Comment by Emily on Open Thread, January 4-10, 2016 · 2016-01-05T11:07:53.646Z · LW · GW

Hard to come by in normal language acquisition, though. So it probably doesn't quite work like that.

Comment by Emily on Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test! · 2015-08-10T10:31:32.015Z · LW · GW

Actual position (rot13):

V'z n irtrgnevna (ab zrng be svfu; V qb rng rttf naq qnvel) naq unir orra sbe nobhg 8 lrnef, fvapr zl zvq/yngr grraf. Zl trareny cbfvgvba ba qvrgnel pubvprf vf gung vg'f n fhssvpvragyl crefbany vffhr gung vg'f orfg abg gb vagresrer jvgu bgure crbcyr'f vqrnf ba gur znggre. V qb oryvrir vg'f rguvpnyyl onq gb rng zrng sbe n inevrgl bs ernfbaf, ohg znal rguvpnyyl onq guvatf ner bhgjrvturq ol bgure pbafvqrengvbaf, naq guvf znl nccyl sbe znal bzaviberf. Fvapr V arire qrevirq gung zhpu cyrnfher sebz zrng va gur svefg cynpr naq V'z va gur unccl cbfvgvba gung V'z noyr gb rng n gnfgl naq urnygul irtrgnevna qvrg, nal tbbq guvatf nobhg zrng pbafhzcgvba qba'g bhgjrvtu gur rguvpny ceboyrzf sbe zr. V fhfcrpg vg jbhyq or rguvpnyyl tbbq sbe zr gb tvir hc qnvel naq cbffvoyl rttf, gbb (be ng yrnfg or zber pbafpvragvbhf nobhg jurer V trg gurz sebz), ohg V cebonoyl jba'g qb gung nal gvzr fbba.


  1. I don't live in America so I don't have direct experience here but my vague impression is that many Americans eat a lot more meat than they need in their diet and I'm pretty sure high levels of meat consumption are correlated with the usual-suspect nasties like heart disease, stroke, etc. I don't know enough about the research to be sure whether this is causative, or has more to do with the fact that a high-meat diet is correlated with other factors that do make for an unhealthy diet, eg lack of vegetables. As for the planet, I think if everyone ate as much meat as the average westerner, we might have a problem, so the current methods probably aren't sustainable. However, it's likely that with advancing technologies and social changes we will be able to keep supplying meat by some means in order to meet demand. If that included a reduction in demand that wouldn't be a bad thing.

  2. Factory farming does seem morally problematic and I believe it would be morally preferable to farm less efficiently. I am not averse to spending more money where I can afford it to avoid the worst of factory farming (I only buy free-range eggs, for example). However, I appreciate that for some people this is the only way they can afford meat and animal products.

  3. I wouldn't want to absolutely ban the hunting/farming/eating of any animals, but for cultural reasons there are several animals I couldn't stomach the idea of hunting/farming/eating myself, eg dogs.

  4. If all my friends were vegetarians I would probably end up eating significantly less meat as I would avoid it when cooking for or with them. However, I'd likely still eat my usual diet when left to my own devices or when in a restaurant with meat options. If vegetarianism became culturally pervasive enough that I would, eg, have to go to a special shop in order to buy meat, that might become a different matter.


  1. I'm a bit conflicted on this one, torn between curious to try lab-meat and a bit intuitively grossed out. It's been so long since I've eaten meat of any kind that I'm just not sure it would appeal at all. Beyond being willing to try it as a one-off, I would need to learn more before being ok with incorporating it into my general diet. I wouldn't have an ethical problem with it in terms of animal welfare, but I'd want to know about the environmental costs compared to food I currently eat. I would be most likely to have an interest in fish-meat produced like this, because I suspect that occasional fish would be the single healthiest addition to my diet as it is currently.

  2. I don't disagree strongly. It's fairly obvious that humans are biologically omnivores and meat in reasonable quantities (whatever that means) doesn't harm us. I also find it to be fairly obvious that a meat-free diet doesn't necessarily harm us either. There are plenty of completely healthy vegetarians, including high-performing athletes.

