Executive Dysfunction 101 2024-05-23T12:43:13.785Z
Procedural Executive Function, Part 3 2024-05-22T11:58:53.031Z
Clickbait Soapboxing 2024-03-13T14:09:29.890Z
Announcing the AI Fables Writing Contest! 2023-07-12T03:04:51.630Z
Procedural Executive Function, Part 2 2023-05-16T16:22:09.786Z
Relationship Orientations 2023-02-24T19:43:41.463Z
Procedural Executive Function, Part 1 2022-07-04T18:51:25.516Z
Philosophy of Therapy 2020-10-10T20:12:38.204Z


Comment by DaystarEld on Procedural Executive Function, Part 1 · 2024-05-27T18:13:56.223Z · LW · GW

Much appreciated! I made some quick tweaks to a couple of them, thanks :)

Comment by DaystarEld on Procedural Executive Function, Part 1 · 2024-05-26T19:40:05.433Z · LW · GW

Glad to hear! To expand on the : your ability to engage in "non-doing" is itself a thing that you can train to predict will go better if tried.

And thanks for sharing; any extra details you'd want to add about what makes it harder would be appreciated :)

Comment by DaystarEld on Procedural Executive Function, Part 3 · 2024-05-22T14:14:35.219Z · LW · GW

Should be fixed now, thanks!

Comment by DaystarEld on Clickbait Soapboxing · 2024-03-14T09:45:11.781Z · LW · GW

>I think you're preaching to the choir.

Definitely, but if anyone's going to disagree in a way that might change my mind or add points I haven't thought of, I figured it would be people here.

Comment by DaystarEld on Rationality Research Report: Towards 10x OODA Looping? · 2024-02-24T23:55:28.982Z · LW · GW

I'm running a small rationality dojo to try to approach this issue from the rat-for-rat-sake direction in a few weeks, trying to incorporate the things I learned from my Seasons of Growth, my Executive Function research, and stuff like Logan's Naturalism sequence (not to mention years of teaching at rat camps and workshops). I plan to do a writeup after, but would also love to chat sometime about this, either before or after.

Comment by DaystarEld on Nonlinear’s Evidence: Debunking False and Misleading Claims · 2023-12-14T20:45:49.954Z · LW · GW

FWIW I think my main takeaway here is that if you update at all on any point of untrustworthiness of the original sources, that update should propagate toward the rest of the points.

I think most brains are bad at this, naturally, and it's just a hard thing to do without effort, which is why things like Gish gallops and character assassinations work even when debunked.

My secondary takeaway is that people should not update as hard as they do on people threatening to "retaliate" against social harm done to them unless the claims are very obviously true or the "retaliation" is very obviously false. If we don't know if they're true or not, then what the accuser feels is "retribution" will be felt by the accused as "justice," and I think that both are natural feelings most people would have, but most people have not been publicly pilloried and so cannot connect as easily with the empathy for that position.

Comment by DaystarEld on Nonlinear’s Evidence: Debunking False and Misleading Claims · 2023-12-14T17:36:31.144Z · LW · GW

I also want to add that I think the community in general has shown a mild failure in treating the legal action threat as evidence of wrongdoing even if the lawsuit would ultimately fail.

It is really bad to treat a libel suit threat as some horrible thing that no one "innocent" would ever do. It's a form of demonizing anyone who has ever used or thought to use the legal system defensively.

Which if intended, seems to be fundentally missing what the point of a legal system should be. It is no doubt a problem that people with lots of power, whether it's fame or money or whatever, are more likely to win legal battles.

But it's also a way more truth oriented process than the court of public opinion. And many people who would have stood 0 chance of getting justice without it have gotten some through it.

Do such threats have a chilling effect on criticism? Of course, and that's a problem, particularly if they're used too often or too quickly.

But the solution cannot be "no one makes such threats no matter what." Because then there's no recourse but the court of public opinion, which is not something anyone should feel comfortable ceding their life and wellbeing to.

I think someone outside the community seeing this sort of reaction of people inside it being shunned, demonized, etc for threatening to use a very core right that they're entitled to would likely find it... pretty sketchy.

Because it can easily be construed as "we resolve these things 'in house,' via our own methods. No need to get Outsiders involved."

And man, it sure would be great if we had that sort of high trust effective investigation capability in the community.

But we really have not shown that capability yet, and even if we do, no one should feel like they're giving up their basic rights to be a member of good standing in the community.

I think many if not most people in Emerson's position, feeling like they were about to be lied about in a life-destroying way, had facts to rebut the lies, and were being essentially ignored in requests to clarify the truth, would think of legal action.

Whether they would be wrong in how easy it would be to win is a different issue entirely from that very (from base society perspective) normal view.

Comment by DaystarEld on Social Dark Matter · 2023-11-16T23:23:29.474Z · LW · GW

I definitely read all examples as "both at the same time."

1) Whatever X publicly condemned thing you can think of, it exists on a spectrum. 

