What am I missing? (quantum physics) 2020-08-21T12:39:12.418Z · score: 10 (6 votes)
How can we protect economies during massive public health crises? 2020-03-18T18:56:21.933Z · score: 6 (2 votes)


Comment by kithpendragon on Yet another world spirit sock puppet · 2020-10-25T11:14:22.571Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Afraid I don't have a tweeter, but I'd love to see an RSS feed for the new blog!

Comment by kithpendragon on Should we use qualifiers in speech? · 2020-10-24T00:29:46.233Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I was studying Lojban, I learned about the concept of "evidentials" such as

The intended usage is to make explicit how the speaker came to think whatever follows. Of course, this is different from hedging with phrases like "I could be wrong". I remember thinking at the time that it would be useful to port the use of evidentials to some English conversations.

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T21:18:12.198Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What a beautiful experience that must have been!

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T19:26:28.186Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd never have guessed snow. It's been too long since I've seen snow before late December or early January! Well done :)

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T11:03:34.046Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The shadows cast on a green lawn by morning sun would be a bluer shade of green. If "the sun had not risen high" suggests it's still very early morning, the most likely color is the same but darker since now we're talking about artificial lighting, which still tends to be in the red-yellow part of the spectrum most often and leaves blue shadows just like the sun.

Somehow both answers feel too easy.

Comment by kithpendragon on What colour were the shadows? · 2020-10-19T10:21:11.442Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The sun had not risen high, and the shadows of the posts were long and stark on the lawn

Comment by kithpendragon on How much to worry about the US election unrest? · 2020-10-12T10:53:20.871Z · score: 1 (14 votes) · LW · GW

IMO, the stakes are nowhere near as high as the candidates would have us believe.

In a normal election year, I'd say pretty confidently that it's at least 98% bluster: nothing will change all that much if A wins or if B wins. Most times I don't really even notice that there's a new president unless I'm trying to notice. With Trump on board, I'm still pretty sure that little of consequence will change (at least in the short term) if he does not win a second term. At the end of four years without Trump, I expect the larger federal government complex to be somewhat healthier than it is with him in office, and that's about it. I'm substantially less sure that he'll accept a loss gracefully, but I don't think there's really anything he can do about it. Even "his" "stacked" Supreme Court is bound by the law itself. If the (electoral) votes are for Trump, he wins. Else, he loses. It's pretty cut-and-dry. I've seen a couple of times now where somebody tried to have the results questioned (remember "pregnant chad"?), and still nothing has really changed. In the event of his loss, I expect he'll try to sue, make a lot more noise about the process being rigged against him (personally) using the same media that he cries about all the time, and eventually write a book have a book written about how unfair and broken this whole "democracy" thing is. Meanwhile, Biden will take power and start running things his way, which looks a lot like the old way (before Trump): still broken, but more subtly so. There will continue to be BLM protests as before, and (just like when Trump took office) there will be a rash of anti-the-new-president protests. Some of these will become violent (often after police provocation), but most won't. In a few months, we'll all go back to our regularly scheduled apocalypse. If Biden loses, I expect him to quietly concede the loss like a "good candidate" and go back to making a whole lot of no noise whatsoever like he was doing for most of the last few years, all while we get more of the "new normal" from the White House for another 4 years. The world probably won't end any harder than it already is doing.

And to be clear, Trump is not actually responsible for covid-19, or the orange skies, or Beirut blowing up, or racism and police violence, or named storms past the letter Z (or murder hornets, but they're not actually any more scary than those africanized honey bees from a while back, they've just got really effective PR). Only the details would have changed under another president. All this stuff will continue to happen under the next president, regardless of who "we" "select".

Comment by kithpendragon on Can we hold intellectuals to similar public standards as athletes? · 2020-10-07T09:17:15.104Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Find a way to bet on the outcomes of intellectual performance, make that work public and entertaining in some way, and the bookies will figure out the rest. #slightlyGlib

