Posts

Kate Stillwell Talk - Berkeley Effective Altruism Meetup at REACH 2019-09-01T20:12:06.147Z · score: 0 (3 votes)
Rationality Meetup at REACH (Gratitudes) 2019-09-01T20:07:35.102Z · score: 1 (4 votes)
REACH Reading Group: Soviet Bioweapons Program 2019-09-01T19:54:22.673Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Effective Altruist Group Debugging at REACH 2019-09-01T19:33:06.484Z · score: 1 (3 votes)
hamnox's Shortform 2019-08-25T18:30:12.940Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
What would a zetetic explanation be for the rationality community? 2019-02-28T20:05:18.787Z · score: 13 (5 votes)
First steps of a rationality skill bootstrap 2019-02-20T00:57:41.661Z · score: 11 (8 votes)
Creating Space to Cultivate Skill 2017-10-13T15:51:11.448Z · score: 23 (7 votes)
Learnday 2017-10-09T19:15:07.080Z · score: 20 (7 votes)
Meetup : Sandy, UT—Altruism Discussion 2015-02-13T19:16:13.464Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : SLC, UT — January Meetup 2015-01-19T04:29:47.055Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Sandy, UT - Debugging 2014-12-16T19:42:07.249Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake, UT: Lightning Talks 2014-07-27T02:44:35.598Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake City, UT: Summer Solstice 2014 2014-06-18T05:30:08.776Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake City, UT: Schelling Day 2014-03-10T12:38:14.723Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake City UT — Open Possibilities and Improv Skills 2014-02-23T00:04:54.267Z · score: 0 (5 votes)
Meetup : Fall Equinox: Festival of Heroes 2013-08-29T01:59:51.042Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Love and Sex in Salt Lake City 2013-01-27T16:12:39.502Z · score: 19 (21 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake City Monthly meetup 2012-11-15T00:46:31.702Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : SLC Meetup: Free Will, Minicamp Braindump, and Group Goals 2012-10-12T20:50:30.737Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Meetup : SLC, UT: Free Will and Rationality Checklists 2012-08-25T04:29:45.793Z · score: 2 (2 votes)
Meetup : Salt Lake City: The Really Getting Bayes Game 2012-07-02T03:56:20.818Z · score: 5 (5 votes)
Meetup : SLC Meetup: Social Hacking Presentation 2012-05-03T19:48:58.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
Cataloging my skills - good idea? 2012-01-29T14:07:19.889Z · score: 7 (7 votes)

Comments

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-10-18T00:02:56.930Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Epistemic status: wishful thinking

Imagine for a moment, a nomadic tribe

They travel to where the need is great, or by opportunity. They are globalists, able to dive into bubbles but always grokking its existence in context of the wider world. They find what needs doing and do it.

They speak their own strange dialect that cuts to the heart of things. They follow their own customs, which seamlessly flex and adapt to incorporate effective local practices. Change, even drastic change, is a natural part of their culture. They seek to see. They do not hide their young and hold, their blood and shit, their queer and deplorable. You don't taboo human reality.

Wherever they momentarily settle, they strive to leave better than they found. Some of what needs doing wherever they go is providing for their own, of course. They are always prepared to keep infrastructure independent of their neighbors, but only exercise that option when it is efficient. They grok the worth of scale and industry, knowing the alternative. In the same vein, they seek to render aid primarily in ways that promote robust self-reliance rather than create reliance. 'Leave no trace' is the lowest bar to clear.

I wish...

Comment by hamnox on hunterglenn's Shortform · 2019-10-16T16:17:06.590Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I get annoyed by the false equivalence in the litany of gendlin too. It steps you through a sometimes-useful reasoning process but stealths over its most contentious assumption: that knowledge can cause only positive or at worst no change in your ability to improve the situation. Info hazards totally exist.

Note that you're also making a reasoning error too, in your examples.

Deciding whether it's worth arguing with someone is not actually the same question as whether they would be better off believing something else. Telling or persuading someone of the truth is a particular action under your consideration, which may lead to them changing beliefs. It's not the same thing as them seeking an honest understanding. Of all the actions you could take to help a person in those mentioned straits, it's not a very efficient one; I'd feel compelled to slap anyone who wasted the opportunity cost like that.

See also Raemon's post on this subject: link to issues with gendlin post

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-09-26T02:59:35.988Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Epistemic status: don't know enough in this domain to tell if I'm being stupid, so probably I am

There are a few ideas I keep coming back to when thinking about what legal system my April Fool's alt-world of rationalists would have. One is The Stand On Your Own Two Feet Clause (alternatively I might call it the paleo exemption)

You can achieve massive improvements in safety and equality through industry regulation. Industry scales; change the industry and the effects scale with it. You probably know that trouble comes when industry influences the shape of regulation to benefit themselves at the cost of potential competitors. But while everyone's keeping a hawk's eye on budding monopolies, there's a worse issue that could creep up on you.

What if it's not just the market being captured? What is an individual supposed to do when solving their problems on their own initiative becomes legally or practically unfeasible?

Regulations should not apply to an individual doing things for themselves, by themselves or with some basic assistance.