2) There is a lot more of all instances of it happening than you think there are.

3) A lot of it does not look like the kind you are most likely to notice and condemn.

Comment by DaystarEld on Sharing Information About Nonlinear · 2023-09-09T13:29:27.896Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this writeup, still undergoing various updates based on the info above and responses from Nonlinear.

One thing I do want to comment on is this:

(Personal aside: Regarding the texts from Kat Woods shown above — I have to say, if you want to be allies with me, you must not write texts like these. A lot of bad behavior can be learned from, fixed, and forgiven, but if you take actions to prevent me from being able to learn that the bad behavior is even going on, then I have to always be worried that something far worse is happening that I’m not aware of, and indeed I have been quite shocked to discover how bad people’s experiences were working for Nonlinear.)

I agree that it was a bad message to send. I agree that people shouldn't make it hard for others who have a stake in something to learn about bad behavior from others involved.

But I think it's actually a bit more complex if you consider the 0 privacy norms that might naturally follow from that, and I can kind of understand where Kat is (potentially) coming from in that message. This doesn't really apply if Nonlinear was actually being abusive, of course, only if they did things that most people would consider reasonable but which felt unfair to the recipient.

What I mean is basically that it can be tough to know how to act around people who might start shit-talking your organization when them doing so would be defecting on a peace treaty at best, and abusing good-will at worst. And it's actually generally hard to know if they're cognizant of that, in my experience.

This is totally independent of who's "right" or "wrong," and I have 0 personal knowledge of the Nonlinear stuff. But there are some people who have been to summer camps that we've had the opportunity to put on blast about antisocial things they've done that got them removed from the ecosystem, but we try to be careful to only do that when it's *really* egregious, and so often chose not to because it would have felt like too much of an escalation for something that was contained and private...

...but if they were to shit-talk the camps or how they were treated, that would feel pretty bad from my end in the "Well, fuck, I guess this is what we get for being compassionate" sense.

Many people may think it would be a better world if they imagine everyone's antisocial acts being immediately widely publicized, but in reality what I think would result is a default stance of "All organizations try to ruin people's reputations if they believe they did something even slightly antisocial so that they can't harm their reputation by telling biased stories about them first," and I think most people would actually find themselves unhappy with that world. (I'm not actually sure about that, though it seems safer to err on the side of caution.)

It can sound sinister or be a bad power dynamic from an organization to an individual, but if an individual genuinely doesn't seem to realize that the thing holding the org back isn't primarily a mutual worry of negative reputation harm but something like compassion and general decency norms, it might feel necessary to make that explicit... though of course making it explicit comes off as a threat, which is worse in many ways even if it could have been implicitly understood that the threat of reputation harm existed just from the fact that the organization no longer wants you to work with them.

There are good reasons historically why public bias is in the favor of individuals speaking out against organizations, but I think most people who have worked in organizations know what a headache it can be to deal with the occasional incredibly unreasonable person (again, not saying that's the case here, just speaking in general), and how hard it is to determine how much to communicate to the outside world when you do encounter someone you think is worse than just a "bad fit." I think it's hard to set a policy for that which is fair to everyone, and am generally unsure about what the best thing to do in such cases is.

Comment by DaystarEld on Announcing the AI Fables Writing Contest! · 2023-07-12T03:06:36.186Z · LW · GW

This was crossposted, so I can't edit this version's doc to say:

Please post submissions on the EA Forums version of this post!

Comment by DaystarEld on Print Books of Scott Alexander's Writing · 2023-06-25T23:44:09.520Z · LW · GW

Heya! Did you ever get the covers for Origin of Species finalized? Would be curious to see them if so :)

Comment by DaystarEld on Print Books of Scott Alexander's Writing · 2023-06-25T23:41:47.661Z · LW · GW
Comment by DaystarEld on My tentative best guess on how EAs and Rationalists sometimes turn crazy · 2023-06-21T20:04:06.697Z · LW · GW

Agreed in principle, though it's worth noting that more resourced people tend to have less insecurities in general. People who have a stable family, no economic insecurity, positive peer support, etc, end up less susceptible to cults, as well as bad social dynamics in general.

This isn't to say that people can't create stable confidence for themselves without those things, only that "dependent confidence"  is also a thing that people can have instead that acts protectively, or exposes risk.

Comment by DaystarEld on My tentative best guess on how EAs and Rationalists sometimes turn crazy · 2023-06-21T20:00:49.789Z · LW · GW

Good breakdown of one of the aspects in all this. The insecurity/desperation topic is a really hard one to navigate well, but I agree it's really important.

Hard because when someone feels like an outsider, a group of other likeminded outsiders will naturally want to help them and welcome them, and it can be an uncomplicated good to do so. Important because if someone has only one source of to supply support, resources, social needs, etc, they are far more likely to turn desperate or do desperate things to maintain their place in the community.

