woke up of my own accord (I rarely perceive my waking up as being due to light or sound), which you’d think would be a sign that now would be a good time to be awake. I know my waking self can be wrong about whether or not I should be awake, why should my sleeping self be all that different? Also, when I’ve just woken up, I am in some important senses less intelligent than literally any other waking moment.

Unfortunately, thinking hard about this problem in the moment makes sleep more difficult, meaning that a policy-level solution is necessary. The solution is likely ‘try both ways for a week, see how you do on a cognitive battery’, but it would be nice to reason the answer from first principles.

54 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Wei_Dai · 2019-08-27T20:44:39.998Z · score: 14 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Abstractly, it seems like you just can’t enforce such a rule at all, but it seems to me that often people are able to be honest in the face of punishment, so not all hope is lost.

I think people being honest in the face of punishment is due to the repeated/indefinite nature of the game (i.e., people trying, perhaps not consciously, to build up a reputation for being honest and avoiding a reputation of lying).

But this leaves open the question of how in practice to estimate this probability, calculate the appropriate punishment level, and how much effort to put into detection of rule violations when nobody has confessed to a violation.

Solving the game theory for any realistic game is computationally infeasible, plus humans don't satisfy the assumptions that game theory makes anyway, so I think "calculate" is out in most cases and probably the best you can do is learning/optimizing a policy through some sort of trial-and-error process. But beware that whatever policy you learn probably won't be robust to distributional shifts. It might be best to use cheap technical solutions where possible (e.g., buy a hidden camera for your room) and just not think about it too much otherwise (i.e., let your System 1 do the best job that it can). If you're faced with a really high stakes situation, maybe seek the advice of people who either have a lot of intellectual firepower and can try to solve/approximate the specific game for you (like RAND was doing for the US government), or has built up good social intuitions from extensive experience and can give you advice based on their intuitions.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-08-27T07:05:06.516Z · score: 14 (11 votes) · LW · GW

You can just look at [bicycles] with your eyes, think a little, and then you’ll know basically how they work.

Counterpoint: The science of cycology: Failures to understand how everyday objects work [PDF, 409 KB]

Abstract:

When their understanding of the basics of bicycle design was assessed objectively, people were found to make frequent and serious mistakes, such as believing that the chain went around the front wheel as well as the back wheel. Errors were reduced but not eliminated for bicycle experts, for men more than women, and for people who were shown a real bicycle as they were tested. The results demonstrate that most people’s conceptual understanding of this familiar, everyday object is sketchy and shallow, even for information that is frequently encountered and easily perceived. This evidence of a minimal and even inaccurate causal understanding is inconsistent with that of strong versions of explanation-based (or theory-based) theories of categorization.

(Be sure to check out the pictures in the paper—they’re quite amusing!)

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-27T20:00:04.428Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Note that the amusingly high failure rate in that paper is in the condition where people were not looking at bicycles with their own eyes, and when they were, the vast majority of respondents did fine at the task.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-08-27T20:16:41.933Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, when people were looking at a bicycle, they were able to draw a bicycle, which they were looking at.

The point is: if people understood how their bicycle worked, they’d be able to draw one even without having to literally have one in front of them as they drew it! Whereas their actual attempts to draw a bicycle (without having one to look at) showed that they really had no concept of how one worked—and this even for people who rode a bike daily.

Again: being able to draw a bicycle when you are, at that very time, looking at an actual bicycle, does not at all demonstrate understanding of the bike’s operation.

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-27T21:53:20.948Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that many people do not understand how bicycles work, if that was your point. My claim was that it is possible to look at a bicycle and understand how it works, not that it was inevitable for everybody who interacts with a bicycle to do so. I think the prevalence of misunderstanding of bicycles is not strong evidence against my claim, since my guess is that most people who interact with bicycles don't spend time looking at them and trying to figure out how they work. If people looking at bicycles still couldn't reproduce them, that would be strong evidence against my claim, but that was relatively uncommon.

[ETA: although I see how this undermines the idea that it only requires 'a little' thought, since that brings to mind thought that only takes a few seconds.]

comment by philh · 2019-08-30T04:54:44.427Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Even having looked at a bike, there are details I don't understand, but I think not enough that I'd dispute your claim.

