Fight Me: Incumbent religions still get too much leeway 2021-01-07T19:44:45.208Z
A dozen habits that work for me 2021-01-06T22:52:37.776Z
Pre-Hindsight Prompt: Why did 2021 NOT bring a return to normalcy? 2020-12-06T17:35:00.409Z
In Addition to Ragebait and Doomscrolling 2020-12-03T18:26:18.602Z
Can preference falsification be reduced with Ring Signatures? 2020-11-29T20:53:36.231Z
mike_hawke's Shortform 2020-11-29T19:57:57.415Z


Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2021-01-17T23:57:32.934Z · LW · GW

What science fiction should I read? Any subgenre.

I ask because I'm rereading HPMOR and I just reread Eliezer's posts about memetic collapse and local validity. I kinda feel like I'm missing out, but I don't know where to look beyond googling "classic sci fi" or "sci fi cult hits". I like HPJEV as a protagonist and would like to see more of that sort. I'm probably going to reread Ender's Game next in order to scratch the itch a bit.

Here are my idiosyncratic preferences, in case it helps:
My top 5 stories probably include The Martian, Rendezvous with Rama, and Snow Crash. Disappointingly, I haven't found an Asimov story that I've liked very much, and I couldn't even finish Foundation. I thought Neuromancer was okay on net. Ringworld was often tedious but I still remember the sense of awe that some parts gave me and I loved the way the ending came together. I'm planning on reading Dune, but I'm not sure about audiobook vs ebook vs both and I'm concerned about it being dry and tedious. I'm partway through Permutation City, which I find really well-written but kinda depressing. I thought Xenocide was awesome and I pretty much hated Speaker for the Dead.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2021-01-12T16:55:22.865Z · LW · GW

Yeah, it was. Fixed.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2021-01-12T16:52:14.569Z · LW · GW

Don't yum my yuck. My disgust reactions are valid.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2021-01-08T16:46:25.005Z · LW · GW

As a result the book lacks an intellectual vision. It’s just highly competent in a slick, oversocialized way where little true personality comes out. If the book were a person it’d be like many of the people I met at the elite business school where I briefly studied: smooth, well-oiled bundles of overly appropriate behaviors seemingly dictated by the situation rather than emerging from a strong underlying personality.

(from this Everything Studies post)

I want there to be at least 10 more John Nersts out there. Writing, influencing, telling it like it is. John Nerst is a lighthouse of sincere thought in an ocean of strategic speech and word games.

Comment by mike_hawke on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-07T19:56:18.148Z · LW · GW

Nah, I haven't been able to settle on Breathe Right™ vs CVS generics.

Comment by mike_hawke on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-07T19:54:11.974Z · LW · GW

You're welcome :] My laundry list is:

  • pajamas
  • sweater
  • bedding
  • robe
  • the clothes on my body right now
  • towel
  • gym bag
  • handkerchief
  • balaclavas
  • gloves

I keep them in my phone or sticky noted to the wall.

Comment by mike_hawke on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-07T05:50:28.735Z · LW · GW

Yeah, they seem to improve my sleep quality by making it a little easier to breathe.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-30T17:22:36.473Z · LW · GW

I have a strong anti-Twitter attitude. I will now charge rent from this attitude in the form of anticipated experiences.

My attitude:

Twitter is psychotoxic. That is to say, it has a negative influence on one’s mood, habits, personality, reasoning ability, and so on. Using twitter causes people to practice mental behaviors that are corrosive to clear thinking and agency both immediately and longer-term. The easy availability of bite-sized content is eroding people's ability to read longer-form content like blog sequences or books. Twitter deserves the same condemnation that the 24h news cycle gets and much more. I believe that if far fewer people used Twitter, my life would be noticeably better.

I feel my attention being tugged at by the Twitterverse even when I have been away from it for a long time (weeks or longer). This is in part a sensible worry--Twitter does have noticeable effects on the world, and I wish I could do something.

This is a hackneyed pattern, but: Twitter is the 21st century’s tobacco. It is an addictive, next-gen intoxicant.

On a podcast, I heard some guy recommend that you “don’t let Twitter be the background music of your life. When you’re hanging out with your friend, don’t browse twitter while they’re in the bathroom.” I didn’t realize people did that. I think I need to start asking my friends if they are doing this when we hang out, and trying to get them to stop.

The full effects of twitter on individuals and groups is still an open question, slowly being answered by massive, natural experiments.


