Look At What's In Front Of You (Conclusion to The Nuts and Bolts of Naturalism) 2023-05-25T19:00:44.835Z
Investigating Fabrication 2023-05-18T17:46:52.783Z
Support Structures for Naturalist Study 2023-05-15T00:25:44.098Z
Three Iterative Processes 2023-05-12T02:50:06.723Z
Naturalist Experimentation 2023-05-10T04:28:32.013Z
Naturalist Collection 2023-05-06T00:37:42.774Z
Getting Your Eyes On 2023-05-02T00:33:20.493Z
Locating Fulcrum Experiences 2023-04-28T20:14:03.644Z
Getting Started With Naturalism 2023-04-23T21:02:25.988Z
Introducing the Nuts and Bolts Of Naturalism 2023-04-22T18:31:25.620Z
Reflections on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 2023-02-26T20:46:29.553Z
Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse 2023-02-04T01:47:32.578Z
My Model Of EA Burnout 2023-01-25T17:52:42.770Z
How To Observe Abstract Objects 2022-09-30T02:11:38.987Z
Naturalism 2022-02-24T19:45:21.659Z
Patient Observation 2022-02-23T19:31:45.062Z
Direct Observation 2022-02-21T20:51:45.060Z
Observation 2022-02-19T18:47:08.917Z
Interlude: On Realness 2022-02-17T19:02:16.551Z
The Territory 2022-02-15T18:56:36.992Z
Knowing 2022-02-13T07:53:59.031Z
Intro to Naturalism: Orientation 2022-02-13T07:52:03.503Z
Research Facilitation Invitation 2021-07-10T01:04:06.002Z
Announcing My Free Online Course "Original Seeing With a Focus On Life" 2021-07-08T01:26:00.985Z
Five Suggestions For Rationality Research and Development 2021-06-14T01:09:26.532Z
Catching the Spark 2021-01-30T23:23:57.383Z
LoganStrohl's Shortform 2019-12-03T17:46:19.117Z
Training Reflective Attention 2014-12-21T12:53:52.558Z
Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves 2014-09-17T18:11:10.505Z
What It's Like to Notice Things 2014-09-17T14:19:02.157Z
A Dialogue On Doublethink 2014-05-11T19:38:47.821Z
On Straw Vulcan Rationality 2014-02-02T08:11:54.705Z
Tell Culture 2014-01-18T20:13:09.414Z
Rational Resolutions: Special CFAR Mini-workshop SATURDAY 2014-01-02T20:32:26.931Z
Human Memory: Problem Set 2013-10-31T04:08:45.436Z
Meditation Trains Metacognition 2013-10-20T00:47:03.927Z
How do you say no? 2013-10-04T03:44:12.712Z
Ketogenic Soylent 2013-09-27T01:17:33.889Z
Polyphasic Sleep Seed Study: Reprise 2013-09-21T22:29:05.744Z
Seed Study: Polyphasic Sleep in Ten Steps 2013-07-11T07:17:20.355Z


Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Look At What's In Front Of You (Conclusion to The Nuts and Bolts of Naturalism) · 2023-05-25T19:19:20.192Z · LW · GW

More on the moth: 

Members of this particular species can be either nocturnal or diurnal. I noticed my confusion when I saw one pollinating a lilac in bright moonlight, because I'd never seen a hummingbird at night before. That's what prompted me to take a closer look; up close it was clearly not a bird at all, but a bug!

For many years, I thought, "The first time I saw a sphinx moth, I thought it was a hummingbird." I've only recently realized that I have no idea how many moths I mistook for hummingbirds before that point. I may have seen them dozens of times during the day and never thought twice about it.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Advice for newly busy people · 2023-05-12T01:49:23.264Z · LW · GW

As someone who's about to become a father, I find this highly relevant. I will be studying and practicing several bits of this advice, especially the Productivity Purge and the Decide10 system, before the baby arrives. Thanks a bunch for writing this up.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Experimentation · 2023-05-11T02:32:29.961Z · LW · GW

Yeah, makes sense. I'm pretty bad at this kind of thing I think, but I'll think about it and if I come up with something I'll let you know.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Experimentation · 2023-05-10T21:55:15.779Z · LW · GW

I am curious whether reading or skimming the Wikipedia articles on "naturalistic observation" and "natural history" helps at all with getting where I'm coming from.

I certainly don't claim it was the best possible term to choose, but to me it seems extremely precise and accurate (though ambiguous, and i recognize that ppl round these parts are more familiar with philosophical naturalism qua ontological claim). In ecology, entomology, etc., the connotations go way beyond liking natural stuff, and suggest an orientation toward research topics and a corresponding set of methodologies. It's the thing Jane Goodall did, and also James Audubon. My stuff is like "What if the naturalist paradigm, but for stuff that includes rationality and not just for finches? What would that look like?"

[edit: on phone, might add links and mb further reply later]

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Experimentation · 2023-05-10T19:57:23.580Z · LW · GW

Oh perhaps some of the confusion with this post in particular is coming from the fact that I tried to contrast three different frameworks for experimentation. Sometimes when people contrast different frameworks, they are doing that because they want to convince the reader that one of them is better than the others. I'm definitely not trying to do that here! I contrasted three experimental frameworks because in order to take the actions that are part of the overall naturalist investigative method, it's important to deliberately avoid falling into either of the other two near-by frames. I was trying to describe the mindset that the actions comprising naturalist experimentation come from.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Experimentation · 2023-05-10T19:53:12.272Z · LW · GW

Thanks @Raemon. I agree with all of that.

>I don't know anyone who recommends "don't put much effort into understanding, just try stuff and see if it works", so I didn't expect that was the baseline that this sequence is arguing against.

@Dagon, I caution you that if you read this sequence (or the intro one) with the assumption that it's primarily trying to argue something, you'll probably be at risk of badly misinterpreting me.

I have a story that you're looking for and evaluating arguments here because you don't know what naturalism is or why it might be worth learning, so you hope to find motivating claims and arguments for paying attention to any of this in the first place. If this is a true story about you, I think that's pretty reasonable! I think it would be ridiculous of me to be like, "Here's a huge amount of work I suggest that you take on without having any particular reason for doing so," and I'm not very surprised if this sequence comes off that way to lots of people. But its actual intended audience is people who already want to learn something like this, for some reason, and are ready to do so.

This sequence is somewhere between a syllabus outline and a how-to guide. If you read a book about "how to design and tend a vegetable patch" through an argumentative lens, I expect you're going to find a lot of completely unsupported or incoherent arguments everywhere, it'll be pretty frustrating, and you probably won't learn nearly as much about how to design and tend a vegetable patch as you otherwise might. "How To Garden" is a completely different book from "Raised Bed Organic Gardening Is Better Than All of the Other Kinds of Gardening, and Here Is Why." I have tried to write the former type of book so far, not the latter.


Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Experimentation · 2023-05-10T17:47:42.305Z · LW · GW

I realize this is only a response to one small thing in your comment and perhaps I will come back to the rest later, but I want to point out that according to me, I am definitely not arguing against anything at all.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on What Boston Can Teach Us About What a Woman Is · 2023-05-09T19:12:00.018Z · LW · GW

a) I do remember that. b) It it still seems like a pretty good pointer to a (the?) main way I think of and experience myself, but I want to be clear that I was being at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and I would not in full honesty claim that I "identify as a tiger", or any sort of otherkin.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Investigating Fabrication · 2023-05-09T17:56:44.174Z · LW · GW

Related: Intro to Naturalism and especially The Nuts and Bolts of Naturalism (still coming out, a few posts not yet published).

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on What Boston Can Teach Us About What a Woman Is · 2023-05-06T20:50:12.603Z · LW · GW

> I would first be interested to know why you identify as a trans man generally

K so let's start with, "Is it true that I identify as a trans man?" But in fact I'll look at the slightly different question, "Is it true that I identify as a man?", because I think that probably gets more quickly to the heart of the matter. It's at least clear that I do not identify as a cis man.

I think there's probably some ambiguity in the way "identify" is used that makes this a little hard for me to answer.

On the one hand, there's how I present myself to other people. I have a strong impression that most people I encounter have this really strong desire to know whether the person they're interacting with "is a man" or "is a woman". I have at times been pretty grumpy about this—lately I'm especially grumpy about it when people find out I'm pregnant and immediately ask, "What is it?", to which I sometimes reply, "Human, I'm pretty sure."—and so for a while I presented myself to others as "nonbinary". I think a lot of that was me being like "I'm not on board with how reliant you are on these particular categories, I don't want to squish my own thoughts and feelings and perceptions and behaviors into whatever this categorization system means to you, and I'm unwilling to enable your application of this to me."

Which worked out pretty well while I lived in Berkeley. Most people that I actually wanted to interact with rolled with it. Nearly everyone at my workplace used they/them pronouns for me without any hiccups, for example. And there was generally less stress in my life from the particular direction of gender. It was something I could largely ignore, at least much more so than I had at any other point in my life.

But now I live in a different place where many of the people around me seem to really really want to know whether I am a man or a woman, and it's so very exhausting to be in constant conflict with them about that. I don't think they know that they care so much about regarding other people as falling into one of two buckets, but it's a glaringly-obvious-to-me feature of my interactions with them. So it seems like the options that are realistically on the table for me, if I'd rather avoid the constant battle with the ubiquitous social frame, are to either present myself to them as a man (Mr., he/him, father, clothing style, etc.), or to present myself to them as a woman (Mrs., she/her, mother, etc.).

Of those two options, there is clearly one that causes me to feel tremendous stress and sadness a whole lot of the time when I'm around other people, and another that causes me to feel mostly good and comfortable when I'm around other people. So, socially, I tell other people that I'm a trans man, and this works out ok for me. In that sense, I identify as a man.

But there is another way that I think the word "identify" is often used in the context of gender. It has less to do with social presentation, and more to do with self perception. Sometimes when people say that they "identify" as X, they at least in part mean that they see themselves as X. Perhaps they feel like their conception of X on the inside, or they aspire to embody the properties of their conception of X in the way they live their lives, or they feel really comfortable and at home when they imagine themselves as X, or something like that.

In this second, more personal sense, it is less clear to me whether I identify as a man. I think the most accurate description of my current state with respect to this sense of "gender identity" is that I am agnostic about my gender, or that I am "in the process of figuring it out". 

It seems quite likely to me that the question of "whether I am a man, on the inside" is very much a wrong question, that there simply is no fact of the matter to be discovered here.

Yet I am not confident that it's entirely a wrong question. I do suspect for several reasons, some of them more easily articulable than others, that the question is at least pointing roughly in the direction of something that is real and that actually matters, both to me and to others who have some kind of strong relationship with gender. For instance, I don't think that yin/yang clusters are entirely arbitrary. I don't think it's a complete coincidence that Aztec and Mayan rituals surrounding corn and cacao crops prominently featured the balance between masculine and feminine elements. I don't even think it's wrong or dumb or bad that there exist such things today as workshops and ceremonies focused on "the divine feminine" or "the divine masculine". I personally feel the draw of these frameworks. I feel a kind of illumination and fitting-ness when I think about my experiences through them. And indeed, overall I feel more at home, cozy, resonant, happy, comfortable, when I rest my attention on the traditionally masculine elements of these frameworks, even though I also feel a lot of familiarity around many of the traditionally feminine elements as well.

But now I'd like to discuss another question that is not quite the one you asked, but that seems unavoidable when trying to understand my experience of being trans, and that I think might also clearly distinguish me from "a masculine female" (and here I notice I'm more anxious about getting into hot water, because I'd describe this way of talking and thinking as at best out of fashion, and at worst sometimes seen as grounds for cancellation): "Am I transsexual?"

And to this, the answer seems very clearly to be, "Yes, I absolutely am transsexual", if we interpret "transsexual" in a quite straightforward way that has little to do with gender and lots to do with physiology. (I think that most "masculine females" are not transexual in this sense! They're at least somewhat gender non-conforming, but they're pretty much fine occupying their female bodies. There may be additional differences between me and them, but I'm at least pretty sure about this one.)

Though even with this term, there seem to me to be two categories of thing going on. The first is about how my actual physical body is (or how I plan for it to be). I was born with a typically female body. I have two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome, I went through female puberty and developed breasts and a menstrual cycle and so forth. But I also lack breasts now because I've had them removed. And very soon, I will have adult male levels of testosterone in my body, which will probably result in things like a beard, a lower voice, male patterns of fat distribution and muscle development, and perhaps some typically male psychological changes as well (I won't be surprised if I become more angry, for example). And at that point, it will be pretty misleading to describe me as "female", and much more accurate to describe me as "transmasculine".

But additionally, there is the way that I feel about my body and about these changes: I want to be male! And, as a separate fact (not every trans man shares this feeling!), I want not to be female.

I feel so much better now that my breasts are gone. I made the most of them while they existed—I even made money off of them as a professional stripper—but they were a source of constant, low-grade suffering. Every time I paid attention to them, something felt wrong. And they were kind of hard to ignore, 'cause they weren't small. They were in the way, reminding me of themselves over and over every day, and it just felt bad. I didn't know why it felt bad, and I still sort of don't. But it was almost the way I'd expect to feel if some aliens had abducted me and surgically added random lumps of flesh to my body and then deposited me back on earth and wiped my memory. "These don't belong here. Something is wrong. Get them off."