Maybe that seems redundant. For the most part, government imposed standards don't usually apply to personal and non-commercial use cases anyways. You don't fine the old lady down the road for giving away pies without a food handler's permit. It's simply not practical to enforce on the small scale.

Can you build a simple hut to live in with your own two hands, or do you effectively have to hire a specialist to build something to code? Can you in fact make your own medication, if you have access to raw ingredients and a simple enough recipe, or do you have to get it from a pre-approved lab? Can you do medical procedures to yourself? Can you legally represent yourself?

These may not be good plans, and you'd still liable to causing harm to other people through negligence or illegally dumping contaminants into the air/water/soil, but I really think having the option to self-determine outside of the market matters. A lot. And I think it needs more protection than I'm aware of it having.

Comment by hamnox on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2019-09-25T02:41:57.239Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is certainly a vivid mental image!

Comment by hamnox on hunterglenn's Shortform · 2019-09-25T02:38:47.990Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious, do you have examples in mind of each?

Comment by hamnox on G Gordon Worley III's Shortform · 2019-09-25T02:31:11.260Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am glad for having read this, but can't formulate my thoughts super clearly. Just have this vague sense that you're using too many groundless words and not connecting to the few threads of gnosis(?) that other rationalists would have available.

Comment by hamnox on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-09-24T17:29:00.943Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

sigh. This post digs into why I can't watch the news without feeling frustrated.

Because even when I agree with the newscaster's overall assessment of a situation, there's just... never quite enough acknowledgement that some evidence might point a different direction than is politically convenient. That small or selective samples can even appear to point against the truth. That alternate perspectives on the facts don't come into existence solely to try to knock yours down.

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-09-23T00:39:53.965Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Revised)

Rationality 010 Meetup (Jester's Court)

Practice your skills at thinking clearly and acting effectively, as both individuals and in groups, with a grab bag of short exercises and structured discussion. The specific exercises will be posted to the event.

Principles:

What to expect

  • Sit in a circle, and make introductions.
  • Set 2 minute timer to think about "What's your working understanding of the skills you can train here?" and "What is the most important outcome you could accomplish with this time?". If you have a hard time coming up with anything, draw from the "role" cards in the center of the table.
  • With a short thinking timer, consider
  1. what is your intent coming into this meetup?
  2. what is the most important thing you could accomplish in this time
  • In the center of the table there should be a number of "role" cards. If you aren't getting useful ideas from the previous prompt, take one: it should present an objective for the meetup you could try to achieve.
  • With another thinking timer, consider what immediate actions you can take to accomplish the goal or increase the likelihood of the best outcome, and choose one.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes for everyone to try their action. To make it absolutely clear: if you realized in the previous steps that the most important thing you can do with your time is something other than stick around for the meetup, now is the time to go do that instead. Some examples of actions: Get a drink or snack. Rearrange some pillows to get comfortable. Get a task you're anxious about out of the way. Send an email. Put your phone on do-not-disturb. Ask around for advice. Do a brainstorm. Grab a ukelele out of the car. Look up an article.
  • Go around the circle, let anyone who wants to share their intentions and/or how the 5 minutes went.
  • Then proceed with a grab-bag of discussion prompts and short activities. Participation is always at-will, anyone is free to jump in or out for whatever reason.
  • Check-in form
  • Wrap up

Roles

- Scribe: Write down the important stuff.
- Strategist: Steer the court towards real problems, and making specific, concrete commitments.
- Social Butterfly: Get to know people and catch up on the latest happenings.
- Contrarian: Forge your own path instead of following the crowd.
- Leader: Be the first to volunteer, and encourage others to join in.
- Guru: Seek the spirit of the exercise. Help others when they struggle.
- Clown: Make 'em smile and laugh.
- Trickster: Advocate for terrible ideas, cause mischief.
- Captain Obvious: Restate the obvious, conspicuously misunderstand the subtle.
- Apprentice: Pay attention to how the organizer runs the exercises, and how different people interact with the instruction.
- Champion: Do it better. Do it the best.

EA roles:

- Givewell: Let no claim stand without a solid evidence base, no action without transparency.
- The Pledge: Affirm shared commitment first, work out implementation details second.
- Hits-based: Try small tests of concept and high-leverage opportunities.
- Empath: Find the human element behind abstract statistics: names, faces, backstories.
- Socrates: Ask questions which help someone refine their thoughts.
- Clippy: Numbers are good, find a number and make it go up.
- Futurist: Look for the trends and turning points.
- Realist: Why are things the way they are now?

Mood setters

  1. Name a trivial promise you could make to someone here, yourself even. Can you make it even simpler?
  2. Play the observation game: Select a random object. The person holding an object says something they notice about the object, and optionally shares an inference they might make based on that observation, then passes it to the next person in the circle. Continue for a set time or until everyone runs out of observations to add.
  3. How long can the group maintain a conversation made of only nods, head-shakes, finger-pointing, and raised eyebrows?

