The Sun Room 2020-10-12T21:08:11.507Z
4thWayWastrel's Shortform 2020-09-13T00:29:32.480Z
What You Are 2020-07-13T11:35:23.234Z
Welcome to Brisbane Slate Star Codex Meetup [Edit With Your Details] 2018-04-18T09:01:03.095Z


Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Harry Potter and the Methods of Psychomagic | Chapter 1: Affect · 2021-09-17T06:28:47.651Z · LW · GW

Are the cross overs with the book "The Mind Illuminated" here coincidence? If not very excited to see a mash up of two of my favorite texts!!

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on How much should we value life? · 2021-09-09T05:46:47.545Z · LW · GW

Thank you for taking the time to write this, I enjoyed reading it and it made me think some interesting thoughts :)

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-08T02:50:53.932Z · LW · GW

I'm very open to the idea that I've seen something that wasn't there and or wasn't intended 😄, let me see if I can spesifically find what made me feel that way.

Okay, so I have that reaction to paragraphs like this:

White fragility is a sort of defensiveness that takes the form of a variety of strategies that white people deploy when we are confronted with how we participate in and perpetuate racismS. Whites use these strategies to deflect or avoid such a confrontation and to defend a comfortable, privileged vantage point from which race is “not an issue” (at least to us who benefit from it).


So if a white person should not pretend to be racially blank, and yet as DiAngelo reminds us “white identity is inherently racist,” what is a white person to do? DiAngelo’s way to thread the needle is this: “I strive to be ‘less white.’ ”

What I hear when I read this is "you are inherently white, and to be white is inheriently bad" thought it's possible I'm pattern matching this to ideas of being and judgement that I grew up with in Church i.e "you are inherently a sinner". Do you think this reading is totally unmerited?

And those first two points I'm on board with, but it's the flavour of the third point that I react to because if I gave someone a bundle of ideas that I reasonably expected to be painful to process I'd try to deliver that message with as much overt kindness and recognition of their pain as I could.

And I'd expect flat statements like "try to drop your defensiveness" or "don't take it so personally" to just make it harder to process and cause pain I guess 😅. Expecially when the receipients are disposed to think you already don't like them.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on I read “White Fragility” so you don’t have to (but maybe you should) · 2021-09-08T01:25:47.613Z · LW · GW

(edited to tone down a little)

This was quite painful to read, and I see the dynamic of these ideas as problematic.

First, possibly the most painful idea for any human to entertain: "A large part of your core identity is inherently very bad in ways you can't see"

and then second: "The pain and fear you feel in response to this news is a sign of inherent weakness (fragility) and further proves your guilt"

and lastly: "I'm not *trying* to make you feel bad, suppress that pain and take off your silly sack cloth and ashes"

"You are inherently bad" -> "Your pain on hearing that is weakness and proof of guilt" -> "This dynamic is not problematic you're being weird for over-reacting"

That's very harsh thing to say to someone and then act like they are weird for having an adverse reaction.

I share your frustration at the book because I'm really sympathetic to the ideas that:

But I feel such sorrow at the idea that the solution to this dynamic is to position that pain itself as an insidious and problematic weakness. And to try and crop dust a generation of young people with that memeplex? That will lead to trouble.

If you want people to hold a painful and nuanced set of complex ideas and grapple with them they need to be held, seen, and supported.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Living with a homeopath - how? · 2021-08-24T20:41:19.677Z · LW · GW

The problem your trying to solve is not how to change your mother's beliefs. Your problem is how to communicate that she's making you feel negatively and if the two of you are going to have a relationship she needs to change her behaviour.

Trying to have a system 2 scientific discussion with your mother in this scenario is playing water polo with a lead ball. You may go in with a clear head and a scientific argument and manage to throw the ball. But 3 sentences in and you're both going to be below water, having an emotional system 1 conversation.

What is an emotional conversation? It's a conversation in which:

  1. The goals of the participants are not actually to present facts or reasoning about the world (e.g "homeopathy does not do the things you claim and here's why"), but to communicate how the actions of another makes them feel ("when I say that homeopathy is not for me but you push it on me it makes me feel disrespected and frustrated")

  2. The skills needed to facilitate the conversation are less reasoning and language skills, and more being able to express how your feeling in realtime, communicate you boundaries, being sensitive to how the other person is feeling without taking responsibility for it, and be vulnerable if that's appropriate.