And that's how I still feel about several other features of my physiology. I feel that way about my hips, and my voice, and my musculature (which I have worked very hard, to only somewhat noticeable effect, to modify even without testosterone), and my period, and the truly bizarre things that happen to my cognition just before my period (which I'll talk more about in a moment). It all feels wrong and weird to me.

But when I wear a shirt that does an especially good job of highlighting my muscles and my chest, I feel happy when I look in the mirror. And when I imaging having a deeper voice, and masculine patterns of hair and fat and muscles and a penis (though I don't actually plan to get one of those), I feel happy. And I guess it could still turn out that I'm wrong, and I won't actually feel about the results of testosterone the same way that I feel about the results of top surgery. But I'd be pretty surprised, largely because it seems like almost everyone in my situation does in fact feel a lot better once they're on hormone therapy.

So in both the personal and the physical senses, it seems right to describe me as transexual.

But the thing is, there's not a lot of room for nuance in my interactions with strangers and acquaintances. Even if they could easily hold the thought, "This person is more comfortable in a male body, and also they feel kind of confused about 'masculinity' but they weakly suspect it's approximately right that they 'are a man' in some sense or another", it would not be easy for me to communicate that state of affairs, and most people would not want me to try. Given that it's socially dangerous among some subcultures I often bump into for me to call myself "transexual", I simply refer to myself as "a trans man"—or, if I seem to be "passing" anyway, just as "a man". And honestly, I expect it will be awfully relaxing to consistently fly under the radar as simply "a man", as I expect will happen once I have a beard and a deeper voice.

Ok, I think I've touched on most of the other questions in your comment at this point, so now I'll move on to the topic of pregnancy.

> Has your pregnancy changed or prompted any new thoughts about your gender identity?

Heck. Yes.

When I was planning this pregnancy, I intended to 1) get top surgery first (because I just wasn't willing to have even bigger and more in-the-way breasts, or to breastfeed, or to deal with the complications that come from lactating without breastfeeding), and then 2) wait until I was "done having kids" to start hormone therapy. I knew I wanted to gestate one kid, and I thought I might want to gestate two.

Now I am not sure whether or not I will try to gestate an additional kid (I'm leaning toward "no"), but if I do, it will definitely have to wait until I've been on T for a while (and then gone off of it for six months before conception, as is the standard practice among trans gestational parents). I am not going into another pregnancy with this body, because pregnancy has been even more body-and-brain-dysphoric than I expected.

And to be clear, I did expect to hate pregnancy. I expected to hate getting and recovering from top surgery too; I did that because it seemed worth it to me. Pregnancy is the same. My husband and I wanted to have a kid with our genetics, and this was the way to do that. Creating a new life seems to me like a pretty big and valuable thing, and it seems quite plausibly worth the suffering I expected to undergo. It has been a lot of suffering, and it's not over yet, but I still think it's worth it.

My baby bump feels a lot to me like how my breasts did, but way more so. The "alien" aspect is even more prominent, perhaps because there is literally another creature in there wriggling around. At least my breasts did not move of their own accord.

But the effects of pregnancy also seem to be hitting me in particularly gender-relevant ways as well, not just sex/body-relevant.

(And now I'm a bit fearful about describing some of my experiences as "gendered"; I would like to be clear that I'm talking in terms of my own mostly-automatic feelings and associations with femininity and masculinity, and that these associations may be in various ways wrong/bad/inaccurate/harmful. But they exist, and they're impacting my experience, and I'm going to describe my experience.)

Let me tell you about premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. For me, PMS is mostly a way that my brain is while under the influence of the hormonal changes that immediately precede menstruation, and sometimes last for a whole week. It happens every month, for one to seven days.

What happens to me during PMS is that I feel... "crazy", is the word I typically use for it. Specifically, the relationship between my emotions and my thoughts changes dramatically.

Ordinarily, my emotions seem to track my thoughts, and especially my beliefs. If I believe something bad is going to happen, I feel scared. If I spend a lot of time planning something and I come to a conclusion about what I will do, I feel prepared. My emotions follow my thoughts.

But during PMS, the relationship is flipped: my thoughts follow my emotions instead. I find myself feeling scared, and then I begin to expect bad things to happen. I feel prepared, and then I believe that I have planned sufficiently. I feel insecure, and I think that my partner is probably angry with me.

I hate this. So much. I aspire to be a person who is exceptionally reasonable, grounded, and clear-thinking. I do not like to be volatile. With decades of practice, I have learned to use my mind differently during PMS. I'm mostly able to act sane, even though I feel crazy (though not always). But it's exhausting. [Note to commenters who are thinking, "Then why don't they take [insert birth control method here] so they don't have periods?" I promise, I have tried a lot of things. For various reasons, none of the things has worked.]

During pregnancy this is happening all the time.

It wasn't like that at first, but some time in second trimester, it became like perpetual PMS.

Additionally, even though I haven't lost all that much muscle mass, my body is flooded with the hormone relaxin, which makes my joints and ligaments flimsy. I cannot comfortably run, or use a shovel, or even carry a jug of milk through the grocery store on my own. Compared to how I was before, and especially compared to my husband, I am physically weak and fragile. I have to rely on other people to do things that require strength.

When I imagine that many many pregnant people go through something like this, and then I remember that before birth control, female adults spent much of their time either pregnant or menstruating, some of what's going on with "femininity" starts to make more sense to me.

I have known trans women who describe hormone therapy as "like a spiritual awakening". On female hormones, they developed a completely new relationship with and experience of their emotions. They became much more sensitive, much more easily moved, they learned how to cry, they connected with the emotions of others more deeply, they added this whole dimension to their life that was by comparison heavily muted before.

These sorts of things seem to me to have a lot to do with traditionally feminine virtues. Being emotionally open and sensitive, being nurturing, communicating deeply about complex social/emotional topics, recognizing and being moved and motivated by beauty, behaving in ways that are gentle both physically and psychologically, building and maintaining communities whose members are supported and do not have to do things all on their own.

(And I've noticed that expectations about these properties are reflected in the ways that strangers, acquaintances, and authors of pregnancy books interact with me about pregnancy. They treat me "like an expecting mother", which I think is "like an especially hyper-feminine person". They make a ton of assumptions about what I'm thinking and feeling and how I'm relating to those things. They expect me to already be in love with my unborn baby, to be soft and gentle and nurturing, to be brimming with joy and fear and excitement about bringing a new life into the world and caring for my child. It's as though they see me a tiny instantiation of some kind of feminine-mother-goddess. I have not been comfortable with this! And I have also noticed that the people and books who have not done this at me are exactly the same ones that say "pregnant person" and "gestational parent", and they're the ones that I'm able to make use of rather than rage-quitting out of intense alienation.)

