The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality 2013-11-28T03:08:30.806Z · score: 4 (13 votes)


Comment by aletheianink on Personal Psychiatric Analysis · 2014-02-09T08:02:59.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was going to reply to your direct examples, but an overarching response seems more appropriate.

I am not saying we should not medicate, as you seem to think. As a long-term psychiatric patient and the wife to another, I have seen the enormous benefits medication for depression can bring. I am saying that our understanding of this condition is relatively basic in regards to its complexity. A hole in the leg, or pain, do not need to be complexly understood to be dealth with sufficiently - pain medication hides the pain, that is the goal, and a suitable painkiller will do the job. It does not fix the hole in the leg, or the source of the pain.

With depression, the symptoms are treated, not the cause. Which is not a bad thing in itself, but it does not cure someone of their condition, which would be an ideal long-term goal. Painkillers are no use to a patient if the doctor cannot fix the wound or it cannot be healed; likewise with depression.

In regards to your association that "Non-temporary worsening of symptoms doesn't sound like a common side effect.": Sertraline (zoloft): depression is a "common" side effect affecting more than 1 in 100 people Citalopram: more than 1 in 100 people experience anxiousness, nervousness, apathy (which can be a symptom of depression for some) while (uncommon) more than 1 in 1000 experience aggressive behvaiour or mania (i.e. the medication could trigger a manic episode in a bipolar patient diagnosed purely with depression, highlighting my point about a diagnosis being based on behaviour)

My point is not, as you seem to think "we don't understand depression properly so we can't medicate". I am rather highlighting the difficulties in medicating patients with mental health problems, particularly depression and bipolar disorder, as there is a complexity not found with such regularity in cases of fatigue and pain as you gave examples. How often is a patient given a pain medication only to find their senses heightened to the pain, rather than dulled? What is the frequency with which a patient given a medication to reduce blood pressure finds it rising? Not nearly as often as those with depression can have their symptoms worsened with medication, or, as I pointed out, a manic episode triggered in a bipolar patient who has not been diagnosed as such.

We should medicate, by all means - but in reference to the original post, we are looking at odds for some medications of more than 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000, and each individual response varies much more than if we were using morphine or aspirin or warfarin. Anecdotally speaking, to highlight the point that this may be used to our benefit in understanding depression, is the fact that my response to every SSRI I have been on (quite a few) I experience several days to a week of hypomania before having my depression drop suicidally low. If we could understand brain chemistry more, perhaps scientists could identify why me (and perhaps others) have this routine response to a certain type of depression medication, and not to others. Understanding nuances would help us better medicate.

As you see, I am not suggesting we stop medicating because we don't understand, simply that we aim to learn more to reduce the variance in responses that currently occurs with depressive medications that does not occur with most other areas (i.e. the medication provokes a response counter to the response that was intended)

Comment by aletheianink on Personal Psychiatric Analysis · 2014-02-02T01:21:41.219Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think that the tricky thing is that a psychiatrist has to put statistics into perspective on two sides of the equation - both in regards to the medication, and then in regards to the diagnosis/presentation of the patient. In a nutshell, we diagnose patients based on their behaviour, not their brain chemistry and function, while we are using medication to treat their brain chemistry and function. We are not treating something that, in most cases, a doctor can see or quantify absolutely (in most instances doctors are not doing brain scans in order to medicate - I don't even think at this point in our understanding they do).

Looking at the side effects for many psychiatric medications, it is fairly clear that the side-effects are vast and for a huge number also include non-temporary worsening of symptoms, including risk of suicide. To me that indicates that we do not understand nearly enough about brain chemistry or the cause of mental illness to medicate with reason - as much of it is intuition and experience and guesswork as formal training.

In this link it notes that "Gjedde explains we don't really know what is wrong with people suffering from depression but looking at the symptoms we get a good idea of where the fault could lie within the brain". Furthermore, major theories such as that the serotonin causes depression are suggested to be simplistic and innacurate, so while we have an idea that using medication to affect serotonin levels can help depression, it doesn't mean that low serotonin levels are the cause. Those two articles are generally depression-specific, but considering that depression is probably the most studied mental illness (if not one of), if our understanding of that illness is vague, it seems likely that our understanding of other psychiatric illnesses are too (which is supported very much by the "we'll try this medication and see if it works" approach, as opposed to "you have a hole in your leg, we'll dose you up with morphine and you won't feel it as much").

Comment by aletheianink on Bayesian Judo · 2013-12-01T06:14:07.386Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That was beautiful!

Comment by aletheianink on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-12-01T06:12:19.611Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've read quite a few of the articles here, and something that seems commonly mentioned but never really acted upon is the idea of the rationality dojo. I understand that a key point in Eliezer's opinion is the in-person element, but looking at meetups it also seems like there are a lot more people talking on the forums than there are actually getting together in person.

