Welcome to LessWrong (For highschoolers)

post by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T15:47:26.872Z · score: 23 (28 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 83 comments

As a continuation of the original Welcome thread (if you haven't gone there, go there fist) I think we need a separate introduction thread for highschoolers. 

Who: As a demographic, I think that we can probably be characterized by:

1. Our newness to LW.
2. Our uncertainty about which college or career to choose.
3. (if we are in a public school) Looking for ways to game the system (because we're not learning much in it).
4. Our potential to make a huge impact (the best advantage is an early start).
5. An lack of face to face interaction with intellectual people. 

Why: I can think of several things this could help highschoolers with. 

1. See where you stack up compared to others your age (We're probably all big fish in small ponds. At least I am. Let's get an idea of what the big pond is like). 
2. Make friends with people like you. 
3. Consider college and career ideas you hadn't considered before. 
4. Perhaps find people to apply with for the Thiel Fellowship.
5. Find a chavruta to go through the sequences with you.

What: Tell us the following:

1. How old/what year are you?
2. How have you tried to enhance your education beyond what's normally offered at schools?
3. How many rationalist/philosophical people are at your school/family? 
4. What careers/schools are you considering?
5. Are you going to apply for a Thiel Fellowship?
6. EDIT: link to your old "introduce yourself" post. 

If you're not in highschool, tell us what you would have told your old highschool self. 

83 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by TheatreAddict · 2011-11-28T05:18:51.596Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Hello! I'm Allison, 16, a Junior in high school.

  2. Yes, I've tried to enhance my education.. I mean, my GPA is 3.6, so I don't think I fit in with the LessWrong community very well. I'm not gifted with a natural born intelligence. I'm not saying I'm stupid, I'm just saying I'm not a genius and have to work pretty hard what comes easily to others. I struggle in math at school, despite being interested in it. I'm a thespian, so I'm fairly right-brained. But even though school is challenging for me, I also sometimes find it boring. And as I like learning, but not learning boring things, I've turned to the Internet for knowledge. This Christmas, I'm getting some textbooks found on the LessWrong textbook recommendation page. I try to independently study quantum mechanics (albeit largely unsuccessfully), philosophy, and probability theory.

  3. Heh. Well, my family, none. They're devoutly religious. I'm not. They don't know... I'm sort of a closet atheist. And yes, I know I probably shouldn't care what other people think of me, and just tell my family that I'm not religious. But I do care. So for now, I'm keeping silent. For the longest time, because I've been raised in a highly religious environment, I had no friends in real life who were rational/philosophical. BUT. This year I've had the pleasure of meeting two great people who have challenged my thoughts on philosophy, and have helped me to refine and develop my views on the subject into what they currently are. Also, they're fun pals to chat with.

  4. I'm considering being an actor, or possibly a scientist, if I can wrap my mind around the material. I'm not really sure at the moment. I like philosophy, but I can't really make a career out of majoring in philosophy. Although it would be the most interesting road to poverty.

  5. Thiel Fellowship? Not sure what that is.

  6. http://lesswrong.com/lw/b9/welcome_to_less_wrong/4heq

Also, sorry if this is an extremely long post.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-11-28T08:24:44.382Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Also, sorry if this is an extremely long post.

Not at all! Reading about the personal details of various LWers is interesting.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-01T06:14:28.984Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

my GPA is 3.6, so I don't think I fit in with the LessWrong community very well. I'm not gifted with a natural born intelligence.

GPA has very little to do with intelligence, and intelligence has very little to do with fitting in on LW. If you're interested in rationality and philosophy, you'll do fine. And don't worry about fitting in, this place needs more diversity.

welcome!

comment by ahartell · 2011-12-01T06:44:37.670Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not confident that "very little" is entirely accurate for those two statements. I expect there is (at least) a medium correlation between GPA and intelligence and (at least) a medium correlation between intelligence and fitting in on LW. Is this wrong?

I would agree that interest can overcome these barriers in some (most?) cases.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-01T07:27:32.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. You're probably right.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-28T15:15:11.860Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We're planning weekly/biweekly online meetups for the LessWrong teenage crowd, if you'd like more interesting people to talk to:

http://groups.google.com/group/lesswrong-highschool?hl=en

comment by TheatreAddict · 2011-11-28T20:55:06.677Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! :D