Does this mean we should not accept anyone into the community just because they really want a safe place to avoid broader civilization? I don't think so, but it's definitely a flag more people should be aware of, including those who are desperate to belong. Exploitation can happen on a broad and public scale, like organizations looking for volunteers or employees, but it can also be small and private, at the level of group houses and friends made in the community.

Young people in particular who join the community are of course especially at risk here, and it's a constant struggle at the rationality camps to both welcome and provide opportunities for those who do want to join the broader community rather than just enjoy the camp for its own sake, but not foster dependency.

Comment by DaystarEld on Moderation notes re: recent Said/Duncan threads · 2023-04-19T20:20:55.821Z · LW · GW

All good points, and yeah I did consider the issue of "appeals" but considered "accept the judgement you get" part of the implicit (or even explicit if necessary) agreeement made when raising that flag in the first place. Maybe it would require both people to mutually accept it.

But I'm glad the "pool of people" variation was tried, even if it wasn’t sustainable as volunteer work.

Comment by DaystarEld on Moderation notes re: recent Said/Duncan threads · 2023-04-18T13:47:16.525Z · LW · GW

FWIW, I don't avoid posting because of worries of criticism or nitpicking at all. I can't recall a moment that's ever happened.

But I do avoid posting once in a while, and avoid commenting, because I don't always have enough confidence that, if things start to move in an unproductive way, there will be any *resolution* to that.

If I'd been on Lesswrong a lot 10 years ago, this wouldn't stop me much. I used to be very... well, not happy exactly, but willing, to spend hours fighting the good fight and highlighting all the ways people are being bullies or engaging in bad argument norms or polluting the epistemic commons or using performative Dark Arts and so on.

But moderators of various sites (not LW) have often failed to be able to adjudicate such situations to my satisfaction, and over time I just felt like it wasn't worth the effort in most cases.

From what I've observed, LW mod team is far better than most sites at this. But when I imagine a nearer-to-perfect-world, it does include a lot more "heavy handed" moderation in the form of someone outside of an argument being willing and able to judge and highlight whether someone is failing in some essential way to be a productive conversation partner.

I'm not sure what the best way to do this would be, mechanically, given realistic time and energy constraints. Maybe a special "Flag a moderator" button that has a limited amount of uses per month (increased by account karma?) that calls in a mod to read over the thread and adjudicate? Maybe even that would be too onerous, but *shrugs* There's probably a scale at which it is valuable for most people while still being insufficient for someone like Duncan. Maybe the amount decreases each time you're ruled against.

Overall I don't want to overpromise something like "if LW has a stronger concentration of force expectation for good conversation norms I'd participate 100x more instead of just reading." But 10x more to begin with, certainly, and maybe more than that over time.

Comment by DaystarEld on Killing Socrates · 2023-04-11T11:56:16.001Z · LW · GW

Strong agree. The interesting coordination/incentive questions that come to mind are things like:

  1. Would it help to make criticism have diminishing returns on social status?
  2. Would it help if contribution/building boosts criticism visibility?
  3. How does a society/garden reach the most productive equilibrium of Socrates? The ideal world where each Socrates is doing something meaningfully different from each other is hard to arrive at while each individually feels like they are Fighting the Good Fight.
Comment by DaystarEld on Shutting Down the Lightcone Offices · 2023-03-26T16:18:54.843Z · LW · GW

Thank you both for writing this and sharing your thoughts on the ecosystem in general. It's always heartening for me, even just as someone who occasionally visits the Bay, to see the amount of attention and thought being put into the effects of things like this on not just the ecosystem there, but also the broader ecosystem that I mostly interact with and work in. Posts like this make me slightly more hopeful for the community's general health prospects.

Comment by DaystarEld on AI Fables · 2023-03-22T05:46:11.910Z · LW · GW

Hey Blasted, thanks for sharing :) I remember enjoying Well, will try to check out the others when I get a chance.

Comment by DaystarEld on AI Fables · 2023-03-22T00:33:44.326Z · LW · GW

Thanks for posting this Adam! (For those that don't know, I'm Damon)

I think another writing competition would be a good way to encourage stories like this, and am considering what the best way to structure that might be.

Meanwhile, to add a bit more to the sorts of stories I think would be good to see, I think fiction is powerful because it not just allows to grapple with unusual or alien ideas, but also, if written from the perspective of characters with rich inner lives, see the world through a different lens and perspective. When we’re engaged in a character’s experience, their thoughts and reactions and emotions, some part of us can download what it’s like to be that sort of person, and can give us a blueprint for how to act in that sort of situation. 

Many people outside of the community don’t know what it’s like to be someone who grapples with problems this big, and many people inside of it are desperate for “better” ways to orient to topics that can be frightening, depressing, or painful to think of, such as widespread suffering in the world, or X-risk.

Which is why, among the other types of AI Fables I'd love to see is at least one story about the struggles, internal and external, of a character facing a problem that threatens the world, all while still mostly going about a day-to-day life. 

