Welcome to Lexington Rationalists [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:45:28.785Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
Welcome to Auckland EA/SSC Meetup Group [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:43:17.678Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
Welcome to New Delhi SSC [Edit With Your Details] 2019-09-25T02:38:17.069Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
SSC Meetups Everywhere: Darmstadt, Germany 2019-09-19T00:53:59.600Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress 2019-09-17T05:23:08.004Z · score: 69 (23 votes)
If you've attended LW/SSC meetups, please take this survey! 2019-03-25T21:48:37.976Z · score: 9 (3 votes)
[Speech] Worlds That Never Were 2019-01-12T19:53:51.241Z · score: 24 (6 votes)
Madison Solstice Gathering 2018-11-28T21:36:24.846Z · score: 18 (6 votes)
Atlanta SSC Meetup 2018-08-29T16:56:05.277Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Theories of Pain 2018-08-26T22:05:17.172Z · score: 35 (15 votes)
Welcome to Kansas City SSC Meetup [Edit With Your Details] 2018-08-23T18:18:12.223Z · score: 5 (1 votes)
Chennai SSC Meetup 2018-08-13T22:34:50.603Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Welcome to Kyiv SlateStarCodex 2018-08-13T21:15:17.002Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Moscow SSC Meetup 2018-08-12T03:13:03.606Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Brussels SSC Meetup 2018-08-12T03:11:30.209Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Oslo SSC Meetup 2018-08-10T23:12:55.814Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Sacramento SSC Meetup 2018-08-10T00:40:14.429Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Columbus SSC Meetup 2018-08-09T21:18:29.975Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Kiev SSC Meetup 2018-08-09T20:41:51.272Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Sheffield SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T20:06:21.489Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Phoenix SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T19:51:12.609Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Philadelphia SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T19:48:56.559Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Rochester SSC Meetup 2018-08-08T19:44:47.725Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
São Paulo SSC Meetup 2018-08-07T04:54:37.894Z · score: 7 (2 votes)
Houston SSC Meetup 2018-08-06T15:54:29.793Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
St. Louis SSC Meetup 2018-08-06T03:50:29.518Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
NYC SSC Meetup 2018-08-06T01:23:32.641Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Jersey City SSC Meetup 2018-08-06T00:05:41.726Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Washington DC SSC Meetup 2018-08-05T15:42:35.266Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Seattle SSC Meetup 2018-08-05T04:41:11.270Z · score: 9 (3 votes)
Vienna SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T23:22:16.565Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Vancouver SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T23:17:13.851Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
San Antonio SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T23:09:32.895Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Prague SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:59:48.478Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Portland SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:56:15.752Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Pittsburgh SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:53:45.308Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Paris SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:51:16.200Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Oklahoma SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:47:20.468Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Manchester SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:42:19.230Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Madrid SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T22:36:00.499Z · score: 9 (4 votes)
London SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:54:41.625Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Lexington SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:51:51.949Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Edmonton SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:34:44.856Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Detroit SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:27:43.204Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Denver SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:25:20.700Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Copenhagen SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:19:14.685Z · score: 7 (3 votes)
Chicago SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T03:08:00.968Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Ann Arbor SSC Meetup 2018-08-04T02:46:59.723Z · score: 4 (1 votes)
Brisbane SSC Meetup 2018-08-03T20:02:44.935Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Austin SSC Meetup 2018-07-31T01:39:55.192Z · score: 7 (3 votes)


Comment by mingyuan on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-05T19:36:26.629Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's nice to meet you too! :)

Comment by mingyuan on Skill and leverage · 2019-11-04T15:56:44.656Z · score: 15 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This feels very much like typical mind fallacy. Sure, for me, cleaning my room and loading the dishwasher are extremely easy, mindless things. But I know some people - my boyfriend, for instance - for whom household chores take up an undue amount of mental energy and are near-physically painful to do. On the other hand, he can happily spend hours trying to figure out a complex physics problem (while for me, this takes an undue amount of mental energy and is near-physically painful). Perhaps a more widespread example is reading books. Some people find it relaxing and do it all the time; other people have to exert a lot of mental violence to do it.

So, forcing my boyfriend to do 'easy' things like doing the laundry or reading a novel is going to be an uphill battle, but it could well be the case that doing AI safety research would, to him, feel like an endless stream of fun. I think that's the point Katja's making. Everybody's different.

