Rationalist Sport 2014-06-17T20:10:05.039Z


Comment by MathiasZaman on Becoming stronger together · 2017-07-14T06:57:35.684Z · LW · GW

They mean the language used by the majority of where they live, not the language used in the group. Even if all the members are native English speakers, this is still some way of keeping plausible deniability in terms of location.

Edit: reading the OP more cautiously, I think it's unlikely the group lives in a place where English isn't the majority language so the phrasing is vague for not reason. Plausible deniability went out of the window given all the information available.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-15T18:11:53.095Z · LW · GW

Disclaimer: I've been diagnosed with ADHD.

difficulty concentrating

This XKCD is a fair visualization of what difficulty concentrating feels like. I can be doing an activity (even a pleasurable one), but I get a lot of other stimuli coming in that link to different activities that also need doing or would also be fun or pleasurable. Or while doing an activity or trying to think about one specific thing, my mind jumps to other (often related) topics and this has a tendency to escalate. Think about the way people describe going to tv-tropes. You start out reading about the film you just saw, and before you know it, you're browser is filled up with dozens of tabs (all of which have links that you'll probably also click).


Akrasia feels, to me, a lot like inertia. Sometimes in a very physical way. It's a feeling of "being stuck" and often translates to physically being stuck, without anything specific holding you physically in place. It's like the space between thinking "Doing X would be a good idea right about now" and actually doing X is a steep, uphill climb.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-15T17:37:54.982Z · LW · GW

There's no real way to enforce that. Even with those guidelines you'll mostly end up with an intuitive system that's maybe influenced by the guidelines.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-15T09:52:29.767Z · LW · GW

Answer the question the interviewer means, not the question as you'd break it down on Less Wrong. Or more broadly: adapt your communication to the intended argument and goal.

In this particular example, you should know the values of the company before you end up at the interview, so this answer should be: Yes, followed by one or two examples show that your values match those of the company.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-15T09:14:16.057Z · LW · GW

Is retributive downvoting on other forums, or is it just a LW thing?

Reddit also had it. I don't frequent other forums that use voting, but a forum I used to be part of had a user that would delve into the history of people he disagreed with and report year-old comments to get those people banned.

Given that it's an easy way to hinder "opponents" I very much doubt it's LW exclusive.

Can anyone think of some relationship between rationality and vindication?

Apart from willingness to use tools others would think immoral, no. I also don't think we need to go that far as an explanation. You only need one person doing it in a community as small as this one for it to become noticeable.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-14T19:35:26.301Z · LW · GW

(Is "Are big societies optimal for human happiness/quality of life," a fair rephrasing of your question?)

I've been asking myself similar questions lately. As pointed out "made to live" implies things that never happened, in that humans weren't created, nor were the current societies/civilizations ever consciously designed or created. They just sort of happened.

Since both humans and societies got to where they are through mostly unthinking processes, it's easy to see how things didn't end up optimal.

Humans were hunter-gatherers for most of their existence. It's hard to intuitively grasp how long a time that is, but I find this quote helpful (source):

If the history of the human race began at midnight, then we would now be almost at the end of our first day. We lived as hunter-gatherers for nearly the whole of that day, from midnight through dawn, noon, and sunset. Finally, at 11:54 p. m. we adopted agriculture.

Without wanting to get into bad evolutionary sciences, I think it's reasonably fair that even modern humans are mostly adapted for the hunter-gatherer life, with a couple of more modern modules thrown in. It's also reasonably fair that humans were mostly "made" to live in small tribes, hunting and gathering.

Agriculture (and later writing, the printing press, the Industrial Revolution, computers...) gave us reasons to not be hunter-gatherers any more and my naive assessment is that a good number of those reasons are good ones. It's just that our bodies and brains haven't caught up.

