"How quickly can you get this done?" (estimating workload) 2020-01-18T00:10:55.671Z
Meetup : London Meetup - Effective Altruism 2014-08-27T20:11:30.657Z
Goal Setting and Goal Achievement 2013-10-28T12:17:16.479Z
Meetup : London Social Meetup (and AskMeAnything about the CFAR workshop) 2013-10-22T16:01:55.279Z
An Introduction To Rationality 2013-10-20T02:43:39.630Z
Meetup : London Meetup - Achieving Better Goals 2013-07-24T23:39:08.266Z
Meetup : London Special Guests: Jaan Tallinn and Michael Vassar of MetaMed 2013-05-05T20:48:48.329Z
I believe it's doublethink 2012-02-21T22:30:00.668Z


Comment by kerspoon on Rationality for Kids? · 2020-09-18T20:39:57.841Z · LW · GW

I'm really interested in this too. I have a 1 year old and work in improving engineering education. might be worth checking out.

Comment by kerspoon on Exercises in Comprehensive Information Gathering · 2020-02-22T16:19:44.806Z · LW · GW

I'm also a big fan of this, I have got huge mileage out of creating a single page timeline of 1600 - 1800. I've got a few books lined up to create 1800-2000 and 1400-1800 but they are unfortunately low on my priority list at the moment. I would highly recommend it - what was happening in the world when the first academics journals were published. And 16-1800 is such a fascinating time, the scientific and industrial revolution, the age of enlightenment, the colonial empires and world trade.

The other one I have found a lot of value in is reading through cochrane/cambell reviews (high quality meta studies with readable summaries). There is a summary list of some useful ones here (I can't remember who I got it from though, but thanks whoever you are!)

Comment by kerspoon on "How quickly can you get this done?" (estimating workload) · 2020-01-18T12:52:57.780Z · LW · GW

Yes we tracked time, but only in an aggregate way. Our list of work-tasks had a very rough estimate (XS, S, M, L, XL - each being about twice the size of the previous, and XL being just more than we could complete in a 2 week period). When we came to plan our 2 weeks of work we estimated hours using 'planning poker' (which is a bit like the delphi method - blind estimates by each member of the team, followed by a brief discussion of the reasons for the differences, followed by one more round of blind estimates, then I [as team lead] had the final decision). At the end of the 2 weeks we would talk about each item, this sometimes involved a discussion of the amount of work relative to the estimate (either the initial e.g 'S' or the hours e.g. 4). In our discussions for the tasks people would regularly refer back to previous tasks as reference. We would always talk about our productivity (i.e. the size of the tasks we completed, where XS=1, S=2, M=4 ...) but this was a balancing act, it would be easy to mess up incentives here.

We spent 4h every 2 weeks planning tasks, but that might involve a small discussion/argument over what should be part of each task, not just the estimation. We would also spend 2h and the end of the 2 weeks reflecting on 1) what we had made and how it impacts the development roadmap 2) things to increase MPH (motivation, productivity, happiness - I was far too pleased with myself for coming up with that acronym :P ).

Individually, I thought a lot about how to increase development speed and accuracy in estimates. But that was at least a third of my role in the latter stages, the rest being split with planning the development roadmap and doing actual development.

For a 3h task, most of the time we would spend ~2min listing to one person describe what it is. Then <1min for everyone to show their card with their estimate of the number of hours. Often that was in enough agreement that we wouldn't do anything extra. We did have a few where one person guessed 3h and another guessed 20h, that often resulted in a 10min discussion, as there was clearly a disagreement on how to do that task 'properly').

Comment by kerspoon on "How quickly can you get this done?" (estimating workload) · 2020-01-18T08:16:57.937Z · LW · GW


Comment by kerspoon on "How quickly can you get this done?" (estimating workload) · 2020-01-18T08:16:25.771Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I'll try to write up that post in the next couple of weeks.

In my old software dev team we got very good at estimating the time it would take to complete a single work-package (item on the backlog) but those were at most a couple of days long. What we were not very good at is the estimation of longer term progress, in that case we were in a start up and I think that was unknowable due to the speed at which we would change plans based upon feedback.

Comment by kerspoon on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-18T00:18:53.102Z · LW · GW

I read 'unhealthy puzzle' as a situation in which (without trying to redesign it) you are likely to fall into a pattern that hides the most useful information about your true progress. Situation where you seek confirmatory evidence of your success, but the measures are only proxy measures can often have this feature (relating to Goodhart's law).

  • example: If I want to be a better communicator I might accidentally spend more time with those I can already communicate well. Thus I feel like I'm making progress "the percentage of time that I'm well understood has increased" but not actually have made any change to my communication skills.
  • example: If I want to teach well it would be easier to seem like I'm making progress if I do things that make it harder for the student to explicitly show their confusion - e.g. I might answer my own questions before the student has time to think about them, I might give lots of prompts to students on areas they should be able to answer, I might talk too much and not listen enough.
  • example: If I'm trying to research something I might focus on the areas the theory is already known to succeed.