Derailleurs, and the transmission from the break levers to the break pads, seem kind of magical to me. I'm not sure if there's a detail I'm missing, or if they just work far better than I would have expected. Especially derailleurs - pulling laterally on the chain, a tiny amount, makes it move from one gear to another, even if the gears are very different sizes? (I suddenly wonder if the slow mo guys have done an episode on derailleurs.)

I wouldn't be able to tell you how stability works, either.

I reckon I understand a fixie with stabiliser wheels well enough, though.

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-08-30T07:43:05.542Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

pulling laterally on the chain, a tiny amount, makes it move from one gear to another, even if the gears are very different sizes?

There are small grooves or bumps (depending on the design) on the sides of the gears that help lift the chain onto the next gear.

comment by Dagon · 2019-08-27T21:24:23.414Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Understanding how it works and remembering details when asked out of context may be very different things. I wish the participants had been given follow-up questions about how it works, and then the exercises repeated when a bicycle was present.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2019-08-29T10:56:58.194Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An understanding that evaporates on questioning is no understanding at all.

comment by redlizard · 2019-09-02T15:31:51.988Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
The point is: if people understood how their bicycle worked, they’d be able to draw one even without having to literally have one in front of them as they drew it!

I don't think this is actually true. Turning a conceptual understanding into an accurate drawing is a nontrivial skill. It requires substantial spatial visualization ability, as well as quite a bit of drawing skill -- one who is not very skilled in drawing, like myself, might poorly draw one part of a bike, want to add two components to it, and then realize that there is no way to add a third component to the poor drawing without turning it into an illegible mess of ink. There is a reason technical drawing is an explicit course in engineering education.

I built a nontrivial construction yesterday, that I understand in great detail and personally designed in OpenSCAD beforehand, that I could not put on paper by hand in a way that is vaguely mechanically accurate, without a visual reference (be it the actual construction or the CAD model). At least, not in one try -- I might manage if it I threw away the first three sketches.

comment by jmh · 2019-08-27T12:49:55.912Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, never thought about it but an all wheel drive bike sounds like it might be useful -- maybe as off road/mountain bike. (Said by the guy who has ridden the bike he bough at least 5 years ago about 5 time now....)

comment by Ericf · 2019-08-27T16:51:39.724Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Chaining both wheels means you can't steer, only lean.

comment by jmh · 2019-08-28T12:58:52.896Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

True, it would be a very awkward mechanism to allow the front wheel to be turned.

Clearly an example of what Said was pointing out!

Edit - after some though driving home yesterday it occurred that I was in error in agreeing with the "cannot steer" claim. My error was imposing the image of the rear drive chain arrangement as the only way to drive the front wheel. That is not the case and it seem a few others besides Ericf and I fell into that error in mindset.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2019-08-29T10:56:42.756Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re housemates, put a lock on your door.

It is said that good fences make good neighbours, and that the invention of the cash register did more for the honesty of shop assistants than any amount of moral sermons.

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-29T21:51:01.537Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sensible advice, although I'm more interested in the metaphorical case where this isn't possible (which is natural to me, since my actual room has curtains but no doors, partially because I'm not actually worried about housemate snooping).

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-08-29T15:15:25.460Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On an IOT sensor that triggers whenever the door is opened.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2019-08-28T13:43:48.396Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think the anime thing is partly feeling a compulsion to say something combined with availability bias. Of course, there's also an element of completely ignoring consent.

comment by romeostevensit · 2019-08-28T16:41:43.438Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Bicycles didn't make sense until there were smooth roads. I often wonder what road like things we are missing because they are non obvious, but would enable obvious inventions once created. The world wide web was pretty similar (warning: very longform)

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-29T21:49:44.402Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A counterpoint to your first sentence:

The quality of roads is relevant, but not really the answer. Bicycles can be ridden on dirt roads or sidewalks (although the latter led to run-ins with pedestrians and made bicycles unpopular among the public at first). And historically, roads didn’t improve until after bicycles became common—indeed it seems that it was in part the cyclists who called for the improvement of roads.

