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Comment by benlowell on Something to Protect · 2017-04-09T07:23:53.562Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've been coming back to this post for 7 years or so, and the whole time it's obvious that I don't have something to protect, and haven't found one, and haven't yet found a way to find something to protect. It seems pretty cool though - and accurate that people who really care about things are able to go to great lengths to improve the way they think about the thing and their ability to to solve it.

I can say that once I realized I cared about wanting to care about something, that helped me quite a bit and I started improving my life.

Comment by benlowell on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-30T04:10:43.284Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is possibility to skip the singularity question, since skipping is chosen to mean "very unlikely". Instead, choose some year like "-1" or "0"

Comment by benlowell on Look for Lone Correct Contrarians · 2016-03-16T00:19:16.122Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This reminds me of how I met Nate Soares. He came to a few LessWrong meetups (his first ones), and I dismissed him because he was talking about a bunch of technical things that didn't seem very interesting to me. (I've was much more interested in finding flaws in my own emotional thinking then in discussing things like many worlds quantum mechanics or decision theory.)

I wrote him off as not-a-very-interesting person. Some of it was his interests, I was also a little offput by his intensity and took it as a sign of bad social skills. These days I read and re-read his blog and have gotten enormous gains from doing so, and he's off doing wonderful things.

Comment by benlowell on Outreach Thread · 2016-03-08T01:36:00.065Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't very broad, but it went much better than I expected.

I wrote a series of letters to my grandmother describing my experiences at CFAR and describing what I learned. She is finding them very valuable and says that she has been discussing and sharing them with her friends to understand the ideas better. She wishes that she heard a lot of the ideas much earlier.

I'm so far only finished writing about half of my experiences and it has been wonderful. Rewriting everything I learned is helping me connect it in new ways. Since my grandmother doesn't know very much science, I haven't used much as much jargon, or have been very patient to explain all of the small pieces. It's good for learning what the inferential distances are.

Comment by benlowell on [POLL] LessWrong group on YourMorals.org (2015) · 2015-03-03T09:19:13.927Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Are there any known groups which have high conscientiousness? I would be especially curious to know about groups with high conscientiousness and openness to experience.

Comment by benlowell on [LINK] The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics · 2015-02-20T09:10:53.717Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Another relevant excerpt from the article:

Which saddens me, as an MWI proponent, because I am very quick to admit that there are potentially quite good objections to MWI, and I would much rather spend my time discussing those, rather than the silly ones. Despite my efforts and those of others, it’s certainly possible that we don’t have the right understanding of probability in the theory, or why it’s a theory of probability at all. Similarly, despite the efforts of Zurek and others, we don’t have an absolutely airtight understanding of why we see apparent collapses into certain states and not others. Heck, you might be unconvinced that the above postulates really do lead to the existence of distinct worlds, despite the standard decoherence analysis; that would be great, I’d love to see the argument, it might lead to a productive scientific conversation. Should we be worried that decoherence is only an approximate process? How do we pick out quasi-classical realms and histories? Do we, in fact, need a bit more structure than the bare-bones axioms listed above, perhaps something that picks out a preferred set of observables?

Comment by benlowell on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-19T18:53:17.482Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A lot of times different ways that people act are different ways of getting emotional needs, even if that isn't a conscious choice. In this case it is likely that they want recognition and sympathy for different pains they have have. Or, it's more likely the case that the different hurts they have (being lonely, being picked on, getting hand-me-downs, whatever) are easily brought to mind. But when the person tells someone else about the things in their life that bother them, it's possible that someone could say "hey, it sounds like you are really lonely being an only child" and they would feel better.

Some different example needs are things like attention, control, acceptance, trust, play, meaning. There is a psychological model of how humans work that thinks of emotional needs similar to physical needs like hunger, etc. So people have some need for attention, and will do different things for attention. They also have a need for emotional safety, just like physical safety. So just like if someone was sitting on an uncomfortable chair will move and complain about how their chair is uncomfortable, someone will do a similar thing if their big brother is picking on them.

