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Comment by ameriver on Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations · 2012-07-06T08:50:05.158Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Depending on where you live, mold can become a problem.

Comment by ameriver on Group rationality diary, 5/21/12 · 2012-05-24T23:51:09.439Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've been getting up at 7:30 every day and exercising since I got back, which is essentially unheard of for me. It's very exciting.

Unfortunately, there is a lot non-rationality related stuff that needs to be done in the next three weeks, so I've had very little time to synthesize and go through the rest of it. I'm hoping that in a month when things are less crazy I'll be able to commit half an hour a day as was suggested, but am worried that by then momentum will be lost. Any suggestions?

Comment by ameriver on Learn A New Language! · 2012-05-20T17:09:39.712Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd also recommend an introductory paragraph, where you explain what the post is going to be about, your basis for believing your information is correct, etc. Something like "this is a post describing a specific strategy for learning a new language. I've used it to learn Mandarin, French, Urdu, and Hindi." First because the opening is rather abrupt, and second because (as you can see) without citations everyone assumes you're working only from anecdotal evidence. If you aren't, you should definitely give your sources. And if you are, you should explicitly make that disclaimer, because otherwise it feels (at least, to me) like you're trying to make a stronger claim than just "hey, here's something that works for me."

Comment by ameriver on Hold Off On Proposing Solutions · 2012-05-20T03:05:38.126Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the techniques I've always thought sounded really useful, but never had a clear enough picture of to implement for myself. Does anyone have an example (a transcript, or something of the like) of groups and/or individuals successfully discussing a problem for 5 or 10 minutes without proposing any solutions? I have trouble imagining what that would look like.

Comment by ameriver on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11 · 2012-03-24T22:48:35.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that's at all clear. Harry is going to extremely desperate measures to save Hermione - that he is willing to sacrifice any possible piece on the board, possibly including his own better nature, for one single person (no matter how special) certainly strikes me as a taboo tradeoff.

Comment by ameriver on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 10 · 2012-03-16T00:35:22.317Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The ministry was clearly not actually trying to catch Death Eaters during the first war. Even simpler than this (as a first pass to catch spies) would be to make all ministry employees roll up their left sleeve on a regular basis.

Comment by ameriver on 96 Bad Links in the Sequences · 2011-04-27T21:58:13.921Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great idea.

Comment by ameriver on [SEQ RERUN] "I don't know." · 2011-04-27T08:21:52.052Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you haven't already seen it, this might interest you, it's a pretty cool story. Also, this.

Comment by ameriver on SIAI Fundraising · 2011-04-27T08:09:24.844Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The rule of thumb I've heard is that an employee's cost to their employer is between two and three times their salary. Even if the employer is not paying benefits, they still have to carry worker's comp insurance, for example, as well as administrative overhead on managing payroll, etc.

Comment by ameriver on Where are we? · 2011-04-27T07:49:43.054Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in central Oregon

Comment by ameriver on Convincing Arguments Aren’t Necessarily Correct – They’re Merely Convincing · 2011-04-25T19:42:17.915Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is really interesting. Could you give an example?

Comment by ameriver on Mini-camp on Rationality, Awesomeness, and Existential Risk (May 28 through June 4, 2011) · 2011-04-25T17:55:56.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am in a similar situation, only with school.

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-25T04:31:42.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FYI, I just tried to click through to your food blog from the link on your wiki userpage, and it is broken, I think.

Comment by ameriver on Being Wrong about Your Own Subjective Experience · 2011-04-25T00:49:25.647Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That was an awesome link.

Comment by ameriver on Join the Special Relocation Task Force! · 2011-04-25T00:22:26.527Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am volunteering to be considered. I don't know anything about engineering jobs, and I've moved a few times, but not a ton. I'm good at organizey stuff, and I know a little about low-cost living strategies which make "getting a proper job" less urgent when you move. I have had several positive tribe experiences, as well as some negative ones. I don't currently live near a LW meetup.