Pattrismo wrote an excellent article on how LW is shiny distraction, but it seems like little hard action came of this. Has anyone discussed the idea of creating an online dojo, with specific exercises and required reading? I found (freyley's post on the topic)[] but, again, nothing seemed to come of it except a few ideas. Would it be possible to create some sort of online course or thread? While the in-person meetups do seem like the best option, I'm sure there are many LWers who aren't near a meetup, or can't get to one at the arranged time and place, and a specific online dojo might be the answer to that?

Comment by aletheianink on According to Dale Carnegie, You Can't Win an Argument—and He Has a Point · 2013-12-01T06:03:13.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point - I interchanged the two too readily.

Comment by aletheianink on Making the chaff invisible, and getting the wheat ($200 prize too) · 2013-12-01T05:53:01.240Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have the technical skills to do this, but I would suggest something like this:

  1. Find sources where you would find things of interest to you, if they were happening now.
  2. Create a tool (or script or something) to scrape their "events" page at regular intervals and then sorts that data, searching for keywords
  3. Have it then notify you in some context when something you like is mentioned.

This isn't foolproof (for example, it might say "Band X is the next Beatles!" if you've chosen Beatles ... but then you might find something you like). Pages like meetup, local ticketing outlets, facebook community pages, etc. are a good source. If you google about you might be able to find instructions for doing something like this.

There's also a website called which is essentially an "if this, then that" formula for the internet, but it only works for certain websites, and you need an account. It may serve your purposes, though - you could link it to twitter and get emails if given accounts mentioned the word "tour", "concert", "show" or any other relevant word. That's the closest tool that already exists that I can think of.

Comment by aletheianink on Meetup : Secular Solstice Celebration! (And the Inauguration of the LW Leipzig Community) · 2013-12-01T05:36:14.334Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I lived in Leipzig! And probably also spoke German. This sounds awesome!

Comment by aletheianink on According to Dale Carnegie, You Can't Win an Argument—and He Has a Point · 2013-12-01T05:32:55.828Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. I think most people just want to talk at you, not with you, when they're determined to win, and very few people would ever follow a conversation the way Socrates' opponents do in Plato's works.

Comment by aletheianink on According to Dale Carnegie, You Can't Win an Argument—and He Has a Point · 2013-12-01T05:28:15.426Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think this happens because it takes skill to accept being wrong. I know this has essentially been mentioned on LW before (my most recent reading was in MrMind's comment on the 5 Second Level), but I don't think most people have learnt that skill.

What we learn is that if we say "yes, I was wrong", others have then jumped on us, made fun of us or made an example of us - this starts when we're kids, or in school, where if we happen to be around teachers or parents with an inferiority complex, we've quickly learnt that it's better to be absolutely right or say nothing rather than be a little wrong.

We come here because we want to be, well, less wrong - and we're willing to admit we're wrong in order to be less so, so we're more likely to enter an argument with the genuine goal of coming out with a less wrong answer, rather than proving that our view is right. Most people want to be right, want to fit in, want to not make a mistake because most of us have learnt that being wrong = bad, and we don't want to be bad.

Comment by aletheianink on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-12-01T00:55:18.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if this helps, but I felt the same way, and took the Mensa entrance test to find out my IQ. Turns out that they don't actually give you the results, just tell you if you've entered ... and at the moment, that's satisfied my desire to know without feeling unhappy it's not high enough.

Comment by aletheianink on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-12-01T00:53:40.669Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I live in Australia and took the entrance to Mensa IQ test. I was accepted but not given a number, and was told to contact the evaluating psychologist (even though I wasn't sure how to find that out). That may be a way to do things, but since I never followed through I don't know how hard it is to get the results like that. I just put the lower bound for Mensa entrance because I know I at least got that, and mentioned it in the comments so they can discount it if it's not very useful.

Comment by aletheianink on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-12-01T00:51:51.282Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey.

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:58:48.771Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Women's clothes are generally terrible in most regards except, and it is less and less common, to look good. They are designed to look good on very thin women, and maintain a thin line. Most high fashion is just ridiculous, and when it gets passed down it seems most designers have an "idea" of a woman which is far removed from reality. Pockets rarely feature except in jeans, and I have had more than one item of clothing which looked to have pockets, but they were actually fake and rather pointless on all counts.

Men's clothing is far, far better (often even in appearance), in my opinion.

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:55:00.096Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the clarification - I'm from Australia, and if I'd guessed I would have assumed a pocketbook was just a fancy notebook (like a moleskine or something).

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:53:49.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I really like this. I have a handbag and do something akin to this with ziplock bags, but having things colour-coded seems to be an additionally good idea.