In a heathy* future, people will consider the comparison between tobacco and twitter to be basically correct, if somewhat hasty and superficial. We will look back on the present state of affairs with pity, embarrassment, and a bit of queasiness.

The Internet Research Agency was just the beginning and we will hear of ever more numerous and galling examples of social media used to twist people’s minds. In less than 20 years, the dev race between offensive psyops and defensive countermeasures will be well-known, not niche knowledge.

Paul Cristiano has imagined a future in which information from the internet is scrutinized by an AI for harmful/manipulative information before being shown to a user. I strongly anticipate that considerations of this kind will be much more mainstream within the next 20 years. If we are not able to implement direct solutions with AI, I expect that serious, tech-savvy people will cobble together other tools and systems for a partial solution.

Perhaps in the near future, heavy twitter usage will be generally seen as a yellow or orange flag. Consider the thoughts you have when you notice that someone has at least 2 drinks every night, or can’t go a day without a liter of soda, or spends all their time online and never socializes in person (yeah, excluding pandemic conditions, smartass).

“Digital Minimalism” and “attention rebellion” will catch on (the situation is currently so dire that i would be pretty surprised if they don’t) and tech companies will react by trying to build things that people will pay to integrate into their attention-prioritizing lifestyle.

In summary: Twitter is awful and I will be at least moderately surprised if in 15 years it is normal for smart people to endorse having used it today.

*I hate this word. I’m using it here only out of mental sloth and weakness.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-29T02:01:23.330Z · LW · GW

News headlines have measurable, harmful effects on people so I never want them to be shown to me without my explicit consent. But YouTube does not have an option to permanently disable the Breaking News section.

The only solutions to this I know of are:

  1. Contort my usage by never opening the main page of YouTube
  2. Use uBlock with a custom filter to get rid of the news section.
  3. Stop using YouTube

I consider this to be psychotoxic design, plain and simple. The next time I need an example of tech companies doing something bad, I will have to reach no further than this.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-28T17:09:46.949Z · LW · GW

The Lizardman Constant shows up in a poll from Tom Scott.

I wonder if the Lizardman Constant is actually constant. I could imagine it changing over time, hypothetically for the same reason that I hear more about Flat Earth theory today than I did 5 years ago. Maybe there ought to be a whole family of parameters--a family which includes unbelievably wacky and fringe but pre-existing theories like Lizardmen, as well as plausible-sounding but freshly fabricated ones like the North Dakota Crash. And it would be nice if they were given labels that are sticky while also remaining relevant/constant over time. Maybe things like the Yes Bot constant, the Calvin Contingent, and so on.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-17T12:31:48.003Z · LW · GW

Alright, you lost the double-crux. Now go ahead and bite these bullets. There you g--nope. Oh nonononono ahahahaha no. I'm not handing them to you. No, I'm going to hold them out and you're going to munch on them out of my hand like a docile horse.
There we go, much better.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-09T15:55:04.909Z · LW · GW

I just stirred the grounds in really hard so it was softened but not too melty. It's probably not something you would want if you also wouldn't want a sugary, creamy coffee.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-08T19:21:10.267Z · LW · GW

Ice cream for breakfast with coffee grounds stirred in. Try it.

Comment by mike_hawke on Cultural accumulation · 2020-12-07T05:04:15.507Z · LW · GW

Doesn't look like anyone has mentioned Ryan North's time travel guide yet. Key points include pasteurization, pendulum clocks, and cowpox.

If I travelled back to 1200, I wonder if I would rather be in the merchant class than the scientific class. Merchants have tighter feedback loops (and I wouldn't have to sit through as much astrology). How fast did financial innovations spread? Looks like both insurance and double-entry bookkeeping took a few centuries. And now that I think of it, haven't valuable but illegible financial services been a major factor leading to persecution of lots of groups, most notably Jews? Damn, so much for feedback loops. I guess Crab Mentality and unfree markets probably put a limit on how hard you can exploit your advanced financial skills.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-06T21:28:41.828Z · LW · GW

Talk is cheap. No wait, talk is free. Actually, sometimes talk is cheaper than free--holding your tongue can cost willpower or reputation or understanding.

Comment by mike_hawke on Pre-Hindsight Prompt: Why did 2021 NOT bring a return to normalcy? · 2020-12-06T17:57:41.095Z · LW · GW

My answer is very broad. Basically, I am somewhat persuaded by this 7-minute monologue from Eric Weinstein on Coronavirus and the Accelerating Future.