Comment by mingyuan on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-09T06:24:58.476Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but not super vividly? Like, there's definitely a spectrum - you have people with aphantasia, and then on the other end you have my sister, who can build a 3D model of a sculpture in her mind, make various changes to it, and then construct it out of clay. My mental imagery is much weaker than that, more like vague impressions with some visual component, or images that are definitely there but fade when I look them head on (like stars).

Comment by mingyuan on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-06T20:55:49.431Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if this counts but: the experience you describe as "a vivid sensation of my own presence" is something I only have rarely, in flashes, and it always freaks me out. It's happened to me periodically for my whole life, and I've come to believe it falls under the label of dissociation.

Most of the time, I walk around basically on autopilot. I have feelings and wants, and I can introspect and remember things, but I'm not paying attention to the fact that it's myself doing those things; I just do them. This is very qualitatively different from what it's like to dissociate. When I dissociate, I am very aware that I am a brain in a body, that there's something it's like to be me and not anybody else, that everything around me was constructed by humans, etc. This sounds more like the "vivid sensation" you talked about, but I'm not sure. If so, I don't entirely lack the qualia of consciousness, but I don't have it most of the time, and it freaks me out when I do have it.

Comment by mingyuan on Happy Petrov Day! · 2019-09-27T03:43:24.923Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I really liked this, thank you for writing it.

Comment by mingyuan on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-27T02:42:33.961Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a nitpick, but I feel like the building of trust is being treated less as a sacred value, and more as a quantity of unknown magnitude, with some probability that that magnitude could be really high (at least >$1672, possibly orders of magnitude higher). Doing a Fermi is a trivial inconvenience that I for one cannot handle right now; since it is a weekday, maybe others feel much the same.

Comment by mingyuan on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T23:29:48.000Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Oh wow, I did not realize how ambiguous the original wording was.

Comment by mingyuan on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T23:03:52.088Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I preemptively counter-offer whatever amount of money tcheasdfjkl would pay in order for this hypothetical person not to press the button.

Comment by mingyuan on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T21:55:15.493Z · score: 20 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Wasn't totally sure when I wrote it, but now firmly yes.

Comment by mingyuan on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T21:03:09.765Z · score: 45 (10 votes) · LW · GW

(I have launch codes and am happy to prove it to you if you want.)

Hmmm, I feel like the argument "There's some harm in releasing the codes entrusted to me, but not so much that it's better for someone to die" might prove too much? Like, death is really bad, I definitely grant that. But despite the dollar amount you gave, I feel like we're sort of running up against a sacred value thing. I mean, you could just as easily say, "There's some harm in releasing the codes entrusted to me, but not so much that it's better for someone to have a 10% chance of dying" - which would naïvely bring your price down to $167.20.

If you accept as true that that argument should be equally 'morally convincing', then you end up in a position where the only reasonable thing to do is to calculate exactly how much harm you actually expect to be done by you pressing the button. I'm not going to do this because I'm at work and it seems complicated (what is the disvalue of harm to the social fabric of an online community that's trying to save the world, and operates largely on trust? perhaps it's actually a harmless game, but perhaps it's not, hard to know - seems like the majority of effects would happen down the line).

Additionally, I could just counter-offer a $1,672 counterfactual donation to GiveWell for you to not press the button. I'm not committing to do this, but I might do so if it came down to it.

Comment by mingyuan on Five Minute Beans · 2019-09-22T16:52:48.494Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Although at that point you're basically just making Peter Special :P

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-21T22:00:30.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, Raemon said it's 1-3 months of work, but I'm a bit concerned that those 1-3 months might not start for another year or so, due to the LW team being busy as heck with a bunch of other priorities. I do agree that it's worth putting real thought into this though, and not starting out on a platform just so we can start out, if it might end up being the case that we want to use a different platform later.

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-20T20:42:49.366Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I share a general opposition to Facebook. However, I'm not sure what would be a reasonable alternative. I've tried setting up Google Groups and Slacks for coordination of this type before, but those platforms have a bit of a 'talking in a library' problem - if they're inactive, they generally remain inactive. There's also the problem of needing to use a platform that people use all the time anyway. Slack is good for me, because I'm in multiple active Slack workspaces, but lots of people use it only for work or don't want multiple workspaces. Google Groups are okay on this axis because they can go to people's emails, but there's some magic startup energy that needs to go into making a Google Group active, and I don't know what it is (critical mass?).