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:50:47.322Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a new habit that's not time-specific and doesn't take too long, try to do it first thing in the morning. It will not only get done (and be harder to forget), but the feeling of accomplishment can help your state of mind in achieving other tasks throughout the day. For me, lifting weights for the day takes 5 minutes to do a simple workout, but once it's done I feel like I've gotten something significant achieved and that makes me more motivated during the day.

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:50:39.481Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Before I started a family, I went through a period of minimalism, and I had a "magic" wallet (card-sized, flips money across on the inside using elasticised bands, doesn't fit coins), and only carried that, my phone and keys. I couldn't collect receipts, lots of store cards, coins, tags or whatever else in it, and it had what I needed (back then).

(separate comments for separate habits, as per the original post)

Comment by aletheianink on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-11-30T05:49:51.749Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Anti-habit: for quitting something, I've found that telling myself "wait 5 more minutes" each time I think about it can help reduce and break the habit. If your habit is linked to something else (for example, you always have a cigarette when you have a cup of coffee), this is extra useful. This helps me with not eating junk foods and overcoming a craving - often I forget about it.

Comment by aletheianink on More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA · 2013-11-30T05:23:25.118Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know XFrequentists's reasons, but in addition to this I think golfing as a social skill tends to apply more to old money/old institutions (and particularly in America). I don't have evidence for this, but that's pretty much the only setting I've seen it in. My husband went golfing with work a few years back (he's an system administrator) and he and the guys he went with all got drunk and played pool with the golf clubs/balls - even where it was set up as a work gathering, it wasn't taken seriously.

However, given your question - if it there was good evidence to support it's prospects in one's career - I think it would come down to whether personal dislike of golfing (for example, something I feel) overcame the benefits of golfing in that particular situation and the desire to dramatically improve one's job prospects. I suppose that's rather obvious, though?

Comment by aletheianink on More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA · 2013-11-30T05:19:14.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find it disappointing that there aren't any more recent comments than halfway through this year - I'll scan the comments to see if the discussion was ported elsewhere, but usually that's flagged in the post so I doubt it ...

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-30T04:55:59.496Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the link - this was essentially what I was looking for! I have yet to read the article, but it's an interesting conclusion - perhaps other commenters were simply going by their intuition or what they felt, instead of looking for evidence?

Comment by aletheianink on The 5-Second Level · 2013-11-30T04:39:38.118Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your post was over a year ago, but I will reply anyway:

I don't know the answer to the first question, as I am also new.

To the second question, I recommend something like readability where you can clip a page (or sequence) and then read that in a really nice interface through the readability app.

Comment by aletheianink on Efficient Charity · 2013-11-30T04:06:08.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Minor nitpick: I find it rather silly when people say "a full x percent" (as in, a full 89%) of something - either you're being correct and specific, and you mean 89% exactly, or you're being fairly specific and mean 89.124535% or something. You wouldn't use it to mean "around 89%" or "just under but close to 89%" - you'd round down to 88% or, again, be specific.

This was an excellent article, though - something I have thought about fleetingly before but never really considered. My personal area of interest is animal rights, which is a lot harder to evaluate (also, I'm not in America, so GIveWell probably hasn't evaluated any charities which I would donate to) - however, it's given me a lot to think about, and a new way to approach charity.

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-29T21:52:23.181Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea why I put that. I was trying to just be very specific, so people wouldn't ask "well, what if they hadn't heard of x" or whatever ... it may be because I'm used to reading about the entitlement of average, white, English-speaking people (specifically men), and just linked that in without thinking. It's irrelevant, so I'll go fix it - thanks.

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T20:37:49.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you - I think the article was actually rather weak, on review, but thank you!

I'm going to read the article now.

Your initial point was what prompted my thoughts on the issue - essentially, as I read through LW, learn new words, new ways of thinking, new approaches, will I become more rational? I suppose that's not solely vocabulary - it includes the ideas that spawned that vocabulary - but looking up definitions has something I've definitely been spending a lot of time doing!

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T20:13:50.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I said above, I think I kind of misphrased my question while trying to make it clear in my head - almost ironically, my inability to find the right words hampered my ability to communicate what I meant.

I agree completely about people making up words for new ideas - I suppose that's what I meant to bypass: we make up words as shorthand for longer concepts, because if we didn't, it would take a lot longer to say or explain what we meant. My question was meant to be along the lines of, if we didn't have those new words, would our rationality be hampered by the lack of specific words (even if we knew what we meant in our minds)? (You don't have to answer that, I was just trying to clarify!)

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T20:10:59.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had a complicated point to make about the interplay of vocabulary and simplifying ideas in order to make thinking more clear (and thus perhaps rationality?) but I think I kind of lost that in the post and have made it sound more like "can people think if they don't have words?".