Another reason people often make it look like they are being oppressed is that they feel oppressed. I don't know if you are mostly talking about people your age, or everyone, but it is not a surprise to me that lots of kids feel oppressed, since school and their parents prevent them from doing what they want. Plenty of adults express similar feelings though, i just expect not as many.

Comment by benlowell on Elon Musk donates $10M to the Future of Life Institute to keep AI beneficial · 2015-01-16T03:25:18.976Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is awesome!!!

Comment by benlowell on Good things to have learned.... · 2014-12-08T22:57:32.195Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I knew what I wanted to have studied when I went to college, so that I could have hit the ground running, with a goal in mind. Instead I took a year and half before I had settled on a major of physics. It seems that some people had a better idea of what to get out of college, but that seems largely dependent on their parents, where they grew up, and what part of the internet they lived in. I don't feel like I had a good understanding of what different jobs and careers were like.

So for classes, I took more chemistry than I would have liked, but that doesn't bother me that much, as it was interesting and still relevant to some of my physics classes.

What does bother me, is that I spent a lot of time taking classes that I thought I should take, instead of classes I wanted to take. I thought that doing theoretical physics was a bad idea because of job / grad school prospects (probability of getting a professorship is low) so I took lab classes and did laboratory research that I didn't like as much, and did worse in, than theory classes. I still ended up doing theory in my spare time, and instead of research / laboratory work, but it was at the expense of that work, rather than purely additive. I was thinking that following my 'passion' was a bad idea, but I think that if i did so and did theory it could have worked out better - I would have been happier, and had a better resume in the end.

I have a lot of strong opinions about the physics curriculum, and wish that it had more programming, and less redundancy. I'm not familiar with how physicists get good at modeling or data-science, and can't think of any undergraduates from my school who got much experience with this. But that seems like it would have been a good thing.

Something cool to have learned would be "practical mindsets and values". For a long time I had an idea of that as long as I was learning things, that was great and all I needed to care about. This served me well, but eventually I was introduced to the idea of "get shit done" which was also very useful.

Comment by benlowell on Meetup : Ugh Fields · 2014-04-22T06:03:25.083Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

and "avoidance coping"

Comment by benlowell on Meetup : Ugh Fields · 2014-04-20T04:31:07.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think that it's worth discussing the non-lesswrong term for an ugh field: Anxiety

I noticed that it wasn't mentioned in the original article or comments, but this is a case of people rediscovering what there is already a large field of research on. It may be helpful for learning more.

Comment by benlowell on What are some science mistakes you made in college? · 2014-03-24T08:12:19.895Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Not measuring twice before I cut (machining), directly after my adviser told me this.

Before that happened:

I'm not sure if I can count it as a mistake, since it's mostly his fault, but a month or so after I started my adviser came up to me and asked why I had been drawing all these plans, and not using the specs. No one told me that someone else had already designed the laser I supposed to be building.

Comment by benlowell on What attracts smart and curious young people to physics? Should this be encouraged? · 2014-03-15T09:08:54.877Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For me, it seemed like it was the natural result of wanting to know 'why'.

I started college thinking I wanted to do biochemical engineering and study molecular biology without knowing much about it other than I liked the sound of it. For most of my life I had been interested in nature/biology. However, I decided that biology classes seemed like just reading books and repeating the information, and I was interested in learning how the chemicals worked, so I continued to take more chemistry, and changed my major to chemistry. In organic chemistry I was upset that the rules I learned seemed vague and handwavy, and when I asked more about them, the professor said to take physical chemistry and learn quantum mechanics. So I took physical chemistry, and changed my major to physics. Now in physics, I find myself drawn to particle physics and phenomenology. I don't have any direct memories of asking or wanting to know why as with my other switches, but I do have a distinct feeling of discomfort knowing that there is an underlying lower level reason for why something works, and ignoring it.

I've found that my tendency to go to the bottom occurs pretty much whenever I try to learn something new---when I learned programming, I ended up wanting to learn about computer architecture, and when I let myself past that, I still often ended up learning about little bits and pieces in far more detail then was necessary.

