What is your rationality blind spot?

post by shminux · 2011-12-20T19:18:58.259Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 81 comments

It has been noticed since the time immemorial that cognitive biases have a nasty tendency of being invisible to self (note the proverbial log in one's eye). Uncovering their own blind spot is probably the hardest task for an aspired rationalist. EY and others have devoted a number of posts to this issue (e.g. the How To Actually Change Your Mind sequence), and I am wondering if it is bearing fruit for the LW participants. 

To this end, I suggest that people post what they think their current rationality blind spot they are struggling with is (not the usual sweet success stories of "overcoming bias"), and let others comment on whether they agree or not, given their impressions of the person here and possibly in real life. My guess is that most of us would miss the mark widely (it's called a blind spot for a reason). Needless to say, if you post, you should expect to get crockered. Also needless to say, if you disagree with a person pointing out your bias, odds are that you are the one who is wrong.

(Who, me, go first? Oh, I have no biases, at least none that I can see.)



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-20T20:44:53.988Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I only had a single blind spot... But probably the most prominent is that I can't stop feeling inside that life is guided by some sort of coherent narrative. E.G., I've had some hard times in the last few years, but very recently I got lucky and found a really good job (and considering the situation of the job market in Italy this means REALLY lucky). I just can't stop feeling that I somewhat deserved it, via the usual narrative pattern of great difficulties -> final reward. It's a very subtle mechanism, and I very often fail to notice that my mind is organizing what happens into a pseudo-coherent pattern. This sometimes leads to very stupid decisions, like not going out with friends because it doesn't properly fit with my schedule (even if I can accomodate it with some efffort), and so it wasn't meant to be. I'm working on it at the moment, but it will probably be a long way to eliminate the blind spot.

comment by Technoguyrob · 2011-12-21T04:15:47.505Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had an existential crisis a few weeks ago that was very helpful. I now fully believe "it's physics all the way down." It's also given me some insights as to how self-awareness arises in physical systems, and made me realize cryonics is trivially workable. I also have an intuitive feel for how humanity is collectively wearing rose-colored glasses, and am very curious what happens when these will get taken off! (In other words, I look forward to the creation of a fully rational agent according to a prescribed utility function.)

This also means I can hardly stand news and movies anymore, because I deconstruct everything. I have no problem maintaining social interactions, but no longer carry any of the standard social obligations. It's a little eerie, like feeling the matrix.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-12-21T06:39:47.897Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had an existential crisis a few weeks ago that was very helpful.

Anything in particular that triggered it?

comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-21T08:33:58.945Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anything in particular that triggered it?

I am interested in reading it too, if you don't mind to share.

comment by Technoguyrob · 2012-01-13T07:34:17.411Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The culmination of a long process of reconciling my decision to go to grad school in mathematics with meaning. I didn't realize it before, but I had not expressly realized that mathematicians did all their work using clusters of adaptations that arose through natural selection. Certainly, I would have asserted "all humans are animals that evolved by natural selection," and "mathematicians are humans," but somehow I assigned mathematics privilege. This was somewhat damaging because I didn't expressly apply things like cognitive science results on expertise and competence, unbeknownst to me treating the enterprise of mathematical thought as somehow not being reducible, or it being a silly question to ask of its reducibility, to a particular expression of a mammalian organ. I suspect this was due largely to mistaken classical exposure to the philosophy of science and mathematics, that is, prior to Darwinism. As a result, I experienced a prolonged period of confusion about why I seemed much more capable of learning certain kinds of mathematics (like abstract algebra) than others (like differential geometry) because my mental representations of these subjects were of abstract algebra and differential geometry being something different than particular clusters of functionally similar neurons in a particular mammalian brain. In effect, I had a belief in belief that learning mathematics is an act which crucially depends on cognitive processes, themselves evolutionary adaptations, but this was not reconciled into a belief prior to the existential crisis. The resolution of the existential crisis was that my reductionism of everything to physical particles and forces, or cognitive processes, was recursively embedded in the very things I was trying to comprehend, not expressly realizing that the mental state of ascribing meaning or feeling like you understand the core of a subject is--despite all intuition--physically embeddable.

comment by dlthomas · 2011-12-23T17:31:41.577Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

[C]ryonics is trivially workable.

