Open Thread: What are your important insights or aha! moments?

post by Emile · 2014-11-09T22:56:57.754Z · score: 16 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 61 comments

Sometimes our minds suddenly "click" and we see a topic in a new light. Or sometimes we think we understand an idea, think it's stupid and ignore attempts to explain it ("yeah, I already know that"), until we suddenly realize that our understanding was wrong.

This kind of insight is supposedly hard to transmit, but it might be worth a try!

So, what kind of important and valuable insights do you wish you had earlier? Could you try to explain briefly what led to the insight, in a way that might help others get it?

61 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-11-10T02:18:55.492Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

One day I realized that having patience and focusing on gradual improvement rather than quick fixes was necessary for deeply ingrained problems (like forms of akrasia).

Some others:

  1. Taking breaks is not negotiable.

  2. Maintaining social contact with someone is your responsibility, not theirs.

  3. If you try to have too much control in your life, you'll become brittle and unable to handle unexpected changes.

  4. "Willpower" is basically worthless. The best productivity strategy is to make productivity habitual.

    4.5. You spend the vast majority of your waking day completely unconscious, doing whatever you're habitually used to doing.

  5. Adopting political labels is a negative sum game.

comment by imuli · 2014-11-10T03:51:25.889Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Not (very) applicable if you have a strong gender identity: I'd always been fairly confused as to whether I was a woman or a man, neither one really fit quite right. Five years ago I met my first person who identified as genderqueer, but generalizing from that (one) example I thought it a mere label - I didn't see how their behavior diverged substantially from their sex given gender. Last year or so, The Third Alternative, Keeping Your Identity Small, and applying being a linguistic descriptivist to my broader life came together. I'm a person, more or less human, and that's it. One can choose null (but of course, the vast majority of acquaintances won't notice...).

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-11-10T13:20:43.548Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Not (very) applicable if you have a strong gender identity

I think this one is also applicable if you do. Anyone who feels the need to do certain things, or avoid other things, against their actual wishes in the matter, because their "gender identity" tells them, "a Man must ---" or "a Woman must ---" would help themselves by learning this lesson.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-11T01:26:47.503Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Many people find it helpful to have a clearly defined gender persona, however. It's just that people who have a strong pre-existing preference in the matter (which is essentially what a "gender identity" is) will probably choose to project an outward persona that's consistent with their preference.

comment by SolveIt · 2014-11-10T08:04:41.433Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This is when I was eight or so, and it's the first aha! Moment that I remember. For the first time, I realized that = meant both sides were equal. Of course, I already knew that and paid lip service to it, but I had never really understood what it meant. In my mind, the LHS had had to be a computation of some sort, and the RHS had to be the result. I now knew that = meant that the two sides, whatever they may be, were the same thing.

It's very difficult to transmit this insight and have the receiver realize that this is a nontrivial insight. In my experience, only those who have had analogous experiences and those who teach math really get what I'm talking about.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-11-10T11:05:26.500Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I had an analogous experience when learning programming for the first time related to the return type of a function - that if you have a function like "int myFunction()" it in some sense "is" an integer, and so the function call can be substituted anywhere that you could use a literal integer (like 3).

Of course it's not quite that simple in most programming languages since impure functions can have side effects that have nothing to do with the return value, but it was still a helpful realization.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2014-11-10T10:09:14.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is interesting you understood imperative assignment at eight, before you understood equality. This meshes well with a hypothesis I heard.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-10T10:35:33.010Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

AIUI, what SolveIt describes is more like a reduction relation ('leads to') than imperative assignment. And it's not that surprising, because you have to know about evaluating expression before you can use equality in any non-trivial way.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2014-11-11T13:40:09.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't want to speak for SolveIt, but "result of computation" presupposes a different outcome for a counterfactually different computation input. Which is a very important difference between equality and what I call "imperative assignment."

But I agree that kids natively perceiving [equations as a symbol game] vs [equations as causal systems] are different hypotheses, and we ought to be able to test which is correct.

comment by pan · 2014-11-10T03:10:27.403Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

1) You haven't learned from a mistake until your behavior actually changes in a measurable way. For too long I would think rationally about my life but was missing the important next step: action. (Meta: after this realization a while back I've been tracking 'mistakes' I make and the conclusions I can make from them and have found the exercise very useful).

