LessWrong virtual meetup this Saturday evening 2011-11-17T03:30:25.430Z
Book Review: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely 2011-05-08T08:13:31.325Z
Help: Is there a quick and dirty way to explain quantum immortality? 2010-10-20T03:00:34.608Z
Gandhi, murder pills, and mental illness 2010-10-13T09:16:26.583Z


Comment by erratio on Against lone wolf self-improvement · 2017-07-08T09:55:31.298Z · LW · GW

A related phenomenon: going to therapy versus going through a workbook on say, CBT, that teaches you all the theory and techniques. If you can self-hack from the workbook, all power to you, but a large portion of people need the accountability and the feedback from sitting in a room with another person going through workbook-type things together.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, June 26 - July 2, 2017 · 2017-06-28T03:11:26.605Z · LW · GW

Request: A friend of mine would like to get better at breaking down big vague goals into more actionable subgoals, preferably in a work/programming context. Does anyone know where I could find a source of practice problems and/or help generate some scenarios to practice on? Alternatively, any ideas on a better way to train that skill?

Comment by erratio on Akrasia Tactics Review 3: The Return of the Akrasia · 2017-04-13T17:14:06.813Z · LW · GW

I seem to have gotten a lot better lately at getting things done, so here's my attempt at breaking it down.

  • Consistency effects from being responsible for other people/groups: +8, 6 months or so. I am responsible for membership admittance of a private group on Habitica (see below), for reminding a friend to take their meds, and for helping other friends debug their productivity. The overall effect is that a) I get practice at productivity techniques, b) It primes me to be a productive person.
  • Habitica (formerly known as HabitRPG): +4, on and off for 3 years. I'm a member of an active party in this gamification of productivity, which means that if I don't do my dailies, my teammates take damage. Being responsible for membership of a private group means I have to log on regularly anyway, so I might as well use the system. And the combination of daily and to-do lists is good enough for me to track all my tasks and make sure I stay on track (one of my daily tasks is to do at least 1 to-do item).
  • Working from home: +3, 10 months. This might come across as counterintuitive, but when I started working from home I floundered around for the first few months, and then money became an issue and I got better at consistently putting in the work. I'm still not perfect (witness me here instead of working), but I feel like I've improved my ability to get things done in less structured environments and with little to no oversight.
  • Pomodoros: 0, on and off for the last 3 years. I still find them useful occasionally when I'm having major issues getting started on something, but the enforced on/off pattern drives me bonkers. If I'm not getting into the task, 25 minutes on feels like an eternity and 5 minutes off feels much too short of a break. If I am getting into the task, I'll just ignore it altogether. Giving them a zero because I feel like the pros and cons cancel out.
  • Asking people to tell me to work: +1. Another way to convince myself to get started when I just don't wanna, by utilizing peer pressure.
Comment by erratio on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-03-18T00:35:14.369Z · LW · GW

I would like to do this in either Australia or Canada

Comment by erratio on How often do you check this forum? · 2017-02-01T01:57:44.402Z · LW · GW

I come here probably a few times a week, almost entirely just for reading or clicking through on particularly interesting links. I always use a desktop.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, Nov. 28 - Dec. 04, 2016 · 2016-11-30T04:49:07.186Z · LW · GW

Would I be able to tap the LW academic network to get a copy of this paper?

Extreme gratitude in advance.

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, Dec. 1-13, 2015 · 2015-12-05T03:44:02.863Z · LW · GW

2 weeks ago I realised my current job is making me miserable. I've now started doing something about it and have a trial period of a few hours this weekend for a new job.

The forementioned misery was getting projected onto my boyfriend in the form of finding some of his less awesome behaviours incredibly annoying. I eventually realised that I was projecting and had a chat with him involving an apology and a discussion about what the underlying issues are and what we could potentially both do better in the future.

A friend and I have become accountability buddies in the sense of sharing our lists of goals and asking about their progress every now and then.

