How to best measure if and to what degree you’re too pessimistic or too optimistic? 2024-03-31T00:57:53.982Z
Are (Motor)sports like F1 a good thing to calibrate estimates against? 2024-03-24T09:07:43.951Z
CstineSublime's Shortform 2024-02-17T09:06:37.569Z


Comment by CstineSublime on Mati_Roy's Shortform · 2024-04-15T23:45:29.837Z · LW · GW

Does "normie" crossover with "(I'm) just a regular guy/girl"? While they are obviously have highly different connotations, is the central meaning similar?

I tend to assume, owing to Subjectivism and Egocentric Bias, that at times people are more likely to identify as part of the majority (and therefore 'normie') than the minority unless they have some specific reason to do so. What further complicates this like a matryoshka doll is not only the differing sociological roles that a person can switch between dozens of times a day (re: the stereotypical Twitter bio "Father. Son. Actuary. Tigers supporter")  but within a minority one might be part of the majority of the minority, or the minority of the minority many times over. Like the classic Emo Phillips joke "Northern Conservative Baptist, or Northern Liberal Baptist" "He said "Northern Conservative Baptist", I said "me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist..."" itself a play on "No True-Scotsman".

Comment by CstineSublime on Bohaska's Shortform · 2024-04-15T09:56:09.591Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what actually constitutes the Renaissance? Is just an art movement, or does it describe the totality of what was happening in European courts at the time? Is it just a propagandistic term? However two major trends that are associated with it - linear perspective paintings, and the rediscovery of Greco-Latin Literature both are at least partly indebted to developments in the Middle East.

The Book of Optics by Ibn al-Haytham appears to be particularly important in the developments of painting and the understanding of how light transmits. It contains a rejection of the emission theory of optics (rays come from the eyes) in favour of the intromission theory that light bounces off of objects before entering the eye. And translated into Latin in the late 12th century. I would surmise that it had at least an influence in the popularity and use of Linear Perspective in Renaissance Art.

Greco-Latin Literature was  preserved, albeit in various translated forms, across the Islamic World and highly popular. As Wikipedia puts it:

The line between Greek scholarship and Arab scholarship in Western Europe was very blurred during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. Sometimes the concept of the transmission of Greek Classics is often used to refer to the collective knowledge that was obtained from the Arab and Byzantine Empires, regardless of where the knowledge actually originated. 

It is important to note that like the Renaissance itself, this was not some single catalytic moment, but both serial and parallel transmissions that happened over a number of centuries. Most interestingly at first these texts arrived in Europe being translated from some intermediary language like Syriac or Arabic. A Greek classic may have reached early modern Europeans only after being translated into Latin, then Syriac, and back into Latin.

Andalusian scholars began translating from Islamic sources from at least the early 10th century. Gerard of Cremona (1114-1187) set out to learn Arabic so he could read Ptolemy's Almagest and later translated works of Aristotle, Euclid, Jabir ibn Aflah and Al-Khwarizmi. The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) eventually facilitated Dutch scholar Willem van Moerbeke coming into contact and translating works of Aristotle, Hero of Alexandria, and Archimedes.

I assume these developments culminated in the artistic trademarks of the Renaissance.

Comment by CstineSublime on Things can be difficult in 3 ways: Painful, time-consuming, or uncontrollable. Is this reasonable to say? · 2024-04-11T23:25:40.946Z · LW · GW

This study  seems relevant here. It explores the idiomatic difference, from a Embodied Cognition standpoint, between the metaphor of "difficulty is heavy" and "difficulty is solidity" (and the inverse: easy = light). It is not the only literature on embodied cognition I recall to make the connection between difficulty and the physicality of lifting an object.

With this cross-linguistic study, we have come up with some findings regarding the status of two primary metaphors, “DIFFICULTY IS WEIGHT” and “DIFFICULTY IS SOLIDITY,” through both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of their linguistic manifestations in English and Chinese. While the linguistic findings do support the validity and applicability of the two primary metaphors in both languages, their linguistic manifestations, however, vary considerably in degree across and within language boundaries.

Ning Yu & Jie Huang (2019) Primary Metaphors across Languages: Difficulty as Weight and Solidity, Metaphor and Symbol, 34:2, 111-126, DOI: 10.1080/10926488.2019.1611725

Comment by CstineSublime on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2024-04-10T00:02:34.843Z · LW · GW

Could you give a concrete example, the only one that comes to mind is the hipster paradox that someone who to all appearances is a hipster never admits or labels themselves as a hipster?

Comment by CstineSublime on Thomas Kwa's Shortform · 2024-04-09T23:59:43.807Z · LW · GW

Does an Agentic AGI possess a different, and highly incorrigible, list of attributes compared to say - an Ethical Altruist trying to practice "acting more agentically?"

I ask because the whole word 'agency' in these parts is one I've struggled to wrap my head around - and I often wonder if tricker archetypes like Harpo Marx are agentic? Agency seems to have clear meaning outside of Lesswrong - 

" the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power : OPERATION"[1]

the ability to take action or to choose what action to take[2]

Further confusing me, is I've been told Agency describes acting with 'initiative' but also been told it is characterized by 'deliberateness'. Not simply the ability to act or choose actions.

This is why I like your attempt to produce a list of attributes an Agentic AGI might have. Your list seems to be describing something which isn't synonymous with another word, specifically a type of agency (outside definition of ability to act) which is not cooperative to intervention from its creators.