It seems to me that this pattern is what happens when I want to learn how things work and reduce uncertainty in a reductionist fashion, and don't have outside goals I am applying my learning to. If I am trying to solve an engineering or research problem, create something, or get a certain grade I can (depending) skip over things that I don't need to know or worry about. If I don't set a goal like that, and just decide to "learn stuff" then the easiest question is to ask why, which gives me a goal.

Comment by benlowell on What we learned about Less Wrong from Cognito Mentoring advising · 2014-03-07T00:10:56.150Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note, they are a free service.

Comment by benlowell on Find a study partner - March 2014 thread · 2014-03-03T05:53:45.047Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I did the ~1/2 of the problems up through chapter 4, and am currently reading chapter 5. I'm not sure If want to spend more time doing problems or not, but I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the book.

Comment by benlowell on One Year of Pomodoros · 2014-01-02T09:22:20.322Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How do you not get fatigued with recording things?

What are your recommendations for amount of structure before you incorporate pomodoros? Is there any structural/organizational stuff you should have set up before you do them?

Comment by benlowell on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-22T11:27:09.968Z · score: 32 (32 votes) · LW · GW

If possible, I'm interested in how unique the passwords were.

Comment by benlowell on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-01T06:56:36.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I used to not listen to music for similar reasons, yet I played piano regularly. I also was confused by it, especially the lyrics---I couldn't understand what people were saying.

Eventually, peer pressure got me and I started listening to music, usually one cd over and over. Eventually I came to like it and became more comfortable with it as background, in a very similar way to wearing a watch or clothes different from my usual is extraordinarily uncomfortable, but after a week it becomes the new normal.

Comment by benlowell on Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back · 2013-07-18T09:37:27.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Beeminder: +3. Defining goals in a way that works well is difficult.

GTD + 0 It doesn't seem to be very useful when you don't have any appointments and things you want to do are more along the lines of "do all the problems in this textbook"

Getting on a somewhat decent sleep schedule + 2. Making my computer automatically turn off at 11 pm combined with putting shades made out of pillow cases on my bedroom lights has helped me go to sleep between 12 and 2 usually, which is much better. This gives me about 4 hours of extra time that otherwise would have been spent on the internet in a wasteful way. Flux (a program that dims/reddens the screen at night) is nowhere near powerful enough.

Journaling about what my goals are +8. It's difficult to be motivated when I don't know why I'm doing anything.

Changing how I visualize something so that I'm not thinking about an outcome that produces anxiety +5. I have found thinking about procrastination as anxiety to be much more helpful than thinking about the Equation. While it could be though of anxiety resulting from expectations, I usually frame it in the sense of "what am I afraid of?" Then I can imagine something bad happening. Addressing the actual likelihood of a Bad Scary Thing doesn't appear to work. Instead what helps is if I change the framework and purposefully just start thinking about some other aspect that is more desirable.

An example is that I don't want to "call some people" and tell them they need to redo a repair job because it sucks. Once I thought about "I want X fixed!" then calling them and the social barrier seemed less of an issue.

pomodoros +1. I find that I often have difficulty coming back to work after a 5 minute break, and I end up doing 25-15. I had more luck with periods of 50-10. When I don't feel very excited about the idea of doing something, then they are more useful.

Social commitments -3. These make me feel yucky and I just want to avoid the activity all together.

I feel that there are lots of synergies between these things. A few years ago, I had well defined goals, but no organizational skills and poor habits. I became very unhappy with my inability to accomplish my goals. Once I started getting practice with beeminder, and a number of other things (one being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but I'm not sure how to fit that into akrasia tactics) then I was able to examine my goals again and things fit together much nicer.

Comment by benlowell on Part of a THINK Meetup Group? We Want to Hear From You! · 2013-06-25T22:10:18.847Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Next time, please include a short introduction of what THINK is so I don't have to look it up.

(It is an effective altruism group)

Comment by benlowell on Life hack request: I want to want to work. · 2013-06-11T23:00:09.399Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would write down your beliefs about working, and then analyze them. The goal should be to identify false and unhelpful beliefs and then find things that you can replace them with. Your basic beliefs about how the working world works will be a much better psychology base for other skills like beating procrastination or improving willpower. Read books or listen to things that will replace your old beliefs.