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-26T19:19:22.506Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW
  1. 18, senior in high school.
  2. I've been devouring non-fiction books from my local library, usually reading about science and philosophy. I used to be interested in a lot of pop-science and philosophy (Kaku, Dawkins, Greene, Hawking, etc.) a few years ago, but now I'm interested in work on A.I, cognitive science, morality, etc., mostly thanks to LessWrong.
  3. Not many. I have a few friends who are somewhat interested in science and philosophy outside of academia, but practically no one I know is interested in rationality. Pity.
  4. I'm working on that. I'm interested in neuroscience and evolutionary biology.
  5. Nope.
  6. Here it is.
comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T20:24:02.788Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. I've stopped reading so many popular science books. Lucky for me, my neighbor works for Pearson, so I get free textbooks on Ev. Psych and AI.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-26T17:24:04.525Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I'm 17, a senior in high school.
  2. I read a lot of nonfiction on my own when i have time, but lately I almost never have time. I've also learned a ton from doing competitive debate, though I'm not sure it's made me a better rationalist - I'm planning a post on this after I finish applying to college.
  3. My family and friends tolerate my interest in rationality, and say "that's really cool!" whenever I explain things, but I haven't been able to convince them to read the Sequences or even the occasional post. My best friend learned Bayesian statistics for science fair and loves philosophy and debate - he'd be a fantastic rationalist if he wasn't Catholic. I'm working on that.
  4. I take seriously the argument for giving what we can, and intend to go into a high earning career so I can donate what I can to charity (probably x-risk reduction). I haven't mentioned this before on LessWrong, because without a concrete plan for how to achieve it it seems like an applause light. I would love to talk with someone (CarlShulman?) about how best to do this, because I'm really not sure.
  5. Nope. I learn well in an academic environment, and I still have a lot to learn.

As for the other things you suggest in your post: there are no meetups where I live, and I would love to just talk with rationalists occasionally. I've read all the Sequences, though I still have trouble with the quantum physics one, and I would also be interested in sharing tips on getting the most out of high school.

See also my posts.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2011-11-26T17:47:14.382Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

he'd be a fantastic rationalist if he wasn't Catholic. I'm working on that.

It should probably be the other way around: once he gets better epistemic tools, which doesn't require not being a Catholic, he'll probably cease being a Catholic. Confronting religion directly seems significantly counterproductive if training in rationality is a feasible plan.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T17:51:57.467Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I read your posts before posting this :) Good stuff (applause).

What do you want to do about the lack of meet-ups in your area (there aren't any in mine either). The first thing that comes to mind is skype.

Also, feel free to post your advice on getting the most out of highschool. I'd love to hear it. If you think it deserves a new thread, please post a link in this thread so this thing maintains some cohesion.

  1. I've always felt that school has held me back ever since I became interested in learning.
comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-27T06:44:06.016Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Also, feel free to post your advice on getting the most out of highschool.

Academics is overrated. Spend your time in highschool learning important life skills about social politics and relationships.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-27T19:28:01.463Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You mean like playing a RPG?

comment by wedrifid · 2011-11-28T05:00:52.895Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You mean like playing an RPG?

Yes, and the strategy is to max out Cha and put the left over stats in Str (due to the bonus synergy with App). Then seek out as many NPCs as possible and apply Charm, Seduce and Intimidate. Include some attempts on massively out of depth creatures such that you may need to roll a natural 20 to have a successful interaction. It all serves as massive Exp while simultaneously granting intrinsic Life Points. Because the key to social success is grinding!

Seriously, most people who think that school is a time to gain a theoretical education are confused. There are a few who may most benefit by dedicating themselves to optimal academic learning but far, far less than the number who actually go that path.

comment by billswift · 2011-11-27T06:38:33.436Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Use the school to pursue your goals.

  1. Some things definitely benefit from having a teacher - especially math and languages, take as much of both as you can stand.

  2. Select classes to boost your motivation in things you want to learn but your enthusiasm and day-to-day motivation drags.

  3. If you want to get into a good college, don't follow some other posters' advice to slack off on some "less important" classes. You need to keep up your GPA, there are no unimportant classes. Instead, treat them as practice for anti-procrastination techniques, like doing them first. If you don't care about college, then you don't need to worry about your GPA.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-11-27T08:26:28.604Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't care about college, then you don't need to worry about your GPA.

And if you don't care about college, make sure that you actually have a realistic plan for what you'll be doing after high school. There are all kinds of near-far/hyperbolic discounting/wishful thinking/self-deception -related issues where you might go from thinking "oh, college isn't really important" when you're starting high school and then realize "oh, but I don't actually have any realistic plan for no-college" near the end of high school, when the decision of what to do next actually becomes relevant.

Personally, the farther off I was from the point where I'd actually need to find a job, the more vague and ill-thought my plans for what I'd do at that point were. I went from "I'll just take whatever courses seem easy and interesting" in early high school, to "oh crap all the interesting career paths involve math which I haven't studied much" in late high school, to "I'll major in cognitive science and figure out some job later on" in early college, to "getting a job with just a cogsci degree is actually pretty hard, I'll switch my major to computer science for my Master's degree so I can actually get employed" in late college.

Even if you don't care about getting into college now, you might change your mind later on. If you maintain the good GPA, you'll be keeping your options open. If you regardless choose not to, make sure that you have a very good reason that doesn't leave any nagging doubts in your mind. Take the outside view and keep in mind that at 17, it's very unlikely that you'll know yourself well enough to be certain about never changing your mind. You simply haven't been exposed to sufficiently many lifepaths and social/work environments to know which ones you'll actually end up detesting, let alone which ones you find the most comfortable. (I still haven't figured this out for certain at 25, and I would not be surprised if I was still unsure at 40.)

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T06:46:36.940Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to get into a good college, don't follow some other posters' advice to slack off on some "less important" classes.

