Posts

Amanda Knox Redux: is Satoshi Nakamoto the real Satoshi Nakamoto? 2014-03-06T23:33:21.527Z · score: 12 (15 votes)
Link: Toward Non-Stupid, Non-Blank-Slatey Polyandry 2012-09-06T21:06:28.897Z · score: 13 (19 votes)
Summary of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" 2012-06-30T20:49:08.313Z · score: 18 (21 votes)
Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter 2011-03-17T20:12:25.899Z · score: 150 (152 votes)
Eliezer Yudkowsky and Michael Vassar at NYU, Thursday March 3rd 2011-03-01T04:53:15.233Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Fun and Games with Cognitive Biases 2011-02-18T20:38:28.192Z · score: 67 (70 votes)
NYC Rationalist Community 2010-03-29T16:59:41.839Z · score: 17 (18 votes)

Comments

Comment by cosmos on Less Wrong Parents · 2012-11-03T15:54:10.313Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know, right?? laughs

Comment by cosmos on Meetup report: How harmful is cannabis, and will you change your habits? · 2012-10-02T21:05:12.326Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then someone pointed out that since we responded out loud, there may have been an anchoring effect here.

This is standard epistemic hygiene - have everyone come up with an answer quietly before saying it out loud. (I suspect our natural inclination against lying is enough to keep people honest.)

Comment by cosmos on Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders · 2012-08-16T00:53:19.660Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To continue with the bias theme, how about confirmation bias? They settled on the most available theory that fits all the facts, and then it becomes part of their identity, they begin to rally the soldiers. Is their delusion that they are Jesus really that much less sticky than someone's political party?

Comment by cosmos on Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders · 2012-08-15T16:08:06.453Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

TDCS isn't depolarizing neurons with magnetism, it doesn't disable brain regions at all. Instead it is running a direct current across them. This appears to permanently increase or decrease its level of excitability. o_O

Comment by cosmos on Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders · 2012-08-14T21:58:24.507Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yvain, it seems like some of this is potentially answered by how this interacts with other cognitive biases present.

Re: specific delusions, when you have an entire class of equally-explanatory hypotheses, how do you choose between them? The availability heuristic! These hypotheses do have to come from somewhere inside the neural network after all. You could argue that availability is a form of "priors", but these "priors" are formed on the level of neurons themselves and not a specific brain region: some connection strengths are stronger than others.

I would not wish brain damage on anyone, but should one of us have that unfortunate circumstance befall us I would be extremely inclined to go talk to them. I am so damn curious what this feels like from the inside! I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that the thought of having to build completely new neural connections to get around existing damage sounds like an insanely interesting challenge...

I also wonder about reasoning our way out of delusional states. The closest parallel that most people have access to would be the use of various psychoactives. I have heard multiple reports of people who have reasoned their way out of delusional conclusions on cannabinoid agonists and 5-HT2A agonists (and dopamine agonists, with lesser evidence).

The most difficult challenge would appear to be kappa opioid agonism, a dissociative state induced by the federally-legal herb salvia divinorum. Most users report being unaware they ingested a substance at all, no awareness of having a body, and no concept of self-identity, coincident with extreme perceptual distortions. I am no longer clear what Bayesian reasoning would even look like for some points in mindspace.

Edit: I thought of another relevant state: delirium induced by anticholinergics. Unlike 5-HT2A agonists where people do not confuse perceptual distortions for reality, in delirious states people do routinely believe that what they are perceiving is actually occurring. Unfortunately these states are widely regarded as unpleasant, and no rationalist I know personally has experimented with sufficiently large doses of anticholinergics.

Comment by cosmos on Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders · 2012-08-14T21:41:51.203Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I had the exact same thought myself back in 2008, so I asked an experimental psych professor about this. At the same, he said that the TMS devices that we had are somewhat wide-area and also induce considerable muscle activation. This doesn't matter very much when studying the occipital lobe, but for the prefrontal cortex you basically start scrunching up the person's face, which is fairly distracting. Maybe worth trying anyway.

I've wanted to get my hands on a TMS device for years. Building one at home does not seem particularly feasible, and the magnetism involved is probably dangerous for nearby metal/electronics...

Comment by cosmos on Tips for Starting Group Houses · 2012-07-17T20:00:09.317Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

EDIT: now you can get a free credit score from https://www.creditkarma.com/ with no strings attached. Welcome to the future!