Comment by kithpendragon on I have discovered a new kind of unemployment. · 2020-10-06T00:17:12.261Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in shipping and I can confirm it's happening there too. I've actually been turning down promotions for about a decade now because I can see how fast most people burn out on the next level, both in executive and management tracks, from being asked to do multiple jobs at once. As recently as two weeks ago I was offered somebody's job right in front of him. I laughed right in my regional manager's face (from across the room; it's 2020 after all). As it is, I'm already doing three-and-a-half (much easier) jobs and picking up the slack (created by bad hiring practices) in another as needed. Getting promoted would mean doing planning work over the largest group at our location, being my own secretary, taking on a number of minor managerial tasks, and interfacing directly with two different chains of command (who often want different outcomes, of course). All this and I'd still be expected to cover for the position I'm in now from time to time. The pay increase for what amounts to each of my current jobs getting promoted while still having to retain almost full functionality in what I do now would be about $1K/month. The answer will always be no. Oh, and we have a hard time keeping entry-level workers because they are expected to work at least six twelve-hour days every week, again due to many years of bad hiring practices. There are promotions from that position in both executive and management tracks. Both involve adding a more focused and responsible skillset to everything else they were already doing. The pay increase is about $1/hr for executive, and I think they end up making less in the management track since they usually end up working fewer hours (except when we're busy, of course). I've seen countless people drop back down to entry level after burning out on the next level up. This, of course, means that many of our entry-level workers are highly skilled, which seems to have (upper) management convinced that we don't need to hire a larger workforce.

My father is a pastor who often complains that he has to be a spiritual leader, an administrator, and often what equates to a politician at the same time. In his case, the overload is a result of the church (on all levels from the institutional to the congregation) being in a partially-necrotic/zombie state that is unable to support the appropriate staff, unwilling to step in and take on the work to let pastors do the thing they trained for, and absolutely unwilling to consolidate resources and move on in a new form (I've noticed that churches tend to be extremely allergic to change).

My neighbor is a retired school teacher who was increasingly stressed out about being required to be teacher, counselor, security guard, and negotiator (with parents) in addition to all the constant retraining as technology becomes more and more integrated in the "educational" environment. Moreover, her teaching role was already badly over-constrained by the need for the students to do well on standardized tests as well as actually trying to learn something. Students of more and more widely differing abilities were being integrated into the same classroom. And all of it was getting incrementally worse every semester. She would have been entirely unprepared for 2020. As it was, she was already extremely motivated to get out of that situation before she burned out; many of her colleagues were less fortunate.

Definitely not just the IT industry, I'm afraid.

Comment by kithpendragon on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-06T00:16:17.070Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Climate change is obviously real and getting worse. We are seeing the early effects already, and they are straining our emergency measures beyond capacity. Immediate and widespread systemic changes are needed to alter course.

I am powerless to effect such changes.

Comment by kithpendragon on On Destroying the World · 2020-09-28T10:49:12.718Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Seriously: like lionhearted said, thanks for the postmortem! The thought process is important. Even if it meant some hurt feelings and a bit of inconvenience, we still got to learn something here. After all, learning something was the point, right? The more data we gather, the more likely we'll be better off in similar situations in other contexts.

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Just This Is It · 2020-09-28T10:12:42.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wild! My experiences of unusual mind states have largely been pretty subtle, and mostly came after months of regular practice.[1] And I haven't had any experience at all that I would be willing to point to as an A&P event. Of course, there's ADHD and a complete lack of retreat time to consider in those results. Someday I'll get out there and see what a good week of dedicated concentration in carefully crafted conditions can do for me. On the other side of the coin, I've been able to use that I have learned from the last few years of meditation and absorbing lots of dharma talks (and a few books) to be a better parent, partner, coworker, and friend to the people around me; so good stuff there!

[^1] To be fair, I did have a few childhood experiences that are consistent with 1st jhana. I even remember having the spontaneous realization that the visual field was entirely a product of the mind. I think I was 8yo at the time.

Comment by kithpendragon on On "Not Screwing Up Ritual Candles" · 2020-09-28T09:53:58.472Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At first I thought this whole article seemed a bit obvious, but then I realized that I grew up churched; these considerations were basically burned into my brain from a young age. You came to all the right conclusions here!

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Just This Is It · 2020-09-21T15:59:38.719Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was actually trying to make a joke by pointing at the extremes and borrowing the "middle road" metaphor from the Buddha, but you're completely correct. And actually, I didn't even have a practice before that book review, so huge thanks to Scott!

For sure there's something to the Zen approach of "just look at it, it's all right there", and also something to Theravada's detailed maps to keep folks from getting too lost along the way. I really enjoy the maps -- they help normalize the experiences -- but in the end I find I tend to make the most progress when I forget about maps and "just look".