  3. For the most part I don't think other people's diets have much to do with me. I have never tried to get someone else to become a vegetarian or vegan. I accept that many other people get a lot more pleasure from meat than I ever did, or have different health needs, financial situations, cultural contexts, cooking abilities, etc etc that make the trade-offs quite different to how they line up for me. The furthest I go in the direction of interfering with other people's diets is not cooking meat for guests even if they are omnivores (I generally find that omnivores are quite happy and excited to try interesting veggie dishes, anyway). If asked, I'll also happily share how much I like being a vegetarian, tasty recipes, and surprising information about how I don't actually find it difficult to get enough protein.

  4. The primary health risk of eating meat in moderate amounts is probably food poisoning, at a guess! As a vegetarian I'm probably a lot less likely to eat something bad or undercooked and get ill (never have, in fact). Eating meat in excessive amounts is probably correlated with all the usual-suspect nasties like heart disease, stroke, etc, but I don't know enough about the research to know whether that's causative or has more to do with a correlation (at least in developed countries) between lots of meat and poor diet in other ways (eg not enough vegetables).

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Jul. 20 - Jul. 26, 2015 · 2015-07-22T11:18:19.228Z · LW · GW

For free stuff, we just have a place in the staircase where people drop things that are still good but not needed by their previous owner (mostly books). This works with zero explicit coordination.

I'm kind of amazed/impressed that this works, based on my experience of communal spaces. Don't people ever leave junk that they can't be bothered to get rid of? Does anyone adopt responsibility for getting rid of items that have been there a long time and clearly no one wants?

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Jul. 20 - Jul. 26, 2015 · 2015-07-20T09:07:09.106Z · LW · GW

Since most women managed to reproduce, we can assume a winner strategy is having a large number of daughters

But if everyone adopts this strategy, in a few generations women will by far outnumber men, and suddenly having sons is a brilliant strategy instead. You have to think about what strategies are stable in the population of strategies - as you begin to point towards with the comments about game theory. Yes, game theory has of course been used to look at this type of stuff. (I'm certainly not an expert so I won't get into details on how.)

If you haven't read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, it's a fun read and great for getting into this subject matter. How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker is also a nice readable/popular intro to evolutionary psychology and covers some of the topics you're thinking about here.

Comment by Emily on Communicating via writing vs. in person · 2015-05-26T14:29:08.510Z · LW · GW

Sure, there are conversations where it doesn't matter and can actually make for a good exchange.

Comment by Emily on Communicating via writing vs. in person · 2015-05-22T09:23:24.316Z · LW · GW

I like writing as a communication medium too. I'm a slow thinker, and I'm even slower when a person is looking at me and waiting for me to finish the thought (or the conversation is simply moving on without my thought), so the non-real-time nature of written communication helps.

Comment by Emily on Thoughts on minimizing designer baby drama · 2015-05-12T13:02:17.599Z · LW · GW

Granted, we would not edit things like hair or eye color because it would feel like an unwelcome intrusion into other person's individuality even when the person does not exist yet. But we would edit out the potential problems.

One problem with this perspective is that not everyone is agreed on what is a "potential problem" and what falls into "[an]other person's individuality". Deafness springs to mind as an example, and in the other direction, what if ginger hair would increase the odds that your child got bullied?

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-25T11:58:55.854Z · LW · GW

Interesting. I get grapefruit (which I like better than strawberries) to be quite sour, but not bitter at all.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong Experience of Flavours · 2015-04-24T10:45:07.830Z · LW · GW

I definitely understand this perspective, although I think I have it the other way round to you in terms of what the default is (as well as to a lesser extent). That is, I pretty much like the taste of most foods, but a texture that I can't tolerate can easily put me off a food anyway. And if I find something actually disgusting, as opposed to just not what I prefer, it's nearly always a texture issue.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong Experience of Flavours · 2015-04-24T09:58:22.881Z · LW · GW

Sure, here's my preferences:

spicy foods I enjoy moderate spice. Really really spicy is a bit much for me, and I do tend to drink a lot of water when eating spicy foods, but I like them.

sweet things Definitely have a bit of a sweet tooth: I enjoy these and would generally prefer to have a dessert over a starter in a 2-course meal, for example. I like chocolate but I'm not sure that's a particularly great example for this category, as I also enjoy it in its less sweet forms: very dark chocolate, unsweetened drinking chocolate. It is also definitely possible for things to be too sweet for me to want them in large quantities.