Most stories don’t cover that in particular because most protagonists dealing with such stakes are in constant struggle against it throughout the story. But in our world, for X-risks we face, that's just not true. Whether you're trying to prevent nuclear winter or prevent unaligned AGI, you'll end up spending most of your time among people or in a broader culture that isn't particularly concerned about it, and in the latter case will likely think you're kind of weird for worrying about it.

Characters in fiction can do more than entertain or inform us by their actions; they can also inspire us, and give us frames and mental models to help handle difficult emotional situations. 

If you have ideas for short stories that might show that, or anything else Adam mentioned, feel free to message me too. Also feel free to reach out if you have thoughts on the best way to solicit such stories; I'm tentatively planning to put something together for late April or May.

Comment by DaystarEld on Tabooing "Frame Control" · 2023-03-20T19:04:32.052Z · LW · GW

I agree that "asserting what someone is doing" can also be considered frame control or manipulation. But I think it's much less often so, or much less dark artsy, because it's referencing observable behavior rather than unverifiable/unfalsifiable elements.

Comment by DaystarEld on Tabooing "Frame Control" · 2023-03-20T04:20:17.406Z · LW · GW

Meanwhile the guru might be supplementing this with non-frame-control techniques. When they argue with you, they imply (maybe in a kind but firm voice, maybe with an undertone of social threat) that you're kinda stupid for disagreeing for them


This exact implication isn't frame control, but the common thing I've seen gurus do that is more subtle is assert why you disagree with them in a way that reinforces their frame. 

"Kinda stupid" is overly crude, and might be spotted and feel off even among those who believe in them, but implying you just don't "get" what they're saying because you're unenlightened or not ready for it is very effective at quieting dissent and maintaining their control.

In general this is why I dislike any attempts to assert with confidence what someone thinks or feels, as well as why. I may be one of the only therapists who hates psychoanalysis, but I maintain that it's almost always a bad thing to to anyone who isn't inviting it, and sometimes even then.

Comment by DaystarEld on Building and Entertaining Couples · 2023-02-24T19:41:02.065Z · LW · GW

I don't think it's particularly stupid to think this might work; it is in fact how most of our ancestors oriented to relationships. We just have higher standards, these days... for good and for ill.

Comment by DaystarEld on Building and Entertaining Couples · 2023-02-24T19:37:43.722Z · LW · GW

Great post, will add it to my Relationships Orientations guide.

I will note that society somewhat seems to depend on people prioritizing Building relationships over Entertaining ones, and this is certainly how things worked in the old days such that most of our parents and ancestors did not have the luxury to choose the most entertaining partners. Our standards as a whole have raised when it comes to relationships, in part due to unrealistic fictional representations, but our selective processes for finding partners have not increased proportionally. 

It is still (probably) better in most cases to try and find the most happiness you can with a Building relationship if you do want a family, than trying to build a life with someone who primarily fulfills the Entertainment criteria, so long as you and your partner can at least reach stable "contentment." But people who do so should be very prepared for it to be genuinely hard to maintain a positive relationship with someone over decades without that "spark," hence the frequency of infidelity and divorce.

Life is just not optimized to give most people ~everything they want in a partner, which can suck to realize, but is (plausibly) important not to fool ourselves about, particularly for monogamous people.

Comment by DaystarEld on Please don't throw your mind away · 2023-02-22T19:30:36.158Z · LW · GW

Great post, thank you for writing it. Helps to have something to link people to when trying to explain this, and also the list of examples are great.

(And also Music in Human Evolution gave me a great "click" sensation, as soon as I read the list of facts in the beginning)

Comment by DaystarEld on My Model Of EA Burnout · 2023-01-27T06:35:25.998Z · LW · GW

Ah, thanks for saying that. It does feel worth noting that I am a huge proponent of Heroic Responsibility, so let me see if I can try in bullet point form at least, for now...

1) People have much more capacity for agency than society tends to instill in them.

2) The largest problems in the world are such that some people pretty much have to take it upon themselves to dedicate large chunks of their life to solving them, or else no one will.

3) This in fact describes most of the widely admired people in history: those who saw a major problem in the world, decided to make it their life mission to solve it, and often sacrificed much to do so.

4) For these reasons and more, I would never tell someone not to take Heroic Responsibility for things they care about. It would be hypocritical of me to do so. But...

4a) I do caution people against taking Heroic Responsibility for things they feel pressured to value, as you note in this post, and

4b) I do caution people to remember that most heroes historically do not in fact have happy endings.

5) Furthermore and separately, for every hero who visibly took a major problem in the world upon their shoulders and was recognized for doing so, many more are invisible to us because they never managed to accomplish anything.

6) Heroic Responsibility is not just a lens, it also provides power. It is a frame for motivating action, heightening agency, and expanding solution-space.

7) Like most powers, it comes with a cost to those who try to wield it unprepared. Someone who has not internalized and accepted "failure" as a part of life, as an intrinsic part of the process for learning and growth, is more likely to let the power of Heroic Responsibility break them in pursuit of their cherished values.