From this post about why humanity waited so long for the bicycle. I particularly recommend the discussion of how long it took to invent pedals and gears.

comment by cousin_it · 2019-08-27T07:56:26.792Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Biking uphill is harder than walking uphill, though. I wonder if there's a simple mechanical fix (apart from getting off your bike and walking it uphill).

comment by ekr · 2019-08-27T08:42:22.767Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW
I wonder if there's a simple mechanical fix (apart from getting off your bike and walking it uphill)

Incidentally, there is one such fix. It's called gears. I reckon (mostly based on personal experience, haven't done any calculations), that even uphill, taking the weight of the bike into account, cycling is more efficient than walking at the same speed. (But probably not 3x more efficient, as it's the case on level ground).

comment by cousin_it · 2019-08-27T10:47:00.051Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused. I can run up stairs from a standing start, but can't achieve the same acceleration at the same incline on a bike.

comment by Pattern · 2019-08-27T18:46:51.596Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

At a guess, that's because it's easy for a bike to go backwards, whereas standing means you're not sliding.

comment by Jadael · 2019-08-27T14:07:23.346Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes- maybe they're just very uncommon, but I've never been on a bike that I could gear down low enough that it felt easier to pedal than to take a step, on a moderate hill.

comment by cousin_it · 2019-08-27T14:19:07.246Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. Many people say bikes are more efficient at transforming power to movement, so biking should be always easier according to physics, but in reality walking is sometimes easier. I can think of a couple explanations: 1) biking doesn't give the best leverage to your strongest muscles, so you end up tiring out the weaker ones; 2) at slow speed, balancing the bike takes extra effort comparable to walking. I suspect both can be fixed by changing the construction of the bike while still allowing high speed on level roads.

comment by ekr · 2019-08-27T21:21:44.068Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Biking is not always more efficient, as this quora answer points out: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-more-energy-efficient-to-walk-run-or-bike-up-a-hill/answer/Raj-Kumar-855

Regarding muscles, as an (former) cycling enthusiast, cycling uses a lot fewer muscles than running. The muscles used for cycling are some of the strongest in the body (hamstring, quadriceps). Compared to running which uses almost the whole body, including core muscles for stability, this is a downside for cycling, because it may not be as natural as running. But I wouldn't say you end up tiring weaker muscles.

2. The speed at which balancing becomes effortless is roughly walking speed. It is actually difficult to ride that slowly (depending on the bike, load, windspeed etc).


comment by cousin_it · 2019-08-27T22:52:27.494Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I just googled a bit and apparently there are many kinds of "stepper bikes" that you ride standing up and the pedals move up and down, and it looks pretty fun. Not sure if they're better at climbing than regular bikes, though.

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-08-27T08:26:53.603Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A possible fix is getting an e-bike.

comment by Raemon · 2019-08-27T05:32:02.223Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Man, falling back asleep on purpose is one of the most paradoxically hard things.

(I am pro "go back to sleep if you're tired enough to actually fall asleep again", although I will note that this is quite different from staying curled up under the covers – I enjoy that too but I am more sympathetic to Marcus here)

I find it hardest to sleep when I'm thinking. There's a brief window upon waking up where I'm only juuuust conscious enough to notice "hmm, I seem to be awake, it seems to be early enough that I should probably sleep more, I should go back to sleep." And then I have to figure out how to let go of conscious thought without doing it deliberately – each deliberate thought begets another, and another.

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-27T05:57:12.545Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am pro "go back to sleep if you're tired enough to actually fall asleep again", although I will note that this is quite different from staying curled up under the covers – I enjoy that too but I am more sympathetic to Marcus here

Huh - in my imagination, curling up under the covers and 'daydreaming' is like 75% of the way between wakeful alertness and sleep, and has many of the same functions.

comment by Raemon · 2019-08-27T06:47:23.520Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I have a sharp distinction between ‘uncontrolled daydreaming’ and ‘deliberate daydreaming’. The former naturally leads back to sleep, the latter prevents sleep (for me)

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-27T15:56:22.759Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why not just do the uncontrolled thing instead of the deliberate thing?


