Instrumental rationality for overcoming disability and lifestyle failure (a specific case) 2012-11-14T08:46:44.807Z


Comment by CAE_Jones on Instrumental Rationality 1: Starting Advice · 2017-06-21T08:45:51.341Z · LW · GW

Obvious advice is obvious because it works, yes. The background assumption is that it is all implementable without further advice-wanting requirements. Advice for building a kickass gaming PC in 2017 with secure income and access to the internet will be simpler than the same advice adapted for 1950, because PCs were not available in 1950, the internet did not exist, and computers were huge, slow, and low on storage capacity as compared to 2000, never mind 2017.

Of course, if this could be fully generalized to all contexts, it would likely have been done by now. It's not practical to account for every outlier when responding to a general audience, and even to an individual without extraordinary circumstances (such as being paid as a therapist/life-coach/etc). This is where generalized instrumental rationality should take over, and yet, signs seem to point toward GIR being much harder than ... eh, just about everything short of implementing Utopiae, I guess.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Instrumental Rationality 1: Starting Advice · 2017-06-21T08:28:15.246Z · LW · GW

Then again, I sometimes feel as if I'm one-eyed, saying "I understand how having two eyes would be better, but is it really necessary?"

You know, discovering LessWrong forced me to reconsider exactly this. I mean, the "you don't know what you're missing if you never had it" argument never seemed wrong before LW, just annoying.

Realistically, if a cheap and quick-to-heal eye repair/replacement method became available tomorrow, I can only try to imagine how my brain would respond to a random extra input. And depth perception sounds like some terrifying mindscrew, and what is this business about eye-crossing and seeing double? And I am a wee bit worried about what having the ability to see people in full detail would do to me (my one good eye went bad before I ever considered looking at porn... the possibility is unsettling for some hard to identify reason). And driving, and getting a decent reading speed, and hand-writing, would all take a very long time—years, most likely.

But nevertheless, leaving money on the ground is leaving money on the ground. I like braille, but it's less useful than print precisely because print is everywhere and everything is available in it. Learning math and science when most of the best books aren't readable is a pest. And I would be surprised if a whole sense shutting off isn't inherently depressing just due to decreased stimulation.

Does exercise work similarly? Eh, it depends? The whole forcing yourself to do something you simply can't get excited about for nebulous health benefits suffers from a heavy cost in effort. OTOH, if an activity can be engaging and healthy, the effort-reward ratio is high from the beginning. So this is where we look for something fun to do, rather than hitting the gym. Of course, if there is not a fun or otherwise rewarding solution available, then we're right back where we started.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread March 7 - March 13, 2016 · 2016-03-13T05:40:06.955Z · LW · GW

I've heard the phrase "disability markup" used to describe how almost everything ever targeted toward physical or sensory disabilities are absurdly expensive. That name implies more intentional malice than I expect is at work; I'd generally round off to "market forces"--it's difficult to take advantage of mass market capitalism when selling to a minority, but it is possible to take advantage of government assistance programs.

It seems like, though, based on my (very limited) understanding of hearing aids, a charitable version of "disability markup" might be closer to reality. After all, if it's treating a disability, especially one found in old people, either those who need it are going to be rich from a lifetime of savings, or poor and getting the government to pay for it anyway, right?

It isn't hearing aids so much as screen readers, but Chris Hofstader implies as much might be a component of business models for such companies in this article:

Will FS respond to this new found competition, possibly based in the fact that NVDA costs nothing and FS gets more than a thousand bucks for JAWS with a price cut? Probably not. I haven’t worked at FS for more than a decade but, back then, we discussed the possibility of a free or no cost screen reader coming onto the market and how we might respond. Our strategy then and likely now was that, if we felt competitive pressure from a low or no cost solution, we would raise the price of JAWS. As I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, there are technologies that one can only access using JAWS and the FS strategy was to make sure we kept our profits high by “eating the rich.” I don’t know if FS will respond this way ten and a half years later but, as NVDA RA adds a feature to NVDA that one needed to buy JAWS to get, , they may need to find a way to replace the dollars on their bottom line and may, in fact, respond by increasing the price of JAWS.

James_Miller's guess wouldn't apply so much to screen readers (but would apply to things like the Brain Port, which opened at a price of $10,000US), but I wouldn't be surprised if going through the FDA is a big part of the markup on hearing aids.

Comment by CAE_Jones on The Fable of the Burning Branch · 2016-02-13T05:54:15.819Z · LW · GW

No, I'm afraid of the witch-hunters. (So far, polling indicates that this was not the right hypothesis for the commentary in general.) I avoided commenting until my previous comment because I was pretty sure I'd regret it--probably missing the point or getting drawn into the political deluge--and it seems this was the correct expectation.

