[SEQ RERUN] Something to Protect

post by MinibearRex · 2012-01-02T04:12:11.143Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 12 comments

Today's post, Something to Protect was originally published on 30 January 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Many people only start to grow as a rationalist when they find something that they care about more than they care about rationality itself. It takes something really scary to cause you to override your intuitions with math.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Trust in Bayes, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by _ozymandias · 2012-01-02T05:28:27.791Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The difference in my reaction when reading this post before and after I found my something to protect is rather remarkable. Before, it was well-written and interesting, but fundamentally distinct from my experience-- rather like listening to people talk about theoretical physics. Now, when I read it, my feeling of determination is literally physical. It's quite odd.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

comment by shminux · 2012-01-02T08:51:22.286Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Feel free to share what is that something you found to protect.

comment by _ozymandias · 2012-01-02T23:02:40.189Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Raemon · 2012-01-02T23:14:50.910Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does the blank post signify anything?

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-02T23:25:00.665Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, it's a badly formatted and thus disappearing link to No Seriously What About Teh Menz.

comment by _ozymandias · 2012-01-03T02:15:36.646Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry. I apparently suck at the Internet. :)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-02T05:07:32.403Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with the main point here: a potent external source of motivation is an important rationality attractor. This is one of my greatest failings as a rationalist--on most issues I just don't care. (I have a hard time with empathy in general, and I find it really difficult to care about people I can't see.)

Extremely petty nitpick: I don't like the term "something to protect." For whatever reason, the phrase evokes a mental image of rationalization, and when I hear it I always think of someone trying to protect a particular belief from rationality's gaze. Whenever I see a reference to this post, I have to remind myself that "something to protect" means a noble cause that you need rationality for, not an irrational belief.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-02T06:01:22.129Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Something to protect" as a phrase, along with the Sequences' construction of heroic effort more generally, made quite a bit more sense to me after I played Fate/stay night.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-02T14:14:27.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Same here, but for whatever reason I still have issues with it.

comment by Dorikka · 2012-01-02T06:39:34.081Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's helpful - very helpful - to have a self-image which says that you are the sort of person who confronts harsh truth.

This doesn't feel right because it strikes me as making you more vulnerable to overestimate the probability of "harsh truths" being true.

comment by shminux · 2012-01-02T08:50:17.565Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Probably not enough to overcome the confirmation bias.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-01-02T10:11:48.467Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This sounds like something worth measuring. (Not sure how off the top of my head.)