Seconded. I'm worried I'm one of the posters who seemed to be giving this advice, so, to clarify:

In some classes you care about remembering the material, internalizing it, and understanding it. In these classes, use spaced repetition, don't cram for tests, do reading outside of class, go in for help when you need it, and pay attention in class.

In other classes, you care about getting an A. Turn in all the homework, cram for tests, pay attention in class if necessary and make sure you understand the material well enough to succeed on tests. I recommend studying a lot for the first test, and then, depending on your grade, deciding how much studying will be necessary in future. In a lot of high schools, it is possible for very bright kids to get As while doing nothing. If and only if this is the case, you should consider whether doing the work is worthwhile.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-11-27T08:02:35.923Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In a lot of high schools, it is possible for very bright kids to get As while doing nothing. If and only if this is the case, you should consider whether doing the work is worthwhile.

And note that if you intend to pursue any kind of more challenging studies (anything involving heavy math, for instance), you should probably get into the habit of doing the work even if you could get As by doing nothing. Otherwise there's a high probability that you'll suffer from the curse of the gifted:

When you were in college, did you ever meet bright kids who graduated top of their class in high-school and then floundered freshman year in college because they had never learned how to study? It's a common trap. A friend of mine calls it "the curse of the gifted" -- a tendency to lean on your native ability too much, because you've always been rewarded for doing that and self-discipline would take actual work.

You are a brilliant implementor, more able than me and possibly (I say this after consideration, and in all seriousness) the best one in the Unix tradition since Ken Thompson himself. As a consequence, you suffer the curse of the gifted programmer -- you lean on your ability so much that you've never learned to value certain kinds of coding self-discipline and design craftsmanship that lesser mortals must develop in order to handle the kind of problem complexity you eat for breakfast. [...]

But you make some of your more senior colleagues nervous. See, we've seen the curse of the gifted before. Some of us were those kids in college. We learned the hard way that the bill always comes due -- the scale of the problems always increases to a point where your native talent alone doesn't cut it any more. The smarter you are, the longer it takes to hit that crunch point -- and the harder the adjustment when you finally do. And we can see that you, poor damn genius that you are, are cruising for a serious bruising.

As Linux grows, there will come a time when your raw talent is not enough. What happens then will depend on how much discipline about coding and release practices and fastidiousness about clean design you developed before you needed it, back when your talent was sufficient to let you get away without.

It's very easy to fall into the trap of always getting As done with zero effort, and then becoming incapable of actually putting in effort when you get to the stage where simply being bright isn't enough anymore. I have suffered from that problem myself, which is one of the reasons I've decided not to pursue math-heavy paths. I'm simply not cut out for putting in that much work in those fields, but things might have been different if I had slacked off less earlier.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-27T19:24:09.109Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It cost me quite a bit of time and effort to overcome this. First two years of uni basically wasted for that purpose (did do a lot of cool stuff though, some of it even useful).

I may relapse in the future, so readers please don't take this as a success story, until I'm back here with a PhD or a successful start up. :)

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T06:45:31.461Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I could learn math quicker by self-studying and watching Khan academy. I could learn a language quicker by going to a country where that language is spoken or making a friend who speaks that language (I'm thinking spanish). Or I could read in that language (I'm already fairly fluent though. So this might not apply to all).
  2. All classes in school kill my motivation. What is motivating about jumping through hoops and doing problems that don't actually teach you. What's motivating about being surrounded on all sides by people who are slacking and cheating?
  3. College != success || money. Look at "The education of millionaires" or Uncollege.
comment by atucker · 2011-11-26T16:04:55.250Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Make friends with people like you.

This.

I was lucky in that my high school had a program that wasn't a totally miserable waste of my time, but even in there most of the vaguely ambitious kids become ambitious kids at different times, get lonely, and fizzle out.

Primates need friends.

Would anyone be interested in a weekly or biweekly Google+ hangout? I'd set one up if like, 3 people felt like joining.

Edit: So we're doing this. Any preferences on days?

Also, please join this group: http://groups.google.com/group/lesswrong-highschool?hl=en

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-26T19:21:38.840Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be interested.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-26T17:25:37.197Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Google + has refused my attempt to get an account, because I am too young. Is the age limit 18? Do I need to get another account (and lie about my age) or is there a way to change my age in their system?

If these are resolved, count me in for weekly meetups.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2011-11-26T17:50:37.429Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's probably safest to get a separate account and lie about your age, since there are scare-stories going around about people having all Google services blocked, because their age contradicted Google+ policy (while Google+ account creation with too-young age was still possible!).

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T17:55:23.896Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Count me in. That makes 3.

comment by atucker · 2011-11-26T17:35:49.595Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. That's weird.