  1. ^

    “Agency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Apr. 2024.

  2. ^
Comment by CstineSublime on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2024-04-09T00:23:12.913Z · LW · GW

Note: I've only just realized all my suggestions are from actual film directors. No theorists or critics.

Subject of filmmaking, the best textbooks are Jerry Lewis's (yes, glavin) The Total Filmmaker which being transcribed from lectures he gave at USC around the time that George Lucas was a student it presents a soup to nuts overview of the nuts and bolts of screenwriting, principal photography including camera coverage, directing actors, editing and post production. Including some of the most salient observations on the avant-garde artistry of Stanley Kubrick/2001:A Space Odyssey I have read anywhere. It is a highly practical treatise, including tips such as how to develop mnemonics to remember shots, or how to balance the self-criticism of being a performer-director, or why you should leave an extra frame between a cut from an A to B camera.

Surprising to an outsider, but not surprising to those who know how much Lewis longed to be taken 'seriously' not much of the book is about comedy and there is a very simple reason for this - because the technical information is much the same irrespective of tone or genre. 

While Lewis avoids explicating a 'theory of comedy' he does have some salient observations such as "the snowball is always thrown at the top hat, not the battered fedora". It also introduced me to what has become a mantra for me

Who is doing what to whom?

Every time I write a scene, make an edit, direct someone I ask myself this question.

I would rate it above Vsevolod Pudovkin's The Film Technique especially for beginners. Pudovkin's book is still great, as Stanley Kubrick opined  in a 1969 interview with Joseph Gelmis 

“The most instructive book on film aesthetics I came across was Pudovkin’s Film Technique, which simply explained that editing was the aspect of film art form which was completely unique, and which separated it from all other art forms.”

I'm inclined to agree. In the book Pudovkin gives the example of a rally or parade down the street and describes all the different types of camera coverage that could be used to frame the events that take place within it. Pudovkin was also clearly a great observer of the innovations of storytelling that were happening in Hollywood at the time and internalized the way to produce a good climax.

Kubrick compares Pudovkin's book to the essays and in particular the book The Film Sense of his contemporary Sergei Eisenstein (the Battleship Potemkin) and I'm inclined to agree that the latter's work is much more opaque and preoccupied with a prescriptive use of juxtaposition to create a visual equivalent of Marxist Dialectic whereas Pudovkin's book I felt was much more Descriptivist and observational of technique.

That being said I found the most illuminating explanation of Eisenstein's theories wasn't the Film Sense at all but an essay found in Grierson on Documentary by John Grierson. Grierson was a propagandist for the British Empire, including Canada, and was instrumental in setting up the documentary industries. He manages to describe the importance rhythm in Eisenstein's theories with much more lucidity than any translator of Eisenstein ever has.

The go-to text book in most Film Schools is of course Michael Rabinger's Film Techniques and Aesthetics. When I studied documentary film my supervisor pointed us to Rabinger's other book "Directing the Documentary". While my memory is foggy I remember Directing the Documentary being a fine book on the topic, discussing many of the practical (and interpersonal) difficulties a documentary filmmaker may face.

I could name many other useful or practical books (especially Judith Weston's Directing Actors), but I've tried to restrict this comment to all-encompassing textbooks on the techniques and aesthetics and practicalities useful for film directors.

Comment by CstineSublime on How to best measure if and to what degree you’re too pessimistic or too optimistic? · 2024-03-31T23:14:54.303Z · LW · GW

Sometimes it means "you're incorrectly predicting worse average/median outcomes than is true"

That is the sense it is being used in though. What is it about my post that caused you to assume otherwise? And, how can I determine if my predictions are biased to be worse than the truth, and by what degree?

Comment by CstineSublime on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2024-03-31T00:30:31.622Z · LW · GW

What's interesting about those examples is the domestication of the Horse and the mass production of the motor vehicle have changed the (intuitive?) intelligibility of distance, perhaps in a way that is not comparable to our interpretation of heat? But also that both are measured in days which implies rest and sleep.

Comment by CstineSublime on Linda Linsefors's Shortform · 2024-03-31T00:13:55.744Z · LW · GW

I don't read much sensationalist tabloid, but my impression is that the things that get a lot of attention in the press, is things people can reasonable take either side of.


A cursory glance suggests that it is not the case, take a top story headline on the Australian Daily Mail over the last 7 days: "Miranda, Sydney: Urgent search is launched for missing Bailey Wolf, aged two, who vanished yesterday" it is not reasonable for someone to hope that a two year old who has vanished not be found. This is exactly the kind of thing you're suggesting AI should be trained on, because of how uniform responses are to this headline. Keep in mind this is one of the most viewed stories, and literally top of the list I found.

I've read Scott's article, but are you trying to understand what get's attention or what is the nexus or commonly agreed upon moral principles of a society?

Comment by CstineSublime on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2024-03-30T14:54:32.718Z · LW · GW

I wonder what other qualities or continuums are analogous to this?  Hearing doesn't seem to be the same in that unlike heat it scales up logarithmically (what is the scale between perceived temperature and the actual energy per part?). Nor does colour partly because we perceive colour through the combination of Red, Green (to which we are most sensitive) and Blue (to which we are least sensitive), although if you think about light as a narrow window of electromagnetic radiation then perhaps there is some comparison to be made between gamma rays and fight jet exhausts, and Terrestrial Radio signals to liquid nitrogen for example.

