Brain Speed Test 2016-09-10T03:01:28.261Z
Salary charts & Projection tool 2015-06-01T16:37:02.229Z
The most important meta-skill 2015-05-27T15:51:02.150Z
Self-verification 2015-04-19T23:36:39.719Z
A pair of free information security tools I wrote 2015-04-11T23:03:03.177Z
For anyone interested in life extension 2015-04-11T18:34:24.453Z
Calibration Test with database of 150,000+ questions 2015-03-14T11:22:58.943Z
Some secondary statistics from the results of LW Survey 2015-02-12T16:46:17.108Z
A rational approach to the issue of permanent death-prevention 2015-02-11T12:22:34.165Z


Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-08T15:31:55.548Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback! Some specific notes:

Quartiles are good; I would be curious about deciles as well. Unfortunately my primary data source, the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics, only reports 10th percentile, 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile and 90th percentile. I'm working on creating two different views: the "simple" view which just has a few relevant numbers, and the "full" view which has all the relevant data.

When I mouseover a line on the salary vs. age graph, the numbers are shown with the lowest salary on top. This is visually disconcerting as the lowest salary line is the bottom-most one on the graph.

I've gotten a few pieces of feedback on this. This is the default for how the chart generator API I'm using creates the legend. I'll have to go in and update the code on that to reverse them.

It's a bit confusing that the y-axis on the salary vs. age graph rescales to the occupation, especially since the lines are shown "rising up" from the x-axis. If I see the lines go up, it unintuitively does not mean that the salary is higher.

Do you mean like when you are looking at Job A, and then move over to look at Job B? If so, would it be more useful if the graph just consistently showed, say, $20,000 a year as the minimum and, say, $200,000 a year as the maximum, regardless of occupation? (Or any other arbitrary min/max)

There seem to be lots of duplicate categories at the "Individual Job" level, so less unique rows fit on a screen. Might be an easy way to filter these out.

This is an annoying quirk of how the BLS quantifies different positions (i.e. many positions have two separate ID codes but the same underlying data.) Version 2 will purge any redundancies like this.

I'm confused whether "entry level" means "no degree" and "post-grad" means "bachelors"

I could be more clear on this. "Entry level" means "no degree or bachelor" and "post-grad" means "masters or doctorate or equivalent".

It would be nice to have a link on the "Individual Jobs" level to the definition of each job category used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This has been updated. See below for further explanation:

How many years are you taking this from? Larger n makes things more robust but makes the data less relevant to the current job market.

This currently pulls from 2014 data. Version two will have the option to pull from several years and also will include a timeline to show whether salaries for a job are trending up or down.

I'd like to know the salaries of the top and bottom deciles for each job.

The "High Salary" and "Low Salary" from the individual job breakdown is actually the 90th decile and 10th decile, respectively. I just didn't scale those according to age in the chart itself.

I don't really know why i would care about the Category ID. It seems to be an unnecessary column. It is also confusing that it starts at 11 (not 1) when I sort in descending order.

Good point. At one point I had intended to use the category ID to link to the BLS's definition of the job. But then I forgot! I have updated this. I should probably have the field itself be something more useful than the ID though.

I initially misinterpreted the "Entry Level Jobs" and "Post-Grad Jobs" as salaries

I've updated that to be more clear

Comment by Nanashi on The value of learning mathematical proof · 2015-06-02T13:20:39.340Z · LW · GW

I think that this emphasis on explicit, built-from-scratch mathematical proofs runs counter to your previously expressed suggestion that learning via pattern matching is more efficient than learning via explicit reasoning.

I've found that the emphasis on first principles is often symptomatic of someone who is speaking for their own benefit rather than that of their audience. After all, you're making the unwarranted assumption that A.) your audience wants first principles rather than a practical application, and B.) your audience is, for lack of a better word, too dumb to derive these principles for themselves. It's very easy to convince yourself that you are giving the audience the tools they need to understand what you're saying, when in fact, you're using the audience as a sounding board to help yourself better understand what you're actually saying.

(By the way, I'm using the "royal You" rather than specifically singling out you, Jonah. You caution against this very thing in another post of yours. ).

Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-02T09:29:42.147Z · LW · GW

It's funny you mention that, that feature is actually built into the tool, it's just I hadn't written a user interface for it yet. I got your message as well, let's set up some time to talk.

The roadblock I came up against was how to return results that are useful. Many desirable-at-face-value careers (e.g. Artists, actors, etc.) have pretty high 90th percentile salaries but low average salaries. Is it useful to show people something that's possible albeit unlikely? One implementation I had toyed with was showing the number of people at that position actually making that kind of money.

Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-01T19:49:31.458Z · LW · GW

Ability to compare multiple jobs simultaneously. Make a note saying the graph will appear once you pick a job, or have it pop up by default on a default job. Center the numerical figures in their cells.

One thing I was thinking about on this note was, comparing the "true cost of post-graduate education", in other words, you choose a job that will require X years of post-grad, and then you choose a job that doesn't. And it will compare lifetime earnings.

Make the list of jobs and/or the list of categories searchable and associate search keywords to jobs. For example, if I want to find 'Professor', it seems to come under postsecondary teachers, which wouldn't have been something I would have thought of without trawling the list of educators, but I would have found it if I could search by 'Professor' and get the result returned.

Good idea.

'Actuaries', 'Statisticians', 'Mathematicians' seem to have a duplicate entries. Check database for other duplicates by querying for where job names coincide.

Good catch. From looking it seems like the BLS statistics (which is what this polls from) has duplicate entries that have the same info but separate ID codes. Government efficiency right there. I'll rewrite the script to scrub these out.

Track down the figures where you don't have data, or establish that there is not enough data, and let the user know which is the case so they know the provenance of researched or omitted figures.

What specifically did you mean here?

t. Perhaps you could have a mode like the current one and a 'wandering' mode where you start with a specific job then have it compared and linked to related or similar jobs

I think the big problem with trying to determine "related jobs" is that, more often than not, in the actual job market, the relationship between similar jobs is in name only. If I'm trying to hire someone for sales, someone who has a lot of marketing experience probably isn't going to be a great candidate, even though "sales" and "marketing" seem to go hand-in-hand.

Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-01T18:49:13.202Z · LW · GW

In my experience, at the under-grad level, the college you go to doesn't really matter (and especially your grades). I know that when I am hiring, I personally spend exactly 2 seconds looking at what school someone went to (and exactly 0 seconds looking at their grades).

It may be different at the post-graduate level though.

Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-01T18:25:47.788Z · LW · GW

I haven't heard of them before but that looks like good stuff.

Comment by Nanashi on Salary charts & Projection tool · 2015-06-01T18:25:37.766Z · LW · GW

I'm thinking more at the high school level, but I think you are correct.

Comment by Nanashi on Learning takes a long time · 2015-05-31T10:00:41.381Z · LW · GW

I think that's because, when looking at the aggregate of society, it's more efficient to bring people up to the level of semi-proficiency than it is to bring them to the level of expertise. If you have 100,000 hours of training to allocate, you get more bang for your buck to train 50 people to 80% proficiency than it is to train 10 people to the level of an expert.

The flaw, of course, is that "training hours" isn't a finite, discrete resource. Any individual can opt to spend additional time of their own accord if they are truly passionate. The problem is, at the points in our lives when we have the most free time to spend improving ourselves (read: high school), we also have the least idea of what the hell we want to do with it.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-30T17:27:33.260Z · LW · GW

Although technically you could say that the whole argument begs the question, depending on how you interpret the logic. Because it basically follows the form: "Learning a skill is trivial because you can break a skill down into trivial subskills."

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-29T21:35:52.650Z · LW · GW

The definition of "fundamentals" differs though, depending on how abstract you get. The more layers of abstraction, the more abstract the fundamentals. If my goal is high-level programming, I don't need to know how to write code on bare metal.

That's why I advocate breaking things down until you reach the level of triviality for you personally. Most people will find, "writing a for-loop" to be trivial, without having to go farther down the rabbit hole. At a certain point, breaking things down too far actually makes things less trivial.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-29T20:44:07.496Z · LW · GW

Yes, this this this this this this this. "The capacity of human minds is limited and I'll accept climbing up higher in abstraction levels at the price of forgetting how the lower-level gears turn." If I could upvote this multiple times, I would.