…surveillance, monopolies, automation, telecommuting, next generation warfare, UBI, the future of work, the retail apocalypse, online dating, antivaxxers, the student debt crisis, supply chain vulnerability, green tech and climate change, urban homelessness. College equivalency certificates, biohacking, the retreat from globalization, collapse of mainstream journalism, Chinese ascendance, social engineering, Saudi modernization and the move away from fossil fuels in the kingdom, inclusive stakeholding, political realignment, and the problem of gerontocracy and the end of naive capitalism underpinned by U Chicago style economics…

It seems to me that even if only a handful of those things are pushed past a tipping point, it could make for a very wacky year (though not necessarily in a bad way). I don't buy Weinstein's conspiracy theory, but some of his reasoning in the monologue made me feel noticeably more uncertain about the near future.

So if 2021 and/or 2022 keep pace with 2020 in terms of wackiness (which I personally doubt), I think it will be for reasons that at least partially overlap with the above. :::

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-06T02:02:51.063Z · LW · GW

For Winter Solstice, I recommend listening to the album "Soon It Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires" by Emancipator.

Particularly, "Father King" and "Anthem". For me personally, "Father King" is the solstice song.

Comment by mike_hawke on Forecasting is a responsibility · 2020-12-06T00:14:20.293Z · LW · GW

Phil Tetlock tried doing something like this at the pundits--unilaterally--in a project called the Alpha Pundit Challenge. I don't know if it went anywhere but it's an exciting and bold idea. 

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-05T11:56:39.540Z · LW · GW

When you ask an older person, "what do you wish you had known when you were my age?" I think their answer is in large part determined by your framing and phrasing of the question.

Increasing specificity seems to help when people are prone to overly broad answers. "What major mistake were you making in your 30s that you stopped making by your 40s?"
Changing the subject to a different person seems to help too. "What did [some other person] do really right? What is something they think of as a major personal triumph which is better explained by luck?"
Framing questions broadly can give you broad answers, which can help when people are prone to oversimplified explanations. "What are some of the top 15 books that contributed to who you are today?"

Comment by mike_hawke on In Addition to Ragebait and Doomscrolling · 2020-12-04T03:19:56.919Z · LW · GW

i love it

Comment by mike_hawke on In Addition to Ragebait and Doomscrolling · 2020-12-03T18:51:17.433Z · LW · GW

I guess I should at least attempt to make a decent neologism here:


Meh. Maybe someone else will think of a good one.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-02T19:11:16.876Z · LW · GW

New Year’s resolution for 2021: get better at Relinquishment, the Second Virtue.
I’ve already unlocked the power of writing down controversial opinions in private, and even though it's not specifically meant to be a relinquishment exercise, I’m eager to exploit it as one. I’m also eager to try out more tools that make relinquishment easier. I might look for ways to make Leaving a Line of Retreat less effortful and more efficient. Recommendations welcome.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-02T00:11:23.602Z · LW · GW

Let's start a new trend where you refuse to speak to journalists unless they can guarantee that the final publication will contain a link to your side of the story.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-01T19:55:02.003Z · LW · GW

In our scary new memetic fitness landscape, I think I’ve started to develop a default skepticism toward pith and sass. These days, the pithier and sassier something is, the more likely it is to trigger my deception alarms.

When something 240 characters or less sounds really good, it is increasingly likely that this is because it evolved to sound good to me, rather than because it has any deep wholesomeness.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-12-01T00:46:36.096Z · LW · GW

Schank’s law: “Because people understand by finding in their memories the closest possible match to what they are hearing and use that match as the basis of comprehension, any new idea will be treated as a variant of something the listener has already thought of or heard. Agreement with a new idea means a listener has already had a similar thought and well appreciates that the speaker has recognized his idea. Disagreement means the opposite. Really new ideas are incomprehensible. The good news is that for some people, failure to comprehend is the beginning of understanding. For most, of course, it is the beginning of dismissal.”


Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-11-30T15:21:11.314Z · LW · GW

But as always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle can only be seen when considering multiple orthogonal factors, after which projecting onto a single dimension will throw out so much information as to be worse than useless.

Comment by mike_hawke on Can preference falsification be reduced with Ring Signatures? · 2020-11-30T14:28:07.911Z · LW · GW

That leaves the question what kind of organization might give their members ring signatures.