As for the LW suggestion - I don't feel that LessWrong currently has the infrastructure to support something similar to a Facebook group, and even if the LW team was willing to build something like that, they have dozens of other priorities. In addition, a lot of the groups I'm targeting identify as SlateStarCodex meetups and don't have buy-in to LessWrong either as a platform or as a thing they want to identify with.

So, yes, I'm definitely open to alternatives to Facebook. I guess at this point a Google Group feels like the best option, but I'm not optimistic about it. Very open to continuing this conversation here or elsewhere.

Comment by mingyuan on Welcome to Kyiv SlateStarCodex · 2019-09-20T17:30:36.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Shannar and Oleksii, try emailing Mary at You might have more luck getting a response that way :)

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-18T21:45:01.666Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I actually agree, and that's what I meant by 'polluting the commons' - if anyone who ever had an idea about meetups could go around demanding that people implement their thing, everything would quickly fall apart. (Random side note: this is one of the main failure modes of school reform in the US - there are so many new initiatives forced upon teachers that they never have time to get used to them, develop their own style, or even do their job). This is why I'm trying to be careful this time around. I also hope that my response to your top-level comment helped you understand where I'm coming from here.

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-18T21:18:04.913Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This point (from both Vaniver and Charlie) is well-taken - I definitely agree that some amount of retreading the same ground is fine and often necessary or useful. I guess what I meant to express was, if there are conversations people are having that contain potentially novel insights or interesting new ways of looking at a problem/topic, then it would be good if those were written up and added to the canon. By default this is almost never happening, so it's the thing I want to encourage.

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-18T21:04:47.312Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am not aware of what happened. My guess from your tone is tragedy of the commons or something Eugine-like?

I grant that this is an experiment that could go poorly. I'm currently talking with someone who has experience running online rationalist spaces about potentially moderating the group, which I think should help. I'd want fairly strict moderation policies, with most of the discussion focused on meetups themselves (either how to run them or things that happen at them). The group would also be walled (not just freely open to the public).

Comment by mingyuan on Meetups as Institutions for Intellectual Progress · 2019-09-18T20:59:50.723Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Christian, sorry I wasn't entirely clear in expressing this idea. As I mentioned in the appendix, there are several communities that are doing just fine on their own, producing things, having regular events, having structure such as an NGO, etc. I think Berlin, Prague, Moscow, and NYC clearly fall into this category, and possibly other cities like Warsaw, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Helsinki, Toronto, Seattle, Sydney, and Oxford. (Apologies if I missed any obvious examples, but you get the idea).

However, these are a small minority of the total meetup groups that exist, which number over 100. It's the rest of those groups that I'm really targeting - ones in smaller cities or just cities with fewer active rationalists, where there's little sense of direction and it's often hard to even sustain a regular meetup at all. I organized meetups in a city like that myself a few years back, and I've talked to plenty of people from other cities who would really appreciate more guidance and/or centralized organization. I think some of these meetups would also appreciate being granted a sense of legitimacy by becoming an "official" LessWrong meetup, even if the designation doesn't ultimately have much meaning on its own.

I also wasn't proposing forcing any kind of structure on anyone. Groups can continue to function however they want (running marathons as a group seems great!) and should feel totally free to ignore the top-down planning if they don't need it. The topic-of-the-month idea was intended to a) help people in smaller, far-flung communities feel like part of a larger conversation, and b) provide a default structure for groups that have trouble with structure. (In the survey I ran a few months ago, lots of people expressed dissatisfaction that the only thing they ever did at meetups was unstructured socializing, which they didn't feel provided a ton of value). Doing rationality exercises together is really great, but is also something many communities can't do because they e.g. don't have any CFAR alumni, or because there isn't enough buy-in to the group that people want to commit to rationality training.

I hope that clears things up. Sorry if you felt attacked or something.

Comment by mingyuan on Shortform Beta Launch · 2019-07-28T17:39:16.004Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bug report: When I went to /shortform, the comment box was already filled in with a private message that I wrote (and sent) about a year ago. It was neither my first PM nor my most recent.

Comment by mingyuan on What was the official story for many top physicists congregating in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project? · 2019-07-04T17:30:06.093Z · score: 25 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it was wartime, and it wasn't really a secret that physicists would be helping with the war effort (since basically everyone was expected to contribute). Many top scientists took a break from their work at this time to work on things like codebreaking and radar; many of these projects were also top secret at the time. And Feynman mentions (in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!) that they used obfuscation techniques like having him take a roundabout series of train trips to end up at Los Alamos, so probably it was very non-obvious that many famous scientists were congregating there in particular. They could plausibly have been thought to all be working on separate projects.