What about distance? I'm thinking in particularly about how in English use Deixis words like "here", "there" (and in the past: "hither", "thither", and "yonder") - I wonder if nomadic peoples have a more nuanced even if non-numeric standardized way of describing proximity which is very anthropic in measurement? "1,000 miles" is not a tangible distance to consider.

Comment by CstineSublime on Are (Motor)sports like F1 a good thing to calibrate estimates against? · 2024-03-30T08:23:13.293Z · LW · GW

Sounds like it is not a good idea for me then. I feel I already know a lot about the history of Formula One and while I am by no means an expert and there is no doubt more opportunity to learn, it sounds like these bias-avoiding skills won't be very transferable into real life. I was wondering if the unique mix of high density of statistics as well as my interest in the subject would be a good launching off point but it sounds like you believe it's non-transferable- correct?

Thank you for the response!

Comment by CstineSublime on Linda Linsefors's Shortform · 2024-03-30T08:20:38.479Z · LW · GW

Sensationalist tabloid news stories and other outrage porn are not the opposite. These are actually more of the same. More edge cases. Anything that is divisive have the problem I'm talking about. 

Could you explain how are they edge cases if they are the lowest common denominator? Doesn't that make them the opposite of an edge case? Aren't they in fact the standard or yardstick necessary to compare against?

Fiction is a better choice.

Why is is it different let alone better choice? Fiction is a single author's attempt to express their view of the world, including morality, and therefore an edge case. While popular literature is just as common denominator as tabloid journalism, since the author is trying to be commercial.

Comment by CstineSublime on Failures in Kindness · 2024-03-28T01:13:00.382Z · LW · GW

This is an extremely relatable post, in both ways. I often find myself on the other side of the these interactions too and not knowing how to label and describe my awareness of what's happening without coming across as Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Comment by CstineSublime on Linda Linsefors's Shortform · 2024-03-28T00:23:31.380Z · LW · GW

Would sensationalist tabloid news stories be better training data? Perhaps it is the inverse problem: fluffy human interest stories and outrage porn are both engineered for the lowest common denominator, the things that overwhelmingly people think are heartwarming or miscarriages of justice respectively. However if you wanted to get a AI to internalize what is in fact the sources of outrage and consensus among the wider community I think it's a place to start.

The obvious other examples are fairy tales, fables, parables, jokes, and urban legends - most are purpose encoded with a given society's values. Amateur book and film reviews are potentially another source of material that displays human values in that whether someone is satisfied with the ending or not (did the villain get punished? did the protagonist get justice?)  or which characters they liked or disliked is often attached to the reader/viewer's value systems. Or as Jerry Lewis put it in the Total Filmmaker: in comedy, a snowball is never thrown at a battered fedora: "The top-hat owner is always the bank president who holds mortgage on the house...".

Comment by CstineSublime on [Linkpost] Vague Verbiage in Forecasting · 2024-03-22T23:48:52.836Z · LW · GW

How does one manage the need for expedience and find the point where increasing precision has diminishing returns? As ambiguous as some of these modal adverbs are they are usually precise enough for the statements one might try to make. If I say "It'll likely rain tomorrow, best to take an umbrella" whether I think it's 55% or 98% is not really that important as it has exceeded the threshold I have for "umbrella weather". In other cases though such ambiguity is unacceptable.

As a side note, "Fair" is a particularly ambiguous adjective as it is often[1] employed to mean a uniform probability distribution (i.e. the most equitable), or in accordance with custom or moral imperatives (i.e. "He adjudicated fairly"), a large or advantageous degree or amount (i.e. "Hulkenberg got a fair amount of laps in before the red flag"), something which is pleasing to look at (i.e. if you want to employ pseudo-medieval tropes make sure to refer to a young woman as a 'fair maiden') and finally and least relevant - something pale as in "fair complexion". I'm sure etymologically these all are examples of drift from one original meaning. However someone uses the phrase "fair chance" is likely coloured by at least one of these meanings.

  1. ^

    I'm aware of the irony of using a word like "often" in a discussion about the ambiguity of chance related words. Here I mean each variation on the meaning of "fair" is used in discourse frequently enough to earn entries in respected dictionaries, however: you try concisely putting that in a sentence. 

Comment by CstineSublime on Increasing IQ by 10 Points is Possible · 2024-03-22T03:16:14.009Z · LW · GW
Comment by CstineSublime on scarcegreengrass's Shortform · 2024-03-21T01:16:34.847Z · LW · GW

You're probably right that interpersonal transmission is the most common source. I guess now I have to ask what do you mean by an "opinion". Is a simple proposition like "That popstar is bad" or "that's too much (food/money/time)" enough to warrant an opinion? I ask because now thinking about it, most endogenous opinions (which presumedly most interpersonally transmitted opinions began as, with the exception of those that are the result of Chinese-whispers) are just post-rationalizations of emotive or felt experiences. 

To pull an example out of thin air: "Looking at this art work doesn't make me feel 'good'... it must be because it is a non-figurative painting" - like is the simple emotive expression "this painting isn't good" as vague as it is an opinion, or is the attempt to explain it "it's a messy nonfigurative painting that doesn't depict anything" an opinion?