A ring signature is computed from your own private key and whatever public keys you can find. It's not something your employer gives you. An employer could fire you for having a public key I guess, but that doesn't seem like a hard crux for what I'm asking about here.


Some academic organizations might have values that are compatible with having their members being able to speak anonymously while being able to identify as members of the organization.

Well, imagine being a professor at Harvard, and being able to publish a statement that says,

Skub is probably fine. Anti-skub activists are caught up in a moral panic.

ChristianKI of Harvard University OR Alice Abramson of Amherst University OR Bob Benson of UC Berkeley OR Carol Cook of Cornell University OR...

Shouldn't this cause a marginal emboldenment of the not-anti-skub contingent at any of those universities? Any skub-tolerator who reads the statement could think, "well clearly I'm not the only one". If they read two such statements with no overlap of names, they could think "well, clearly there are at least three of us". I can immediately see practical issues wit this, but is there some strong theoretical argument for why this can't scale up to the point at which it substantially impacts the level of silence?

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-11-30T05:45:56.700Z · LW · GW

“Well if I am the victim of a cult then they must have brainwashed me pretty well, because all of your reasons just sound like shallow insults to me."

Comment by mike_hawke on Can preference falsification be reduced with Ring Signatures? · 2020-11-30T05:17:24.846Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I quite understand you, but I think you may be underestimating the protocol.

Wikipedia says:

In the original paper, Rivest, Shamir, and Tauman described ring signatures as a way to leak a secret. For instance, a ring signature could be used to provide an anonymous signature from "a high-ranking White House official", without revealing which official signed the message. Ring signatures are right for this application because the anonymity of a ring signature cannot be revoked, and because the group for a ring signature can be improvised.

It seems to me that this should straightforwardly generalize from the White House staff to Evergreen professors, Megacorp employees, etc. The only requirement is that there are enough public keys available that you can put together a decent crowd to hide in. If you know someone's public key, they cannot stop you from signing their name next to yours (which leaves both of you with plausible deniability).

If you run an organization, you can just require that all employees generate a key pair. Boom. Spiral-proof organization, right? The emperor of such an organization is less likely to end up walking around naked, right?

Comment by mike_hawke on Can preference falsification be reduced with Ring Signatures? · 2020-11-29T23:02:50.031Z · LW · GW

What do you mean when you say you don't want to "join a 'ring' of people" who say controversial stuff? That doesn't line up with the (admittedly weak) understanding of the protocol that I'm getting from wikipedia. Someone just assembles a list of public keys at their leisure, and uses all of them plus their own, to sign a message. The only way to not be implicated is to never have a publicly available key, right?

Comment by mike_hawke on Can preference falsification be reduced with Ring Signatures? · 2020-11-29T22:38:00.036Z · LW · GW

"At all"? Surely you exaggerate. 

What if all those emailers form an anonymity set with one another? Surely that does more than nothing for preference falsification. The more people in the set, and the more overlap among their struggles, the less preference obscurity there will be, right?

Comment by mike_hawke on Notes on Humility · 2020-11-29T21:45:20.577Z · LW · GW

Grandiosity, braggadocio, and self-obsession seem often to be compensatory reactions to insecurity and poor self worth: You brag about yourself constantly because you’re trying to convince yourself; you don’t believe in yourself so you try to believe in your press releases instead.

This reminds me of that Uncle Iroh quote:

"Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame."

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-11-29T18:13:15.955Z · LW · GW

Thank you.

I can't even delete the duplicates. Mods, please help. Devs, please add delete option.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-11-29T14:07:24.969Z · LW · GW

I want a smartphone that lets me open my settings and add a delay to any app. For example, if I have a habit of mindlessly checking for new slack messages, I can go into the settings and make it so that opening slack forces me to first sit through a 15 second countdown. I can't easily circumvent the timer, because altering the slack setting also requires sitting through that countdown.

Comment by mike_hawke on mike_hawke's Shortform · 2020-11-29T01:41:43.524Z · LW · GW

When I allow myself to have inconsistencies in my beliefs and attitudes, I’m just using my brain the way it evolved to work. Accepting that I can’t untangle everything is necessary to make any progress.

When other people let themselves have inconsistencies, it is out of self-serving bias; it is anti-social and they ought to do better. Their persistence in trying to have it both ways causes excess harm.