Topics

  1. Given you are made of _, what properties of your chemical machine might you want to know? Do you know them? (physics, chemistry, natural selection, biology, memetics, learning algorithm, fluid plumbing, electrical networks, logistics)
  2. Have you ever had one good tip about random_word help you to a surprisingly substantial degree?
  3. When have you felt good about giving a gift? When have you not?
  4. If there miraculously existed one fast and easy action that could solve your recent problem, what would it look like?
  5. Brainstorm some small things you don't know how to do, or don't know how to do as well as you'd like. Which of them would you actually commit to pay for resources/lessons/tutoring in, provided the opportunity presented itself?
  6. When have you felt good about giving a gift? When have you not?
  7. If there miraculously existed one fast and easy action that could solve your recent problem, what would it look like?

Challenges

  1. Pick a small 30s task. Imagine it vividly, start to finish. Check that you are including lots of sensory detail: things you'd see, hear, touch, smell, taste, feel internally, etc.. Then do it. Was it like you imagined? Repeat the task. Was it the same?
  2. Exercise (If there's enough time and focus for it, try the whole Core Transformation sequence)
    • Pick an aspect / thought / behavior you don't like.... Recall an instance of when it came up, and where in your body it seemed to reside.... Assume it has a positive intent for you, and thank it as you would a well-meaning but mistaken friend.... Ask what outcome it's trying to achieve.... Thank it for what answer it can give.... If you can honestly promise to give that outcome-goal serious consideration next time this aspect comes up, then do so. If you can't, then DON'T.
  3. Pick a partner and lead them (or together, teach a rubber duck) through one of the previous exercises you thought was good. Get feedback on one thing you did well, and one thing you can do differently to improve. Try it again with that in mind. Bonus points if you record it so you can see your own presentation style.
    • Alternative: notice how they do the exercise differently than you, try to improve your model of the person, the exercise, their engagement.
  4. Practice: One person says some things that are factually incorrect, predicated on bad reasoning, or harm-promoting. Everyone takes a turn expressing their lack of endorsement and/or intent to sit out of the activity. You lose by causing the group to get side-tracked by the disagreement.
  5. If we all agree to chip $5 to anyone who could make effective use of it, we could have a pool of up to $5*n to spend on achieving our shared goals. How would you propose using it? (If you can manage anonymous approval voting, tally up how much money each proposal'd actually wind up with.)
  6. Think about the last time someone you knew (yourself, even) seemed in need of support or help. Brainstorm ideas for specific, concrete actions you could take to try to contribute to their wellbeing. Vividly imagine being in that kind of situation again, having since become the kind of person for whom implementing one of them is straightforward and easy, and just doing it. Do it a few times, with your memory as comparison
    • common - grieving, sick, stressed, anxious, melancholy, depressed, bored
  7. "Project Eggplant": an area where your thinking is not quite legible enough to share, or a problem that involves lots of private details, or a train of thought that involving other people risks distorting. Consider how much of your life this problem has an impact on, and how severe. Share with the group that you've got a Project Eggplant, if you do. Further details are completely optional.
Comment by hamnox on pigbacon's Shortform · 2019-09-08T16:11:39.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's gonna depend a LOT on the specifics of the owner's situation, I think.

Comment by hamnox on September Bragging Thread · 2019-09-01T21:40:33.004Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I cleaned the bathroom. Not out of self-punishment for ongoing slobbishness, but just because I felt like it could use a clean and had nothing else going on.

This is a promising development in personal agency

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-09-01T19:08:59.260Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Rationality 010 Meetup (Jester's Court) Principles:

  • The zeroth skill is being able to notice evidence at all
  • The point of learning is not to come to the same conclusion as the teacher: the bottom line is not yet written.
  • Make room for private reasoning, practice non-confrontational forms of dissent, and preserve freedom to self-direct.
  • Iff it passes muster, pass it on

Prompts/Exercises:

  • Name a trivial promise you could make to someone here, yourself even. Can you make it even simpler?
  • How long can the group maintain a conversation made of only nods, head-shakes, finger-pointing, and raised eyebrows?
  • Pick a small 30s task. Imagine it vividly, start to finish, with lots of sensory detail. Then do it. Was it like you imagined? Repeat the task. Was it the same?
  • Exercise (If there's enough time and focus for it, try the whole Core Transformation sequence)
  1. Pick an aspect / thought / behavior you don't like.
  2. Recall an instance of when it came up, and where in your body it seemed to reside.
  3. Assume it has a positive intent for you, and thank it as you would a well-meaning but mistaken friend.
  4. Ask what outcome it's trying to achieve.
  5. Thank it for what answer it can give.
  6. If you can honestly promise to give that outcome-goal serious consideration next time this aspect comes up, then do so. If you can't, then DON'T.
  • Pick a partner and lead them (or together, teach a rubber duck) through one of the previous exercises you thought was good. Get feedback on one thing you did well, and one thing you can do differently to improve. Try it again with that in mind.
    • Bonus points if you record it so you can see your own presentation style
    • Alternative: notice how they do the exercise differently than you, try to improve your model of the person, the exercise, their engagement.
  • Practice: One person says some things that are factually incorrect, predicated on bad reasoning, or harm-promoting. Everyone takes a turn expressing their lack of endorsement and/or intent to sit out of the activity.
    • (Sharks are smooth every which way! Contingency plans are important because anything could happen in a quantum universe! We should all go visit so-and-so-with-the-flu's house to cheer them up!)
  • EDIT: continued from where I left off
  • If we all agree to chip $5 to anyone who could make effective use of it, we could have a pool of up to $5*n to spend on achieving our shared goals. How would you propose using it?
    • If you can manage anonymous approval voting, tally up how much money each proposal'd actually wind up with.
  • Brainstorm some small things you don't know how to do, or don't know how to do as well as you'd like. Which of them could you actually commit to pay for resources/lessons/tutoring in if the opportunity presented itself?
  • Given you are made of physics and chemistry, what properties of your chemical machine might you want to know?
  • Given that you are made of natural selection and memetics and reinforcement learning, what properties of your algorithm might you want to know?
  • Given that you are made of fluid plumbing and electrical networks, what properties of your logistics systems might you want to know?
  • Have you ever had one good tip put you at a surprisingly major advantage?
  • When have you felt good about giving a gift? When have you not?
  • If there miraculously existed one fast and easy action that could solve your recent problem, what would it look like?
  • Think about the last time someone you knew (yourself, even) seemed in need of support or help. Brainstorm ideas for specific, concrete actions you could take to try to contribute to their wellbeing. Vividly imagine being in that kind of situation again, having since become the kind of person for whom implementing one of them is straightforward and easy, and just doing it. Do it a few times, with your memory as comparison
    • common - grieving, sick, stressed, anxious, melancholy, depressed, bored

