On saying "Thank you" instead of "I'm Sorry" 2024-07-08T03:13:50.663Z
How to not renege prosocially, prosocially 2021-12-30T00:55:45.283Z
San Francisco Meetup: Projects 2018-08-24T18:02:10.004Z
San Francisco Meetup: Shallow Questions 2018-08-08T02:13:33.230Z
San Francisco Meetup: Short Talks 2018-07-27T03:37:35.559Z
San Francisco Meetup: Stories 2018-06-22T02:11:08.871Z
San Francisco Meetup: Projects 2018-06-15T23:46:56.979Z
San Francisco Meetup: Deep Questions 2018-06-08T02:09:30.046Z
San Francisco Meetup: Group Debugging 2018-06-04T17:13:02.298Z


Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on On saying "Thank you" instead of "I'm Sorry" · 2024-07-10T02:06:18.674Z · LW · GW

Agreed that this always makes any kind of appreciation feel more meaningful to me. For that matter, I also think putting some detail or mechanistic thought into apologies is a good idea. If I've actually done something wrong then I think it's worth the effort to show the other person I understand what it was and have some idea about how to not do it again. And if I haven't done something wrong, then trying to express my reasoning should help me recognize that I'm apologizing for having needs / existing / "making" the other person help me. 

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on On saying "Thank you" instead of "I'm Sorry" · 2024-07-09T04:42:03.282Z · LW · GW

I agree that there are many cases where the two go very well together! It would have been good for me to go into that. Also agreed that there are a lot of ways you can add detail and specificity. 

I'm finding it funny to think about "my mistake" in this context -- in some subcultures (including rationalists, but also others) I think of saying "my mistake" as actually coming across as a self-confident, high status thing to do! At least, when you've obviously made a mistake and it's only a matter of acknowledging it. 

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on My 5-step program for losing weight · 2024-07-01T01:06:39.009Z · LW · GW

Hunger might cause cognitive and emotional regulation problems through the same general process as any other aversive experience, but for many people there's also a very specific physiological pathway going through low blood sugar. If this is a frequent problem, it might be worth investing in a continuous glucose monitor, or just trying to eat a very slow-carb diet (avoid most concentrated sources of carbs and eat lots of beans, or just increase protein, or just go full keto). Improving blood sugar regulation is life-changing for some people, even without any weight loss. 

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-01-28T06:53:05.678Z · LW · GW

I'll preface my comment by acknowledging that I'm not a regular LessWrong user and only marginally a member of the larger community (I followed your link here from Facebook). So, depending on your intended audience for this, my comments could be distinctively useful or unusually irrelevant. 

I'm terribly grateful for the context and nuance you offer here. The guidelines seem self-evidently sensible but what makes them work is the clarity about when it is and isn't worth tolerating extra energy and pain to follow them. A few notes that are almost entirely meta:

1) I suspect that nearly all objections people have to these can be forestalled by continued editing to bake in where and how they properly apply -- in particular, I imagine people emotionally reacting against these because it's so uncomfortable to imagine being hit with criticism for not following these guidelines in cases like: 

  1. A public opinion or social conflict situation that is definitely not a collaborative search for truth
  2. Sharing painful emotions or calling attention to an observable problem 
  3. Seeking help expressing a nascent idea or self-insight that has to go through a shitty first draft before one is ready to communicate it with nuance and precision.  

Your expansions make it perfectly clear that you recognize situations like these and believe people should handle them in effective and/or compassionate ways -- my impression is that they either don't fall into the domain of "rationalist discourse" or that rationalist discourse can create a container allowing not-rationalist-discourse to exist within it (as you described in the comment thread with LoganStrohl about signaling when something is poetry). So I'm mentioning them only to call attention to misreadings that might, with superb editing, be avoided without weighing down the language too much. 

2) I'd be interested to know more about how you see this resource being used. If you see it as something that could become a key orientation link for less-experienced members, then perhaps including a little bit of expansion amid the list would be helpful. If you see it as something that experienced members can point one another to when trying to refine their discourse, it might be useful to promote a little bit of the text about not weaponizing the list / not using it as a suicide pact into the main text. 

3) I also think the "43 minute read" text runs the risk of turning people away before they've even read the part about how they don't have to read all of it; once you have a stable draft you could consider creating a canonical link with just the short version and a link to the full expansions. (even people who are willing to put in the effort to read a longer piece might suffer because they think they need to save it for later, instead of reading it immediately at a time when it would be helpful to a conversation).

4) Finally, I think some of the comments might reveal some confusion among readers about what parts of this are intended as universal norms for good communication vs. universal norms for clear thinking vs. a style guide for this particular website (your expansinon regarding how guideline 1 applies to idiomatic hyperbole suggests that it's at least a little bit of the latter). If this is to be an enduring, linkable resource then it might be helped by more context on that point as well. 

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on San Francisco Meetup Oct 18, 6:30 - 8:30 · 2022-10-04T05:22:41.959Z · LW · GW

Note to anyone reading that this post is from 2021 -- the SF group is not currently meeting!

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on Third Time: a better way to work · 2022-01-10T06:11:22.666Z · LW · GW

Total restriction is tyranny – ruled by a despotic tomato, and forced to work like a robot.


I've heard some people describe the unnaturalness of the pomodoro method as a benefit. The reasoning is that if you take breaks when you feel like it, you're likely to do it 1) after completing a task and before starting the next one, or 2) when the task you're on becomes unusually unpleasant. This timing makes it more difficult / painful to get moving again after the break. If you instead take breaks when you're interrupted by a timer, there's an obvious point at which to resume and a flow to get back into. You might even want to get back to what you were doing. I've found this somewhat true for myself.

The downside to this approach is that you're more likely to lose a lot of state than if you take breaks at times that feel natural. I don't know if there's a good way to combine the two. 

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on orthonormal's Shortform · 2021-12-29T23:48:17.286Z · LW · GW

In terms of naming / identifying this, do you think it would help to distinguish what makes you want to double down on the current solution? I can think of at least 3 reasons: 

  1. Not being aware that it's making things worse
  2. Knowing that it made things worse, but feeling like giving up on that tactic would make things get even worse instead of better
  3. Being committed to the tactic more than to the outcome (what pjeby described as "The Principle of the Thing") -- which could itself have multiple reasons, including emotionally-driven responses, duty-based reasoning, or explicitly believing that doubling down somehow leads to better outcomes in the long run. 

Do these all fall within the phenomenon you're trying to describe?

Comment by Michael Cohn (michael-cohn) on San Francisco Meetup Oct 18, 6:30 - 8:30 · 2021-10-18T04:42:57.808Z · LW · GW

Weather reminder: It will be around 55F on Monday evening, so please dress warmly! And if you have an extra sweater or jacket on hand, consider bringing it to lend to a fellow attendee who finds themselves underdressed.