Comment by pan on making notes - an instrumental rationality process. · 2015-09-06T02:22:20.799Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The problem I've had with using physical notebooks is that I never close the loop of actually reviewing them and converting the information into a more useable format (anki, connecting related information, etc).

What I've settled on for the last few years is just emailing myself notes throughout the day from my phone. I empty my inbox each day so every note is moved into its appropriate location (calendar for events, files by topic for general thoughts, or to do lists for tasks).

The "sexy" factor is something I've noticed though. I'm regularly tempted to move back to physical notebooks because it somehow feels more legitimate. It also can feel rude sometimes to take out my phone and make a note if I'm talking to someone. All in all though I've found the benefits of converting the information into a digital format as quickly as possible to outweigh other factors.

Comment by pan on Stupid Questions August 2015 · 2015-08-09T14:15:44.462Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Whenever I have free time (which is unfortunately becoming more and more rare) I have tremendous difficulty in deciding what to do with it.

This seems to be the result of a few problems:

1) I have too many goals, and so I don't know how to properly prioritize them, making it difficult to choose a next task. 2) Once I try to prioritize goals I end up going down a black hole of trying to figure out what my values really are, what I should actually be doing with my life, what I actually care about, if moral philosophy has implications on my goals, etc etc etc until I've either wasted all of my free time or ended up with an entirely new set of goals.

My stupid question is, does anyone else relate to this? How do you manage to not get caught in "analysis paralysis"? Do I have the entirely incorrect approach to life by trying to base my moment to moment actions on an overall value system?

Comment by pan on Meetup : Umbc meetup · 2015-03-17T22:05:47.091Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there usually a LW meetup at UMBC?

Comment by pan on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-06T04:42:46.632Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I seem to remember Roger Craig used a very systematic and rational approach to winning Jeopardy.

Comment by pan on Attempted Telekinesis · 2015-02-12T04:00:34.159Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This idea of 'attempted telekenesis' is a good label for most peoples reactions to frustrating events I think. One type of frustration seems to occur when the result of an action is not as expected and yet we try to repeat the action but with more anger and expect things to change but predictably they don't.

I've had great success over the last decade or so by really reminding myself in times of frustration that it's my actions causing the events, and that if I want events to change, I need to alter my actions accordingly.

Comment by pan on Open thread Jan. 5-11, 2015 · 2015-01-12T01:14:31.724Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How did you learn to read so fast?

Comment by pan on Open thread, Dec. 29, 2014 - Jan 04, 2015 · 2014-12-31T20:23:35.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I was trying to explain in the last paragraph: before I started using images I would get lazy and either not add cards or the ones I did add were of low quality because I was trying to do them so quickly. In the end instead of deleting large swaths of poorly made cards I just started over.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Dec. 29, 2014 - Jan 04, 2015 · 2014-12-31T19:03:10.394Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have about 300 cards in my deck right now, and I've had this deck for about 6 months. I try to do a few cards each morning without forcing myself to complete all cards that are due (although often I do). This is because I'm trying to build the habit into my work flow and I find if I give myself the option to quit after 3 cards if I'm really busy that it's better than losing the habit altogether for a month.

I want to warn you that I don't think this number (300 in a 6 month time span) very accurately represents how many cards I add when I find something interesting. I'm a PhD student and the last 6 months I've been mostly tweaking a program and writing my thesis (so doing things that I don't get a lot of new knowledge to add into the system). So most of those 300 cards are from short spurts of reading interesting books, rather than what it would be if I were in the midst of researching something new. (I also usually make multiple cards for a single image that I add, asking the question in different ways that emphasize different things I think are important)

For context: I have had larger decks in the past, multiple deck systems, etc etc., but all previous attempts were eventually abandoned because of something like: it takes a long time to add new equations or transcribe text from a book by hand -> therefore I slowly add fewer and fewer cards, and the ones I do are of lower quality because I would cut corners to save time -> the deck becomes less useful because I'm just not adding things that are important -> as the deck becomes less relevant I stop studying it -> once I miss a month of studying catching up seems useless.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Dec. 29, 2014 - Jan 04, 2015 · 2014-12-30T22:29:28.300Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

These are good points I'm glad you posted it, it's interesting to see the work flow of someone else.