This is all easier said than done, especially when it comes to family. Some things you can do to practice a conversation like this:

  1. Have it in your head, and imagine your mother saying whatever would maximally trigger you and how you might respond with emotion communication and boundry setting. ("I feel disrespected" -> "it's not my fault you won't see the light of homeopathy" -> "now I'm feeling like you don't care that you're making me feel this way")

  2. Role play with a therapist or trusted friend. Some universities or work places offer free therapists that could help you if you're insurance won't cover it.

  3. Read books on the subject like "non violent communication"

Good luck my friend!

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Covid 7/1: Don’t Panic · 2021-07-02T14:32:28.379Z · LW · GW

That tweet on Australia might be a little misleading. The vaccination board's official statement as far as I read is that an under 40 year old is more likley to die of an AZ vaccine than covid given the current covid prevalance and death rate in Australia, which is virtually non-existant. They released a pdf to this effect weighting the risks and their plan is to have everyone under 40 vaccinated on pfizer by the end of the year.

Betting that there won't be an outbreak before then is still likley the wrong risk to be taking, but it's less dumb than just saying AZ is more dangerous than covid full stop 😄. Indeed the Prime Minister has drawn the ire of the vacination board by opening up AZ to all ages rather than just over 40ies (apparently older people have half the risk of blood clots and obviously more risk of dying from covid).

If I was in charge of the country I'd do the same, and if I was being the game theory I wanted to see in the world I'd get the AZ now. But living in a city that has no covid and just does a 3 day lockdown until it's gone every time there's community transmission (4 or so times since march 2020 pretty evenly distributed) I'm weighing up whether to wait until either another outbreak or pfizer becomes available in a couple months.


Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Optimism about Social Technology · 2021-06-28T11:17:47.823Z · LW · GW

This is my great hope also. 

There is a compelling narrative to be told around coordination as the super power of humanity that uses the examples of language, printed word and the internet (which are really bundles of smaller technological steps analogous to say zero knowledge proofs in crypto) as positive examples of social technology making things better.

As an enterprising EA in my 20ies I feel the pull of this narrative when thinking about how I might spend my professional efforts, but it remains to be seen if it will survive deeper thought whatever cheap tests I can think to run.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on A Review and Summary of the Landmark Forum · 2021-05-27T23:13:39.712Z · LW · GW

I see landmark as entering into a symbiotic relationship with a parasitic set of memes. It's a life changing experience for a lot of people, but Landmark wants to grow and it'll attempt to drain your resources (money, volunteering time, and social capital) to do so.

I had a coworker who was obsessed with landmark, and eventually wore some of us down to attend the intro night. I too was impressed at how psychoactive the environment was, and it seemed to be really helping people! But I felt concerned for many of the same reasons as OP.

There's a lot of parallels here with psychedelic therapy. One, it's cheaper and faster than years of CBT. And two you are in essence letting someone really heat up your mind (especially your self conception) to allow you to anneal out of sticky maladaptive local maximas. As OP says, they induce this open state with:

  • Exhaustion from long hours and homework

  • Putting you on stage in front of a crowd and then manipulating the crowd's response to you. (i.e. manipulating social reality)

  • Installing active memes with good concept handles. Whether or not these memes reflect reality the mind responds to them in powerful and predictable ways if delivered in the right context (as in Christianity)

Unfortunately while you're in this state landmark also tries to install a powerful evangelical perogative to sign-up everyone you know, and a belief that if ​you really cared about your continued development you would take the subsequent (also really expensive) courses.

This makes sense, as organisations who find this technology and don't do this will be out competed by ones that do. But you're still giving root access to your mind over to an organisation that wants to use your resources to grow.

My coworker is in a lot of tax debt and yet has spent tens of thousands on landmark courses. I took this as a warning and just did therapy and acid instead.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on It's like poetry, they rhyme: Lanier and Yudkowsky, Weyl and S-s... Alexander · 2021-05-25T14:17:21.936Z · LW · GW

Thank you very much for taking the time to write this. Scott Alexander and Glen Wyel are two of my intellectual hero's, they've both done a lot for my thinking in economics, coordination, and just how to go about a dialectic intellectual life in general.

