Posts

Meetup : Rochester Rationalists: Utopia discussion meetup 2016-04-10T17:05:08.527Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Meetup : Rochester LessWrong and Transhumanists 2015-08-19T03:46:17.135Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Open Thread, October 27 - 31, 2013 2013-10-28T00:59:16.871Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Philadelphia - What Bayesianism taught me 2013-10-04T11:50:25.314Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Meetup : Philadelphia - The Sword of Good 2013-09-18T03:09:34.800Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Meetup : Philadelphia - Humans are not automatically strategic 2013-08-23T00:41:46.330Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Philadelphia informal meetup 2013-07-25T01:31:13.076Z · score: 2 (3 votes)

Comments

Comment by mare-of-night on Meetup : Rochester Rationalists: Utopia discussion meetup · 2016-04-10T17:11:30.005Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Join our Google group to be notified of future meetups!

Comment by mare-of-night on Gamified psychiatry · 2016-01-17T01:42:46.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I second this.

Comment by mare-of-night on Welcome to LessWrong (January 2016) · 2016-01-17T01:16:26.423Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hello! I've been a reader since 2012 or so, and used to comment occasionally under a different username. (I switched because I wanted to be less directly connected to my real name.)

Comment by mare-of-night on [Link] Huffington Post article promoting Effective Altruist ideas · 2015-12-06T17:04:46.518Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

+1 for looking at the evidence (comments)

Comment by mare-of-night on 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists · 2015-07-26T15:56:32.788Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was a weird feeling; I didn't realize that this was my own comment, and only checked the username when that last paragraph seemed eerily familiar.

As a follow-up: I got a good full-time job starting in January 2015. I've got 10% of post-tax earnings from my internships set aside in a savings account to donate when Givewell announces 2015 recommendations, and I'll add 5% of this year's pre-tax salary to that donation also. Nothing actually donated yet, but it seems really unlikely that I won't do it. I'm planning to keep donating 5% of pre-tax as a token amount for the next few years, and have a few plans for how I might be able to donate more later. I was several months late in deciding to do this and setting up the savings account, so my reminder emails didn't work perfectly, but in the end I did it.

Comment by mare-of-night on Lifehack Ideas December 2014 · 2014-12-13T08:58:57.586Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The main problem I've had with it is that a too-large dose makes me feel sleepy the next day. (3mg, felt extremely sleepy for 4 hours after getting up, and I'd slept in a bit more than normal, too.) My results are a bit strange, though, because another medication I take interacts with it. 1/4mg (guesstimated by cutting the pills with a knife) is usually enough for me.

Comment by mare-of-night on Lifehack Ideas December 2014 · 2014-12-13T08:49:27.064Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

These probably aren't the best ones out there, just what came to mind easily:

  • For people who take a few different medications, those weekly pill box things - it takes less attention to do it all at once when non-groggy.

  • Keeping one's workspace clean and organized might be an example; a lot of people say they can pay attention more easily when things are clean.

  • Keep bicycle tires well pumped - makes you go a lot faster. (Also, having the correct kind of tires. Mountain bike tires are slow on pavement.)

  • Set up the computer/browser to automatically open the tabs/programs you use the most. (I know some people who do this on their work computers.)

  • "no 'poo" hair washing makes hair less oily so you need to wash it less often. Also cheaper. (baking soda + vinegar is the usual method.)

  • buying two weeks' worth of groceries at once so you don't have to shop as often

  • Dvorac and other alternative keyboard layouts

  • email inbox automation things (I've not used any, but people seem to like them)

Comment by mare-of-night on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-18T05:20:57.298Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey.

Did anyone else fall on the borderline for some of these questions? I was in a weird space for the one about whether you ever had a relationship with someone else from LW (they introduced me to LW).

Comment by mare-of-night on Things You Can't Countersignal · 2014-11-16T05:02:32.637Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I usually mean it as counter-signalling (from the inside, it feels like I'm talking in a way that I find more fun/interesting/funny), but I have little bits of self-depreciation as part of my normal speech. I have to consciously turn it off for job interviews, because in that context it always gets taken literally. This is probably why. (Possibly also some influence from the other person consciously trying to evaluate me during the conversation.)