You can get a free credit report once/year here:

https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

This will give you your full credit history, but not an actual FICO score.

You can get a free FICO score by signing up for this trial:

http://www.myfico.com/

...and then printing up a copy and immediately cancelling it here:

https://www.myfico.com/help/contactus.aspx

In my own search, I used this free general rental application:

http://www.ezlandlordforms.com/documents/application_forms/

Comment by cosmos on Reply to Holden on The Singularity Institute · 2012-07-13T03:46:28.741Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the excellent idea! I did in fact email Lukeprog personally to let him know. :)

Comment by cosmos on Reply to Holden on The Singularity Institute · 2012-07-11T01:47:13.937Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting!

"Applications for a contribution of pro bono professional services must be made by Deloitte personnel. To be considered for a pro bono engagement, a nonprofit organization (NPO) with a 501c3 tax status must have an existing relationship with Deloitte through financial support, volunteerism, Deloitte personnel serving on its Board of Directors or Trustees, or a partner, principal or director (PPD) sponsor (advocate for the duration of the engagement). External applications for this program are not accepted. Organizations that do not currently have a relationship with Deloitte are welcome to introduce themselves to the Deloitte Community Involvement Leader in their region, in the long term interest of developing one."

Deloitte is requiring a very significant investment from its employees before offering pro bono services. Nonetheless, I have significant connections there and would be willing to explore this option with them.

Comment by cosmos on Summary of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" · 2012-07-01T08:20:55.945Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, if you're interested in improving your social skills, check out the rest of our website!

http://effectivenessforgeeks.com/

Click the "Social Effectiveness Book" on the top link to read our free book online.

Comment by cosmos on Summary of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" · 2012-07-01T08:14:00.006Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oddly enough, I decided to read the book after I had already optimized my social skills. It was basically a recap of most of what I already had stumbled upon! I realized it would only take me several more hours to summarize what I had read, so decided to do it to provide value for others.

Comment by cosmos on What Would You Like To Read? A Quick Poll · 2012-06-21T01:01:04.543Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I read this on a mailing list, and unsurprisingly would like to read future developments on a mailing list. :)

Or at least, that's how I'm most likely to find out such a development would exist. In practice I think I would read it on either email or a webpage.

Comment by cosmos on Atkins Diet - How Should I Update? · 2012-06-12T21:13:55.628Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like very little evidence as far as I am concerned.

It claims that eating a higher-fat diet increased cholesterol. This is what I would expect, and I am also entirely unconvinced that this is remotely harmful. They don't even break up "cholesterol" into the relevant subtypes! Was this an increase in HDL or triglycerides? They rely on a section of the paper to claim that the link between higher cholesterol and cardiovascular mortality is well-established... but then why didn't they make a study showing increased CVD or all-cause mortality? They have those data as part of the study! I want the body count.

Also, if you look at the correlations they found with increased cholesterol levels, the ones they don't report in the abstract include "sweet buns and crisp bread rolls, and boiled potato" (as well as boiled coffee and salted fish). So it looks like some kinds of fats and some kinds of carbs correlate with higher cholesterol. That doesn't seem nearly as compelling as the headline. (Let's also note that fat consumption as a % of energy only once again reached 1986 levels in 2010, and yet total cholesterol is still significantly lower.)

The continually-rising BMI is more interesting to me. They lowered fat intake, people got fatter. They lowered carb intake, people got fatter. Hmmm... Oddly enough, they don't report much about total caloric intake - everything is mentioned as a proportion of calories. The shift in fat intake was a fall of 3-4% of calories, then an increase of 3-4% of calories. This would only require a small amount of increased total calories from fat, with no reduction in carb content, to explain the shift as well as the increasing BMI. (Note that they didn't try to draw any correlations with BMI, because of the well-known bias in food frequency questionnaire reporting.)

What other major food shifts did they note in the study? First of all, potatoes were being replaced with rice and pasta. Second of all, alcohol intake rose continuously over the period in question. I would bet hundreds of dollars that the strongest statistical correlation with BMI would be wine intake, based on the figures they report.

Even as far as associational studies go, this is a really bad one. I mean that seriously, this is methodologically one of the worst I've ever seen. I was expecting to actually have my beliefs challenged, a few good associational studies have given me pause, but this is not one of them.