One thing that is an important part of procrastination is anxiety that is often related to feeling like your work is part of your self-worth, and so by not working you feel bad.

If you aren't getting anywhere, then you may want to allow yourself to read some procrastination/self help books. For me back when I was depressed at one point I thought "hey, if I'm not going to do anything but sit in my room and watch videos, I guess I'll watch these positive psychology videos". That was a pretty awesome choice. Summaries that other's have posted are good for references, but I get much more out of reading books, where I have more time to make connections and figure out how something would fit into my life.

Also, pay a visit to a counselor, or get a free consultation (E.Y's partner Erin does productivity related counseling). Since you are in school this is probably cheap, and a good counselor is worth quite a bit.

Comment by benlowell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2012-12-23T11:45:41.520Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is also the unspeakable visions of the seer in 85. Was there any previous mention of Trelawney and her vision-clock or am I just remembering before the update?

Comment by benlowell on Akrasia hack survey · 2012-12-02T08:56:19.629Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find that I don't have good habits for using, just like I don't have good habits for very many other things. I'm only likely to use a hack if I was reading about it earlier and then remembered to try it within a few days. I would probably try it with mild success, maybe using it every once in a while.

For me, forming habits (beeminder) is the most important hack I use.

Comment by benlowell on Article sketch: When procrastination isn't akrasia · 2012-10-29T01:00:21.034Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No. :)

I am just dipping my toe into productivity porn---most productivity pornography that I've seen assumes a higher level of organization/habit than I have (Beeminder doesn't assume that) so I haven't bothered at trying any advanced techniques. I do have a strong desire that information be much more organized and consolidated that it usually is. I have a dream that someday I'll be able to get books in certain fields that are like lists of facts, with collapsed context/deeper explanations and evidence for the facts.

With regards to blogs, and productivity blogs, it isn't really possible since people are writing new information, but I would like to see 1 huge article that "has everything" just summarized, with links or collapsed details.

Currently, it's really difficult to "skim" many different long blog articles and pick out what is different, what's good, what is repeated on another site, etc. I like lists of single sentences/short words with no little to no context.

Thanks for the links!

Comment by benlowell on Article sketch: When procrastination isn't akrasia · 2012-10-09T08:05:19.514Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would be very grateful if someone wrote an article summarizing all of the different methods of getting organized and learning to do so, with links to all of those various productivity blogs.

Comment by benlowell on [LINK] Higher intelligence correlates with greater cooperation · 2012-10-02T01:06:40.887Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Note, shoe size correlates with height, which correlates with income and iq.

Comment by benlowell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-04-19T01:46:30.475Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've been reading about muggle prison conditions lately, and while I've understood that "prison conditions are terrible and torturing people is pointless etc" for both systems, it did not occur to me that you were making a commentary.

Comment by benlowell on Online education and Conscientiousness · 2012-02-27T09:47:09.294Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I often wonder whether I should switch fields from physics to education, just because it seems so easy to make an impact.

Comment by benlowell on "Ask for help on your project" open thread · 2012-02-07T03:19:59.048Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Spaced repetition is great, but doesn't necessarily mean anki and flash cards. For chemistry, this could mean doing reactions / stoichiometry along with naming, in a spaced, repetitious fashion. Flash cards/anki would work well for knowing specific compounds though.

Comment by benlowell on Meetup : Seattle, Diseased Thinking and evidence on parenting · 2012-01-17T02:27:10.895Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like some of his ideas are similar to those of Judith Rich Harris who wrote a book on how parents don't seem to have much of an effect on the personality of their kids.

An article can be found here: Where is the Child's Environment? A Group Socialization Theory of Development

Comment by benlowell on What are you working on? December 2011 · 2011-12-14T04:57:48.669Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've started building a diode laser cavity (a box you shine a laser into which makes it have a more precise color), which means that I've been buying parts and spending lots of time in a machine shop. Most of what I'll be doing in the coming months will be using a mill to cut out various sized chunks of aluminum.