...I think that's it for now, though I can say more and expand on each of these. Thoughts so far?

Comment by DaystarEld on My Model Of EA Burnout · 2023-01-25T20:39:20.363Z · LW · GW

This all seems broadly correct, to me.

But I think it's worth noting that there's an additional piece of the puzzle that I believe this one is largely codependent on: namely, that burnout often comes from a mismatch between responsibility and power.

This can be seen in not just high-stress jobs like medicine or crisis work, but also regular "office jobs" and interpersonal relationships. The more someone feels responsible for an outcome, whether internally or due to external pressure/expectations, the more power to actually affect change they will need to not feel that their efforts are pointless.

EAs tend to be the sort of people who, in addition to taking large scale problems seriously, internalize the idea of Heroic Responsibility. This can work out well if they manage to find some form of work that helps them feel like they are making meaningful change, but if they do not, it can make the large, difficult, and often heartbreaking challenges the world faces all the more difficult to engage with. And for many, narratives of personal inadequacy start to creep in, unless they have proper CBT training, robust self-care norms, or a clear sense of boundaries and distinctions between what is in their power and what isn't.

Most people in society tend to do work that progresses causes and institutions with not-perfectly-aligned values to their own. The two main ways I've seen this not cause burnout is either 1) when they don't really pay attention to the issues at all, or 2) when they feel like they're still making a meaningful difference to progress their values in some way, shape or form. Lacking that, the mismatch of values will indeed tend to erode many aspects of their mental and emotional wellbeing until they grow numb to the value dissonance or burnout. 

Comment by DaystarEld on Naturalism · 2022-03-26T09:54:13.538Z · LW · GW

First things that come to mind are dance party/club for jealousy, political rally for nationalism.

Comment by DaystarEld on Naturalism · 2022-03-15T19:51:11.732Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing all this, found it very interesting and (expectantly) useful! 

One thing that interests me is how to apply it to more abstract concepts; I'm not particularly interested in things found in the state of nature, like bugs and trees and such, but I am fascinated by people, emotions, thoughts, etc. So I find myself thinking things like "What can I do to increase my contact with 'Jealousy' or 'nationalism' etc" and coming up with ways to either find circumstances where people feel those things and observe them, or find ways to induce those feelings in myself for more careful study... but neither feels quite satisfying to what I actually want to better understand. 

Curious to know if you have any thoughts on this, or ideas for what might help better orient my frame of how to explore those things more directly in this way.

Comment by DaystarEld on Patient Observation · 2022-03-15T18:32:11.497Z · LW · GW

These concepts are great. It's really neat noticing how well you're teaching this in such a straightforward way, because it's easy to imagining how someone else could try teaching it in a straightforward way and say it in a much more clumsy or ineffectual method. Like, the importance of noting that patient observation can/must include being able to return to something your attention has bounced off of rather than keeping your attention on it consistently moment to moment feels really hard to overstate!

Comment by DaystarEld on Direct Observation · 2022-03-15T18:03:09.172Z · LW · GW

These categories also feel super useful and worth distinguishing for a number of circumstances, such as one layer of trying to understand why two people could ostensibly experience the same thing, such as eyewitness a robbery, but remember it very differently.

Comment by DaystarEld on Knowing · 2022-03-15T16:55:30.425Z · LW · GW

I seriously love this categorization of different ways of "knowing," and am already thinking of ways to use it in some story or another.

Comment by DaystarEld on In Defense of Attempting Hard Things, and my story of the Leverage ecosystem · 2021-12-27T21:16:59.045Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this up, I had similar thoughts.

Overall I'm glad Cathleen wrote this post, as it gave me a lot more insight into what life in Leverage was like and why, and more empathy for what people there have been going through. I really hope she and everyone else manages to carry on, be successful, not be stigmatized, and keep working on things that are important to them.

But also, I have not updated in the direction of "Leverage was actually working on important or meaningful things that are valuable to other people outside its ecosystem." I'm still waiting for that, and interested in seeing things that might indicate it. It would be fantastic to learn of new psychology research or insights that could help me and my friends and clients.

This also seems central to why the question of whether Leverage is being treated unfairly now or not feels very different than whether they were treated unfairly before.

Comment by DaystarEld on Criticism Scheduling and Privacy · 2021-12-12T09:14:16.874Z · LW · GW

This was fantastic. Even short as it is, it's the most clear examination of criticism I've seen, and thorough enough an explanation to lead to truly deep understanding of how it relates to creativity and learning of all kind. Thanks for writing this!

Comment by DaystarEld on Perceptual dexterity: a case study · 2021-10-11T14:32:10.997Z · LW · GW

From what I've seen over the past few years, your honed skill in focusing your attention and noticing what's happening and putting what you notice into words allows you to discover what works or is healthy for you from "first principles," for lack of a better phrase. This is different from most therapy, which circles inward from the outside of each problem. Learning from previous situations can shortcut the process, but therapy rarely has the time to actually teach people to do the thing you've learned, which seems to give you a much more gears-level understanding of what's happening and whether you want to change it and how to go about that.