All of this could be done without realising that you are accidentally optimising for fake-progress.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Social Meetup (and AskMeAnything about the CFAR workshop) · 2013-10-25T14:36:29.944Z · LW · GW

Thanks Phil.

I've really confused it (or myself) with timezones now - I created this from California and tried to edit it here. Let's hope that last changed fixed it. Let me know if it still says the wrong thing.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Social Meetup (and AskMeAnything about the CFAR workshop) · 2013-10-25T14:32:24.348Z · LW · GW

I've fixed it, the arrow is almost right now. Thanks for checking.

Comment by kerspoon on An Introduction To Rationality · 2013-10-22T00:23:05.387Z · LW · GW


I don't really cover limitations of senses. It's an important thing but maybe for another article.

Comment by kerspoon on An Introduction To Rationality · 2013-10-20T16:40:06.463Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the encouragement. I have written another article but I will wait a week to post it. It again is written in a very "telegraphic" style.

Comment by kerspoon on An Introduction To Rationality · 2013-10-20T16:35:24.034Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback.

I wrote this to help me better understand the material when I first came across it. It was sitting doing nothing on my computer for a year and so I decided to just post it. I hope it will be useful as an article for a few beginners.

I agree I should try and make the work more engaging and I have recently read Made to Stick, On Writing Well and Elements of Style to give me ideas on how to improve my writing. I still find it very difficult and time consuming.

Comment by kerspoon on Book Review: Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists (MIRI course list) · 2013-09-23T08:58:56.061Z · LW · GW

I found it difficult to follow (especially in later chapters) not because I lacked any particular knowledge, but because I am not used to the sort of mathematical analysis that was being done.

It didn't assume a particular knowledge but it gets very complicated in a short number of pages and I think people who are not comfortable in some area of mathematics would struggle.

Comment by kerspoon on Book Review: Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists (MIRI course list) · 2013-09-20T15:08:32.072Z · LW · GW

A book I would recommend in a related field is "Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories"

It starts out assuming mathematical knowledge but nothing specific and progresses rapidly. I found it hugely interesting as a piece of general reading (I didn't have a direct purpose for reading the book other than fun).

Comment by kerspoon on Motivation and Merciless Commitment Contracts · 2013-08-08T09:21:58.868Z · LW · GW

One of the tactics I have heard is to pay a friend a certain amount at the start of the night. Each new person or group you start talking to they give you come of the money back. What ever is left you friend gets to keep.

I'm not sure that adding more stress would help overcome social anxiety but if you think it will work then it is probably worth a trial run of $150 of $15 per group you say hi to - that must be done in one night. It it works you can start upping the total number of group you have to talk to but keeping the $150 the same.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Meetup - Achieving Better Goals · 2013-08-06T14:37:42.619Z · LW · GW

I've written a summary of the meetup and the files used below:

Hope you find it interesting.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Meetup - Achieving Better Goals · 2013-08-06T14:36:28.989Z · LW · GW

Glad you could come along. Not read the article; I just found the quote fun. Hope to see you there again.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Meetup - Achieving Better Goals · 2013-08-02T14:25:34.553Z · LW · GW

Looking forward to seeing everyone at 2pm this Sunday. Here is a rough plan on what I plan to cover:

  1. Finding goals for yourself.
  2. Making them a better fit of what you actually want to do (rather than things that sound good).
  3. Turning those goals into tasks you are actually likely to do.
Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London - Inaugural Practical Session - June 9th · 2013-06-09T11:09:45.002Z · LW · GW

Hi, I realise you have crossed out your post but I will answer it anyway,

We are very happy for new people to turn up. It's the first meetup of the new format but that shouldn't matter (it will be a little new for all of us).

We are fairly easy to recognise but we also have the art lebedev paperclip on our tables

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London - Inaugural Practical Session - June 9th · 2013-05-31T20:48:55.545Z · LW · GW

Great stuff, see you there.

Comment by kerspoon on Collecting expressions of interest in a rationality conference in August · 2013-05-28T11:36:16.522Z · LW · GW

I'd definitely go, unless it was on the weekend of the 9th Aug.

I would probably be happy to let some people stay at my house if they were traveling from outside of London. I would have to agree this part with my housemate.

It might also be worth adding to this thread on the LessWrongLondon group!topic/lesswronglondon/sLdnshaeHHg (I would certainly appreciate it as I don't check very often)

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Special Guests: Jaan Tallinn and Michael Vassar of MetaMed · 2013-05-11T18:57:15.285Z · LW · GW

Thanks everyone for coming. It was an intense discussion with quite a few points for me to mull on (and more important a few things I will do). I hope everyone had fun.

It looks like there will be another meetup at 2pm tomorrow (Sunday 12th) in the same place (Shakespeare's Head Holborn). I hope to see you all there.