2) Something more directly LW related: For most of my life I had thought we were beyond the reach of God, but not until I read Eliezer's thoughts on the matter did it really 'click' with me how far reaching and terrifying of an idea it really is. I guess what really clicked was how much the idea that 'everything will work out eventually' is leftover in my thinking from childhood religion and movies where the virtuous prevail.

3) That even the most scientific and rational practices can very easily become empty rituals.

comment by shminux · 2014-11-09T23:45:50.206Z · score: 8 (16 votes) · LW · GW

LW-inspired, off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  1. Jealousy is conflating love with ownership (thanks, Alicorn!). Can be avoided if desired (but see 5 and 6).

  2. You don't have to identify with and defend your in-group, but it's OK to do for warm fuzzies sometimes.

  3. No one is a consequentialist, even if they insist they are. (See 5 and 6.)

  4. The Universe does not care about you, and any examples to the contrary are likely selection bias. But it's OK to believe that sometimes (see 6).

  5. Most people do not have conscious access to their real motives for behaving the way they do.

  6. System 2 loses to System 1 in a direct confrontation every time. Work around the latter to internalize and achieve your conscious goals. But see 7.

  7. Be very careful when messing with your System 1. It's not designed to be reversible. Unlearning is at least 10x harder than learning.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-11-10T03:12:10.075Z · score: 4 (12 votes) · LW · GW

You don't have to identify with and defend your in-group

If you don't identify with your in-group, it's not your in-group.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-11-10T21:29:35.264Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We really need some richer vocabulary for this. Ingroups in the senses of "groups you have positive feelings towards", "groups you consciously consider yourself part of", and "groups you subconsciously affiliate with, e.g. those for which, if their values are attacked, you feel offended" all seem to be psychologically distinct (if correlated), but often get conflated with each other, producing a lot of unproductive semantic argument.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-11-10T22:02:31.146Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If we were to go nuts on this, we'd probably need at least two continuous variables here, one to signify to what degree do you accept and support the group's values and goals, and one to determine how much are you actually involved with this particular group.

In practice, I tend to think in the following categories (for positive attitudes):

  • member of
  • affiliated with
  • sympathetic to
  • indifferent
comment by shminux · 2014-11-10T06:05:21.459Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I feel affinity to LW, but I do not consider myself a LWer.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-11-10T06:38:08.986Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it's a matter of word usage. I think of "in-group" as a group you identify yourself with, by definition. If someone comes up to you and asks whether you belong to group X, if you're not willing to answer "Sure!", that's not your in-group.

Of course the relationship of an individual to a group is more complicated than a single bit of belong / do-not-belong and one can draw the in-group boundary at different levels of affiliation.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-11-11T18:10:53.166Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Warning: This is a ramble.

"Jealousy" needs to be unpacked.

I've dealt with it mostly in a polyamorous relationship context, whereas some of the other comments in this thread are about "jealousy" of someone you're interested in but aren't in a relationship with. Those seem to be pretty different.

Jealousy as mind projection fallacy

The mind-projection view is that jealousy means that your partner has done something wrong. They have made you jealous, either intentionally or negligently, and it is their fault. This is incredibly unhelpful. It gives neither of you much insight into how to avoid the situation in the future. Being angry is not the best state to understand what's happened and why it caused you trouble. And it's self-reinforcing — even if they do avoid doing whatever you think "made you" jealous, that won't stop you from later becoming jealous over something even smaller. And it actively deters you from self-awareness and self-control, because you've pushed responsibility for your reactions onto someone else.

(Sure, it is possible for a manipulative partner to deliberately set out to make you jealous, because they have a model of your emotional reactions. To know someone is to be able to manipulate them. That kind of behavior is inconsistent with a consent-based relationship; though I would not go so far as to call it "emotional abuse" in every case. I still rank it at least as bad as deliberately sneaking bacon into a vegetarian's food. Or maybe cow eyeballs.)