I've also been helping organize a conference.

Personal wise, I've been trying to pay attention to my mood and emotions more by keeping records.

Comment by benlowell on How is your mind different from everyone else's? · 2011-12-07T14:12:19.433Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have difficulty recognizing emotions. I tend to categorize them as physical feelings, such as a certain tightness to the stomach, or between the ribs. I've come to associate these with commonly known emotions, since some of them correlate with thoughts making them easier to pinpoint, but sometimes I have specific feelings and I don't know if it is a known emotion or not.

It is pretty rare that I don't know what I'm feeling, but I have a record of the first time I felt intense jealousy/anger/stress, and I wrote about "hot skin, wide eyes, a burning feeling on my chest like a rash, and tightness between the shoulders" and my thoughts before I realized the name for what was happening.

Comment by benlowell on Decision Fatigue, Rationality, and Akrasia. · 2011-11-17T03:06:13.726Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't necessarily see a larger amount of people on Less Wrong who suffer from akrasia. It seem to me like more people identify their procrastinating as akrasia and see it as problem that can fix if they try harder or find the right tools.. As a student, I hear others/myself complaining about how they didn't have the willpower to complete their homework, or wishing for better time management skills, or that they didn't give in to playing video games/the internet. No-one uses the word 'akrasia' though, and many do search for solutions.

Comment by benlowell on Behavioral psychology and buying a warranty at Menards · 2011-11-16T06:26:13.547Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When I moved to a larger city with a larger homeless/begging/random street solicitor population, it took me a while to learn the methods of avoidance. I usually like to smile and look people in the eyes when I walk around (at least on a good day) but I find that solicitors---who are looking for that brief emotional connection, are much harder to turn down if I meet their face directly. It took me multiple times of feeling bad before I was able to overcome giving money/listening to somebody's life story/religious ideas. Now I have crowd-scanning-Mormon-avoidance paths similar to most other people.

I found that many street beggars have a story, and if you give it any thought at all it doesn't make any sense. I now have a 'say no first' policy and I figure that if I ever want to run after someone and hear what they have to say they won't mind.

Comment by benlowell on Great Explanations · 2011-11-06T05:09:31.533Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler for special relativity. This is a mathematical textbook however it only requires basic algebra and is accessible to highschool students.

Comment by benlowell on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2011-11-02T06:53:57.011Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Luke also has the advantage of that this is his job.

It is not uncommon for research articles to have 50+ references, and review articles often have over 300 references.

Edit: Luke's articles do have way more than the usual number of references. This article has approximately 120 sentences, with 37 notes and about 150 references, which doesn't make sense the way that I am familiar with. I am used to references referring to cited sources, and am not sure how Luke is using it. If it is a list of works consulted that makes sense.

Comment by benlowell on What are you working on? · 2011-10-06T20:33:45.287Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Last time I said:

So, I've started writing an article related to this in collaboration with another LWer. One of my goals is that like the idea of contributing content to the site. I was also curious, and I feel that the majority of my personal curiosity is satisfied, and finishing the project by communicating what I learned to others is what is being difficult. There are several reasons for this. One is that I can always learn more, and make a better article. I've also realized this is a lower priority than my school/work activities, so it keeps being put off.

Whether or not to keep working on this (the topic was physical intuition) is something I have been discussing w/ other Seattle LWers. I wrote a summary recently, which made writing a paper seem less daunting. However, it also revealed tons of gaps in my research which I had filled in with speculation. I got a book to read. I am still putting this at low priority over schoolwork, especially now that school has started.

I was a summer camp counselor for a gifted education camp, and many of the kids there are quite lonely, so I am writing an article about keeping in touch with the friends they made there.

Wrote an article, never finished it because I was too lazy to edit it. Probably wouldn't be that much effort to actually finish.

I have an incomplete in a class, and I have the final paper about halfway done.

Yay. Wrote paper. Now to get prof to change grade.

Also more than halfway done with a report/presentation for work. Finished.

Separating work and socializing, so that I can do each more effectively. Allocating time for each.