Comment by cosmos on Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief · 2012-01-24T08:48:51.312Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I'm glad you found it useful! :)

Comment by cosmos on Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief · 2012-01-24T08:32:45.843Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I have also found Eat That Frog to be an unusually good collection of the major productivity techniques. Incidentally, I also heard about the book from Patri via Divia.

For a shorter and more rationality-friendly version of the book, I summarized it here:

EDIT: http://becomingeden.com/summary-of-eat-that-frog/

Comment by cosmos on Essay-Question Poll: Dietary Choices · 2011-07-23T18:09:59.613Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I meant humanity at large, and I expect the rationalist community to follow suit.

Comment by cosmos on Trip from Ottawa, Canada to NYC on weekend of April 2 · 2011-03-23T21:17:35.368Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have two couches, so you can crash at my place that weekend as well.

If anyone else is interested, I am sure other members of the community will step up to host. :)

Comment by cosmos on Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter · 2011-03-18T04:34:33.903Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What do you call someone who generates positive externalities?

Comment by cosmos on Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Successful Rationalist Chapter · 2011-03-18T04:20:54.631Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that associating with PUA is distasteful and an immediate fail, and have removed the link from the post. The link is here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/298/more_art_less_stink_taking_the_pu_out_of_pua

Social phenomena exist like anything else and can be analyzed, but how it is discussed matters almost entirely. It is a high-status behavior to make observations about social phenomena, but analysis sends a bad signal.

Comment by cosmos on Less Wrong at Burning Man 2011 · 2011-03-13T07:56:00.256Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Me + 1 coming in from NYC! :)

Comment by cosmos on Fun and Games with Cognitive Biases · 2011-02-20T21:52:03.550Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We were not sure how exactly to accomplish this, but if you could convince someone that the outcomes in their life were primarily a result of their effort (instead of being dictated by external circumstances), that could motivate them to try harder.

Comment by cosmos on Fun and Games with Cognitive Biases · 2011-02-20T21:50:02.590Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't sound like fun to you, which implies you didn't try it. FWIW, everyone who participated in the game thought that was one of the most fun meetups we have had to date. I greatly enjoyed the activity myself. The fast pace kept everyone fully engaged in the activity, and the rotating topic kept the conversation from getting bogged down. Cognitive biases are a topic of interest for our rationalist group, doing this alone instead of with a group of friends might indeed be less fun, but as you pointed out still quite useful.

Comment by cosmos on Fun and Games with Cognitive Biases · 2011-02-20T21:42:42.351Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean to say that you became aware of biases, internalized your belief in their importance, gathered the relevant info, became familiar with LW norms about style and tone, and wrote the article, all in one hour?

Certainly there were a lot of prerequisites that went into being able to do this exercise, and I did not mean to imply that everything that went into writing the above article itself was only one hour in total. The people here in the LW community are highly likely to have the prerequisites to do this exercise without additional time investment. Those five minutes included explaining the bias in question, when it was unfamiliar to any members of the group.

Even if you did, do you mean to imply that you thereby solved a major problem?

One of the explicit goals of the exercise was to gain awareness of the biases in question, which is the first step in modifying our behavior. Immediately following the exercises, everyone who participated was able to point out examples of it occurring left and right. Correcting these habits of thought will take reinforcement over a period of time, but by becoming self-aware and having others to point them out to us as well we are drastically closer to solving the problem than before the one hour of work.

That works the first 200 times, but at a certain point the low-hanging fruit is gone and the suboptimal habits you have turn out not to be as "irrational" as you thought

If you have actually picked all of your low-hanging fruit then congratulations, you are a supremely powerful human being.

I fully agree that what is holding us back is often conflicting emotional desires, and as you correctly point out there are methods of modifying those as well. We make mistakes on both an analytical and an emotional level, and dealing with both is vitally important to becoming the most effective person possible. Failing to take five minutes and actually trying optimize the situation is just one analytical failure mode, which I am trying to address with this one post.

Comment by cosmos on Science: Do It Yourself · 2011-02-18T06:54:21.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, the LW NYC group holds regular game nights, and uses poker specifically as a rationality training ground. If you make the correct EV decisions, the pure statistics really will get you a long way. The rest, well...