I gather that by this you mean "trivially shown to be theoretically possible", not "trivial to do in practice."

comment by Technoguyrob · 2012-01-13T07:08:50.230Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


To add to my comments above, I mean that there is no paradox or unnecessary ache in thinking about minds as physical objects (and hence pausable, storable, and replicable). Everything we've ever done happens within minds anyway, and there is nothing we can do about that. Whatever mental representations we conjure when we think of atoms or molecules or electromagnetic forces are inaccurate and incomplete: this "conscious" experience and sensory perception and thought is what a particular collection of molecules and forces is, rather than a visual or abstract representation of it. This requires a certain level of recursiveness to accede, and is essentially the mental flip that shuns treating everyday sensory experience and "life" as your axioms, and instead adopts axiomatically (even though the flip might have been due to evidence processing) that everything you or any human has ever experienced is a subspace of whatever mathematical structure we're embedded in.

In light of all that, and further confirmations from cognitive science and neuroscience that "the self" is a distributed physical process unlike any Cartesian dualist conception, cryonics strikes me as being as natural as the notion of love or justice prior to performing the mental flip.

comment by false_vacuum · 2011-12-22T05:16:45.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mmm. Sounds familiar. But what do you mean by '"physics all the way down"'?

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-12-23T17:15:09.420Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thou Art Physics or, as a philosophical position, reductionism or materialism.

comment by false_vacuum · 2011-12-27T00:47:47.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, another possibility would have been the negation of (what's usually called around here) Tegmark's Level IV. (That's probably not the only other possibility.)

ETA: Not that your interpretation isn't the obviously correct one.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T19:55:36.968Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by fiddlemath · 2011-12-21T19:01:30.076Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

EDIT: The upside of this tendency is the fact that I can be really funny in an irreverent sort of way.

If you want to actually stop putting others down to prop yourself up, you should avoid being "really funny" about other people. Don't reinforce your own behavior when you disapprove of it. :/

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T19:09:45.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by magfrump · 2011-12-21T01:32:26.381Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eating is one mentioned here before; I definitely eat more candy than I should. I have been trying to cut back but it is just sooo easy to eat it all the time.

Seeking out third alternatives in practical day-to-day matters seems to be something I'm bad at. As a specific example: I recently had to make a fairly large trip to see my family for the holidays, but they live in the boonies and I don't have a car, so taking public transit is very inconvenient. Many times I've taken the bus about halfway and gotten a ride the other half, but there was a bit of a problem with the timing and we ended up having to drive through rush hour traffic and in the dark most of the way. After I finished the trip, I was complaining about it to a friend, and she said "why didn't you just go to craigslist for a rideshare?"

I need a way of telling myself to brainstorm for five minutes on types of solutions to my problems, rather than specifying large parts of how to solve them and then being disappointed by how inflexible it is.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T14:47:16.506Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you tried telling yourself you can have any candy that you want as long as you methodically write down EXACTLY how much candy you have?

That appears to be about half of the approach to the commercial diet plan I'm on (which has been working so far), but you can do that part for free.

I know I snack much less after I started simply because instead of thinking "Free snacks!" I think "Snacks, at the cost of writing it down later/counting exactly how much I'm eating... nah, I don't feel like it." But when I'm actually hungry and want snacks, I HAVE snacks, and then I dutifully log how many snacks I've eaten. It makes the snacks that I DO have taste even more delicious, because I get that indulgent "I'm eating snacks on a diet!" satisfaction, but I'm still losing weight anyway, so I get that indulgent satisfaction without any accompanying guilt.

Now, it is certainly possible that this will fail for me/you later, since I've only been on the diet for the past three and a half weeks, and in general diets get harder after the first few weeks. But the principle of making it just a tiny bit more difficult to eat food seems like a relatively reasonable approach to eating less food, if you haven't already tried it.

comment by magfrump · 2011-12-21T21:39:35.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like this suggestion, but like many people I have trouble making precommitments only to myself. If I had someone to turn these logs over to, who had some power to make me feel bad if I didn't or was dishonest about it, then I could imagine this working (at least for a while).

comment by dlthomas · 2011-12-21T22:08:07.178Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Track it, and post a link. We'll make you feel bad (if that's what you want).

comment by magfrump · 2011-12-22T02:51:33.502Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I made an account for beeminder for something else, but I didn't develop a habit of actually recording things on a day to day basis. Starting that, especially during the holidays, is difficult.

