Comment by J- on Personalized Medicine For Real · 2019-04-16T23:58:55.788Z · LW · GW

Your link to the Matt Might article says:

A pharmacogenetic panel that will tell you your response essentially to every drug on the market costs on the order of $300.

Fuck, maybe I should do one for fun of myself! Do you know what this panel is? Any other things I should try in this vein? (I had some rare AF lung/heart problems as a kid, used to be depressed and am generally healthy now, but I'd love to learn more).

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-14T05:02:20.291Z · LW · GW
How do you suggest I do that?

Your first step is to stop being fake, and gaslighting us about how much you want to help. Do you think I believe for one second you don't know how to do better?

This is the point where we accuse each other of arguing in bad faith. No amount of politicking is going to change us, and the only way communities like LW change is when people start getting banned.

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-13T00:26:53.043Z · LW · GW

they're just being nice.


Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-13T00:22:15.668Z · LW · GW

No, you're missing my point. Idk if we disagree on anything concrete, the issue is that you're both Fluttershys or something. Kaj, you say,

Or rather, it may help the individual who makes that choice, but it doesn’t help the community in general.

How do you go from "help the community" back to "oh, what we're doing is great"? THIS is the problem; if help the community was your goal, you'd go about nudging norms to encourage "meditate more, read less". But that's not what you're doing; instead, you're throwing your emotional support behind the status quo.

This is one of those things where you won't change what you're doing, because you don't want to, deep down. You'd rather have a nice happy community.

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-12T06:55:09.350Z · LW · GW
Which isn't to say that additional instructions would be useless.

Like. I'll maybe do a top level post about all this?

Anyways, Kaj, I remember the post on your blog where you said, that you had reached a bit of apathy through meditation, and you were having a bit of trouble finding meaning. The way you put it resonated with me, as I've had the same problem recently. Like, enough that I appreciated it. So you're one of the people here I'm willing to engage with on this.

But, for fuck's sakes, philosophizing serves the role of masturbation. This is an endemic problem for LW adjacent people, because you all enable each other! There's a culture of it here. Which is why the sentence I quoted, "which... useless", is fake, because the intent behind it is to make it socially okay to explore this shit. Fuck that. It's more effective to practice more, and you're promoting the culture that's undermining that.


I actually agree that 0.1xreading + 0.9xpractice beats 1.0xpractice. Your motivations for saying so are wrong, and that this is the problem.

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-12T06:41:42.212Z · LW · GW

This isn't instructionless meditation, it's "give one paragraph of mindfulness instructions and tell them to sit down", there's a difference between that and Zen.

I assume that "sit the fuck down and practice" is a threat to philosophizing, and that this is what is motivating your pushback.

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-11T00:32:31.721Z · LW · GW
So then why all the rest of this crap?

The recorded teachings of the Buddha are so long because: 1. he gave a nearly identical lecture to tons of people and lots of them got recorded 2. he had an aesthetic! He's not just out to teach people, he also tried to impress them and shit. *That* is the exact, direct explanation why people in general write so much about meditation, they want to impress you, even if this explanation doesn't consciously occur to them.

Comment by J- on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-11T00:22:24.361Z · LW · GW
what I see as the core causal loop that causes progress on the Buddha's path

The "core loop" that causes progress is sitting the fuck down and meditating. Instructions: get comfy, put your attention on your breath as it goes through your nose, put it back on the breath when it wanders. Repeat for like 100 hours, at least 1h/day.

There are a *fuckton* of writings on meditation, and the benefit you get from reading them is less than sitting down and practicing.

Comment by J- on Some Simple Observations Five Years After Starting Mindfulness Meditation · 2018-04-24T04:43:20.133Z · LW · GW

> Alternatively, when things "settled down," then often anywhere from 3+ minutes would pass seemingly instantly.

Yeah! It's a great feeling. A thing someone might have insight on: I'll sometimes meditate for a full 45 minutes and not be able to get into this state. It seems to have to do with whether I'm on a "bad day"--if I can't get "settled down" when I meditate in the morning, I'm very unlikely to "settle down" even if I do a few more 30 minute meditations that same day. Is there a mental motion you can do to make it easier, or does this just come with practice, or does it just sometimes never work?