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Just This Is It · 2020-09-21T10:15:36.484Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm always amused by the way Theravada teachers will write a book or three explaining in great detail the same territory that Zen teachers will just gesture toward and expect you to figure the rest out for for yourself. Seems like there could be some sort of, iduno, middle road somewhere. ;-P

The litany of Gendlin sits with Egan's Law at the top of a section of my exobrain where I keep stuff I want to remember all the time, right next to a card in an adjacent section of thoughts I'm trying out that just says "one Now at a time".

Comment by kithpendragon on God in the Loop: How a Causal Loop Could Shape Existence · 2020-09-20T11:41:11.259Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Other than the assumption that all universes are inherently loopy, what mechanism would actually prevent such a universe (structured as a loop with multiple timelines) from itself being the original cause for a linear timeline (one that dissolves into a maximally entropic state and stops evolving)? Seems like these offshoots could be extremely numerous compared with timelines that successfully renew an earlier state.

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Map and Territory · 2020-09-17T00:45:00.234Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, so the mapping is host = territory = ultimate reality, guest = map = relative reality? Shades of impermanence from the metaphor, then? Accepting without clinging? Lots of places have had hospitality mores with that kind of flavor -- though I don't know how prevalent they are now and they seem to be all but absent in western culture as far as I'm aware. Is that what you meant by "holds little currency for us Westerners"? If so, you're right that this isn't much of a theme in WTTP as I've heard Jeff teach it, though (as you observed) one might be able to come to it if one were so inclined.

Not trying to be dense here, just trying to make sure I can at least tell what you're pointing at. ;)

Comment by kithpendragon on Zen and Rationality: Map and Territory · 2020-09-16T10:07:30.133Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Jeff Warren teaches a meditation he calls "Welcome to the Party" that your brief mention of "Guest and Host" immediately reminded me of. The meditation teaches a non-clinging open awareness by suggesting the practitioner frame their conscious experience as a party, and every immediate sensory experience becomes a guest. The practitioner is encouraged to greet each "guest" with a brief note acknowledging the experience and an enthusiastic "Welcome to the party!" In my practice, I normally find that "Welcome to the party!" quickly transforms into a very brief mental symbol that resides in concept space near some kind of joyful hospitality, like I love receiving guests -- not actually super typical for me IRL {curiosity, welcome to the party!}.

Now, my knowledge of the Zen tradition is extremely limited, but I wouldn't put it past Jeff to borrow from whatever sources he thought might be useful (as one should). Do you think he might be pointing at (or maybe converging on) the Zen teaching of Guest/Host?

Comment by kithpendragon on How long does it takes to read the sequences? · 2020-09-07T20:13:37.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That depends heavily on circumstances including how often the one is reading, their interest level, whether or not they are taking detailed notes, how often they are interrupted and for how long (like 5 minutes or more like 6 months?), &c.

As a data point, the first time I read the sequences (about 13 years ago, before they were in their current format), it took me about 2 months to get all the way through. For reference: I am fairly extremely distractible, was working a full time job, had fairly demanding family responsibilities, found the material reasonably accessible and very interesting, and was not taking notes of any kind. I hardly expect the sequences were taking up more than half of my reading time, so I probably could have done it in a month or less if I'd been trying to make a project of it.

I also expect that it would take me substantially longer today. I've established a habit of taking copious notes on texts like that, and I now have a small child who demands a large portion of my attention when I'm at home. I am not less distractible, still work full time (though the schedule has changed such that I have more days off but my days on are basically toast as far as getting anything else done), and I suspect that I would have a harder time focusing on material that I've mostly already read. I'd estimate 3-6 months, but wouldn't be terribly surprised if it went longer. If I get around to actually rereading, I'll update with the start and end dates.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-18T21:31:12.918Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

True enough, and there's a slippery slope to a police state in that observation. That's part of the problem, actually: some neighborhoods are much closer to being in that police state than others. Presumably, just as much extralegal activity happens in other places, but we (society) systematically fill jails from these heavily policed areas. Looking back to the original question, I'd say that this suggests crime does not fully "explain the exceptional US incarceration rate". You need to write laws in a particular way and establish at least a partial police state to get that much of your population in jail.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-18T15:26:31.065Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Despite/due to mandatory minimum sentencing, US prisons are full of people who got arrested for (e.g.) having an ounce of pot in their car during a "routine" traffic stop (whatever that is). Just having a law on the books seems to do very little to change the behavior of individuals.