So where am I going with this? I'm not sure. What I'm trying to say is that I think it's better to say that (our) big societies weren't made for humans (at least, they're not optimal for humans), rather than saying that humans weren't made for big societies.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid questions thread, October 2015 · 2015-10-14T19:18:47.748Z · LW · GW

UBI means every citizen gets a sum of money in their account each month. Current government programs means people need to jump through multiple hoops in order to get food. I don't think UBI is a panacea, but I don't think it's a stretch to say it'll reach people who aren't being helped by the current welfare systems.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Oct. 12 - Oct. 18, 2015 · 2015-10-13T13:05:37.120Z · LW · GW

What I'm saying is that humans aren't wrong in trading off some amount of comfort so they can have jokes, fiction, art and romantic love.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Oct. 12 - Oct. 18, 2015 · 2015-10-13T11:26:34.878Z · LW · GW

Does the story actually says the Superhappies really know humanity's utility function better? As in, does an omniscient narrator tell it, or is it a Superhappy or one of the crew that says this? That changes a lot, to me. Of course the Superhappies would believe they know our utility function better than we do. Just like how the humans assumed they knew what was better for the Babyeaters.

Similarly, the Superhappies are moral, for their idea of morality. They were perfectly willing to use force (not physical, but force nonetheless) to encourage humans to see their point of view. They threatened humanity and were willing to forcibly change human children, even if the adults could continue to feel pain. While humans also employs threats and force to change behavior, in most cases we would be hard-pressed to call that "moral."

From a meta-perspective, I'd findit odd if Yudkowsky wrote it like that. He's not careless enough to make that mistake and as far as I know, he thinks humanity's utility function goes beyond mere bliss.

The only way I think you could see the Superhappies' solution as acceptable if you don't think jokes or fiction (or other sort of arts involving "deception") are something humans would value as part of their utility function. Which I personally would find very hard to understand.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Emotional tools for the beginner rationalist · 2015-10-12T17:52:57.682Z · LW · GW

This would be a good place to start looking. It's a list that holds most of the (self-proclaimed) rationalists on tumblr, although I can't guarantee the quality or level of activity of each tumblr. Notable absences are Scott's tumblr and theunitofcaring.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Emotional tools for the beginner rationalist · 2015-10-09T12:32:36.741Z · LW · GW

The rationalist tumblr sphere helped me a lot. It's a lot more approachable for newcomers than this site is and has a very low barrier for making low-effort, high emotion posts, which is something I could totally use assistance on at the time. It also helped that I could see rationalist practices and the results in (more-or-less) real time, which were highly available examples (I've always learned better with good, tangible examples) and showed me that rationality could be practised by "real" people, rather than mythical figures like Jeffreyssai, the Defence Professor or Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Yudkowsky's fiction also helped because it provided easy-to-read content that teaches the basics. For the same reasons, I Shall Wear Midnight (by Terry Pratchett) was useful

Comment by MathiasZaman on Emotional tools for the beginner rationalist · 2015-10-09T12:22:52.757Z · LW · GW

To be fair, the LW census also shows an average IQ that is significantly larger than the baseline and we know intelligence and depression to be correlated.

But intuitively (e.g. without any evidence) I can understand why this community could have a higher-than-baseline level of depression, apart from the intelligence issue. Stuff like: "If you aren't winning, you aren't being rational?", "If you are rational, than why aren't you sitting on a giant pile of utility/money," and "heroic responsibility" (everything wrong with the world is your fault) can be overwhelming, especially if you are (as many newcomers to this community are) a slightly above average student with no real money and (possibly) no real plan for getting tons of money. It doesn't even need to be that particular situation. Every time someone has a bad period (for whatever reason), those memes will make them think it's their fault and their responsibility to fix it, which (probably) isn't conductive to mental health.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Ideas on growth of the community · 2015-08-13T09:59:10.854Z · LW · GW

Whenever you post an idea, you might get a few upvotes, but you'll also get a lot of comments saying that something else is a better idea instead.

Not just that, but you also get a lot of comments nitpicking a minor detail that hardly affects the main points. For me, at least, that sort of response discourages to post anything that isn't perfect (which nothing ever is).

we need someone crazy like Scott Alexander who will solo producing huge amounts of content 2

You don't necessarily need one person. The Sequences started due to a conversation between Yudkwosky and Hanson.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-09T11:12:25.859Z · LW · GW

Justice departments notably have trouble keeping up with modern technology. Where I live, it's still impossible to get a digital copy of your file (leading to a case where someone ate an important document and was able to go free on a technicality).