We apparently have very different philosophies when it comes to SRS, you seem to be more of a 'quality over quantity' person. Where as I find that the biggest barrier to me using SRS at all is entry, and so all of the disadvantages you've mentioned still don't outweigh the advantage of speed for me of using images. I prefer to err on the side of adding too many cards too quickly and just deleting as I go if I find they're trivial.

Just as a side note: notational changes have never been a problem for me as long as I ask the question in the notation of the answer.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Dec. 29, 2014 - Jan 04, 2015 · 2014-12-30T03:27:25.688Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I figured I would throw this out even though it seems exceedingly obvious in retrospect, but took me a while to figure out:

If you use Anki (or other SRS software) you can save a lot of time adding new cards by using screen shots. Not whole screen shots but selecting only important paragraphs/pictures/equations from an ebook or website. On a Mac this is command-control-shift-4 and then drag the part of the screen you want to copy to the clip board. Just paste it into Anki.

This saves me so much time when making cards out of books/papers that I almost exclusively read on my computer now.

Comment by pan on Open Thread: What are your important insights or aha! moments? · 2014-11-10T03:10:27.403Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

1) You haven't learned from a mistake until your behavior actually changes in a measurable way. For too long I would think rationally about my life but was missing the important next step: action. (Meta: after this realization a while back I've been tracking 'mistakes' I make and the conclusions I can make from them and have found the exercise very useful).

2) Something more directly LW related: For most of my life I had thought we were beyond the reach of God, but not until I read Eliezer's thoughts on the matter did it really 'click' with me how far reaching and terrifying of an idea it really is. I guess what really clicked was how much the idea that 'everything will work out eventually' is leftover in my thinking from childhood religion and movies where the virtuous prevail.

3) That even the most scientific and rational practices can very easily become empty rituals.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-04T01:50:01.343Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be happy to work in Silicon valley or finance, and I've applied to the big ones like Google and Microsoft but it's kind of tough to find companies to apply to. Another commenter recommended the HN monthly hiring post, which is a good resource but very focused on programming.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-04T01:24:44.577Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not at all wedded to doing physics in my next job, I'd be happy to switch to something more engineering/computer based or even (slightly less so) financial.

Skills wise I try to stress that I have multiple first authored publications (so I'm decent at writing) and several presentations at conferences and to funding agencies (good at speaking). Outside of that though I am very proficient at Mathematica and have what I'd call 'hobbyist' knowledge of python (I can write small scripts and programs, use libraries like SciPy).

This leaves me in a spot where I'm almost qualified for data science positions but not quite what they're looking for because I don't have enough programming experience.

Thanks for the tips, I hadn't thought about approaching other professors besides my advisor for networking purposes.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-03T15:54:58.837Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with many of the government labs is that they want post docs and not employees, and I'd rather just skip that and start as an actual employee somewhere.

In addition many of the places I've applied (many of which you listed) have very long application processes (months) which means I'm in the dark as to whether I'll get zero offers or an offer from every place which I applied. Therefore I'd like to be cautious and cultivate as many options as possible.

Lastly, I tend to get into situations like these (ones with big decisions and many unclear options) and end up realizing in retrospect that there were more interesting opportunities available than the one I took, but that I panicked and didn't properly explore the options. So I'm trying to make a serious effort of looking for and apply to 'out of the box' employment options.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-03T15:31:46.949Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to be graduating with my PhD in physics (theory) this coming spring and am beginning to look for jobs.

Any tips? Any mistakes you made when looking for jobs that you can tell me about? For those already with jobs in the technology industry: if you could go back in time what would you change about the way you searched for jobs?

Less likely but still worth asking: if you happen to know of a job in either the Baltimore/Washington/Virginia area or in the Bay area that I might be qualified for don't hesitate to tell me about it.

Comment by pan on Open thread, Oct. 20 - Oct. 26, 2014 · 2014-10-21T19:25:42.637Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

In an old article by Eliezer we're asked what we would tell Archimedes through a chronophone. I've found this idea to actually be pretty instructive if I instead ask what I would tell myself through a chronophone if I could call back only a few years.

The reason the chronophone idea is useful is because it forces you to speak in terms of 'cognitive policies' since if you use anything relevant to your own time period it will be translated into something relevant to the time period you're calling. In this way if I think about what I would tell my former self I think: 1) what mistakes did I make when I was younger? 2) what sort or cognitive policies or strategies would have allowed me to avoid those mistakes, and finally 3) am I applying the analogue of those strategies in my life today?

