Comment by PeterBorah on boggler's Shortform Feed · 2018-12-17T20:34:12.124Z · LW · GW

This reply is extremely late, but I'm annoyed at myself for not having responded at the time, so I'll do it now in case anyone runs across this at some point in the future:

I guess I feel a little trepidation or edge-of-my-seat feeling when I first run a test (I have surprisingly often ended up crossing my fingers), but I try to write tests in a nice modular way, so that I'm never writing more than ~5-10 lines of code before I can test again. I feel a lot more trepidation when I break this pattern, and have a big chunk of new code that hasn't been tested at all yet.

Comment by PeterBorah on [deleted post] 2018-03-19T18:59:14.598Z

(This is an entirely meta post, which feels like it might not be helpful, but I'll post it anyway because I'm trying to have weaker babble filters. Feel free to ignore if it's useless.

I generally enjoy your writing style, and think it's evocative and clear-in-aggregate. But I find this comment entirely inscrutable. I think there's something about the interaction between your "gesturing" style and a short comment, that doesn't work as well for me as a reader compared to that style in a longer piece where the I can get into the flow of what you're saying and figure out your referents inductively.

Either that or you're referencing things I haven't read or don't remember.)

Comment by PeterBorah on [deleted post] 2018-03-19T18:53:11.119Z

Agreed. I strongly identify with the description of the Red Knight (and somewhat the description of both the other two knights as well), and was therefore Not Interested in Dragon Army. To the point that I posted some strong critiques of the idea, though hopefully in a constructive manner.

I would be interested in a retrospective of how the people who inhabited that role ended up joining Dragon Army. What was the bug there? I though Duncan was admirably clear about how much it was a non-Red Knight-friendly zone.

Comment by PeterBorah on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-19T18:42:35.671Z · LW · GW

I've had a similar experience. IDC was by far my favorite technique at CFAR, and I've maybe done it twice since then? I think some of it is that the formal technique fell away pretty quickly for me: once I learned to pay attention to other internal voices, I found it pretty natural to do that all the time in the flow of my normal thinking, and setting aside structured time for it felt less necessary. (And when I do set aside larger chunks of time, I usually end up just inhabiting the part that gets less "airtime" for a while, rather than having an explicit dialogue between it and another part.)

Comment by PeterBorah on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-19T18:38:28.107Z · LW · GW

As a separate comment since it feels like a pretty different thread:

I do have a vague hypothesis that the very first part of the Looking skill might be a prerequisite for IDC and frankly a lot of CFAR techniques. I don't think you need a lot of it, but there feels like there's a first insight that makes further conversations about things downstream from it a million times easier. (For programmers: it feels similar to whatever the insight is that separates people who just can't get the concept of a function from people who can.) It annoys me a lot that I don't yet have a consistent tool for helping people quickly get the first skillpoint in Looking, and fixing that is one of my top pedagogical priorities at the moment.

Comment by PeterBorah on Internal Double Crux · 2018-03-19T18:33:29.534Z · LW · GW

For me at least, the multiple agents framework isn't the natural, obvious one, but rather a really useful theoretical frame that helps me solve problems that used to seem insoluble. Something like how it becomes much easier to precisely deal with change over time once you learn calculus. (As I use it more, it becomes more intuitive, again like calculus, but it's still not my default frame.)

Before I did my first CFAR workshop, I had a lot of issues that felt like, "I'm really confused about this thing" or "I'm overwhelmed when I try to think about this thing" or "I know the right thing to do but I mysteriously don't actually do it". The CFAR IDC class recommended I model these situations as "I have precise and detailed beliefs and desires, I just happen to have many of them and they sometimes contradict each other." When I tried out this framework, I found that a lot of previously unsolvable problems became surprisingly easy to solve. For example, "I'm really torn about my job" became, "I am really excited about precisely this aspect of my job, and really unhappy about precisely this aspect". Then it's possible to adjudicate between those two perspectives, find compromises or collaborations, etc.

It would be rude of me to assume that your mind works the same as mine, so take the following strictly as a hypothesis. But I would guess that what's going on for you is that you identify really strongly with one set of preferences/desires/beliefs in your mind, and experience other preferences/desires/beliefs as "pain, pleasure, stupidity, and ignorance". The experiment this suggests is to try spending a few minutes pretending those things are the "real you", and the "agenty" part is the annoying external interloper caused by corrupted hardware. If I'm right, the sign would be that you find there is some detail and coherence to the "identity" of those things that feel like flaws, even if you're not sure it's an identity you approve of.

Note that I don't think the multiple agents thing is the one true ontology. I find that as I learn to integrate the parts better, they start feeling more like a single working system. But it's a really helpful theoretical tool for me.