Separating work and socializing is going ok---definitely better. With more, smaller chunks of good socializing, (rather than rare, long, exhausting periods) I feel better.

If I am working and my roommates come home and are being social, I try and make the decision to either go to my room, or to put down my books and talk, or at least recognize that I won't be very productive and that is ok.

I want to learn better ways of tearing myself away from a crappy/less interesting situation and dismissing myself while keeping on good social terms. Sometimes I am torn in the middle. Usually with television--- it catches my attention and I don't commit to watching or leaving to go do something else and ignore it.

I'm starting to exercise more. I used to just run, and only sometimes. I've been doing some non-weights exercises pretty often. Part of this is focused on posture, but otherwise pretty general. I'm getting better at paying attention to when exercising would feel fun, and I am surprised that I have the right energy level to do something at least at some point almost every day.

Everything else I've been doing is just school stuff.

Comment by benlowell on Sweet Unconsciousness · 2011-10-03T03:40:26.067Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does anybody specifically recall the opposite case?

Comment by benlowell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 9 · 2011-09-26T03:30:44.079Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like a fitting conclusion would be for Voldemort's last remnant to end up on the Voyager spacecraft, so that he is forever in the stars, away from earth.

Comment by benlowell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8 · 2011-09-08T17:03:57.264Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Chapter 78

I have some questions on Snape: In an earlier chapter during a conversation with Harry Snape says, "and what your mother saw in him was something I never did understand until this day." Does anybody know what this is? I find it implausible that Snape had not considered that Lily was more likely to forgive James for being rich and handsome.

In the new chapter he mentions his two mentors. I am thinking the first mentor was Voldemort, who would not have mentioned missed perspectives as he was not out to make his death eaters better at their jobs, or better at finding his weaknesses. However, I was still confused as to why Dumbledore would have a specific reason for not enlightening him. Perhaps Snape assumes that nobody would trust his wretched self, and that he too hopeful to even think they could.

I was wondering if anybody else had any ideas on these two things.

Comment by benlowell on Why do people commit mathematical mistakes? What are the mechanisms behind them? · 2011-09-08T05:16:24.578Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What techniques do you have for reducing careless errors? How do these scale in stressful/timed situations?

Comment by benlowell on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8 · 2011-09-02T05:34:41.167Z · score: 28 (28 votes) · LW · GW

I just like how often not communicating is used in fiction as a false way of creating conflict, but Eliezer shows that you can still have a story (with conflict!) when people try and understand each other.

Comment by benlowell on What are you working on? · 2011-08-15T19:05:12.495Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Two months ago I said:

Learning quantum mechanics and so that I can have a better understanding of what my research group is working on. Quantum is the basis for most modern physics so it seemed the most useful/important of all the interesting physics things I wanted to learn.

This is going quite well! I've worked through a good amount of material on my own, and am satisfied with my progress.

Trying to break down what "physical intuition" is and creating a guide for to how to solve physics problems. I'm doing this because it seems like people get to a certain point when learning physics where their mysterious intuitions for how to set up problems do not work anymore. Many people don't know what to do and end up stuck, with grades and learning plummeting. If I can figure out a way to teach people certain problem solving heuristics, then hopefully we can get around this. I'm reading literature, and taking ideas from here and summarizing them.

So, I've started writing an article related to this in collaboration with another LWer. One of my goals is that like the idea of contributing content to the site. I was also curious, and I feel that the majority of my personal curiosity is satisfied, and finishing the project by communicating what I learned to others is what is being difficult. There are several reasons for this. One is that I can always learn more, and make a better article. I've also realized this is a lower priority than my school/work activities, so it keeps being put off.

I was a summer camp counselor for a gifted education camp, and many of the kids there are quite lonely, so I am writing an article about keeping in touch with the friends they made there.

I have an incomplete in a class, and I have the final paper about halfway done.

Also more than halfway done with a report/presentation for work.

There are many things that I'm trying to learn on my own.