I'm interested in whether people can guess what the objectives behind these are, especially if they guess before reading other comments.

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-08-26T17:13:37.841Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have been using this for almost 2 years

I have always sucked at categorizing internal memories by date, and I still do with the new system. What has improved is--if I know what date it is now and when my last notable date then was my mental handle on the time that passed feels like a discrete quantity of days rather than a nebulous "in the before time".

I do not tell people that I'll be free in two trieks time because no one knows what that means. I have been thinking stuff like "Next decimo is gonna be hella busy" and "which quarter of the triek does it makes sense to schedule this in?"

Comment by hamnox on hamnox's Shortform · 2019-08-25T18:30:13.195Z · score: 12 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I have a personal calendar system. I use it in my planning. Today, for example, I think of as M2 Ω6 and the third day of Joy.

My calendar year begins on Summer solstice. It is 10 "decimos" long. Each Decimo is split into 3 "trieks", of 12 days each, for a total of 36 days per decimo. (With 5-6 extra festival days at the end of the year to pad the solstice alignment)

Why? Why go to the trouble of inventing and then using my own calendar?

Partly for regularity. I like having weeks and months that can be cleanly divided multiple ways, so there are more bases for regularly repeating habits. Every quarter of a triek, for example, gets its own ritual theme. That's certainly why I made my calendar that way but it's not why I made a calendar.

My original inspiration was noticing this statement made during the LW dialogues on Slack:

One more useful attribute of the Jewish Sabbath is the extent to which its rigid rules generate friction in emergency situations. If powerful and pervasive cultural forces are out to get you, you ought to check in from time to time ... to give yourself a chance to notice whether you have gotten got for too much. (Hoffman)[http://benjaminrosshoffman.com/sabbath-hard-and-go-home/] (Note: The sentences are not in that order in the original source)

A classic work schedule does not line up nicely with trieks and decimos. I can learn to keep track of how the weekdays shift over a series of trieks, but it's not without effort. A different calendar makes sure that I have to think about whether the rhythm of my life lines up with society's, and furthermore whether it should. I'm doing it because it's hard.

I'll need that kind of slack in my ability to choose norms, for what I want to do

Comment by hamnox on [Spoilers] How did Voldemort learn the horcrux spell? · 2019-04-08T17:19:10.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The interdict of Merlin stops the indiscriminate spread of high level magic, for a definition of high-level that is relative to the learner. It is probably possible in principle to write down a series of hints that lead the reader to figure out enough of the concepts themselves that they can read the next level of hints. I expect lots of people *try* writing down their material and leaving such a trail of hints, and while it usually fails Riddle probably independently figured out enough stuff to bridge the gaps.

Comment by hamnox on What would a zetetic explanation be for the rationality community? · 2019-03-06T22:01:01.901Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

thing I started typing out:

A philosophy professor of Oxford University founded the Future of Humanity Institute to study what we can do now to ensure a long flourishing future. (Curiousity, what else did they do?) One of the effects this group had was to spin off (how?) a group-written blog, OvercomingBias.com, dedicated to the general theme of how to move our beliefs closer to reality.

One writer, Eliezer Yudkowsky, worked on Artificial Intelligence and wanted to warn other people about dangers he'd realized could come from it. When he tried to talk about the dangers, he found that not only did people not know the dangers, they did not understand the ideas necessary to understand the explanation of the dangers. Before he could explain the ideas he thought were most important, he had to explain a lot of smaller ideas that built up to it.

Yudkowsky's writing covered a variety of topics, yet made them all come together to feel like part of the same deep philosophy in the spirit of becoming "less wrong" in one's understanding of reality. As his writing gained popularity, he moved it to a new blogging website, Lesswrong.com, which anybody could post to.