Comment by CAE_Jones on The Fable of the Burning Branch · 2016-02-12T16:29:32.252Z · LW · GW

Five years ago

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct. I suspect lots of "be on the look out for anything that looks sexist" conditioning still hasn't worn off. But I might be mind-projecting.

Actually, it seems worth a poll. did/did not take it as something close to rape apologia, are/are not worried about doxing or other such harassment campaigns?


Comment by CAE_Jones on [deleted post] 2016-02-01T02:18:09.647Z

Perhaps instead of "divorced from", I should have said "adversarial to"?

Or maybe I should have just left it at "adversarial" and not bothered bringing up the relation to reality at all.

Comment by CAE_Jones on [deleted post] 2016-01-31T07:20:20.442Z

I was thinking of a specific comment I wrote multiple replies to before successfully restraining myself with the realization that it was blatant flame-bait. I do not claim that the basic point ("groups x y and z produce fewer successful people on average than groups u v and w", and "mediocre success gets signal-boosted among disadvantaged groups") is false. I do claim that the way the_lion conducted himself during the discussion rapidly stopped including a willingness to engage with facts or use enough clarity to make some of his claims falsifiable, and the phrasing implied a deliberate attempt to provoke outrage (which I should note was mostly avoided; it is regrettable that a couple people succumbed to the temptation anyway.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on [deleted post] 2016-01-30T14:37:32.462Z

I'd certainly grant that you could well be correct in your impressions. After all, it's odd for him to go from this to this week's spree of what looks a lot like trolling, seemingly over getting a rule against his voting strategies enforced.

Comment by CAE_Jones on [deleted post] 2016-01-30T10:03:03.893Z

It wasn't so much the racism, as the completely assinine, dogmatic, insulting-to-everyone-involved, divorced-from-reality manner in which he went about it. At least his previous incarnations didn't sound like a Klansman got drunk and decided to go trolling (Heck, some of his stuff in his original form was downright reasonable, and when it wasn't, he still came across as the more rational person in the conversation at times, even if you disagreed with his conclusions).

He was originally banned for abusing the voting system to try and remove his political opponents from the conversation. So far as I could tell, his next two bans were because he could not resist doing the same thing. As the_lion and the_lion2, he escalated to just being a caricature of a straw white supremecist (who still abused the voting system).

I almost want to explain this as some twisted minuscule version of radicalizing they with nothing to lose, except in this case the ultimatum was abundantly clear: stop using downvotes as a political weapon, or get banned. The "Hellban" post was a blatant "You will never stop me, fools!" to anyone familiar with the history.

Comment by CAE_Jones on The map of quantum (big world) immortality · 2016-01-28T16:33:37.440Z · LW · GW

I understand QI as related to the Anthropic Principal. The point is that you will tend to find yourself observing things, which implies that there is an effectively immortal version of you somewhere in probability space. It doesn't require that any Quantum Immortals coexist in the same world.

Of course, we'd be far more likely to continue observing things in a world where immortality is already available than in one where it is not, but since we're not in that world, it doesn't seem too outlandish to give a little weight to the idea that the absence of Quantum Immortals is a precondition to being a Quantum Immortal. I have no idea how that makes sense, though. One could construct fantastic hypotheticals about eventually encountering an alien race intent on wiping out immortals, or some Highlander-esque shenanigans, but more likely is that immortality is just hard and not that many people can win the QI lottery in a single world. (Or even that we happen to be living at the time when immortality is attainable.)

Incidentally (or frustratingly), this gets us back into "it's all part of the divine plan" territory. Why do you go through problem X? Because if you didn't, you would eventually die forever.

I am now curious as to whether or not there are books that combine Quantum Immortality with religious eschitology[sic]. Just wait for the Quantum Messiah to invent a world-hopping ability to rescue everyone who has ever lived from their own personal eternity (which is probably a Quantum Hell by that point), and bring them to Quantum Heaven.

(I was not thinking Quantum Jesus would be an AI, but sure; why not? Now we have the Universal Reconciliation version of straw Singularitarianism.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 · 2016-01-28T07:54:53.499Z · LW · GW

I can only remember one instance in which I noticed a black person in a CS class*. He clearly wasn't connecting with anyone else there on a cultural level, but he was making much better observations and comments than most anyone else (some of the people who sounded like a Racial Realist's dream programmers were answering simple questions with facepalm-worthy wonkiness).