Comment by mare-of-night on Link: Interesting Video About Automation and the Singularity · 2014-11-15T07:10:08.543Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't thought of religion, but that makes a lot of sense. I could also see homemade gifts being really popular - making something specifically for someone is about more than the thing itself, so it isn't so easily replaceable. I'd also be interested to see what happens when people have so much time and energy to devote to their relationships, with things like that.

Hm.. I'm not really sure how price incentives would work in this context. Avoiding monopolies would definitely be important. If we assume that problem is solved, would competing on price be enough? It's a really weird sort of economics, when most of the customers' income comes from a corporate tithe... I'm too tired for math at the moment, might take a look at it later.

Comment by mare-of-night on Link: Interesting Video About Automation and the Singularity · 2014-11-14T19:32:01.797Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Who is the unnamed actor who does this enforcing, establishing, and requiring?

Ideally everyone, but probably with some opinion leaders and media outlets being the ones to spread the news about norm violations.

How far does the contagion spread?

I'd assumed it'd be a full boycott rather than a boycott in ratios. A half-boycott seems likely to fail for the same reasons that trying to "eat less meat" doesn't work well for humans. I'm not sure how many degrees of separation that would apply to, or even if it needs to be a specific number - in practice, I don't think anyone wants to bother following the "who bought from who" trails indefinitely. Two or three would probably be enough, though - it just has to be enough to make public pressure for boycotts against B2B products feasible.

How do they come to all agree?

Standards of transparency might need some kind of formal system. I don't know what exactly, but that's not really the hard part of the problem anyway. I was picturing the definition of what counts as an offence working more like cultural norms than a specific standard, though. Which people wouldn't always agree on - if a meat-growing company starts selling "traditionally farmed" factory farm chicken in addition to its' grown chicken, maybe half the population thinks that's bad and starts buying their grown chicken elsewhere, the other half thinks it's fine and keeps doing business with the company, and the company can decide whether having a traditional meats product line is worth loosing half its' other business. Though, the problem with that is that it'd breed companies that specialize in doing business with niches that don't care much about morals, or have very different morals. I'm not sure what to do about that yet, or how big a problem it would be.

Does this only apply to large companies, or to companies of all sizes? The self-employed? Everyone?

There'd need to be some schelling point for company size that allows smaller, younger companies to get started without being so vulnerable to the public. I don't know exactly what that schelling point would be. (Under the current system, having it start at a number of employees, dollar amount of profit, or the owners' degree of insulation from personal liability (sole proprietorship vs. LLC vs. publicly traded) would all be possibilities. But I can't say for sure what it should be in this hypothetical future society, because laws and enforcement of laws and balances of power will have changed a lot.

What stabilises the value of this fiat currency of opprobrium?

I'm not sure what this means. Can you explain?

Comment by mare-of-night on Link: Interesting Video About Automation and the Singularity · 2014-11-14T19:26:24.597Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Art and relationships (including family and friendships) are the two big places left for fulfillment, that I see. Culture and/or institutions (town governments, media, companies, etc) would have to actively encourage people to do active, constructive things, though, I think - the failure mode where you do nothing but watch TV and play video games all day is probably even easier to fall into in a society where material comfort is easy to get and leaving the house is usually unnecessary. Rewarding people with recognition when they do things that are good for them seems like one way - frequent local contests for things like art, music and cooking so people can get social fulfillment from hobbies more easily.

Which isn't to say it won't be a problem - just that there's stuff people can do about it.

Comment by mare-of-night on Link: Interesting Video About Automation and the Singularity · 2014-11-13T08:17:20.289Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Should we consider minimum income proposals more closely?

Pretty much.

A friend and I were talking about this the other day, in response to this same video. The big problem we saw with government-supplied basic income, is there's a single point of failure - if the government becomes too corrupt, you're out of luck.

An alternative option would be enforcing a norm of companies being very transparent with their finances, and tithing part of their profits to the general public. That system would probably be really hard to establish, but seems like it might be more sustainable; people have a lot of time on their hands that could be put toward keeping tabs on companies, and if one steps too far out of line, everyone boycotts it. This would probably also require punishing non-punishers - if a company that sells its' products to other companies steps out of line, people would have to boycott that company's customers, too. Some companies would be harder than others to retaliate against, though - especially utility companies and monopolies.