You can definitely lie about your age, but I'm not finding any obvious age-changing features.

comment by demented · 2011-11-26T16:25:15.286Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I'm a high school senior.
  2. I read extensively outside my school curriculum-mostly books recommended by rationalists/atheists here and on other similar sites. I've also read a few "soft" science books such as those by Hawking, Ridley and so on.
  3. Less than five in my grade. My school is fairly competitive and mostly composed of top students from other schools so there are intellectually curious people here.
  4. I'm considering economics or engineering as a career. I like physics too but have been lagging behind lately- so maybe I'm not career material in that field.
  5. Never heard of it before today, probably because it is a US-centric thing and I'm from outside the States. Visited the site and feel it doesn't apply to me.
comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T21:27:22.802Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I stopped reading the "soft" pop science books I while ago because I felt that they were a bit repetitive (especially in psych). Luckily, my neighbor works as Pearson, so I get free textbooks on Ev. Psych and AI.

  2. There was a discussion somewhere (that I'm trying desperately to find) that discussed how necessary it was to be a math genius to contribute to SIAI research. EDIT: found it

comment by jsteinhardt · 2011-11-27T00:34:26.214Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Was it this one?

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T01:18:24.338Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No. It was something by lukeprog I think. IIRC, he was talking about cognitive science publications.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T15:52:45.378Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW
  1. 17- Junior/Senior (third year of school. Have enough credits to graduate this year) (Trying to decide if I want to graduate early)
  2. I've been going to the library and maxing out the number of books I can check out. More recently, I've joined LW.
  3. Family = none. School = some people who are semi-philosophical but not very LW rational.
  4. I've always thought it was more important to know what I want to do rather than where I want to go. That said, I'm either going to try to directly contribute bringing about the singularity by research or help by donating (and maybe trying to reform education).
  5. You betcha! I can apply for three years and that's what I'll do until I get in.
  6. This seems so long ago
comment by nebulous · 2011-11-26T22:03:28.447Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From the Thiel Fellowship website: "The ideal candidate has ideas that simply cannot wait. She or he wants to change the world and has already started to do it in some fashion. We want fellows who dream big and have clear plans [...]" I'm interested in what you have in mind for your Thiel grant--some singularity-promoting project? Have you already done some work in that direction?

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T01:25:00.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have a lot of ideas. Mainly education reform and media curation and community building, but also some ideas for the application of environmental technologies. But, currently lack business knowledge. Working on that right now (I'm reading the Personal MBA and Getting Things Done. 4 steps to epiphany is on my list. I'm hoping that if I got the scholarship, I would be directed to mentors and resources that would help me pick up the business information I lack). I will be making a post soon about my ideas in more depth shortly. They will be imbedded within one of those "how can I help?" style posts.

comment by nebulous · 2011-11-26T21:58:03.284Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW
  1. 17, senior.
  2. Not when thinking about it that way, though recreational research in pop sci, apologetics, and epistemology have gotten me to the point where I'm much more knowledgeable in those areas than my average classmate.
  3. None in my family, and one in my school--the calculus and Bible teacher, very into apologetics. We argue for ~45 minutes every Tuesday thanks to my school's shuffling schedule.
  4. Highest paying career I can attain, don't know what yet. Whatever school I can enter that gets me to the career.
  5. After reading the winners of the grants and noting that they have absurd accomplishments, no.
comment by MatthewBaker · 2011-11-29T19:23:37.205Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW
  1. My name is Matt, Graduated 1.5 years ago.

  2. I have always studied my own interests and tend not to pay to close attention to what my teachers were asking the class. this often forces them to ask me questions just as often as I question them which usually sets us up as having some kind of discourse which leads to mentor-friendship. I quickly learned if the appearance of your intellect is large then you can usually form a friendly relationship with your teachers and they wont fail you if you put in a modicum of effort. I never really worried about my GPA in high-school and carried an SAT study book around about a week before my exam to force myself to study and absorb some of the carbon atoms through diffusion while I slept on the book. Somehow I got a good score and ended up at a nice cost effective CSU that people tell me is one of the best in the state. In college my GPA has been a good letter grade or so higher than high school but it feels like I'm doing a ton less work so I just applied for a few transfers to top tier schools because being lazy and getting accepted to good schools is what currently keeps my family supplying me with funds. Eliezer was the first writer to ever draw me away from the endless super-stimuli of the internet long enough to make me feel bad about not being more altruistic. Once I met him and saw how overworked you guys are compared to my lazy lifestyle I started a fun plan to hopefully be able to supply SIAI and myself with useful amounts of capital till I am out of school which recently has taken a $400 hit after initial successes. I will persist as long as I can delude myself into the sunk cost fallacy however so don't worry too much about me :)

3-4. My family is amazing and I would give anything to be able to pay for their cryonics payments today but right now we are still trying to put my brothers and I through school. Once I graduate and can put my engineering degree to work I hope I can work with my father who has a work ethic that I have previously been able to copy in his presence and convince them to let me pay for their cryonics as well as continuing to hobby in coding and supporting SIAI through the primary unit of caring.

5. I'm not 20 yet, so I will send in an application when the next round comes around.

6. I never really felt like I needed to introduce myself to LessWrong, I felt like I had found an overbearing set of grandparents the instant I found the place and they seem a lot more open-minded than my original set who I still love deeply and will miss for as long as I live.