What stuck out to me most, though, was whenever the teacher would elaborate on or correct any of that black student's responses, the student would respond to everything with a very submissive and depressed-sounding "Yes sir." He didn't sound quite so broken in any other context as that. He disappeared halfway through the semester and I have no idea why (was he better at in-class discussion than tests or homework? Did he drop the class because he didn't like it? Were there other classes he wanted/needed into which conflicted with it? Did he quit school entirely?)

It seemed abundantly clear to me that, of all the students that spoke up during class, this one was probably in the top 3 in terms of understanding the material, at least in a classroom context. There might have been problems, but I wouldn't dare pin them on intelligence. Culture seemed dramatically and obviously a source of tension. If there were others, they were not where I could observe them.

* There could have been others I missed, or that were in previous classes who I just forgot about. I can only identify race based on accent (which I should point out is not genetic) or if someone else points it out without being contradicted by other evidence. ... Well, and names, sometimes, but those aren't genetic, either.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 · 2016-01-26T07:50:21.429Z · LW · GW

There was a recent thread in discussion trying to objectively evaluate Obama's presidency. The general conclusion seems to be, based on comparing policy outcomes and polling data with that of other presidents, that Obama is a fairly mediocre president, and unless some evidence surfaces that he was secretly the mastermind behind ISIS, in no way among the worst.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016 · 2016-01-10T16:48:24.463Z · LW · GW

Ah, yeah, that's true. Adjectives exhibit verb-like behavior in several East Asian languages; that they also do this in Chinese kinda slipped my mind.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016 · 2016-01-10T11:45:14.740Z · LW · GW

I was under the impression that 是 was Chinese for "to be". The nuance isn't quite the same--you can say 是 in response to "are or aren't you American?", but that's more or less subject-omission--but it seems close enough?

But my experience with Chinese includes only two years of Mandarin classes and a few podcasts; I haven't studied the linguistics in so much detail, and that studying ended 5 years ago, so if you're basing this on something I don't know, I'd be glad for the correction.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Consciousness and Sleep · 2016-01-07T19:27:45.335Z · LW · GW

What do "destroy" and "recreate" mean?

I interpret them as meaning something like "disassemble" and "reassemble in the same configuration as before, with the same component parts"

That's not how I interpret the descriptions of the destructive teleportation, uploading, and forking scenarios.

The only arguments I can presently think of that really make me doubt my response to the "do you survive destructive uploading/teleportation/copying?" questions are more on the lines of the Ship of Theseus. My computer remains my computer if I turn it off and on again. "My files" can refer to specific instances, versions, copies, whatever, whether they're on "my computer" or copied to an external device. If my computer falls apart and is put back together again, it's still my computer. If my computer is taken apart, and an identical computer with my files on its hard drive is built (with different parts), it's a different computer. If my computer slowly has all its parts replaced, one at a time, I don't really know what I'd think; I want to say it's no longer the same computer at some point, but I don't know which point. Maybe when the hard drive is replaced, but that's a bad example because replacing individual chunks of atoms in the hard drive is a weird concept. Actually, I'd probably think of the new chunks as "the new chunks", and more or less treat it as portions of two separate disks acting as one. (And if files are modified, deleted, copied, etc, then they are modified, deleted, copied, etc, and this does not make it stop being "my computer".)

So what does that mean for the brain? The brain changes a lot; does its component parts get replaced all that often? A huge portion of the cells in the body get replaced at varying rates; do they play into this at all? How would my conclusions change if the brain replaces its cells frequently and I was just that bad at understanding neurology? I'm not really sure about the answers to these. It's possible that the answers could change my mind. It's possible that I would just stay in the same boat and remain existentially horrified forever or something.

But flipping the switch from on to off to on is more or less irrelevant. I feel like we are using the same words to describe completely different phenomena, then debating as though everyone is using the words in the same way. (Compare "Congress" to "the 75th congress" to "the 76th congress". The first is defined by an enduring pattern with interchangeable components, such that it describes the both of the other two; the second refers to a specific configuration of components and behaviors; the third is as specific as the second, but it's entirely possible that only a few members from the 75th congress were replaced for the 76th. If someone was particularly attached to the 75th congress, and by the 80th congress, the last member from the 75th was replaced, what would we take from such a person's reaction? Keeping in mind that people tend to write dramatic articles whenever an enduring group loses or replaces all of its original members, or all of the members present for particularly charished events, etc. What if a band breaks up, then most of its members form a new band?)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December · 2015-12-23T16:55:39.690Z · LW · GW

I honestly have no idea if I have excess bodyfat (not weight; at last check I was well under 140Lbs, which makes me lighter than some decidedly not overweight people I know, some of whom are shorter than me), but if I did and wanted to get rid of it... I have quite a few obstacles, the biggest being financial and Akrasia-from-Hell. Mostly that last one, because lack of akrasia = more problem-solving power = better chances of escaping the wellfare cliff. (I only half apply Akrasia to diet and exercise; it's rather that my options are limited. Though reducing akrasia might increase my ability to convince my hindbrain that cooking implements other than the microwave aren't that scary.)