Separating work and socializing, so that I can do each more effectively. Allocating time for each. Writing this made it more apparent how I keep adding new things to do, without finishing old ones, so that right now I have so many projects that I go from one to the other, and everything seems to be at a standstill. I procrastinate by working on less important projects.

Comment by benlowell on I'm becoming intolerant. Help. · 2011-06-30T23:41:12.962Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is an article written for you! What is Bayesianism? My personal struggle is where this differs from 'clear-headedness.' I think that much of this website is geared towards helping us get closer to the ideal Bayesian, though the connections are not mentioned specifically.

Can anyone give an example of where they explicitly used Bayesian reasoning? It makes sense that it is right, but ... unlike other things on this website that can be transferred into skills or habits. My guess is that having a deeper understanding of Bayesian probability would help with understanding what evidence is and how much confidence should be placed in what.

A separate confusion of mine is that in Eliezer's explanation of Bayes theorem----I was able to do the math problems correctly and so I didn't make whatever the usual mistake was. Because of this, I have knowledge of the right way to solve probability problems (at least if I spend a long time thinking about them), buI never went down the wrong path got slapped by having an Incorrect Answer. That doesn't mean I won't notice a mistake, but I think that learning things the wrong way helps you understand why they are wrong later. So my confusion is that I am never very confident as to whether I am doing things the "Bayesian way" or not. I've found that the Law of Conservation of Expected Evidence has been the most helpful in understanding the consequences of Bayesian reasoning, beyond solving math problems.

Edited for clarity.

Comment by benlowell on The True Rejection Challenge · 2011-06-29T12:26:16.561Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I see no reason for you to play games unless you wish to discuss games with these people and have something in common with them.

Comment by benlowell on Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate · 2011-06-28T23:18:27.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It makes me happy that those traits you list as what rationalists are usually thought of ----disagreeable, unemotional, cynacal, loners---are unfamiliar. The rationalists I have grown up in the past few years reading this site are both optimistic and caring, along with many other qualities.

Comment by benlowell on Learning how to explain things · 2011-06-28T18:29:26.848Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The reason was probably that there was a large amount of material (the class included electricity, magnetism, circuits, and optics), so that I had to learn many different explanations. Each of these topics is a course by itself, and so and to explain things for an introductory course you often have to have a deeper level of knowledge. I hadn't taken any classes other than the intro class, so acquiring the deeper explanations was a long process.

Comment by benlowell on Finally just created comprehensive resource collections/guides for autodidactism/several scientific subjects · 2011-06-28T01:14:48.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome!

If you want to add more physics stuff, here is a bunch of electricity and magnetism links. The visualizations are especially nice.

https://catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/cobden/11503/59664

I found this list of yours on amazon helpful: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/R2BKS9X5I8D9Y and I always like more lists of good books.

Comment by benlowell on Learning how to explain things · 2011-06-28T01:00:22.306Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I was a TA for a while and was taught to use Socratic methods. If people have some background knoweldge, you can get very far by asking people "what would happen in this situation? what about this situation? Now if you apply this situation back to this one, what happens?" It depends how much time you have, but lots of questioning interspersed with some explanations seemed to help most students the best.

If you are trying to teach someone, I think doing that is better than telling, because then when someone else has made the inferences it will become more a part of them and they will remember more. However, doing this repeatedly is also good for learning to explain, because you learn all the different things that people get hung up on---what inferential steps are most difficult to make.

Note that if you want to be really good, you'll have to do a LOT. After a year of 4 hours a week of face-to-face TAing, I was finally able to help people through most types of problems and had reached the 'competent/actually helpful to most people' stage.

Explaining things is also something where there are many paths to the same goal. Different explanations will work for different people. To be the best explainer, you'll have to learn many different explanations. Read many viewpoints on transhumanism by different people and as you read them, try to think of how you would explain it to someone else. Build up a repertoire.

Try to taboo all the relevant vocabulary so that you are forced to think about what the words and concepts mean in more precise language.

Comment by benlowell on [prize] new contest for Spaced Repetition literature review ($365+) · 2011-06-27T05:18:03.766Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is an article I thought would be helpful:

http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/summer2002/willingham.cfm