Not just that, but smartphones are not quite ubiquitous yet. Either you require the person to purchase one, or have the state purchase one, neither of which is ideal.

I suspect there are also legal and human right problems, since ankle monitors are already used as a form of punishment, but have never been used (as far as I know) as a parole/probation measure.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T09:28:07.741Z · LW · GW

Ankle monitors are surprisingly annoying to wear. It would be a big, long-term punishment that would probably come on top of a prison sentence.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T09:22:58.094Z · LW · GW

Are there examples of interventions like this working out well?

Comment by MathiasZaman on A Federal Judge on Biases in the Criminal Justice System. · 2015-07-06T08:05:01.918Z · LW · GW

Your link is a 42 page document. It's probably very interesting and it's certainly an area that interests me in particular, but summary would have been nice to see alongside the link. I doubt you're going to see much discussion here, because of that reason.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-29T11:58:37.572Z · LW · GW

One is for signalling, another is to get a martial arts training partner without the awkwardness of physical intimacy with a non-intimate partner, another is for sexual, emotional and social fulfilment and a final one is for a fitness partner, person to share chores with and life coach.

Signalling what, exactly? Sexual desirability? Competent adultness? Showcasing your ability to have a girlfriend? I understand that having a sexual and romantic partner has signalling value, I just don't think it's very useful to have signaling as a major goal. (Unless I misunderstood you and signalling is just considered a side-benefit.)

Also keep in mind that finding a person who is compatible with you in a sexual, emotional and social way is hard enough that finding a partner who is all that and likes the same sort of sports and fitness activities as you do is even harder.

I’m treating this as a business problem because my previous approach has yet to work at an age where it has for others!

You're treating this as a business problem (and I'm unsure if this is the correct approach, but whatever), but what product are you selling? Why would a costumer be interested in consuming your product?

You say you're unique, but let's face it, most humans are. (Not to mention that uniqueness is not a good quality by default.) Why should a potential partner be interested in your uniqueness? What do you have to offer that a competitor doesn't also offer?

I looked up monotone voice on google, and found that it has a positive, redeeming side – attractiveness. In light of this information, I’m no longer interested in adjusting my monotone voice.

Powerful people might have tendency for monotone. This doesn't mean that everyone with a monotone is perceived as powerful. As other have mentioned, there are probably other factors at play here as well. There are probably different sorts of monotone voices.

A promising new friend also mentioned that he abandoned pickup because it wasn’t working for him. He spoke about vulnerability and how he doesn’t exert so much control on himself now, thus avoiding analysis paralyses.

I only have minimal knowledge of the whole pick-up thing, but I think there's some truth in what your friend says. Unless it comes natural to you (and this might come with practice, so I don't want to speak badly about pickup), using predetermined strategies and such will come across as more awkward and less natural than just general social awkwardness.

Being naturally awkward isn't really such a bad thing, as long as you can own your awkwardness and focus on your other strengths.

I found the people I was talking to really boring. My promising new friend suggested that it was because I was boring, haha.

My brother has this amazing gift. He can talk to anyone and find whatever they say interesting. (Or at least fake it very well.) I don't know how he does it, but he seems to have at least some knowledge on every subject and in the rare cases he doesn't he knows exactly what questions to ask to make his conversation partner to feel interesting.

The thing is, hardly anyone is actually boring. Everyone knows something you don't and it can only be to your benefit to get them to share this. In order to do this, you need to be confident in your own interestingness, so you don't feel bad when you're not sharing trivia about yourself and the things you know a lot about. The best way to combat the boringness in others is to develop an interest in everything.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Effectively Less Altruistically Wrong Codex · 2015-06-18T11:19:32.959Z · LW · GW

It might but most redditors don't really click links. I find it more useful to ignore them, occasionally skimming the arguments and upvoting the non-stupid comments.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Effectively Less Altruistically Wrong Codex · 2015-06-17T12:46:29.722Z · LW · GW

/r/Futurology is also really annoying because people keep having the same arguments over and over again.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Surprising examples of non-human optimization · 2015-06-14T19:42:41.444Z · LW · GW

Slime mold can be used to map subway routes.

