Group Rationality Diary, February 2017

post by Viliam · 2017-02-01T12:11:44.212Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 30 comments

This is the public group rationality diary for February, 2017. It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

  • Established a useful new habit

  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief

  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations

  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior

  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something

  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life

  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves. Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

(Note: Seems like we didn't have Group Rationality Diary for a few months, so feel free to write about things that happened in the previous months, too.)


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-03T02:02:22.985Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I learned something new.

As a social worker, clinician, psychiatric counselor for detox/behavioral disturbances/mental illness to I've been with refugees, immigrants, and the forgotten ones, to attempted murder to young teenaged mothers...all the way from infants to stellar 90 year olds... the more I understand people...the more I become numb. Perhaps I am desensitized as I encounter crisis, having to section someone in, someone dying right there and then, etc. I no longer feel the same way. It's like watching a horror movie over and over but no longer fearing them. I think I need to figure this out.

Replies from: Lumifer, Viliam, Elo
comment by Lumifer · 2017-02-03T19:30:12.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As far as I know this is entirely normal. Essentially it's a psychological self-defence mechanism: if you don't become numb you'll burn out in short order. A very similar thing happens with ER doctors, many first responders, etc.

A typical "symptom" is developing a repertoire of jokes which to outsiders sound morbid, cynical, and horribly tasteless :-/

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-03T19:36:26.820Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

oh yes! Bless their souls with having to scrap melted skin off their suits.

I did not think of morbid jokes as a typical symptom...This explains a lot. Thank for pointing that out.

comment by Viliam · 2017-02-03T11:05:20.485Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think what you described happens to many people. So... I guess there are already standard solutions to this problem, so you should ask an expert.

As an uneducated opinion, I'd ask: (a) does this "becoming numb" influence your professional output negatively, or (b) does it have a negative influence of your personal life? Depending on the answer, solve the specific subproblem. If it is a professional problem, surely many other people in your profession have it, and your profession already has standard solutions. If it is a personal problem, either find a therapist, or take a break.

You have seen parts of reality that most people don't see, don't want to see, and they would probably argue with you if you tried to explain. That happens, and it creates a communication problem. You will probably need to find a place where you talk about these things, and accept that most of the world is not such place.

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-03T17:10:43.640Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes there are...such as self care, understanding compassion fatigue, always use supervision to keep yourself in check, and I always encourage all mental health staff to have a therapist. After pondering on this thought and then going to bed and waking up to revisit it, I think it is more useful than bad:

You cannot bring other people's troubles home with you. This is a recipe for disaster if you were in everyone's lives 24/7.

"We are trained to respond not to react" type of trainings. "crisis prevention intervention" CPI...might be an example of this.

I have not lost empathy though. I just no longer find things disturbing. I agree with you, such topics you cannot speak to the general public because it is inappropriate, graphic, gore etc.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2017-02-03T18:35:30.663Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most people have horrible lives, completely needlessly, full of suffering. Not your fault. Blame god. But there is no god.

Sorry, I'm drunk. (Still perceive reality better than 99% of people.)

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-03T18:52:20.328Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh yeah most people do, no doubt about that. Eventually I will take a break from this field perhaps in the next few years.

Also it makes me wonder if you are drunk and on lesswrong you must read a lot on here?

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2017-02-06T09:22:05.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Heh, I do spend here much more time than would be optimal, but the Friday was like this: First I got drunk at a company party. Then I received a call from a customer; they found a bug that was threatening something they needed to do on Monday. So, being at the company building, I went to fix the bug, and while compiling I read some LW. Had to type shortly, because these days computers compile pretty fast. :D

Don't worry, I don't "drink and browse LW" as a way to cope with my problems.

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-06T22:02:41.727Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Haha! Seemed like a grand ol time.

comment by Elo · 2017-02-03T02:40:28.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

can you be more specific?

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-03T17:12:44.332Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry I am new here...are you asking ME to give you specific examples of being desensitized?

Replies from: Elo
comment by Elo · 2017-02-04T01:24:20.097Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you be more specific about the situation that you experienced this time. Or was that actually a recount?

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-06T22:11:06.041Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay let me see if I answered your question right...please let me know so I can.

The other day a seemingly well mother came to terminate her parental rights. She was well dressed, healthy looking, and had an educated background. She terminated her rights and gave the state her infant because she spent the past few years prostitution and using drugs. I validated her by telling she is doing what is best for her baby by allowing the baby to be in a nurturing enivironment (hopefully in good foster home).

New workers had reactions of being agasted at how someone could be so reckless with a child in tow. Whereas the seasoned workers had a sigh of relief that the mother was not going to hire a lawyer and fight the case. There's a big difference in reactions there.

Replies from: Elo
comment by Elo · 2017-02-06T23:19:15.338Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

answered your question right

yes. That's incredible! I find real life much more interesting than a summary like; "the more I understand people...the more I become numb."

telling she is doing what is best for her baby by allowing the baby to be in a nurturing environment

When you told her - was it true? Did you have to lie to her to make her comply?

Desensitised in the sense that the actions of the mother no longer made you feel aghast-ed? but you recognise that at the start of the job you were aghast and now it's like this every day.