alcohol Don't like, don't consume to any significant extent.

drinks I drink a lot of water and no-added-sugar orange squash (I think this is quite a British thing: it's similar to a cordial but somehow different. Comes in concentrated form and you add water to make the drink up). Juice (usually orange) sometimes; milk occasionally. I like lemonade but tend to reserve it for pubs or eating out, neither of which I do all that frequently. Don't like ice in my lemonade!

hot drinks Until a few months ago, I drank a fair bit of tea but decided the caffeine was bothering me, so now I drink tea (with milk but no sugar) a couple of times a week and most days have either rooibos or some herbal tea like peppermint or chamomile. Hot chocolate or chocolate Ovaltine quite often. Coffee extremely occasionally (like once or twice a year maybe).

bitter foods Mostly like. I really enjoy olives and vegetables that some people describe as bitter like broccoli or sprouts.

excluded vegetables Can't think of any really... I used to be not that fond of parsnips but seem to have got over that. Fruit and vegetable preferences for me are a lot more about texture than taste, so sometimes a vegetable that I really like when I cook it can be a bit off-putting to me when cooked in a form I'm not keen on. I'll probably still eat it though. Oh, water chestnuts, I don't like those. (Are they a vegetable?)

animal based products Haven't eaten meat for years so can't comment on preferences. I like and consume quite a lot of dairy and eggs in various forms, including goats' and sheep's cheese which no one else in my family can stand on account of the baffling complaint that "it smells like a goat/sheep".

tofu or other replacement-animal-products I probably eat less of these than many vegetarians, although I have no objection to any of them that I've tried. I just prefer vegetables and legumes and so on, I guess. Tofu is the most often used in my cooking (maybe once a week or slightly less).

sour I quite like citrus flavours, but in relatively small doses I suppose. Sour fruits are fine modulo texture. I like grapefruit, for example. It takes me quite a long time to consume this type of thing if it's in concentrated form, as I find it to be a very strong taste (a small glass of orange or grapefruit juice can last me ages, for instance).

vinegar No objection, don't use it that much.

starchy foods I like bread a lot, fresh from the bakery (or our own oven) being the best kind pretty much regardless of what sort of bread it is. Also eat pasta, rice and potato very regularly. Not much preference between these really, although I find I eat less if I'm eating potato: it seems more intense and filling.

salty foods I think I have quite a low tolerance for salt. I don't add it to many things when cooking and often find processed (or even just not-made-by-me) soups etc to be overwhelmingly salty. I seldom add it at the table, steamed cabbage being an exception that I feel benefits from a bit of salt.

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-21T16:04:02.780Z · LW · GW

Is your keyboard / workstation set up correctly to minimise strain or whatever on your shoulder? I think an optimally positioned desk, keyboard, chair, screen etc should avoid much (any?) shoulder movement at all. You don't say whether typing exacerbates the shoulder pain or if it's just a background level of pain that's bothering you while writing, though.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-21T08:58:24.529Z · LW · GW

This is interesting, because it's almost crazy to me that you'd call a strawberry sour - almost as crazy as calling it bitter! Strawberries are really really sweet in my experience. (Unless it was a very unripe one, I suppose?) Although, I'm not hugely keen on them because of texture issues, so possibly I just haven't picked up on sourness...? Sometimes I think I don't taste foods as well when I'm nervous about potential texture variations (for some reason I can get a strong "yuck" reaction from this).

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-21T08:38:48.380Z · LW · GW

Depending on exactly how you define an attempt, I'm probably way, way below 50. So perhaps my assessment that I couldn't acquire the taste is wrong and it would just take a lot more attempts than I would have thought.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-21T08:36:34.746Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I agree - there's almost definitely some of that going on.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-18T17:05:57.367Z · LW · GW

Sure. The joke is that it's just the ambient fumes from other people's drinks, not from purposefully inhaling vapours beyond maybe a brief sniff of someone's beer. It is just a joke / exaggeration of oversensitivity.