Some of the points discussed (I'm not saying I agree, simply pointing them out):

  • If you can program computers then get part-time freelance 'rent-a-coder' work online. This is good because it will give you a strong safety net to take risks (e.g. quit work to try doing ..., be able to follow through on leaving if you don't get a raise, whatever). It is also good as you can earn while travelling the world (which you should do). I have also realised that it helps make trade-off decisions easier (e.g. I should hire a cleaner IFF the amount I pay them is less than I can earn doing freelance work in that time).

  • Drugs are good (unless you are an idiot or addict). Psilocybin mushrooms and weed were mentions to expand or change thoughts. Dexadrin and similar were mentioned to work well for learning (not sure if that is keeping focused, memory retention, or other).

  • Quick happiness hack: send thank you letters to people who you should thank.

  • All our special guests talked about about creating a movement, bringing together smart, dedicated people.

  • The Future of Humanity Institute (University of Oxford) is worth visiting and chatting to the people there.

  • There was a discussion (Rikk and others) about having another sort of meetup where we do stuff rather than talk. Or even plan stuff that we then go and do rather than talk. I am strongly in favour of this.

I'm sure there was more that I didn't manage to hear.

Thanks Cat, Michael and Jaan.

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : London Special Guests: Jaan Tallinn and Michael Vassar of MetaMed · 2013-05-05T22:08:03.674Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I assumed that was done automatically. I have fixed it (hopefully).

Comment by kerspoon on Meetup : 16/12 London Meetup · 2012-12-14T15:43:04.690Z · LW · GW

I'm planning on coming too. It will be my first less wrong meetup, anything I need to know beforehand?

Comment by kerspoon on Less Wrong Polls in Comments · 2012-09-25T12:29:23.092Z · LW · GW

Here is one:

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T22:15:12.903Z · LW · GW

I do not know how to move it. If you think it should can you please ask a moderator.

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T10:11:34.953Z · LW · GW

Please see my response to Viliam and ShardPhoenix.

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T10:09:57.662Z · LW · GW

I'm honestly curious. Think of a fact, and then ask yourself why you know it. Out of 5 attempts how many did you actually have no idea why that fact is there.

I would expect if I were to ask people why do you think daffodil flowers need lots of water they would at least say something like, oh I heard it somewhere (assuming that the do indeed believe this). From this I would choose to shift my belief only very very slightly.

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T10:01:43.024Z · LW · GW

I know facts about Zimbardo's prison experiment because I studied it in University. I know the feeling a nail makes when I hit it with a hammer because I have done it. I know Greece has been granted a second bailout because I overheard someone talking about reading it in the news.

These are things that I know why I know them. I guess that you would be able to give me reasons why you think the world is round.

It is harder when there are many small pieces of evidence. I hadn't thought of that. And I agree that my reccomendations are not possible to do all the time.

I would be happy to revise them to only apply when receiving facts you find surprising or you expect the other person to be surprised. That way we only need two, well defined stop signs in our system 1 thinking. Stop sign one is when we hear "I believe ..." find which category it fits into. Sign two is when we are surprised by a fact reply with " fascinating, where did you hear that".

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T09:28:38.539Z · LW · GW

This is my first post, I was unable to post on main.

I am also unaware of how I should decide where to post. What makes a main post?

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T09:27:06.334Z · LW · GW

The difference was very intentional. I wanted to make clear the extra level of indirection between the two phrases. In the second case John may not actually have a bridge on his map at the indicated point, all we know is that he has the note saying that he believes there is a bridge there. It should logically follow that he should only say he believe something to be on his map if is it actually on his map. The point I was trying to make is that sometimes these things do not follow.

Comment by kerspoon on I believe it's doublethink · 2012-02-22T09:22:42.846Z · LW · GW

I agree with you and your reasoning on what you should believe following that. Yet still, I find myself saying to people, "I believe that ..." to emphasise that it is my belief. Maybe I am wrong in doing this but it appears to help people understand that "she is attractive" is not a property of her. I guess I could just make it explicit another way by saying "I find her attractive".

I will concede that it is not the most sensible use of the phrase "I believe" but people will still use it and it will remain helpful to have it as one of the buckets we can separate uses of that phrase into.

Comment by kerspoon on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2012-01-03T12:47:03.239Z · LW · GW

What is the best way to go about this? I have a short chapter written in a state that I am willing to show people.

Comment by kerspoon on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) · 2011-12-27T10:02:50.911Z · LW · GW


I'm a 26 year old guy from the UK. I've finished writing my Ph.D. thesis in "Quantification of risk in large scale wind power integration" and I'm now working as a phone-app framework developer. I spent the last year on a round the world travel where I have spent a lot of my time writing practical philosophy. After coming back I found this site and read the core sequences. I loved them, they echoed a lot of my previous thoughts then took them much further. I felt like they would be easier to understand if they were one article so I have been re-writing bits of them for my own benefit. I am in two minds whether to post them here but I would appreciate the feedback to see if I have understood what was written.