This is the crux of this entire approach. Learn the higher level, applied abstractions. And learn the very basic fundamentals. Forget learning how the lower-level gears turn: just learn the fundamental laws of physics. If you ever need to figure out a lower-level gear, you can just derive it from your knowledge of the fundamentals, combined with your big-picture knowledge of how that gear fits into the overall system.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-29T20:40:18.857Z · LW · GW

It sounds like both you and estimator are actually both on the same page: estimator seems to be talking about the "prerequisite" in the sense of, "systematic prerequisite", as in, people say that you should learn X before you learn Y. You seem to be talking about "prerequisite" in the sense that, "skill X is a necessary component of skill Y"

Both of you, however, seem to agree that you should ignore the stuff that is irrelevant to what you are actually trying to accomplish.

Comment by Nanashi on Request for Advice : A.I. - can I make myself useful? · 2015-05-29T20:36:42.253Z · LW · GW

First and foremost, don't bother with Java, it'll be dead in 5 years. (Okay, just kidding, sorta.)

Okay, so jokes aside: what do you want? As in, what do you hope that the world will accomplish before you die? Even if you aren't the one who makes the breakthrough, you still benefit. So, what do you hope that someone, anyone, it could be you, it could be some scientist somewhere else, what do you hope they will do, more than anything else?

You seem to point to things that revolve around life extension, and your thought that current methods aren't going to get it done. So, conceptually, what DO you see getting it done? You mention, effective robots to do experiments, and AI to interpret results, but what does that actually mean? What types of experiments? Why a robot instead of a human? As for AI: what results need to be interpreted? What answers are you hoping to find?

I have found that turning a more analytical eye towards your long-term goals, and changing them from purely conceptual to something more actionable, is a great first step for determining what you want to do with your life.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-29T20:08:40.906Z · LW · GW

There's a big difference between the fundamentals, and the low-level practical applications. I think the latter is what estimator is referring to. You can't really make a breakthrough or do real research without a firm grasp of the fundamentals. But you definitely can make a breakthrough in, say, physics, without knowing the exact tensile strength of wood vs. steel. And yet, that type of "Applied Physics" was a pre-requisite at my school for the more advanced fields of physics that I was actually interested in.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-29T15:07:35.070Z · LW · GW

I go into this in further detail in this post

Defining the success conditions is a critical first step, and you'd be surprised at how many people don't do that. Many people frame their goals as a state-of-being, e.g. "I want to be the fastest runner in the world" rather than a success-condition, e.g. "I want to beat the current world record holder."

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-28T17:49:08.288Z · LW · GW

Okay, so I made a significant revision of the post. The original ideas are all there, just written in a much less obtuse manner.

  • A much more logical argument is presented at the beginning, along with constraints.
  • "Archetypes" and "Processes" have been replaced by sub-skills and trivial sub-skills.
  • The lengthy discourse on strategy has been replaced by simply sorting your list of trivial sub-skills, which accomplishes the same effect.
  • The "improvement" has been streamlined greatly.
  • Meta-analysis has been removed because it's really a separate subject.
Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-28T14:55:28.592Z · LW · GW

So, after some cursory thought, naturally the part of the system that gives you the most bang for your buck are the first 4 steps. The last 3 steps are designed to help you improve, which is a much slower process than just learning the basics.

So, now to figure out how to recursively apply the the skill of learning a skill quickly to the skill "learning skills quickly".

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-28T14:21:27.165Z · LW · GW

As I mentioned in another comment, the difference between this and the "common sense" approach is in what this system does not do.

As for what the 20% of this system that gives you the most bang for your buck? That's a good question. Right now my "safe" answer is that it's dependent on the type of skill you're trying to learn. The trouble is that the common threads among all the skills ("Find the 20% of the skill that yields 80% of the results") doesn't have a lot of practical value. Like telling someone that all they need to do to lose weight is eat less and exercise more.