I agree with what you've written, and I'd say that your last sentence rather answers my (intended) question: correlation may exist, but causation is a lot trickier to pin.

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T08:59:31.741Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you mean; that makes sense. I think that's something LW has certainly pointed out for me - by knowing one's own boundaries of understanding, one can try to further one's knowledge of the unknown.

I'm about to put child to bed so I haven't time to read the link right now, but I'll certainly be on it first thing in the morning!

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T05:50:54.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that sometimes using unusual, uncommon or long words when a shorter one will do can be counterproductive, but what about topic-specific vocabulary - words which are common in given circles (for example LW) but have complex ideas or meanings behind them? Or would you consider that to fall under your latter sentence?

Comment by aletheianink on The Relevance of Advanced Vocabulary to Rationality · 2013-11-28T04:04:32.696Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He does actually say obstropolous, but he must have read obsteperous somewhere and mispronounced it. Thank you!

I have bookmarked it because I want to read pretty much every link but don't currently have the time to do so.

Are you saying then, that if we fully understood what other people were saying, there would be less irrationality?

Comment by aletheianink on Wait vs Interrupt Culture · 2013-11-28T03:40:53.823Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't absolutely relevant, and may not be helpful, but my mother is the type of person who will talk at length - easily an hour - if you don't stop. And you can't just say "Um, I was thinking - " or "yeah, I agree", because she'll just talk over the top of you and not listen. My strategy is to wait for a pause (usually a very short one, because she doesn't leave long pauses) and then try to quickly cram a sentence in to divert the top. This may work for you, as you're not technically interrupting - you're just jumping in quickly with your idea - and you may find this is enough to divert the conversation so that you can more easily put your view across (or be asked more).

Comment by aletheianink on The Dark Arts: A Beginner's Guide · 2013-11-28T03:20:11.673Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not familiar with the first two, but as I was reading this article I thought of Derren Brown. I think he's a really interesting person to watch work - it shows you how deft a person can be with your mind if they're good enough, and how big the gaps in our own second-to-second thought processes can be. I find him not only entertaining but really thought-provoking.

Comment by aletheianink on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-11-28T02:02:43.304Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! I hope so, in time - I just think it's wiser to watch and learn so that I can understand how LW works and what specific terms and concepts mean before jumping in with what I think I understand!

Comment by aletheianink on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-11-28T01:33:29.249Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know what you mean about the author's views replacing your own! I think it's good to sit on your thoughts for a few days afterwards and let your excitement simmer down so your rationality can kick in and pull it apart and put it back together again, although I have a feeling that with most posts you'll still end up conceding that your (new) view is on par with the author's!

Comment by aletheianink on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-11-28T01:30:28.341Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm Katy, I'm 26, I have a 7 month old baby (I feel that's important because it heavily affects my current ability to think/sleep/eat/do anything) and a husband and ... well, I never really thought about rationality until I came across Less Wrong.

I grew up always ... wanting more. I believed in god, for a while, until I realised I was just talking to myself. I suffered from bipolar disorder (mainly depressive) from my early teens until ... well, until I became pregnant, actually, when it mysteriously disappeared. I wanted to meet people who understood, who thought deeper, who questioned, who wondered. I came across Terry Pratchett, and I found his ideas within stories to be so wonderful, but met few people who had read (or enjoyed) his writing, and even fewer who ever found the concepts of "how" and "why" as intensely interesting as I did.

I studied a lot of different things at university - English, history, Antarctic Studies (I live in Australia so there was a course down in Tasmania), maths, physics, business ... but most of my learning has been alone, through books or the internet or waking up at 2am and thinking "I wonder why that happens" and then going on an hours-long adventure through the internet.

When I got married, I got two lovely step-daughters in the package, aged 6 and 10, and introducing them to science and maths has really reignited my interest in learning again. Unfortunately this is slightly challenge by their mother who is a bit of an unpleasant dullard (when the girls learnt the entire periodic table from a song I showed them on youtube, her response was "science is boring" ). My husband and I also hope to home-school our daughter, and I want to be able to give her as much support as possible in whatever areas interest her, and ignite the love of knowledge that her father and I have.

I came across LW a few days ago and just instantly got drawn in - the form of the posts, the replies, the flow of logic and reason ... it's not only very educational, but inspires me to do better in my daily life. Sure, you don't have to be particularly rational to change a nappy or feed a baby, but (for example) I was considering getting contents insurance and, after reading a thread here I thought "maybe I should approach this rationally, instead of just thinking that it seems like a good idea", and went on to do some rough calculations and probabilities and approach it that way.

I don't think I'll be posting on any other threads any time soon - I'd rather read and learn and learn and get a feel for the community rather than post a half-decent comment that doesn't contribute much - but I figured it would be worth posting here to start with.