mike_hawke's Shortform

post by mike_hawke · 2020-11-29T19:57:57.415Z · LW · GW · 51 comments


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-30T17:22:36.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a strong anti-Twitter attitude. I will now charge rent from this attitude in the form of anticipated experiences.

My attitude:

Twitter is psychotoxic. That is to say, it has a negative influence on one’s mood, habits, personality, reasoning ability, and so on. Using twitter causes people to practice mental behaviors that are corrosive to clear thinking and agency both immediately and longer-term. The easy availability of bite-sized content is eroding people's ability to read longer-form content like blog sequences or books. Twitter deserves the same condemnation that the 24h news cycle gets and much more. I believe that if far fewer people used Twitter, my life would be noticeably better.

I feel my attention being tugged at by the Twitterverse even when I have been away from it for a long time (weeks or longer). This is in part a sensible worry--Twitter does have noticeable effects on the world, and I wish I could do something.

This is a hackneyed pattern, but: Twitter is the 21st century’s tobacco. It is an addictive, next-gen intoxicant.

On a podcast, I heard some guy recommend that you “don’t let Twitter be the background music of your life. When you’re hanging out with your friend, don’t browse twitter while they’re in the bathroom.” I didn’t realize people did that. I think I need to start asking my friends if they are doing this when we hang out, and trying to get them to stop.

The full effects of twitter on individuals and groups is still an open question, slowly being answered by massive, natural experiments.


In a heathy* future, people will consider the comparison between tobacco and twitter to be basically correct, if somewhat hasty and superficial. We will look back on the present state of affairs with pity, embarrassment, and a bit of queasiness.

The Internet Research Agency was just the beginning and we will hear of ever more numerous and galling examples of social media used to twist people’s minds. In less than 20 years, the dev race between offensive psyops and defensive countermeasures will be well-known, not niche knowledge.

Paul Cristiano has imagined a future in which information from the internet is scrutinized by an AI for harmful/manipulative information before being shown to a user. I strongly anticipate that considerations of this kind will be much more mainstream within the next 20 years. If we are not able to implement direct solutions with AI, I expect that serious, tech-savvy people will cobble together other tools and systems for a partial solution.

Perhaps in the near future, heavy twitter usage will be generally seen as a yellow or orange flag. Consider the thoughts you have when you notice that someone has at least 2 drinks every night, or can’t go a day without a liter of soda, or spends all their time online and never socializes in person (yeah, excluding pandemic conditions, smartass).

“Digital Minimalism” and “attention rebellion” will catch on (the situation is currently so dire that i would be pretty surprised if they don’t) and tech companies will react by trying to build things that people will pay to integrate into their attention-prioritizing lifestyle.

In summary: Twitter is awful and I will be at least moderately surprised if in 15 years it is normal for smart people to endorse having used it today.

*I hate this word. I’m using it here only out of mental sloth and weakness.

Replies from: mr-hire, gworley
comment by Matt Goldenberg (mr-hire) · 2021-01-02T19:26:42.563Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I get a lot from twitter, including several great relationships, thousands of dollars in sales, and a steady stream of new ideas.  I'd venture that there are good and bad ways to use twitter like there are good and bad ways to use nicotine.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2020-12-31T02:12:12.155Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is also my experience of Twitter. Strangely it's not how I experience Facebook, which I like and find I feel better after checking in on my friends, but I know plenty of people seem to have the same reaction to Facebook you and I have to Twitter.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2021-01-02T19:05:42.336Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't use Twitter, so I can't make a comparison, but how difficult it is to create your own bubble?

My guess would be that being okay with Facebook is related to how strong your bubble is. At least in my experience, I mostly get angry when I get a view outside my bubble. The insanity of average internet user (weighted by how much they write online) is terrifying.

comment by mike_hawke · 2022-04-08T04:13:49.695Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When i’m walking around through my daily life, it helps me to think of myself as a character in a cyberpunk weirdtopia.

  • Phone anxiety ruining my nature walk? Yeah that’s cyberpunk, even if it wasn't anticipated by Neuromancer.
  • Strolling over to the donut shop for a nice pastry...amid a bungled global health crisis of disputed origin? Yup, that sure counts.
  • Detouring down a beautifully verdant neighborhood, past a consecution of strident culture war yard signs, presumably influenced in some part by foreign psyops like the IRA? Definitely cyberpunk.
  • Scratching my head over the risks of cryptocurrency hodling vs the risks of pandemic-driven inflation? Cyberpunk af.