But it seems to me that shifting a brain in that direction comes with costs. For some, the costs are worthwhile. Some people are much more at home in a mind that excels at expressing feminine properties, even if it means access to masculine properties is diminished.

I am not such a person. For me, the costs of this shift are unacceptable. I like to be stable, reasonable, independent, straightforward, and strong. I like being the opposite of on-my-period. I like being the opposite of pregnant. And to me, inside my own head at least, I summarize this as "I like to be masculine".

So that has kind of clicked into place for me, as a result of pregnancy. I feel a lot clearer about what I want. I'm much more eager to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible, more eager to take a higher dose of testosterone when I do start (I was previously considering a "nonbinary" dose), and more comfortable with the idea that I'll consistently describe myself as "a man", "a father or uncle", and "he/him". (Though at the moment, I still tend to request "they/he", when offered the option.)

Pregnancy has felt to me like an overdose of femininity, and now I am done with being a woman.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Collection · 2023-05-06T18:05:03.190Z · LW · GW

Awesome! I'd love to hear about how that experimentation goes, if you feel like reporting back later.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Collection · 2023-05-06T05:47:23.884Z · LW · GW

the next essay, which is called "experimentation", will talk directly about the "fixing it" thing

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Naturalist Collection · 2023-05-06T03:31:25.172Z · LW · GW

Yes, I think that's a good guess about one of the things that goes wrong. It's also, I think, almost exactly the thing that makes my writing especially valuable and nearly unique for the people who benefit a lot from it. The more of this kind of thing I have in a piece, the more the people who appreciate it really appreciate it, 'cause it's like I'm actually looking at things and helping their minds get the hang of actually looking at things, and mostly people just don't do that in writing, outside of maybe some poetry. But I think it's really super duper important to be able to pay attention to what's actually going on if you want to do the rationality stuff in the crucial moments when it matters, and not just in the ones where you managed to pattern-match to high level concepts about rationality things! (That's what this whole program is about.) So one day I'd really like to get good at making bridges or something that reach all the way to the people who are just like "wtf is this weird poetry". But in the mean time I hope I'm doing useful things for the people who are already pretty close to being able to pay attention to what's actually going on.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on What Boston Can Teach Us About What a Woman Is · 2023-05-05T17:34:01.510Z · LW · GW

TBC the main thing that prompted me to comment here was 

>The common justification trotted out (that it’s necessary to include the theoretically-possible transman who somehow can get pregnant and apparently suffers no dysphoria from carrying a fetus to term) is completely daft.

I think that pretty few people have actually known a trans guy or nonbinary person who was out while pregnant. It's a pretty socially uncomfortable situation, and one that sort of points a microscope at many things about being trans. Maybe even among the relatively few of us who exist, most of us don't want to talk about it because geeze, we're already going through enough. Pregnancy tends to be really damn hard even for cis women. But I actually do like the idea of talking about this on LW in particular.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-05-05T03:50:26.706Z · LW · GW

I just noticed that you have a post called "Noticing Frame Differences", and I'm gonna go read it (in the next few days) in case that turns out to help.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on What Boston Can Teach Us About What a Woman Is · 2023-05-05T03:29:15.810Z · LW · GW

Hi! I'm not sure where exactly in this thread to jump in, so I'm just doing it here.

I like this thread! It's definitely one of my favorite discussions about gender between people with pretty different perspectives. I also like the OP; I found it to be surprisingly clear and grounded, and to point at some places where I am pretty confused myself.

>Originally you said that my post lacked an "understanding of the experiences of trans people" and I'm still eager to learn more! What am I missing exactly and what sources would you recommend I read?

I'm taking a pretty big risk here, and it may turn out that I regret this discussion or even retract my comment, but: I'm a trans man who's 33 weeks pregnant. It's a wild ride! AMA, if you're interested!

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Getting Your Eyes On · 2023-05-02T03:13:36.293Z · LW · GW

lol i even commented on his post. my memory is dumb.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Getting Your Eyes On · 2023-05-02T03:12:12.401Z · LW · GW

oh right yeah i think he would indeed have been at one of the things where i did this story in person

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Getting Your Eyes On · 2023-05-02T03:10:00.671Z · LW · GW

wow what is this some kind of crazy coincidence/parallel thing or did Mark hear me talking about mushrooms at some point?

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-05-01T15:24:29.179Z · LW · GW

I will now try to communicate an implicit conjecture in this essay that I think of as "Conservation of Attention". This may possibly speak more directly to @spxtr, who suggested that our internal models of cognition may be dramatically different. I apologize that I will probably do this in a rather round-about way; "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

Conservation of Attention states (roughly) that attention can be redistributed, but not increased.

I think that this very short, rough statement of the conjecture is technically false, in the following way: Brains and bodies share resources, and it is indeed possible to increase or decrease the overall resources available to the entire system, or to shift resources between cognitive and physiological processes. For example, I expect that attention really does decrease overall during starvation, and increase overall during recovery from starvation (or perhaps even during recover from moderately low blood sugar). According to my understanding of what's up with caffeine, as adenosine builds up over the course of the day, it decreases the possible *expenditure* of resources by the body and mind, regardless of what resources are physically available; so a shot of caffeine (which binds to and thereby incapacitates the adenosine receptors) may increase attention overall by widening the valve of ATP expenditure (or something along those lines). I also expect that sufficiently intense exercise tends to reduce the availability of cognitive resources, as those resources are redistributed to the muscular and cardiovascular systems. So in fact, attention can be increased or decreased globally by the activities of the rest of the body.

(There is also something going on with certain drugs, such as mescaline especially but IME also high doses of THC, that looks on the surface a lot like "increasing overall attention", perhaps by a caffeine-like reduction-of-restrictive-mechanisms that is far more precisely targeted to whatever cognitive processes I'm pointing toward when I say "attention". But my model of psychoactive drugs feels to me even more shaky than my model of metabolism, and anyway I'm pretty sure my observations are also consistent with a model where attention is merely redistributed in unusual ways during drug trips.)

The truer version of my conjecture runs more like this:

1) Every human contains a control system that is constantly governing the expenditure of resources on attention;

2) the reference point of the attention expenditure control system is an output of larger control systems that ensure overall economy of resource expenditure in a mind and body; and

3) the economics of cognitive resources are determined by the structure of the mind/body system, and perhaps also by the patterns of environmental stimuli a human encounters.

4) Therefore, it is at least extremely difficult and perhaps impossible to globally increase a human's attention in the long term without dramatically changing their overall life circumstances.

5) However, temporary reallocation of attention is clearly possible, and can be accomplished deliberately and therefore strategically.

Why do I lay out this model here?