Jealousy as a smoke alarm

A different view is that jealousy is not a reliable indicator of wrongdoing. It is usually an oversensitive one. But because it is so incredibly unpleasant to most people, it is itself worth avoiding for its own sake.

But that doesn't make it entirely a bad thing. The alarm on a smoke detector is an irritating loud beep. If it goes off every time you cook dinner, that's both oversensitive (as an alarm) and unpleasant (as something to live with). But disconnecting the smoke detector is not the best idea either.

(When I was in high school, my family had an oversensitive and underspecific smoke alarm near the kitchen. When it went off, 98% of the time it meant "Mom's cooking hamburgers for dinner and they're ready." So I came to associate that particular smoke alarm with good news (tasty food) even though the sound of the alarm was still irritating.)

One meme I picked up at OpenSF (a big polyamory conference a couple years ago) is that jealousy is not an assertion that your partner has done something bad — rather, it is an salient emotional warning sign, an indicator that you actually do possess some evidence of a threat to the relationship, or that some of your needs aren't getting met. (It may well be weak evidence, just as the presence of particulates in the air is weak evidence of a house fire.) That's something worth talking about.

It's probably not a good idea to jump from "some of my needs aren't getting met" to "I have a need for absolute social exclusivity and that need isn't being met," though.

OTOH, I suspect that even in a polyamorous, compersive context, a total absence of jealousy would cause relationships to drift apart a lot more than they do today — because sometimes jealousy does correctly detect that your relationship is at risk of burning down.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-11-12T09:17:48.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Generally, we shouldn't ignore our emotions, but we also shouldn't act on them without reflection. Emotions are signals, sometimes unreliable, but they correlate with something.

This may be a selective memory bias, but my experience is that when I was jealous, there usually was a reason.

(However, I don't want to generalize from one mind. Maybe I am better calibrated than average. Maybe I only receive exceptionally strong signals, where the probability of some real cause is much bigger. There were situations where jealousy didn't warn me. Someone else might be more sensitive to weaker signals, and therefore also have more false alarms.)

comment by shminux · 2014-11-11T19:25:02.835Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Jealousy" needs to be unpacked.

I agree. My definition is as follows. Jealousy, unlike envy, where you want what someone else has, and possibly resent them because you do not, is the want to restrict the other person's thoughts, actions or choices to prevent some real or perceived harm to yourself.

Jealousy as a smoke alarm

I agree with that. Though my guess that there are more accurate fire alarms out there.

OTOH, I suspect that even in a polyamorous, compersive context, a total absence of jealousy would cause relationships to drift apart a lot more than they do today

Quite possibly, if there is no other feedback available. But first, I am not sure that it is a bad thing. People change and polyamory goes some ways toward making the relationships change with them, rather than becoming a burden. Also, I suspect that compersion does not equal "no-feedback", though. Certainly healthy parent-child relationships tend to be compersive, with plenty of feedback along the way.

comment by Username · 2014-11-11T01:09:19.910Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Jealousy is conflating love with ownership

This doesn't ring true for me. If someone rejects me, I get sad but not jealous. If she subsequently gets with someone else, I get jealous. I often get somewhat jealous if someone I wasn't particularly interested in gets with someone. But if someone doesn't have a chance to reject me, I experience little or no jealousy relating to her (e.g. if she was in a relationship before I knew her).

This seems a lot more complicated than "conflating love with ownership".

comment by shminux · 2014-11-11T01:52:18.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose you are in a relationship and you want to be exclusive. Why? (Let's assume there is no risk of STDs or unintended pregnancies.) Suppose your partner checks out someone else. Do you feel a pang of jealousy? If so, what exactly goes through your mind in that fleeting moment?

comment by Username · 2014-11-11T10:04:49.094Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know. I've never been in a relationship, and have no intuitions about how whether or why I would want to be exclusive, or how I would react if she checks out someone else.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-11T03:39:31.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If someone rejects me, I get sad but not jealous. If she subsequently gets with someone else, I get jealous. I often get somewhat jealous if someone I wasn't particularly interested in gets with someone. But if someone doesn't have a chance to reject me, I experience little or no jealousy relating to her (e.g. if she was in a relationship before I knew her).