Comment by PeterBorah on My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms · 2018-03-19T00:10:56.435Z · LW · GW

It definitely doesn't take years of practicing meditation. Though I'm hesitant to speculate on how long it would take on average, because how prepared for the idea people are varies a lot. The hardest step is the first one: realizing that people are talking about things you don't yet understand.

Comment by PeterBorah on boggler's Shortform Feed · 2018-03-19T00:02:39.465Z · LW · GW

Hmm, maybe this is part of the motivation for test-first programming? Since I was originally trained to do test-first, I don't have this problem, because there are always already tests before I write any code. And I pretty much always know my code works, because it wouldn't be done if the tests weren't passing yet.

Comment by PeterBorah on Rationalist Lent · 2018-03-16T17:39:29.490Z · LW · GW

I've stuck to no fiction. (I unthinkingly read a few paragraphs of a short story that came across my Twitter, but otherwise have been consistent.)

It's mostly been fairly easy. It's really obvious now that it's a social pica. I think some of the time I would have spent on it has been going to increased use of LessWrong and Facebook, which are also social picas, but those are both more genuinely social, and harder to lose 8 hours at a time to.

There was at least one night where I was pretty unhappy, and didn't have access to any actual friends to spend time with, and really wanted to lose myself in a book. I probably think that ordinarily it would have been an ok thing to do as a coping mechanism, but it was useful to observe how badly I needed the coping mechanism. That makes it obvious how much I need the real thing.

There are also a couple things I'm genuinely looking forward to reading when Lent is over. (Murphy's Quest, for one.) But I'd say those things are probably ~1/4 or less the amount of fiction I would have read this month without Lent.

This has been an especially exciting/productive/momentum-filled month for me. This probably makes it easier than normal to not read fiction. Though maybe there's some causality the other direction as well?

Comment by PeterBorah on My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms · 2018-03-09T19:46:21.227Z · LW · GW

I'm still not 100% sure I understand Val's definition of Looking, so I'm not quite willing to commit to the claim that it's the same as Kaj's definition. But I do think it's not that hard to square Kaj's definition with those quotes, so I'll try to do that.

Kaj's definition is:

being able to develop the necessary mental sharpness to notice slightly lower-level processing stages in your cognitive processes, and study the raw concepts which then get turned into higher-level cognitive content, rather than only seeing the high-level cognitive content.

Everything you experience, no matter the object, is experienced via your own cognitive processes. When you're doing math, or talking to a friend, or examining the world, that is an experience you are having, which is being filtered by your cognitive processes, and therefore to which the structure of your mind is relevant.

As Kaj describes, the part of your thought processes you normally have conscious access to are a tiny fragment of what is actually happening. When you practice the skill of making more of it conscious and making finer and finer discriminations in mental experience, you find that there is a lot of information that your conscious mind would normally skip over. This includes plenty of information about "the world".

So consider the last quote as an example:

A while back I was interacting with a friend of a friend (distant from this community). His demeanor was very forceful as he pushed on wanting feedback about how to make himself more productive. I felt funny about the situation and a little disoriented, so I Looked at him. My sense of him as an experiencing being deepened, and I started noticing sensations in my own body/emotion system that were tagged as "resonant" (which is something I've picked up mostly from Circling). I also could clearly see the social dynamics he was playing at. When my mind put the pieces together, I got an impression of a person whose social strategies had his inner emotional world hurting a lot but also suppressed below his own conscious awareness. This gave me some things to test out that panned out pretty on-the-nose.

A fictionalized expansion of that, based on my experiences, might be:

"I was running my usual algorithms for helping someone, but I felt funny about the situation and a little disoriented. In the past I would have just kept trying, or maybe just jumped over to a coping mechanism like trying to get out of the situation. However, I had enough mental sharpness to notice the feeling as it arose, so instead I decided to study my experience of the situation. Specifically, I tried to pay attention to how my mind was constructing the concept of "him". (Though since my moment-to-moment experience doesn't distinguish between "him" and "my concept of him", and since I have no unmediated access to the "him" that is presumably a complex quantum wavefunction, that mental motion might better be described as just "paying attention to my experience of him", or even "paying attention to him".) When I did that, I was able to see past the slightly dehumanizing category I was subconsciously putting him in, and was able to pick up on the parts of my mind that were interacting with him on a more human, agent-to-agent level. I was able to notice somatic markers in my body that were part of a process of modeling and empathizing with him, from which I derived both more emotional investment in him and also more information about the social dynamics of the situation, as processed by my system 1, which my conscious mind had been mostly ignoring. I was able to use all of this information to put together an intuitively appealing story about why he was acting this way, and what was going on beneath the surface. This hypothesis immediately suggested some experiments to try, which panned out as the hypothesis predicted."