:-0

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-27T16:20:30.673Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note this is kind of half joking in how it was worded, but kinda... not in the suggestion itself. That is, just make the internal state shift to do the uncontrolled daydreaming thing, instead of the controlled daydreaming thing.

comment by Raemon · 2019-08-27T21:11:53.253Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have tried, but it's hard. :P

comment by Richard Korzekwa (Grothor) · 2019-10-30T08:38:37.965Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that might be learned from bicycles is that their wonderfulness is partially contingent how you come to use them, and how much you seek out improvements in your relationship with them.

Most people ride with the saddle too low and their tire pressure too low (though recreational cyclists on road bikes will often have too much air in their tires). People tend to ride too close to the side of the road, and ride in too high of a gear (that is, they pedal too slowly). These are not universal. Many people get some or all of these things right or have good reasons for not doing them.

I'm not entirely sure why people get these things wrong so often, but it is at least partially because the wrong way feels intuitively correct, at least to begin with. And things like saddle height and gear ratio seem to have a lot to do with how the bike was configured when the person first started riding it. But all of these are things that can easily be learned from talking to experienced people, which most people never do.

So I think the lesson is: Seek out the correct ways of doing things, even in cases where you can just look at a thing and see basically how it works, so that it seems hard to get it wrong, and where it seems pretty wonderful even without help.

comment by calebo · 2019-08-29T20:15:02.467Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Re Neuroticism.

Let's just consider emotions. A really simple model of emotions is that they're useful bec they provide info and bec they have motivational power. Neurotic emotions are useful when they provide valuable info or motivate valuable actions.

If you're wondering whether a negative emotion is useful, check whether it's providing valuable info or motivating useful action. I think internal family systems might be especially useful for this.

Of course, sometimes you can get the valuable info or motivation w/o experiencing a negative emotion (see replacing guilt).

Many negative emotions are hypersensitive, which is why we see the trend towards limiting them. Ie. most often anxiety is not providing useful information or motivating useful action. The hypersensitivity would be justified if the costs of being wrong were super high, but for many of the things we experience anxiety about, this is no longer the case. That being so, I imagine for some people, negative emotions can play a useful role in some contexts, but one needs to be concrete here.

comment by ioannes_shade · 2019-08-28T22:51:03.366Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
But presumably it’s possible to be too relaxed, calm, and/or happy, and one should instead be anxious, angry, and/or sad. How can I tell when this is the case, and what should I do to increase my neuroticism in-the-moment?

cf. https://neuroticgradientdescent.blogspot.com/2019/07/core-transformation.html

Specifically:


This stuff is mutually reinforcing with ego's 'forever' identity based narratives. 'If I relax then I become the sort of person who is just relaxed all the time and never does anything AHHHH!' Whereas what actually happens is that given the ability to choose which stresses to take on, rather than it being an involuntary process, we choose a lot better in apportioning our efforts to the things we care about. One of the noticeable changes is that people take on fewer projects, but put more effort into those they do take on. Most of us, if we were taking a rigorous accounting, would be forced to admit that our project start:project finish ratio is quite bad by default. Core Transformation puts us directly in touch with these and potentially lots of other objections. The point isn't to sweep them under the rug but to identify the true content of these objections and figure out how we want to engage with that while letting the non-true parts drop away once all objecting parts are actually satisfied.

h/t @romeostevensit

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-08-27T07:51:13.497Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Neuroticism is one of the big-five personality trait. Personality traits aren't things to be managed moment to moment.

You generally want to minimize stress and maximize output. Instead of thinking "It would be good to be more neurotic" it would be better to go "I need more goals that I pursue that I care about".

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-27T20:02:20.463Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I meant the feelings that are more prevalent among more neurotic people, like "anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness" (list taken from Wikipedia).

comment by ChristianKl · 2019-08-28T07:09:01.774Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do think that there are seldom cases where I would tell someone "be more angry". I might however say:

  • Don't withdraw yourself from situation that might produce anger.
  • Don't suppress your anger
  • Have personal boundaries (which can produce anger when they are violated)

Those suggestion might lead to a person feeling angry more often but they have a different focus.


comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-28T11:17:22.206Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
a friend of mine observed that he couldn’t talk about how he didn’t like anime without a bunch of people rushing in to tell him that anime was actually good and recommending anime for him to watch

What response did your friend want? The reaction seems very natural to me (especially from anime fans). Note that your friend as at some point tried watching anime, and he has now chosen to talk about anime, which could easily mean that on some level he wants to like anime, or at least understand why others like it.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-28T13:28:57.825Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Possible scenario where this comes up:

Your friends are talking about anime, they ask you if you watch anime, you say "I don't like anime," they say "well you just haven't watched the right shows, have you tried..."