Comment by Emily on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-17T09:01:13.917Z · LW · GW

I have a similar experience: my usual comment on tasting pretty much any alcoholic drink is "...well, it definitely tastes like ethanol?" I kind of figured that was the point and most people who drink regularly have got adapted to the burning-aftertaste-sensation enough that they a) get to like it, and b) can taste other things in the same mouthful. I can also manage to slowly drink small amounts of quite sweet drinks, but not really anything else (and I don't generally bother to do that; I'm just not interested, really). I also seem to be pretty hypersensitive to the alcohol: I get flushed with even a tiny amount and there's a joke that I can get drunk off "fumes". This has been fun on the odd occasion a few years ago but not something I would seek out.

However, it's not quite the same as what you're describing because I don't have the general sensitivity to bitter flavours. I do like sweet things, but I also really like olives, to take your example, and plenty of other bitter foods. Not coffee though (although I do suspect I could acquire a taste for that if I wanted to try, whereas that seems very unlikely in the case of alcohol).

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-08T11:10:11.224Z · LW · GW

What makes brainstorming specifically different from, say, any given discussion in a comment thread or on an Open Thread?

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-06T12:32:45.919Z · LW · GW

Oh, for me it does. I feel an enormous mood lift from a bit of exercise, especially if it takes place outside on a sunny day, and it kicks in pretty quickly. I agree walking may be not quite intense enough to get much of an effect (though I think it does a bit, for me), but I cycle to and from work (not fast or anything; it's a short distance, though a tiny bit hilly, and I'm a very casual cyclist) and that does give me a little boost most days, and some mental space between work and whatever's next. Of course, it sucks in horrible weather.

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-06T11:29:55.001Z · LW · GW

what do today smart people (who know unhealthy habits are unhealthy) do if their work/life is generally unpleasant, so they need a quick jolt of pleasure injected into themselves after work?

The obvious answer to me seems like "exercise", although that doesn't really fit your category of being something one may as well do on the subway back home (though walking or cycling home instead of getting on the subway might fit). Maybe more relevant to someone with a desk job than someone who's already been moving around all day in some manner for work.

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Feb. 2 - Feb 8, 2015 · 2015-02-06T10:10:20.580Z · LW · GW

(On the other hand, the theory test (a prerequisite for attempting the practical) is widely regarded as a bit of a joke. I don't know whether this is because I have a social circle that is good at passing written exams, though. Maybe it's more challenging for the less academically inclined?)

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Feb. 2 - Feb 8, 2015 · 2015-02-06T10:07:56.974Z · LW · GW

I'm in the UK. I know a handful of people who've taken 8 tries or more to pass the practical test. They're not the norm, but I'd say passing it on your first go is regarded as mildly surprising! I'd guess two attempts is possibly the mode? It's an expensive undertaking, too, so most people aren't just throwing themselves at the test well before they're ready in the hope of getting lucky.

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions February 2015 · 2015-02-05T09:38:25.042Z · LW · GW

I'm not very good at it either! :)

Comment by Emily on Open Thread, Feb. 2 - Feb 8, 2015 · 2015-02-04T12:51:46.965Z · LW · GW

I think the anti-abortion movement fits this description quite well in many ways (though obviously this is an even more politically-charged view).

PS. Not in the mood for an abortion debate here/now; sorry in advance for not replying to any comments along debating lines.

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions February 2015 · 2015-02-04T12:33:58.191Z · LW · GW

If you cleaned really frequently in small bursts (say, for 20 minutes a day, almost every day?), starting from your "satisfactory" point, would that be enough to maintain the satisfactory point more or less continuously? Then each 20-minute burst of work would come with the "satisfactory state" reward.

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015 · 2015-01-28T09:43:58.283Z · LW · GW

Yeah, of course I also had no idea about the next layer down of explanation. But just having one layer seemed so much preferable to having none! It was the awareness that chemistry was dealing with a system, rather than a collection of boring facts, that made the difference to me.

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015 · 2015-01-26T10:40:25.380Z · LW · GW

Yeah, you're never going to get fully to the bottom of things in a high school class. But it really does help when the curriculum at least tries to point you in the right direction!