I felt like posting on this thread mainly because young people who aren't as lazy as me are great assets to LessWrong and I want to say that I'm extremely proud of your ability to focus in High School and offer my personal advice to any who seek it on anything. If your looking for general High School advice, I suggest you do not under any circumstances go after a Marine's girlfriend and try to make as many friends(or optimize for charisma) as possible like our dear wedifrid suggests below.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-30T00:46:11.742Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

2) my teacher's always get very angry when I read in their classes. They aren't really intellectuals. They have gotten good at repeating the same lecture period after period year after year (although there are exceptions whom I very grateful for).

comment by arundelo · 2011-11-30T00:04:15.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Numbered list formatting help.

comment by Nectanebo · 2011-11-27T16:12:51.329Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

deleted

comment by EStokes · 2011-11-26T17:21:29.539Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Er, I'm not new, but I assume this is for high schoolers regardless of how long they've been on here? That seems most convenient, at least.

  1. 16, junior
  2. Eh, not really. Nothing focused.
  3. Not a one, so far as I know.
  4. My plan is to get a bachelor's in computer science or the equivalent, save money by continuing to live with my mom, and then go to an art school.
  5. No
comment by Alexei · 2011-11-26T17:51:53.270Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What will you do with a Bachelor's in CS? Why do you want to go to Art School after that? What will you do after all of that?

comment by EStokes · 2011-11-26T21:09:36.987Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ultimately I'd like to get a job as a video game concept artist, as I like video games and drawing. However, it seems pretty tough to get a job in, and art school is probably going to end up costing a pretty sum, even looking at TAD which looks promising. The bachelor's in CS will be free here in Denmark, so I'll then use that to get a job as a programmer and save up some money for art school, and then I'll have something to fall back onto if art school doesn't work out and which can work as another way into the games industry.

Related to future plans, I also like the idea of donating 10% of income to charity.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T21:24:41.841Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is a BS in CS free in Denmark?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-26T21:29:20.832Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are lots of countries around the world that offer publically-funded university-level education.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T01:15:49.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Which countries? If I immigrated, would I be eligible?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-27T03:24:21.515Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Which countries?

Wikipedia is your friend: Public University

And I hope I'm not expected to know by heart the educational systems and immigration policies of all the countries in the world? I'd expect most publicly-funded universities would be for citizens' (or atleast permanent residents') children, as it's those people that pay the taxes that fund the university.

But that's the sort of subject that you should investigate yourself, not take my word (and guesswork) for it.

comment by Michelle_Z · 2011-11-27T01:59:49.426Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I plan on being a video game concept artist as well. I am in the process of getting a degree in graphic design, which is a larger umbrella than the pure art that is required in order to be a concept artist. I figure I will work in whatever job I can find in graphics, meanwhile trying to get my name out there. I figure I'll also do commissions work and that kind of thing. If you ever have any questions about illustrator/Photoshop or any of that in general, feel free to pm me.

comment by Alexei · 2011-11-26T22:21:41.671Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like a very round-about way, but I understand that when money is tight, it's often necessary to go in a safe way like that. My advice is to make a lot of art on your own time. That's the best way to get good and to show that you know what you are doing. Work on indie games, do freelancing.

In fact, I'm actually starting to work on a game based on Eliezer's "The Simple Truth" article. I was planning to look for some amateur artists on DeviantArt, someone who is in the situation like you: they could use practice and exposure. If you are interested, let me know (private message), and we can try to work something out. I'm not promising anything though.

comment by lessdazed · 2011-11-27T02:13:36.486Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a game based on Eliezer's "The Simple Truth" article.

Consider making "Count be Wrong".

comment by Alexei · 2011-11-27T07:44:02.464Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hah! That's a little outside of my scope, but a good point. Some people need basics' basics.

comment by Solvent · 2011-11-27T10:22:36.904Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I graduated about a week ago, but I'm in Australia, so I'm going to sneak in here anyway.

  1. I'm 17. I graduated year 12 last week.

  2. To enrich myself, I chose to do the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is an international curriculum far more rigorous than the Queensland one. That was a great decision. I also attended the National Youth Science Forum, an event for Australian high school students. This was the most amazing fortnight of my life: the ridiculous level of intelligence of the participants made it incredibly entertaining.

  3. My dad's fairly rationalist, thanks to his business education. The kids who did the IB with me were far more philosophical than average, and I got to discuss all kinds of rationality stuff with them.

  4. I'm applying to Stanford in California, and to a Science course at ANU (the Australian national university).

  5. Holy crap, that is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I am totally applying to that.

comment by Nectanebo · 2011-11-27T16:26:15.881Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

deleted

comment by Solvent · 2011-11-28T01:01:18.099Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, I didn't.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T00:18:27.346Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At risk of other-optimizing:

How To Get The Most Out of High School

Take as many AP tests as you can. (in the U.S., at least. I'm not sure what the international equivalent is). Take AP tests even in subjects you haven't taken in school. You get credits towards college, it looks impressive on a college resume, and you get to go at your own pace. Specifically, microeconomics is very easy to teach yourself and very useful.