Comment by pan on Open thread, Oct. 13 - Oct. 19, 2014 · 2014-10-16T22:30:04.148Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Relavent: Pinker's lecture at Google on this book.

Comment by pan on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-16T21:33:32.381Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that when you start reasoning about quantum foundations it should be remembered that you're leaving the boundary of testable physics. This is to say that even if you've concluded that many-worlds is most likely to be correct with your current information, that there should remain a pretty high degree of uncertainty in your conclusion.

Comment by pan on Open thread, 23-29 June 2014 · 2014-06-24T14:35:08.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you link me to the blog post?

Comment by pan on How do you take notes? · 2014-06-23T21:15:38.477Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I take notes in text files that I have named by topic and all in one big folder. This allows me to search all of the files easily at once and gives me ease of mind that text files will never become obsolete and I should still be able to read them in 30 years. I've been doing this for quite sometime and have files going back at least 10 years.

An important step however is that I occasionally copy the entire directory as a backup into a new folder and name it by the date of the backup. I then never alter that archived version. The purpose of this is that I now feel free in my working directory to be liberal with edits and deletes so that I can keep the amount of notes down to a relatively small amount only including important topics at any one time, but have the ability to search through old iterations at the same time.

I never scan notes I take by hand, and only take notes by hand if I'm somewhere that it's socially unacceptable to have a computer/phone. If I do this I just go through later and type important parts into a text file.

As far as capture goes, I either write a quick sentence or two and email it to myself to later transfer to a text file or I place the note in my phones note feature. Usually once a week or so I go through and clear my inbox and my phones note feature and transfer everything to text files.

I've gone through several attempts to build tagging systems but in reality grep (or spotlight search on a mac) are so good at searching text files that it's never useful and I end up canning the tagging system.

I don't use evernote, but my notes are very private, I sometimes write in a very journal like fashion, and so I would not let anyone read them.

Comment by pan on Open thread, 23-29 June 2014 · 2014-06-23T21:04:21.046Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen the topic of flow discussed in a wide range of circles from the popular media to very specialized forums. It seems like people are in general agreement that a flow state would be ideal when working, and is generally easy to induce when doing something like coding since it meets most of the requirements for a flow inducing activity.

I'm curious if anyone has made substantial effort to reach a 'flow' state in tasks outside of coding, like reading or doing math etc etc., and what they learned. Are there easy tricks? Is it possible? Is flow just a buzzword that doesn't really mean anything?

Comment by pan on Flowers for Algernon · 2014-06-20T15:23:04.430Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you're at all interested in this story then the full novel is definitely worth reading, it's not very long. One of my all time favorite books.

Comment by pan on Sugar and motivation · 2014-06-13T18:44:33.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just commenting to say that I have also noticed the effect you've mentioned of too much sugar negatively impacting motivation. I recently gave up all food/drinks that have sugar/sweetener in the first three ingredients and it's made a noticeable difference.

Comment by pan on Reflective Mini-Tasking against Procrastination · 2014-06-06T13:50:50.091Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Since a lot of recent discussion has been about lowering the bar to posting links, this post about mini-tasks reminds me of this series of posts about using ultra short time boxes.

Basically the idea is to continually use a timer to do tasks that fit into roughly 60-90 seconds. The idea is developed over something like ten posts. (the blog in general is about language learning)

Comment by pan on Open Thread, May 5 - 11, 2014 · 2014-05-06T11:38:02.752Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've been wondering a lot about whether or not I'm acting rationally with regards to the fact that I will never again be as young as I am now.

So I've been trying to make a list of things I can only do while I'm young, so that I do not regret missing the opportunity later (or at least rationally decided to skip it). I'm 27 so I've already missed a lot of the cliche advice aimed at high school students about to enter college, and I'm already happily engaged so that cuts out some other things.

Any thoughts on opportunities only available at a certain age?

Comment by pan on Open Thread February 25 - March 3 · 2014-02-25T17:27:32.476Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've been reading critiques of MIRI, and I was wondering if anyone has responded to this particular critique that basically asks for a detailed analysis of all probabilities someone took into account when deciding that the singularity is going to happen.