Overall my guess would be that people didn't find it all that unusual that top physicists were disappearing from public life, and that it would have been pretty hard to figure out they were all congregating in one place. This doesn't map easily to the AGI question since 1) we're not in the middle of WWII, and 2) modern technology would make it significantly harder to hide the development of such a large-scale project, especially if it took many prominent figures out of the public eye (this is basically what Dr_Manhattan said).

Comment by mingyuan on The Competence Myth · 2019-07-04T15:57:58.102Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Because demand for cities isn't volatile? Like, if you're a company, you're operating in the market, where people have a choice whether to use/buy your product/service. If what you're producing isn't high-quality/doesn't meet a market need, your company fails (and the quality of the product is often a direct consequence of a CEO's decisions).

Conversely, with cities there's a lock-in: people build lives there; they invest in their houses, communities, and personal relationships. Cities are not nearly as fungible as (almost all) products. So even if the city is poorly run, people have strong incentives to stay there rather than moving elsewhere.

Plus, a city is more than its organizational structure: it's the geographical features, the businesses that operate there, and the people who live there. (To some extent the latter two are downstream of the city's organization, but they're definitely not fully determined by it).

tl;dr it's a lot easier to lose customers than to lose citizens. I don't think the situations are all that comparable or that we can learn anything meaningful about competence by looking at the success of the average city.

Comment by mingyuan on Houston SSC/LW/EA Social Meetup · 2019-07-01T22:37:09.620Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, weirdly that's because I put it in parentheses. Try now:

Comment by mingyuan on Houston SSC/LW/EA Social Meetup · 2019-06-26T03:15:40.291Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry to hear that! One of the organizers was definitely there but they didn't have a sign - I'll suggest to them that they bring one in the future. I also recommend joining the Facebook group ( if you want real-time updates. Again, sorry that happened to you! Good luck in the future!

Comment by mingyuan on Decisions are hard, words feel easier · 2019-06-21T19:34:51.712Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Seems like yes; fixed this.

Comment by mingyuan on Counterfactuals about Social Media · 2019-04-24T04:24:48.030Z · score: 34 (9 votes) · LW · GW

When you wrote "Against Facebook" a couple years ago, I had the same reaction as some of the other commenters here - that yes, Facebook was terrible, but I used it more responsibly than other people, and I had really thought it through and was getting the valuable things out of it while avoiding most (though not all) of the drawbacks.

But I left Facebook (and Tumblr) last November, and now reading this post I was like, "hell yeah, of course." I don't ever feel a desire to check Facebook - last week it sneakily logged me back in without me knowing, and I couldn't deactivate again fast enough. I had a bunch of notifications but even the thought of checking them felt disgusting.

I thought Facebook was helping me keep in touch with friends, but before leaving I made sure I shared my other contact information with anyone who asked for it, and this seems like it's solved the problem. I may not know what's going on with everyone I've ever known at every moment, but I know that I could find out if I really wanted to, by texting them or emailing them or sending them a letter. Plus, this strategy meant that one of my friends from high school, who I haven't talked to in years, sent me a postcard from all the way in Japan! That gave me more warm fuzzies than a full year of Facebook use. Since leaving social media I also spend more time with my housemates and higher-quality time with my boyfriend, so I feel that it's helped my social relationships in general, even if I have fewer now.

(One caveat is that I live in a group house, which means that if there's an event that I might want to go to or something important happens in our social circles, I'm likely to find out about it even though I don't have Facebook, because my housemates do have Facebook. So this feels kind of like cheating.)

I'm more conflicted about the use of Facebook for things other than casual socializing. On the LW/SSC meetups survey I ran, I asked a question about how people would want to communicate with people from other meetup groups, and a clear majority of respondents wanted to use a Facebook group. I really don't want to go back to using Facebook (which I'd have to if I wanted to admin the group), but I do sort of agree that Facebook groups are the best currently-existing tool for the sort of thing we want to do.

I also used to have a feeling that Facebook was really the only place to go to ask for things like borrowing items or finding volunteers for events. That's somewhat less true for me since people in my neighborhood coordinate over Slack and Discord, but I do think there's a lot of value in being able to broadcast requests to hundreds of people at once.

tl;dr I personally hate Facebook but am not sure about the feasibility of replacing it. Not a very unique position, I know.