Comment by PeterBorah on Making yourself small · 2018-03-09T18:33:36.690Z · LW · GW

I've been thinking about this since I posted it, and I came to similar conclusions. There are a cluster of behaviors that seem to mean discomfort and therefore low status: fidgeting, jumpiness, talking too fast, certain eye contact patterns (staring at the person and then looking away fast when they turn to look at you), ums and ers.

Some of them feel hard to disentangle. Whether you hold your head high seems mostly about status, but also a little about size. This seems like it might be inherent in the territory: There's a fine line between credibly signaling that you're powerful and implicitly threatening to use that power. (Schelling's The Strategy of Conflict comes to mind here.)

Comment by PeterBorah on Making yourself small · 2018-03-08T18:30:37.514Z · LW · GW

This is really interesting and helpful, thank you.

My original introduction to status was in Impro, which describes it in the context of an improv scene. This means (as I recall) that it mostly focuses on things that are directly observable in body language, like eye contact and taking up space.

Since you suggest we think of most of those things as being about "size" rather than "status", I'm curious whether you think there are body language indicators of high/low status, or whether that's inherently contextual and based on actual power.

(One hypothesis: signs of nervousness like talking too quickly or fidgeting might be markers of low status?)

Comment by PeterBorah on My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms · 2018-03-08T17:50:43.945Z · LW · GW

This is excellent, thank you for writing it.

I'm not as advanced as you, but I've gotten many of the earlier benefits you describe and think you've described them well. That said, I have some confusion about how stuff like this paragraph works:

And because those emotions no longer felt aversive, I didn’t have a reason to invest in not feeling those things - unless I had some other reason than the intrinsic aversiveness of an emotion to do so.

What does it mean to have another reason beyond the intrinsic aversiveness of an emotion? Who's the "I" who might have such a reason, and what form does such a reason take?

This is a specific question that comes out of a more general confusion, which is: why do descriptions of enlightenment and other advanced states so often seem to claim that enlightenment is almost epiphenomenal? If it were really the case that it didn't change anything, how would we know people had experienced it?

Comment by PeterBorah on My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms · 2018-03-08T17:40:44.341Z · LW · GW

I am really happy that this post was written, and mildly annoyed by the same things you're annoyed by.

To explain rather than excuse, there's a good reason that meditation teachers historically avoid giving clear answers like this. That's because their goal is not to help you intellectually understand meditation, but rather to help you do meditation.

It's very easy to mentally slip from "I intellectually understand what sort of thing this is" to "I understand the thing itself", and so meditation teachers hit this problem with a hammer by just refusing to explain it, so you're forced to try it instead. This problem is what the "get out of the car" section is talking about.

I have some worry that this post will make it easier for people to make errors like:

"I'm angry, because X is a jerk. Aha, I should try the thing Kaj was talking about, and notice that feeling angry is not helping me with my goal of utterly destroying X."

(This is exaggerated, but mistakes of this shape are really, really easy to make.)

I think it's definitely worth the cost, but it is a cost.

Comment by PeterBorah on [deleted post] 2018-03-06T19:06:18.522Z
Otherwise, what was the point of writing the thing in the first place? Are you trying to communicate, or aren’t you?

What if they don't have the skill necessary to explain it more clearly, but suspect that some percentage of the reading audience is willing to do enough interpretive work to understand what they're communicating anyway? In that case, their options are:

1) Don't post until they've developed enough skill to explain themselves to 100% of the audience. (Which in practice means: don't post ever, since the way you get the skill is by trying.)

2) Post anyway, and hope that some people get it.

#1 communicates with no one, and #2 communicates with at least some people, so if the goal is communication, #2 is the dominant strategy.

(For the record, I do think it's possible to explain this stuff better than most people do, and that it's annoying that this is done fairly rarely. But I also notice that it's a relatively small subset of readers here who are consistently the ones who don't understand.)

Comment by PeterBorah on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T10:10:47.443Z · LW · GW

This model assumes that truth and politeness are in a simple tradeoff relationship, and if that were true I would absolutely agree that truth is more important. But I don't think the territory is that simple.

Our goal is not just to maximize the truth on the website at this current moment, but to optimize the process of discovering and sharing truth. One effect of a comment is to directly share some truth, and so removing comments or banning people does, in the short term, reduce the amount of truth produced. However, another effect of a comment is to incentivize or disincentivize other posters, by creating a welcoming or hostile environment. Since those posters may also produce comments that contain truth, a comment can in this way indirectly encourage or discourage the later production of truth.