So, personally, all my problem-solving ability really needs to go into overcoming Hellkrasia. If there are any circular problems involved, well, crap.

But I'm assuming you've encountered or know of lots of fat rationalists who can totally afford professionals and zany weight loss experiments. At this point I have to say that no one has convinced me to give any of the popular models for what makes fat people fat any especially large share of the probability. Of course I would start with diet and exercise, and would ask any aspiring rationalist who tries this method and fails to publish their data (which incidentally requires counting calories, which "incidentally" outperforms the honor system). Having said that, though, no one's convinced me that "eat less, exercise more" is the end-all solution for everyone (and I would therefore prefer that the data from the previous hypotheticals include some information regarding the sources of the calories, rather than simply the count).

(I'm pretty sure I remember someone in the Rationalist Community having done this at least once.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty on Less Wrong · 2015-11-19T13:58:20.563Z · LW · GW

By third-world comparisons, yes. Otherwise, I doubt it. Provide an example. (Or pledge 50% of your richness to GiveWell)

Unless the third world includes the United States outside of the Bay Area and New England (which, judging by the term "fly-over country", it probably does in lots of minds), then yes, LWers talking about attending CFAR's $3000 workshops and traveling all over the place and how they're already working for a big software giant and talked their bosses into giving them a raise are signs of being toward the higher end of the American Middle Class, if not higher. Just having so many programmers and the occasional psychiatrist is enough to put LW into the "rich even by first world standards" category.

This has come up before. Some LWer who is not rich points out that LWers are on average pretty dang rich, and most everyone goes "surely not! Just abandon everything you have and move to Silicon Valley with the money you don't have and surely you'll get a programming job, and realize how not-rich we are!" *

I am not trying to signal tribal affiliation when I say that LW unintentionally taught me to appreciate the whole "check your privilege" concept.

Having said all that, there are a few people who aren't financially successful STEM lords around here. It's just that they are decidedly not the majority of dominant voices.

* The first and last phrases might be a bit uncharitable, but the reaction is generally disbelief, in spite of the fact that LWers do seem to have thousands of dollars whenever they need them. Just a couple days ago, someone on Facebook was trying to get someone to go with him on a trip to Indiana, so they could split the gas money, but he realized he really needed to spend that money elsewhere. I've had reasonably middle-class people on Facebook trying to come up with someplace to stay, asking for donations for emergencies, saying how they wish they could justify spending money on things far cheaper than a new computer... and all of them are financially and socially way better off than me.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-09T14:04:21.098Z · LW · GW

Meta/style: I expect the first two sentences of your comment to attract more negative feedback than the rest of it. I might have upvoted if they hadn't primed me to be annoyed. (I read the comment before I read your name, and I'm glad to see the subject taken seriously; the frustration comes from those two sentences. I'm not sure how to explain why. I understand the cultural assumptions that led you to include them, assuming this was genuine and not shock-bait, which seems a safe assumption.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-09T13:55:58.650Z · LW · GW

It would be the most helpful if done prior to puberty.

I'd worry about cardiovascular side-effects, fat accumulation/redistribution, mental side-effects (something something spatial rotation)... basically, I've studied this on and off since puberty (and not before, because life would be boring if I could do anything right the first time), and concluded that, given my current state of health, castration would probably make more things worse than it improves. Actually, I concluded that circa 2008, and I'm pretty sure I was ever-so-slightly healthier then.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open thread, Oct. 19 - Oct. 25, 2015 · 2015-10-24T18:21:53.659Z · LW · GW

I must admit, had lucy managed to only post the vampire ads in threads about interventions to increase longevity / social skills / etc, I might have considered them worth keeping around for entertainment value. At least then we could use them as an excuse to discuss how blood transfusions from healthy donors affects various quality-of-life factors.