Now, people don't just keep pot in their cars because they're thinking something like "they'll never catch me", in conscious defiance of the rule of law. Nor are they especially worried about what would happen to them if they did get caught. The potheads I know usually turn out to have pot in their cars because they want to smoke/eat the stuff and their home is a long way from their dealer and they had to work that day and they forgot it was in there so it's been there for a week and now the whole car smells like it. They don't usually even seem to think about the legality of their hedonic pastimes at all; they just likes pot and know where to get it.

This behavior is not consistent with prison time being an effective deterrent.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-17T13:00:05.331Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You could get that by comparing with other countries that reduced their homicide rates by similar amounts over similar timescales.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-17T12:58:46.820Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard that, but I've never come across any convincing evidence that it works. Rather the opposite if I remember correctly: people generally don't seem to commit criminal actions out of disrespect for the law, which is the motivation a deterrent would be addressing most. I fully agree, though, that people would likely bring deterrence up if asked what prisons are for.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-17T12:49:19.060Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The work OP did in the update does use homicide as a proxy for crime, but still finds that the US is "an enormous outlier" in the world when comparing homicide rates with incarceration rates. We also see enormous imbalances along (socially constructed) racial lines with regard to arrest rates, convictions, and sentencing, implying that the state of our prisons has little to do with "crime rates" as such.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does crime explain the exceptional US incarceration rate? · 2020-08-16T10:08:25.831Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Crime is a social construct shaped by laws (also constructed) and police actions (collectively an expression of the sociopolitical zeitgeist). If our crime rate is high, it's because we've constructed crime in such a way as to make it so.

Crime does not require incarceration. There are huge swaths of history where basically the only thing that would get you thrown into prison was failure to pay your debts. Or having severe mental illness, but they didn't usually call that prison. Granted, the state often killed people under those systems, but I think we can do better than that if we make it our goal.

Any given prison has a subset of these three purposes:

  • Protecting the prisoner and the public from each other
  • Rehabilitating the prisoner
  • Punishing the prisoner

The fewer purposes an institution tries to fulfill, the more successful it is likely to be. The current prison system in America is a muddled mess of all three. Just stop a random small group of friends and ask them what prisons are for; they'll probably argue about it for a long time if experience is any judge. If we could pick an actual single purpose for the prison system, I'm betting it would be better than it is now just for that, and a large number of current prisoners would no longer qualify for the "program".

Huh... unexpectedly detailed opinions on this one. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Comment by kithpendragon on Negative "eeny meeny miny moe" · 2020-08-14T12:50:31.864Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Going through my exobrain, I found a note about this post that got my attention. Rereading it with more history under my belt and in the mid-2020 sociopolitical context, I came to wonder if it intentionally (if indirectly) calls out a pattern of abuse in history leading to the current state of patriarchy, white supremacy, and American "democracy" among others? Or was it simply an observation on a quirk in a children's game that just happens to be more broadly applicable than it first seemed?


Comment by kithpendragon on What are examples of 'scientific' studies that contradict what you believe about yourself? · 2020-08-03T10:24:01.457Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Disclaimer: I acknowledge my own zeal on this topic and I am genuinely curious about your experience. My own experience of having conversations in public and semi-public spaces disrupted by people interrupting with urgent cries of "spoilers" has generated some resentment that may leak into the discussion. That resentment is not meant for you specifically. I seek understanding.


Perhaps you could elaborate, because "spoilers don't ruin people's enjoyment of stories" stands up to at least a quick examination.