Comment by CstineSublime on scarcegreengrass's Shortform · 2024-03-21T00:59:49.934Z · LW · GW

The good habit is to remember that the person heard this opinion,


Are you specifically referring to opinions that are held by multiple people, albeit are unpopular (and, as you say, aren't the result of intentional bad action - they are not opinions held out of contrariety). Because isn't it possible for people to form their own endogenous strange opinions? 

Comment by CstineSublime on Increasing IQ by 10 Points is Possible · 2024-03-21T00:56:41.494Z · LW · GW

DYI-ing it without specific steps quite simply isn't replicating it, it's doing something else, and any results - beneficial or not - couldn't be attributed to your experiment. I also assume that if you want people to have faith in the non-DYI full version of your experiment, then you need to share the exact steps similar to how peer review works and allow others to replicate exactly each step.

I admit that I don't know much about the Scientific Method other than what I learned in High School, so correct me if I'm wrong.

Comment by CstineSublime on Best *organization* red-pill books and posts? · 2024-03-20T09:10:10.890Z · LW · GW

I can't find any articles, but in the meandering lectures of David Snowden he often rips into the stifling nature of working for IBM and the unofficial and informal networks and practices that emerged to work around them. In this lecture about 2:00 in he's already talking about mass "fraud" in another firm he worked for and a lesson he learned about how to deal with it.

I am a tremendous fan of the comedy Yes, Minister which dramatizes exactly what you're talking about - the (in)operation of government, appointments to Quangos, funding for the arts and national theatres, and overstaffing. It was partly inspired by The Crossman Diaries. I haven't read them and can't vouch for them, but they are diaries of a British Labor politician Richard Crossman and if it is anything like Yes, Minister then it will be filled with examples of horse-trading, institutional paralysis, wasteful spending and the like. Here is a review by Clive James.

He points out that Crossman spent many years as a backbencher and when he finally managed to become a minister and run a department he was frequently left out of committees. Later on he notes that Crossman was a self-professed "intellectual bully" who likely downplays how much of a bully he was in the diaries. Adding  "the overconfident, uncalculating frankness which made him a valuable member of the government would have made him a ruinous leader of it."



Comment by CstineSublime on Increasing IQ by 10 Points is Possible · 2024-03-20T08:38:18.172Z · LW · GW

and I'd actually like a "1000 ships" approach here where more people try to replicate in their own way 


How do you reconcile the need to "replicate" scientifically and people trying "in their own way"?

Comment by CstineSublime on Open Thread Spring 2024 · 2024-03-20T01:27:40.761Z · LW · GW

I don't see many particularly exotic finance terms, but I would think a recent edition of Brigham and Ehrhardt's "Financial Management: Theory and Practice" is probably the most authoritative (but not being available for 'preview' on Google Books I haven't been able to do a quick ctrl+f to see if it uses a sample of terms in that post). However I suspect that even one of those Tony Robbins books on investing will provide you the terminology or even Investopedia.

Comment by CstineSublime on lynettebye's Shortform · 2024-03-18T23:48:26.414Z · LW · GW

I apologize in advance for the lengthy and tangential reply.

Gerd Gigerenzer offers a counterpoint - expertise in orderly systems is very different from expertise in complex systems (such as sports or financial markets). In the latter heuristics and System 1 type thinking performs better, quite simply explicit modelling is too inefficient or incapable of dealing with all the differing factors.

“In a world of known risk, everything, including the probabilities, is known for certain. Here, statistical thinking and logic are sufficient to make good decisions. In an uncertain world, not everything is known, and one cannot calculate the best option. Here, good rules of thumb and intuition are also required.”  Gerd Gigerenzer - Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions 

A sporting related example he gives is that if catcher in baseball simply fixes his eyes on the ball and runs towards it, he doesn't need to explicitly calculate the trajectory of the ball. While you could argue that indirectly the calculation is performed by the player's proprioceptors and Vestibular system, I think that it's certain it's not "explicit".

However expertise tends to be narrow, I'm thinking of that overused Niels Bohr quote about how an expert is someone who has learned the hard way every mistake possible in a narrow field. Or in the Cynefin framework that you have "Simple" "Complicated" "Complex" and "Chaotic" systems, and "Simple" sits  on a cliff next to "Chaotic" in the paradigm because once the constraints are removed, the expertise or best practice that works predictably in Simple systems falls apart. 

This can be exploited for competitive gain. I'm sure this all ties back to OODA loops. Double Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso like most elite sportsmen is extremely competitive and he claims that even when he plays against professional tennis players he still needs to "kill their strength". And to do this he operates outside of their comfort zone:

“I used to play tennis, and when I play with someone good, I would put the ball very high. Because, like this, you stop the rhythm of them because they are used to hitting the ball very hard.

“Playing with professionals, the ball arrives very strong for them so they are used to that kind of shot.  

“But when you put the ball high, they make mistakes, because the ball arrives very soft. So I can play better tennis when putting the ball high.  

“Putting the ball high is my only chance to beat them. So I do that automatically.  

“It's not only on racing I just need to destroy the strengths of the others, and try to maximize mine.”  

At the risk of throwing in another tangent Marvin Minsky's idea of negative expertise - that the mind is comprised more of 'critic circuits' that supress certain impulses more than positive or attractive circuits - to prevent us babbling or experimenting with strategies or tactics that haven't worked before. This is why when we think of leaving a room, we don't consider the window, even though it is a means - we opt for the much more expeditious door.