(I'd also be interested in responses aimed at Alexander Kruel in general, as he seems to have a lot to say about Lesswrong/Miri.)

Comment by pan on [Open Thread] Stupid Questions (2014-02-17) · 2014-02-17T22:26:32.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is probably a stupid question:

How is rounding error not a fatal flaw in brain simulation? Meaning, even if you could copy the workings of someones brain perfectly, it's presumably still a calculation done on some computer in some way. So even if you store the first X digits of every number in the calculation, it would at some point diverge from what the real brain did, even if it took a very long time.

Therefore is it fair to call that copy that 'person' or rather do you have to switch to speaking in terms of fidelities: that copy is Y percent the original person and diverges at a rate of Z percent every so many steps?

Comment by pan on [Open Thread] Stupid Questions (2014-02-17) · 2014-02-17T20:14:59.101Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Along these lines, if we pretend there is actually a zero percent chance of curing death in our lifetime, how should we rationally act differently? Often people use the cliche 'if you were going to die tomorrow what would you do differently today?' as a thought experiment, seemingly implying (to me at least) that we're already living rationally for an ~80 year lifetime and that only changes in behavior should come from learning you have a very short time to live left.

I often wonder if I too easily approximate ~80 years as infinity in my reasoning about life, and that I'm not appropriately taking into account an 80 year life span (or much shorter if you subtract sleep, how old you are now, and years of life you think you'll be healthy enough to have control over).

TLDR: I think it's hard to reason about spans of time that are longer than we've experienced but shorter than infinity, and I don't know what to do about it.

Comment by pan on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-11T18:29:50.157Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Luke wrote a detailed description of his approach to beating procrastination (here if you missed it).

Does anyone know if he's ever given an update anywhere as to whether or not this same algorithm works for him to this day? He seems to be very prolific and I'm curious about whether his view on procrastination has changed at all.

Comment by pan on Open thread, January 25- February 1 · 2014-01-29T14:30:42.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is really great, do you know if the sources are compiled anywhere?

Comment by pan on Open thread, January 25- February 1 · 2014-01-27T18:33:04.508Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a reasonably well researched list of behaviors that correlate positively with lifespan? I'm interested in seeing if there are any low hanging fruit I'm missing.

I found this previously posted, and a series of posts by gwern, but was wondering if there is anything else?

A quick google will give you a lot of lists but most of them are from news sources that I don't trust.

Comment by pan on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-10T21:19:14.542Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I see from time to time people mention a 'rationalist house' as though it is somewhere they live, and everyone else seems to know what they're talking about. What are are they talking about? Are there many of these? Are these in some way actually planned places or just an inside joke of some kind?

Comment by pan on Physics grad student: how to build employability in programming & finance · 2014-01-08T19:56:19.536Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in a very similar position to the poster (same field of study, same time line) and am very interested in the answer, just posting to signal that (at least) two people are looking for this advice.

Comment by pan on Karma awards for proofreaders of the Less Wrong Sequences ebook · 2013-12-16T01:02:50.759Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When is this expected to be released?

Comment by pan on Happiness and Productivity. Living Alone. Living with Friends. Living with Family. · 2013-11-19T18:18:29.674Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

75% introvert, living alone was much better for productivity and happiness because I was better able to regulate "interruptions" like hanging out with friends etc., by planning when I went out and when I came back.

I lived for a while with 4 roommates and that was terrible for productivity, as there was a constant background noise of talking or music (I need silence for concentration, so maybe not applicable if you don't), which sometimes went very late into the night. It was a positive for happiness however, as we lived in a "hip" part of town and everyone got along fairly well, so there was a lot of opportunity for quality social experiences.

Currently I live with my girlfriend and a close friend. For productivity it's been pretty good, but mainly because my girlfriend is also a graduate student so it's easier for me to concentrate at night if she also needs to do so. Living with a close friend is bad for productivity because if you're both home at the same time you'll inevitably spend some time talking or hanging out. I think if my girlfriend was not also in graduate school this would be a very bad setup for productivity. Happiness however is great in this configuration as I'm often near two people I care a lot about, who are both respectful and responsible. It's the quality social experience of the second setup where I had a lot of roommates, without the unpredictability of chatter and music late into the night. In other words, it's for the most part a pretty good average between living alone and living with a group.