I'd expect that there are other people better qualified than I to help, but I am willing, and so I wanted to give you the option in case for whatever reason no one better volunteers.

In any case, I wish Andrew the best of luck in finding a tribe!

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-24T19:45:56.502Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. If a change in the karma system was worth doing, this issue is unlikely to tip things back in the other direction: it would have to be really borderline.

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-24T19:30:11.987Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It would also skew total karma scores to users who posted heavily before the change.

Comment by ameriver on The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality · 2011-04-22T22:25:15.960Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I feel the same way.

Comment by ameriver on Epistle to the New York Less Wrongians · 2011-04-22T19:27:16.958Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What would you have to give up?

Comment by ameriver on Reading Nonfiction Selectively · 2011-04-22T19:26:36.816Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What did you end up deciding about Dawkins? Incidentally, I agree with one of your commenters that The Ancestor's Tale (provided you're already aware of the basic issues presented in The Selfish Gene).

Comment by ameriver on Reading Nonfiction Selectively · 2011-04-22T19:20:32.823Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I found it to be both! Cheers.

Comment by ameriver on Epistle to the New York Less Wrongians · 2011-04-22T19:02:06.050Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for this:

...just want to win (and so min-max the @#%$ out of life).

Comment by ameriver on Epistle to the New York Less Wrongians · 2011-04-22T18:43:19.865Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW · GW

There are a lot of things that are counter-productive to the exercise of sound judgment. Getting rid of such things largely the point of rationality.

It may be that you are incapable of functioning well around women right now, but don't you want to do better? By arguing for a "rationalist" group which explicitly cateres to this irrationality, you are already conceding the fight against it.

Comment by ameriver on No, Seriously. Just Try It. · 2011-04-22T01:30:05.773Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I may have been using the word "hardwired" a bit flippantly. I didn't mean something that is literally ROM, but something more like a deeply-worn river bed. I think it is possible to overcome many of our (collective and individual) irrational emotional responses, but it's not a trivial task. Steven's comment is right on the mark.

As to evidence, I don't have any that would distinguish between it being a result of evolution, and, say, something that many of our parents condition into us (which, of course, presumes a pre-existing response to negative parental feedback). I do have evidence that these sorts of things are not entirely - or even mostly - under conscious control.

I think the dichotomy you create of "hardwired" vs. "malleable" is a little bit too simplistic: there is a whole spectrum of brain-habits which run the gamut between them. "The Agile Gene" (popular science...) discusses this issue fairly extensively.

Comment by ameriver on Evangelical Rationality · 2011-04-21T19:06:21.432Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was discussing an error I had made in a calculus problem becaues I tried to integrate a function of x with respect to z. I pointed out I made the error largely because my calculus skills are rusty, and I was just remembering a password ("velocity is the integral of acceleration!") and pushing on a magic button (INTEGRATE!) without remembering exactly what I was doing (calculating the area under the curve of a function of x, which doesn't make when you try to do it by adding up tiny pieces of z). At the end of my post-mortem, I linked the article and said it talked about some of the issues I was trying to articulate.

Comment by ameriver on [SEQ RERUN] The Martial Art of Rationality · 2011-04-21T17:11:56.520Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The knowledge is basically muscle memory: we didn't spend a lot of time learning the formal breakfall techniques, so much as every class involved falling or being knocked over from a variety of awkward positions, on the order of 100 times per class. So although it might be possible to teach the elderly the techniques (Cyan sounds like ey knows more about this than I do), the way I learned them probably wouldn't be a good way to do it.

I have found the experience transferrable, though, to situations like skiing, slipping on icy ground, crashing my bike, etc.

Comment by ameriver on [SEQ RERUN] The Martial Art of Rationality · 2011-04-21T16:18:13.573Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The most valuable lesson I ever learned from martial arts was how to fall down without hurting myself, and I'd say this is a skill that would help most people significantly reduce the number and severity of physical injuries they experience over their lifetime.