Because I do not think that any part of what I do in naturalism involves "paying more attention" than anyone else, including my past self. I think it is generally quite ridiculous to "try to pay more attention, in general". I won't go so far as to say that I'm certain it can't be done, but I think that it at minimum requires an enormous lifestyle change that is probably not a good idea for most people most of the time.

(Indeed, I think this is a common failure mode among people who "get into mindfulness". They mistake the reallocation of attention for an increase in attention, and thereby fail to take deliberate, strategic control of their attention. They reallocate in ways that may tend to reduce stress, but there is so much more to be gained from the deliberate development of novel patterns of attention allocation over time.)

Similarly, I do not "notice more things [in general]" (although it may be the case that I more frequently devote more attention to the things that I notice). According to my model, "noticing" is the rapid reallocation of attention. A person "notices" something when they suddenly start paying much more attention to it than they were paying moments before.

According to my tentative working model of ADHD, ADHDers really do "notice more things": their attention reallocates more frequently and more rapidly. Autistics, by contrast, tend to reallocate more of our attention, on average, when reallocation occurs. (I have sometimes been accused of "trying to make everyone autistic", and that would perhaps be an accurate assessment if I were suggesting that people "pay more attention" or "notice things more". But I'm not suggesting that! I am suggesting much more strategic reallocation of attention.)

So in these terms, "Locating Fulcrum Experiences" is a method of preparing yourself to rapidly reallocate a large amount of attention away from its default state and toward a carefully chosen set of stimuli in precisely the moments when you are a tiny little bit aware that the set of stimuli is present.

Which (further implicit conjecture) is not necessarily easy or straightforward! (Perhaps this is where we disagree?) And thus I have written an essay explaining how to do it.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-05-01T14:13:54.579Z · LW · GW

Ok, I'm going to put some effort into building a bridge here, even without further detail about where things are going wrong for you. It'll mostly be shots in the dark, so I will probably miss. But I expect this is a pretty common response, so I'll give it a try anyway.

I'll start by focusing on, "What does this particular essay contain besides 'I pay attention and notice things'?"

According to me, this essay is not about "I pay attention and notice things". This essay is about "I pay attention to *particular* things, I employ *particular strategies* for deciding what to pay attention to, and I make very careful guesses about *what* I will notice so that I am able to pay attention to the right things at the right times."

I rather doubt that was anywhere near sufficient to build a bridge between this essay and wherever you are, let alone between you and all the rest of my naturalism writings, so in my next (probably much more sprawling) comment I will try to dig into some of the implicit stuff underneath my summary. (However I would love to hear whether this comment on its own was at all helpful to you, in case I'm wrong.)

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Getting Started With Naturalism · 2023-04-30T21:11:42.626Z · LW · GW

This is great I love it. I'd also love it if you came back to this comment when you're done reading the whole sequence, and told me how it looks and feels to you from that perspective.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-30T21:03:51.282Z · LW · GW

Here is the "supplementary reading" I mentioned, (which perhaps belongs instead under Duncan's comment in the other thread).

In an earlier draft, my opening sentence for this essay was, "Once I’ve identified a question that’s crucial to my story, it's time to start observing the world—not so much to find an answer, as to position myself to ask better questions." A beta reader highlighted "it's time to start observing the world", and said this about it (paraphrased): "I found this to be a confusing first sentence, because it makes it sound like this part of naturalism is about 'observing the world'; but as I understand it, this part of naturalism is about 'observing my reactions to the world'."

To which I replied:

>I think part of what's going on here is that we have... not quite different ontologies, I think, in the sense that we think different entities exist... but at least different conceptualizations of the world and minds at a pretty fundamental level.

>I don't know how to talk about this well yet, despite an awful lot of attempts (like the "Intro To Naturalism" sequence), but I'll take a stab at talking about it anyway.

>There is no such thing as "observing the world as distinct from observing my /reactions/ to the world." Instead, the real distinction that actually exists is between "learning about the world by observing my reactions to it and knowing that what I'm observing are my reactions" and "learning about the world by observing my reactions to it and not knowing that what I'm observing are my reactions". There's no such thing as looking directly at a cup, in the way it's most natural to imagine. All you can do is point your eyes toward a cup, and be aware of whatever you experience as a result.

>When I take a naturalist approach to cup observation, I "try to look at my experience as I direct my eyes toward cups". This is not because it is actually possible to observe cups any more directly than that, but because framing it as a study of my own experience is a really powerful strategy mitigating the damage that map/territory conflations ordinarily cause to attempts to learn about things and solve problems.

>So when I'm "observing my experience of a cup", I am actually doing my very best to observe the outside world. In fact I'm attempting to observe the outside world more accurately and precisely than I ordinarily could while merely "trying to observe cups", because when I am aware that I'm observing my own experience, I am also aware that what exists in the world is distinct from my experience in various ways, even if I don't understand what those ways are. My awareness of that distinction grants me much more freedom to hypothesize about other ways the actual world could be, and so whatever conclusions I draw about cups as a result contain less interference from my own reactions to cups. By observing my reactions to cups, I end up forming cup models that have less to do with me, and more to do with cups.

>Like imagine that you see a straw in a glass of water (for the first time). This seems weird to you, since straws are supposed to be straight, so you deicide to study it and try to figure out what's going on.

>Imagine two different ways of approaching that study.

>The first way, you start with the question, "Why do straws bend when you stick them in water?" 

>The second way, you start with the question, "Why do straws look to me as though they bend when you stick them in water?"

>In the second case you're studying your reactions to straws in water, but you're more likely to end up more quickly with models that involve how light works, because you recognized from the outset that "the straw itself bends" is not actually what you observed; what you actually observed is "the image of the straw that appears in my mind under these conditions bends".

>A major thesis of mine is that "everything we cast our attention on is like the staw, to varying degrees", and I tend to go "oh naturalism is an especially good idea for this person in particular" when I hear about their problem/curiosity/interest and it makes me think "ah yes, that right there sounds especially much like a bent straw".

(Rationality, I claim, is absolutely chock full of bent straws, much more so than the vast majority of other fields of study.)

My beta reader found this response helpful, but they also were starting with a different set of thoughts than you are, I think. Still, I do wonder whether it does anything to bridge the gap between us.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-30T20:54:09.839Z · LW · GW

Just to check, when you say "this and previous posts", do you mean all the stuff in Intro To Naturalism as well, or are you trying to make sense of just the posts so far published in Nuts and Bolts on their own?

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-30T20:47:25.303Z · LW · GW

I continue to have a feeling like "I don't know how to interact with this without either falling into Ray's ill-fitting framework and thus further confusing both of us, or completely failing to engage with his framework".  On the other hand I'm not sure I have tried, and perhaps I ought to try. Experience suggests that I will only succeed if I first ensure I don't lose sight of whatever it is I can see from my current perspective, which is probably much of what I was up to in the previous thread, and that is probably why it seemed to you to "get weird"; I was halfway trying to say the relevant truths as I see them, and halfway trying to communicate with you, and I was not doing either of those things well as a result.