I just noticed that I'm making excuses to not do things that I should probably do. I'm going to search the app store for something that does this easily from my phone because I always have my phone on me and am always deedling on it.

Searching the app store I'm finding that the apps probably mostly aren't appropriate for me, in that I don't have specific goals or want to lose weight; I just want to shift my snacking away from things like reese's pieces and towards things like salads. But given that I am already looking for excuses not to do anything I'm just going to download the highest rated free app and start using it as much as I can, and then I'll see what happens. Better than doing nothing.

comment by dlthomas · 2011-12-22T02:53:50.369Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can add data to beeminder by sending an email. This may be slightly too cumbersome for "each and every snack" but isn't bad. I'm sure it could be wrapped in something even easier, but... yeah.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-22T04:07:30.309Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

EDIT: eh, apologies for the unsolicited other-optimising. I really need to stop doing that.

I've been using Noom recently. It's a weightloss app but I'm finding it to have a decent level of granularity for food logging and it nags you every 4 hours or so if you haven't logged anything in that time, which can be either a good or a bad thing depending on how often you expect to have food to record. I pretty much entirely ignore all the other stuff it wants me to do.

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-21T16:37:04.612Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Various studies (that I don't have to hand and couldn't find in a hurry) show that the mere act of taking notice of everything you eat - notebook, phone camera or whatever - will help you lose weight.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-21T16:56:22.676Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my experience this pattern -- if I take notice of every time I do X, it's easier for me to deliberately influence how often I do X -- generalizes pretty well to all Xes I'm physically capable of influencing.

This shouldn't be surprising. It's easier to deliberately influence things I'm aware of than things I'm not.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2011-12-23T04:55:17.325Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally I found tracking calories (using myfitnesspal android app) really helpful. Becoming aware that a small amount of sweets has same calories as a pile of bacon subconsciously shifted my behaviour. (Also, whats true is already so, being aware of it can't hurt)

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-19T11:45:19.575Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was looking through old comments (originally trying to count how many I had but now I'm just reading my old highly upvoted posts which is fun) and I realize that at this point in time I really do eat a lot less candy, so good job me!

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2011-12-21T09:17:08.469Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even though I have made significant progress (via a randomizer), I still engage in folk activism far too much. I know this is completely irrational since it doesn't have enough effect on the world to make it worth the effort and it makes people like me less on the chance (which is extremely high) that I say something that outs me as not being a member of the relevant in-group (which may harm my other goals), but it comes so naturally to me and feels like the right thing to do while it is happening.

comment by amcknight · 2012-01-04T02:47:49.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the link to folk activism.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-01-04T06:21:15.655Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are welcome.

comment by cata · 2011-12-20T23:00:23.738Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even though I'm pretty sure that taking better care of myself physically (going to the gym, getting more sleep, improving diet, trying out supplements and nootropics) would probably make me happier and smarter all the time, I still don't do it. That's probably a pretty awful thing.

comment by Technoguyrob · 2011-12-21T04:31:20.447Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Rationality 099.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T22:01:43.614Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think I handle fear very rationally. Here are a few examples:

I remember at one point I had to point out to myself that while existential risk was a problem, it wasn't a problem that I could solve with a single adrenaline rush, so losing sleep over it because I was tensed up was not going to help anyone and would just make me a worse worker and thinker. Now instead, I wake up in the middle of the night convinced I have this other idea that simply MUST be thought about and solved because I have an entirely fresh perspective on some other problem and I need to flesh out this idea, and if I go right back to sleep I will forget about it, which means I'm doing the exact same thing I did with existential risk, but with other things.

This idea is usually coherent, but never as impressive or irreplaceable as I convince myself in my head, I have yet to actually act on any of the ideas, and in some cases, I even read a news article later that relates to people who have not only had the idea but have actually prototyped it already. Which means that if I forget them, it's not a big loss. Yet I keep losing sleep over the fact that I have to think about them.