That's how it looks from the outside at least. Does it match your experience?

Comment by DaystarEld on Perceptual dexterity: a case study · 2021-10-08T02:28:47.587Z · LW · GW

This is the sort of insight that, in my rough understanding of therapy, therapists hope people will make, but which people are often "too loud" in their own heads to ever notice.

Absolutely. In the brief conversation I had with Logan in person a few years ago I remarked how much I enjoyed their writing, not-only-but-additionally-because it's fascinating seeing them "rediscover/recreate" so much of what I was taught to do professionally from their own unique angle. Since then they have continued to do so and also have in many ways gone beyond the standard.

Excellent read, thanks for annotating it and to Logan for writing it :)

Comment by DaystarEld on “PR” is corrosive; “reputation” is not. · 2021-02-15T02:50:35.667Z · LW · GW

Interesting post. I notice PR here being used in a mostly "avoid negative" way, and while I get why, I feel like it's just one side of the coin... and the comparison to adhering to honor doesn't quite capture the full thing either.

One of the ongoing struggles I write the protagonist in Pokemon: The Origin of Species as having with some of the others is that they grew up the children of famous people and so are immersed in a worldview in which PR is a good and important thing, while he did not and so it seems intrinsically dishonest or "slimy" to think in ways like "how will people react to this?"

Their major arguments against him is something like "PR isn't just about protecting your brand, it's also about putting yourself out there. If you want to be someone that matters in the world, someone that the public will listen to, you need some hustle, you need to promote yourself, and yes, sure, of course you should do that honestly, but if you just flat don't care about what others think of you, you give up low hanging fruit in ways to show positive parts of yourself that the public cares about, and are more prone to blunders that the hivemind of society has put more collective thought into than you have."

He is not fully convinced by this, but so far in the story he's becoming less sure of his resistance to it as well. I'm curious to know what you think of the above.

Comment by DaystarEld on Straight-edge Warning Against Physical Intimacy · 2020-11-25T10:34:43.996Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this out! I consider myself pretty "straight edge" too, in that I've never done drugs or gotten drunk for many of the same reasons you've stated, and I've never considered other forms of mind-alteration such as intimacy to fall under the same category, but it makes sense to. One exception to that, however, is that lust is very clearly a result of mind-altering chemicals, and the solution (for guys at least, not sure how it works for women) is very effective. I've actually advised young men quite often to masturbate before making romantic decisions to see if it affects their judgement... basically if you still want to go on a date with someone even after recent release, you probably like them for more than just horniness.

Comment by DaystarEld on Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from? · 2020-11-04T03:46:48.550Z · LW · GW

Well my favorite ones you're likely already aware of, like rationality (+rational fiction) and EA and circling, but there have been many growing communities of e.g. board game designers, 3D printing aficionados, video game music creators, cosplayers, specific fanfiction groups (think like the glowfic community, but also for things like Worm and other major online serials), online "Quests," etc.

Also porn.  Lots and lots of very niche and varied porn, such that I believe most of the top Patreon creators are some type of porn creator.

Fewer of the "science" or "try to make sense of the world" communities come to mind where the communities are actually a part of the creation and not just consumers, but the "youtube edutainment community" has a lot of great works and collaboration and feels worth distinguishing as one.

Overall it just feels like there are hundreds of communities out there, growing and dying every week. If the criterion is ones that they "last" then that does cut out most, since a lot are tied to particular types of media, and if we only focus on "serious" ones then certainly there are far fewer, since we can't include otherwise impressive ones like the high-quality-gif community on Reddit, but I would be surprised if any previous time period won on either of those metrics just from sheer amount of people around today, exchanging ideas and collaborating.

Comment by DaystarEld on Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from? · 2020-11-03T23:22:36.878Z · LW · GW

I'd like to talk about the broader topic too, but for now I just want to try out some Disputes.

Governmental institutions: There seems to be some degree of institutional failure (mild-ish, so far) in a number of American and especially Californian institutions: California's electricity is less reliable than it used to be, due basically to bad governance. 

There are definitely a number of institutional failures in recent years (another is Flint's government choice to ignore health and safety recommendations to save money resulting in contaminated water) but do we know that these sorts of events are actually getting worse than the type/frequency found in previous 20-year-chunks of American history?

San Francisco, especially, is seeing rising crime, due more or less to decriminalizing a lot of crime. 

Is there a source for this? Preliminary investigation indicates otherwise. Some crimes in particular are up, but it's not clear that they're because things like "arson" or "car thefts" were decriminalized? Has that actually happened?