So I was also dismayed (to an extent I honestly found surprising) when they couldn't seem to find a good faith generative dialogue. If these two can't then what hope is there for the average Red vs Blue tribe member?

This post have me a lot of context though, so thanks again 😊

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on What Would You Store to Maximize Value in 100 Years? A Thought Experiment · 2021-05-18T00:16:00.094Z · LW · GW

Is stock in a managed vanguard index fund cheating 😅? I guess that's assuming vanguard will last to manage it and that there's no socialist style economic reform that makes owning companies less valuable.

Government bonds maybe?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on [deleted post] 2021-05-18T00:15:13.565Z

Huh, you are correct that was indeed my intention 😄 no idea how I managed that.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on [deleted post] 2021-05-17T22:40:07.304Z

Is stock in a managed vanguard index fund cheating 😅? I guess that's assuming vanguard will last to manage it and that there's no socialist style economic reform that makes owning companies less valuable.

Government bonds maybe?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Technocratic Plimsoll Line · 2021-05-15T22:23:40.759Z · LW · GW

This is a nice metaphor in general for top down vs bottom up networks with some natural horizontal separation, I like it. Does this appear in the literature or is this just something you think about?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Small and Vulnerable · 2021-05-05T12:32:33.700Z · LW · GW

I find this sentiment a little confusing, as it seems to me the subjective experience of suffering is the ultimate bedrock of any idea that understands suffering as bad? If I had no personal experience of suffering or wellbeing I can't imagine how something like utilitarianism might move me.

Or are you saying while yes ultimately an abstract understanding of suffering rests on a subjective experience of it, pumping the understanding of the subjective experience won't lead to more understanding of it in the abstract in the way EA needs to?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Curing Sleep: My Experiences Doing Cowboy Science · 2021-02-21T06:48:05.910Z · LW · GW

Made me laugh out loud twice, I enjoyed this post 😊

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on What I Learned From Running a Conversation · 2021-01-05T08:19:47.884Z · LW · GW

Technology that "factors stance space" as tries to do and finds consensus excites me!

I'm very sympathetic to the idea that the ability of modern western countries to cohere / find consensus is a bottlenecked lever in progress. Finding pareto optimal sources of agreement may be a good way to help this.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 12 · 2021-01-02T01:13:40.038Z · LW · GW

Aw, she did have a friend all along!

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Pain is the unit of Effort · 2020-11-27T22:02:35.995Z · LW · GW

"Performative effort is not effort at all"

I've seen people sacrafice a lot to gain the appearance effort. It looked legitimately painful and I think it was.

To me to shows a willingness to endure physical and emotional pain rather than the mental pain of grappling with uncertainty. All they can do is signal that they do care on some level

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from? · 2020-11-04T22:22:02.955Z · LW · GW

Love it!

To mirror what I got:

Institutions are structured groups of agent pulling in the same direction to gain redistributable value.

They work by aligning the incentives (especially the long term ones) of the agents with the institution through the technology of an institutional culture to provide guidance and help police detection.

An additional point I've been thinking about since I read Sapiens:

  • This cultural process recruits map/territory machinery to help people make sense of it. "Journalistic Ethics" is presented as an objective value like "Honour" or "Privilege"

  • From the inside "I am a valued member of a cohesive and effective institution" can feel more motivating than "I am working to provide this institution long term value that it will redistribute to me"

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on The Sun Room · 2020-10-14T07:19:53.382Z · LW · GW

I've only tried your standard western teas, are there more exotic brands with more exotic effects? And how do they compare with coffee?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on The Sun Room · 2020-10-14T07:18:03.565Z · LW · GW

That's fascinating, does Stage 8 feel like caffeine / nootropics on it's own or was it more of an enhancement to those effects?

If you don't mind me asking, how long did it take you to reach Stage 8 with what level of daily practice / dedication? And if it took years as many claim how did you think about the risk / reward of that kind of time investment VS whether or not the people reporting those effects were deluded?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on The Sun Room · 2020-10-14T07:13:42.014Z · LW · GW

Your kind words made my day, thankyou 😊. And now that you mention it I suppose that has been my side avenue of approach, tuning my health and schedule to make it easier to enter flow.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on The "hard" problem of consciousness is the least interesting problem of consciousness · 2020-10-04T11:38:24.306Z · LW · GW

The "sexiness'" of the hard problem of Consciousness to me is mainly in it's relationship with morality and meaning.