Let me think about it some more and I'll get back to you.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-28T12:40:55.153Z · LW · GW

Well of course they do. Because these things are necessary to learning a language. This is the 20% that's most efficient. By definition someone who puts in 100% of the effort will be doing what I did.

The efficiency of this approach revolves around what you don't do. You're excising the 80%. I didn't spend long hours learning katakana, hiragana and kanji. I didn't learn the more complex tenses and conjugations. I didn't spend time on vocabulary words that are highly situational. Contrast this to a typical Japanese textbook.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T23:27:19.946Z · LW · GW

I'll give a more in depth breakdown soon but for now, I'd probably take a similar approach that I took to learning to read Japanese : learn basic sentence structure, learn top 150ish vocabulary words, avoid books written in non-romaji. Practice hearing spoken word by listening to speeches and following their transcriptions. My exception protocol for unrecognized words was to look them up. And for irregular sentence structure, to guess based on context. It worked for watching movies and reading, mostly but as you can tell, yoi kakikomu koto ga dekimasen*. I'd have to do some thinking on the writing part, it would most likely involve sticking to simple sentences.

*thats terrible Japanese for "I cannot write well". I think. I hope.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T22:29:10.101Z · LW · GW

Also, when you say "intermediate level language knowledge", what exactly do you mean? One of the key steps is defining exactly what you want to accomplish and why. I don't want to create a whole write-up, only to realize that you and I have two different definitions of "intermediate level language knowledge".

So if you'd tell me the "what" and the "why", I'll do the rest.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T22:26:49.207Z · LW · GW

Basketball is an example. I'm about to head home so I'll do the ultra-abbreviated TL;DR version:

  1. Goals: Score points, prevent opponent from scoring points.
  2. Archetypes: Offense (2-point), Offense (3-point), Defense
  3. Process How-To: Googled "how to layup", "how to shoot a 3-pointer", and "how to steal a ball" 3a. Process Failure Points: Missing a shot, getting the ball stolen, missing a pass. 3b. Process Difficulties: Anything involving ball handling or dribbling. Defense.
  4. Exception Protocol: On offense: Pass the ball to a better player than myself, or set a pick. On defense: play very close to my opponent. 5a. Avoid anything involving dribbling but not scoring. 5b. Prepare and practice two-point shots. 5c. Focus on getting open for a 3-point shot. Practice consistently shooting from 3-point line.
  5. Get better by playing.

I would say basketball is fairly complex. One thing I didn't mention in the original post (mainly because it starts to get into the "how do individual people learn") but for me, I don't get good at a competitive skill by competing against people who also suck. By getting good enough to be able to play with people who are actually good, it made it easier for me to learn the advanced part of the game faster.

Also, this post has a list of (at least what I think to be) fairly non-trivial skills that I have trained using this method.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T21:44:53.902Z · LW · GW

Ha ha, when I first read that, I thought "furriner" was another nickname for Furries and I was very, very confused.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T21:19:10.509Z · LW · GW

I took your advice as well as estimator's into account and added two paragraphs at the beginning to offer 1. Some research showing that many systems follow a distribution where a small portion of work accounts for a large portion of results, and 2. and explanation as to why it's generalizable.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T20:48:48.733Z · LW · GW

That's totally fine, like I said, your post made sense and was consistent with what I've seen.

I still don't really think that stating my qualifications would do much. In this context, it still just seems too much like bragging. "I helped build a multi-million dollar company, I compete in barbecue competitions and consistently place in the top 10% of the field and was sponsored by a major barbecue website, was ranked in the top 100 players in the world for a popular collectible card game, learned how to code with no formal education (and used that knowledge wrote a somewhat well-received calibration test, and also write a bunch of boring business platforms), wrote an article about a baseball statistic I co-developed and was published in a publication that's important for people who care about baseball stats, learned how to be a carpenter, at one point was a licensed pharmacy technician, blah blah blah"

Even though I'm sure there's a less crass way to phrase it, to me it still sounds exceedingly arrogant. I might be overreacting though. You tell me: if I prefaced my post with that, would you be more or less inclined to take me seriously?