This entire post is mostly stuff I thought of or heard of yesterday; I have no idea if it's actually feasible, and likely it's not. But I'd like to hear the reasons why not.

Comment by mare-of-night on Things to consider when optimizing: Commuting, Transportation · 2014-11-11T07:15:56.507Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone know whether the handlebars tend to vibrate when you ride? I know it sounds like a small thing, but the scooter I had as a child did this and the feeling of it drove me mad for some reason.

Comment by mare-of-night on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-11-08T04:31:41.334Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This was really, really good for me to hear. I think permission to not be a hero was something I needed. (The following is told vaguely and with HP:MOR metaphors to avoid getting too personal.)

I had a friend who I tried really hard to help, in different ways at different times, but most of it all relating to the same issue. I remember once spending several days thinking really hard about an imminently looming crisis, trying to find some creative way out, and eventually I did but it was almost as bad an idea as using hufflepuff bones to make weapons so I didn't do it. It was probably also morally wrong, but even now I can't quite get that on an emotional level.

At one point, I thought I was in a position to start doing something about the core problem. I kept trying, but it wasn't working. And then I tried too hard and made everything worse, then temporarily cut ties to avoid doing more damage. Said goodbye a while later, and walked away.

We still talk, occasionally. They're still in hell. I left them there. I walked away without letting the prisoner out of their cell.

I have a lot of roadblocks in my mind, put there to avoid depression and such, which are stopping me from feeling terrible about it. I still wonder at the back of my mind if maybe I should feel terrible, for leaving a friend to their fate like that. I'm trying to think now whether there's anything I still could do, but my brain is putting up a big flashing warning sign not to do that. And when I try to think objectively about it without heading into risky mental territory, expected value of me trying to help again does not look good. I guess maybe this is where equal and opposite advice applies.

Anyway, thanks for this post. I think I did the right think by leaving, but it doesn't feel that way.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-30T03:05:37.765Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've been doing the same thing, for a while. I also get turned off a bit by the snake oil, and I've been following some of the mailing lists long enough that the content starts to feel repetitive. I might still buy, if he ever put out anything inexpensive (doesn't seem likely, but Jeff Walker did a while ago even though his business has a similar strategy, so it might happen..).

I wonder if everyone gets that slight snake oil feeling from him? And in particular, whether the kinds of marketing he's using still work when the reader recognizes what tactic is being used.

Comment by mare-of-night on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-29T18:48:44.303Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if I understand the question, either. But, if there's someone whose brain you've already asked to borrow before, asking them whether it's annoying is probably a thing you should do (assuming you're similar to me).

I tend to feel like I'm asking for free stuff and offering nothing in return when I ask for advice, especially from people who I don't know well (or don't know at all - like forums I've just joined). But, most people who I ask for advice don't act like I'm wasting their time, and the times I've asked whether they mind, they usually say they don't mind or they like being helpful for the sake of it. And when other people ask me for advice, I tend to enjoy the conversation if it's a topic I have any knowledge/experience in, and sometimes it's sort of flattering to be asked. So, it looks to me like mentoring people is something that most humans enjoy doing, but some humans don't ask for it as often as we should because we mistakenly think it's a burdensome request.

(Also, as a data point, straightforward brain borrowing feels like a better offer than RPG playing. Probably because lending brains feels like building social capital and doing something useful, but RPG format registers as self-indulgent thing that I don't have time for, and unlikely to be as fun as just talking about it would be.)

Having at least a friendly acquaintanceship with the person to begin with does make it easier to ask, though. Getting to know intimidating people who seem like they're a level above yours, and possibly actually are, is a difficult thing that I don't know much about myself. Though it's probably more about dealing with one's own nervousness and awkwardness than anything - the higher level person will probably see it as ordinary making friends. And some people don't mind strangers asking them for help, so even if you don't know the person you want to talk to, it could still be worth asking. Or you can ask in a group context, like a forum, and see who shows up.

Speaking of which, I'm gonna make myself ask the bootstrap startup forum for help by the end of the day today, because your post reminded me that I really need the advice and really shouldn't be so scared of offending them by being too new and unknowable to reciprocate right away.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-29T17:56:37.330Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There have been discussions here in the past about whether "extreme", lesswrong-style rationality is actually useful, and why we don't have many extremely successful people as members of the community.