For any hypothetical I can think of, whether or not the entities involved have a subjective experience (along with the concept of a valence/preferences) dominates any other consideration. In a way it seems like "Hard Problem" aspect of Consciousness is the only thing that would give anything meaning, thus pointing to the hard problem as one of the most pressing questions for anyone trying to understand what's going on.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Are there non-AI projects focused on defeating Moloch globally? · 2020-09-14T22:27:07.193Z · LW · GW

RadicalxChange is a movement that grew out of a book called Radical Markets, which proposes mechanism changes we could use to fund public goods (which would take a large bite out of the Moloch issue). Can recommend the book and or the 80,000 hours episode with Glen Weyl as an intro.

Other promising options I've seen but not looked into in as much depth

Generally speaking one might lump these approaches into "Anti Moloch memetic warfare" which in a way was what Scott was doing. Spreading memes that identify Moloch as an issue and proposing different ways of self organising to the network.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on 4thWayWastrel's Shortform · 2020-09-14T22:13:48.289Z · LW · GW

Makes you wonder if training and embedding an army of altruistic rationalist in politics would be a worthwhile endeavour. Although now that I type this that's probably not too far off what 80000 hours is attempting 😄

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on 4thWayWastrel's Shortform · 2020-09-13T22:30:33.904Z · LW · GW

Ha, I never would have thought of just messaging a bunch of politians to sate my curiosity. That reply is fascinating though.

I suppose in the ordinary situation where it doesn't happen suddenly you're also (ideally) running on some kind of policy platform so the gathering of advisors would have to happen well in advance. In that case you don't have the power of the office to summon whoever you want, and maybe there's se kind of loyalty thing to the existing team like you mentioned.

Still curious if you've got thoughts on the top of your head, who's on your list and through what process would you bootstrap to organisation?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on 4thWayWastrel's Shortform · 2020-09-13T00:29:32.805Z · LW · GW

As we all do from time to time, I imagined what I'd do if through some impossible vagary I was made president of the USA all of a sudden. What would one do differently? How would you perform the kind of rapid sense making needed in such a situation?

The obvious immediate step to me would be to use my presidential powers to assemble a room of people that seem smart, sane, practical, easy to work with and it got me thinking about who would be on that emergency list for you?

One might expect the who's who of the rat-sphere, your Eliezer, Scotst, Zvi's, etc. But who else does your mind immediately go to in this thought experiment? And what qualities are you looking for? And how would you organise them?

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on What You Are · 2020-07-13T22:03:13.307Z · LW · GW

I definately identify with that description of neutral experience. I suspect removing ", positive and negative" might make it read a little easier.

And yeah, it's an interesting balance between a straight forward sentence, and one that still fully beings forward the the idea in my mind. I'd like to include Perception, Memory, and an experience of Time also but I either don't have an intuitive enough abstraction of them or can't think of a sentence that brings it forward.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on Personal experience of coffee as nootropic · 2020-07-11T22:35:03.865Z · LW · GW

For what it's worth this perfectly mirrors my own experience. My performance increases with caffeine, I've not yet found a ceiling to the dose - performance relationship but I starting getting anxious and sleepless if I take it too consistently.

Comment by 4thWayWastrel on My weekly review habit · 2020-06-21T22:30:39.155Z · LW · GW

This is remarkably similar to a practice I've had for the last 2 years. Having a fixed weekend morning to review the week and make tweaks. I've not experimented with time tracking as you have though, I'll check it out. Thanks for sharing!

Some things I do

  • Give weekly awards for songs, tv shows, books, podcast episodes, etc and then pick a "X of the year" from the nominees on New year's
  • Have a segment "prayers to a future self" where I enter into a explicit dialogue between different time slices of yourself. V interesting to see the excuses employee you makes to manager you.
  • Use a habit tracker like "streaks" or "uHabit" to have an explicit tracker for days where I met my sleep, exercise and nutrition targets