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Jan. 26 - Feb. 1, 2015 · 2015-01-26T09:26:39.238Z · LW · GW

Basic chemistry. I hated chemistry the first 2-3 of years of high school (UK; I don't know if it's taught differently elsewhere). It was all about laundry lists of chemicals, their apparently random properties, and mixing them according to haphazard instructions with results that very occasionally corresponded approximately with what we were informed they should be. We were sort of shown the periodic table, of course, but not really enlightened as to what it all meant. I found it boring and pointless. I hated memorising the properties and relationships of the chemicals we were supposed to know about.

Then, all of a sudden (I think right at the start of year 10), they told us about electron shells. There was rhyme! There was reason! There were underlying, and actually rather enthralling and beautiful, explanations! The periodic table made SO MUCH SENSE. It was too late for me... I had already pretty much solidified in my dislike of chemistry, and had decided not to take an excessive amount of science at GCSE because similar (though less obvious) things had happened in biology and physics, too. But at least I did get that small set of revelations. Why on earth they didn't explain it to us like that right from the start, I have no idea. I would have loved it.

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-18T15:15:54.832Z · LW · GW

Maybe this would be a coherent position:

  • You trust GiveWell's judgement on which charities are the best choices
  • You think they've done enough work to establish this, at least for the time being
  • You don't plan to give more money in the immediate future
  • Therefore, you want your money go to to the charities, not to a decision-making process that you now see as having diminishing returns

I'm not sure I'd buy it myself... it seems like it really only makes sense if you don't think anybody else is going to be giving money to GiveWell in the immediate future either (or perhaps ever?).

Comment by Emily on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-05T16:07:57.551Z · LW · GW

Academic linguists. (I am one - or, a psycholinguist, anyway.)

Comment by Emily on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-03T09:47:13.784Z · LW · GW

Yes, this is true. Consensus is largely that language can certainly influence thought in language-specific domains, and that it can influence aspects of cognition in other domains, but only to the extent of shifting probabilities and defaults around --- not to the extent of controlling how speakers think or preventing some types of thought according to languages spoken.

Most "grammar nerds" I know are linguists, who think this is neat because they're more interested in how language works on a more fundamental level than individual grammars (though of course those are interesting too). I guess it's possible that conlang types have the opposite view! I was just amused by the distinction between what we think of when thinking "grammar nerd".

Comment by Emily on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-11-28T15:49:16.930Z · LW · GW

Here's a differently categorised concept that you might like: the colour blue. English has just one basic colour term than encompasses everything from dark blue to light blue (obviously, we can distinguish them by adding descriptors like dark and light, but still fall under blue). Russian has the separate basic colour terms sinii (dark blue) and goluboi (light blue). There's a neat paper in which the analogous distinction in Greek is shown to affect Greek speakers' perception of colours in comparison to English speakers on a pre-conscious level (measured using EEG), so your language-map really can affect your perception of the territory, even when language isn't directly involved.

Comment by Emily on Group Rationality Diary, November 16-30 · 2014-11-21T10:53:19.212Z · LW · GW

No, of course it doesn't follow automatically, but a lot of the time people point out an average difference between men and women, this is the case. I happen to think it's quite likely that there are good explanations for the phenomena you cite that don't include "women are intrinsically more biased against cryonics than men"; there are certainly possible explanations, so it would be a bit daft to assume that that one possibility explains all the variance.

Comment by Emily on Group Rationality Diary, November 16-30 · 2014-11-20T15:15:18.739Z · LW · GW

Sure, I don't think that contradicts what I said?

Comment by Emily on Group Rationality Diary, November 16-30 · 2014-11-20T12:07:55.510Z · LW · GW

Any difference between men and women on average is just that: on average. Think almost-but-not-quite-completely overlapping Gaussian curves. You have a lot more information about your parents than James_Miller, so he's making a complete guess based on the slight difference in prior for men and women, whereas you're able to update on much more complete and relevant information about your actual parents, not just the barely relevant fact that one is a man and one is a woman. Conclusion: discuss it with your mother, if that seems better to you.

Comment by Emily on First(?) Rationalist elected to state government · 2014-11-07T16:48:17.205Z · LW · GW
  • Certain personality traits are correlated with enjoying or being perceived to be good at "us"-type (adopting the same use of "us" as you) activities and analysis, and anti-correlated with enjoying or being perceived to be good at politics-type activities and analysis? (This may just be a more general and less useful formulation of some of Jiro's suggestions.)
Comment by Emily on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-11-06T17:05:31.542Z · LW · GW

I think the newer buzzword that means roughly the same thing might be "proactivity"?