Comment by J- on Some Simple Observations Five Years After Starting Mindfulness Meditation · 2018-04-24T04:23:03.759Z · LW · GW
I had overestimated the time required by 130% on the low end to 600% on the high end!

One really common time-sink that meditation might curtail, is the habit of getting into chains of thoughts of the form, "if I could go back in time and change X to make things better", "here's what I'll say to make my friend happy if some very particular thing goes awry", etc. About half of my "study" time in undergrad was consumed this way while sitting in front of a textbook or computer, and I wasn't even a bad student overall. Meditation definitely gave me an understanding of just how much time this ate up.

Comment by J- on Some Simple Observations Five Years After Starting Mindfulness Meditation · 2018-04-24T04:09:12.902Z · LW · GW

Yes, gains in skill do seem to atrophy after time off! In particular, I've noticed that meditating makes me more calmly indifferent for the next while, not just for the duration of the meditation session, and this benefit seems to wear off with time. (Jon Kabat-Zinn also mentions this of MBSR).

Comment by J- on The sad state of Rationality Zürich - Effective Altruism Zürich included · 2018-02-28T20:13:21.300Z · LW · GW

As one of the multiple people creeped out by Roland in person, I'd like to say that I endorse a norm in which community members and organizers don't have to justify themselves or submit to dispute moderation here.

I support teaching better behavior to people who are imposing externalities on others, but what is the maximum value of n, where n is the number of people who have left your group because of someone's bad/creepy behavior, which you're willing to trade in order to teach an individual how to control their behavior?

I'm not going to respond to any responses here, because my view is that this should be a closed case, and isn't worth the time.

Comment by J- on "Cheat to Win": Engineering Positive Social Feedback · 2018-02-10T23:31:22.869Z · LW · GW

The effect that getting positive feedback from following a passion has on your thinking seems to be localized around the area related to said passion, mostly.

If I decide that my passion is, say, anti-aging research, I'l inevitably steer my thought in certain ways, such as around what is necessary to get the research off the ground. If I've decided to take pride in simply being a playful person, this has some such effects too, but heck if I know what those are, since that's something I'm currently playing with. Seems to be affecting my work style and schedule, at the very least.

I'm unsure if it's possible to go without having a thing that you are trying to, or are getting approval for, in the long-term. We're social beings, and that's fine.

Comment by J- on "Taking AI Risk Seriously" (thoughts by Critch) · 2018-02-02T04:07:08.615Z · LW · GW
“If you have three years of runway saved up, quit your job and use the money to fund yourself. Study the AI landscape full-time. Figure out what to do. Do it.”

In an important way, saying this is more honest than asking for funding--like, it's harder for the incentives of someone saying this to line up perversely. I'd basically say the same thing, but add in "noticing all the incentives you have to believe certain things" and "engineered pandemics" along with "the AI landscape", because that's just my take.

The one thing I have to wonder about, is if doing this on your own helps you get it right. Like, there's a cadre of depressed rationalists in Berkeley who are trying, in theory, to do this for themselves. It can't be helping that there's social approval to be had for doing this, because that's just a recipe (because of incentives) for people incorporating "I care about AI risk and am doing relevant things" into their narrative and self-image. If your self-esteem is tied into doing things that help with AI risk, then I empathize with you pretty hard, because everything that feels like a failure is going to hurt you, both emotionally and productivity-wise.

Grad students have a similar thing, where narrative investment into being good at research burns people out. Even productive grad students who have been having a few bad months. But if your social group is mostly other grad students who also think that being good at research is what makes one good and praiseworthy, then of course you'd have part of your self image invested into being good at research.

It'd be hard for a group of grad students to all simultaneously switch to not being emotionally invested in how good everyone else was at research. I'd say the same is true for AI-risk-oriented groups of rationalists who live near each other.

That's why I say it's best to study the landscape on your own. With geographic distance from others, even. Keep track of the work everyone else is doing, but keep your social group separate--if you choose your friends correctly, your self-esteem can be grounded in something more durable than your performance.