Many aspects of the covid-19 response also cast our institutions in a worse light than I'd previously anticipated, though it is plausible (given my ignorance) that my anticipations were the silly thing here and that we would not in fact have done better in previous eras. (I'm thinking here of: America being slower than I'd anticipated re: acquiring testing and PPE; putting very little money in the extensive stimulus bill to reducing covid via testing/research/etc.; America staying in semi-lockdown for an extended time instead of trying harder either to head toward actual zero (via border control, testing + tracing, etc.) so that we could relax again, or toward something more like herd immunity (while metering it out; but it seems to me that as a country we probably lost more to the costs many parts of America seeming not to lock down for extended periods of time without a plan to use that time to do anything constructive, and without (I think?) adequate accounting for what that would cost in terms of social stability and mental health.)

It feels important for me to ask why this is related to "forming stable, cooperative institutions?" The evidence I've seen points to it being fairly easily explained by an excessively bad administration and lack of leadership, with many well documented unforced errors in preparedness and coordination, as well as simple failures to pick low-hanging-fruit. 

I'm not saying we should discount "The US government" as an institution, obviously it is a massively important one, but that importance comes from the way it effects others, and thus makes it hard to judge overall competence of institutions downstream of it. The Executive Branch in particular has massive amounts of control and effect on all sorts of areas beyond what people would generally think of as "their job." Personally I trust the CDC about as much as I did before, I'm just more aware of how much a bad Executive can hinder them.

Non-governmental parts of our national sense-making apparatus: Most brand names, e.g. the NYT, Harvard, Science and Nature magazines, the Democrats, the Republicans, the police, the CDC, etc. seem less well-regarded than they used to be. I can't think of many brands of any sort that are instead better-regarded (Amazon, SpaceX and bitcoin, probably).

This seems true, and largely due to the overall democratization of news/opinions/science/all manner of gatekeepers in our culture. In terms of clear-seeing, we're more aware of the mistakes they make, and in terms of exaggerated criticism, we're more influenced by antagonistically-produced memes.

Subcultures: David Chapman claims that subcultures are much harder to form now / more or less don’t exist anymore. I have also tried to look myself, and this matches my own experience: rationality and EA seem among the few things that are sort-of here, and even we are only sort-of here, I think. ("The rationalist diaspora," not "the happening applied rationality scene.") (I can think of some others, e.g. the authentic relating / circling communities; some other parts of the Thiel-o-sphere; maybe the group at the Stoa; surely some others. But... fewer than I would have expected, and I think fewer than I would have found in past decades?)

This seems genuinely surprising to me. There actually seems to be far more subcultures being formed than there ever were before? Even discounting subcultures formed around specific media, there's certainly a lot of political subcultures that have formed in the past ~20 years. What's the standard for what qualifies as a "culture" in this space?

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-30T00:34:51.638Z · LW · GW

Good questions. I think that there's definitely value that comes from reading case studies, especially for learning to live with someone who has the same diagnosis. I'm particularly thinking of things like addiction or trauma or anxiety/depression, but it applies to personality disorders as well.

But yes, the risk of pathologizing is there if the person hasn't actually been diagnosed. To counteract this, noticing what's working in the client's life can help, as noted in the hypothetical case study above.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-16T06:24:39.746Z · LW · GW

Pretty good :) My versions just kept tweaking what you already wrote, except for Systemic, to which I would also add "and how you affect that system." A lot of systemic therapies explore not just how the system might be perpetuating the pathology, but how the client's behavior also maintains that system, such that it perpetuates the pathology, recursively.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-16T05:47:54.212Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I had (have?) high skepticism of its effectiveness too, and it's definitely not a modality I'd use myself, but then I remember that I have used board games in therapy before with younger clients, particularly families, and there's some surprising stuff that can come out by observing the way people play games :)

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-16T05:41:45.215Z · LW · GW

For one thing, the Dodo bird verdict is (maybe not surprisingly, given point 3) not as well supported as people widely think. It originated decades ago, and may have set in motion the very effects that led to its own eventual lack of relevance. The study I linked to in the OP, if correct, points to just such an invalidation by presenting findings that a particular modality works better for a certain type of treatment than alternatives.

But if we take it at face value, the answer could just come down to "the human element." Maybe good therapists are what matter and the modality, as long as it's not utterly bankrupt, is just a vehicle. Personally I don't believe that's the full story, but a good relationship with the therapist does seem more important than anything else, and that factor being mostly independent from what modality the therapist uses may account for a large part of it.

Ultimately though, I think part of what my post is tries to do is point out that these different philosophies don't necessarily contradict each other, but rather are different lenses through which to view the problems the client has. When I get a client that responds super well to CBT, and then another client who doesn't but grabs IFS and runs with it, I don't think "well I guess these modalities are equally effective" or think that some kind of paradox is occurring, I just think that different maps are better for different people at navigating the territory, even if they're dealing with the same "problem."