Comment by Emily on Polling Thread - Personality Special · 2014-11-06T16:54:36.223Z · LW · GW

I chose "consciously check relations", but I'm nearly as bad at doing it that way as at attempting to visualise the rotation. I find these problems almost impossible. (I thiiiink the answers for the examples are a: same and b: different, but I'm a long way from completely sure: I think I'd have to build them with those little cubes they give primary school children in maths classes to be sure.) I guess it makes sense that people who are weaker at mental rotation (or, as other commenters suggest, want to be really sure of getting the right answer) resort to conscious checking, so if women on average do worse at mental rotation, you'd expect to find more conscious checkers among them.

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-04T09:39:30.332Z · LW · GW

If you're interested in some actual research on that hypothesis, try Ferreira for a starting point. Any of the papers on her page with the phrase "good enough" in the title will be relevant.

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T17:55:56.873Z · LW · GW

Sure, you're correct about asking. The reason for the discrepancy in the two ways I phrased the issue is that I think the former is what the doctor will "hear" - perhaps I'm completely wrong about that! But given that I don't have an objective point of comparison, it seems quite plausible to me that in fact I am no more tired than your average busy-ish, active person. The only reason I'm even wondering if I should be less tired is because it seems like I used to be able to get by on less sleep - a subjective impression that I'm not very confident in.

I do sometimes feel like I have a bit of a blood sugar issue, though I'd be extremely surprised if I was pre-diabetic. I'm young and fit, no risk factors remotely present. Maybe that would be worth getting checked out some time in any case.

Thanks for the input, incidentally. :)

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T17:39:03.668Z · LW · GW

Eh. This problem is nowhere near bad enough that I want to end up on medication or something. In general, I'm very healthy and do a lot of sports and stuff. The less medicine that gets near me the better; if it's something simple like iron deficiency, I can fix that easily through diet. More likely, there's not even an actual problem, I just need to sleep a bit more.

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T17:32:57.522Z · LW · GW

I should give blood anyway, though. If I get round to doing that and it turns out I'm not anaemic, I suppose I'd consider investigating a bit further. Seems to me I've got a much better chance of checking that one thing by doing that than by going to my doctor and whining "So, sometimes I feel a bit tired..." (Like every other grad student / adult human on the planet, right?)

(It's possible that this is a difference between the UK, where I am, and America. As far as I'm aware, it's not a thing to go to the doctor and request various tests, here. Doctors run tests iff they think they're warranted. I gather from things that I've noticed Americans say that you can ask for particular things to be done, over there? But I suppose you then have to pay for it.)

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T17:04:10.307Z · LW · GW

I suppose so. There's a small chance I could be a bit anaemic. I'm a vegetarian, and the onset of the tiredness thing miiiight have occurred at around the same time as I drastically reduced my consumption of (fortified-with-iron) breakfast cereal. I should go and give blood! Haven't done so for a couple of years, and they check your iron levels when you do that.

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T16:53:44.099Z · LW · GW

Yeah, that's my assessment of the most likely reason, too - I just need a bit more sleep than some people do. I wish I didn't, though! I think the tiredness levels probably aren't bothersome enough to be worth mentioning to a doctor - I'm not really prevented from doing anything by it.

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T14:54:16.433Z · LW · GW

My main problem with sleep is that I can't ever seem to get quite enough of it, the last couple of years. By this I don't mean that I'm too busy and don't have time to sleep: in fact I sleep quite a lot, averaging probably more than 8 hours per night. I mean that the more I sleep, the more I seem to want to sleep. As an undergrad I got along pretty happily on what I think was a much lower average at the time, and I'm sure many people sleep a lot less than I do currently. But now I can't manage with less at all, and am often extremely dozy by mid-afternoon as it is.

I don't think it's that my sleep quality is bad: I fall asleep quickly (usually within 10 minutes or so of turning the light out) and don't often wake up during the night. I don't usually remember dreams or have a sense that my sleep was disturbed. In the mornings I have a bit of a struggle to wake up, but it's not that bad really, and if I'm aware that there's a fixed time I need to be up by that morning, then I can get up straight away. I just... feel tired when I do so. And during the day. And really, really tired at night.