I think the same could be said for professions like ambulance officers, who would see many kinds of injuries and at some point injury is just injury. and say; IT support where at some point the dumbness of computer users is just more of the same thing over...

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-06T23:28:08.461Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. And no I did not lie to her. She had no means or intentions of taking care of a child...foster for the baby was the best option she had.

I do not lie to patients/client. Nor do I give them advice. I offer their options but ultimately it is their decision.

And yes. Social field is very interesting. There are a lot of horror stories out there for sure and inspirational ones too.

If you would ever like to hear more real life commentaries , just send me a PM :)

Replies from: Viliam, Elo
comment by Viliam · 2017-02-07T10:03:02.147Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too many people would be sending PMs I guess. Please post an article. I don't mind even if it's off-topic to LW, I will upvote it anyway (and downvoting is disabled). Though you may want to sufficiently anonymize it.

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-07T15:21:58.111Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not mind PMs at all. I am still getting a feel of the LW community and how things are in terms of posting articles... to be honest I have no clue on how I would post an article featuring people's accounts. And yes I would leave out details that would allude to a person's identity for sure.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2017-02-07T16:10:33.084Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, another option is to post it as a comment in Open Thread.

comment by Elo · 2017-02-07T04:20:23.889Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are a lot of horror stories out there for sure and inspirational ones too.

Maybe it's worth writing a book? Or something creative? To take your mind off it?

will PM

comment by dglukhov · 2017-02-01T20:38:49.593Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trying to fix physical posture currently. With time, I hope to learn how to do proper form on a majority of lifts. I've found that as I've been working on this, my ability to focus has improved, and consequently I came upon the mental postures article as a sort of mental analogue to the endeavor to have good biomechanics.

I wish I had a better way of studying...whatever, without sitting. I hate sitting (even properly, with back engaged and shoulders down), I know it doesn't do me any good and, on certain days, I find I reverse all the hard work and effort I put into trying to put my body back into alignment because I sat for too long learning to code or doing work. If I could squat, I'd probably already be able to solve this problem. But I can't sit squatted without doing it wrong, I can't change my work desk, nor can I move the computer somewhere more accessible to, let's say, a kneeling position or a position where I sit on my calves instead of a seat. Perhaps I should invest in a seat big enough to let me sit cross-legged? I hope I can afford it, because I can't think of anything else.

EDIT: I think the real issue is that the task of focusing on not sitting robs me of focus to do the studying. Is there a way around this, or is multitasking my only real savior here?

Replies from: Lumifer, Screwtape, lifelonglearner
comment by Lumifer · 2017-02-01T21:54:08.163Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you considered a kneeling chair?

Replies from: dglukhov
comment by dglukhov · 2017-02-02T13:52:16.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have not, I'll see if I can find any. Thank you!

comment by Screwtape · 2017-02-02T21:09:00.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Depending on your work/study habits, I find that not sitting for very long helps me immensely. I find my posture degrades the longer I'm sitting. If I stand up and stretch or take a walk around the block every hour, my back feels much better at the end of the day.

comment by lifelonglearner · 2017-02-02T02:37:05.899Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are there good workplaces where you could stand and work? There are a few cafes near me w/ high tables that make working a lot better because I too dislike sitting.

Also, the kneeling chair Lumifer suggested is pretty awesome, though I've only tried it a few times at a friend's.

comment by lifelonglearner · 2017-02-02T02:35:34.101Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recently wrote up my workflow which goes over a combination of tools that I use to keep myself in check. The post has pictures / longer explanations, but in short:

  • Unread-first function on Gmail + FutureMe + self-emails + Google Calendar for reminders

  • Actual paper slips that I put under my watch, pocket, etc. for more urgent reminders

  • Write ideas / musings down in a sketchbook (it's all white, which I find more liberating).

  • Google Keep for "everything else that might be mildly interesting"

  • Workflowy for breaking down large tasks / paper schedule for day-to-day things

  • Kill New Feed for better Facebook browsing

  • Toggl for general data about where my time goes

  • White noise generator app for productivity

Replies from: Applesauce
comment by Applesauce · 2017-02-02T15:22:18.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have you ever forgotten that you put the actual paper slip in your pocket for reminders?

Replies from: lifelonglearner
comment by lifelonglearner · 2017-02-02T17:04:49.861Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not too bad. I check my pockets fairly regularly (I also keep my pen in there). Otherwise, I'll just do the paper-under-watch thing.

comment by MaryCh · 2017-11-18T17:37:03.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I think it is going to be useful, but I don't know yet.) I have a problem: lack of body mass, no set lunch break at work and things to do besides dinner that is yet to be made when I get home, which is about 7 pm. It's especially bad during "The Season" (middle August - middle October), the time when many people come to us to buy textbooks and we have time to maybe drink a cup of tea, if we remember to do it during a lull. Sometimes, I even took something with me and just forgot to take it out. Then we get home, eat whatever and go to sleep.

Recently, The Season ended & I tried eating just before I leave for home, so that when I do get home I have time to cook something that doesn't take much time, and/or uses ingredients from yesterday. Unfortunately, if I cook larger portions, we lose the food in the fridge. Now crossing fingers to keep this up.