Have been trying to do the homework set by my therapist, although it's tough going (which of course is the reason it's such a major ugh field in the first place)

Comment by erratio on Find someone to talk to thread · 2015-10-05T02:26:24.251Z · LW · GW

I'm in Eastern Standard Time in North America and have done a ton of volunteer hours at, a peer counselling service. I'm very confident in my ability to be a good active listener to other intelligent people as a result of my training there, as well as having access to a lot of techniques from DBT and CBT. Not sure about cost, but for now I assume I have the ability to do it for free. Message me here on LW or at j.runds at gmail

Comment by erratio on Bragging thread September 2015 · 2015-09-04T17:26:28.118Z · LW · GW

I found a job. A crappy, low-paying job, but one which will improve my interacting-with-random-people skills and which will give me the financial security to work on my other skills

Comment by erratio on Bragging Thread May 2015 · 2015-05-11T03:14:03.865Z · LW · GW
  • I finally finished all the work to leave grad school with an MA, and am officially graduated in just over a week's time.
  • I am getting a visa so that I'll be able to move to my boyfriend's country and move in with him. If you're in doubt about how awesome that is, you should see the mountain of bureaucracy I've had to deal with...
Comment by erratio on Group rationality diary, May 5th - 23rd · 2015-05-06T19:15:45.242Z · LW · GW

Yes. This was done with her blessing and oversight.

Comment by erratio on Group rationality diary, May 5th - 23rd · 2015-05-05T14:46:44.301Z · LW · GW

I tried reducing my dose of antidepressant, and discovered that it is doing a lot of work in helping me regulate my emotions and not feel pointlessly terrible all the time.

Comment by erratio on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-17T02:52:13.010Z · LW · GW

My experience is exactly the same as yours. I'm slowly training myself to be able to tolerate alcohol that's slightly less sweet/more concentrated, but it's very slow going.

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, March 22 to April 4 · 2015-04-07T15:05:52.461Z · LW · GW

I am of the opinion that most friends could stand to use each other a lot more than they currently do. But it takes a particular kind of friend to be able to say that explicitly without offending them :p

Comment by erratio on Status - is it what we think it is? · 2015-04-02T18:16:02.115Z · LW · GW

For me, the enjoyment of getting to do things my way and having other people look up to me is outweighed by the stress of being responsible for getting it right, for all but the very smallest groups

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, March 22 to April 4 · 2015-03-26T02:26:31.290Z · LW · GW

Using my boyfriend as a combination Pomodoro, task log, and accountability device is still proving to be quite useful. It helps that he's extremely willing and happy to be used that way :D

Comment by erratio on Bragging Thread February 2015 · 2015-02-19T21:18:43.049Z · LW · GW

I went to another country to meet my long-distance boyfriend for the first time. We spent an awesome weekend together affirming our relationship and making plans for the next time we're together

Comment by erratio on Open thread, Dec. 22 - Dec. 28, 2014 · 2014-12-28T03:47:36.487Z · LW · GW

Congratulations, if you can't easily discern the difference between romantic and platonic love then you may be aromantic or demiromantic!

Unfortunately, as one of those myself, I can't shed much light on the difference despite currently being in a romantic relationship. But you might start off looking at those terms and various forums for asexual/aromantic types to get a better handle of where the applicable lines are

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, December 16-31 · 2014-12-23T20:05:57.335Z · LW · GW

I have outsourced some of my motivation to my boyfriend, in the form of asking him to put me to work when I want to work but find myself unable to prevent myself procrastinating. It's surprisingly effective so far. (Note: still in honeymoon period of intervention, do not take as gospel)

Comment by erratio on Open Thread: What are your important insights or aha! moments? · 2014-11-12T16:06:13.610Z · LW · GW

Existential angst and worrying a ton about your obligation to society and so forth almost always turns out to be a projection of your worries about yourself onto society at large. You're not really worried about some abstract duty or obligation, instead you have a low opinion of your own competency/worthiness and are worried that other people will come to share that view if you're not able to measure up to some abstract standard,

Comment by erratio on Polling Thread - Personality Special · 2014-11-06T15:45:22.568Z · LW · GW

I visualise the rotations up until the point where it's too complex, after which I resort to checking relations

Comment by erratio on What supplements do you take, if any? · 2014-10-26T19:53:50.529Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the concern. My understanding is that the established recommendations for the vast majority of vitamins are highly conservative and that I would have to more than double my intake before I would be in any actual danger: Evidence here

Comment by erratio on What supplements do you take, if any? · 2014-10-23T20:45:00.646Z · LW · GW

I take 10 000 units of Vit D each day. Partly because I'm a pasty nerd who never goes out and partly because large doses are anecdotally helpful for mood.