Take as many science and math classes as you possibly can. If your school limits you to one or two science classes simultaneously, go and talk to your counselor. If you make enough of a nuisance of yourself, you can usually get what you want - and no matter what you want to major in, foundations in science and math are important. If you do poorly in math/science classes, try doing all your homework three times - the day before the material is covered in class, the day after the material is covered in class, and again before the test.

Join clubs/sports teams. Even if you're introverted (especially if you're introverted), you need regular IRL social interaction to be happy. If you're at all athletic, sports are an automatic boost in social status in addition to being relaxing and sometimes fun. If you don't think you're at all athletic, you probably haven't found your sport yet - I have no hand-eye coordination, so I run cross country. Debate teams are also a great place to find people with the 'taking ideas seriously' gene, though their effect on rationality is mixed at best.

To make time for the above: figure out which classes you care about. Do your homework for those classes during your other classes. Shakespeare isn't really my thing, so I usually finish Physics during English. Gamify things: assign yourself challenges (get through ten math problems in History without making the teacher suspicious) with rewards for finishing them (no math homework tonight!).

Figure out what skills you are learning that you will want in real life, and actively optimize them. The ability to write coherently (and quickly) is important even if you plan to be an engineer, as is the ability to read and absorb stuff quickly. The ability to solve math problems without making stupid sloppy errors is equally important, though I haven't figured out how to optimize this yet. Also, school is a built in opportunity to practice explaining singulatarianism/transhumanism/cryonics to other people. It doesn't matter if people think you're weird, you won't see any of them again anyway after you graduate. Practice different approaches to explaining ideas you are passionate about and see which one gets the best response.

Apply for scholarships. There's tons of them out there, and many of them don't get enough applicants. It's free money, which you will need if you intend to attend a good college (especially in the United States.) And you should plan to attend a good college, unless you have an absolutely brilliant idea: graduates from expensive big name schools earn lots more than from cheaper schools.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T01:33:02.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying to get out of AP econ to self-study. What sources are did you use to study it? I am also getting out of being babysat for a year by taking the AP English exam. The head of the english department wasn't too happy about it "We are required by law to let you do this".

I quit playing sports because they took up too much time in my pursuit of knowledge. I have so little time for actually learning because I'm so busy jumping through hoops during the day. I thought about doing debate team, but I enjoy sleeping in on saturdays.

I think I will try explaining transhumanism to my peers now that you mention it, but I don't know what to say without saying "if WBE happens, we could live in a Matrix and change it however we like". They're like "cool. matrix. gotcha."

If I get the Thiel Fellowship I'm taking it. If not, I'm going to college.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T02:10:05.378Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I studied from my school's textbook (it was free); the textbook recommendations might be better. If you just want a 5 on the AP test, buy the Princeton Review AP Macro/Micro book and memorize it. (Same goes for AP U.S. and AP World History).

Since you quit sports, do you actually spend more time pursuing knowledge? I find I spend more time procrastinating.

For transhumanism, I usually say, "Hey did you see that study? They might have figured out how to cure aging in mice."

"Wow. Cool. Hopefully they figure it out for peop - actually, if they cure aging, we're screwed. Overpopulation - "

"Yeah, definitely. The thing is, all the people who should be figuring out how to deal with that stuff aren't, because it sounds like sci-fi. So instead of thinking of solutions, they're all just, like, 'not going to happen'. Me, I hope they cure aging. Aging sucks."

"You want to live forever?"

"I don't want to die anytime soon, do you? And I think most people only want to die at 80 because being old isn't much fun. If we were getting stronger, smarter, doing interesting stuff... Well, imagine being born in 1700. Wouldn't you still want to be alive today? So much awesome stuff has happened since then..."

"That'd be pretty cool, actually. But if everyone lives forever..."

"That's why we've got to figure this stuff out now, instead of just waiting to see what happens."

(Of the methods I've tested, this seems to be the only conversation track that mostly avoids "But death is good...." conversations).

comment by [deleted] · 2011-11-27T19:20:09.898Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I usually try to strongly emphasise that curing ageing =/= living forever. I've found it much easier to convince people that curing ageing is a good idea, than living "forever".

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T19:23:29.996Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. But if you tell people you want to cure aging, a lot of them jump to 'live forever' - you have to consciously direct the conversation back to aging, if that's what you want to discuss.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-11-27T14:24:37.765Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"That'd be pretty cool, actually. But if everyone lives forever..."

"That's why we've got to figure this stuff out now, instead of just waiting to see what happens."

Well, to be fair, everyone living forever while staying on Earth has some predictably bad consequences. But we've brought up Earth's carrying capacity plenty of times before, and there are plausible ways that we could do it again. It's an issue we're probably going to have to address regardless.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T16:14:26.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's my point.

It's easier to get people to agree that we need to be thinking ahead and actively planning for transformative technologies, than it is to get them to agree that immortality is possible or desirable. But once they've agreed it is important to take these ideas seriously, then they will listen to much crazier sounding ideas, since they've starting thinking of themselves as people who Take Crazy-Sounding Ideas Seriously.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T02:43:05.192Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

At first I didn't spend more time studying, but at this point, I can definitely say that I do. However, I realized that I still have to exercise regularly in order to maintain my sanity/IQ so I cut my exercise time in half, but did not eliminate it.