Expertise is more about what not to do than what one should do.[1]

I think what Alonso is doing here is he's exploiting or rather inverting Negative Expertise, these professional players have trained in a narrow band of situations - playing against other elite players - and have a intuitive bag of tricks to play against them. Alonso instead forces them to play in a way they are not trained.

I wonder if choking is just that - that there has been something in the environment which they weren't trained for. It's not that they are overthinking - it's that they can't rely on intuition because there isn't a precedent?

Another explanation for choking I see is that it isn't conscious at all? Maybe I've been too influenced by the Hollywood movie trope of the player at the championship game, somehow locking eyes with his estranged wife in the grandstand, and being so overcome by a wellspring of feelings that he screws up the play. This may be why I assume Choking is related to anxiety. And anxiety is a whole-body experience, not merely "thought". It is somatic. It affects your endocrine system, your cardiovascular system etc. etc. It is perhaps the body driving the thoughts just as much as the thoughts driving the body?

At any rate, I think when it comes to building models firstly one needs to identify which systems one is operating in - those which there are known risks, or high uncertainty. In the latter it would seem the first priority is focusing on what the circumference is of "optimal" operation (i.e. "don't step over that line" "avoid the impulse to...") and then finding heuristics rather than explicit models.

  1. ^

    Interestingly, Refutative Instruction has been very profitable for John Cleese and Antony Jay, both as comedians who made comedy from the wrong way to run a hotel or a government ministry, and as businessmen who made actual industrial training videos that showed students the wrong way to do something before showing them best practice. 

    While the pedagogical value might simply come  from the fact it is "entertaining" I am inclined to believe that it is also effective in the same way that Minsky's Negative Expertise theory explains how learning works. (I invite you to draw your own comparisons to the kairos of Plato's Dialogues.)

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-03-18T08:44:22.755Z · LW · GW
Comment by CstineSublime on Applying simulacrum levels to hobbies, interests and goals · 2024-03-17T22:40:51.195Z · LW · GW

Is this related to the observation that artists - be they musicians, painters, sculptors - are often very bad at the promotional and 'business' side of 'showbussiness' and art while artists who are much less self critical about what they release (Tommy Wisseau comes to mind but he's not a good example) manage to enjoy startling success because of their relentless ability to self promote even what needs a little more 'polish'?

I am aware there's a lot of potential elitism embedded in my question but this is a conversation I've had many times with people involved in music and fine arts. I can also see how someone might make a parallel to Dunning-Kruger.

Comment by CstineSublime on Benito's Shortform Feed · 2024-03-17T21:51:52.677Z · LW · GW

To be honest I'm not sure on the difference? Could you phrase that in a different way?

And do you think they feel they ought give you a specific number rather than a range that the number could exist in?

Comment by CstineSublime on Benito's Shortform Feed · 2024-03-17T21:43:50.803Z · LW · GW

but if they just gave me their ~70% confidence interval when I asked then we could cut the whole context-sharing.


Would you say that as a convention most people assume you (or anyone) want a specific number rather than a range?

Comment by CstineSublime on Benito's Shortform Feed · 2024-03-16T23:34:45.065Z · LW · GW

I know this seems like a question with an obvious answer but it is surprisingly non-obvious: Why do you need to know how long it takes to drive to the conference venue? Or to put it another way: what decision will be influenced by their answer (and what level of precision and accuracy is sufficient to make that decision).

I realize this is just an example, but the point is it's not clear what decision you're trying to weigh up is even from the example. Is it a matter of whether you attend the event at the conference venue or not? Is it deciding whether you should seek overnight accommodation or not? Do you have another event you want to attend in the day and wonder if you can squeeze both in? etc. etc.

Another thing is I'm the kind of person to default to "I don't know" because I often don't even trust my own ability to give an estimate, and would feel terrible and responsible if someone made a poor decision because of my inept estimation. And I get very annoyed when people push me for answers I do not feel qualified to answer.

Comment by CstineSublime on How do you identify and counteract your biases in decision-making? · 2024-03-12T08:58:35.760Z · LW · GW

No advice only further questions and prompts.

What kind of questions have you been asking people in/who do UXR - why do these seem like the most informative questions to ask? And what is most surprising answer you've received, even if it's not directly related to your bias?

What have you done already to try and at least map out what might be a source of confirmation or social desirability bias?

I'm assuming you see UXR is more socially desirable, in which case without trying to evaluate how true it is - where do you think you picked up this attitude or belief?

Do you have a history of making life decisions like career changes on biases rather than the best decision you could with the information you had to hand at the time?

And of course, in the tradition of Focusing, how is your body responding? What are you feeling? What causes and releases tension etc. etc.?

Comment by CstineSublime on Tamsin Leake's Shortform · 2024-03-12T08:46:32.824Z · LW · GW

Interesting, when you frame it like that though the hard part is enforcing it. And if I was being pithy I'd say something like: that involves human alignment, not AI

Comment by CstineSublime on "How could I have thought that faster?" · 2024-03-11T11:51:23.159Z · LW · GW

Eliezer Yudkowsky: See, if I'd noticed myself doing anything remotely like that, I'd go back, figure out which steps of thought were actually performing intrinsically necessary cognitive work, and then retrain myself to perform only those steps over the course of 30 seconds.