Sounds like a clear case of endowment effect. People have done experiments that show this bias occurring with ordinary objects like mugs. So yes, it is "complicated", but in a broadly applicable way.

comment by Username · 2014-11-11T09:58:13.230Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I object on three counts.

Minorly, the endowment effect seems to be about valuing things more if I own them versus if I don't own them. If my jealousy experience can be pigeonholed into something similar, it would be valuing things more if someone else owns them versus if nobody owns them.

But valuing something more would presumably change the magnitude of my feelings, and that isn't what's happening. Jealousy is a totally different feeling to the sadness I feel from rejection. It's not just a more intense version that I feel because suddenly I like this person more because she's with someone else.

And that formulation also doesn't explain why it's relevant that she had a chance to reject me.

comment by Alicorn · 2014-11-10T21:21:46.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Jealousy is conflating love with ownership (thanks, Alicorn!).

I'm not sure how you got this from me. I don't adhere closely to the majority poly opinions on possessiveness and don't think I've said anything this-like. I mean, maybe you got poly from me and this from poly, so I guess I'd be to thank for it upstream...?

comment by shminux · 2014-11-11T00:22:43.141Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I recall correctly, your writeup on polyhacking and sharing MBlume (or something to that effect) some years back helped me trace my own understanding of the issue.

EDIT: I think it was this comment :) http://lesswrong.com/lw/79x/polyhacking/4q1g

EDIT2: Luke's comment was also helpful: http://lesswrong.com/lw/79x/polyhacking/4pv8

comment by Alicorn · 2014-11-11T07:22:38.969Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The comment of mine you link is a pretty good description of my break with Classic Poly on this issue. I don't usually use the exact word "ownership", but: he's mine! I liked it so I put a ring on it! I value having the option to transition to monogamy if I want! Mine mine mine! Saying that I was a prompt for realizing that "jealousy conflates love with ownership" makes it sound like you think I don't love my primary, or that you're confused about whether I think he's mine (mine mine mine mine), or that I must be plagued by intolerable jealousy, or... something. I'm puzzled.

comment by shminux · 2014-11-11T08:50:02.253Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

it sound like you think I don't love my primary

Oy. Didn't mean anything like that.

Sorry, I was unclear. Or maybe I misunderstood you. Or both. Actually, in what sense he is "yours", is not clear to me. Certainly it does not look like you are restricting the choices he makes, including his choice of an extra romantic partner, or at least not by much. My best guess is that you two get preferential and unfettered access to each other... Anyway, not sure if this is getting anywhere.

comment by John_Maxwell_IV · 2014-11-10T07:03:46.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Be very careful when messing with your System 1. It's not designed to be reversible. Unlearning is at least 10x harder than learning.

Can you provide evidence for this? It hasn't been my experience. For example, my understanding is that fears exist in System 1, and I've had experiences where I accidentally gave myself fears of things and then subsequently deliberately got over them through exposure therapy etc.

comment by shminux · 2014-11-10T07:17:17.348Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I tried looking it up, but can't find much in a pinch, but here is one reference: http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/11/5/566.short

If you believe it, unlearning (extinction) does not remove the old learning, it covers it up with an extra layer of compensatory learning, while the original habits still lurk underneath. Which matches my experience tutoring students who learned a bad technique, or observing people (including myself) who learned a bad habit: even after a lot of effort it is really easy to slip up into them.

comment by John_Maxwell_IV · 2014-11-10T07:38:50.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure your reference is very conclusive on this topic: 'We argue that the question “is extinction reversal of acquisition or new inhibitory learning?” is therefore not well posed because the answer may depend on factors such as the brain system in question or the level of analysis considered.' Your personal experiences do make sense to me though. Reminds me of this for some reason.

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-11-10T05:05:02.071Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I turned 55 the other day, and lately I've thought about my lack of an Adult Man's Skill Set (AMSS) for dealing with women.

Over the week end, for example, a cute woman in her 20's I had just met actually made eye contract with me and talked with me.

On the one hand, I enjoyed receiving that sort of attention from a young woman at my age, when in my 20's women generally wanted nothing to do with me..

But on the other hand, the experience made me uncomfortable because I felt like I had to bluff my way through it, and I kept wondering if she would pick up on the "tells," as poker players say.