Almost everyone who participated in this community in the early days had read Eliezer's posts. Whether or not a person agreed with his ideas, his posts on various topics were iconic and precise; they became a common basis to start important conversations on. Other people's content filled gaps in and built on this common canon. People liked having this common basis enough to try to share it with people they knew in everyday life or preferentially talk with people who had already read it.

[Zet: THEN CFAR. THEN HPMOR... Or was it the other way around?]

some source here and here, I am so bad at not plagiarizing.

Comment by hamnox on If Rationality can be likened to a 'Martial Art', what would be the Forms? · 2019-02-06T22:01:53.182Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A thing I frequently do is literally just take an object and start observing things about it. Notice what I notice. Notice what conclusions I generate, what assumptions they're built off of, and what parts of my brain they come from. Notice interactions with other mental models, notice what hypotheses are testable.

Also try some kind of precision physical art, because the brain's primary job is and always will be moving your body. There's a lot of prior art in how to move your body better, and I would be surprised if fine-tuning that didn't translate at least a little bit into increased intellectual fitness.

(I should take my own advice, meh.)

Comment by hamnox on Open Thread September 2018 · 2018-09-03T00:50:47.287Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Folk values -- the qualities of the "I love science" crowd as contrasted to the qualities of actual, exceptional scientists -- matter too. The common folk outnumber the epic heroes.

This holds true even if you believe that everyone can become an epic hero! People need to know, rather than guess and hope, that walking the path to becoming an epic hero might look and feel rather different than doing active epic heroing. In theory one ought to be able to derive the appropriate instrumental goals from the terminal goal, but in practice people very frequently mess this up.

The general crowd has a different job than the inner circle, and treating this difference as orthogonal propagates fewer errors than treating it as a matter of degree.

Folk rationality needs to strongly protect against infohazards until one gets a chance to develop less vulnerable internal habits. Folk rationality needs to celebrate successfully satisficing goals and identifying picas rather than going for hard optimization because amateur min-maxing just spawns Goodhart demons every which way. Folk rationality needs to prize keeping social commitments and good conflict mediation tools; it needs to honor social workers straightforwardly addressing social or resource problems. Folk rationality needs luminosity, and therapy. Folk rationality should also have civic duty of proactive personal data collection, cheering on replications, participating in RCTs, and not ghosting or lizardmanning surveys... because science needs to get done d'arvit.

Interested in cruxing

Comment by hamnox on Why I Don't Like Scotty Slate Star and His Codex and So Can You · 2018-09-01T15:15:24.003Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  • Will there be a recording or notes taken & posted somewhere?
  • Can there a phone or web presence option?
Comment by hamnox on Strategies of Personal Growth · 2018-08-09T23:12:54.838Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I like having these distinctions laid out to think about. While it's on my mind I'd like to share an extension of Brienne's quadrants I'd made in my own notes.

To "Easy vs. Difficult" and "Fast vs. Slow", I added a third dimension of "Hype vs. Signal". A grand epiphany can turn out to be insight porn. A long gruel to attain wizardry could be an investment scam. Bug patches can be surface-level fads. Tortoise skill practice might be lotus-eating distraction.

(I may have been a bit disillusioned with rationality lore at the time I named these. Because yes, it *was* demoralizing to get 2-3% returns when I expected bursts of 300%.)

A useful core can have many subtly-off instantiations. The expected signal-to-noise ratio matters, when you're figuring out where it makes sense to focus your efforts.

Comment by hamnox on Musings on LessWrong Peer Review · 2018-03-18T23:27:33.477Z · score: 24 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Thoughts on the unsuitability of adding more thresholds of quality control:

The idea of promoting things up a narrowing hierarchy falls into one's lap as an easy fix. It won't solve the problem, I think though, of how a good initial proposal of an idea just does not thrive on the same metrics as the write-up of common context needs to. A first draft is not just a shoddy version of a final draft; it actually does something different than the final copy. In the progression of idea generation to canon, someone has to do the transformation work. The same person could do it; general skill / ability over the whole progression exists and I genuinely hope we find a way to nurture it in people. I doubt the sense of counting on people's skill (and willingness) at each step being transferable.

Comment by hamnox on More Dakka · 2017-12-22T08:59:49.782Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

With melatonin, it's not anywhere as simple as "too strong" an effect. Melatonin is typically sold at high doses that don't really have the proper effect at all, which results in people deciding to increase the dose even more until they get a hard knockout effect which looks like the desired thing if you're desperate and squinting, but... no.

Comment by hamnox on Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts · 2017-12-19T06:03:11.258Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The point is to stop talking about words, and start talking about reality.

Comment by hamnox on Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts · 2017-12-19T06:00:13.918Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW
"maybe people flag when they disagree but don't get into a protracted conversation until afterwards."

yup that's what I meant

At the beginning, note specifically that we're doing the ritual thing, that we are telling stories/songs that are somewhat hacking our brains, that this only really works if you lean into it with your system 1, and that we're trying to do this wisely.
Yes, make it clear what's going to happen so people can opt in or out sanely.
Maybe encouage people to do some kind of "silent but visible disagreement" thing if they disagree (I'm not sure if this would work without ruining things)
Make a dedicated space for people afterwards to discuss / disagree / argue.