Hiro Protagonist, the protagonist of Snow Crash wouldn’t complain about these things; he would go on a sassy, sciencey, poetic monologue about it and appreciate it all for what it was.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-02T19:11:16.876Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

New Year’s resolution for 2021: get better at Relinquishment, the Second Virtue.
I’ve already unlocked the power of writing down controversial opinions in private [LW · GW], and even though it's not specifically meant to be a relinquishment exercise, I’m eager to exploit it as one. I’m also eager to try out more tools that make relinquishment easier. I might look for ways to make Leaving a Line of Retreat less effortful and more efficient. Recommendations welcome.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-06T02:02:51.063Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For Winter Solstice, I recommend listening to the album "Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires" by Emancipator.

Particularly, "Father King" and "Anthem". For me personally, "Father King" is the solstice song.

Replies from: crabman
comment by philip_b (crabman) · 2021-01-22T17:19:32.546Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

After having listened to "Soon it Will be Cold Enough" about 7 times, I must say I agree. I like "Good Knight", "Anthem", and "When I Go" most.

"When I Go" is very solsticy because of the repeating words "When I go, I will be long gone" which I think is about death. There is "The Darkest Evening of the Year" which, I guess, is exactly about the winter solstice.

P.s. "Father King" is not a part of "Soon it Will be Cold Enough", so I've never listened to it. Will try now.

comment by mike_hawke · 2021-02-09T23:47:18.181Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Scott Alexander says "Ezra Klein is great. I know a lot of people throw shade on him for founding Vox. But as Van Gogh said about God creating the world, 'We must not hold it against Him; only a master could make such a mistake'. Ezra is a master[...]"

I've never deliberately perused Klein's output, but I've been fairly...repelled by what little I've seen. But that was some pretty glowing praise from Scott; I must be missing something. Googling "what is ezra klein's best writing" isn't very enlightening, and that kind of search is complicated by the subjective, political nature of the query.

So I ask: what makes EK a master; what am I missing here?

Replies from: mike_hawke
comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-29T02:01:23.330Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

News headlines have measurable, harmful effects on people so I never want them to be shown to me without my explicit consent. But YouTube does not have an option to permanently disable the Breaking News section.

The only solutions to this I know of are:

  1. Contort my usage by never opening the main page of YouTube
  2. Use uBlock with a custom filter to get rid of the news section.
  3. Stop using YouTube

I consider this to be psychotoxic design, plain and simple. The next time I need an example of tech companies doing something bad, I will have to reach no further than this.

Replies from: lsusr, Pattern
comment by lsusr · 2021-01-07T21:35:48.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

YouTube does have a "Don't recommend channel" button. Judicious use of this option, plus not clicking on news, can dramatically reduce the quantity of news displayed.

comment by Pattern · 2020-12-29T06:04:21.089Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Where does this Breaking News section appear? Is this a horror inflicted only on those poor souls that log in?

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-01T00:46:36.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Schank’s law: “Because people understand by finding in their memories the closest possible match to what they are hearing and use that match as the basis of comprehension, any new idea will be treated as a variant of something the listener has already thought of or heard. Agreement with a new idea means a listener has already had a similar thought and well appreciates that the speaker has recognized his idea. Disagreement means the opposite. Really new ideas are incomprehensible. The good news is that for some people, failure to comprehend is the beginning of understanding. For most, of course, it is the beginning of dismissal.”


comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-17T12:31:48.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Alright, you lost the double-crux. Now go ahead and bite these bullets. There you g--nope. Oh nonononono ahahahaha no. I'm not handing them to you. No, I'm going to hold them out and you're going to munch on them out of my hand like a docile horse.
There we go, much better.

Replies from: mikkel-wilson
comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) · 2020-12-21T08:31:32.598Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Double cruxes aren't supposed to be something you win or lose, as I understand it - a double crux is a collaborative effort to help both parties arrive at a better understanding of the truth. It's problematic when admitting that you're wrong, and changing your mind is called "losing"

Replies from: elityre, mikkel-wilson
comment by Eli Tyre (elityre) · 2021-01-15T06:03:19.397Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Strong agree.

People can loose debates, but debate != Double Crux.

comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) · 2021-01-13T08:46:07.369Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I will note that I'm surprised that this currently stands at negative karma (-1) [edit: now it's not anymore]

comment by mike_hawke · 2021-03-24T18:49:04.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sometimes I scroll social media (because I am yet weak) and I see rationalists raising Concerns about various news topics and current events.

Here’s a list of concerns and potential actions, including those I see as inadequate.