(I wonder how long before someone tries to start a business based around selling healthy blood / fecal transplants / etc, and how long before the FDA tells them to stop before they sell someone diseases.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Nature publishes an article about alternative therapy · 2015-10-19T22:17:04.646Z · LW · GW

Based on what I've encountered, I've interpreted the Japanese version as being more broad and metaphysical (the power of friendship, Killing intent), whereas the Chinese version is more like Alchemy: not quite science, but sorta-kinda tries to be (Fengshui and TCM, but also conservation of energy and such). There is considerable overlap, since ki is literally qi filtered through Japanese culture, but I generally expect people who talk about qi to be more interested in the Alternative Medicine route, whereas Ki indicates one or more of anime fan / Aikido practitioner / practitioner of Japanese spirituality. (These are more probabilities than hard categories; Reiki is a good counterexample.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Survey Article: How do I become a more interesting person? · 2015-10-18T18:06:01.778Z · LW · GW

Having "interesting to journalists" but not "interesting for standard social interaction" covered might be a personal extreme that isn't true for everybody in LW,

Second datapoint: I've been interviewed by journalists a few times, am terrible at people in general. (A whole half of these would have been dull and pointless interviews if not for my visual impairment. The others I could see happening regardless.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-13T20:23:26.395Z · LW · GW

My general expectation is that either you're right, people will complain loudly until food and water stay cheap, or prices will avoid inflating because the people who produce need the people living on UBI to buy their stuff.

I have no general idea on which is more probable. I like the last one because it is the most convenient, but I'm not convinced it has any more probability than the first two.

Comment by CAE_Jones on A few misconceptions surrounding Roko's basilisk · 2015-10-08T01:10:18.060Z · LW · GW

Based on personal experience, I would have agreed with you, right up until last year, when I found myself in the rather terrifying position of being mentally aroused by a huge crash in my house, but unable to wake up all the way for several seconds afterward, during which my sleeping mind refused to reject the "something just blew a hole in the building we're under attack!" hypothesis.

(It was an overfilled bag falling off the wall.)

But absent actual difficulty waking for potential emergencies, sure; hang out in Tel'aran'rhiod until you get bored.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open thread, Oct. 5 - Oct. 11, 2015 · 2015-10-06T04:36:54.645Z · LW · GW

More charitable hypothesis: The people most likely to notice an advancedatheist comment the quickest downvote. The next wave of people finds the downvoting excessive and upvote in response.

This doesn't really predict -10 to +3 swings, though.

Comment by CAE_Jones on What is your rationalist backstory? · 2015-09-26T21:07:12.472Z · LW · GW

I tried entering the code in the examples there, with the labels replaced. It showed up as code. Then I noticed polls showing up in the Recent Comments list (where markdown is not rendered) as [poll id=\], and concluded there must be some middle step that was somehow obvious to everyone else that I couldn't find.

Comment by CAE_Jones on What is your rationalist backstory? · 2015-09-25T23:21:09.861Z · LW · GW

One side-note: I notice that I seem to be almost the only one using polls. Why is that?

I tried a couple times, but couldn't figure out how to make them work. The wiki wasn't especially helpful.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Why Don't Rationalists Win? · 2015-09-19T00:15:04.484Z · LW · GW

My life got worse after I found LessWrong, but I can't really attribute that to a causal relationship. I just don't belong in this world, I think.

I can imagine LW-style rationality being helpful if you're already far enough above baseline in enough areas that you would have been fairly close to winning regardless. (I am now imagining "baseline" as the surface of liquids in Sonic the Hedgehog 1-3. If I start having nightmares including the drowning music, ... I'll... ... have a more colorful way to describe despair to the internet, I guess.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Probabilities Small Enough To Ignore: An attack on Pascal's Mugging · 2015-09-18T02:02:16.925Z · LW · GW

As you say, if we use the number 1, then we shouldn't wear seatbelts, get fire insurance, or eat healthy to avoid getting cancer, since all of those can be classified as Pascal's Muggings.

And in fact, it has taken lots of pushing to make all of those things common enough that we can no longer say that no one does them. (In fact, looking back at hte 90s and early 2000s, it feels like wearing one's seatbelt at all times was pretty contrarian, where I live. This is only changing thanks to intense advertising campaigns.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on The Library of Scott Alexandria · 2015-09-16T09:38:03.814Z · LW · GW

Not that I'm aware, but you might check the "fiction" tag on Slatestarcodex. (I remember finding a similarly useful tag on his Livejournal, but I don't remember what it was called OTTOMH).

Comment by CAE_Jones on Effects of Castration on the Life Expectancy of Contemporary Men · 2015-08-19T04:14:02.424Z · LW · GW

(I don't think it's advisable, for a handful of reasons, [...])

I agree, even though I'm effectively punishing my past self in doing so.

I would like there to be a mechanism for making this possible, but it just seems too dangerous; even the idea of delaying puberty until the age of consent doesn't work, because apparently this path can have permanent side-effects as well.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Effects of Castration on the Life Expectancy of Contemporary Men · 2015-08-19T03:52:08.697Z · LW · GW

If the son is not transgender,

Possibly TMI:

I don't consider myself transgender, but I have been wishing this had been done to me pretty much since I was 12.

