Comment by adbge on Open Thread April 8 - April 14 2014 · 2014-04-08T20:08:51.596Z · LW · GW

Another consideration: earworms. I find getting a song stuck in my head to be somewhat aversive.

Edgar Allan Poe puts it this way:

It is quite a common thing to be thus annoyed with the ringing in our ears, or rather in our memories, of the burthen of some ordinary song, or some unimpressive snatches from an opera. Nor will we be the less tormented if the song in itself be good, or the opera air meritorious.

Comment by adbge on Open thread, 24-30 March 2014 · 2014-03-25T15:58:01.425Z · LW · GW

Here's a sampling of the best in my RSS reader:

gwern posts on google+ and Kaj Sotala posts interesting stuff on Facebook. I also subscribe to a number of journal's table of contents via this site to keep up with research and some stuff on arxiv.

Comment by adbge on Open Thread February 25 - March 3 · 2014-02-28T21:06:57.365Z · LW · GW

Forty-five individuals (22 couples and 1 widowed person) living in arranged marriages in India completed questionnaires measuring marital satisfaction and wellness. The data were compared with existing data on individuals in the United States living in marriages of choice. Differences were found in importance of marital characteristics, but no differences in satisfaction were found. Differences were also found in 9 of 19 wellness scales between the 2 groups. Implications for further research are considered.


Results from the analyses revealed that arranged marrieds were significantly higher in marital satisfaction than were the love marrieds or companionate marrieds.


Unexpectedly, no differences were found between participants in arranged and love-based marriages; high ratings of love, satisfaction, and commitment were observed in both marriage types. The overall affective experiences of partners in arranged and love marriages appear to be similar, at least among Indian adults living in contemporary U.S. society.


A contrary finding:

Multiple regression analyses indicate that wives in Chengdu love matches are more satisfied with their marital relationships than their counterparts in arranged marriages, regardless of the length of the marriage, and that this difference cannot be attributed to the influence of other background factors that differentiate these two types of women.


Comment by adbge on Methods for treating depression · 2014-02-17T04:41:42.510Z · LW · GW

While I agree that depressives should try CBT, I've begun to think some of the enthusiasm is misplaced, especially when contrasted with the scrutiny antidepressants receive. Yvain has written about this before:

The AJP article above is interesting because as far as I know it’s the largest study ever to compare Freudian and cognitive-behavioral therapies. It examined both psychodynamic therapy (a streamlined, shorter-term version of Freudian psychoanalysis) and cognitive behavioral therapy on 341 depressed patients. It found – using a statistic called noninferiority which I don’t entirely understand – that CBT was no better than psychoanalysis. In fact, although the study wasn’t designed to demonstrate this, just by eyeballing it looks like psychoanalysis did nonsignificantly better. The journal’s editorial does a good job putting the result in context.

This follows on the heels of several other studies and meta-analyses finding no significant difference between the two therapies, including, another in depression, yet another in depression, still another in depression, one in generalized anxiety disorder and one in general. This study by meta-analysis celebrity John Ioannidis also seems to incidentally find no difference between psychodynamics and CBT, although that wasn’t quite what it was intended to study and it’s probably underpowered to detect a difference.

In the vein of non-risky interventions, you might also want to add a section on meditation, expressing gratitude (not sure of the citation -- maybe here? -- but I recall the best possible selves intervention mentioned in the paper being ineffective among the depressed), and expressive writing generally.

Comment by adbge on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-12T21:39:41.872Z · LW · GW

Awesome, thanks so much!

Happy to help!

If you were to recommend one of these resources to begin with, which would it be?

I like both Project Euler and 99 Haskell problems a lot. They're great for building success spirals.

Comment by adbge on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-12T21:06:57.224Z · LW · GW
Comment by adbge on Useful Personality Tests · 2014-02-11T23:00:51.505Z · LW · GW

If the statement that the test says that you are a normal human like everybody else triggers you, that has meaning.

I wouldn't read too much into such a reaction. It seems to be a fairly common thing, resulting in the creation of a uniqueness-seeking scale in psychology. There is some support for a "need for uniqueness" as a human universal, with a review here.

From my notes on the Handbook of Positive Psychology:

As predicted, the students who were told that they were mod- erately similar to other respondents reported more positive moods than did those students who were told that they were either highly sim- ilar or highly dissimilar to other respondents. (page 415)

The establishment of a sense of uniqueness is emotionally satisfying to individuals. Moreover, it is necessary for our psychological welfare. (page 423)

And here's some just-for-fun trivia:

Specifically, evidence of a higher than usual need for uniqueness has been found among (a) women with unusual first names (Zweigenhaft, 1981); (b) women whose nearest sibling is male rather than female (Chrenka, 1983); (c) students who are firstborn or only children versus latter born (Fromkin, Williams, & Dipboye, 1973); and (d) children of interfaith marriages (Grossman, 1990). (page 416)

Comment by adbge on Open Thread for February 3 - 10 · 2014-02-11T18:30:24.851Z · LW · GW

It sounds like you're saying that my aversion to failing at something else is irrational. Would you mind pointing out the error in my reasoning? (This sort of exchange is basically cognitive behavioral therapy, btw.)

Many of the things that you have said are characteristic of the sort of disordered thinking that goes hand-in-hand with depression. The book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy covers some of them. You may want to try reading it (if you have not already) so that you will be able to recognize thoughts typical among the depressed. (I find some measure of comfort from realizing that certain thoughts are depressive delusions and will pass with changes in mood.)

As a concrete example, you said:

I'm just not smart or hard-working enough to do anything more interesting than pushing paper (my current job).

