Welcome to Less Wrong! (July 2012)
I highly doubt that I'll be posting articles or even joining discussions anytime soon, since right now, I'm just getting started on reading the sequences and exploring other parts of the site, and don't feel prepared yet to get involved in discussions. However, I'll probably comment on things now and then, so because of that (and, honestly, just because I'm a very social person), I figured I might as well post an introduction here.
I appreciate the way that discussions are described as ending on here, because I've noticed in other debates that "tapping out" is seen as running away, and the main trait that gives me problems in my quest for rationality is that I'm inherently a competitive person, and get more caught up in the idea of "winning" than of improving my thinking. I'm working on this, but if I do get involved in discussions, the fact that they aren't seen as much as competitions here compared to other places should be helpful to me.
Anyway, I guess I'll introduce myself. I'm Alexandra, and I'm a seventeen year old high-school student in the United States (I applied to the camp in August, but I never received any news about it, so I assume that I wasn't accepted). Like many people here, I found out about this website through Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but I've been interested in improving my rational thinking since I was young. I grew up in a secular and intellectual home, so seeing the world and myself realistically have always been major goals for myself, and I've always naturally tried to apply logical thinking and the scientific method to my problems, but I've never really formally studied rationality (though I did take statistics last year).
I'm pretty smart, but as a high school student (especially one who, due to various bad experiences with the school system, only really found motivation and purpose in school-work less than a year ago), I don't have too much technical knowledge, which I hope to change. I'm more experienced in aggressive self-awareness than I am in more technical ideas (such as the contrast between Bella from Luminosity and Harry in HPMOR). I'm not really interested in a future in rationality work (and, while I'm interested in transhumanism, I don't really see myself being pulled in that direction for a career), I just want to improve my own thinking in order to better use my mind as a tool to achieve my goals.
While I might come across it on here, I actually don't act very intellectual in my usual social interactions (especially compared to my younger brother, who's very openly and almost aggressively rational). I usually keep my rationality to myself except for certain situations, and use it internally to figure out the best way to approach situations, but I usually come across as much more flippant and frivolous than I actually am (especially since I'm very much an extrovert). I'm too misanthropic to expect rationality from others, so I prefer to use my inner logical side to figure out how to interact with people on their respective levels in a way that works best for me. I can understand the desire to appear as rational and intelligent as you truly are, I just am a very utilitarian person and have found that placing less emphasis on that side of myself works best for me.
I'm used to most people that I debate with being irrational and easily upset. It never used to bother me, because I consider my intelligence to be a mental tool of mine rather than a personality trait, and because my naturally competitive personality meant that I still enjoyed debates that fell into petty conflict, but recently (maybe because I'm maturing, maybe because I'm busier these days), I've found myself getting bored with that sort of thing. So I'm definitely interested in intellectual discussions on here, though I might not involve myself in them until I'm better prepared.
One thing that I've noticed about myself is that, in discussions, I tend to insist on responding to every single point made by others rather than just selecting some to focus on (before I realized that's what people were doing, it used to bother me that others wouldn't respond to every individual point I made). I'm not sure whether that's something shared by other members of this website or just a personal quirk.
This is getting rambly because I'm a long-winded person, but I'll add a bit more (mostly non-rationality-related) information. I'm not a theist or a spiritual person, but atheism seems obvious enough to me that I don't see much point in discussing it anymore (unless the more "New Age"-y members of my family get a little too pushy with me). I'm interested in physics, math, foreign languages, literature, singing, exploring urban areas, climbing things, transhumanism (especially life-extension, because I want to live forever) and throwing parties. I have a strong appreciation for the arts, but I don't personally do anything artistic (other than singing, which is just a hobby), and I'm easily entertained by the small pleasures in life (good food, pretty views, attractive people of either gender, and fluffy blankets). I really like cats and books and the nighttime, and I'm more interested in clothes and makeup than might be expected from an eccentric, science-loving rationalist with quite a few geeky interests, but people are complex. I tend to be a bit surreal when I'm not purposefully trying to be serious.