The main thing I learned from this article is that everything I thought I knew about castration holds up under Lesswrongian analysis, including the part where I completely missed the opportunity and would probably be more likely to die early were I castrated now. There would still be some advantages, but it seems too late to be worth it.

You did specify "presumably normal", though. Presumably, I am far from normal.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, Jul. 6 - Jul. 12, 2015 · 2015-07-07T06:44:17.930Z · LW · GW

You aren't possibly within range of Slate Star Codex meetups, by any chance?

(I am painfully aware that being in the same state (never mind country) is insufficient to provide easy access to people/events, but it seemed worth asking.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-24T15:21:33.266Z · LW · GW

A subset of Speech Therapy (especially for Autism Spectrum) covers exactly this sort of thing. I rather doubt it's what you're looking for, even if it's an option, but it fits what you described almost perfectly. The major issues would be the tendency toward a more clinical setting, only being an hour or so a week, the limited pool of people to practice with, and establishing your existing skills.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, May 25 - May 31, 2015 · 2015-06-01T11:31:33.870Z · LW · GW

Have you looked at whether there are times when your capacity for action and/or enjoyment is better? When it's worse? This might give you some hypotheses to test to get some improvement.

I tried to do a somewhat quantified analysis of pairs of years, starting from 2002 (anything before 2002 is distorted by lots of things that I can't change without technology and the rest of the world obliging). I found that the best phases seemed to correlate most strongly with something resembling enforced pomodoros, and something resembling access to people. Trying to artificially recreate these conditions is much harder than it sounds, and I have a sinking suspicion that there are some long-term effects of all this that would make it an uphill battle even then.


Agreed and attempted. Too much sugar and carbs in a short span of time has a horrible effect; smaller amounts of sugar over a longer period seem to help, and there is a mild but noticeable improvement from other types of food, but I've never managed to sort out anything better than "find a way to get away from the concentrated sugars ASAP".

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, May 25 - May 31, 2015 · 2015-06-01T11:30:21.809Z · LW · GW

What happened when you attempted to do pomodoros?

I've tried this more than once. Each time shows some improvement (each time, it's less than the previous) for maybe a week or so at most, followed by horrible crashing.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, May 25 - May 31, 2015 · 2015-06-01T11:25:37.925Z · LW · GW

Try doing whatever it is you need to do (not sure from your posting) physically with other people doing the same thing.

I'm blind and live in Northeast Arkansas and have no friends and the only part of this that seems like it should be easy is getting over the anxiety that prevents me from walking to the bus stop (I still haven't done this. I've spoken to DSB about it but have no idea if anything will come of this). And my social skills are only technically extant.

I did try something last year where I talked to someone on Skype between us both trying pomodoros and such. I only lasted about a week.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, May 25 - May 31, 2015 · 2015-05-26T15:20:46.760Z · LW · GW

(Akrasia, because that's all I ever talk about):

I do not know to whose attention I should bring this so as to combat the problem, so I'm asking here:

I have a stupidly difficult time talking to people, too, especially my parents (who pretty much have to manage all the details, because of course they do). This does not help.

Yes, I've read all the Akrasia articles on Lesswrong that I can find. Mostly, I'm hoping there's someone better equipped to fix this than me or the internet, and that someone can help me find that entity and extract a solution from them.

(But if that someone happens to post the solution here, first, that'd be nice. Although turning it into an arduous quest through the temple of doom seems like it could only help, assuming no crippling injuries along the way.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Open Thread, May 11 - May 17, 2015 · 2015-05-11T10:29:11.524Z · LW · GW

In Praise of Life (Let’s Ditch the Cult of Longevity)

That article would be better titled "In Praise of Death", and is a string of the usual platitudes and circularities.

I'm now curious: where are the essays that make actual arguments in favor of death? The linked article doesn't make any; it just asserts that death is OK and we're being silly for fighting it, without actually providing a reason (they cite Borges's distopias at the end, but this paragraph has practically nothing in common with the rest of the article, which seems to assume immortality is impossible anyway).

Preference goes to arguments against Elven-style immortality (resistant but not completely immune to murder or disaster, suicide is an option, age-related disabilities are not a thing).

Comment by CAE_Jones on Request for help: Android app to shut down a smartphone late at night · 2015-04-06T11:40:29.996Z · LW · GW

(I do not claim to speak for the_jaded_one, but this needs to be said.)

So, you can't - for whatever reason - make yourself an alarm, a checklist, or basically anything that's a sign that says "negative ROI - stop immedietly"?

