Comment by akshatrathi on What are you working on? · 2011-03-17T15:01:13.268Z · LW · GW

I'm working on

1) Synthesising biologically active and structurally challenging molecules for my PhD. See link.

2) Relaxing Stories iPhone app: The app is able to relax the user in under five minutes by listening to visually enhanced stories read by soothing voices.

3) Science communication: Writing about latest advances in chemistry for a wider audience. Also, reaching out other graduate students and institutes to get involved in communicating science.

Comment by akshatrathi on Self-deception: Hypocrisy or Akrasia? · 2010-11-12T14:10:29.301Z · LW · GW

Another explanation is motivated bias; we feel good thinking well of ourselves and badly of others, and because of that don't look very critically at our positive claims about ourselves

Surely there must be more than the reason that you give.

Comment by akshatrathi on Your intuitions are not magic · 2010-08-13T01:50:57.295Z · LW · GW

I enjoyed your article and as a scientist, I've been interested to understand this: what seems an intuitive method to use to solve a scientific problem is not seen as an intuitive method while solving 'other' problems.

By 'other', I mean things like psychological problems or problems that arise from conflicts amongst people. It may be obvious why it is not 'intuitive' but what goes beyond my understanding is most will not even consider using the scientific method for the latter types of problem ever.

Comment by akshatrathi on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2010-08-12T19:07:06.983Z · LW · GW

The zero-sum bias seems to be also responsible for the the concept of karma which is a ubiquitous concept (not just amongst Hindus). The roots of this can be found in the ancient religious texts like the Bhagvad Gita and go on to support what multifoliatrose says in the post.

Comment by akshatrathi on Feeling Rational · 2010-08-11T20:41:42.187Z · LW · GW

The different emotions permitted for different sexes could well be because of evolutionary reasons not just social reasons.

Comment by akshatrathi on Feeling Rational · 2010-08-10T16:32:20.472Z · LW · GW

That's a really nice view to have on emotions. And frankly, I've known it all along but never put it the way you have. Cheers!

What bothers me is that in case of 'emotional expressions' in a profession, it is possible to fake it and am sure we have seen examples of such (hypocrites) in our life. But may be in a given situation it is rational to fake it.

PS: Could you give the source of the Hitler example?

Comment by akshatrathi on The "show, don't tell" nature of argument · 2010-04-14T01:26:51.435Z · LW · GW

Interesting piece.

I agree with Drahflow and utilitymonster here though. An argument needs to be made in the context of the audience. Unnecessary details about an argument may dilute the effect of your speech. And stating the obvious (which it may be to the audience) makes one look like an arrogant guy, who is assuming that the audience wouldn't know.

Yet, I agree with you in the example you give about being truthful to kids. Making an argument based on truth and stating that truth may be a good way of dealing with kids. And as you claim it is showing in their development.

Comment by akshatrathi on Normal Cryonics · 2010-01-20T00:17:25.954Z · LW · GW

Say you survive the next 20 years and say your probability to die in the 20 years hence be < 10%. Would you sign up for cryonics then? If not, what is that probability of death which will make you sign up for cryonics?

PS: How did you come up with the probability of < 1% about your own death?

Comment by akshatrathi on Normal Cryonics · 2010-01-20T00:14:31.317Z · LW · GW

I second Michael's question

Comment by akshatrathi on Normal Cryonics · 2010-01-20T00:07:48.838Z · LW · GW

I've resolved not to die before my parents do, because I don't want them to suffer the grief my death would cause.

How would you make sure that will not happen?

Comment by akshatrathi on Action vs. inaction · 2009-11-30T19:32:49.168Z · LW · GW

Does a fighter plane have a black box, like the one that is there in passenger planes?

Comment by akshatrathi on Action vs. inaction · 2009-11-30T18:46:05.375Z · LW · GW

Yet in health, we see action as inherently dangerous; while in economics, we see inaction as inherently dangerous. Why?

That is a very good point, I must appreciate that you noticed it. I would say that one of the reasons that happens is because people resist change. In health, any action would mean there could be something wrong that can happen. Thus, it is made a mandate that every possible wrong be checked before such an action takes place. Hence, the inherent danger in action.