Comment by mingyuan on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-01T16:25:50.114Z · score: 18 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You can auto-collapse comments from GPT2 in

Comment by mingyuan on If you've attended LW/SSC meetups, please take this survey! · 2019-03-26T01:29:43.771Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wow great point, I'm silly! Changed, thanks :)

Comment by mingyuan on A cognitive intervention for wrist pain · 2019-03-17T05:44:37.655Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don’t want to come off as attacking you, but I wonder about the validity of your wife’s evidence. From what I understand Japanese culture strongly discourages any discussion of personal weakness, so it seems likely that the fact that your wife hasn’t heard of anyone experiencing wrist pain doesn’t tell us much about whether they’re experiencing it or not.

Comment by mingyuan on A cognitive intervention for wrist pain · 2019-03-15T22:12:52.925Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hm, I’ve read Sarno, but given your framing on his work - do you think this model predicts that general-purpose stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation should alleviate RSI (and other chronic pain)? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research on that.

Also thanks for the data point, you’re the second rationalist I know who has publicly said they’ve overcome their pain with Sarno or Sarno-like methods. I notice that I am confused....

Comment by mingyuan on How dangerous is it to ride a bicycle without a helmet? · 2019-03-09T04:31:16.851Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it’s important for you to make more prominent the fact that you have an unusually strong preference against wearing a helmet, because for someone like me for whom wearing a helmet is basically costless I think the evidence you found pretty clearly indicates that I should wear a helmet, since I can get a 3x reduction in mortality risk at no cost. Other than that, fine, I concede :p

Also I know you don’t want to put more time into this, but I found this post to be pretty hard to follow overall (though the conclusion was clear). I could maybe edit if you care.

Comment by mingyuan on Informal Post on Motivation · 2019-02-24T21:05:44.083Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fixed your images and a bunch of obvious typos :)

Also, great post! I'm still digesting it so I don't have much to say, but a lot of this resonates, and it's always useful to me to see people write down their explicit models for things I've spent a lot of time thinking vaguely about.

Comment by mingyuan on Open Thread January 2019 · 2019-01-09T20:29:09.446Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seems like calling it ‘Open and Welcome Thread’ rather than just ‘Open Thread’ may have resulted in fewer posts last month. It’s also just an awkward name and (like almost all post titles) doesn’t display in full on my phone. I’m in favor of changing the title back, but keeping the part in the post body about introducing yourself.

Comment by mingyuan on What precisely do we mean by AI alignment? · 2018-12-09T02:58:23.331Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is an open question, so what you see is the entirety of the post. Hopefully forthcoming answers will provide the content you're looking for! :)

Comment by mingyuan on Worth keeping · 2018-12-07T06:40:58.744Z · score: 0 (12 votes) · LW · GW

*wiggles fingers* <3

Comment by mingyuan on Winter Solstice 2018 Roundup · 2018-12-05T20:38:03.418Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Update: There is now a Facebook event here and a doc of logistics and music here!

Comment by mingyuan on The housekeeper · 2018-12-04T18:55:52.432Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It was 16 when I took over the house a little over a year ago, currently down to 10 permanent residents, which is the lowest it's ever been while I've been here.

Comment by mingyuan on The housekeeper · 2018-12-04T06:19:14.344Z · score: 23 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Yup, and it turns out the idea proposed in the OP is actually way more complicated than it sounds. For one thing, it's unlikely that a single person would be very well-suited for all of the jobs listed (e.g. I am good at the ops/logistics stuff but shy away strongly from the conflict resolution type stuff). But more importantly, it's unlikely that everyone in the house would be happy enough with every decision the housekeeper made that they would be able to function as autonomously as described. This happens even if the housekeeper is entirely competent at all of their tasks, because people will just have conflicting tastes about things like decorating - this is basically inevitable in a larger house.

I also think it helps people have buy-in to their house if not literally all of the tasks are assigned to one person. At Event Horizon, the 'housekeeper' isn't in charge of cooking house dinner or running events, which lets more people do something tangible for the house as a whole (besides just a chore), and leads to a diversity of events tailored to what different subgroups in the house want to do. We also have monthly 'virtues' which just means that everyone volunteers to do something nice for the house, which can range from 'replace some light bulbs' to 'draft a proposal for a new house system' to 'make it so we have a library.' I think this is pretty important.