I take around 1.5mg of melatonin each night. Would have preferred 1 or less but it's too difficult to find them in smaller quantities so I make do with halving 3mg tablets. When I take them I find it significantly easier to get to sleep.

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, October 16-31 · 2014-10-19T01:30:36.665Z · LW · GW

This is a small one, but when I realised that I wasn't going to meet my Friday evening deadline, I emailed my advisor to let her know along with the reason I'd missed it, whereas in the past I would have not told her and then spent the weekend alternating between, stress about the missed deadline, extreme procrastination, and madly trying to get the work finished. She responded supportively and now I'm feeling much less stressed and procrastinate-y than I otherwise would have.

On another related axis, my efforts at being accepting and emotionally stable are starting to pay off in the form of massively decreased negative self-talk, increased comfort and emotional intimacy with friends, and decreased sense of pointless obligation and guilt with respect to other people's problems. My methods have involved medication for my anxiety/depression, reading a bunch of self-helpy stuff like parts of Scott's blog, Kate Donovan's blog, Nonviolent Communication, How to Lose at Everything and Still Win Big, and (still working through) The Charisma Myth, obsessive journalling, and spending as much time as feasible hanging out with, reading, and talking to people who embody the traits I want to have.

Comment by erratio on A "Holy Grail" Humor Theory in One Page. · 2014-08-20T16:49:50.155Z · LW · GW

In what way is it less elegant or clear? When I read that book, I found the idea of humour being a reinforcement method for getting us to update our mental models to be extremely elegant and insightful, so I would be interested to hear why you don't agree.

I should add, my general impression of your theory is that it has a lot in common with Hurley et al's except that you think everything should be reducible to status while they think that status isn't anything special

Comment by erratio on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-05T01:23:26.048Z · LW · GW

I am not interested in being an introductory phonology/phonetics textbook, but if you want to know why linguists think that semivowels should be considered a separate category to vowels, there is plenty of writing out there on the subject.I'm bowing out from further participation.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, August 4 - 10, 2014 · 2014-08-04T21:30:40.230Z · LW · GW

Get off my lawn

Comment by erratio on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-04T21:15:40.070Z · LW · GW

I also don't know IPA very well, and I can't assume anyone else does, so I tend to just say things like "y sound".

That's the problem right there though, you're assuming that 'y sound' corresponds to the letter Y in English. The letter Y can represent either the phoneme /j/ (pronounced as the syllable-initial y), or the smallcaps i. The general rule is that syllable-initially Y represents /j/, elsewhere it represents the smallcaps i. Same goes for W, it's /w/ syllable-initially, /u/ (or smallcaps omega, or barred-u depending on your dialect) elsewhere. R is similar but there's a lot more variability in how it's pronounced by individual people, for some people "bird" has a distinct consonant in there, for others it's just an r-flavored vowel, for people like me it's not there at all because I speak a non-rhotic dialect but I lengthen the preceding vowel somewhat as compensation.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-04T15:12:13.332Z · LW · GW

Google apparently speaks British/Australian/South African or Massachusetts English. In the majority of American and Canadian English "bird" is pronounced with an r-flavoured schwa.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-04T15:08:34.656Z · LW · GW

You're confusing orthography and phonology. "may" is spelt in IPA as /mei/, so yes, it's a diphthong there that English represents using a vowel + Y for historical reasons. Also, there isn't a y sound in "mate" if you pronounce it at normal speed.