Edit: Markets can also be seen as a non-human optimizing actor, even if the smallest parts are human.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-10T13:37:23.848Z · LW · GW

Maybe the lowest-hanging fruit was already picked. If someone tried to write Sequences 2.0, what would it be about? Cognitive biases that Eliezer skipped?

Something I feel Yudkowsky doesn't really talks about enough in the Sequences is how to be rational in a group, as part of a group and as a group. There is some material in there and HPMOR also offers some stuff, but there's very little that is as formalized as the ideas around "Politics is the Mindkiller/Spiders/Hard Mode," or "the Typical Mind Fallacy."

Something Yudkowsky also mentions is that what he writes about rationality is his path. Some things generalize (most people have the same cognitive biases, but in different amounts). From reading the final parts of the Sequences and the final moments of HPMOR I get the vibe that Yudkowsky really wants people to develop their own path. Alicorn did this and Yvain also did/does it to some extent (and I'm reading the early non-Sequence posts and I think that MBlume also did this a bit), but it's something that could be written more about. Now, I agree that this is hard, the lowest fruit probably is already picked and it's not something everyone can do. But I find it hard to believe that there are just 3 or 4 people who can actually do this. The bonobo rationalists on tumblr are, in their own, weird way, trying to find a good way to exist in the world in relation to other people. Some of this is formalized, but most of it exists in conversations on tumblr (which is an incredibly annoying medium, both to read and to share). Other people/places from the Map probably do stuff like that as well. I take this as evidence that there is still fruit low enough to pick without needing a ladder.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-09T11:22:31.473Z · LW · GW

Preventing illness also falls under the umbrella of health care, at least where I live.

And even if it didn't, it's still clear what (most) people mean with the word even if the word doesn't mean what you want it to mean.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Lesswrong, Effective Altruism Forum and Slate Star Codex: Harm Reduction · 2015-06-09T08:49:34.880Z · LW · GW

If you want, I can help with the tumblr part of this. If you don't need help with the tumblr part, but want to be pointed in the right direction, I host the Rationalist Masterlist with most of the tumblr rationalists on it.

Also keep in mind that tumblr tends to have a very low signal-to-noise ratio.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Lesswrong, Effective Altruism Forum and Slate Star Codex: Harm Reduction · 2015-06-09T08:38:37.053Z · LW · GW

Agreed. This is, for me, one of the main advantages of posting on tumblr. You still get the feedback you want from clever people and criticism, but that criticism doesn't feel quite as bad as it would here, because everyone realizes that tumblr is a good space to test and try out ideas. Less Wrong feels, to me, more like a place where you share more solidified ideas (with the Open Thread as a possible exception).

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-08T11:13:07.224Z · LW · GW

Everything is math, but that doesn't mean that the word "biology" isn't useful. Even if healthcare isn't a perfect word or even a perfect concept, it helps us in everyday conversations and discussions about the way the world works and should work.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T19:13:40.778Z · LW · GW

In case no-one has mentioned this to you yet, we have a list. If you want on, just send me (Yxoque) a message.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T19:06:31.332Z · LW · GW

The lack of up- and down-voting and the limited threading kills it value for me, personally.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Stupid Questions April 2015 · 2015-04-04T21:24:09.410Z · LW · GW

Knowing about the placebo effect doesn't stop the placebo effect from kicking in.

Anyway, I'd say that there are moments when comforting lies may be worth it, but I don't trust my ability to know when those moments are happening and it would raise my overall believability if I was found out.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-02T11:56:53.188Z · LW · GW

Oh yes, absolutely. That's the main reason I'm not in law enforcement right now. Just wanted to point out that the analogue position exists and that it seems likely that such coordination positions exist within other (sorta similar) organizations.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-02T09:58:14.611Z · LW · GW

Those jobs exist in the police force and I would be very surprised if most countries didn't have something like what you describe.