Where as in case of economics, actions are usually taken to stop a change from happening (Stimulus package, bailing out car companies, president goes shopping, etc.). Thus, inaction would be accepting change which people always oppose. Hence, the inherent danger in inaction.

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-30T16:51:13.170Z · LW · GW

I believe that scientists can change fields easily and sometimes make bigger impact in the new fields they enter. I think it’s because people who move do not look at the same problem from the traditional point-of-view. This enables us to come up with unique solutions. We are not trapped by dogma and if we are bold we can rise quickly.

-- Aubrey de Grey

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-30T16:48:00.067Z · LW · GW

He may have, for his own reasons, not been happy with the ease with which he achieved something great. His selfishness at this point is not for the fact that he may still be able to contribute to the field and yet he chooses not to but for the fact that he will be happier if he had to work harder on something before achieving greatness. That is his value system. I think his choice is justifiable.

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-30T16:43:08.782Z · LW · GW

The second advantage claimed for naturalism is that it is equivalent to rationality, because it assumes a model of reality in which all events are in principle accessible to scientific investigation.

-- Phillip E. Johnson

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-30T11:46:54.469Z · LW · GW

So few of us really think. What we do is rearrange our prejudices.

-- George Vincent

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-30T11:45:15.567Z · LW · GW

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

-- Albert Einstein

Comment by akshatrathi on Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts · 2009-11-30T01:55:11.153Z · LW · GW

We live in the matrix and Eliezer Yudkowsky is the architect.

Comment by akshatrathi on Just Lose Hope Already · 2009-11-30T00:12:21.601Z · LW · GW

The point of this post was to show that persisting at something while being irrational can only cause harm. Of course, "Never give up" is not bad advice, but Eliezer's advice is be rational and accept defeat when you need to.

Comment by akshatrathi on Rationality Quotes November 2009 · 2009-11-29T23:49:44.529Z · LW · GW

I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity, order, meaning, structure, rationality: they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have, and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change.

-- A. R. Ammons

Comment by akshatrathi on Value is Fragile · 2009-11-29T23:39:54.755Z · LW · GW

However, they are not any more boring than making DNA sequences, and that's the current aim of most living systems.

Making a DNA sequence will count as (an extremely low level activity) [] which is necessary to support non-boring activities. It is a very simple argument that these are the very activity we stop thinking about and concentrate on novel activities.

Comment by akshatrathi on A Nightmare for Eliezer · 2009-11-29T22:52:50.643Z · LW · GW


"You might want to get some coffee."

I find this the most humorous bit in the post. Smarter than Yudokowsky? May be.

Comment by akshatrathi on Agree, Retort, or Ignore? A Post From the Future · 2009-11-26T12:37:30.867Z · LW · GW

I quite like your point, now that you put it minus the rigidity. Your argument, first looked like what SilasBarta said. But I agree with you on trying to make this debating smarter.

There is certainly scope to improve the way comments are structured at lesswrong. May be showing who voted up a comment would be a good start. Then we can move to associating certain messages with a group of people who agree to that point. And yes, it is important to maintain flexibility while making these changes.

Comment by akshatrathi on How to test your mental performance at the moment? · 2009-11-26T01:59:14.336Z · LW · GW

I've joined KGS. Look forward to playing GO!

Comment by akshatrathi on How to test your mental performance at the moment? · 2009-11-25T00:55:56.539Z · LW · GW

I'd be interested in such a room.

Comment by akshatrathi on How to test your mental performance at the moment? · 2009-11-24T15:34:34.014Z · LW · GW

During a sleep experiment, I used to record my mental performance by a simple arithmetic game. Start with a 3 digit number, subtract 9, then 8, then on. Time yourself in the task. If the result is ±3 seconds to my average score, means I am quite active.

Comment by akshatrathi on Our House, My Rules · 2009-11-23T23:28:55.854Z · LW · GW

If we're taking the US as a reference point, I would argue that adults should be punished a lot less for most crimes...

Could you elaborate?