I do like the idea of explaining why I think the advice works in the first place. I will start writing something up about that and append it to the original post.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T19:50:16.510Z · LW · GW

Bad editing on my part. Ill update the post and include the original here for posterity

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T18:40:51.446Z · LW · GW

Yup, pretty much. To quote myself

TL;DR: The fastest way to learn new skills is to 1. Break it down into enough "recipes" or "how-to" guides that they cover most of what you might encounter, and 2. Figure out how to eloquently ask for help if you don't know what to do.

(Incidentally, the link you posted does not work, it's giving me a 404).

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T18:36:07.834Z · LW · GW

Articles on such topics are notorious for their average bad quality.

That's interesting, I wasn't aware of that reputation. That's good to know and certainly justifies your skepticism.

All that said, I think one can still evaluate your point (and in my case, my Less Wrong post) based on its internal logic and how consistent it is with one's own observations, without needing research to back it up. It would be easy enough to dismiss your own post for the very reasons you cited. Consider the following:

"In general, people new to a community are notoriously bad at gauging the pulse of said community. To reformulate in Bayesian terms, based on the length of time you've been posting here, the prior probability of your statement being true is low, so shouldn't you provide some proofs or evidence -- or why should I (or anyone) believe you?"

But to me, your logic checks out, and is fairly consistent with my own observations (that most self-help publications tend to be garbage), so that shifts the probabilities significantly in your favor. I'm hoping that people will evaluate my own post by similar criteria, rather than immediately dismissing it.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T18:02:24.403Z · LW · GW

I agree that in some cases, it's better than nothing to include personal achievements (as I did when I was discussing socializing in another thread). I just don't really think that's the case here. I'll say the same thing that I said to estimator: if you genuinely think that my personal achievements would make a difference to you, I'll be glad to tell you.

As for relevant research, well, (and I might be wrong on this) I thought one of the purposes of LW was to produce original content. Again, I might be misinterpreting things here. But if there was research that said, "Such-and-such approach to skill-learning works well", why not just link to that instead of trying to paraphrase it?

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T17:37:09.867Z · LW · GW

Sure, I could, but would that make you any more likely to accept it? Generally I've found that the more someone expounds on their own credentials, the less credible (and likable) they sound.

If my own personal achievements would genuinely make a difference to you personally, then I'd be glad to tell you them. If not, then I don't quite see the point.

Comment by Nanashi on The most important meta-skill · 2015-05-27T16:21:35.915Z · LW · GW

Here's an example of this process applied to learning a foreign language:

Define the goal: I want to be able to a. interact and b. converse and c. function in a society that speaks a different language.

Archetypes: Most of the time I spend talking with others in person is spent a. eating/drinking/buying things, b.asking for assistance, c. meeting new people. To break those down into subtypes, I'd say:

  • Ordering food
  • Ordering drinks
  • Buying products
  • Inquiring about a location
  • Need help
  • Asking "small talk" questions
  • Giving "small talk" answers

Processes: Learn to say the following sentences for each archetype, along with the various vocabulary words. Also list out possible responses to each sentence and learn to understand them.

  • Food: I'd like to order [food], Is [food item] [adjective]?, [Compliments], [Complaints],
  • Drinks: Can I have a [drink], Another [drink], Do you have [specific drink]?, No thanks.
  • Products: Do you carry [product]?, I am looking for [description].
  • Landmarks: Where is [location]?, Thank you.
  • Help: I need help, I have [condition], I am sick, Where is the hospital?, I am from [country], I am staying at [place], My emergency contact is [person].
  • Small Talk Questions: Hi, How are you?, Where are you from?, How do you like it here? What do you do?
  • Small Talk Answers: I'm doing well, I'm from [country], It's great here, I like [thing], I don't like [thing], I am a [occupation].

Exception Protocol: There are two main non-redundant failure points: "Someone uses a vocabulary word I don't recognize" and "There is a complete gap in understanding." Two different exception protocols can handle these, depending on the situation:

  • Learn to say, "Sorry, I'm from America and don't speak [language] as a first language. Do you know English... or, can you say that again?"
  • Use Google Translate to translate what I am trying to communicate.