Fortunately nothing bad happened, but these kinds of situations make me extremely self-conscious about my failure to develop the AMSS at the organically appropriate age.

comment by hyporational · 2014-11-10T05:51:37.132Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

But on the other hand, the experience made me uncomfortable because I felt like I had to bluff my way through it, and I kept wondering if she would pick up on the "tells," as poker players say.

I wouldn't confuse this with lacking a skill set. It seems you have developed a skill set for sabotaging yourself.

comment by shminux · 2014-11-10T06:10:05.542Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Why bluff? I'm sure you have something going for you.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-10T10:51:34.441Z · score: -1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Why would you even need a special skillset for dealing with women? Just treat them like you would anyone else. You may need specialized skillsets depending on your goals for any given interaction, but that's a different matter. For instance, if you are debating something, you'll need some level of debate and persuasion skills, whether your counterparty is a woman or a man.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-11-10T13:33:06.982Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Why would you even need a special skillset for dealing with women? Just treat them like you would anyone else.

In this case, the interaction raises emotions in him and he doesn't know how to deal with those emotions.

In general good social interaction often depends on having a decent model of the other person. Not every men is the same and not every women is, on the other hand there are patterns.

There are other social norms for physical contact between males than there are between males and females.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-11T01:16:17.855Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the interaction raises emotions in him and he doesn't know how to deal with those emotions.

Well, what emotions are we talking about? He mentions that he likes getting attention from them, well, most people like attention and this does not seem to hinder them - quite the contrary.

In general good social interaction often depends on having a decent model of the other person.

This can definitely be a problem in some circumstances. However, for most purposes, the social models of the average man vs. the average woman are not going to diverge in a significant way.

There are other social norms for physical contact between males than there are between males and females.

Physical contact is only really relevant when seeking intimacy. Some folks will aspire to intimacy with both men and women, and as such they would need to be clearly aware of these differences - on the other hand, they seem to be a minority.

comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-11-11T01:53:05.632Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

However, for most purposes, the social models of the average man vs. the average woman are not going to diverge in a significant way.

This most definitely has not been my experience.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-11-11T17:29:11.420Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well, of course not.

The typical man and typical woman have not had the same experiences, because ① they grow up in different bodies, and ② society treats people differently in various ways based on their gender. (Conservatives and feminists should agree on this latter as a matter of fact, although they may assign different values to that fact. Some feminists may think it is bad, and some conservatives may think it is good, but both should agree that it happens.)

Two paths through the same territory do not yield the same map. We should expect that people who have had different experiences will be in possession of different shards of the truth.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-11T03:26:00.418Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Care to expand on that? AIUI, most domain experts (i.e. folks who care about social interaction, broadly defined) would disagree.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-11-11T13:24:00.579Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

AIUI, most domain experts (i.e. folks who care about social interaction, broadly defined) would disagree.

Where did you get that idea?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-11-11T13:22:27.557Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He mentions that he likes getting attention from them, well, most people like attention and this does not seem to hinder them - quite the contrary.

The fact that he likes the attention doesn't mean that he has an established pattern of reacting to it.

However, for most purposes, the social models of the average man vs. the average woman are not going to diverge in a significant way.

At the moment we have a debate about street harassment. We have an attractive women who filmed herself for 10 hours and who argues that she shouldn't be approached in the way she is. There also an attractive man who went around for 3 hours.

Both get around 10 verbal interactions per hour and the woman has a problem with that while the man doesn't.

Men generally don't have a fear to get raped by strangers.

A while ago I went home at 4AM. A female neighbor opened the front door and we got in together. While I don't know most of my neighbors that live in the building it's still custom to greet everybody so I wished her a good night. When we rode the small elevator together she was feeling very uncomfortable.

I didn't do anything that would make an average man uncomfortable. If I would have had a good model of her than I would have taken the stairs instead of making her uncomfortable.

Shy guys generally don't ask strangers for help when navigating a part of the town where they don't know the way. Shy women very often do ask for help.

Physical contact is only really relevant when seeking intimacy.