Bottom line I agree that some version of this thing is likely a good idea for most larger houses, but it's a part of working out systems for house governance, which is a really complicated task. I'm hoping to write a mini-sequence in the coming year on what I've learned about running a rationalist house, but I don't currently feel equipped to write an authoritative section on house governance systems because we are still very much in the middle of working that out.

(I will note for completeness sake that though running Event Horizon is definitely enough work to be someone's full-time job, it's never been paid enough for that to be practical for anyone, so I'm not totally sure what house leadership would look like if someone was putting all of their working effort towards it.)

Comment by mingyuan on Winter Solstice 2018 Roundup · 2018-11-28T21:37:36.901Z · score: 17 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Habryka and I are running one at my parents' house in Madison WI on December 21. There's a private Facebook event that I can't make unprivate but I also made a LW event. Email or message me if you want details :)

Comment by mingyuan on Berkeley: being other people · 2018-10-22T18:46:13.979Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Grocery line: This basket is too heavy. But maybe my physical limitations are all in my head and I should just get over it. Stop being so tired. Look there's candy! It's so pretty I bet it tastes so good I want it. No, remember, candy makes you feel bad (*remember the physical sensation of eating too much candy*). Is the person behind me mad at me for taking up too much space on the conveyor belt? Does he think I'm stupid or inconsiderate or poorly dressed? How fast can I make this transaction? In what order should I put these things in the grocery bag? What if I suddenly forget my PIN number and can't pay? Am I being degrading by not having a conversation with the cashier?

Youtube: I'm not a regular watcher of Youtube, but the most recent thing I discovered was the genre of videos akin to "the Hamilton soundtrack but every time they say his name it gets 10% faster." I also like in-depth analysis of movies and TV shows - even ones I've never seen, if the reviewers are entertaining.


  • I'm in pain most of the time.
  • I'm unusually prone to anger and have a lot of rage fantasies, and I want to scream and break things unusually often (when I was in school I would often break my pencil in half when I got angry, because it was inconspicuous but still helped a little).
  • I barely have any episodic memory stretching back more than one year at any given time, and >90% of my memories are bad memories, despite me having had a pretty good life.
  • I dissociate a lot (and have since childhood), including dissociating basically every time I look in a mirror, because I'm like, "who is that? what is that? who are these people around me? how did I get here?". As a result I have a constant sense of suspicion that nothing is actually real. This only goes away when I'm really wrapped up in what I'm doing and not thinking about the fact that I'm a human in a physical body in a physical world, but it's easy to be jolted out of that.
  • I'm not good at allocating my attention between competing sensory experiences. If I'm in a room where a lot of conversations are happening, I'll try to follow the ones to my left and right in addition to the one I'm supposed to be in. I can't work while listening to music or if people are talking or if I can see movement in my visual field, or sometimes even if my clothes are too tight. I lose my train of thought when I hear a baby or child.
  • I pay much more attention to what other people (mostly strangers) are thinking about me than I think is normal. Oli phrased it as something like, the world around me is made up of giant heads and their giant faces are staring at me all the time and judging me. (I think he said other people's heads are 20x bigger to me than they are to him). I learned to walk and eat and open and close doors maximally silently because I hated bothering other people. If someone tells me off or even just corrects me I usually want to cry.
  • When I have a plan to do something, I rehearse it in my head over and over beforehand. Usually before big events that I've planned I have a nightmare the night before where I experience the entire next day but a bunch of things go wrong. The rehearsing also makes me feel kind of stuck, so e.g. if my implicit plan was to sit in bed and read, and one of my housemates starts a conversation with me when I walk into the kitchen to get water, I feel a ton of internal tension even if I've read the book before and the conversation is way better than sitting in bed, because it's just not what I planned to do and I can't adjust.

Comment by mingyuan on Shit rationalists say - 2018 · 2018-10-02T02:30:43.968Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly I just watched the video for the first time and I don't think it needs an update; it's still pretty painfully accurate :P

Comment by mingyuan on What Are Meetups Actually Trying to Accomplish? · 2018-10-01T18:24:14.643Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Joshua, sorry I missed this comment! I'm not in Chicago anymore, though I'm still invested in the group's success. I've been meaning to write up a postmortem of the version of Chicago Rationality that I ran (and later passed off to Peter), but I recently started working full-time so I'm not sure when I'll get around to that - for now I can just say a couple of things here.