Comment by MathiasZaman on How has lesswrong changed your life? · 2015-04-02T09:49:54.692Z · LW · GW

The biggest change, I think, is that I no longer feel alone. Not in the sense of not having anyone in my life, but rather that I now know people who think in roughly the same way I do about roughly the same things I do. To put it in jargon, I have, for the first time, an in-group, a tribe. This is not an effect you should underestimate.

I have also changed my life in some ways and my outlook on the world has grown more realistic, I think. I think about things differently and am more willing to make trade-offs rather than just be paralyzed with indecision. I'm more attentive to opportunities (in all areas of life) and I'm more willing to go for those opportunities.

The most specific change I can point to is that I use my free time a lot better. Used to be that I just sat around playing videogames I didn't really enjoy in full. I can now notice when that is happening and stop doing it, which is a huge improvement on several levels. (Sometimes I then start playing a game I'll probably enjoy a lot more or continue learning to program Python or work on my math skills in Khan Academy.)

Comment by MathiasZaman on Feedback on promoting rational thinking about one's career choice to a broad audience · 2015-04-02T09:39:20.296Z · LW · GW

Caveat: my current self absolutely hates my smug-ass teenage self that I used to be so I may be a bit pessimistic about other teenagers :)

I think you are. I agree that some teenagers love to feel smarter than other people (not necessarily their parents), but I hypothesize that this is more because no-one is offering teenagers the actual tools to be genuinely smart/intelligent. I think that there's a number of teenagers who, if they knew it was an option, would want to actually think hard and be smart without being smug about this. I'm not a huge fan of labeling all behavior as "signaling," but I think that the smugness and the wanting to appear smart is a substitute for the unknown option of actually being smart in a meaningful way.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-01T14:05:25.805Z · LW · GW

If someone throwing fireballs (or otherwise messing with real physics) is enough to stop your suspension of disbelief, it's probably just badly-written fantasy. In fiction, the author (often implicitly) decides the rules of the world, up to and including the rules about physics. A competent author writes in such a way that (most) readers accept their rules.

If the problem exists on your end, rather than the author's, I'd advice you to either tell yourself that your laws of physics are not their laws of physics or to try to enjoy the work on a more emotional level. That is, try to relate more to the emotions of the characters, rather than the action. Being said because your friend was killed by a stray fireball is the same kind of sad as your friend being killed by a bullet.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-25T14:25:38.282Z · LW · GW

I'm a bit skeptical that this is true. I sense that the majority of people don't actually believe that art is reducible.

Yes, you might very well be right. What I meant to say is that I think "system one, not system two" is the general sort of idea that people want to convey, not that it was the exact same thing.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-25T09:09:09.750Z · LW · GW

In LW jargon I'd phrase it as: "It's a system one thing, not a system two thing." I think this is what most people do mean when they use "it's an art, not a science." When something is considered an art and not a science it's something that can't be done well by "just" following a set of instructions. Keep in mind that the popular view on science (when it's positive) is seen as strictly adhering to the scientific method (form hypothesis-->test hypothesis-->adjust hypothesis) and that this is something that anyone can do. The difficulty of each individual step is ignored or seen as something that can be learned without much trouble. The pop-culture view on art is "mysterious process."

And you're probably right that you can distill (some) parts of art into "rules" about good art. I recently heard a radio interview with a professional photographer and he could explain why each photo was good or bad by adhering to a set of simple principles and he could explain those principles. I do think, however, that part of what makes him a great photographer is that those simple principles have become part of his system one thinking.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-20T17:52:23.789Z · LW · GW

Wow, awesome. Many thanks!

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-19T08:32:53.602Z · LW · GW

Getting used to "medieval" scripts is surprisingly easy. I've learned it before (and have mostly forgotten due to not using it) and the script of a specific age can be decrypted in about 30 minutes (faster with practice). Understanding the words is definitely a bigger barrier than being able to read it.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-19T08:27:17.743Z · LW · GW

I'd like it as well, if you still have any. (email:

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T09:04:25.730Z · LW · GW

I move my fingers (and hands or a prop wand if I'm carrying one) to "write" stuff in the air when I'm doing serious thinking. The way that helps me is that I can keep more thoughts in my head. This doesn't (just) apply to math problems (since I hardly know any math and can't do much calculations in my head). My current hypothesis for why this works is that it couples certain actions to certain ideas and repeating the action makes it easier to recall the idea. If I'm right about that it might be learnable and useful, to a similar extent as mind palaces. By coincidence, I've been thinking about trying to formalize this technique in some way since Saturday.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T11:33:10.300Z · LW · GW

I think the thought-process of AI is expected to be alien by anyone who take AGI seriously. It's just not all that relevant to discussions about the threats and possibilities about it.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T11:15:31.010Z · LW · GW

I think it would be wrong to generalize from that example, so I'd like to report the opposite. My mother would also ask me to do specific, clearly defined task when she wanted them done and ask again when I forgot. My dad, on the other hand, would just get angry when things weren't done according to his requirements without making those requirements clear.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-16T15:33:47.295Z · LW · GW

On the other hand, Chappie (despite what other flaws it might have) has a surprisingly sane take on death.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-16T08:26:06.798Z · LW · GW

Something like that, yeah, although that particular example does little for me. As additional data points: The Sword of Good, the Humanism arc, the short "There is light in the world..." speech and I Shall Wear Midnight (by Terry Pratchett) were things that incited that sort of emotion in me.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-16T08:22:30.843Z · LW · GW

With Dementors out of the way, the cost of telling people the secret of the True Patronus becomes a lot lower.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-16T08:12:37.222Z · LW · GW

Does it really nullify the criticisms of sexism? The Self Actualization arc remains mostly the same, Hermione is one of the characters that gets the least "upgrades" compared to canon for most of the story, so is McGonagall she's still fridged for the sake of Harry's quest (although I don't think that fridging is a good criticism), she ends up awesome through no actions of her own and her future is steered by Harry. People who criticized HPMOR for being sexist won't change their mind because of this ending.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-15T23:16:10.245Z · LW · GW

It's not that i dislike the ending. I just don't think it's as emotionally moving as it should be/as I predicted it would have been. I was expecting something that would make me go "Yes, goddammit, yes!" while I start planning to improve my life and be a better person.

Instead I got an ending that was a completely functional ending for this story with some jokes in it.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [FINAL CHAPTER] Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 122 · 2015-03-15T12:20:44.964Z · LW · GW

(copy-pasted from my tumblr)

The ending to HPMOR isn’t bad. It fits the story and, while open-ended still gives a lot of closure.

It just doesn’t measure up to, like, the rest of the book. Part of it is probably the hype. The final chapters probably fell a bit flat just in comparison to what people expected. But even correcting for that, I still find that it’s slightly disappointing. The best parts, for me, where the buildup to the “there is light in the world” speech and the Stanford Prisoner Experiment arc. They are both intense emotional moments. I literally cried while listening to the podcast version of Azkaban.

The other great parts are the cool, big action sequences.

The ending provides none of those. And yet it sorta promises them without ever delivering.

Comment by MathiasZaman on Pratchett, Rationality, and Winning · 2015-03-14T00:06:37.040Z · LW · GW

I feel that part of the problem is that, on average, "try to be a better student and find a well-paying job early on" is good advice. One of the main things I'd like to tell past!me is that I should develop better study habits and go into IT whatever anyone else said. I can't say with absolute certainty it would have made my life better/easier but it probably would have.

For some people (and I won't guess about the proportion of this group relative to the population), "study hard and find a well-paying job" isn't the optimal advice. For Terry Prachett it clearly wasn't and for Eliezer Yudkowsky it wasn't either.

I guess it's really about your competitive advantage, finding your niche and your potential but all of those are hard to discover (and often harder to discover from the inside). I don't think a solution is to stop telling people to study and find a good job, but part of a solution might be to give (young) people more ways of discovering their own potential (preferably at school?). There's a good chance Pratchett's creative writing exercises were noticeably better than those of his peers and from what I read it was clear from an early age that Yudkowsky's advantage didn't lie in strictly academic successes.

Comment by MathiasZaman on [LINK] Terry Pratchett is dead · 2015-03-12T20:35:40.602Z · LW · GW

His publishers say he died of natural causes surrounded by his family with his cat on his lap.