I don't understand what you mean by "by that reasoning". But there's no reason for the r in "beard" to have to be a vowel since it's followed by a consonant, since that's never stopped most other consonants before.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-03T21:19:26.195Z · LW · GW

Syllable-initially they're pretty obviously consonants (yam vs am). There are also lots of languages that have phonological rules that involve replacing semi-vowels with other consonants or vice versa, which is a pretty strong argument for them being part of the class of consonants in those languages. For the other stuff, what polymathwannabe said. This stuff is well-studied in linguistics and particularly in phonetics.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, 9-15 June 2014 · 2014-06-09T19:15:53.078Z · LW · GW

I'm about to start working with a remote writing buddy. We're going to send each other emails for 'clocking in' purposes, but we also want to use some kind of screen-sharing or remote login software to keep tabs on each other. Does anyone have any good recommendations for software along those lines? My netbook is sufficiently slow and old that if I'm not careful even typing can get pretty laggy, so resource- or processing-light software would definitely be preferred.

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, May 16-31 · 2014-05-21T23:34:39.661Z · LW · GW

I am troubleshooting my method for writing papers in an attempt to make the process go faster or at least more efficiently. So far, I have asked a couple of my colleagues about their methods, and intend to try to collect a representative sample before I try to extract any important general bits

Comment by erratio on Open Thread March 31 - April 7 2014 · 2014-04-06T17:45:12.463Z · LW · GW

Today in failures of agency/playing a role as opposed to being a role: I have a friend who is somewhat paranoid with respect to their possessions and physical safety. Said friend recently got their laptop stolen from their lab, which has understandably heightened their paranoia about their lab's level of security, particularly since their work often involves being there alone at odd hours. It turns out that their lab is even more insecure than was first apparent, and there's a relatively simple procedure for getting in without any credentials. Friend posted the details of this procedure on Facebook in order to complain about it and garner social support from their close friends. Friend has also complained to their immediate supervisor and been ignored.

It strikes me that at this point Friend seems to be more interested in playing the role of victim than in actually putting effort towards solving their problem. I can think of several strategies I would consider if I was in their situation (eg. keep moving up the chain of authority with my complaints, try to drum up support amongst my coworkers, post the details in as public a venue(s) as possible in order to create public outrage and/or make the issue too well-known to be ignored, etc). The strategy that they actually chose (post the details in a pseudo-but-not-actually-private venue) seems to be one of the worst in terms of actually addressing their problem - not only have they not increased the probability that the security hole will be fixed (since none of us work in the same lab system as they do), but there are now N more people aware of the hole who may or may not accidentally leak the info to others.

Comment by erratio on Open thread, 24-30 March 2014 · 2014-03-30T14:51:12.401Z · LW · GW

Evidence? Is this just a general anti-psych-meds comment or do you have a basis for thinking that in this particular case they're problematic?

Comment by erratio on Open thread, 18-24 March 2014 · 2014-03-19T20:39:20.575Z · LW · GW

Have you considered posting to the NYC LW mailing list? I don't think most of them are regularly here these days

Comment by erratio on Discovering Your Secretly Secret Sensory Experiences · 2014-03-18T20:56:07.569Z · LW · GW

..And that's pretty much the story of how at work we ended up with a hideous orange conference table instead of the nice warm brown our department chair envisioned

Comment by erratio on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-03-08T00:55:51.060Z · LW · GW

I notice that I am confused about what makes a post worthy of being Promoted. This post is well-researched and has an incredibly high score and lots of interesting comments. Is it that MIRI/CFAR/et al are afraid that someone might implement these and later sue if they don't get results, or somerthing?

As it is, Main but not Promoted is currently the least visible location on the site.

Comment by erratio on Meetup : Yale: Initial Meetup · 2014-02-11T20:16:26.100Z · LW · GW

I'll probably drop in to say hi, but I have too much work due to really hang out

Comment by erratio on Open Thread for January 17 - 23 2014 · 2014-01-17T17:55:43.750Z · LW · GW

On my way to work, there's a random piece of graffiti that says "FREE OMEGA". Every time I pass it I can't help but think of a boxed AI trying to get out.

Comment by erratio on Group Rationality Diary, January 1-15 · 2014-01-04T15:12:58.773Z · LW · GW

Based on recommendations here by PJEby, I'm trying to work through Byron Katie's Loving what is

So far, I'm really enjoying the concreteness of the approach - she focuses a lot on how to address your problems. For comparison, another book I read recently talked about 'reparenting' and 'setting respectful limits' and when I'd finished reading it I had more insight into my issues but no idea what 'reparenting' looks like, and so no foothold on addressing them. I've also found myself spontaneously starting to use her framework to think about some current problems I'm dealing with, which I take as a good sign. I'll report back in when I've finished reading it and/or I've tried applying the techniques for a month or so.