I wouldn't mind seeing an annotated narrative or description of what that process of distilling a habit down into the parts which do the cognitive heavy lifting looks like

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-03-11T10:08:30.753Z · LW · GW

I did consider adding "Kubrick it" as a example but I couldn't decide if "do a lot of takes and wait for something strange or weird to happen as the actors get exhausted/bored" was sufficiently identifiable as a filmmaking process. Many directors do a lot of takes. Chaplain did a lot of takes. You can't be Kubrick if you do a lot of takes, however there is something unusual and distinct about the way Altmann handled scenes with many characters.

The key here is it should describe both the manner and means in which the task is done. Going or getting to a party or store is too vague. Making or shooting a film tells me nothing about the style, genre, or logistics of filming.

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-03-11T09:39:46.238Z · LW · GW

Problem solving with Verbs:
This came up when I was trying to think about how to better frame questions with the form "How should I X?"

When outlining stories or screenplays I find action or visual verbs immeasurably useful in creating more interesting scenes. Instead of "Joe talks to Bill" he can negotiate, remonstrate, beg, plead, mock, pontificate etc. Each of which makes the scene much more specific. "Maria goes to the store" is too vague, she may either meander to the store, sprint to the store, or even search for the store. These action verbs not only give us a sense of the character's intentions and allow us to (appropriately enough for film) imagine visually how it plays out, but are more interesting and useful.

Why doesn't the same apply to practical questions?

At the risk of going meta, take the question "Should I make a short film?". There are surprisingly few action verbs that describe being a filmmaker[1] other than 'make' and off the top of my head you can either film, direct,"do a pitchya[2]". If you want to be more specific about how it will be done, you can say you will improvise a film or you can say you will "go vertie". I'm sure you can use Denominal verbs based off of directors with distinct processes:

"I'm going to Altmann this film" (i.e. lots of overlapping dialogue)

"I'm going to Malick this film" (i.e. lots of improvisation in natural light)

"I'm going to Maysles this film" (i.e. "direct cinema"[3]- long form documentary filmmaking with an observational "fly on the wall" approach to shooting)

"I'm going Kapadia/Morgen this film" (i.e. documentary assembled from archival material)

It kind of works with the question "How should I get to the party?" - rather than "get" I can drive, or I can walk, or I can carpool, I can rideshare, I can bike etc. I may even opt to describe my entrance, I can sneak in, I can explode and make an entrance.... In deed, if I choose to sneak in then I may opt to arrive on foot or rideshare so no one notices my car.

  1. ^

    Yes, there are a plethora of department specific verbs - you can lens or shoot a film, score it, colour it, mix it, dub it, cue it, do foley, light it, dress it, design it, (location) scout it, produce it, cut or edit it etc. etc. 

  2. ^

    I noticed in interviews with Classic Hollywood directors Raoul Walsh and John Ford, they don't call them "films" or "movies" but "picture", pronounced more like "pitch-ya" as in "motion picture".

  3. ^

    Most people when they say Cinéma vérité mean "Direct Cinema" - the classic device of Cinéma vérité is the Vox Pop. The proverbial 'man on the street' is pulled in front of the camera - often looking down the barrel, already an artificial and performative situation, to give a honest opinion or barometer of public feeling.

Comment by CstineSublime on Essaying Other Plans · 2024-03-07T01:39:20.019Z · LW · GW

How do you manage to avoid Goodharting or quota-filling on other plans?

I ask because this runs to the very core of my current confusion in life: how to brainstorm (or babble) better plans in the first place. It is exceedingly easy for me to abandon one of my plans simply because I had no confidence it was that "good" in the first place. Also, I find it exceedingly easy to generate a dozen different plans if the objective is "just invent other plans" rather than "invent equally good plans". But, if the objective is "invent equally good plans" I groan and cringe and, I'm ashamed to admit, give up.

For example, in the past I was told that if I wanted to be a professional film director then I needed to "enter films into film festivals" I did that to zero success. None. No laurels. Nothing. I had no faith in that plan to begin with and only did it because I was "supposed to do it".

"Putting your films 'out there' (i.e. online)" was the only other plan I had.

It would have been nice to have been able to essay other plans that weren't just quota-fillers.

As for parallel essaying of other plans, it reminds me of an observation David Snowden made in his Cynefin Sensmaking framework, that while Complicated and Simple systems which are highly predictable and therefore usually have a "best practice" or one and most optimal way to do something. Complex systems in which you can only predict trajectories are best suited to launching several simultaneous or parallel interventions which are not "fail safe" but "safe to fail". He means you can wind down or stop the interventions which are less successful as you generate feedback, and scale up on successful ones. Sort of like A/B testing but more like A/B/C/D/E/ testing.

Comment by CstineSublime on Alex_Altair's Shortform · 2024-03-05T22:53:56.137Z · LW · GW

Taleb has made available a technical Monograph that parallels that book, and all of his books. You can find it here:

Comment by CstineSublime on Some ways of spending your time are better than others · 2024-03-05T09:58:13.280Z · LW · GW

"It's the only thing that satisfies my compulsion" is a good reason to do something IMO. Certainly not useless for you (even if it would be for most people), assuming it actually is the best thing you could be doing with your time that satisfies your compulsion.