One is that I think Chicago is more spread-out than a lot of major cities, which makes it really hard to pick a good location - e.g., we initially had our meetups in Hyde Park, but we had very low regular attendance because most people weren't willing to trek all the way down to the south side; and when meetups were moved to Harold Washington Library we basically lost all the UChicago students. Similarly Northwestern is way far from any central location you might pick, but in the opposite direction. This makes it really hard to sustain a core group of people who will regularly show up.

Another is sort of a catch-22, where because there's not a lot happening in Chicago in terms of rationality or EA, there's not a lot keeping really hardcore rationalists/EAs in the city. Like, I joined a version of Chicago Rationality in March of 2015 that only lasted for three months, at the end of which all four other members moved to the Bay to work for EA organizations. I think this was almost certainly the right call for all four of them, because they didn't have strong roots in Chicago, weren't well-positioned to earn to give, and were good fits for the culture and organizations they joined in the Bay, and most importantly because there was no community for them in Chicago and no way for them to have an impact there.

As for why I think there hasn't been a lasting community in Chicago so far: Chicago isn't flooded with programmers like some other cities - which is a big deal because programmers are way disproportionately into rationality/SSC - and it doesn't have particularly unique industries that would draw rationalist-type people. Here I'm thinking of Seattle (which has sustained a large rationalist community), where lots of people don't want to leave their jobs at Amazon, Microsoft, and SpaceX. (See also Paul Graham's essay on cities, which led me to reflect on Chicago and find it to feel not at all ambitious, at least to me).


So those are my super rough thoughts on what it's like to try to make a community work in Chicago. I definitely don't think it's impossible - there are communities in much weirder places with many fewer rationalists - but I think it's important to keep these considerations in mind, and maybe using an atypical strategy to accommodate them.

For example, I can imagine that you might want to have weekly meetups switching off between three regular locations - one closer to Northwestern, one closer to UChicago, and one downtown. That way people who weren't able to easily travel to the other locations could still make it to ~one meetup per month, which would allow them to feel like part of the community even if they're not at every event. If the three locations each had a different host, this would also help with leadership redundancy (which I talk about in the post).

For the 'not a lot happening in Chicago' concern, I think you'd just want to be careful to not place all your eggs in a basket that's likely to move away soon (like me, sorry). You need people who are committed to staying in Chicago and building a community there, rather than just excited about the thing but apt to leave for greener pastures. This means that while universities might be good places to find new members, you shouldn't build your group such that it relies on students to survive.

Hope this was helpful, and sorry it was so long! Feel free to ask more questions :)

Comment by mingyuan on Theories of Pain · 2018-09-03T19:56:48.053Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
What is your pain

This is actually quite a personal question, and I don't like answering it so I'm not going to.

As for what I've tried - briefly, I've tried most of the things listed above, other than somatic therapy (which I'm interested in trying), and acupuncture and surgery (which I'm not). I started off consulting the medical establishment about my pain at the age of five, and gradually branched out to alternatives when that didn't work. I currently mostly use massage, some of the exercises I learned from physical therapy, and psychologically-based relaxation techniques.

Comment by mingyuan on Rationalist Community Hub in Moscow: 3 Years Retrospective · 2018-08-26T01:09:00.015Z · score: 21 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for writing this; it's so cool to finally hear what's going on with Kocherga!

I know some of the people at CFAR are very interested in talking with you about your curriculum. It's too late to apply now, but CFAR is running a workshop in Prague next month and would be super interested to see someone there who was familiar with Kocherga-style applied rationality. So if any of your alumni are able to get to Prague easily and would be interested in meeting up with people from CFAR, have them email to see if they can set something up! Note though that I don't work for CFAR, so take this all with a grain of salt.

Separately, I'd be interested to know if you've pursued any of the larger-scale funding options such as CEA. Kocherga seems like it plausibly could have gotten funded via the EA Community Building grants (although that's not for sure due to its focus on rationality rather than EA). Note that a comparison to the Berkeley REACH would not be appropriate here because REACH did not exist yet when Stardust applied for the community building grant, whereas Kocherga has a long track record. In any case, it seems worth it for you guys to apply for grants. You're clearly doing something valuable :)

Anyway, I've pledged $30/month. Best of luck!!

Comment by mingyuan on Orange County SSC Meetup · 2018-08-09T20:47:33.586Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, not that I know of.

Comment by mingyuan on Would you benefit from audio versions of posts? · 2018-07-26T16:14:00.430Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn’t be useful to me, but might allow me to finally get my sister into rationality, since she’s basically incapable of reading :)

Comment by mingyuan on A Step-by-step Guide to Finding a (Good!) Therapist · 2018-07-20T19:11:14.382Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the resources! Fair warning though, I used Reflect and it matched me with you. Beware!