Strategy: Avoid situations that have the potential to become high-stakes. Prepare for situations where it may be loud/fast-paced and hard to understand people. Focus on scenarios that involve fairly low-stakes interactions and simple conversations. Practice my "Sorry, I'm from America" line until I can say it and sound good. Make sure my Google Translate app is readily available.

Improvement. Any time I have to use my exception protocol, make sure to look up the sentence that I was trying to say or was being said to me, and remember it. Take note of any recurring scenarios that I haven't learned an appropriate sentence for. Expand my vocabulary list for the scenarios that are most common.

Comment by Nanashi on Rationality is about pattern recognition, not reasoning · 2015-05-26T21:44:10.337Z · LW · GW

I definitely agree that you shouldn't be so brief as to not get your point across, I think the level of brevity depends on what your goal is. In this case, he's asking for help. It isn't until 1,500 words in that the two most important questions: "What does he want?" and "Why should I help him?" are answered.

(Besides, he specifically wanted help in communicating things succinctly.)

Comment by Nanashi on Rationality is about pattern recognition, not reasoning · 2015-05-26T20:52:30.319Z · LW · GW

Not a problem at all. What you're talking about is something I believe in, so I'm glad to help.

Comment by Nanashi on Rationality is about pattern recognition, not reasoning · 2015-05-26T20:50:48.121Z · LW · GW

Here is the even-further edited version, condensed to 150 words.

I have a lot of evidence that the most effective people in the world have a very specific way of thinking. They use their brain's pattern-matching abilities to process the world, rather than using explicit reasoning.

Our brain can pattern match much more efficiently than it can reason. Most people can recognize a cat very easily. But creating an algorithm to recognize cats is far more difficult. And breakthroughs of any kind are very rarely made via explicit reasoning, but rather through a complex and rapid-fire combination of ideas.

Doing this is something that many people are capable of learning. But, it took me 10,000+ hours to learn how to "see" the world way that I can now, and I do not know how to communicate this process succinctly. In order to help people, I need collaborators who are willing to help clarify my thoughts. I'd welcome any suggestions.

You'll note it very quickly gets to the three main points:

  • What are you talking about?
  • Why should we listen to you?
  • What do you want?

Let me know if I summarized any part of your thoughts incorrectly.

Comment by Nanashi on Rationality is about pattern recognition, not reasoning · 2015-05-26T20:26:28.512Z · LW · GW

Per our email exchange, here is the condensed version that uses only your original writing:

"Our brains' pattern recognition capabilities are far stronger than our ability to reason explicitly. Most people can recognize cats across contexts with little mental exertion. By way of contrast, explicitly constructing a formal algorithm that can consistently cats across contexts requires great scientific ability and cognitive exertion.

Very high level epistemic rationality is about retraining one's brain to be able to see patterns in the evidence in the same way that we can see patterns when we observe the world with our eyes. Reasoning plays a role, but a relatively small one. Sufficiently high quality mathematicians don't make their discoveries through reasoning. The mathematical proof is the very last step: you do it to check that your eyes weren't deceiving you, but you know ahead of time that it's your eyes probably weren't deceiving you.

I have a lot of evidence that this way of thinking is how the most effective people think about the world. I would like to share what I learned. I think that what I've learned is something that lots of people are capable of learning, and that learning it would greatly improve people's effectiveness. But communicating the information is very difficult.

It took me 10,000+ hours to learn how to "see" patterns in evidence in the way that I can now. Right now, I don't know how to communicate how to do it succinctly. In order to succeed, I need collaborators who are open to spend a lot of time thinking carefully about the material, to get to the point of being able to teach others. I'd welcome any suggestions for how to find collaborators."


  • I removed all the quotations. Although I'm guessing they were probably key to your own understanding of the issue, I don't think they are an efficient way to improve other people's understanding.
  • Much of the post was dedicated (unnecessarily) to why your viewpoint is right rather than just stating your viewpoint. People who agree with you don't need to be convinced. People who disagree with you aren't going to be swayed by your arguments.
  • I removed a few paragraphs that repeated themselves.
Comment by Nanashi on Rationality is about pattern recognition, not reasoning · 2015-05-26T20:07:53.785Z · LW · GW

I'd be glad to offer what help I can. Based on other posts of yours, I would definitely practice brevity. This post is over 1000 words long and easily could be condensed to 250 or less.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-26T16:29:10.077Z · LW · GW

There's a pretty noticeable difference between someone doing something for their own sake and someone doing something for the sake of another. Compare two pretty universal experiences: "Talking to someone who is only interacting with you because they want something" and "Being the recipient of a no-strings-attached favor".