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-28T15:25:07.919Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, but it remains unclear what response the friend wanted from the other person. What better options are there? Should they just go away? Change topic? I'm looking for specific answers here.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-28T17:01:48.716Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My response in this case would be to say something like "Well, I've got some shows that might change you're mind if you're ever interested. "Then leave it to them to continue that thread if interested. This goes with my general policy to try to avoid giving unsolicited advice.

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-28T18:18:35.952Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And then the other person says "no thanks", and you both stand in awkward silence? My point is that offering recommendations is a natural thing to say, even if not perfect, and it's nice to have something to say. If you want to discourage unsolicited recommendations, then you need to propose a different trajectory for the conversation. Changing topic is hard, and simply going away is rude. People give unsolicited recommendations because it seems to be the best option available.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-28T18:27:23.911Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW
And then the other person says "no thanks", and you both stand in awkward silence?

I think I would probably change the subject in a case like this. Good "vibing" conversation skill here is to "fractionate" the conversation, frequently cut topics before they reach their natural conclusion so that when you reach a conversation dead end like this, you have somewhere to go back to. Ditto with being able to make situational observations to restart a conversation, and having in your back pocket a list of topics and questions to go to.

I don't think the proper thing to do here is to make someone else feel awkward or annoyed so that you feel less awkward, the proper thing to do is to learn the conversational skills to make people not feel awkward.

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-28T19:11:07.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds reasonable, but the proper thing is not usually the easy thing, and you're not going to make people do the proper thing just by saying that it is proper.

If we want to talk about this as a problem in rationality, we should probably talk about social incentives, and possible alternative strategies for the anime-hater (you're now talking about a better strategy for the anime-fan, but it's not good to ask other people to solve your problems). Although I'm not sure to what extent this is a problem that needs solving.

comment by Raemon · 2019-08-28T21:14:51.364Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like you two are currently talking about two different problems: mr-hire is asking "how do avoid being That Guy Who Pressures People about Anime" and you're asking the question "If I want to avoid people pestering me with anime questions, or people in general to stop this behavior, what would have to change?"

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-29T05:37:23.270Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. The latter seems to be what OP is asking about: "If one wanted it to not happen, how would one go about that?". I assume OP is taking the perspective of his friends, who are annoyed by this behavior, rather than the perspective of the anime-fans, who don't necessarily see anything wrong with the situation.

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-29T21:45:13.758Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I assume OP is taking the perspective of his friends, who are annoyed by this behavior, rather than the perspective of the anime-fans, who don't necessarily see anything wrong with the situation.

In the literal world, I'm an anime fan, but the situation seems basically futile: the people recommending anime seem like they're accomplishing nothing but generating frustration. More metaphorically, I'm mostly interested in how to prevent the behaviour either as somebody complaining about anime or as a third party, and secondarily interested in how to restrain myself from recommending anime.

comment by mr-hire · 2019-08-29T12:42:09.737Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that my response was responding to this original question:

What response did your friend want?

It want obvious to me that this was asking "How did your friend want the world to be different such that the incentives were to respond differently?"

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-29T13:42:21.185Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and you answered that question well. But the reason I asked for alternative responses, was so that I could compare them to unsolicited recommendations from the anime-fan's point of view (and find that unsolicited recommendations have lower effort or higher reward).

Also, I'm not asking "How did your friend want the world to be different", I'm asking "What action could your friend have taken to avoid that particular response?". The friend is a rational agent, he is able to consider alternative strategies, but he shouldn't expect that other people will change their behavior when they have no personal incentive to do so.

comment by DanielFilan · 2019-08-29T21:46:11.574Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

At this juncture, it seems important to note that all examples I can think of took place on Facebook, where you can just end interactions like this without it being awkward.

comment by zulupineapple · 2019-08-30T05:50:39.632Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, that makes the real incentives quite different. Then, I suspect that these people are navigating facebook using the intuitions and strategies from the real world, without much consideration for the new digital environment.