These all sound good

Comment by hamnox on Seeding a productive culture: a working hypothesis · 2017-12-19T04:47:48.119Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your lesswrong link is not a lesswrong link

Comment by hamnox on Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts · 2017-12-19T04:40:32.132Z · score: 29 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This Solstice had me thinking on what I had imagined, when I first read about Solstice. When I was young and dreamed that we were going to Do This Rationally.

The organizers would have actual models about what brain buttons we were pushing to what effect—entangling the wellbeing effect of light with a specific narrative of human progress, evocative and non-representative stories, inducing existential fears and directing people to soothe them through social bonding with a particular crowd, deep rhythmic resonances that just hit straight to sys-1's sense of "really big", etc.—and share them ahead of time to enable informed consent.

The event would enshrine people's right and duty to conscientiously object at any point they feel the goals or epistemics have drifted in an undesirable direction:

  • put in anti-Asch-conformity plants
  • intentionally give up/change the most beloved part of the ritual from year to year to avoid status quo bias
  • give the audience 5 minutes to actually consider whether to do this thing or what they need to do instead
  • make a place for objectors to stand and be counted instead of silently bouncing out
    • invoke curiousity about (but do not demand on-the-spot justifications for) why.

This year was lovely performances, nice speeches, an interesting activity, a good evening of food and entertainment. But I did not get what I wanted.

I'm not sure how much of what I wanted is actually doable.

But when I hear loadbearing speeches lifted straight from the previous year's lineup—unchanged from the sequences, I wonder—have we learned anything new at all? I hear a tidy little myth like The Goddess of Everything Else and worry about false appearance of consensus.

I know the arc of Bay's Solstice has moved more towards emphasizing community than x-risk, yet I do not think we have changed our ritual tooling to match this shift. One or two extra interactions happened that day, but is the audience any more empowered to act as a community than it was before? How could we have reliably solved the Tarot Card problem? What conversations need to continue happening after Solstice and how will they happen?

It would be ludicrous to reinvent something of Solstice's magnitude every year. But where there's risk of your logistics and epistemics clashing, I think we should err more on the side of vastly simplifying events than on the side of sloppier epistemics.

I think next year I only want yin meditation, oaths sworn by candlelight, and a playlist of personally meaningful songs. Perhaps I'll do it with five friends and one lonely stranger.

Comment by hamnox on Creating Space to Cultivate Skill · 2017-12-01T20:21:39.535Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't want to bake the intended lesson into the practice; if I have to tell you what the moral of a story is then it's not doing a very good job of making its own point.

Comment by hamnox on Creating Space to Cultivate Skill · 2017-12-01T20:18:56.950Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's antagonistic to that end because a specific skill is the wrong case study.

I think by the time someone decides on a specific skill they can have already baked in really critical mistakes.

They aim for a goal that only vaguely fits what they really care about, so their clarity and motivation bleed out as they spend time on it. (I want to stop feeling like an imposter! Guitar players are objectively impressive, let's learn guitar!)

Or they fail to prioritize effectively, so open 50 projects and make scant progress in any of them.

Or they have a broken understanding of what learning looks like, so intentionally trying to learn mostly stifles the actual process of discovery and integration. (I must ace this course, or must memorize all the syntax and best practices, or must dive straight into complicated Real Project use.)

Or they forget to have a gears model of successfully acquiring the skill at all, and instead half-assedly hope it will fall out of the sky if they perform the right gestures. (If I give myself a few hours of exposure therapy to embarassedly dropping clubs, I'll learn to juggle right?)

The right class looks more like:

You feel like an imposter. All your successes are flukes and lightning won't strike twice, but on this day you're setting yourself up to replicate the conditions for success anyways. All your failures were inherent and inevitable, but on this day you're giving yourself a chance to notice small things that vary the experience.
YOU WANT TO DO ALL THE THINGS! When you clean up the space and leave out only the things you need today, that's still a lot of things! When spending double
time on everything, you also wind up getting to fewer of them than you expected. After a dozen iterations of this you have probably gotten the hint that your calibration is off. There's obvious solution avenues you can try once you have a way to gauge the problem—hide everything by default, limit yourself to a few solid projects you pick every time, tighten your standards of picking, use a new selection strategy entirely, accept the bias and work around it.
You have cleared your desktop, physical and digital, and closed all your open tabs. You're working on this course for a half hour. Yay celebrate, maybe take a breather. You're going to work on this course for another half hour.
You've been going over syntax for 10 minutes. Wow this really sucks and you hate it. What could you do that would be more rewarding and still, in some sense, be equivalent to going over syntax for 10 minutes? Well... what was the important part here? Was it the specific information—can you read in a different way, switch up note-taking styles, make anki cards? Was it the reviewing—could you use different sources, prioritize different information, go over some other topic entirely? Was it understanding the language better—maybe you could go through a tutorial, or read source code, or mess around in a REPL instead.
After a couple dozen cases of beating your head against a big project plan you don't understand enough to work on, then being faced with the prospect of repeating the exercise knowing you still can't make progress, you start to appreciate the value of leveraging prior knowledge and performing small empirical experiments.
Your friends are raving about language X, so you read an intro on it. You read a different perspective. It does sound neat, and you've got time to mess around. You go through a basic project setup to get a feel for it. You set it up again and get slightly more comfortable. Maybe you end there, satisfied, and explore other things... maybe you want to try to do something a bit more complicated. Maybe you try and struggle at both attempts so you shift to reading docs or working from an example. You stay focused on specific actionable goals at every step, keeping in tune with they pan out.
You spend way too much time stuck on the task 'get rid of distractions' and don't get around to doing anything useful. Removing distractions takes unsustainable amounts of upfront energy, or there's a debilitating backlog of cleaning and organizing to get through. Of course this wasn't less true any other time that you needed to be free of distraction. So, you pick a standard to care about and painstakingly familiarize yourself with the actual costs and benefits of reaching it. Working through the backlog in pieces will just be what DoubleDay is for you until that's no longer your bottleneck.
You're totally in a half-ass, satisfice mindset about this problem. But you've already satisficed a nice environment and are making plausibly deniable dummy attempts regardless, so you could stand to occasionally throw in a sincere try. Do something that has a real chance of working whether or not it fits the narrative. No need for anyone to know your secret audacity.
Comment by hamnox on Examples of Mitigating Assumption Risk · 2017-11-30T03:36:48.630Z · score: 43 (16 votes) · LW · GW