And I'll have to give that transhumanism discussion another go with my parents/friends. My basic argument is that if you don't take it and it's there, that's suicide.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T02:57:01.012Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Which is true, but rarely persuasive. And it's not really an argument for supporting organizations that are working to develop the technology, which is more important. (I imagine once a cure for aging actually exists, it will be relatively easy to persuade people to take it.)

And focusing on the potential good future has (at least for me) proven more effective than focusing on the utter stupidity of letting people die.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T04:30:06.488Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the general counter argument there is that people would become bored if they lived forever because they would do everything there is to do. These people aren't very creative IMO. Or maybe they have just been brainwashed.

comment by billswift · 2011-11-27T06:21:56.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Studying languages usually gives better return than high school science courses which usually range from mediocre to sucky. Science is something you can read about on your own (the labs are usually the least useful part of high school science), languages you gain a lot more from working in a class.

Note that I went to Eleanor Roosevelt Center for Science and Technology several decades ago, the shop classes I took (Construction Technology and Technical Illustration) were fairly good and useful, the science classes were pretty mediocre.

I was also thinking of Heinlein's advice to learn Math, Languages, and History, math and languages are really helped by having a teacher and working with others.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T06:40:11.346Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd agree that it makes sense to take subjects you can't learn on your own, and avoid subjects that are poorly taught, but I imagine that varies a fair bit by school. My school's language classes were pretty terrible; I learned Spanish from spaced repetition and watching movies, which is probably not optimal. In contrast, our science classes are decent, and I personally benefited a lot from talking things over with classmates (for a recent example, no one in my class understood thermodynamics, so we spent a couple hours talking it over together before someone figured it out.)

comment by Ebelean · 2012-01-03T03:42:26.289Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1) I'm a senior in high school in the USA; I'm 17.

2) Outside of school, I've done summer programs, the most recent one was studying creative writing at the California State Summer School of the Arts (also known as CSSSA)- we board down in Valencia for four weeks and work with professional writers. If anyone's interested in writing, it's an amazing program. There's a math and science equivalent- COSMOS, which is supposed to be pretty good. I'd probably be going to that next summer if I hadn't got a job. At school, I've been taking as many APs as are allowed by my family. My school's pretty academically challenging, with high level courses if you're willing to put the effort into getting them.

3) Erm... I don't know any other rationalists, but I am taking a Philosophy class, and it's pretty popular. My dad's pretty philosophical. My friends aren't rationalists, but we have debates about cryonics all the time since I introduced them to the topic. I linked them to this site, so they might show up eventually, hopefully.

4) I'm hoping to major in Computer Science with a minor in either Economics, Film or Writing. Though that might be subject to change, but right now it seems pretty set. I applied to a wide range of schools, most on the East Coast or in California. MIT would probably be my top choice.

5) Not old enough, not sure if I want to.

6) Here you go

comment by TrE · 2011-11-26T21:38:56.427Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  1. 17, senior year in a German high school.

  2. Currently taking the ml and ai classes. I also participated (and will continue to do so) in various camps and courses, for example about physics. Moreover, I very successfully participate(d) in competitions about natural sciences ("very successfully" means twice on a national level).

  3. I know about a few people at school with this sort of "spirit" though none of them reads lw.

  4. I'm not quite certain, although it'll probably be something in the natural/comp science range.

  5. Nope.

  6. Don't have one.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-10-08T01:48:58.190Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  1. 17, F, a senior in high school.
  2. Yes. I think seriously about life and philosophy. I read things and I try to find people who are studying mathematics or physics to encourage me. I cultivate my appreciation for science and mathematics on a daily basis yet struggle with studying for my math & science classes. I take the initiative to contact people and I've interviewed scientists on behalf of school publications. I spent my summer participating in research at university (though I did not really apply much thought to the process). My current project involves refining the act of learning. I am searching for the appropriate methods and resources to learn the things I am interested in since I find high school very irritating.
  3. The internet is the reason I know intellectually-attractive people at all. I am very much on the search for mentors and friends in meatspace who are just as intellectually attractive as, say, LW users & their respective profiles.
  4. I would like to be some sort of scientist, artist of knowledge, philosopher, thinker, whatever! I am considering things like physics, artificial intelligence and cognitive science. It would be nice to get into the University of Chicago. But I might end up at Rutgers University.
  5. I might.
  6. My introduction is kind of lame.
comment by gyokuro · 2012-04-01T04:57:42.392Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1) I'm 16, a sophomore in high school.

2) I thought that LW counted as enhancing my education, so a lot of that (good for disguised procrastination, but procrastination can be productive!) Also I go to a Music and Arts academy each weekend, where I learn music theory/history and volunteer. In the summer I want to volunteer for a professor at UCSB doing independent research, so I'm working on contacting a few. Besides that, nothing college application-noteworthy. In high school: I'm taking 3 AP classes and English 110 this year. In the summer I'll take two city college classes, and in junior and senior year I'm doing the IB program (6-7 classes for two years).