I've noticed that Ramit Sethi often uses concepts we talk about here, but under different names. I'm not sure if he's as high a level as we're looking for as evidence, but he appears to be extremely successful as a businessman. I think he started out in life/career coaching, and then switched to selling online courses when he got popular. His stuff is generally around the theme of "how to win at life", but focused on his own definition of that, which is mainly having a profitable and interesting career. (He has a lot of free content which is only inconvenience-walled by being part of a mailing list - this video is one of those things.)

I'm curious if anyone else here knows of him, and what you think of him.

Comment by mare-of-night on Introducing Effective Altruist Profiles · 2014-10-08T23:22:58.736Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I liked that you started by generating profiles from the EA survey. When I got the email about it, it made me feel like I'd been invited to join the site.

Is there any kind of discussion area on the website? I looked for one and couldn't find it. (I know there are EA forums for this; I was just being a confused user because "community site" implied blog or forum, to me.)

Comment by mare-of-night on What's the right way to think about how much to give to charity? · 2014-09-28T02:48:42.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Reading over the other comments, I think a lot of this is about finding the right schelling point.

This past summer, I put a bunch of reminders spaced out by a month or two into my google calendar that say "make effective altruist plan" - the idea being to make some sort of contract with myself before I graduate and get a regular income again, and sit down and think about what goes into that contract many different times before actually "signing" (which will probably be showing it to a trusted friend or two and asking them to help hold me to it with social pressure). I'm probably at an advantage timing-wise, since I'm able to think about it while having some idea what my finances will be like (I've lived on my own while working a long internship, so I have a rough idea about groceries and rent and things), and before much chance of lifestyle inflation and hedonic adaptation happening.

I expect most of my donations will happen once I've got my career figured out. Right now, I think that will mean having a collection of small business activities that I can live off of, and end up with a really large surplus if I do well which I could donate, but something totally different could happen if I find I'm not cut out for self-employment. The contract is mainly about setting something up so that I stay in the habit of donating large-ish amounts, so that I won't be as likely to feel uncomfortable and change my mind if I get rich.

10% seems to be the most common schelling point, so I started from there. But that didn't feel like it was leaving me enough surplus to save as business-starting money. The current draft of the contract says 5% donated at whatever time of year it makes financial sense to (I know a lot of people base donations on tax seasons), 5% saved in an account that's only to be used for investing in things that I expect to be worthwhile profit-wise (likely my own projects). Money I use out of that savings account would be recorded, and that amount would eventually be donated later. If I don't use the account, it gets donated.

If you're worried about unpredictable expenses (like medical bills), maybe the charity-or-specific-other-use savings account would make sense for you? Also, if you've already got a full budget, looking first at where you'd cut back to make room for charity might make more sense than abstract percentages.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, September 8-14, 2014 · 2014-09-12T16:54:04.543Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I might have misremembered. Sorry about that.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, September 8-14, 2014 · 2014-09-12T16:52:44.905Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Compare the options, and choose the one that results in the greatest (pleasure - suffering)."

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, September 8-14, 2014 · 2014-09-10T05:41:13.931Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it depends? People around here use utilitarianism to mean a few different things. I imagine that's the version talked about the most because the people involved in EA tend to be those types (since it's easier to get extra value via hacking if your most important values are something very specific and somewhat measurable). I think that might also be the usual philosopher's definition. But then Eliezer (in the metaethics sequence) used "utilitarianism" to mean a general approach to ethics where you add up all the values involved and pick the best outcome, regardless of what your values are and how you weight them. So it's sometimes a little confusing to know what utilitarianism means around here.

(Edited for spelling.)

Comment by mare-of-night on Rationalist house · 2014-08-29T22:22:16.163Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, thanks.

Comment by mare-of-night on Rationalist house · 2014-08-29T20:49:54.661Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I just saw your website, and it looks like a really neat idea. (I tried to make a whole foods soylent myself, and couldn't achieve a texture that didn't gross me out.) My body doesn't usually handle eggs well, but I'll probably join the crowdfund to try it anyway, since it'd be so convenient if it did work.

Do you have any plans to publish a recipe? (I imagine it would be possible to make substitutions, for people in situations like mine.) Kudos for avoiding so many of the common allergy foods (gluten/soy/corn/peanuts).