I do completely agree with everything @Duncan said in the other thread, and have said very similar things myself in the past, which perhaps I will post below as like supplementary reading or something. But I think it's missing you because when I imagine you reading it I also imagine you responding with "But there really is a difference between trying to learn about things like 'updating incrementally' and trying to learn about things like 'electromagnetism'." 

And I think I agree with (my imagined version of) you. Even if learning about things like "updating incrementally" requires learning about things like "electromagnetism" (which it does, at least in my own rationality framework and I suspect also in Eliezer's, for whatever that's worth), there is something different about setting out to study "updating incrementally" vs setting out to study "electromagnetism".

What is different, according to me, is that studying electromagnetism by roughly naturalist methodology is way easier. It's easier because the thing you're trying to study is far less entangled with the tools you are using to study it. Things outside of the mind stay put in a way that things inside the mind do not. Which is why I made How To Observe Abstract Objects.

And it's also most of why I made the course I talked about in the previous essay, and why I said that I wish everyone would start there. It's almost the same set of tools, but it's aimed at nature instead of at minds. This sequence is that course, but beefed up a bunch to contend with the unique difficulties of turning the cognitive tools on themselves, or something along those lines.

But I feel that I'm wandering away from communicating with you again. I think you approximately think that I should interweave my nature study course with this rationality sequence, because it would help people better understand what "naturalism" is, as a whole, and how to apply it in full generality. (Do you in fact think something like that?)

I think that if I were attempting to meet the goal of teaching people how to apply naturalism in full generality, I would probably agree with that. But in this particular sequence, I am not; I have learned over the years that I am capable of accomplishing at most one or two things at a time. Something about my cognitive and perceptual style, perhaps. And so even my "naturalist rationality sequence" is broken into three separate sequences: Intro to Naturalism, The Nuts and Bolts of Naturalism, and whatever I'll end up calling the demonstration sequence. I do very much like the idea of eventually synthesizing all three sequences into a single concise guidebook, but I think that I simply am not smart enough to write that guidebook without first writing each piece of it. And then, even beyond that not-yet-existant "Naturalist Rationality" guidebook, there are other guidebooks I would love to create, such as something like "Naturalist approaches to finding traction in pre-theoretic fields", which I expect will require just as much groundwork as I have so far put into "Naturalist approaches to mastering the basics of rationality".

But I am again only half-talking to you, I see. Perhaps I should shut up for now, see if you have anything for me to listen to, and try again later.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-29T03:42:36.508Z · LW · GW

Almost certainly not.

Could you perhaps highlight a particular phrase that baffles you?

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-29T03:40:04.823Z · LW · GW

>I think one thing is that I'm currently thinking a lot in terms of "a good art of rationality should involve contact with the territory [of things other than your mind and the rationality-or-lack-thereof-that-lives-inside it]" (which I think is a thing you also believe?)

Yes, I do indeed think that a good art of rationality should involve contact with mind-independent territory. Constantly. Relentlessly. I... I think that's a thesis of the naturalist program? It is why I'm all "and you will observe these things in daily life: as you engage with your projects at work (which may involve coding, or math, or cooking, or whatever it is you do), as you read bedtime stories to your children, as you learn underwater basket weaving, whatever." Like, do not just sit here and read and think until you think you have things figured out inside of your head. Go do stuff, go try to understand how the world works in practice. Not in the context of this essay, not in the context of a one hour class or a four day workshop, but in the context of how you actually navigate the world on a daily basis.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-29T03:13:08.994Z · LW · GW

Hm, perhaps you imagine that I'm about to spend a whole sequence advocating for studying your mind without engaging with the world?

I suspect you're employing a distinction that I do not honor.

I mean, to use the example in the essay, when are these fulcrum experiences of eg "puppeteering myself" going to show up? Not when I'm sitting in a lounge chair introspecting. Most of what I am actually doing with myself lately is 1) writing, editing, and publishing essays (and making paintings for them), 2) navigating the third trimester of pregnancy (dealing with a ton of stuff about how my body works, learning about birth, learning about tiny children, working with midwives and doulas and so forth), and 3) setting up my environment so that it will support me and my family when we have very little attention to spare (building garden boxes, getting the wild-bird-feeding arrangement just right so I don't have to fix it later, setting up my recovery space, improving systems around food and other maintenance activities, other stuff). So when I notice "puppeteering myself" (if I choose to study that), it will happen when I realize that someone more skilled at construction than me is watching me secure hardware cloth with fence staples. It will happen when a commenter points out a possible flaw in my attempt to navigate the tricky balance between fidelity and brevity in written examples. It will happen when my bush strokes do not accomplish the visual effect I believe I have imagined, because I was in fact imagining a social role rather than any particular physical shape or hue. It will happen when I have a disagreement with my primary care doctor about the risks and benefits of taking a certain medication at this point in pregnancy. It will happen when I try to figure out why the Stellar's Jay near my feeder keeps making sounds that imitate a red-tailed hawk.

The entire time, no matter whether you topic seems more stereotypically "internal" or "external", naturalism it is really about your internal experience in contact with the external world. There's not really such a thing as an internal topic or an external topic. The methodology focuses on the interface.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-29T02:55:34.650Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure how to respond to this, and for some reason I want to know if @Duncan_Sabien has anything to say.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-29T01:33:49.525Z · LW · GW

Hm.  Well, the very first sentence of the sequence is, "Naturalism is a general-purpose procedure for advancing one’s art of rationality." Which is true but incomplete, like most statements I know how to make, but it does seem to me to frame this sequence appropriately. But apparently I was wrong in your case, at minimum!

I think I can make some small edits to that essay under "What is this sequence?" that will help.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-28T21:11:24.887Z · LW · GW

Yes, that seems right to me.