Depends how you define intimacy. Most friendships do have at least some physical interaction. At our local LW meetups physical contact in forms of hugs is the norm. Of course in many corporate environments all physical contact is looked down upon.

comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-11-12T00:47:48.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course in many corporate environments all physical contact is looked down upon.

BTW, that part varies a lot by culture.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-11T15:08:21.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

At the moment we have a debate about street harassment. We have an attractive women who filmed herself for 10 hours and who argues that she shouldn't be approached in the way she is. ...

Yes, but the features of the approach are quite different. Men get approached a lot by folks who are selling stuff or fundraising, also by bums/homeless folks. Women get a lot of approaches for personal intimacy, and these do get quite tiring after a while.

Men generally don't have a fear to get raped by strangers.

A while ago I went home at 4AM. ...

Yes, women have to care more about personal safety, out of necessity. Most people are aware of that. But try walking around the sketchy part of town and telling me that some folks don't make you uncomfortable. This is why we all do things like moving to a "good" neighborhood, or wearing an office suit and tie in order to show our refined professionalism and politeness/civility. All this shows is that variation in local circumstances can lead to subsequent changes in behavior, not that there's any difference between genders.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-11-11T15:45:58.045Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but the features of the approach are quite different. Men get approached a lot by folks who are selling stuff or fundraising, also by bums/homeless folks. Women get a lot of approaches for personal intimacy, and these do get quite tiring after a while.

No, in this case the attractive man also get's "approaches for personal intimacy" in the same sense that the women gets "approaches for personal intimacy" (she probably wouldn't label them that way)

Yes, women have to care more about personal safety, out of necessity. Most people are aware of that.

But you deny it above. If I want to interact with another person then it makes sense to factors like that into account. Triggering someone else fear is not good.

Let's say I meet with a group of four people. 3 of those have little anxiety and are easily hugged. The 4th person has some social anxiety and will likely feel a bit uncomfortable when I hug them. If the 4th person is a girl I likely won't force a hug on her. With a guy I often will still hug them. Not hugging them might mean to him that I don't respect him because he's the only person I didn't hug and that might be worse for him then the slight uncomfort of being hugged.

But try walking around the sketchy part of town and telling me that some folks don't make you uncomfortable.

I do have habitable triggers but if I want I can clear the feeling whenever I want and I will clear them when looking weak would probably make me a more unsafe. Then I'm not typical.

I'm weighing 55kg. I don't look very threatening. I had decent presence because I was coming from an evening dancing but I didn't do anything nonverbally that would warrant someone feeling threatened.

subsequent changes in behavior, not that there's any difference between genders.

For practical purposes behavior that correlates with gender is difference between genders. Behavior is what you care about when it comes to modeling other people for interacting with them.

comment by Username · 2014-11-10T14:23:28.401Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You may need specialized skillsets depending on your goals for any given interaction

A straight man may have certain goals for most interactions with women that he doesn't have for any interactions with men. Even if "explore romantic/sexual avenues" isn't currently an explicit goal, "keep open the future possibility of exploring romantic/sexual avenues" is likely to be there on some level.

comment by bogus · 2014-11-10T15:30:14.145Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"keep open the future possibility of exploring romantic/sexual avenues" is likely to be there on some level.

True, but most people (including dating coaches) would agree that this particular goal doesn't call for any real adjustment on your part.

comment by Princess_Stargirl · 2014-11-10T19:19:47.358Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I try to be skeptical of "ah ha moments" I have. However in one case I think it is logicsal for me to accept the "ah ha."

For many years I have done Zazen at a Temple (two hour drive ....) and at home. Being involved in budhism one hears alot about "the self is an illusion" or "ego-death." I personally kind of alieved they were just making things up. However one day me and some friends took a rather large dose of LSD in a park on a chilly fall day.

At one point I remember hearing this repetitive thumping noise for an hour or two and not being able to figure out what it was. When it finally occured to I burst out in hysterical laughter. The noise was my foot violently shaking and hititng what I was sitting on. I was of course shaking because I had been outside for about 6 hours at this point and was freezing cold, but it hadn't even occured to me that I was uncomfortable. My mental state after realizing I wa scold is hard to explain. I honestly conceptualized things as "there is a person outside who is very cold" but the fact that this person was me did not seem relevant at all. In general that there was one specific person associated to "me" stopped making sense.