I think there are a number of other cases where my reaction to a risk is still entirely overblown for no reason that I can currently figure out. Things like "I made a small mistake at work. I'm probably going to get fired." or "My wife and I got into a small argument where I raised my voice. She's probably going to divorce me." or "I worry about things too much, I'm going to give myself an early heart attack from stress."

I think a much more realistic and likely fear that I think would be more rational to address first is "I'm going to get into a car accident because I don't sleep well enough at night" (Partially because of being too busy worrying but there are other reasons too.) I should probably devote the vast majority of my worrying to that, which means I shouldn't worry about it because one good way to help solve that problem is to relax.

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-20T23:53:35.670Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Will a bedside notebook help, or just make it worse?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T14:29:05.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I have done that at times, although in the form of getting up, turning on my computer, writing the thoughts, saving them, and then trying to go back to sleep. That involves significantly more activity than a bedside notebook though, and that activity might itself be waking me up. Simplifying the number of steps necessary might help me get additional sleep, so it's worth a try.

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-21T16:01:39.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have become a notebook carrier precisely because the steps you describe were too large a trivial inconvenience, even with a computer to hand. First day I got it I filled a third (edit: no, a quarter) of it. May not help your sleep, but should help get more of the ideas down so you can see if they were worth it :-)

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-12-23T17:08:22.415Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hello fellow notebook carrier!

How do you use your notebook? What size do you use? I ask because I've been keeping a diary for more than a year that lives on my person at all times, and I boggle at the idea of filling a third of one in a day unless it's a very small notebook indeed, or you have very large handwriting or do lots of doodling, mindmapping or such. I get about 270 words a page out of a Moleskine Pocket and it's a habit I'm glad I picked up, even if I could be doing even better with it, it makes my memory much better, because I review them every so often.

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-23T17:33:16.013Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A slightly-larger-than-A7-sized pocket notebook that was 50p from Asda. The pages are quite small - 50-ish words/page. I had a bit of stuff backed up in my head to get down - not quite mindmapping, but some looping through thoughts about thoughts and some sentences being followed with a paragraph of caveats. I've just counted pages, and I filled a quarter of it, not a third - 19 pages out of 80, single side. I keep it in my jacket pocket with a pen, though I'm largely home for the next week or two so should keep it closer to hand. I don't actually do anything with the notes as yet; presumably one day I will type them up. Just getting it down helps clarify my thinking, though.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T16:16:27.290Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-21T16:17:36.334Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, cramping my hand into a claw took me about five minutes. I shook it out and continued ...

Learning to grill oneself Socratically can help. I do quite a lot of my best thinking talking to myself, and tell loved ones this and firmly state my refusal to give it up when they look at me like I'm some sort of crazy person.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-21T16:59:00.934Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voice recognition software has gotten pretty good and conveniently portable.

Just sayin'.

comment by roryokane · 2011-12-24T09:32:06.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I think of something I want to record quickly, and my computer isn’t at hand, I just record it as a text note or voice memo on my phone. (I have a dumbphone, but it still has voice memo capabilities.) I keep my phone by my bed when I sleep, and have Voice Memos set to a shortcut on the phone, so if I wake up with a thought, It’s really easy to record it. I haven’t actually re-listened to any of the ideas, since I know none of them are urgent, but just knowing that the thought is safely recorded and that I could theoretically continue working on it later is enough for me to relax and stop worrying about it. (I also back up the recordings to my computer occasionally for further peace of mind.)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T18:53:43.540Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-22T15:54:34.038Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is possible, but I currently suspect the circumstances more than the time. I'm essentially alone (my wife is sleeping), and I'm not distracted. (Because I'm in bed and not on a computer with an internet connection) The circumstances might also explain why the ideas are generally low quality (because there is no one to bounce them off for obvious flaws, and because I'm tired although I don't realize it.)