Comment by mare-of-night on Meetup : Buffalo Meetup · 2014-08-19T16:30:05.866Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm looking at starting a meetup in Rochester (or possibly on the RIT campus). Are you still interested in attending? If you are, I can give you a poke on this comment thread when I have something more specific posted.

Comment by mare-of-night on Boring Advice Repository · 2014-08-12T01:36:21.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the US, Mint.com can give you nice graphs of when and how you spend money, too.

Comment by mare-of-night on Boring Advice Repository · 2014-08-11T22:41:58.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For example a cutting board should be large and easy to wash. An increased size can make cutting much easier.

Depending on where you're using it. When my roommates leave the kitchen to cluttered to use, a small cutting board that fits on the desk in my bedroom is really nice to have. (Use case is usually eating cheese or carrots while doing homework - it doubles as a plate. I wouldn't want to chop meat that way.)

Comment by mare-of-night on Roles are Martial Arts for Agency · 2014-08-11T20:21:34.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome :)

Comment by mare-of-night on Roles are Martial Arts for Agency · 2014-08-08T04:50:01.744Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I really enjoyed this post. Useful topic, some new insight that suggests other insights (as Gunnar_Zarncke pointed out), good examples.

Comment by mare-of-night on Roles are Martial Arts for Agency · 2014-08-08T04:31:29.422Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What does that role entail for you?

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-08-04T01:45:12.736Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! That looks interesting.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-31T02:25:22.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks! I'll have a look.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-30T19:38:58.175Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, thanks :) I figured that different diets are good for different people, since that's what seemed to happen for people I know. But I wanted to find out how common and how extreme that sort of thing is, since if people are getting results like "I can handle going to school now", then people should be more aware of it than they are.

I'm pretty sure I already know the most important reactions for me - I've gotten to the point that there's not anything really really wrong anymore. I didn't expect the rest to just be in a book somewhere, since what I've already found out by experimenting doesn't match up to any known pattern other than "diet does stuff".

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-30T18:48:53.198Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I didn't make the intent clear. I do want to do more experiments on myself, and I need to work on figuring out a non-annoying way to collect data so I can do that. But I'm also really curious how common this sort of thing is in other people. So the library research is for testing your alternate hypothesis, and my hypothesis that some people are strongly influenced by food but mistake it for a chronic problem.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-30T18:14:33.710Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've suspected that food might have more affect on people in general than general opinion says it does. But I act really differently on my diet vs. when eating what most Americans eat (I haven't tried eating normally since childhood because the effects are too unpleasant, but I've made enough mistakes in a row to come close on one occasion - see my comment to James_Miller), and most other people act more like me on a good diet than me on a bad diet.

I've considered generalizing from one example when it comes to people who do act similar to me with a bad diet. I tend to keep quiet about it because it comes off as really insensitive to tell someone that their depression might be caused by the candy they eat, when I don't have any evidence for that besides generalizing from my own experience.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-30T18:00:55.517Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good hypothesis. I still don't think I'm completely normal, because when I eat a typical American diet I can't function in society, which most people seem to be able to do. (Mainly thinking of a family trip where I ate out a lot and wasn't as careful as usual, and after a couple days I was breaking down crying about once a day, at things that would normally just annoy me.) But then, I could see the more subtle symptoms being things that people assume are chronic problems they can't change. Alternately, my normal is near some kind of borderline for a mental problem and that's why my diet can push it over so easily.

I've also wondered how much of mental illness could be caused by this sort of thing. I was told that as a child, a doctor thought I had ADHD and was about to have me tested, and then my mom forgot to buy bananas at the store one week and my behavior suddenly improve. It seems likely that other children with the same problems I have exist, and most of their parents weren't already alert to diet influences.

Thanks for the app link. I don't have iphone, but I bet I can find something similar for android.