Of course I am not claiming that this experience proves anything about budhism. But my previous "alief" was that it was impossible to lose one's sense of self, even short term. But since I had personally experienced this it must in fact be possible.

comment by Metus · 2014-11-09T23:45:10.857Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Upvote based only on posing an interesting question. I'd like to see more of that.

Now to answer your actual question, three examples:

  • Reading anarcho-capitalistic literature I learned to look at governments in a different way, talking about a monopoly on violence owned either privately as in a monarchy or publically in a democracy and the consequences the authors draws from that. How to arrive at that viewpoint? Read about the opposing viewpoint, especially in politics and political philosophy.

  • Reading Getting Things Done I suddenly realised why I like to do certain parts of my workflow the way I did, like putting all my thoughts into Evernote instead of scattering them on pieces of paper all over the place. The author says that the wholy system of organisation only makes sense if you trust it and I trusted Evernote to keep my thoughts where I put them. Also, implementing suggestions from the book helped to free up some mental space and I can think more clearly about other stuff. How to arrive at that insight? Read about other people's experiences solving the same problem or how they solved problems you did not know you have or you did not know could be optimised.

  • Reading the preface to Jaynes' Probability Theory I realised that all the scattered thoughts about how thinking could go wrong are all facets of the same problem: Deviating from a general framework of probability theory and inventing ad-hoc methods with narrow proper fields of application but misusing them. How to arrive at that insight? Read about thinking in general.

There is a common thread to all these things: Read a lot. Follow the virtue of scholarship. Learn as much as possible in a field before you try to speak about it.

A last sentence: Reading is not the only way to arrive at insight, attentively watching the world around you, thinking about your past experiences, talking and listening to people, more the old than the young, are very viable ways too, and complement each other.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-11-11T18:19:34.094Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Learn as much as possible in a field before you try to speak about it.

Counterpoint: You can't learn a language — including the language of a technical field — unless you're willing to try speaking in that language before you know it very well, then accept correction from those who know it better. Language learning works by trial and error, not by memorization alone.

"Lurk moar" is not actually a recipe for maximizing learning.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-11-11T18:15:50.841Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Reading anarcho-capitalistic literature I learned to look at governments in a different way, talking about a monopoly on violence owned either privately as in a monarchy or publically in a democracy and the consequences the authors draws from that.

By the way, this idea doesn't originate with anarcho-capitalists. It's from Max Weber, one of the founders of sociology.

comment by Metus · 2014-11-11T19:44:01.662Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know, but the question was where this occured. Nearly no point originates with the person you hear it from or the school of thought. David Allen's insights in productivity derive from other people and Jaynes' views on probability theory in turn derive from thinkers before him.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-11-10T09:34:20.492Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Learn as much as possible in a field before you try to speak about it.

And if possible, surround yourself with people who do the same. They can give you processed info, and good book recommendations.

comment by SilentCal · 2014-11-10T22:33:18.716Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't realize Introspection illusion was a thing until hearing about the split-brain experiment in high school. Until then, I always assumed that when I queried my brain about its desires it always answered honestly, and that subconscious motivations were a load of crap.

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-11-16T04:20:03.404Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if Neoreaction bothers some people (David Brin, for example) because it pokes at the splinter in our minds: Neoreaction raises the possibility that people in the West have suffered from diminished lives over the past several generations because the Enlightenment Project threw out something we needed from the preceding traditional, hierarchical, patriarchal, aristocratic, tribalist, religious societies that modernity has supplanted.

comment by erratio · 2014-11-12T16:06:13.610Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Existential angst and worrying a ton about your obligation to society and so forth almost always turns out to be a projection of your worries about yourself onto society at large. You're not really worried about some abstract duty or obligation, instead you have a low opinion of your own competency/worthiness and are worried that other people will come to share that view if you're not able to measure up to some abstract standard,

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-11-11T19:51:59.301Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You become your truest and best self when you work hard and with single-minded focus on a fulfilling, valuable project

and

Work to live, don't live to work; leisure and doing nothing "productive" can be valuable and an important element in maintaining a healthy inner life.

are both true at different times and under different circumstances and occasionally simultaneously. A "balance" between the two can be a dynamic balance.

comment by Cyan · 2014-11-10T18:55:34.463Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Embarrassingly, I didn't have the "who feeds Paris" realization until last year -- well after I thought I had achieved a correct understanding of and appreciation for basic microeconomic thought.

comment by Slider · 2014-11-10T12:25:46.539Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anything worth doing is intrisically rewarding and called work.