My life currently has little scheduling freedom in general, but I do have a vacation time set between Chistmas and New years which I am taking at home, so I can continue noting any sleep disruptions with more ability to be flexible. A chance to take a break of caffeine and to have the freedom to nap if desired both sound good at this point.

comment by roryokane · 2011-12-24T09:10:32.907Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I think of something I want to record quickly, and my computer isn’t at hand, I just record it as a text note or voice memo on my phone. (I have a dumbphone, but it still has voice memo capabilities.) I keep my phone by my bed when I sleep, and have Voice Memos set to a shortcut on the phone, so if I wake up with a thought, It’s really easy to record it. I haven’t actually re-listened to any of the ideas, since I know none of them are urgent, but just knowing that the thought is safely recorded and that I could theoretically continue working on it later is enough for me to relax and stop worrying about it. (I also back up the recordings to my computer occasionally for further peace of mind.)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-24T16:34:49.811Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Habitual despair. It's hard for me to believe that what I can do will work out well enough to make it worth doing. This isn't true for all areas of my life, but it's pretty pervasive.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-24T17:01:15.811Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by thelittledoctor · 2011-12-21T05:37:39.536Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Akrasia, pure and simple. Procrastination is my fiercest foe.

comment by Bo102010 · 2011-12-21T02:05:38.352Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Delegating tasks. At work we're now short-staffed, and I've had to pick up work from a couple people.

Unfortunately, the principle of comparative advantage says that I should focus on the tasks where I'm most effective. Where I run into trouble is handing things off when I need to do just that. What if the other person screws it up, or worse, does it really inefficiently?

It makes my skin crawl to think of people bumbling around in Excel for 3 hours on a task I could complete in 1, so much so that I end up working on easy-but-time-consuming stuff when I should be at home looking at things on the Internet.

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-21T10:09:01.442Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My Econ 101 class talked about this when they discussed comparative advantage and opportunity costs. Even if the other guy will do what you want done inefficiently (compared to you), what really matters is what each of you would be doing instead. If you have something better to do and they don't, then it's more efficient overall to let them go ahead and do something poorly than let that task take up your own, more productive time.

comment by Bo102010 · 2011-12-21T19:08:57.811Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah. It pains me to say that I understand the principle, but that I always seem to be able to convince myself that just this once I should go ahead and knock out some other semi-trivial task outside of normal working hours. Later it seems obvious that I have not internalized the lessons of Micro 101.

I think there's some ego-stoking going on - "I am the only person who can be relied upon to complete this task properly! Step aside, mortals, and I will wow you with my productivity."

How to fix it? Cthulhoo's comment below seems like a good start - I find that I trust certain people to get things done correctly, and that I should endeavor to work more closely with other co-workers a few times in the hopes of expanding the "trust" circle.

Of course, I run the risk of adding more to the "don't trust" circle. Did you know some people use Copy and Paste from the Edit menu? With the mouse? Every time? It hurts me to watch.

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-21T23:25:23.625Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, I run the risk of adding more to the "don't trust" circle. Did you know some people use Copy and Paste from the Edit menu? With the mouse? Every time? It hurts me to watch.

Your standards are too high.

My father is one of the most generally competent people I know, but he's also a one-finger typist. He once tried to get help in a tech support chat room, and the support person kept thinking he was AFK because he typed so slowly.

comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-21T08:42:42.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a similar problem. I just tend to divide people in two categories: trust / don't trust. I'm perfectly fine with delegating tasks to people in the first group, but have a hard time to convince myself to delegate something to people in the second group (even something so simple that a monkey could have done it).

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-20T23:52:27.456Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I try to go through the cognitive bias list calling to mind past examples of me falling for them. I know I'm smart, but it's very important to accuracy to be closely in touch with my own stupidity.

"You don't understand a cognitive bias until you know you have it yourself" sounds highly plausible, and may even be true. You'll certainly know it better than you would only from others.

comment by false_vacuum · 2011-12-22T05:26:02.511Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What cognitive bias list? ---Oh! Probably this one.

comment by Lapsed_Lurker · 2011-12-20T19:38:52.601Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The inability to adhere to a healthy diet in the face of food seems like the immediately worst one, since it seems liable to cause me to die early.

Presumably there are many others, but being blind spots, they're hard to think of. No doubt I'll go "Oh yes, that's me too" to a lot of the other comments.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-24T16:28:16.149Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How sure are you that you know what healthy food is?