Comment by akshatrathi on Our House, My Rules · 2009-11-23T23:26:10.261Z · LW · GW

A well made argument. Particularly agree to the one-size-fits-all argument.

Our evolution as mammals has forced us to protect our young ones for the survival of our species. The concerns CronoDAS has made are from the perspective of a modern society, especially that of western countries. Even now, millions of kids in third-world countries do not have the option to choose most of the things in that list. In such a situation, more responsible adults need to make a decision on behalf of the children and make available whatever they can for their own benefit.

Comment by akshatrathi on Anti-Akrasia Technique: Structured Procrastination · 2009-11-23T11:56:28.594Z · LW · GW

So... when your willpower is all gone, you continue doing the activity with... what?

Although, I have no desire to do it, I force myself to do it. So it can be argued that it is till your willpower to do it. But this willpower is not for the activity but for the sheer reason of doing a little more of an activity. Thus, this willpower is orthogonal to the willpower of doing the activity.

An article in the NY times is an interesting read, mentions something close to my technique.

Comment by akshatrathi on Our House, My Rules · 2009-11-23T04:12:24.163Z · LW · GW

Children ought to have fundamentally lower status, not just because they're children per se, but because they're stupid and useless.

I am not a parent myself but I've been told a lot of times by my parents and others that they have learnt a great deal from children. Thus, calling them useless is not fair.

Also, even now children in rural India are treated as future bread-earners. Thus, taking care of them and helping them grow is seen as an advantage to the parents.

Stupid, yes they may be but then weren't we all?

Comment by akshatrathi on Rational lies · 2009-11-23T03:47:47.979Z · LW · GW

I'm going to be talking about more mundane situations, and the point I want to make is that beliefs are very different objects from the act of communicating those beliefs.

Isn't this what happens in a courtroom drama? The lawyers bend facts by the way they communicate it to maximize the utility of their argument. I haven't observed a real court case but can come up with scores of examples from bollywood movies!

Comment by akshatrathi on Anti-Akrasia Technique: Structured Procrastination · 2009-11-23T03:37:06.834Z · LW · GW

I believe it is possible to increase one's willpower reserve. I follow a simple technique to that effect. Every time my willpower to do something is over, I stretch myself to do that activity a little longer. Next time, I find myself stretching it beyond that and so on until I have a sufficient reserve of willpower for that activity.

Comment by akshatrathi on Anti-Akrasia Technique: Structured Procrastination · 2009-11-22T23:47:37.320Z · LW · GW

I believe that each individual's store of willpower is different. May be you are one of those individuals with a huge reserve and thus don't find it a limited resource.

Comment by akshatrathi on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2009-11-22T03:31:50.964Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the welcome. I had a few simple questions. How to get bullet points in comments? How to make text into hyperlinks? and How to get that blue line on the left margin when quoting something?

Comment by akshatrathi on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2009-11-22T01:20:20.136Z · LW · GW
  • Name: Akshat Rathi
  • Location: Oxford, UK
  • Age: 22
  • Education: B. Tech (Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Technology), currently studying towards a D. Phil. in Organic Chemistry

I grew up in India but in a family where religion was never forced on the individual. I think I became a rationalist the day I started countering superstition and its evils through reasoning. Now as a scientist I find myself rationalising every experimental outcome. As a chemist, I get angry every so often when I have to settle for an empirical outcome over a rational one.

I was introduced to less wrong by alexflint with whom I co-author a blog. I have always been interested in philosophy and hope to take it up as a subject of study very soon.

Comment by akshatrathi on One Argument Against An Army · 2009-11-22T00:49:18.138Z · LW · GW

I am sure that I must've done this as well.

I have to keep constant vigilance not to do this myself!

A documented example would definitely be appreciated so that we know what we are looking for in a particular situation. Otherwise getting stuck in this loop of winning arguments by double-counting evidence is very easy.

Comment by akshatrathi on The One That Isn't There · 2009-11-21T22:37:28.076Z · LW · GW

Furthermore, my experience with smart people strongly suggests that they are less likely to develop that capacity.

I agree. The students with the highest IQ in my high school are not the ones who are most successful in life now.