Comment by mingyuan on Look Under the Light Post · 2018-07-17T19:59:39.699Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that is the original version of the parable; gworley is playing on the original here and suggesting that maybe it misses something important about why someone might do something as apparently fruitless as looking for his keys where the light is rather than where he dropped them.

Comment by mingyuan on Last Chance to Fund the Berkeley REACH · 2018-06-28T03:05:26.480Z · score: 24 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I recently cancelled my recurring Patreon donation due to financial insecurity, but with the new developments both at REACH and in my life, I'm happy to say I've reinstated and increased my donation. Best of luck <3

Comment by mingyuan on [deleted post] 2018-05-05T17:08:45.963Z

First of all, I'm really sorry you've had this discouraging experience in your first few weeks on LessWrong. It does seem unfair that you've received a lot of negative votes while receiving very little feedback on why that is. I think there's something real in all of the interpretations you listed, and my guess would be that each one was an opinion held by at least one person who read at least one of your posts (presuming high traffic on Frontpage posts).

For now, I think it makes most sense for you to continue to post regularly, just on your personal blog. Given what you've said here I definitely don't want to discourage you from writing, but I think there are certain expectations of Frontpage posts that you're unlikely to meet since you're a newcomer both to writing and to the ideas of the community.

I strongly encourage you to read more of the rationality canon and become familiar with the discussion around various ideas before writing too much about those ideas. From what I remember of surveys of prominent users of the old LessWrong, most of them, upon discovering the site, spent several months just reading the Sequences without posting or commenting, then spent several months or years just commenting, and only then began writing their own top-level posts. Obviously times have changed in a lot of ways; I just want to emphasize that familiarity with the canon is a quite important prerequisite for writing well-received posts.

I also agree with Elo that you might want to wait before addressing sensitive topics - if you are a newcomer to the community and an inexperienced writer, it will be difficult for you to write about controversial or sensitive things in a way that is:

  • interesting to long-time readers of the site - in that it provides novel insight and is framed in a way that makes it relevant to their interests
  • comprehensible - it can be really difficult to convey your thoughts on complex topics to strangers through only the written word, and I think this just takes a lot of practice (hopefully with fast feedback loops)
  • nuanced, not clumsy - the thing about writing about sensitive topics is that people can be really, well, sensitive about them (surprise!); there are a myriad of ways you can end up putting your foot in your mouth and you need to know your audience well and write clearly and carefully to be able to avoid all those failure modes

Some other, more concrete things:

I found your post on effective altruism difficult to follow; I didn't actually understand it until reading Ixakas' comment. On a first (uncomprehending) read, it kind of comes off as a naïve attack on something that is really important to a lot of people here, which may be where a lot of the downvotes came from. You also seemed to present things as novel insights when pretty much every premise in the post is something that's been discussed in this community for years. That said, now that I've read Ixakas' top-level comment, I do find the post pretty interesting.

As for your post on dating: I'm a young female and it didn't make me personally uncomfortable, but the framing is a bit rude, as Elo said - even just the title, 'Finding a Girlfriend', feels to me like it elides a lot of what a romantic relationship actually is. I had a friend who thought in these terms, trying to find The One using a search algorithm that involved dating apps and spreadsheets, and he was wildly unsuccessful at dating. Actually, my main thought when reading your post was that it might be pretty helpful to someone like him. So, that general way of looking at the problem may not be the best, but as long as a lot of people are going to do it anyway your post seems like it could be valuable.

To look at an example of someone managing to successfully navigate discussing this sensitive topic - when lukeprog wrote about rational romantic relationships, he included personal anecdotes, but he also looked at what was going on from other points of view (including a lot of female POV), and mostly framed the problem as one that humans in general have, rather than one specific to any group. It also helped that he included a whole bunch of scientific evidence.


In conclusion, this was a very long comment but I hope you find at least parts of it useful. Good luck, Michaël.

Comment by mingyuan on Unyielding Yoda Timers: Taking the Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-04-04T00:49:31.491Z · score: 23 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Great submission! I especially like Emotion Propagation – it's something I've thought about specific cases of, but hadn't conceptualized as a cognitive defect, and I think it might be surprisingly pervasive. I'm definitely going to try looking at my bugs from an emotion propagation angle. Thanks for that :)