Comment by pan on Open Thread, November 1 - 7, 2013 · 2013-11-03T00:45:08.457Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From posts like this one I got the impression that they were being edited and released together in a possibly new order. Maybe I am mistaken?

Comment by pan on Open Thread, November 1 - 7, 2013 · 2013-11-02T17:48:11.530Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen a few posts about the sequences being released as an ebook, is there a time frame on this?

I'd really like to get the ebook printed out by some online service so I can underline/write on them as I read through them.

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 19-25, 2013 · 2013-08-21T15:33:22.306Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that there are concerns, and you would lose a lot of the depth, but my real concern is with how this makes me perceive CFAR. When I am told that there are things I can't see/hear until I pay money, it makes me feel like it's all some sort of money making scheme, and question whether the goal is actually just to teach as many people as much as possible, or just to maximize revenue. Again, let me clarify that I'm not trying to attack CFAR, I believe that they probably are an honest and good thing, but I'm trying to convey how I initially feel when I'm told that I can't get certain material until I pay money.

It's akin to my personal heuristic of never taking advice from anyone who stands to gain from my decision. Being told by people at CFAR that I can't see this material until I pay the money is the opposite of how I want to decide to attend a workshop, I instead want to see the tapes or read the raw material and decide on my own that I would benefit from being in person.

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 19-25, 2013 · 2013-08-19T23:31:23.050Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I guess I don't see why the two are mutually exclusive, I doubt everyone would stop attending workshops if the material was freely available, and I don't understand why something can't be published if it's open sourced first?

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 19-25, 2013 · 2013-08-19T22:12:51.663Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Why doesn't CFAR just tape record one of the workshops and throw it on youtube? Or at least put the notes online and update them each time they change for the next workshop? It seems like these two things would take very little effort, and while not perfect, would be a good middle ground for those unable to attend a workshop.

I can definitely appreciate the idea that person to person learning can't be matched with these, but it seems to me if the goal is to help the world through rationality, and not to make money by forcing people to attend workshops, then something like tape recording would make sense. (not an attack on CFAR, just a question from someone not overly familiar with it).

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 12-18, 2013 · 2013-08-12T22:56:31.143Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I searched and it doesn't look like anyone has discussed this criticism of LW yet. It's rather condescending but might still be of interest to some:

Comment by pan on Improving Enjoyment and Retention Reading Technical Literature · 2013-08-09T22:03:04.632Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read a lot of technical material for my job (physicist) and find that trying to make it as 'active' as possible is key to making it enjoyable. I made a list of actions that make it active, things like 'visualize the material' or 'draw a concept map' or 'make a prediction about the material, keep reading, and correct the prediction' or 'what do you already know about this material' etc etc., and find that going down the list in a random fashion has helped make it more interesting and engaging.

Comment by pan on Improving Enjoyment and Retention Reading Technical Literature · 2013-08-09T22:00:18.985Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like the idea but fear that almost any subject worth learning would, when put in this format, have two major flaws:

1) Could deeply mislead people and corrupt their understandings of the actual material in difficult to understand (meaning difficult to detect and correct later) ways because of unintentional cultural relations. For example in your fantasy novel idea, whatever thoughts someone might attach to the relations between kings and knights might be deeply ingrained from childhood and quite a bit different than what is intended by the author of the new fantasy novel, meaning the reader could add in all sorts of incorrect ideas of their own.

2) Even though the intention is to learn the same amount of material (in this case molecular biology) by attaching it to a story, I think there is a good chance that you're actually just effectively doubling the load of material. Not only do you have to memorize the story, but then memorize the connections. Imagine learning this way and revisiting in two years, do you study the story or the material? Both? You've just doubled the amount of information you need to complete the subject in your head.

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-06T04:12:34.304Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I live in Baltimore City, send me a message if you want any tips or to possibly meet up.

Comment by pan on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-05T16:12:40.470Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a name for the bias of choosing the action which is easiest (either physically or mentally), or takes the least effort, when given multiple options? Lazy bias? Bias of convenience?

I've found lately that being aware of this in myself has been very useful in stopping myself from procrastinating on all sorts of things, realizing that I'm often choosing the easier, but less effective of potential options out of convenience.

Comment by pan on Group Rationality Diary, August 1-15 · 2013-08-03T15:06:04.711Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I realized that I have a myriad of interests, and that I put a lot of effort into pursuing and studying them, but ostensibly make very little progress in any of them.