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-21T14:18:34.826Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this something I can easily obtain?

Comment by ameriver on Evangelical Rationality · 2011-04-21T08:43:37.830Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A few weeks ago, I put a link to "Guessing the Teacher's Password" into one of my physics class lab reports. My professor followed the link, read several articles, and has shared at least that first one with several other science faculty at the community college I attend.

Doesn't quite count as non-geeky, but I am nonetheless well pleased.

Comment by ameriver on [SEQ RERUN] The Martial Art of Rationality · 2011-04-21T08:21:25.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's a rare individual who would actually be in less physical danger if they were better at martial arts.

Do you think that because you believe most people don't experience physical danger? Or because you think that martial arts is ineffective in dealing with the most common types of danger? Or some other reason?

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-21T07:07:27.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...except advertisements, of course.

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-21T07:05:52.773Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think this would be a good compromise.

Comment by ameriver on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-21T06:30:10.014Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is very nicely put, and is sort of what I was thinking when I commented, but couldn't articulate. Thanks!

Comment by ameriver on No, Seriously. Just Try It. · 2011-04-21T06:26:51.535Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would love to see this post! Although I suspect it might end up being highly individual, since the dilemna of which hypotheses to test is closely related to which questions you want to answer.

Comment by ameriver on Singularity FAQ · 2011-04-20T22:43:48.283Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this!

Comment by ameriver on Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions · 2011-04-20T21:58:39.326Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a collapsible "karma details" section, so that users still have the option to see a single number for each comment?

Comment by ameriver on No, Seriously. Just Try It. · 2011-04-20T21:55:45.797Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, that was well put (as was the original post). I don't disagree with any of this, but wanted to point out that the hardwired results of evolution often can't be counteracted simply by explaining to the meat-brain that they are no longer adaptive.

I think that Luke's post would have been better served by an example in which the barrier to experimentation was, in fact, an irrational fear of something what won't really happen, rather than a rational fear of an irrational (but hardwired) negative emotional experience.

Comment by ameriver on No, Seriously. Just Try It. · 2011-04-20T21:20:38.663Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Fair point! I've certainly used it that way, although not in a very deliberate manner. It would be interesting to pay a bit more attention to that and try and nail how much intoxication, how quickly, etc for optimal social results.

Which is pretty much what lukeprog was talking about in his post anyway. :)

Comment by ameriver on No, Seriously. Just Try It. · 2011-04-20T16:37:07.160Z · score: 31 (31 votes) · LW · GW

It occurs to me that when I'm reluctant to chat up a stranger, it's not "actual" external consequences that I fear, so much as my own feelings of embarrassment, shame, etc (note: I've no idea if this is true for others). Feeling embarrassed is a (not insignificant) negative in my utility function. And it happens to be a fact about me that if the conversation goes badly, I will feel embarrassed!

Now, this is just a chimp-brain reflex. I'd willingly take a pill that made me less unhappy about failed social interactions, and it's on my to-hack list. But I wanted to let you know that, in some cases at least, saying "hey, there's no actual danger here," doesn't address the actual issue, because the anxiety isn't based on that particular concern.

Comment by ameriver on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-20T04:19:12.885Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would you be willing to support/expand on that claim further? I have low confidence since I haven't spent a whole lot of time thinking about it, but this runs counter to my intuition.

Comment by ameriver on [SEQ RERUN] The Martial Art of Rationality · 2011-04-20T02:37:32.752Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would say that the analogous objective of rationality is to protect oneself from mental threats: dark arts, misleading questions, tempting but wrong arguments... where specific biases would constitute specific types of attacks.

A couple interesting corellaries from that line of thought: 1) like in a physical situation, mere awareness of the form an attack may take doesn't always help; 2) like martial arts, in mental defense you have the option of developing a large number of highly specific defenses, or a smaller number of more generic ones

It does seem a little limiting to consider rationality nothing more than a mental form of self-defense, but I would argue that the higher levels of martial arts offer far more than that, and like rationality aim (among other things) for holistic life improvement.