I know it feels a bit like a cop-out, but honestly given how complex people are, and how different each problem can be even if it shares the same diagnosis, I would be pretty shocked if a single modality just blew all the others out of the water for every kind of problem that someone might face. Which isn't to say that they're all the same, either, just that guidelines for good therapy have to include more than just singling out specific modalities, but also identifying which ones might work best with each client.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-13T08:25:37.492Z · LW · GW

Yes, I think a big part of what ends up happening when people have bad experiences with therapy is that they imagine that the therapist they had, or the type of therapy that therapist practiced, is representative of all therapy. This may actually be true in some parts of the world, but in countries like the US there is a huge variety in both modalities and therapeutic "personalities" so to speak.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-12T08:57:59.634Z · LW · GW

Since there's currently no academic field of study on therapy as a whole, I would argue that the contents of the post would be a reasonable starting point in forming one, or at least that it covers a lot of the same material (what therapy strives to do, what the base assumptions are, the various different theories of change that different therapy schools hold, setting out a system of classifying modalities, etc). I don't think the post meets the rigor for a published paper, and such an academic field ideally would be focusing on studying effectiveness of each philosophy/modality, but it's not unrelated to what I imagine a hypothetical Philosophy of Therapy field to focus its attention on.

If you disagree, could you say a bit more about what you would expect such a post using the name in that context to contain?

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-11T20:20:16.849Z · LW · GW

Yep, that was a great thread.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-11T20:18:44.267Z · LW · GW

Let me start by saying that I definitely don't recommend people go to therapy anymore unless I can also offer them guidance (like with this post) in what to expect or how to spot a good therapist or what kinds of modalities are effective. There are just too many bad therapists out there. But I think your comment may be too confident in the wrong direction.

>I think people should know that when it's been studied, there's little evidence that talk therapy works better than getting support from a friend, family member, or other trusted person. 

Would love to read a source for this, if you could point me to which study you're referring to. To me the most interesting studies on therapeutic effectiveness focus on a particular modality, like the one I linked to in the post, whereas "therapy" as a whole is such a mixed grab-bag of different philosophies and ideas that as a generic practice, I'm definitely willing to believe that most people's experience with it has not been particularly effective. But that doesn't mean an "informed shopper" with a good guide can't beat the odds.

>But anytime a person invests substantial time and money into a given strategy, there is a risk that their assessment of the results of that strategy will be affected by confirmation bias, sunk cost bias, and cognitive dissonance. 

Interestingly, my experience is the opposite; people are very quick to point out when therapy didn't work for them, particularly if they feel like they wasted a lot of time and money at it. I don't generally see a lot of people singing the praise of therapy unless they had an outstandingly good experience with it. 

>Experiment for yourself, by all means, but my experience has been that a very brief conversation, coming at the right moment, can be incredibly therapeutic. Or an in-depth conversation every few months. Or support from a friend along with all the other self-help strategies that commonly work for mental/emotional problems. 

Absolutely true, for the majority of situations people are troubled by. As I said in the post, I think therapy is best meant for when nothing else seems to work, including talking to friends and family.

>If you tried therapy, you would see how great it is. Therefore, you must not have tried it, so I will dismiss your opinion.

This is indeed a dumb argument, and I'm sorry that you've been told that. Like I said, I've often heard the opposite; people with bad experiences with therapy are more likely to speak out about their bad experiences, in general, and most get sympathy for expressing how therapy didn't work for them. I can imagine people trying to suggest that THEIR experience with therapy was particularly good and so if you just tried the modality they experienced maybe you'd change your mind, but practitioner skill also makes a huge difference, and the relationship with the practitioner is always a wildcard, so people should generally be a lot less confident when recommending therapy to others.

That's a large part of why I made this post; to help people get some benefit from therapeutic philosophies without having to necessarily go to a therapist themelves.

Comment by DaystarEld on Philosophy of Therapy · 2020-10-11T20:06:50.885Z · LW · GW

Glad to hear it!

Yeah, I know the title is a bit vague, but Modalities are pretty specific and only like 1/3 of the post if that focuses on them. I've thought of alternative titles, like "Change the Frame, Change the Problem," but that's pretty vague too, and nothing feels like it fits better.

Comment by DaystarEld on Building up to an Internal Family Systems model · 2019-10-13T21:03:07.483Z · LW · GW

I will note that, in my own practice, IFS and subagents are never presented as "separate from you," but rather "parts of you." What you're describing sound more like what Narrative Therapy sometimes does, in externalizing and personifying the Anger or Addiction or whatever, and then working to better understand its influences on you and your ability to influence it and so on, though the framing on that can also vary greatly between one practitioner and another.

Insofar as some people use IFS to "other" their internal desires or behaviors, this feels like it's naturally determined by the "client" more than anything. Some people just find the idea of breaking themselves down into sub-agents or "child vs teenage vs adult self" really clicks with the way they relate to their competing desires and goals, without quite giving up "responsibility" for them... but that opens up a new conversation about how important the sense of "responsibility" for our flaws actually is toward addressing them, which also probably depends a lot on how motivated the client is toward change.