I realized this is mostly due to how I will try to do too much at once, and learn too many things at once, changing which interest I want to pursue daily or hourly etc.

To combat this two months ago I began forcing myself to choose one interest or goal at a time, and only allow myself to use my free time on that particular goal or interest for a minimum of two weeks. So far the results have been excellent, I've made actual significant progress on the goals and interests I've chosen so far. Not only has this been objectively beneficial in the sense that I'm making more progress than I normally do at something, but I find it to be much more satisfying as well, since I can really dig into something for a while before moving on.

Comment by pan on Group Rationality Diary, August 1-15 · 2013-08-03T15:00:23.589Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that aiming to eat less meat rather than none is a worthy goal for many reasons, I just want to add (anecdotally) from the perspective of someone who was a strict veg for 10 years and recently started eating some meat again, that you have to be very strict and planned if you want it to be effective. During the decade I didn't eat meat I didn't think about it or miss it because in my mind it wasn't an option. Now that I have the goal of just eating small amounts of it, it's much more mentally taxing to actually make the decision at each meal as to whether I should or shouldn't eat meat this particular meal.

So my, again anecdotal, advice if someone is to try and reduce meat consumption but not eliminate it: be extremely strict about how you're going to do it, as in say you will only eat meat on weekends for example, or one meal a day, so that you don't have to consider at each meal whether it's appropriate or not, which I find draining on willpower.

Comment by pan on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-07-26T17:13:19.413Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My research is in quantum optics and information, more specifically macroscopic tests of Bell's inequality and applications to quantum cryptography through things like the Ekert protocol.

I didn't realize that the quantum mechanics sequence here made such conclusions, thanks for pointing that out, maybe I'll check it out to see what he says. I've given some thought to many worlds, but not enough to be an expert, as my work doesn't necessitate it. From what I know, I'm not so convinced that many worlds is the correct interpretation, I think answers to the meaning of the wave function collapse will come more form decoherence mechanisms giving the appearance of a collapse.

Comment by pan on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-07-26T13:20:03.054Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Hey everyone, I'm 26, and a PhD candidate in theoretical physics (four years in, maybe two left). I've been reading LessWrong for years on and off but I put off participating for a long time, mainly because at first there was a lot of rationality specific lingo I didn't understand, and I didn't want to waste anyones time until I understood more of it.

I had always felt that things in life are just systems, and for most systems there are more and less efficient ways to do the same things. Which to me that is what rationality is, first seeing the system for what it actually is, and then tweaking your actions to better align with the actual rules of the system. So I began looking to see what other people thought about rationality, and eventually ended up here. I lurked for years, and finally made the first step towards involvement during the LW study hall, which I participated in for several weeks as not_a_test5 during my working hours.

I was accepted last year into one of the CFAR workshops with an offer for about 50% reduction in fees, but unfortunately for a graduate student it was still difficult for me to justify the cost when I am on a fixed income for the next few years and often spend exactly what I make each month. I would still like to attend in the future though, so hopefully once I graduate I will have the money and time. It will also help if some of the workshops are held on the east coast (where I live).

I've actually never read the quantum physics sequences, as I deal with quantum physics on a daily basis I didn't think I had much to gain. But as I look for places that I could contribute something to this site I think that could be one place that I have an advantage over others, if there is further interest in development of physics based sequences.

(Unimportant edit: the name pan is a reference to the Greek god, particularly in the book Jitterbug Perfume, in case anyone has read it.)

Comment by pan on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-13T18:25:34.013Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

To what degree does everyone here literally calculate numerical outcomes and make decisions based on those outcomes for everyday decisions using Bayesian probability? Sometimes I can't tell if when people say they are 'updating priors' they are literally doing a calculation and literally have a new number stored somewhere in their head that they keep track of constantly.

If anyone does this could you elaborate more on how you do this? Do you have a book/spreadsheet full of different beliefs with different probabilities? Can you just keep track of it all in your mind? Or calculating probabilities like this only something people do for bigger life problems?

Can you give me a tip for how to start? Is there a set of core beliefs everyone should come up with priors for to start? I was going to apologize if this was a stupid question, but I suppose it should by definition be one if it is in this thread.