You will always benefit from work in someway. Waiting for explicit extrenal incentives to do stuff is misguided. This is the message of "Work is it's own reward" or "Work rewards its doer". For example sometimes started to play with Blender because of learning complicates software and UI is fun. Then alter I found I had proficiency in 3D modelling and could work in the capacity of a game art employee with no additional "concession" to do work. When I was learnignthe software I thoguth I was wasting my time. When I was just happy to have the skills already learned I realised thast I would have started way later and it would have been way more painful if I postponed aquring those skills until I knew I needed them. Thus doing work tht you can do is like pciking an apple that is within reach.

people have motives for their actions and everybody does good things in their opinion

"Some people just want to watch the world burn" is an overused explanation. There can be legit reasons to object or resist the attempts of other people. it can be tempting to imagine how much more a situation would be to your liking if just one persons wouldn't do a thing they do or a detail were otherwise. However once you have identified that you are opposed to a detail of the world using addiotional emotinal energy is often counterproductive. It can seem emotionally categting to biuld enemy images. However control comes from understanding which is hard without appriciation. If you are going to truly affect another person you need to do it in their terms and not yours.

Sincerity is powerful It is worthwhile ot form a accurate unfalttering image of yourself instead of a inaccurate flatteging image. If you separate what you believe or handle form what really affects the situation anything you accomplish by believing/handling will have no (claimed) effect on reality. Being honest about being unsure or undecided is hard. Framing yourself as a ethically questionable agent or inconsistent believer can feel like losing. However it is quite easy to see that doing the opposite doesn't lead to winning. If you have legitimate reasons to believe unflattering things about yourself you have a legimate reason to refrain from beliveving the flattering thing. Sincerity isn't strickly be all, win all. If you are in a ambigious situation being an optimistic will nudge you to work into that direction. However in order to be in this boundary condition you need to have no legimate reason one way or the other. Pretending to be clueless might seem tempting but is insincere. Thus you should only allow yourself to be hero of your life only to the point that it is neccesary for you to keep waking up from the bed

This in reverse means that sincerety is to be suspended if it leads into illegimate action or inaction. If believing that the universe is less agenty than a a omnipotent active protector leads you to regard the universe as cold-blooded killer that is out to get you and emo-slit your wrists, the known inappropriateness of failure to contain blood within your body is a elgimate basis to require more stringent standards of argumentation than idle academic curiosity. A person whos beliefs are actually entangled with their actions and life in way more twisted way than a pure objective reading of english sentences would suggest places a special semantic to any line of argument. The situation is almost never in accepting a fact in place ofa silly unbased opinoion, but rather replacnig a very silly opinion with a less silly opnion. You are still responcible with and to the introduced sillyness.

comment by LizzardWizzard · 2014-11-10T08:58:28.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I guess somebody has to mention this book on different kinds of insights and what amalgamates them

http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-What-Others-Dont-Remarkable-ebook/dp/B00BKRVU0G

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-11-10T02:49:55.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Vigilance + Availability Bias = Fucking Yourself If you're always looking for the next problem, you'll experience a world much worse than the real one, and act more appropriately for that world, than the real world.

Jonathan Haidt's various moral modalities, and the different weightings people put on them. If you take the idea seriously, that people are relying on fundamentally different algorithmic processes for their choices, all sorts of things make sense very quickly. I apply the same idea to truth modalities, and many of the mysteries of the world dissolve.

Evolutionary Theory applied to Organizational Ecology What are the rules, who are the actors, and what are their interests? What are the different possible strategies in that ecology, which ones benefit an actor, and which ones cost an actor? The behavior of people in an org will conform to the organizational ecology, not to their preferences for behavior.