3) My parents are highly educated and nicely skeptical of the world, so maybe rational, just not rationalists. I have a good friend who competes in the USAJMO and enjoys talking to me about what I read here, except has no interest in this actual site. I'd call him my chavruta.

4) Perhaps psychology? Or chemistry? Preferably a science. Living in academia for the rest of my life would be great. Right now I'm looking at the UC schools and a few private ones (Stanford, Ivy League), but I haven't researched yet.

5) Ooh, I don't think I want to skip college. I don't have any good ideas right now, do you know where I can find some?

6) My intro post

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-27T01:36:12.471Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why are so few people interested in applying for the Thiel scholarshp? I feel that it's obviously more educational than going to school. Are you so afraid of not getting it that you don't bother applying?

comment by Darmani · 2011-11-27T06:13:46.476Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For a lot of subjects, it's hard to beat school. You need constant feedback to improve in most areas, and good feedback is hard to come by without paying. I would recommend against trying to learn how to write a proof without a teacher as much as I would against learning piano. (I've tried both.)

I've been taught more things than I've learned on my own, but of the things I've learned poorly, most where things I learned on my own.

comment by Darmani · 2011-11-27T06:41:22.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Looking at your other posts, it sounds like high school has tainted your opinion of schooling in general. However, college is Hard. A lot of people from my school make big bucks and find the rest of life extremely easy in comparison.

comment by KPier · 2011-11-27T02:17:00.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if you don't think there's much chance you'll get it there isn't much point in applying, when you could instead be applying for other scholarships that you're likelier to get. Also, many people love college, and many people learn well in an academic environment, and many jobs require a college education.

comment by Anna_Zhang · 2013-07-19T01:22:09.558Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1.Hello, I'm Anna Zhang, a high school freshman and a thirteen year old. I'm sort of new to rationality, and only started on this site half a month ago. It's nice to meet everyone.

  1. I homeschool, (since I live in China right now), and whenever I have time, I try to learn new things. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time, because my family came up with the brilliant idea to have me take classes both for homeschooling and at the local Chinese school, and not just select courses either. It's very tiring, and I don't get much time to learn about rationality, though this site helps a lot. 3.My entire family is devoutly Buddhism, and I...am also? Very uncertain here...ahahaha. (Mostly because I keep getting confused after listening to a lecture by my uncle, who is the closest to being rational.) I live in a university, since my genius of a sister got into university at the age of thirteen, so naturally, the school drags my mom to China. For good measure, I was dragged along also. However, this means I'm in contact with some extremely philosophical people who are always criticizing something or another. I don't like them that much. 4.I'm considering some universities in Canada, England and America, and some rather varied careers. I'm still a freshman, so I'm having a very hard time deciding. My teachers say that if I can get my Chemistry (and psychology) grades back up to 95%, I can go wherever I want, but it's hard. I'm very bad with Chemistry, but I sort of want to be a psychiatrist/surgeon/doctor, but if those don't work out, librarian, teacher, psychologist or professor could work too. I don't want to teach traditional Chinese literature like my family wants me to, so I'm considering these options instead.
  2. I'm sorry...I don't really understand the concept of a Thiel Fellowship.
  3. Sorry, I don't really know how to.
comment by Brendon_Wong · 2013-07-18T18:38:41.995Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I'm a 15, a sophomore in high school
  2. I love to read nonfiction books. I read books about topics I'm really interested in, and I use the internet to explore smaller interests
  3. None that I know about
  4. I am considering starting businesses or nonprofits, or working at Leverage Research once I fulfill their hiring criteria :)
  5. I have to look into the Theil Fellowship more, it was suggested to me once before
  6. Found it
comment by kilobug · 2011-11-27T11:11:44.015Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Nice idea. Be careful that "3. (if we are in a public school) Looking for ways to game the system (because we're not learning much in it)." is quite US-specific. Both in the way to game the system (since systems are very different from place to place), and in the relative quality of public/private schools (and the absolute quality of public ones). It may have changed since my time (almost 15 years already... time flies fast) but French public high-school used to be interesting places in which you could learn a lot if you wanted to.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-12-04T18:11:45.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Message me about joining the facebook group.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T15:55:49.723Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also, why isn't the linking syntax the same for comments as articles?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2011-11-26T16:11:44.891Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's because articles allow full usage of html tags (I believe) -- e.g. adding tables, using different fonts/colors/text sizes/multimedia if need etc -- but comments use the markdown syntax, which is much more convenient and easy to learn for the purposes of easy commenting/quoting text.

I think despite the discrepancy, the choices are good for their respective purposes.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T16:28:12.487Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So how do I fix the OP?

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T16:32:37.597Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently, somebody edited the post or it edited itself. Weird.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2011-11-26T16:41:02.180Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I have it on good authority that posts don't edit themselves (next time, please use HTML or 'Insert/edit link' button in the article editor).

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-11-26T20:17:02.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've figured it out!