The downstream effects of the incentivization/disincentivization of comments containing truth will, I think, often swamp the short-term effect of the specific truth shared in the specific comment. (This has some similarities to the long-termist view in altruism.)

This analysis explains why 4chan is not at the forefront of scientific discovery.

Comment by PeterBorah on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T09:30:15.182Z · LW · GW

Wordpress seems like a very apt comparison, since LessWrong is also being conceptualized as a bunch of individual blogs with varying moderation policies.

… which once again points to the critical necessity of being able to tell when (and how often, etc.) someone is using such a power; hence the need for a moderation log.

Does Wordpress have such a system?

(To be clear, I support the idea of a moderation log. I'm just curious whether it's actually as necessary as you claim.)

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-26T12:38:54.538Z · LW · GW

And that problem is exactly what Scott refers to as Moloch.

Comment by PeterBorah on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T23:29:44.267Z · LW · GW

This sounds like a really good idea. For my personal tastes, I think this would hit the sweet spot of getting to focus attention on stuff I cared about, without feeling like I was being too mean by deleting well-intentioned comments.

Comment by PeterBorah on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T21:14:08.640Z · LW · GW

That doesn't address the fact that Qiaochu has a different instinctive reaction.

The goal of this proposal is to deal with the fact that different people are different.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-25T13:51:58.510Z · LW · GW
(I super-duper doubt it, though. This is actually just classic hindsight bias.)

I'm not in Val's head, but I didn't get the sense that he was claiming this was the best way to meet Shaolin monks. Rather, his aim was to find a way to build on his moment of Kensho in a way that progressed his growth and development.

He could just as easily have missed the monk, and then he would have by chance run into another form of teacher, and that would have been the story instead. Or he would have learned something from his aimless wanderings that he couldn't have learned by finding a teacher. Or he would have not learned anything and been frustrated, and then the story would be that he was undergoing some sort of trial and the next thing he did would be the payoff.

Comment by PeterBorah on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T10:13:37.355Z · LW · GW

Ok, then that's the crux of this argument. Personally, I value Eliezer's writing and Conor Moreton's writing more than I value a culture of unfettered criticism.

This seems like a good argument for the archipelago concept? You can have your culture of unfettered criticism on some blogs, and I can read my desired authors on their blogs. Would there be negative consequences for you if that model were followed?

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-25T09:29:36.253Z · LW · GW

Meditations on Moloch is not an argument. It's a type error to analyze it as if it were.

Comment by PeterBorah on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T09:25:18.769Z · LW · GW

I like your vision of a perfect should world, but I feel that you're ignoring the request to deal with the actual world. People do in fact end up disincentivized from posting due to the sorts of criticism you enjoy. Do you believe that this isn't a problem, or that it is but it's not worth solving, or that it's worth solving but there's a trivial solution?

Remember that Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-25T00:13:48.475Z · LW · GW

Appreciate the impolitic question. :) I think I was doing some sort of social move that was trying to reset the burden of proof, rather than actually sharing data, but of course sharing data is better. (I do think people too often assume that their status quo bias is some sort of principled wisdom, so asking "are you sure the burden of proof is on your side?" is moderately useful. But data is better.)

I'm more confident on the independent action side than the independent thought side, so I'll start with that: I am taking more concrete steps towards achieving my goals, in ways that (inside-view) seem directly related to meditation et. al. For instance, I'm noticing much faster when I'm unhappy with a situation, and taking action more directly to fix it. Some specific examples are quitting my job last spring, and successfully pitching my boss on a change of plan at my current job. (Possible confounder is that I'm generally gaining confidence over time, and am getting more career capital, so maybe I would get better at these things anyway. I'm not immediately sure how to prove that this isn't true, though it inside-view doesn't seem to be.)

In terms of independent thought, I've been able to do things like e.g. plan out a strategy for a startup that requires some not-yet-fully-achieved innovation, and am making steady progress at chipping away at the remaining unknowns. In the past, I anticipate I would have been overwhelmed by the sense that I wasn't allowed to do that, or that there were too many unknowns to be able to plan, but meditation and CFAR practices help me to separate that from the work of understanding it better.