An anecdote from my martial arts background:

A student asked, "Sensei, what would you say if I came into the dojo tomorrow and told you I had been attacked in a dark alley, and that I had protected my child who was with me, and defeated my attackers, and escaped unharmed?"

The teacher responded, "I would say that I had failed you as a teacher, because the ultimate goal of our art is not to defeat attackers, but simply not to be present when the attack comes."

Comment by ameriver on Insufficiently Awesome · 2011-04-20T02:17:20.168Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, for each of the three courses: each course is 1 hour per week, with the 3 courses being taught back to back on Tuesday nights. To take all 3 courses would be $135.

Comment by ameriver on Introduction to the Sequence Reruns · 2011-04-20T01:56:50.312Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Blagh, you just revolutionized my sequences reading experience. Amazing! I've had the exact same problem. Many thanks!

Comment by ameriver on Insufficiently Awesome · 2011-04-20T01:49:38.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agree, agree, a thousand times agree.

Comment by ameriver on Insufficiently Awesome · 2011-04-20T01:47:47.677Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not exactly sure what sort of dancing you mean, but you mention it twice and I happen to have some background in dancing in a variety of styles. And since you seem to be somewhere in the SF Bay Area, I strongly recommend the social dancing lessons taught by Richard Powers at Stanford and in Palo Alto as a venue to learn/practice both social and dancing skills. I found it to be an extremely welcoming community and low-pressure environment to learn. Friday Night Waltz which occurs in both Palo Alto and East Bay is also a great community.

"Social dance" is similar in content to ballroom dancing, but recreational and more improvisational in approach. Skill will let you dance comfortably and enjoyably with someone you've just met. I think this style of dancing helps a lot with the social ability stuff too, because you learn how to send and interpret body language signals, and you have to interact on a basic social level with lots of people in a short period of time. There's a rather explicit expectation that asking someone to dance is not a romantic overture, which I (and many others) find comforting.

Of course, YMMV on any/all of this.

Comment by ameriver on On Debates with Trolls · 2011-04-19T20:41:23.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

they were the arguments one sees time and again from people who aren't (consciously) trolling.

I think this is quite a large part of it. I have several times on Less Wrong followed discussions that seemed to be headed towards trollishness, and then all of a sudden someone changes their mind, updates, and everyone moves on. It is one of the things I love about this website, and I would be sad if an anti-trolling sentiment led to these sort of discussions being abandoned before they concluded. Sometimes persistence is a waste of time, but sometimes it makes a difference.

Comment by ameriver on Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter · 2011-04-19T04:38:50.783Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is anyone in Oregon interested in a meetup?

Comment by ameriver on Just Try It: Quantity Trumps Quality · 2011-04-05T01:29:22.936Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that's true once you limit it to adult classes (far more likely to be taking the occasional class for fun), and particularly in the case of an art class.

Comment by ameriver on Guilt: Another Gift Nobody Wants · 2011-03-31T19:22:04.366Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, if only it were true

Comment by ameriver on Advice in fighting depression? · 2011-03-31T05:42:46.282Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Over the past decade+ I've also found that an ability to monitor and hack your own mood is an incredibly valuable skill. Know what things trigger depression and either avoid them or work out a contingency plan to weather the storm... Have a mind-killer available for when a spiral is coming and force yourself to use it.

This is basically exactly what I've been working on to overcome my own depression.
Reading Less Wrong and working on the basic techniques of the sequences has made a huge difference. And note that the "mind-killer" doesn't have to be a particularly healthy behavior - it just has to be better than the depression (at least to start on).

It sounds like your girlfriend is dealing with some heavy external stuff, in addition to chemical brain stuff. I've found it helpful to remind myself that that which can be destroyed by the truth should be, but the reverse is also true. For me, being able to feel the difference gives me huge leverage on eliminating the irrational kind.