In my case my aforementioned examples are not the best thing for me, or even close.

and probably many great ways to spend your time are great because they have some unique massive advantage that's difficult to find anywhere else.

I'm have to admit confusion on my part. What I'm reluctant to do is start suggesting a word salad of possible hobbies with a low possibility of actually being beneficial because I don't know how you're evaluating what is useful to you right now, at this particular point in time for you.

Nevertheless, off the top of my head exotic hobbies that extend beyond merely (but not excluding) being social or physically healthy include redubbing scenes from silent films with modern sound effects, tailoring, balloon sculpture, fire twirling, running Vinyl record listening parties, developing film photographs in Caffenol, growing cacti, building a kit-racing-car, recreating Dutch Golden Age paintings a la Tim's Vermeer.

Comment by CstineSublime on Some ways of spending your time are better than others · 2024-03-05T02:03:11.256Z · LW · GW

The one problem I have with the experiential Pica analogy is, and I suspect I'm in the minority with this: what happens when I'm not sure or am not aware of any effective means of satisfying an overarching goal or need?

I certainly have a lot of useless hobbies, I'm a compulsive writer/journaller, I amass a lot of word lists, but worst of all was in the past I wasted a few years on a film production that was neither aesthetically nor career-strategically worth the time investment. If you ask me concerning that production "would you do it again?" I'd say "Hell no". If you ask me do I know what I'd do different, I would say "something else..." without being able to tell you what thing else.

Know of any really good hobbies or ways to spend your free time? I'm in the market and would love to hear them. I think hobby-goodness is probably not normally distributed. My intuition says that the best hobby for a given person is better than all the rest put together.

I am inclined to agree with your intuition. And while I could babble countless exotic hobbies, what are the actual criteria you're using to evaluate them right now?

Comment by CstineSublime on CFAR Takeaways: Andrew Critch · 2024-03-02T08:52:04.429Z · LW · GW

This is some unsolicited commentary but it does sounds like you have your priorities straight already. 

Its sad to hear you're so consumed by responsibilities and set backs. At least you have control in the video games right? I wish the best for you and your wife.

Comment by CstineSublime on If you weren't such an idiot... · 2024-03-02T00:56:42.235Z · LW · GW

I suspected that is the case but wanted to make sure because other items on the list also seemed to be things that, at least in my position, seem like unobtainable luxuries (which abstractly might be related to idiotic judgement - for example "invest in yourself" well there's infinite ways to try that, I've made the mistake of reading many self-help books, but few which pay actual dividends; playing an instrument is an investment - a decent electric bass and amplifier can cost well over a grand).

Comment by CstineSublime on If you weren't such an idiot... · 2024-03-02T00:15:15.688Z · LW · GW

You would have multiple copies of any object that would make you sad if you didn’t have it


This seems more directly to be an issue with finances than idiotic thinking. off the top of my head: I'd be pretty devastated if I didn't have my 30 year old prime lens, but I also can't afford to buy one, especially because it's quite rare and prices have gone up since I bought it. A second car is a luxury few can afford. Or am I misunderstanding the point of this list?

Comment by CstineSublime on [deleted post] 2024-03-01T04:29:26.608Z

On point 2 I'm confused, do you mean you experience an internal censorship that prevents you from visualizing or imagining the conversation? Or do you mean that when you do imagine it, you cannot imagine any variation of the conversation wherein you successfully communicate your fear of strings attached/unpsoken commitments?

Comment by CstineSublime on CFAR Takeaways: Andrew Critch · 2024-02-29T21:41:23.151Z · LW · GW

Perhaps I am misreading you original comment but is your issue not about formulating goals - as the examples with Japanese and something like RPG Maker suggest you can and could even be motivated if conditions were different. But lies with formulating viable or likely-to-succeed goals?

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-02-29T21:37:51.144Z · LW · GW

I'm afraid I just have to give up on understanding what Agency means then. Thank you for trying though.

If someone is in a situation where circumstances forestall any effective action, then to ask whether they are being "agentic" in doing nothing is like asking whether an unheard falling tree makes a sound.

Unlike initiative because you can take initiative and it not deliver intended results. But it's still initiative. While is being Agentic a potential or an actuality? I don't know.

Comment by CstineSublime on CFAR Takeaways: Andrew Critch · 2024-02-29T07:39:23.121Z · LW · GW

Have you tried this technique, "if it was easier/less resource demanding to do it, would I be more inclined to do it?" - if so does the answer change much?

Comment by CstineSublime on CFAR Takeaways: Andrew Critch · 2024-02-29T07:37:57.520Z · LW · GW

As someone with the opposite problem, who can babble countless goals that interest me, and is rigidly married to a few interrelated ones (i.e. make music videos, make films) but struggling to execute them anywhere near to my liking, I hope I can provide some insight into how to find goals or what you want.

I believe that big goals are no different than small goals in terms of finding them.