Maybe the undergrad years were a bit of an illusion and I made up for lost sleep during terms by sleeping excessively during the holidays, or something. But I can't shake the feeling that I should be able to get by on at least a bit less sleep than I do, and certainly shouldn't need more sleep than I get, despite feeling tired quite a lot.

Comment by Emily on Things to consider when optimizing: Sleep · 2014-10-29T14:45:41.123Z · LW · GW

(Minor English language note: "stand up" can't be used as a direct synonym for "get out of bed". Try "get up" instead. Hope you don't mind my pointing this out! Thought it might be helpful.)

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-28T11:33:23.777Z · LW · GW

I should add that I live with another person, who does his share of the chores, so this time would probably increase if I wanted the same level of clean/tidy while living alone. I'm not sure how time per person scales with changes in the number of people though... probably not linearly, but it must depend on all sorts of things like how exactly you share out the chores, what the overhead sort of times are like for doing a task once regardless of how much task there is, and how size of living space changes with respect to number of people living in it. Also, if you add actively non-useful people like babies, I expect all hell breaks loose.

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-28T10:32:38.927Z · LW · GW

On the akrasia level, I find that the harder the task seems, the more frequent "reward" hits I need for working on it. For me, these hits mainly consist of getting to cross an item off my to-do list. So if I'm really struggling with a paragraph, my to-do list can contain such fine-grained items as "Think about the structure of [paragraph x]", and "Write a sentence explaining how RelevantAuthor (2012) is relevant here". Even a poor effort at doing these things gets the item crossed off (though if it still needs re-doing or more work, it will of course get put on again).

Comment by Emily on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-28T10:24:52.149Z · LW · GW

I do this sort of thing by starting as broadly as possible. Assuming you already have the majority of the information you need (ie, the research phase is more or less over), you should be able to sit for 15 minutes or so and make an albeit disorganised list of broad themes that you want to include in the paper. Concentrate during this phase on making the list, not evaluating what you put on it (some things will turn out to be irrelevant, some will be duplicates or link closely with each other or spark new interesting ideas - but make an effort to ignore all this at this point).

Once you've got your list, you can spend some time ordering it (so that closely linked items follow each other), discarding items that turn out not to fit in, and so on. Try and stay broad at this point (though you can jot down elsewhere more detailed points that you might want to make, if they occur to you; and it's fine to add new items that get sparked). This process should help you figure out what your "narrative arc" might be, what conclusion you're working towards, and so on. If something seems important but confusing, it might mean you need to do more research for that section.

Now you've got an outline that essentially consists of chapter or section headings, and some ideas for what's going in your introduction and conclusion. Depending on the length of the paper, you might want to do another outlining step in greater detail (listing your points in each section, but still not actually filling out the writing), or you could start writing now. I tend to work on writing the sections that seem easiest first, and then join up the more difficult bits afterwards.

Inevitably, it turns out during this phase that some of the links are weak or disjointed, some of the arguments I originally intended to make are poor, and the conclusion I thought I was heading for is actually not quite where I end up going. So lots of adjustments to the outline take place and the whole thing needs a good rejig at the end. But editing is straightforward enough when you have an already extant text to work on!

That's the sort of process that works (usually, well enough) for me: I'm sure others do it completely differently. Maybe you can pick out some stuff that seems useful in there, though.

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-28T09:31:46.302Z · LW · GW

My timelog tells me that over the last ~7 weeks I've spent an average of 22 mins/day doing things with the tag "chores". That time period does include a two week holiday during which I spent a lot less time than usual on that stuff, so it's probably an underestimate. Agree with Nornagest below about the importance of small everyday habits! (Personally I am good at some of these, terrible at others.)

Comment by Emily on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-27T16:03:06.025Z · LW · GW

Laundry (plus ironing, if you have clothes that require that - I try not to), washing up (I think this is called doing the dishes in America), mopping, hoovering (vacuuming), dusting, cleaning bathroom and kitchen surfaces, cleaning toilets, cleaning windows and mirrors. That might cover the obvious ones? Seems like most of them don't involve much learning but do take a bit of getting round to, if you're anything like me.