If we accept "spoilers" to mean something like "knowledge of specific elements of the plot", and we took this knowledge to be a negative on the story consuming experience, I would expect a very different-looking world:

  • Nobody would want to buy DVDs in a world where streaming and cinemas exist
  • Nobody would want to watch the same movie more than once. (I remember people going back to see Titanic in theaters 3 or more times)
  • I wouldn't expect the term "cult classic" to mean what it does. (Have you seen/heard what audiences do at the Rocky Horror Picture Show?)
  • Broadway and other theater industries would have to operate on the assumption that they would never get a repeat customer. ("Cats! Now and forever at the Winter Garden Theatre!")
  • The TV rerun would probably be a very limited thing if it existed at all
  • Nobody would have a favorite book that they've ever read more than once. In fact, I doubt the print industry would even bother with fiction at all
  • I wouldn't expect individuals or groups to have a favorite joke (defined by its "surprise" ending)
  • We wouldn't have the monomyth, or any other stories that get told over and over in myriad very slightly different iterations. Likewise, story cycles would never have become a literary device. (e.g. Marvel movies, Star Wars)

That said, if the only reason you enjoy stories is the surprise generated by newly discovering the creativity of the writing, then spoilers might, indeed, "reduce [the] enjoyment of a story", but that's apparently not commonly stopping people from consuming as though they could enjoy a story that they may already know well enough to tell it to others with great precision from memory.

Comment by kithpendragon on Photos Before Drywall · 2020-07-28T13:19:48.070Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a bit more work, but a labeled diagram accompanying the images would be helpful. Which pipe is that, exactly? Where does that wire come from and go to? That's just generic conduit, what's actually in it? What is the measured height on that feature (this could be solved by ruling the studs, or adding a yard/meter stick to the photo)? While they are so much better than nothing, there are many questions that photos are not able to address, but that a bit of text would help tremendously.

For that matter, maybe we should also be documenting all that stuff on the studs and conduits and pipes themselves so that when we open things up everything is clearly described right there for us.

Comment by kithpendragon on What You Are · 2020-07-13T23:08:34.374Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perception, memory, and time might be especially tricky in a sufficiently altered state. I'm told it's sometimes extremely difficult to know what the mind is making up. What aspects of each would be most helpful to remember when you might not be sure what (if any) of your current experiences correspond with the territory outside your own brain?

Comment by kithpendragon on What You Are · 2020-07-13T13:53:07.032Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Curious: it sounds like maybe you don't think any experiences have neutral valence? Consider things your mind-body complex routinely perceives, but that don't (typically) get automatically promoted to your conscious attention; what it's like to wear pants or breathe the air in your own home, for example.

Or perhaps that kind of subtlety is simply unhelpful in context? I've never experienced the kind of altered state you seem to be trying to navigate more skillfully, and everybody I've spoken to (perhaps predictably) describes it in different terms, so I find it hard to get a bead on what might be too much depth for the situation.

Comment by kithpendragon on [Reference request] Can Love be Explained? · 2020-07-07T11:51:20.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Clarification: are you asking about the feeling of craving interaction with another person, or the compassionate feeling of wanting to help when you notice their suffering? The growth of each of those feelings is often referred to as "falling in love", but are quite different experiences.

From your list, I remember reading that the primary factor is proximity, though I don't have a source right now.

Comment by kithpendragon on PSA: Cars don't have 'blindspots' · 2020-07-03T00:12:51.001Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes! A thousand times this! Thank you for the validation!

Comment by kithpendragon on A reply to Agnes Callard · 2020-06-28T15:49:03.955Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was able to read the op-ed in a private window (I don't have a subscription to the Times anyway). The article is written in the context of a petition "opposing the deplatforming of philosophers on the basis of their views on sex and gender." Callard chose not to sign. She argues herself back and forth a few times about why before settling on the opinion that philosophers should not engage in political behavior (such as petitioning) to convince each other about the ethics of their profession because doing so is unprofessional in the context of academic philosophy, a field that she asserts must remain dedicated to "belief acquisition [that is committed to being] intellectually honest, conducive to knowledge, nonaggressive, inquisitive, respectful."

Comment by kithpendragon on A reply to Agnes Callard · 2020-06-28T11:43:45.569Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

News outlets would probably tell you their interface is facts. Seems to me that "facts" and "carefully reasoned argument" should be compatible modes.

When using the public interface explicitly presented by an institution fails to produce any apparent effect, it seems reasonable to try another. NYT also has an obvious corporate interface (purchase and sale of articles) and, as a publisher, a related political interface (exchange of news for views provides a vote-like structure on the content of the stories that the corporation would probably respond to in the absence of other factors).

Unfortunately, this corporate/political interface is a slow and post-hoc way of communicating with a large organization. The traditional actions when seeking a rapid response from a corporate or political entity are collective bargaining and petition respectively. Formally unionizing doesn't seem immediately useful in this situation.