These are basically the harshest reasons one could give for failing at something. They are innate and permanent. An equally valid frame would be to think that some outside circumstance was responsible (bad economy, say) or that you had not yet mastered the right skill set.

Comment by adbge on Amanda Knox Guilty Again · 2014-01-31T05:21:08.968Z · LW · GW


Comment by adbge on Humans can drive cars · 2014-01-31T01:19:01.201Z · LW · GW

It seems to me that we're less interested in perfect programs and more interested in programs that are good enough, and there are plenty of those, e.g. some cryptographic software, the mars rover and the Apollo systems, life-critical systems generally, telecom stuff. Of course, there are many notable failures, too.

Comment by adbge on Self-Study Questions Thread · 2014-01-29T03:59:20.787Z · LW · GW

Does anyone have an idea of the prerequisites necessary for Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms or Introduction to Economic Analysis?

Comment by adbge on Stupid Questions Thread - January 2014 · 2014-01-14T18:54:49.047Z · LW · GW

I think the paper you're thinking of is Kahneman et al's A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method.


In Table 1, taking care of one's children ranks just above the least enjoyable activities of working, housework, and commuting.

On the other hand, having children also harms marital satisfaction. See, for example, here.

Comment by adbge on Stupid Questions Thread - January 2014 · 2014-01-13T23:32:40.157Z · LW · GW

If it turns out that the whole MIRI/LessWrong memeplex is massively confused, what would that look like?

A few that come to mind:

  • Some religious framework being basically correct. Humans having souls, an afterlife, etc.
  • Antinatalism as the correct moral framework.
  • Romantic ideas of the ancestral environment are correct and what feels like progress is actually things getting worse.
  • The danger of existential risk peaked with the cold war and further technological advances will only hasten the decline.
Comment by adbge on Stupid Questions Thread - January 2014 · 2014-01-13T04:42:57.792Z · LW · GW

I thought the same thing and went to dig up the original. Here it is:

One common illustration is called Transplant. Imagine that each of five patients in a hospital will die without an organ transplant. The patient in Room 1 needs a heart, the patient in Room 2 needs a liver, the patient in Room 3 needs a kidney, and so on. The person in Room 6 is in the hospital for routine tests. Luckily (for them, not for him!), his tissue is compatible with the other five patients, and a specialist is available to transplant his organs into the other five. This operation would save their lives, while killing the “donor”. There is no other way to save any of the other five patients (Foot 1966, Thomson 1976; compare related cases in Carritt 1947 and McCloskey 1965).

This is from the consequentialism page on the SEP, and it goes on to discuss modifications of utilitarianism that avoid biting the bullet (scalpel?) here.

Comment by adbge on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-12T18:36:52.098Z · LW · GW

Going under anesthesia is a similar discontinuity in subjective experience, along with sleep, situations where people are technically dead for a few moments and then brought back to life, coma patients, and so on.

I don't personally regard any of these as the death of one person followed by the resurrection of a new person with identical memories, so I also reject the sort of reasoning that says cryogenic resurrection, mind uploading, and Star Trek-style transportation is death.

Eliezer has a post here about similar concerns. It's perhaps of interest to note that the PhilPapers survey revealed a fairly even split on the teletransporter problem among philosophers, with the breakdown being 36.2%/32.7%/31.1% as survive/other/die respectively.

ETA: Ah, nevermind, I see you've already considered this.

Comment by adbge on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-08T17:26:34.237Z · LW · GW

There is what Wikipedia calls interference theory, which is when the act of learning new, similar information throws a wrench into the recall of the old information. For example, I never used to have any trouble with the word iniquitous before I learned the word invidious, but now I get them mixed up.

Comment by adbge on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist · 2014-01-08T03:35:25.964Z · LW · GW

The U.S. Department of Justice has a special report, Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers, 1993-2010:

In 2010, males experienced violent victimizations by strangers at nearly twice the rate of females (figure 2). The rate of violence against males by strangers was 9.5 victimizations per 1,000 males in 2010 compared to 4.7 victimizations per 1,000 females.

It goes on to say that the disparity seems to be shrinking, with crime against men falling more rapidly than crime against women.

Comment by adbge on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-20T05:13:59.390Z · LW · GW

Not suicide rates, but Wikipedia has some information along similar lines here.

Comment by adbge on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-20T04:09:22.616Z · LW · GW

Never been to the US and don't know much about it

It's possible there is a bit of a cultural disconnect here. I live in the United States and soldiers are treated with a great deal of respect, often receiving discounts on meals and other services. Here's a Reddit thread where former military talk about "soldier worship." We also have a couple national holidays honoring service people. On these days, it's common for there to be parades and for ex-military members to speak at schools.

I'm uncertain how common this knowledge is outside of the US, so apologies if this is obvious, but I think it would be fair to characterize soldiers in the United States as "generally considered valiant heroes," especially among e.g. World War II veterans who fought at the Normandy landings.

Comment by adbge on Examples in Mathematics · 2013-12-14T23:45:22.064Z · LW · GW

This passage by Grothendieck (source) seems potentially relevant:

What my experience of mathematical work has taught me again and again, is that the proof always springs from the insight, and not the other way round – and that the insight itself has its source, first and fore- most, in a delicate and obstinate feeling of the relevant entities and concepts and their mutual relations. The guiding thread is the inner coherence of the image which gradually emerges from the mist, as well as its consonance with what is known or foreshadowed from other sources – and it guides all the more surely as the “exigence” of coherence is stronger and more delicate.

Comment by adbge on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-22T17:37:20.539Z · LW · GW

Surveyed, requesting free internet points.