However, I've deliberately focused on "training rationality" in this sequence, so I think it makes sense for pretty much all of the examples to be "internal" in this way? This isn't the only way to use naturalism, but it's the use case that I'm most personally interested in focusing on, and the one where I have the most PCK.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-28T21:02:19.767Z · LW · GW

Much gratitude to @Duncan_Sabien for digitally editing this and all my other LW illustrations. It's a pain the butt to get this kind of indistinct frameless thing to blend nicely into the particular white of the LW background. He's also tweaked a couple other elements that didn't turn out quite the way I'd hoped.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Locating Fulcrum Experiences · 2023-04-28T20:50:17.965Z · LW · GW

Behind the painting

This is my first time attempting a painting in this particular style. (Well, it's actually draft 3; but it's part of my first series of attempts.) I'm not sure what the style is called, but it's the one where most of the subject as it exists in the world (or the artist's visual field) is deliberately indistinct, or not depicted at all. My automatic inclination (at least up to this point in my study of visual art) is to attempt to convey every part of my subject in full detail. Instead, I tried to choose a tiny number of details to convey more precisely, just the ones most evocative of the heart of my visual experience of Beck Chapel's exterior in Fall. Not only do I think this is a far better way to capitalize on the properties of watercolor as a medium, but it's meant to echo the central strategy of this post, which is to aim limited attentional resources precisely at the experiences that matter.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Moderation notes re: recent Said/Duncan threads · 2023-04-19T01:16:23.797Z · LW · GW

Here is some information about my relationship with posting essays and comments to LessWrong. I originally wrote it for a different context (in response to a discussion about how many people avoid LW because the comments are too nitpicky/counterproductive) so it's not engaging directly with anything in the OP, but @Raemon mentioned it would be useful to have here.


I *do* post on LW, but in a very different way than I think I would ideally. For example, I can imagine a world where I post my thoughts piecemeal pretty much as I have them, where I have a research agenda or a sequence in mind and I post each piece *as* I write it, in the hope that engagement with my writing will inform what I think, do, and write next. Instead, I do a year's worth of work (or more), make a 10-essay sequence, send it through many rounds of editing, and only begin publishing any part of it when I'm completely done, having decided in advance to mostly ignore the comments.

It appears to me that what I write is strongly in line with the vision of LW (as I understand it; my understanding is more an extrapolation of Eliezer's founding essays and the name of the site than a reflection of discussion with current mods), but I think it is not in line with the actual culture of LW as it exists.  A whole bunch of me does not want to post to LW at all and would rather find a different audience for my work, one where I feel comfortable and excited and surrounded by creative peers who are jamming with each other and building things together or something. But I don't know of any such place that meets my standards in all the important ways, and LW seems like the place where my contributions are most likely to gradually drag the culture in a direction where I'll actually *enjoy* posting there, instead of feeling like I'm doing a scary unpleasant diligence thing. (Plus I really believe in the site's underlying vision!)

Sometimes people do say cool interesting valuable-to-me things under my posts. But it's pretty rare, and I'm always surprised when this happens. Mostly my posts get not much engagement, and the engagement they do get feels a whole lot to me like people attempting to use my post as an opportunity to score points in one way or another, often by (apparently) trying to demonstrate that they're ahead of me in some way while also accidentally demonstrating that have probably not even tried to hear me.

My perception is very likely skewed here, but my impression is that the median comment on LW is along the lines of "This is wrong/implausible/inadequate because X." The comments I *want* are more like, "When I thought about/tried this for five minutes, here is what happened, and here is how I'm thinking about that, and I wonder x y and z."

Here is a comment thread that demonstrates what it looks like when *I* think that an interesting-to-me post is inadequate/not quite right. I'm not saying commenters in general should be held to this ridiculous standard, I'm just saying, "Here's a shining example of the kind of thing that is possible, and I really want the world to move in this direction, especially in response to my posts", or something. (However apparently it wasn't considered particularly valuable commentary by readers *shrug*.)

Raymond has been trying to get me to post my noticing stuff from Agenty Duck to LW for *years*, or even to let *him* cross post it for me.  And I keep saying "no" or "not yet", because the personal consequences I imagine for me are mostly bad, and I just think I need to make something good enough to outweigh that first. It's just now, after literally five to ten years of further development, that I've gotten that material into a shape where I think the benefit to the world and my local social spaces (and also my bank account) outweighs the personal unpleasantness of posting the stuff to LW.

(This is just one way of looking at it. The full story is a lot bigger and more complicated, I think.)


Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on LW Team is adjusting moderation policy · 2023-04-11T18:22:18.144Z · LW · GW

Cheering over here! This seems like a tricky problem and I'm so happy about how you seem to be approaching it. :)

I'm especially pleased with the stuff about "people need to read the sequences, but shit the sequences are long, which particular concepts are especially crucial for participation here?", as opposed to wishing people would read the sequences and then giving up because they're long and stylistically polarizing (which is a mental state I've often found myself occupying).

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on A Way To Be Okay · 2023-02-20T03:10:43.695Z · LW · GW

for me i think it took about 3 years, but the first 50% of it only took one or two months once i got deliberate about it

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on A Way To Be Okay · 2023-02-20T00:23:23.082Z · LW · GW

Yes of course, and I certainly didn't mean to leave you with just that one comment. I really mean to say "I think something is wrong here. More to come as I figure it out." But also it may take me a while before I'm ready for the next installment.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on A Way To Be Okay · 2023-02-19T23:43:11.064Z · LW · GW

I am glad you are ok. I do not want to undermine whatever it is that keeps you by-and-large mentally healthy, especially as you contribute to the communal survival effort, and, ya know, be my spouse and all.

Also, I think it would probably be wrong not to tell you that the presumably shallow and probably somewhat inaccurate version of this that I heard while reading struck me as pretty self deceptive. Or at least, not sufficiently anti-self-deceptive for it to sit right with me.

It may take me awhile to pin down exactly what is not sitting right with me, and how exactly it is sitting instead. But I think most of it is concentrated in "Victory Conditions" and in "The Plan", and a maybe some of it is also in "Sculptors and Sculptures".

I think the heart of my objection may be exactly what I wrote about in 2016, quite unclearly and at length I'm sorry to say, in an essay called "When Your Left Arm Becomes A Chicken". How relevant this essay is depends a lot on what exactly it means to you to "change your victory condition". But when I hear "victory condition", it sounds an awful lot like the Kierkegaardian thought experiment thingy I talk about in the essay, the part about unrequited love for the princess.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-05T18:17:37.741Z · LW · GW

i downvoted Jensen's comment because i think "this is cringy" is a super extra mind-killy sort of concept and i want less of it around.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-05T18:15:46.236Z · LW · GW

i've added this. i sort of dislike it aesthetically, but i think this post is a genuinely valuable resource and i worry that once Duncan's post is no longer on the front page, people will no longer be clear on why i'm cursing at them.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-04T03:36:03.766Z · LW · GW

but Ray are you really so sure i should not be the one to turn The Sequences into a collection of belligerent tiktoks? i've been covering the same beat for ten years what if it's time for A CHANGE?

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-04T02:59:29.689Z · LW · GW


Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-04T01:48:42.096Z · LW · GW

(This is a parody post of Basics of Rationalist Discourse by Duncan Sabien.)

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-03T21:38:23.510Z · LW · GW

FWIW, it's not at all clear to me, before really thinking about, what the difference is between "holding oneself to a standard" and "holding someone else to a standard". Here's what happens when I try to guess at what the differences might be.