I guess what I should do first is hit up a library database and find out if anyone has already researched this. (I've made a few efforts to look it up before, but mostly just google searches - though I did find that mental symptoms for corn and milk allergies aren't unheard of.) If nutritionists don't think food works this way, but also haven't studied this specifically and found it false, I'm not sure if I should try to do my own experiment or not.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open thread, July 28 - August 3, 2014 · 2014-07-29T23:22:13.776Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My diet seems to influence my mind and body a lot more strongly than is normal. (Food intolerances that mess with my emotions or focus, apparent hypoglycemia that goes away when I take vitamin B, that sort of thing. I know a lot of people have something like this, but I've got so many that diet is the default first suspect whenever anything goes wrong.) I'm not sure whether this makes me a potentially useful test subject for things like nootropics because the effects might get inflated and easier to notice, or just an outlier whose results won't work on anyone else. I also wonder if this means there might be foods that have good effects on me for no apparent reason, in which case I might experiment to find them.

Could someone who knows more about biology than I do offer some insight?

Comment by mare-of-night on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102 · 2014-07-29T16:43:50.779Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I was getting them confused with Middle Earth trolls.

Comment by mare-of-night on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, July 2014, chapter 102 · 2014-07-29T05:03:50.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm... Trolls are rocks (sort-of), the Philosopher's Stone is a rock, can the Philosopher's Stone turn you into a troll?

(This is probably a stupid theory, but maybe it's related to something more workable.)

Comment by mare-of-night on Motivators: Altruistic Actions for Non-Altruistic Reasons · 2014-07-28T23:31:23.081Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point. I think how much of an issue it is would depend on what kind of relationship you have with your advisors. (I know that in general, some of my friends are a lot more willing and able to substitute something else for the typical social norms.)

Comment by mare-of-night on Why I Am Not a Rationalist, or, why several of my friends warned me that this is a cult · 2014-07-15T00:30:14.551Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I once had a friend who got really worried when I invited him to come to a LW meetup with me, and later found out he had another friend who'd read this site and then decided that everyone else needed to be more rational to make her own life easier. The worst I've encountered in meatspace personally was being asked why I believe what I believe a whole lot (which can be really useful when you're actually deciding something, but being asked to cite your sources in conversation also really interrupts the flow of things), which was more than balanced out by the good conversations. So my general impression is that LW as a high standard deviation in acquaintance/conversationalist quality, and either there's more good than bad or I've had good luck.

Comment by mare-of-night on Motivators: Altruistic Actions for Non-Altruistic Reasons · 2014-06-25T08:03:48.826Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Optimise Someone Else’s Altruism One more way to limit the influence motivators have over your decision making is to pretend that you are deciding what someone else – who is in exactly your situation with exactly your talents – should do to maximise their impact. You are advising this other person, whose interests you don’t care for because they are not you, on how they might accomplish the most can towards their goals.

What if we actually have someone else optimize for us? As in, describe one's situation to friends (who understand the basic idea of what you're trying to do) and ask them to tell you which things they think would have the highest impact. Outsourcing the reasoning to someone less biased, or at least differently-biased. Maybe talking to a few different people and then picking an average yourself.

Comment by mare-of-night on City of Lights · 2014-06-22T16:48:46.172Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't had my sub-agents talk much in the past few months, so I'm not completely sure this is accurate. I'm going to bring them out to play again soon, so I may come back and edit if I discover things have changed since they last talked. (I started doing this because I had an important decision to make that I couldn't consult others about. The sub-agents talked for hours. So I brought them out only when I had something really big for them to hash over, and they've never been able to resolve things quickly. Is this usual? Any advice for having more frequent conversations that are shorter and/or multitaskable?)

I'd had HP:MOR on my mind when I started doing this, so I started out with the theme of Harry's four house sub-agents, but they deviated a lot from that.

Green ended up the "designated rationalist". It wants to fulfill the others' desires as much as possible, and doesn't really have any of its' own. It's better than the others at reasoning about what will actually happen if we do something, and what's actually true. It doesn't mind saying things that are unpleasant (or else is slow to realize that they're unpleasant - I'm not really sure). It's pretty terrible at being tactful because of that, and because it tends to get mad at the others when they're being self-defeating. Multiple versions of Green will debate with each other to sort out factual/non-normative questions.

Red is my larger-than-life self, I guess. It's trying to focus on what's important, but does so in a naive way. It has big goals (protect everyone, protect friends, and possibly some wannabe-hero-ness), which it's very sure are more important than what the rest of me wants. It tends to forget about practical constraints and fall for logical fallacies, but can correct for that once it's pointed out (usually by Green). It tends to be really shouty and indignant (but that might be because most of my sub-agent conversations happened because Red was frustrated). It does listen to the others, since it's stuck with us.