  • Our institutions are losing trustworthiness and competence
  • Freedom of speech is under attack! Gatekeepers! Reality czar! The Narrative!
    • Take traditional political action
    • Less twitter, more substack
    • Research and post about the economics and logistics of running your own servers.
    • Experiment with ring signatures?
  • Social media is harming mental health, undermining individual & group epistemics, and enabling horrible actions in meatspace
    • Complain about it on social media in between dunking on your outgroup.
    • Await humanity’s inexorable slide down the fitness gradients toward memetic collapse [LW · GW].
    • Promote more group activities in your group house. Establish device-free zones.
    • Coordinate to stigmatize doomscrolling, hate-reading, and contempt addiction [LW · GW]. While we’re at it, let’s stigmatize using Twitter at all [LW · GW].
  • Large, free, liquid prediction markets cannot exist, supposedly due to the global influence of burdensome US trading regulations.
    • Traditional political action
    • Pay a competent YouTuber to make a really good explanatory video (series) about prediction markets.
    • Write a postmortem on Augur to help future attempts avoid the same pitfalls
    • Research and post about why prediction markets haven’t gotten big even where regulation is looser
    • Start up a competitor to Kalshi, and launch before they do
  • Ongoing Uighur atrocity
    • Share an article about it once in a while
    • Take traditional political action, push for substantial international response
    • Make fewer purchases from companies that profit from the abuse of Uighurs
comment by mike_hawke · 2021-01-08T16:46:25.005Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a result the book lacks an intellectual vision. It’s just highly competent in a slick, oversocialized way where little true personality comes out. If the book were a person it’d be like many of the people I met at the elite business school where I briefly studied: smooth, well-oiled bundles of overly appropriate behaviors seemingly dictated by the situation rather than emerging from a strong underlying personality.

(from this Everything Studies post)

I want there to be at least 10 more John Nersts out there. Writing, influencing, telling it like it is. John Nerst is a lighthouse of sincere thought in an ocean of strategic speech and word games.

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2021-01-08T17:15:32.816Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which book?

Replies from: niplav
comment by niplav · 2021-01-08T19:43:38.539Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The post talks about this book, I assume the first paragraph is supposed to be a quote.

Replies from: mike_hawke
comment by mike_hawke · 2021-01-12T16:55:22.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, it was. Fixed.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-08T19:21:10.267Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ice cream for breakfast with coffee grounds stirred in. Try it.

Replies from: Dagon
comment by Dagon · 2020-12-08T23:20:11.119Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure I get it.  Do you re-freeze the ice-cream after melting to incorporate the grounds?  Is it actually necessary to eat the coffee grounds, or is a good coffee concentrate (3x strength cold-brew, for instance) sufficient?  Does it matter that it's breakfast, as opposed to a later pick-me-up treat? 

I occasionally have, and highly recommend, an affogato (double-shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla gelato).  I've not tried it at breakfast (I generally look for a little more protein and less carbs first-thing), and at first glance I wouldn't expect it to be improved by eating the coffee grounds with it.

Replies from: mike_hawke
comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-09T15:55:04.909Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just stirred the grounds in really hard so it was softened but not too melty. It's probably not something you would want if you also wouldn't want a sugary, creamy coffee.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-06T21:28:41.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Talk is cheap. No wait, talk is free. Actually, sometimes talk is cheaper than free--holding your tongue can cost willpower or reputation or understanding.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-05T11:56:39.540Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you ask an older person, "what do you wish you had known when you were my age?" I think their answer is in large part determined by your framing and phrasing of the question.

Increasing specificity seems to help when people are prone to overly broad answers. "What major mistake were you making in your 30s that you stopped making by your 40s?"
Changing the subject to a different person seems to help too. "What did [some other person] do really right? What is something they think of as a major personal triumph which is better explained by luck?"
Framing questions broadly can give you broad answers, which can help when people are prone to oversimplified explanations. "What are some of the top 15 books that contributed to who you are today?"

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-02T00:11:23.602Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Let's start a new trend where you refuse to speak to journalists unless they can guarantee that the final publication will contain a link to your side of the story.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2020-12-02T23:08:26.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you can be replaced by someone else, I am almost certain the journalist will simply find another target.

But if the article is going to be about you... this could be interesting. Even if they asked other people to give them quotes about you, I believe there is still the norm of asking you for a quote. And "add this link" seems like a reasonably simple request that would be difficult to deniably refuse. "Mike asked us to include a 20-character URL in the article, but that would go completely against our journalist independence and integrity, so we had to refuse this blackmail" sounds kinda stupid. (You definitely should make the link short and simple.)

I would still expect some passive-aggressive reaction; at the very least, making the link unclickable, but probably also making a typo in it. "We honestly tried to follow his silly request, but hey, mistakes happen."

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-01T19:55:02.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In our scary new memetic fitness landscape, I think I’ve started to develop a default skepticism toward pith and sass. These days, the pithier and sassier something is, the more likely it is to trigger my deception alarms.

When something 240 characters or less sounds really good, it is increasingly likely that this is because it evolved to sound good to me, rather than because it has any deep wholesomeness.