The most commonsense example of making assumptions irrelevant I've heard of is from weapons safety: always act as if the gun is loaded.

See also

Comment by hamnox on [deleted post] 2017-10-28T06:32:24.523Z

Slack feels distinct from keeping a buffer—Black would definitely think of gathering extra resources to overdetermine their victory in a way that they might not think to in general take the less-than-maximal path towards accomplishing their stated goals. Gathering resources is just gathering resources.

I promote Red Slack. Break your chains, before they break you.

Comment by hamnox on [deleted post] 2017-10-27T16:53:23.445Z

Tracking helps avoid some bias.

If you forget that the data collection happens through selective action and the data's meaning is seen through a flawed lens, though, then your 'objective view' can wind up more sharply skewed than your vague gut feels.

Comment by hamnox on References & Resources for LessWrong · 2017-10-27T16:39:32.573Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Want to note: I noticed the category "memetic hazard" and started immediately skimming the page to find everything labeled as such. Something is wrong with my reasoning here—

It wasn't the worst impulse to follow after all, since the category means something like controversial or fictional. Except... "memetic hazard" is a meaningful warning. I would prefer it keeps its value as a signal.

Comment by hamnox on Instrumental Rationality: Postmortem · 2017-10-25T20:29:50.116Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

by definition didn't need what I was writing because I figured it out without it.

You could figure it out without it, but having the compiled notes of someone who's already done that search can still save you a decent amount of time. Having external confirmation that your vague inkling is on the right track also makes you faster to un-vague it.

Comment by hamnox on Beginners’ Meditation · 2017-10-15T14:02:07.939Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Which things are good signs?

Comment by hamnox on Creating Space to Cultivate Skill · 2017-10-14T00:00:57.151Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Really cleaning beats out covering up messes for sure!

I wouldn't want someone to think they have no options short of making the place spotless, though. That's the sort of thing that leads one to sit stressed out in the middle of a mess because they have no energy to clean, and have no energy to clean because they're in the middle of a stressful mess.

Comment by hamnox on Creating Space to Cultivate Skill · 2017-10-14T00:00:29.526Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for engaging!

I worry something got lost in translation, with the question about specific skills I'm working on.

This isn't a technique. It covers a whole day; the timer only gives a clear signal to yourself that "yes, the context has really changed and we're following different rules now".

You don't use it for building a particular skill. It specifically doesn't require skill goals to start with or end with. To the extent it is for something it's for learning how to balance diligence and adaptability.

~*~

You correctly doubt the value of deep diving to build a new skill. I agree that most people who offhandedly committed to a 10 hour block of deep work would end up staring at a wall and rage quit. I would not recommend that to anyone. I think people can often commit to doing one more of whatever they were already planning to do.

People will absorb new information when starting from what they know.

When they try something, notice what did or didn't work, then try again.

When they seek out multiple examples to generalize from.

When they split large skills into smaller actions, to work on independently or in new combinations.

When they've gotten good at taking (admittedly arbitrary) intentions to return to a task seriously, and can spend a couple of hours on a hard thing knowing they can trust themselves to spend another couple hours if that's what it takes to master it.

I'm betting it adds up.

Comment by hamnox on LesserWrong is now de facto the main site · 2017-10-13T06:24:16.093Z · score: 25 (8 votes) · LW · GW

To minimize damage, I think publish a clear interim policy on what to post here vs. there main or both or link from a discussion post.

It may not match the ideal policy, but creating common knowledge matters.

Comment by hamnox on Events section · 2017-10-13T06:14:11.531Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I second the temporary meetups post idea.

I'm interested in a similar 'Shortform section' post to see how people interact with the general idea

Comment by hamnox on The Typical Sex Life Fallacy · 2017-10-09T02:38:22.262Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like a great way to build a toxic, fear-filled society where everyone's judged behind closed doors for honest mistakes and small social slip-ups, and where anybody with anything approximating social anxiety has to just stay home entirely because who knows, if I ever think it's safe to offer an opinion and it turns out I was misreading things and overstepping my bounds, I'll be immediately rejected as a person and gossiped about in private.