Comment by cosmos on NYC Rationalist Diplomacy Post-Game Discussion · 2011-02-06T23:34:46.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In retrospect, I think there was quite a bit of this going on with regards to my play vis a vis Turkey.

Comment by cosmos on NYC Rationalist Diplomacy Post-Game Discussion · 2011-01-12T20:19:56.326Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Russia here.

This game was an interesting experience for me. I was completely unfamiliar with Diplomacy coming in, and it came at a point in my life when I was incredibly busy with other things. I didn't even realize the game was beginning until it was hours before the first turn was going to end. I exerted no effort whatsoever to learn the rules or any basic strategic considerations until several turns into the game! During that point my play was entirely experimental, playing around with different diplomatic styles, seeing how people would react to things. The game was also initially anonymous, and I was very concerned with attempting to conceal my identity, which prompted a lot of reflection on my usual writing and decision-making habits. I was also wrong about Scott's identity, which was very surprising to me.

Basically I failed to optimize the game in a very serious way, and I am not pleased with my performance. I don't really want you guys to see my moves or my chat logs, but they are posted to the Google Group nonetheless. That said, I was legitimately doing other things with my life, and this game already started eating up hours/day. In the future I think I will do a LOT better. I will also make sure I can seriously devote the time and effort to a game before signing up next term. I recommend either doing very short turns that finish the game in a single day, or week-long turns which don't require a continuous time investment in negotiation.

Despite my disappointment in myself, I had an enormous amount of fun playing this game. The intrigue brought us all closer together. It has also changed the way I conceptualize the world, which I always appreciate. On net, this was an awesome experience, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Comment by cosmos on Why is our sex drive too strong? · 2010-12-08T17:37:38.042Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

From my reading of the anthropology literature, some cultures are sex-positive and some cultures are sex-negative. The first google hit for "anthropology sex positive" is an anthro textbook which lists a bunch of examples of different attitudes towards sexuality, including some where it is encouraged and considered odd if promiscuity is not pursued.

Comment by cosmos on Help Request: How to maintain focus when emotionally overwhelmed · 2010-12-08T17:32:26.360Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! :D Congratulations are very much in order. Life is good right now.

I have wondered about that drive myself actually. I have always been strongly internally motivated, as far back as I can remember, much moreso than any external force has ever applied to me. I feel a strong need to optimize within all of my constraints, of which I feel time is the most binding. I identify very strongly with this drive, it seems very useful, and I have made enormous improvements in my life over the last few years since discovering rationalism.

Having fun definitely utilizes moments well. The problem is that I am not having XTREME FUN 100% of the time, there are many periods during the day where I end up mindlessly browsing the web, etc., and my to-do list contains items important to life which are not getting done.

Comment by cosmos on Help Request: How to maintain focus when emotionally overwhelmed · 2010-12-08T16:45:42.282Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am actually facing this same problem myself. My personal life also got very interesting, and incredibly enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I really don't want to do anything other than just enjoy myself and have even more fun!

My motivation has shifted entirely from getting things done to having fun, and the thought of doing anything significant to further my long-run interests seems too hard to bother doing. For the first time I can think of, I am now suffering from meta-akrasia: I know there are techniques I could use that would increase my productivity, but that would mean I would actually be working, and that doesn't seem fun at all!

Costanza mentioned taking a break until things settle down. This is the advice most of my friends and family have given - enjoy myself for now, and set a date down the road to check in. I suspect if I wholeheartedly give in to the enjoyment, it will eventually fade a bit and my motivation to do other things will return. Of course, life has continual demands, and I do feel a strong pressure to utilize every moment. I am very torn on this issue.

Comment by cosmos on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-11-10T23:36:39.515Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

MKP's public image is determined almost entirely by their detractors, as they have no publicity team to put a more positive image out there or respond to these incidents. That incident in particular was about a business owner forcing his employees to join, I don't think that reflects on MKP itself. There have been other high-profile incidents in the news as well, I am sure you can Google them easily enough.

My experience with them has been positive, everything is voluntary and opting out is completely respected. They certainly don't take a rationalist approach to things (which feels distasteful at times), but they do utilize proven psychological techniques and make real changes in mens' lives. I'm learning very useful tools from the organization, but other than that I have no particular connection or commitment to MKP. Obviously in a large, dispersed organization like this I am not getting a representative sample, but I have worked with three local communities now and have found the same in each one.