This attitude is universal; it's not specific to business. Everyone has wants and goals, not just business people. What you imagine my life situation to be isn't really very relevant. Unless you live in a solitary confinement, this is applicable to you.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-25T02:06:45.060Z · LW · GW

My use of the term "you" when I said "why should you care about other people" (and the rest of the post for that matter) was a stylistic use in the global sense, not personally directed at him.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-24T17:22:17.514Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the reply. The part about it being "really easy" was a glib attempt at humor, in the same vein as saying, "Losing weight is really easy: you just stop eating so much and start working out more!" Or "It's easy to quit smoking, just don't smoke!" As with many things in life there's a big gap between knowing what one should do and then actually doing it.

As you said, intellectually accepting something tends to be much easier than emotionally integrating it. I wish I had better advice when it came to that part of things. The best I can do is just point to the key premise behind social skills and hope to highlight some mistakes that smart people tend to make when approaching the issue.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-24T16:49:13.739Z · LW · GW

If you understand the concept that other people have value, then it sounds like your primary issue is just with the semantic meaning behind "genuinely caring about other people's success". Which is fine, it's an overly complex idea to try to distill into a single sentence and I would expect there to be a fair amount of clarification needed.

But to be clear, it's a semantic disagreement rather than one about the underlying meaning. If I had to be less succinct with my explanation I'd say: "Being confident enough in one's own self-improvement processes that one expects more incremental value in dedicating unallocated time to other people's success than one's own." If you have a disagreement with that, I'd much rather discuss that than semantics.

(The reason I chose one phrasing over the other is that, "I care more about your success than my own" sounds a lot more palatable to the person I'm helping out than, "I expect to see more value if I spend this time helping you than if I spend this time helping me.")

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-24T16:13:43.106Z · LW · GW

I never said anything about caring about random strangers more than you friends.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-24T14:48:04.867Z · LW · GW

Your reluctance is both common and understandable. But it's actually not that difficult to reconcile. Let's talk about this from an egoist perspective. First of all, why should you care about other people? Simple: other people are a potentially valuable resource. Despite protestations otherwise, many smart people labor under the delusion that they are of singular genius and importance, and thus have a very difficult time truly grasping the idea that other people can be as valuable as they themselves are.

Your car, computer, bike, house, appliances, etc. are all resources that can accomplish certain ends much more efficiently than you can. So it doesn't feel alien to put your own short term needs secondary to the long term maintenance of these resources. The reason it feels so alien to do the same thing with people is that you haven't quite internalized the value of other people.

But what does that have to do with valuing other people's success more than yours? Simple: if you've already made the right meta-cognitive choices, then the incremental value of spending "unallocated" time on yourself isn't all that high. If you already devote an hour a day to reading, then opting to spend two hours at home reading on a weekend instead of going out doesn't really provide much incremental benefit. If you are confident enough in your own life choices, then you don't need to spend much active time on your own success because it's already taking care of itself.

The stereotypical charismatic, socially adept extrovert tends to be much more confident and slightly less "intelligent" than your average LWer. Why is that? First of all, they're not worried that the time they spend on others will affect themselves negatively. And because they aren't as "intelligent", they have a more acute awareness of just how valuable other people can be.

TL;DR: it only requires a fundamental change in your values if part of your fundamental value system says "other people are worthless". And it only requires a delusion if you decide to take the straw-man interpretation of my post rather than the reasonable one.

Comment by Nanashi on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-22T21:54:55.624Z · LW · GW

Some quick background: a friend and I run the sales department of a multi-million dollar company. We built that company from the ground up from about 15 clients to 5,000 and counting, and now manage 20+ sales reps.