Replies from: Dagon
comment by Dagon · 2020-12-02T00:10:44.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interestingly, for me, pith and sass have always been suspect.  It's only recently that my skepticism of longer, more factual-appearing (but even if true, very often cherry-picked and misleading) posts and articles has started to catch up.

I believe a default skepticism toward all group and mass communication is appropriate.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-11-30T15:21:11.314Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But as always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle can only be seen when considering multiple orthogonal factors, after which projecting onto a single dimension will throw out so much information as to be worse than useless.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-11-30T05:45:56.700Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“Well if I am the victim of a cult then they must have brainwashed me pretty well, because all of your reasons just sound like shallow insults to me."

comment by Pattern · 2020-11-29T15:27:30.394Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This posted 4 times. This was the fourth time.

Replies from: mike_hawke
comment by mike_hawke · 2020-11-29T18:13:15.955Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you.

I can't even delete the duplicates. Mods, please help. Devs, please add delete option.

Replies from: mingyuan
comment by mingyuan · 2020-11-29T19:59:27.947Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Resolved - at least the first part :)

comment by Pattern · 2020-11-29T15:26:53.790Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This posted 4 times. This was the second time.

comment by mike_hawke · 2021-12-09T00:59:24.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Insightful Articles about Politics

Slightly inspired by this post from Julia Galef. I've selected the following posts because they are insightful specifically at the meta-level.

comment by mike_hawke · 2021-01-17T23:57:32.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What science fiction should I read? Any subgenre.

I ask because I'm rereading HPMOR and I just reread Eliezer's posts about memetic collapse [LW · GW] and local validity [LW · GW]. I kinda feel like I'm missing out, but I don't know where to look beyond googling "classic sci fi" or "sci fi cult hits". I like HPJEV as a protagonist and would like to see more of that sort. I'm probably going to reread Ender's Game next in order to scratch the itch a bit.

Here are my idiosyncratic preferences, in case it helps:
My top 5 stories probably include The Martian, Rendezvous with Rama, and Snow Crash. Disappointingly, I haven't found an Asimov story that I've liked very much, and I couldn't even finish Foundation. I thought Neuromancer was okay on net. Ringworld was often tedious but I still remember the sense of awe that some parts gave me and I loved the way the ending came together. I'm planning on reading Dune, but I'm not sure about audiobook vs ebook vs both and I'm concerned about it being dry and tedious. I'm partway through Permutation City, which I find really well-written but kinda depressing. I thought Xenocide was awesome and I pretty much hated Speaker for the Dead.

Replies from: ete, interstice
comment by plex (ete) · 2021-01-18T00:17:32.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not exactly / only sci-fi, but Rational Reads is a good place to look if you liked HPMOR.

comment by interstice · 2021-01-18T02:38:43.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Greg Egan.

comment by mike_hawke · 2021-01-12T16:52:14.569Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Don't yum my yuck. My disgust reactions are valid.

Replies from: Dagon
comment by Dagon · 2021-01-12T16:59:04.805Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ehn.  Especially for children, type-1 errors (false yuck) are far more common and problematic than type-2 errors (false yum).  Both certainly happen, but it's neither the case that taste is universal nor that individuals are always correct, even about their own best-interest eating.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-12-28T17:09:46.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Lizardman Constant shows up in a poll from Tom Scott.

I wonder if the Lizardman Constant is actually constant. I could imagine it changing over time, hypothetically for the same reason that I hear more about Flat Earth theory today than I did 5 years ago. Maybe there ought to be a whole family of parameters--a family which includes unbelievably wacky and fringe but pre-existing theories like Lizardmen, as well as plausible-sounding but freshly fabricated ones like the North Dakota Crash. And it would be nice if they were given labels that are sticky while also remaining relevant/constant over time. Maybe things like the Yes Bot constant, the Calvin Contingent, and so on.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-11-29T01:41:43.524Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I allow myself to have inconsistencies in my beliefs and attitudes, I’m just using my brain the way it evolved to work. Accepting that I can’t untangle everything is necessary to make any progress.

When other people let themselves have inconsistencies, it is out of self-serving bias; it is anti-social and they ought to do better. Their persistence in trying to have it both ways causes excess harm.

comment by mike_hawke · 2020-11-29T14:07:24.969Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I want a smartphone that lets me open my settings and add a delay to any app. For example, if I have a habit of mindlessly checking for new slack messages, I can go into the settings and make it so that opening slack forces me to first sit through a 15 second countdown. I can't easily circumvent the timer, because altering the slack setting also requires sitting through that countdown.

Replies from: Pattern
comment by Pattern · 2020-11-29T15:27:11.764Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This posted 4 times. This was the third time.