Comment by cosmos on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-11-10T23:19:06.995Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't done much with it yet. One of my CrossFit coaches was a Z-Health expert, his warmups often involved developing our kinesthetic senses and seemed helpful in developing movement patterns.

Comment by cosmos on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T15:04:18.651Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hire PJEby to teach you guys emotional awareness/control. The Mankind Project uses some similar psychological techniques, which has helped me actually put what I read from PJ into practice, but is male-only and not rational in its approach.

Another kinesthetic practice to consider is Z-Health.

There are tons of PUA instructors, but that is an expensive route. Maybe some of the more successful in the community can volunteer some training. Is there an mPUA in the house?

Zvi thinks very highly of hypnosis as a psychological tool, I would consider that as well.

Comment by cosmos on Standing Desks and Hunter-Gatherers · 2010-10-18T16:27:22.953Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My schedule is basically once daily eating with substantial randomness. Usually I have a large dinner in the evening, with snacking as desired until bedtime, so a ~4 hour daily feeding window. The size of the meal varies quite a bit, some days are in the calorie restriction zone. The content varies too, sometimes I have a low-protein day. Sometimes I eat both lunch and dinner, sometimes I fast the entire day. I have not yet fasted longer than two days, but I plan to try an extended 4+ day fast eventually.

Comment by cosmos on Standing Desks and Hunter-Gatherers · 2010-10-14T16:10:15.025Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have been eating a high-fat paleo+dairy diet with intermittent fasting, and doing high-intensity interval training. This diet/exercise combination has drastically increased my energy level. I'm also very committed to getting >8 hours of sleep/night.

Unfortunately no standing desk at work, but I want one. I have felt for a long time I think and converse better when walking around.

Comment by cosmos on September 2010 Southern California Meetup · 2010-09-22T21:09:06.807Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience there tend to be several quiet members of a group, who don't speak much in the group setting but will talk in one-on-one settings. It could be a fun exercise to break up into pairs, and have each pair chat individually for a period of time, before rejoining the group conversation.

This would be useful just to build stronger connections between individual members of the group, but it is especially useful if you're trying to have a focused discussion. Usually a few voices end up dominating, and if that occurs from the very beginning only a few ideas get discussed.

Comment by cosmos on Self-Improvement or Shiny Distraction: Why Less Wrong is anti-Instrumental Rationality · 2010-09-15T07:15:45.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

We are doing quite well as a community, but we didn't actually start living together. That is another level of immersion entirely.

Comment by cosmos on Self-Improvement or Shiny Distraction: Why Less Wrong is anti-Instrumental Rationality · 2010-09-14T20:39:31.311Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I tried and failed to start a rationality lair in NYC. Too many people wanted their own apartment, and could not agree on a single location, even within one city. But I remain hopeful.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-13T03:30:50.106Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My all-absorbing narrow interest is optimization.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-11T18:58:13.223Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

No, they tell you to do this, and to stop doing that. You don't need the theory, you need instruction, and then you'll internalize high-status behaviors. (Although we did talk very briefly about theory - tribal mentality, alpha males, status.)

It is explicit about status being a variable, though, if that's what you're asking. For example, one of the exercises was role-play: we got assigned high- or low-status and had to act out a scene.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-11T16:41:51.088Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pickup 101

Edit: they offer more than one, I took Art of Attraction.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-11T16:35:22.081Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You're not the first person to ask me this, but there are obvious difficulties in conveying exactly what is going on when I do this.

The first step is becoming consciously aware of the phenomenon. Once this occurs, I begin to recognize it immediately when I do it. I then think to myself how I should have responded instead. Over multiple iterations of the above, I begin to internalize this conscious correction as a new habit.

I first used this technique when I took a course on cognition in college and learned about cognitive biases. The availability heuristic was the first to go - I knew when I didn't have actual data on a phenomenon, making it ridiculously easy to spot.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-11T16:24:18.364Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I did not find reading websites particularly helpful in this regard. I have always been very "book smart" and I love to theorize about things, but I am coming to realize that implicit experiential knowledge is key for success in this world. It's easy to know what high/low status signals are, but it's much harder to become aware of them and know what to do to correct them. Yet it only took a couple hours of in-person training at the seminar to fix the majority of the bad signals.