I'll be happy to write a post on this if any of this seems intriguing or useful but here's the dotpoints:

  • If you have heroes, who are they? What adjectives would you use to describe them? For example, I would describe one of my heroes, Miuccia Prada, as "innovative" "insightful" "paradoxical" and "sophisticated". I could make it my goal to cultivate one of these qualities in myself, and that would require finding an exercise or even enrolling in a course or activity which would allow me to do so?
    • i.e. the go-to example would be if you want to be more 'charismatic' take up public speaking, join a amateur theatre troupe as that is meant to be a means of developing it.
  • If you don't have heroes, who among your social group or friends have the traits or manners that you most envy (in a non-destructive way)? Same as above.
  • Both of these exercises can be inverted by looking at people you detest or at least have a strong aversion to. Pride and Shame are good indicators too of what you want.
  • Coming up with goals is easy, committing to them is hard. Just babble. Here's a template: "I would feel proud if I had a reputation based on fixing/making X". Prune out the ones that don't elicit a passionate response. 
  • Analyze your Revealed Preferences on groceries as an Economist would. Everything from buying biodegradable dishwashing detergent to anti-aging wrinkle cream to tickets to a  UFC match are all commitments to a certain lifestyle or living with certain principals or values. Those commitments should point you towards broader patterns of goals

Okay sure? But what works for me? "How do you come up with goals". Here's how I do it.

I've known since I was a teenager that I've wanted to be involved in motion pictures however last year I asked myself "okay you say you want to make films, but what is a film you would be deliriously proud of look like?" so I brainstormed all the qualities and elements, and made a video-moodboard (a hour long montage of films, music videos, retro TV commercials, even Beckett plays and experimental animations that inspired me) and that too formed the vague outline of a story. Now my goal is to write a screenplay that incorporates all those elements seamlessly, and then the subsequent goal to make that screenplay into a film. There's certainly a lot of functionary goals and steppingstones that must be met to achieve those goals.

Do I know how to make that film? Not with any confidence. But that's because coming up with a goal, being specific about what I want, what I'm passionate and dedicated to is the easy part.

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-02-29T00:35:41.342Z · LW · GW

Thank you for taking the time to try and give me a broad overview of the different nuances of the word, unfortunately here the student has failed the teacher. I'm still very confused.

I previously have understood the porridge sense of agency (tangent - I like that phrase 'porridge word', reminds me of Minksy's 'suitecase word') to be "an entity that has influence or can affect change". Here on LW I have been brought to believe it just means acting, verging on thoughtlessly, which I understood to be since acting is the only way to catalyze change (i.e. change towards one's goals). 

So habitually starting things and letting them wither doesn't cut it, and neither does nominally having some role but never executing it. It's an inner quality that by its nature must manifest in outward actions.

I failed to explain my confusion: It's not so much "letting them wither" let me put it another way: if you are in a bunker, there's a armed conflict overhead, and therefore the smartest thing to do is "nothing" by staying put in the bunker, are you being agentic/acting agentically? The only things they can initiate at that point are unnecessary risk.

Likewise, I don't mean nominally having some role. Not nominally but actually having the means, the power, the authority, the social status, the lack of negative repercussions to exercise the means, the knowledge but choosing not to exercise it because they evaluate it as not being worthwhile. They could initiate changes, but they rarely see the need, not from fear or reluctance, but from weighing up the pros and cons. Are they being agentic?

Agency here is not "change for the sake of change" but presumedly "acting in a way that materializes the agent's goals" and that requires initiative, analogous to Aristotle's Kinoun (Efficient) Cause - the carpenter who takes the initiative of making wood into a table. However the connotation of spunk, hustle, ambition etc. etc. and generally acting with energy and enthusiasm towards goals -- knowing that these are not golden tickets to success (Necessary factors? Probably. Sufficient? Probably not.) -- confuses me what this quality is describing.

Comment by CstineSublime on Band Lessons? · 2024-02-29T00:31:02.412Z · LW · GW

Not having been in a band or recorded an album I wouldn't be able to comment, I don't know how much of live playing skills translate to the modern recording process.

I realize things aren't like when Black Sabbath laid down their self-titled in a weekend, basically playing their live set. Comping is more affordable in Post. And even then, I assume, the lack of a live audience to reflect and 'bounce' off of changes the playing dynamic, right?

Comment by CstineSublime on Band Lessons? · 2024-02-28T05:04:26.140Z · LW · GW

How much overlap do you think there is between these coaches did for you and what a Record Producer does for a recording band (logistics and engineering/palette decisions aside)?

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-02-28T04:55:39.682Z · LW · GW

So by that definition would you consider trickster archetype characters (you can see why I have been wondering) like Harpo Marx or Woody Woodpecker who appear to be very impulsive, albeit not bound by routines or what everyone else is doing because everyone else is doing it would not have Agency because he is highly reactionary and doesn't plan?

Let me write out my current assumptions as it might make it easier to correct them:

Analysis Paralysis is not Agentic because while it involves carefulness and consciously plotting moves towards goals, it lacks action towards them.

Hedonic and Impulsive activity is not agentic because while it does involve action towards one's goals, it lacks careful planning.

Agency then is making plans and acting upon them irrespective of whether one is able to see them through to completion, provided one has the intention and will, and the forethought.

Is that correct?

Comment by CstineSublime on CstineSublime's Shortform · 2024-02-28T04:41:13.728Z · LW · GW

I'll need some clarification: 
Does that mean that someone who habitually starts new processes or projects but seldom is able to finish them or see them through to completion has lots of (Rationalist sense) Agency?

But also, does that mean in a hypothetical organization where one person has the means to veto any decision others man, but the veto-holder seldom exercises it despite very easily being able to, the veto-holder would not be Agentic?