No. On the occasion that this is an option, it is fairly useless.

akrasia as far as I can tell is usually codeword for "I'm a lazy fuck".

Akrasia is shorthand for "I have spent the past nine years desperately trying to get the action part of my brain and the conscious desire part of my brain to agree, and I have failed so hard for nearly a decade that I've anthropomorphized the condition so I can disguise the resulting suicidality as threatening a supernatural being to a fight to the death".

If you'd rather, Akrasia is code for "I am a lazy fuck, but not by choice".

You might have some psychological problem.

It was obvious to me that this was a psychological problem seven years ago. Professionals have been so fucking useless I don't even.

The only thing that's ever helped* me reliably in the past is restrictions I can't easily work around. If the_jaded_one is healthier enough that an easily-deleted smartphone-disabling app would help, then I find this post not absurd, but enviable.

* help is not a solution, but we're talking the difference between suicidally depressed and "What the fuck do I say about Cahier d'un retour au pays natal?".

Comment by CAE_Jones on Group Rationality Diary, March 22 to April 4 · 2015-03-29T13:49:45.679Z · LW · GW

Last summer, I installed Leach Block in Firefox.

This morning, I disabled it, because I determined that I'd rather waste time in Firefox than waste time in Internet Explorer.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Superintelligence 26: Science and technology strategy · 2015-03-12T15:53:47.034Z · LW · GW

I'd still expect carts to be useful in cultures that use loads of wood, or maybe to transport larger quantities of materials for trade. For example, this Seneca story has a man burning logs down to a size he can easily carry. Some northern peoples used dogs as pack animals, but the only land vehicles I'm aware of were sleds.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T20:41:01.942Z · LW · GW

The tricks with the Basilisk and the Proddian[sic] charm seem like they could have been adaptable to HPMoR, but at the same time, canon Hermione was older when she accomplished those things.

Even in canon, discoveries in potions were plainly not her thing, at least; see Half Blood Prince.

Comment by CAE_Jones on "Spiritual" techniques that actually work thread · 2015-03-11T14:41:22.126Z · LW · GW

I've heard similar techniques suggested for astral projection and self hypnosis. With the former, I actually heard the reverse order on muscle relaxation, with the idea being to move attention away from the body and into the mind.

Back when I could actually concentrate for more than 5 seconds, my early experiments with this technique resulted in me feeling something odd around my spine, as though there was some sort of force or pressure fluctuating with my breathing (probably because that's how breathing works and my posture was better than usual thanks to the relaxation exercises). I treated that feeling like "Qi" and tried different visualization and breathing tricks to try and make it do something more interesting, but little came from that particular aspect.

I did get into wake-initiated dreaming this way, though.

When I was 12, I tripped on something in my room and cut my knee on a tripple hole-punch I'd taken apart and left in the floor. The wound looked huge to me, so I cleaned it, wrapped it in a wash cloth, and meditated on healing it for quite a while (I don't know exactly how long). It looked like a day-old scratch by that evening. Presumably, my evaluation of the severity of the wound was exaggerated.

I tried the same thing a few years later, when I cut my thumb on a soup can. I could not focus at all.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Why the culture of exercise/fitness is broken and how to fix it · 2015-03-10T12:06:51.319Z · LW · GW

My biggest setback is needing to rely on someone else to reach the training area. I could probably have walked to the dojo before it moved, but I didn't know the way; seeing as I actually got up early enough for the morning session, this was just frustrating (I did once try going anyway, but my GPS is terrible).

I knew someone in high school who wound up obtaining some weighted training equipment--arm/wrist bands, a vest, etc... think Dragonball Z. And that was quite enough to get him frequently running the local "mountain" (The threshold for mountain status in this area ... well, the John Wane version of True Grit was supposedly hilarious due to using the Rockies as a stand-in for glorified hills.)

I took a judo class one semester. I got an absessed toe halfway through, so the person driving me there decided it was better that I not attend until it got better. ... The blatant display of pacing it took to convince him it was better... blah.

There's a lot I could do, athletically speaking, if people/places/my ability to travel to places were better. The one I'm still worried about is running; I almost never get to run at full speed, because I can't detect incoming obstacles (and being over 16 takes away the wolverine-like healing ability and replaces it with height as a torque amplifier). In fifth and sixth grade, I was often one of the last people to finish laps around the gym, even though I once managed to outrun the observed fastest student in the class in a slightly less crowded-and-lined-with-equipment environment. And that was when cutting corners and with better (but still braille-bound) vision compared to today.