Despite that nitpick I definitely agree with your point. I needed to construct a mental model of social interaction, and now I can ruthlessly optimize over that as well. I am greatly looking forward to it.

Comment by cosmos on Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? · 2010-05-11T15:49:10.036Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I came to the conclusion that I have autistic tendencies a long time ago - lack of understanding of social cues, constant pattern recognition, stuttering, habitual actions... Given the high autism rates in Silicon Valley, it seems likely to me that there is indeed a genetic component, and "high-functioning" autistics have a heterozygous genotype. (Although I don't think it's yet ruled out that it could be caused by some type of improper socialization.)

However, I seem to have an uncommon level of ability to self-modify (from my discussions with other people, including rationalists), and since discovering rationality I've been attempting to ruthlessly optimize various aspects of myself. For my most recent example, because I didn't understand social cues I took a PUA seminar and within days I could successfully approach and charm people in bars and clubs, a world that I always thought would be inaccessible to me. It turns out I was just unconsciously sending low-status signals, because I never paid any attention to what myself or others were doing.

This also helps me deal with the symptoms as well. I have habitual actions, but I don't allow myself to be disturbed if they are interrupted. (In fact, I think settling too quickly into habits means we don't explore the possibility space thoroughly enough, so I consciously try to break up my routines and find new ways of doing things.) I have narrow interests, but I rotate between different things, in a type of serial immersion. I can even use conscious control over my mouth, tongue and throat to relax my muscles and effectively stop my stuttering.

For what it's worth I scored a 22. I predict that number will be lower in the future.

Comment by cosmos on Open Thread: October 2009 · 2009-10-01T19:30:20.811Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1) I can't work and starve at the same time.

That assumes you're starving during intermittent fasting. Many practitioners actually find that they are much more clear-headed when they have not eaten recently.

My guess is that you're equating hypoglycemia with hunger. I eat a paleo diet, which has low levels of dietary carbohydrates. This forces the body to use gluconeogenesis to meet its glucose needs. Because you're producing it endogenously, your blood sugar remains completely steady. You only suffer from hypoglycemia when you're dependent upon exogenous sources of glucose, forcing you to eat every few hours. I much prefer the freedom to eat whenever I want.

Comment by cosmos on Open Thread: October 2009 · 2009-10-01T15:58:37.767Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely agree that a forum would allow for more discussion, particularly of the less-momentous but still-beneficial topics. In particular, I think that discussions of actual strategies people have tried, what has worked and not worked, could actually be highly beneficial. I see them as data we need to collect in order to begin forming some kind of method for actually helping rationalists win in real world situations.

Comment by cosmos on Your Most Valuable Skill · 2009-09-29T16:23:14.924Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Learning from the mistakes of others.

Comment by cosmos on Against Discount Rates · 2009-09-23T16:46:10.211Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly enough, Schumpeter essentially makes this argument in his Theory of Economic Development. He is against the view that humans have intrinsic discount rates, an innate time preference, which was one of the Austrian school's axioms. He thinks that interest is a phenomenon of economic development - resources need to be withdrawn from their customary usage, to allow entrepreneurs to find new combinations of things, and that requires compensation. Once this alternative use of resources is available, however, it becomes an opportunity cost for all other possible actions, which is the foundation of discount rates.

Comment by cosmos on Survey Results · 2009-05-15T02:03:52.571Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps they are contractarians, which they think isn't about "morality" per se?

Comment by cosmos on Willpower Hax #487: Execute by Default · 2009-05-12T17:22:58.838Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, the trick is to remove willpower from the situation one way or the other. Brains are very good at doing things habitually, executing unconscious subroutines and freeing up willpower to do something else. If our supply of willpower is limited, then we should attempt to encode one or two good habits at a time, and once they are encoded we can move on to the next problem.

Comment by cosmos on Hardened Problems Make Brittle Models · 2009-05-08T17:56:35.872Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Models are also dangerously seductive. You're gaining precision at the expense of correspondence to reality, which can only be a temporary trade off if you're ever going to put your knowledge to work.

I most strongly object to modeling as used in economics. Modeling is no longer about getting traction on difficult concepts - building these stylized models has become a goal in and of itself, and mathematical formalization is almost a prerequisite for getting published in a major journal.