Comment by erratio on What is the Main/Discussion distinction, and what should it be? · 2013-12-30T18:34:14.441Z · LW · GW

shrug I subscribe to Main and not Discussion, but that's in part because I only subscribe to things that don't generate more content than I can read or a large proportion of content that I'm not interested in. So Main posts come to me automatically, and then I usually check Discussion manually and just pick out the more interesting-sounding threads

Comment by erratio on Open thread for December 9 - 16, 2013 · 2013-12-11T22:32:05.343Z · LW · GW

Thirded. The most helpful part for me was internalising the idea that even annoying/angry/etc outbursts are the result of people trying to get their needs met. It may not be a need I agree with, but it gives me better intuition for what reaction may be most effective.

Comment by erratio on Failing to update · 2013-12-03T04:09:47.922Z · LW · GW

Short term: Tell your friend/family/acquaintance/random person in the street that you need someone to escort you into the doctor's office because you're having trouble doing it by yourself. Ask them to be that someone. Offer them a small amount of money if need be so that you're not wasting their time, or buy them lunch or something else for them if they refuse to accept money directly.

Slightly longer term: Repeat the above process to get yourself into a therapist's office, because you have reached the stage of depression where you need outside insight and accountability to be able to improve, and providing that help is a therapists' job. (I also second what other people have said about inquiring around for a therapist who charges on a sliding scale, or taking advantage of local residency/intern training programs to get cheaper access to care. In the latter case you'll also be providing a service for the therapist in training by giving them someone to practise on)

Comment by erratio on Open Thread, November 23-30, 2013 · 2013-11-26T00:12:33.988Z · LW · GW

Already in one, sorry :) I suspect that one of the other guys in my party is also a stealth LWer, at least he seems to carry a lot of the local memes.

Comment by erratio on Open Thread, November 23-30, 2013 · 2013-11-24T18:36:33.223Z · LW · GW

I use it extensively and it's been by far the most successful out of all the productivity systems I've tried. For one, I've stuck with it since February of this year, whereas most of my past attempts have lasted around a month. For another, there's enough community aspects to it that a couple of times when my productivity has been low I've gotten a lot of encouragement from the community to get started again

Comment by erratio on Academic Cliques · 2013-11-12T17:34:54.516Z · LW · GW

Nope. It needs to be something with feedback.

Comment by erratio on Meetup: Somewhere you do not live even close to · 2013-11-10T18:29:36.665Z · LW · GW

the current system forces people to see meetup announcements whether they want to or not, which is rude but good for meetup participation.

Except that my eyes automatically glide over anything that says Meetup: X, which is not an uncommon method of dealing with frequent distractions (also see: internet ads. Some people need to block them, others like me literally don't notice them most of the time)

Comment by erratio on Academic Cliques · 2013-11-08T19:54:05.794Z · LW · GW

I've joked that when a philosopher says there's a philosophical consensus, what he really means is "I talked to a few of my friends about this and they agreed with me.

I came across a term to describe this phenomenon in linguistics regarding grammaticality judgements: Hey Sallys. The idea being, you form some theory about what's grammatical based on what sounds good to you, you think that you ought to check to make sure you're not just being idiosyncratic, and so you wander out into the grad room/house/water cooler/etc and say "Hey X, how does this sound to you?"

Having said that, there's a paper somewhere showing that individual linguists' grammaticality judgements are just as good as taking a large survey in the vast majority of cases.

Comment by erratio on Academic Cliques · 2013-11-08T19:43:44.286Z · LW · GW

But I don't think it follows that we have a specialized language module - we may be using some more generic part of our cognitive capacity. I'm not sure if we really have the data to settle this yet.

There was an autistic savant, Chris, whose skill was in learning languages, and who was unable to learn a fake language put together by researchers that used easy but non-attested types of rules (eg. reversing the whole sentence to form a question). What do you make of it?

I've always thought it was fairly weak evidence in the sense that autistic people often have all kinds of other things potentially going on with them, that it's a sample size of 1, and so on.