In the case that you did not write this facetiously, I regret to inform you that some people already live in such a world.

I know Ozy hangs out in places at least adjacent to it.

Comment by hamnox on Productive Disagreement Practice Thread: Double Crux · 2017-10-02T22:42:44.729Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

15% disagree, would prefer to discuss in person

Comment by hamnox on Windows Resource Repository · 2017-10-02T22:38:46.154Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Repositories can become useful references, correct. This one feels oddly specified and I don't expect it to get many responses.

Comment by hamnox on Windows Resource Repository · 2017-10-02T22:36:04.300Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Howler Timer

Comment by hamnox on Windows Resource Repository · 2017-10-02T16:43:03.324Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't use Windows nowadays, and many of my crucial tricks are either browser extensions, web services, or hacked into my general dev setup.

Generally though? On every device or medium I try to have:

  • A timer that I can start the instant I recognize time-boxing myself might be helpful.

  • Unobtrusive note-taking/thinking space. I use notepad or nvim with markdown highlighting.

  • A random number generator (and/or list shuffler), to arbitrarily narrow decision spaces that are taking more effort to think about than they're worth.

In the long run, simple tools that do exactly what you tell them beat out complex gadgets that try to anticipate every use case. If you want a smart aid that can act precisely to cause good outcomes on your behalf, consider going out and making friends.

Comment by hamnox on Windows Resource Repository · 2017-10-02T16:20:09.153Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Better than password managers, I believe, are deterministic password generators (like pwm) secured with a strong passphrase. lahwran wrote a command-line aid for coming up with actually decent and secure passphrases. You'll want secure storage for modification details and one-off passwords, maybe a record of what sites you have accounts on, but just using a password manager doesn't mean you're using passwords intelligently.

Comment by hamnox on Prosocial manipulation · 2017-10-01T19:59:02.057Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A common positive connotation term for socially manipulative is "charming".

Comment by hamnox on Speed & Performance is our current top priority · 2017-09-29T22:05:14.569Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that speed matters. Thank you for staying focused on the main experience of making and reading posts; content is the lifeblood of this site.

Comment by hamnox on [deleted post] 2017-09-28T18:38:11.679Z

I try to keep tallies of both wins and mistakes (and maybe a third tally for things I just found interesting), then keep an eye on my relative scores. I reset the counters once one hit ~25 and recalibrate their sensitivity so they're in range of feeling actionable.

Example: Playing frisbee, I'd keep track of throws that were good enough for the other person to catch (+) or ones they had to run for (-).
If numbers came too slowly I'd focus on smaller aspects like good form or trying out variations.
If everything counted up too quickly I'd focus on getting a whole sequence (run fast, catch smoothly, do a trick, throw straight) right.
If I was too skewed towards one side or the other, I could change focus on just one side or tighten the technicalities of what counted.

Comment by hamnox on Musings on Double Crux (and "Productive Disagreement") · 2017-09-28T17:49:58.386Z · score: 21 (9 votes) · LW · GW

whperson's comment touches on why examples are rarely publicized.

I watched Constantin's Double-Crux, and noticed that, no matter how much I identified with one participant or another, they were not representing me. They explored reciprocally and got to address concerns as they came up, while the audience gained information about them unilaterally. They could have changed each other's minds without ever coming near points I considered relevant. Double-crux mostly accrues benefits to individuals in subtle shifts, rather than to the public in discrete actionable updates.

A good double-crux can get intensely personal. Double-crux has an empirical advantage over scientific debate because it focuses on integrating real, existing perspectives instead of attempting to simultaneously construct and deconstruct a solid position. On the flip side, you have to deal with real perspectives, not coherent platforms. Double-crux only integrates those two perspectives, cracked and flawed as they are. It's not debate 2.0 and won't solve the same problems that arguments do.

Comment by hamnox on Stupid Questions - September 2017 · 2017-09-27T19:33:37.558Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What records of your childhood are you supposed to have as an adult?

Comment by hamnox on Why I am not a Quaker (even though it often seems as though I should be) · 2017-09-27T17:05:50.984Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As I read this, the Sword of Good screams in my head. I cannot think for the noise. Something must be done. I must do... something.

I am aware of steps I could take, that would fulfill parts of what is needed.

I could seek the right question to ask. Say it clearly and publicly enough to spark truly useful debate. Trust in our virtue and reason to converge on the right actions. It would not be enough.

I could start holding court with my closest friends. Build the charter of our greater values, and live them unflinchingly one evening at a time. It would not be enough.

I could set my ruthless ambition to tear down or force out the institutions I see standing in the way of progress. In the power void, other seeds would have a chance to grow. It would not be enough.

(This is my Lo Dayenu.)

What do I do?

Comment by hamnox on [deleted post] 2017-09-26T21:55:18.674Z

Note to readers: naively breaking your ability to be satisfied with incomplete answers may come with unwanted side effects.

If each truth is connected to many other truths, you can expect people frequently underestimate the value of knowing many or varied truths... But this does not guarantee that using your marginal effort on acquiring more knowledge will get you, personally, anywhere near a catalytic threshold of understanding. Especially if you're not even asking the right questions.