Comment by kithpendragon on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-26T18:16:57.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(nodding) I hear that. One more note: other than using the link text as the title of the preview, I don't see anything visually connecting the preview with the link. This makes the feature substantially less discoverable than the current solution, and it could potentially be confusing to have a seemingly random box suddenly appear on the side of the page for no immediately apparent reason if you accidentally hover over a link.

Comment by kithpendragon on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T10:49:16.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it matters that the link preview covers the content because the preview should be where your attention is when you're engaging with that feature. Now that it's fairly standard for the content section to take up the middle ~1/3 of the screen, there's plenty of empty space on both sides where the mouse cursor can be routinely kept out of the way. It's more useful to have the cursor near the scrollbar or browser UI most of the time anyway. In fact, it's optimal to keep the cursor in a set region of the screen when you aren't using it so you always know where it is. Accidentally triggering the preview window can be a useful indicator that the cursor is in the wrong place a sub-optimal resting position.

Comment by kithpendragon on Has anyone explored deliberate infection with milder coronavirus strains for cross-immunity? · 2020-06-24T09:23:43.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Last I heard, we still don't even know how much or what kind of protection an active immune response would afford against COVID-19, or for how long. But I fully agree that a cold would be an acceptable cost for protection against community spread if it turns out to work that way.

Comment by kithpendragon on What are some Civilizational Sanity Interventions? · 2020-06-23T14:01:53.100Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure "conspiracy" is appropriate here. The existing Powers That Be (both political and corporate) have individual and collective interests in maintaining their current conditions. That they might each and all act to preserve the status quo (where they are powerful) probably does not actually require coordination of any kind, nor the secrecy that usually accompanies the term "conspiracy". I expect that no matter how effective prediction markets are, they will generally lack the necessary slack to dominate the existing systems.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does equanimity prevent negative utility? · 2020-06-20T23:24:18.050Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've had kidney stones and I fully endorse the "multiple orders of magnitude worse" sentiment! I look forward to never finding out if my equanimity is strong enough to overcome that level of pain.

Comment by kithpendragon on Does equanimity prevent negative utility? · 2020-06-20T23:21:55.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My experience after several years of daily meditation is that while I am still entirely able to feel pain and act on its message, I often "suffer" over it less. To clarify, instead of what my 4yo does when he gets a bump or scrape (fully inhabits the pain, cries it out, often displays a long-term mood drop), or how I used to handle pain (TBH, similar but less loudly and wetly), my current reaction is more like "Ouch. That sucks. Do I need to make repairs?" and move on with my life. If I'm particularly on my game that day, I might even observe the sensations as the pain evolves over time.

Most clinical definitions of pain that I've seen specify that it has an emotional component. Though exactly which emotion that might be is (as far as I've seen) always elided, I expect it's simple aversion. Equanimity practices seem to be designed to let us choose to experience sensations with less (approaching zero) aversion or clinging emotional content. Without the aversion, it seems you simply aren't experiencing "pain" anymore. This is also suggested when meditation teachers claim that if you can summon curiosity or interest in the painful sensation, you don't have pain anymore. I also keep hearing that aversion and clinging are where suffering comes from in the first place, which lines up nicely with all that.

Comment by kithpendragon on Status-Regulating Emotions · 2020-06-14T12:04:29.692Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

OMG, this explains SO MUCH of my childhood!!

I just had a fully hour-long conversation with my household about this. Apparently the only other person who didn't know about it was the preschooler. The others helped me explore how status regulation is probably a huge contributor to the persistence of racism, classism, and that thing where communities tend to strongly distrust "blowins".

Mind blown; thanks for that!

Comment by kithpendragon on On the construction of the self · 2020-06-03T17:00:26.134Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That tracks with descriptions I've heard from other meditators of working with the mind in rarified states, but it's unfortunate for the purposes of discourse. Ah well; back to the cushion, then!

Comment by kithpendragon on On the construction of the self · 2020-06-02T20:01:35.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like the memories generated by a mind with a substantial amount of enlightenment should be notably different than those of a person who still has a fully established sense of self. I think I see a little of what I'm pointing at hinted in "An example of a no-self experience". If I'm right, it suggests (yet another way in which) I've got a lot of work to do in my own practice, and it might be diagnostic as to how a practice is progressing along one axis; I'd be interested to see a discussion on the topic.