This being said, I find that my appetite is much better regulated if I eat little or no sugar. I think this is fairly common.

comment by Lapsed_Lurker · 2011-12-24T20:47:21.855Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not very sure. I've heard all sorts of assertions. I'm pretty sure that sugar and other carbs are a bad idea, since I've been diagnosed as diabetic. Also that too much animal fat and salt are bad - but thinking that things are bad doesn't always stop me indulging :(

The UK government recommends five portions (handful-sized) of different fruit and vegetables per day, but I don't even manage to do that, most days.

Sadly, the last time I got an appointment to talk about my diet, the nurse I had an appointment with turned out to be fatter than I am, and absolutely everything she said has slipped my memory, perhaps because I fail to believe the dieting advice of a fat nurse.

I think if I were given a few simple "doctor's orders" about food, I might be able to follow them, but don't think I can possibly hold dozens or hundreds of rules about food in my head - which is what all the stuff I recall reading consists of.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-27T02:37:28.657Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When trying to form a dietary habit it may be useful to eat (close to) the same foods everyday for a week or two. Or add a food to eat everyday one at a time, slowly replacing bad foods with better ones.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-12-22T15:14:52.241Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't see mine, but I have a fact that seems very likely to help pointing in the right direction: I can't seem to find any USE of rationality, and thus cant do any kind of trials or calibrations. I never have to make non-obvious decisions with large enough stakes to be worth spending more than 5 seconds on. Most large scale important things like long term goals I've just read from the sequences and don't need determining myself. I never seem to need a truth I can't just get from goggle. Outside of artistic output there seem to be almost no indications I'm generally intelligent. Possessing any kind of system 2 thinking seems to be a clear net negative for me, I'm almost always better of acting on instinct and naive heuristics.

Obviously, it can't reasonably BE that way, but it SEEMS that way from the inside, and the illusion is extraordinarily robust and complete.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-22T17:02:10.419Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I've thought of a way you can attempt to deconstruct this illusion.

If it really is extraordinarily robust and complete, then you should be able to lay out a brief summary of all of your decisions with large stakes, and a 1 sentence explanation of why you chose them.

If there are any obviously flawed statements then they should stand out as being less robust to other people.

If there are any large areas you just don't mention as a large stakes decision, that would probably also stand out as being less complete to other people.

If you find that you can't lay out the list because you find yourself thinking "Item 3: I choose to follow a career in... erm... hmm, that's a tricky one." Then you've solved it yourself and you don't even need other people. Similarly if you find yourself thinking "Wait, I don't even think I realized this thing was a big decision until I tried to generate this list." then you have solved it yourself.

If you find you need several sentences to justify a large stakes decision, that means you probably took longer than 5 seconds to think about it, and you may have solved it yourself again.

If everyone looks at your list and says "That really does sound robust and complete." then you have made a very impressive list of complete life decisions and answers, and in a very short time, which I would actually take as an indication you possess a great deal of general intelligence.

There are other possibilities, but that sounds like a good way of trying to start looking at the problem.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-12-22T17:35:41.791Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't come up with ANY items for the list. The only example you gave was choice of carrier, and the answer to that is "my health precludes having any kind of carrier or education any time soon, and by the time that changes all the relevant information to making the decision will be different".

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-22T18:21:01.049Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel like the next step is to ask you about your health problems then. As an example, I know a lot of other people who I've talked that have health problems or have relatives with health problems sometimes have to make important treatment decisions. Does that come up for you?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-12-22T19:57:10.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nope. I'd rather not talk about the details, but there is absolutely nothing I can do other than wait, for moths, for the red tape that'll allow my treatment to begin while my life keeps getting worse and worse and my family is torn apart etc. etc. it's a clich'e.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-22T08:49:23.952Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I behave as if I'm living in a tribe of 100 people and thus have a reputation/consistency of identity to maintain. As a consequence I treat low cost actions as if they were high cost.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2011-12-23T16:45:25.800Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand what you mean (I think), but would you care to expand?

If you do mean what I think the optimal change would probably be an increase in boldness/daring, right?