Contrary to popular opinion, social interaction is really fucking easy. There's one common trait among likable people, (and I don't mean likable in the shitty, salesy sort of way where a person is so outgoing you feel obligated to say you like them, when in fact you think they're a giant turd)). That trait can be easily explained: you truly, genuinely care about other people's success more than yourself.

If you're a parent, it's a lot easier to internalize this attitude. When you have a little kid running around your house, you understand pretty intuitively how you can love something that, for the most part, does nothing but eats, shits, makes messes, and generally disobeys you. You see the potential in that little person. You see the commonalities. You realize that little gremlin is like you in so, so many ways. Eventually it will grow up and become a real person, and that is exciting.

I think you aren't alone: MOST LWers (myself included) probably view themselves as one level higher than a "baseline person". The problem that I've seen is, most smart people tend to react to "baselines" with a mixture of indifference, condescension and outright disdain. It's hard to tell what is worse. But baseline people aren't fundamentally lacking. They just haven't grown up yet. If you look hard enough, you'll realize the commonalities. You'll realize the potential. You'll realize that eventually, this baseline person you're talking to is going to grow up and become a full-on person.

Most people who are good with kids have a knack for talking to kids on the kids' level. The phonies are the ones who talk to kids like they are these subhuman creatures that can't comprehend anything more complex than Go Fish. The assholes are the ones who can't even be bothered to condescend themselves to talk to an 8-year-old. After all, what could an 8-year-old possibly say that's even remotely interesting?

Ultimately that's the key: realizing that, even an 8-year-old has the potential to bring something to the table eventually. Einstein, Feynman, Hofstadter, heck, even Yudkowsky, were all 8 years old at some point. But you can't force one of those into existence.

If you look at every person you interact with and say, "This could be the next Richard Feynman", regardless of whether it takes 10 years, 20 years, 100 years, or 1,000 years, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to be invested in their success and their development as a person.

Comment by Nanashi on Self-verification · 2015-04-26T19:24:24.996Z · LW · GW

Given that I'm 29, I think that would be spectacularly bewildering.

Comment by Nanashi on Self-verification · 2015-04-25T20:49:24.632Z · LW · GW

Specifically, I planned on imagining what my response would be if I found a message supposedly "from myself" that was transmitted using one of these methods. How likely would I be to truly integrate into my identity this event of which I have no memory?

Comment by Nanashi on Self-verification · 2015-04-20T15:15:26.916Z · LW · GW

Am I going to receive my own message no matter what and the attacker is only going to try to confuse me with another message or messages?

For the sake of this, you can assume you will receive your own message no matter what. An alternate way of phrasing it would be, "Your memories have been wiped. You wake up and you find a message that purports to be from yourself. What would the message need to contain in order for you to be highly confident the message actually did come from yourself."

Comment by Nanashi on Self-verification · 2015-04-20T00:28:32.876Z · LW · GW

I edited the post because I forgot to include a key constraint to the problem, which is that an attacker can/will be trying to send you false information from "yourself" so you need a way to distinguish. In this case it's relevant because an attacker could cover you with tattoos before your memories were wiped.

Comment by Nanashi on Self-verification · 2015-04-20T00:27:05.224Z · LW · GW

I edited the post because I forgot to include a key constraint to the problem, which is that an attacker can/will be trying to send you false information from "yourself" so you need a way to distinguish. In this case it's relevant because an attacker could create a false message and force you to swallow the key to that message right before your memories were wiped.

Comment by Nanashi on A pair of free information security tools I wrote · 2015-04-19T11:54:28.327Z · LW · GW

You didn't. Sorry, I should have clarified. When I said "this thread" I meant "the comments in general" and not your particular reply.

Comment by Nanashi on A pair of free information security tools I wrote · 2015-04-19T03:41:33.279Z · LW · GW

Note that I said "all the potential security flaws we've discussed here". Not, "any possible security flaw."

This is precisely why I've been annoyed by the direction this thread has taken. If someone wants to talk about potential flaws specific to this tool, I'm all ears. But instead it's mostly been a discussion about all the different ways I could possibly slip a Trojan into this tool.