Comment by kithpendragon on A Taijitu symbol for Moloch and Slack · 2020-05-26T00:31:05.690Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Beautiful! I love that pair of concepts that each have seemingly limitless dimension to explore can be represented together so elegantly by a single curve!

Comment by kithpendragon on From self to craving (three characteristics series) · 2020-05-25T15:13:03.623Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've been examining anatta recently, and this article really helped clarify some thinking for me! It clicked when my training in computer science began framing the problem in terms of a Self class that gets instantiated each time a subroutine needs a Self object to manipulate for some project. If the brain doesn't do a good job cleaning up old instances, or if multiple instances of the same class have a tendency to coincide and share memory space (perhaps they cross-link heavily to save RAM, as it were), it might lead to a sense of a continuous entity.

Decreasing the coincident instances of Self by reducing dependencies in the decision making processes on the craving subroutines that heavily depend on Self objects could lead to times where some processes looks for any current instance of Self but finds none available (because they've all been cleaned up for once), then returns a code for NO_SELF_FOUND. This could lead to a feeling of "there is no self" as an observation on the current state of the Global workspace. The calling process may also elect to work in Global directly. If another process then notices self-like code hanging out nakedly in Global it might start acting like Global is an instance of Self, leading to a sense of "all is self".

If true, this would explain why there's so much disagreement on the best translation of "anatta", and also why teachers sometimes claim that no-self and all-self amount to the same thing in the end.

I don't know if all that is functionally representative of what's going on, but it seems worth playing with for a while. At the least, it gives a good sense of why we might pretend to "be the sky"!

Comment by kithpendragon on Why do you (not) use a pseudonym on LessWrong? · 2020-05-07T20:46:16.311Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Names are a complicated thing. I have several, myself. I hardly ever use my birth/government name for anything except official documents. At work I'm mononymously known as Red for reasons so old they're forgotten to all but myself; but it's not so much a nickname anymore as it is my work persona; I even use it on the phone now. A very limited set of people call me Dad or Daddy. Almost everybody else calls me Kith, and that's the name I use online. It honestly wouldn't have occurred to me to use one of my other names here. I don't normally think of it as a pseudonym, but since it's not on my legal documents I suppose at least some people would.

Comment by kithpendragon on How much money would you pay to get access to video footage of your surroundings for a year of your choice (in the past)? · 2020-05-05T10:12:41.164Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

None thanks, I'm good. :)

Comment by kithpendragon on Meditation: the screen-and-watcher model of the human mind, and how to use it · 2020-05-03T22:14:24.272Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand it, the sense of self eventually vanishes entirely, leaving only the immediate psycho/physiological phenomena that "know themselves", whatever that means. ;)

Comment by kithpendragon on Meditation: the screen-and-watcher model of the human mind, and how to use it · 2020-05-03T20:08:06.778Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The usual move the teachers suggest is to imagine the mind as the sky with thoughts and feelings and sensations as clouds floating through it. You don't have to get involved with the clouds, just watch as they grow and change and float on by. Let them be. You could also use the ocean or a river if you like waves and eddies and fishes better than clouds. I like the ocean, myself, because the waves on the shore analogue pretty well with the breath (the breath is the standard meditation anchor, though you could actually use any sensation).

Another move would be to imagine the whole of experience as taking place on a stage, with each of the "sense doors" (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, thought) as an actor. The role of attention itself becomes more obvious here (maybe use a spotlight if you like concrete images), but it's a step back toward the movie/viewer metaphor. Come to that, tho, I've never heard a teacher talk about an audience...

As for changing cognitive habits, the effect is something like taking things less personally; stuff just unfolds and you can choose to get involved or not.

In my experience, even a little taste of anatta has helped me to better notice -- and take more advantage of -- the space between impulse and action. I've found that skill to be extremely beneficial, even at what I assume to be the lowest levels!

Comment by kithpendragon on Meditation: the screen-and-watcher model of the human mind, and how to use it · 2020-05-03T13:29:55.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've been using Ten Percent Happier (app, podcast, and books) for a few years now. The app subscription is $80/year, and there are a number of ways to get free content, including a short free trial period on the app.

The app has guided meditations, short talks, and courses from a number of widely respected teachers. It tends toward the beginner-level stuff, but there's a ton of content available for a variety of interests and experience levels.