(The afore-mentioned weighted training clothes guy once joined me and the astronomy class on a trip to another local "mountain", and the two of us decided to run up rather than hang back with everyone else. He observed that I was faster than him, but he had better stamina. You might be wondering what a blind person was doing on an astronomy trip, which is a very good question, but now this comment is 2KB long.)

Comment by CAE_Jones on Can we talk about mental illness? · 2015-03-09T14:53:48.855Z · LW · GW

It's hard to say; maybe there's a bit of cultural osmosis involved? Maybe it has to do with the combination of the vast amounts of unused space and the influx of jobs other than family farms (the one branch of my father's family that almost kept their own little extended clan together is so big on livestock, especially horses, that I honestly have no idea what jobs any of them have had. There was a family farm before I was born, but my father's oldest brother mismanaged it into oblivion).

My town has a significant manufacture sector, but it's mostly food products. It has some diversity by virtue of being a college town, though the college's primary majors are agriculture and business. So it's a bizarre sort of place that keeps growing, but refuses to stop being the biggest small town around in spite of a population literally 100 times the size of many nearby towns*. I think it's technically a city, but in practice it's an amalgamation of rural and suburban.

* I don't think this town has broken 100k yet. I haven't heard population numbers on nearby towns in a while, but I was not exaggerating my orders of magnitude, given the populations when last I heard them.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Can we talk about mental illness? · 2015-03-09T13:23:26.200Z · LW · GW

I wonder if MetaMed does mental illness. Last I heard, they're still in the early, way-too-expensive-for-the-likes-of-me phase, but they're more or less "LW-affiliated rationalists try to filter the science to optimize your solution".

Comment by CAE_Jones on Can we talk about mental illness? · 2015-03-09T08:05:54.521Z · LW · GW

If there nobody to talk about deep personal issues in the city in which you are living, why are you living in the city in the first place?

The last time you posted something like this, I fretted for a whole day, trying to figure out how to respond. I found I could not do so without a mindkillxplosion at how offensive it is, so I settled for a silent downvote.

Welcome to the Mid-southern United States, where nothing is within walking distance of anything else, huge swaths of land have no sidewalks, gas mileage is artificially deflated, public transit consists of like three buses if you live in a huge town with at least 60k people, and there is no way to travel between towns other than owning your own vehicle or having people willing to drive you. (I did find a cab driver willing to get me to the nearest town with an interstate bus terminal; he estimated that trip would cost me $130. In a good month, that's over 10% of my cumulative funds.).

On the bright side, the cost of living is low enough that Wellfare is actually livable, if one min-maxes food and utilities and has no debt.

Now, add mental illness on top of that. Then, be careful never to so much as hint that you might maybe possibly be anything other than a practicing Christian (or at least be so damn smooth that you can get people to believe you're joking when you reveal your nonchristianity, on the grounds that "I don't believe you're a bad person" (an actual quote from one of my father's customers)). Not that religious discrimination matters when you're completely isolated.

Now, you have lots wrong with your life, but the tiny handful of things that you still manage to care about are staying here.

You're unemployed, disabled, friendless, have less than $2000 to your name, ~$90000 in student debt, and are drowning in anxiety/depression/akrasia/learned helplessness... and someone from a nice city with financial security expresses bafflement that you don't just move to a nice city like theirs. The pattern-matching alone was absurd enough that I couldn't trust myself not to quote The Grapes of Wrath.

I really don't feel like I handled this well, but I've been holding it in for a couple years, now, and clearly, something needed to be said.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Can we talk about mental illness? · 2015-03-09T07:15:41.150Z · LW · GW

I'm sure this is a problem for others, too.


I'm in Northeast Arkansas. I considered trying to reach the St Louis Meetup Groups (my town's only cheap way out for someone who can't drive just happens to be to St Louis, and only St Louis), but for a number of reasons that never happened before that meetup group was defunct. did briefly have a skeptics group in my town. Briefly--before I could get over my panic at the "describe yourself" requirement, it, too, was defunct. Otherwise, the meetups within 50 miles of me appear to include moms and a group of board gamers in Memphis.

Comment by CAE_Jones on Can we talk about mental illness? · 2015-03-08T14:34:39.040Z · LW · GW

On Akrasia:

And it goes on and on, with no victory in sight.

I feel like I could fight the rest of my problems effectively with what I have (or at least, quickly learn otherwise) if I wasn't so paralyzed by Akrasia that the only resource I actually have is the ability to type incoherent comments into a small selection of websites.

I couldn't solve all of them (the technology isn't available yet), but with some of that sweet, sweet Executive Function/Conscientiousness/Free Will/Whatever we call it these days, I could at least approximate functional, and--dare I say,--not prodominantly miserable.