Obviously enough I'm reading things in what you wrote from my own perspective. My own last lost opportunity to be daring was not kissing a lovely lady when it seemed like the opportunity had presented itself and she was leaving the country within the next two days. Best outcome would have been some of that lovely sweaty exercise, worst that a group of strangers I'm unlikely ever to meet again are pissed off with me.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-24T02:05:08.244Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the short answer is the philosophy behind rejection therapy. If you aren't getting rejected at regular intervals it means you aren't asking for enough.

comment by occlude · 2011-12-20T19:49:24.464Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find I have very little access to my own motivation algorithms, so that things I think I want to do and things I actually end up doing do not always align very well. External deadlines (as opposed to self-imposed ones) are some of the only things that consistently motivate me, but they don't work very well for personal goals.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2011-12-23T03:16:48.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't work out what my central desires are and how to apply them to making major life choices. Not sure if this means I don't have any or have some mental block stopping me acknowledging them. (Bluntly, I don't know what I want).

Possibly as a consequence I feel bound by social obligations and have difficulty refusing to do things. I am instrumentally rational in fulfilling them though.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-22T23:42:33.102Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm unreasonably scared of doing anything that would make social waves (fear of rejection, fear of dissent, etc.).

comment by malthrin · 2011-12-21T22:12:36.246Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T23:03:05.199Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I have case of rationalisation paranoia. But I might just be rationalizing. . . I think the problem may be that when I try to solve/find solutions to problems that have a big impact on how I view the world on a fundamental level i.e. things I think are important, I get emotional. Then I start to want a specific worldview/theory to be true, but since I know that I want a specific theory to be right, I become very suspicious about every argument in favor my preferred theory. In the end my judgment becomes severely clouded and I can't tell what feels like a plausible argument form what is a plausible argument. Even if I conclude that theory A is right (the preferred theory), I still feel like I just rationalized (I might just be). What's extra problematic is that this approach has give fruit during my childhood (e.g. thinking about supernatural stuff and the likes).

I'm still reading EY:s sequence "How To Actually Change Your Mind" so I might just resolve this meta-confusion . . .

comment by Rain · 2011-12-27T18:38:10.578Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I spend all my time analyzing the problem and never move on to the solution phase.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-27T02:31:26.788Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I signal disloyalty all the time by questioning social norms or being a contrarian in a non-approved way.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T22:44:50.561Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm still unable to focus on a difficult long term goal. If to some task I do not see easy short term steps towards at least some small visible success I tend to form an Ugh-field about it and procrastinate until I forget the task.

What I should be doing is to make a long term plan of something and then try to feel comfortable only doing one small step per day. If anybody has an idea I'd be happy to hear it.

comment by TrE · 2011-12-20T22:43:20.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Paranoia. Humans are doing everything on purpose in "my world".

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-20T22:47:32.548Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to think it was so stacked against me that I could reverse the meteoric rise of oil's price ('08) by going long on it. (i.e. buying assets that would increase in value as the price of oil increased)

FWIW, if I had gone through with it, I could have (in the minds of many) claimed responsibility for its collapse a few months later.

Now my blindspot probably matches Gabriel's.

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-21T10:00:28.793Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trying to exploit "bad luck" by betting against yourself never works.

comment by false_vacuum · 2011-12-22T05:22:12.360Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Generalising from one fictional example. (But a funny one.)

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-22T07:13:19.599Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you follow the link, you'll see that it's lots of fictional examples. ;)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-21T04:17:11.875Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-21T05:57:23.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Psy-Kosh · 2011-12-30T18:43:55.091Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure if these count as "blind sports" or other sorts of flaws, but off the top of my head, a couple would be akrasia and also, well, remembering to use what rationality I have when I actually need it.

(ie, remembering that politics is the mind killer BEFORE getting into an argument, as a simple example.)

Um, let's see, what else. Hard to say, since, well, the true blind spots would be the ones I wouldn't know about, right?

There're many ways which I fail to apply what I know in theory, but a lot of that would be covered by "akrasia and failing to remember it when I need it."

comment by cousin_it · 2011-12-21T22:37:16.050Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) I get too invested in my own ways of doing things, especially learning things, even when I know my way is not optimal and copying someone else's routine would probably make me improve better.

2) I'm mostly motivated by wanting to impress others and be better than others, even though I know from experience that achieving these goals isn't all it's cracked up to be. This means I tend to slow down when I'm at or near the top, even if I could keep on improving beyond that.