1) Maybe it has something to do with the points at which intervention is feasible. When holding yourself to a standard, you can intervene in your own mind before taking action, and you can also attempt to course-correct in the middle of acting. When holding someone else to a standard, you can only intervene after you have observed the action. 

2) Like 1, except since you can also intervene after observing the action when holding yourself to a standard as well, "holding yourself to a standard" is an umbrella covering a wider range of thingies than "holding someone else to a standard", but some of the thingies it covers are the same.

3) Perhaps the difference is a matter of degree, for some reason? Like perhaps there is something about holding other people to standards that makes the highest standard you can reasonably hold someone to much lower than the highest standard you can reasonably hold yourself to, or (less plausibly?) vise versa.

Of these, 2 certainly seems the closest to matching my observations of the world in general; but it does not help me make sense of Duncan's words as much as 1 does.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-03T21:30:36.080Z · LW · GW

(speaking loosely) This is such a weird conversation, wtf is happening.

(speaking not so loosely) I think I'm confused? I have some (mutually compatible) hypotheses:

H1) the concept "burden of proof" is doing a lot of STUFF here somehow, and I don't quite understand how or why. (Apparently relevant questions: What is it doing? Why is it doing it? Does "burden of proof" mean something really different to Duncan than to Said? What does "burden of proof" mean to me and where exactly does my own model of it stumble in surprise while reading this?)

H2) Something about personal history between Duncan and Said? This is not at all gearsy but "things go all weird and bad when people have been mad at each other in the past" seems to be a thing. (Questions: Could it be that at least one of Duncan and Said has recognized they are not in a dynamic where following the rationalist discourse guidelines makes sense and so they are not doing so, but I'm expecting them to do so and this is the source of my dissonance? Are they perhaps failing to listen to each other because their past experiences have caused strong (accurate or not) caricatures to exist in the head of the other, such that each person is listening mainly to the caricature and hearing mainly what they expect to hear by default? What exactly is their past history? How much do which parts of it matter?)

H3) Duncan and Said have different beliefs about the correct order of operations for disagreements (or something like that). Perhaps Duncan emphasizes "getting structural discourse practices in proper order first", while Said emphasizes "engaging primarily with the object level topic by whatever means feel natural in the moment, and only attending to more structural things when stuck". (Questions: Is this true? Why the difference? Are there times when one order of operations is better than another? What are the times?)

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-03T04:11:00.961Z · LW · GW

Having read to this point in the thread, part of me wants this post to be called "Basics Of Intermediate Rationalist Discourse".

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-03T04:06:01.759Z · LW · GW

yeah for real Kaj, i'm pretty sure that was in form if not content among the best contributions to a comment thread i've ever seen

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-03T03:34:04.612Z · LW · GW

>"Hold yourself to the absolute highest standard" feels like a phrasing I don't expect anyone else to endorse. (Note: if you endorse that phrasing, do feel free to reply here and say so!). 

I agree with this phrasing, as I understand it. It seems important to note that by "hold yourself to the absolute highest standard" in this context, what I mean is "make the very best effort you're capable of to follow the rest of these guidelines, taking no shortcuts and slowing down however much is necessary to accomplish this", as opposed to something more like "consider yourself a terrible person if you fail to uphold any virtue whatsoever while modeling or assessing others' internal states".

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on You Don't Exist, Duncan · 2023-02-02T21:19:49.746Z · LW · GW


Right, and yet it seems clearly wrong to me for there to be eg regulations requiring all coat manufacturers to also make snuggies, or something. I haven't worked out what the right take-away is from this kind of thing.

Comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) on You Don't Exist, Duncan · 2023-02-02T21:11:11.184Z · LW · GW

John, I think you're onto something, at least in that you've accurately perceived "something's not right here" and also substantially narrowed down where the not-rightness is. But I'm not sure quite what the not-rightness is yet, and I also think that this response to "what should be done about it" suggests you're missing a really big piece of the puzzle somehow.

I think that Duncan's post is closely related to stuff I've been mulling over lately, and I can't tell whether my following suggestion will therefore come out of left field given the invisible-from-the-outside context of the history of my thoughts, or whether it will be obviously on point, or what. I also don't have any clear answers yet, just questions that I'm still trying to improve, but here goes.

I wonder how society should treat weird people, both in some ideal post-scarcity future world and also in this one we find ourselves in, starting from where we are with the resources we have. I also wonder how weird people should behave and think and feel when they fully understand their actual relationship with society, and I wonder about the nature of that relationship. 

I expect it's helpful to think of a well defined class of people with a specific straightforward way of being weird, such as people who are mobility impaired and mainly get around using wheelchairs or scooters. (I imagine it would also be really helpful to talk to people from within such a class, rather than acting like I'm confined to analyzing my own imagination, and while I'm not going to do that in this particular comment, I think it would be pretty cool if somebody piped up who actually knows what the world's like from the perspective of a wheelchair or scooter.) 

What would it be like if I had a really hard time walking or couldn't do it at all, and even my close friends who are hearing went around saying things like "everybody loves hiking" right in front of me? How would I respond by default, and how would I prefer to respond?

What if most of the buildings I wanted to enter were only navigable by stairs? How would I respond by default, and how would I prefer to respond? How does my answer to that change if there are one billion people like me, or ten million, or one thousand or ten, or if I'm literally the only one?

And what are the similarities and difference between "everybody loves hiking" and "the bathroom at the theater is up a flight of stairs and there's no elevator"? What about when the bathroom's upstairs at a friend's house party?

If there were a sovereign island populated mainly by people who were substantially weird in some way related to their physical or sensory abilities (with respect to genpop on the continent)—people with mobility challenges, Deaf people, people with low vision, people who are 6'5'' or taller, people with super smell who vomit when there's body odor, etc.—what would the built environment of that island look like by default? How would things be designed, and what design principles would seem obvious there that are at best afterthoughts right now? And which of those obvious design principles, if any, would actually make life much better for most people on the continent if they were taken for granted there as well? What paradigms is continental architecture unnecessarily stuck in, to its detriment?

What about all of these things, but for far less visible cognitive and perceptual variance?

My overall point here is that I think Duncan's sharing first-person information about a kind of problem that is in fact quite deep and complex, and that figuring out the right thing for someone in his position to do is correspondingly difficult. Imagine suggesting to a Deaf person that the lack of closed captioning on a popular TV show shouldn't feel significant to them once they've fully understood that most people can hear. Yes, they are probably not having the best-for-them possible response if they're deeply emotionally hurt every time they're reminded of how almost nobody considers people like them when determining the social or physical environment. But in the absence of a much better suggestion than "grieve and move on", pointing out that they are somehow causing themselves to suffer beyond what the reality of the situation strictly requires seems like... not quite the right move, to me.