Yellow is a mix of things, and I'm not completely sure they belong together. Desire for good relationships with the people I know, approval, and having a comfortable life, probably also some other "normal" things. It's pretty good at "empathizing" with the other sub-agents. (Yellow usually translates when Green wants to tell Red something especially uncomfortable.)

Blue was supposed to be a sub-agent, but it rarely participates in conversation. I'm not sure whether the topics we've talked about haven't interested it, or I don't have a Ravenclaw part, or I have one that's not very verbal.

"Phoenix" appeared unexpectedly - basically just a thing in my brain that gets very loud in a nonverbal way when I'm feeling moral horror. This is probably more of a shorthand for describing that feeling, than a sub-agent. Red translates for it, usually just to inform the others of what it's screaming about. It doesn't have a very large role in these conversations.

"Myself" mostly acts as a moderator - introducing the topic of conversation, and then occasionally nudging it. Most of what I have to say after the beginning is just yelling at the other sub agents to "be nice". They don't seem to mind, and they do the same thing to each other pretty often. I think "be nice" is mainly serving as a reminder that cooperation is necessary, not a disendorsement.

An unexpected benefit was realizing that Green gets control of my mouth sometimes, and usually makes a mess of it. A friend is telling me their problems, and I start analyzing the situation and suggesting solutions very bluntly, when that's not what they wanted. I'm better at realizing when this is happening now, and when I notice myself starting to do it, I call in Yellow to translate (if I have the mental energy for that, it's difficult to do in real conversations), or I tell the person I'm talking to that they're talking to Green (but worded in a way that they'd understand) and ask if they want to proceed. I think doing this has helped me avoid making my friends feel uncomfortable or hurt.

Comment by mare-of-night on Identification of Force Multipliers for Success · 2014-06-21T14:39:06.723Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Seconded. This feels somehow similar to purchasing fuzzies and utilions separately? Basically figuring out what value you're getting out of what you already do in your down-time (relaxation, making social connections, etc) and try to get more of it. A possible failure mode for productive downtime would be doing things that are to-do-list productive but don't leave you feeling like you've had downtime.

Comment by mare-of-night on On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics · 2014-06-21T14:33:05.182Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't noticed it in my reading, but I'm probably just not well-read enough. But I'm pretty sure the (longform story, fantasy genre) webcomic script I wrote at 17 was humorless, or nearly humorless. I was even aware of this at the time, but didn't try very hard to do anything about it. I think I had trouble mixing humor and non-humor at that age.

I'm trying to think back on whether other writers my own age had the same problem, but I can't remember, except that stories we wrote together (usually by taking turns writing a paragraph or three at a time in a chatroom) usually did mix humor with serious-tone fantasy. This makes me wonder if being used to writing for an audience has something to do with it. The immediate feedback of working together that way made me feel a lot of incentive to write things that were entertaining.

Comment by mare-of-night on Against Open Threads · 2014-06-01T15:35:03.694Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe we could shift to a more link-based model, like what Hacker News has?

Comment by mare-of-night on 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists · 2014-05-12T14:14:05.004Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Taking this was an interesting feeling. In particular, being asked (even anonymously) about donations and other concrete actions in a context where donating a lot is the norm. The scene in HP:MOR where the phoenix asks Hermione who she's saved comes to mind. That is, being asked just made it very obvious that I believe I should be an effective altruist, but from my actions it doesn't look like I am one. I have reasons for that, but it's still worrying, since I don't have much evidence that I won't just change my mind once I do have money.

For what it's worth, I just set up a bunch of email reminders throughout my last semester to make sure I put some kind of donation plan in place by the time I start working (even if it's "nevermind, I was wrong about my values").

Comment by mare-of-night on 2014 Survey of Effective Altruists · 2014-05-12T13:16:14.737Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate that you did this - I wanted to give you information, but I'm also not very EA and kind of insecure about that, so I probably would have quit midway through the survey if there were too many questions that seemed like they weren't for me.

Comment by mare-of-night on Open Thread, May 5 - 11, 2014 · 2014-05-09T05:31:11.577Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In this context, they don't have to be good reasons - my point was that a self diagnosis doesn't necessarily disagree with what a doctor would say if asked.