None of this directly relates to mythic mode, because I haven't done much of specifically that. My main instance of using mythic mode was at the CFAR tier II workshop, where we used it to uncover a deeply hidden emotional trait (specifically a fear of my own anger), which has been emotionally and socially helpful to recognize and deal with. It feels like having awareness of that is pretty important for being able to think and act effectively, but I don't have good external evidence of that.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T13:46:26.550Z · LW · GW

Hmm, I don't really see it that way? This post is trying to describe the category of which Meditation on Moloch is an instance. If Meditation on Moloch is good, surely trying to understand the thing that it's an instance of could also be good.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T13:45:18.359Z · LW · GW

I'm definitely a bit worried about the milder one, but I'm so inefficient with my use of time currently that I doubt it could hurt too badly.

I don't really worry about the first two, because we have powerful myths (e.g. Steve Jobs) warning us against those things, so paying attention to myth seems like a good way to avoid them.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T12:53:36.700Z · LW · GW

This seems right to me, as far as it goes. But for the same reason they're dangerous, they're powerful. Why should the forces of evil and ignorance be the only ones who get to have powerful weapons?

I would feel pretty comfortable betting that Meditations on Moloch is one of the top 5 most effective posts produced by the LW-sphere, in terms of leading to people pursuing good in the world. That's a direct result of it choosing to harness myth in a way selected for usefulness.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T12:50:01.275Z · LW · GW

I have done a decent amount of "woo" (meditation, a bit of Val-style mythic mode) in the past years, and my ability for independent thought and especially independent action seem to have gone way up.

Comment by PeterBorah on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T12:48:06.168Z · LW · GW

I'd be interested to hear more about what specifically bothers you. I agree that it "sounds like" The Secret, but just saying it "sounds like it" seems like a version of The Worst Argument in the World.

What are the negative effects you feel will come from doing this?

Comment by PeterBorah on Two types of mathematician · 2018-02-24T12:29:16.243Z · LW · GW

This seems good. I was definitely getting the sense there were at least two axes, and these seem to capture a lot of it.

Could Abstract/Methodical be something like Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica?

Also, I'm interested that Concrete/Methodical is analysis, given the Corn post. I would have expected it to be Intuitive? (I don't actually do higher math, so I don't know from personal experience.)

Comment by PeterBorah on The Intelligent Social Web · 2018-02-23T22:31:33.662Z · LW · GW

This almost seems too obvious to say, but one reason to be bothered by the move from "tall" to "leader" is that sometimes you want your group to have a leader with skills that cause the group to succeed, and the most optimal choice for that might not be the tallest person.

Comment by PeterBorah on Two types of mathematician · 2018-02-23T20:50:39.653Z · LW · GW

That post is hilarious, and fascinating.

I eat corn like an analyst, vastly prefer Lisp to Haskell, use Vim, identify much more strongly with the personality description of the analyst, and while I haven't done much higher math, have a deep and abiding love for the delta-epsilon definition of a limit.

Very curious to hear other results, either successful or not.

Comment by PeterBorah on The Intelligent Social Web · 2018-02-23T10:04:11.062Z · LW · GW

I had an extremely nerdy friend group in college, which led to weird effects since we couldn't all be "the nerd". One of my friends still gets annoyed at the fact that she became the "jock" and the "sensible person", just because she was slightly less helpless at life than the rest of us. Her reaction seems to be something like, "I'm for real actually a nerd, why are you making me play this other role??"

Comment by PeterBorah on The Intelligent Social Web · 2018-02-23T07:06:04.709Z · LW · GW

This feels like a really useful framing. It meshes with other fake frameworks I sometimes use, but the emphasis on the web pulling you back in if you don't break with it hard enough feels true and important.

If anyone remembers the r/place experiment Reddit did, similar dynamics were extremely apparent. (In brief, /r/place was a blank 1000x1000 pixel canvas, where anyone with a Reddit account could place one colored pixel anywhere they wanted every 5 minutes.) It was actually really hard to randomly vandalize anything, because wrong pixels looked out of place and would be fixed pretty fast. The only things that worked were:

1) Building a new pattern in a neutral location (which might eventually grow big enough to challenge existing patterns), or

2) Nudging a pattern into a different nearby attractor.

You didn't see coherent images dissolving into noise, because bystanders would fix things too fast. But you did see things like adding genitalia to Charizard, or changing the text "PC MASTER RACE" to "PC MASTURBATE", because those could start as relatively minor changes that bystanders might decide to help with.

The most skillful application of this I saw was when some people working on the powerful "Rainbow Road" pattern didn't want to overwrite the Where's Waldo image. They decided to try to send the road through a "portal". You can see it happen between 0:35 and 0:45 in the timelapse. A small team coordinated on Discord to build an entrance and exit portal, with a little bit of rainbow coming out of each, in exactly the right spot that the "hivemind" would naturally run into it. This worked amazingly well, and the hivemind moved to continuing the rainbow from the other end of the portal pretty much effortlessly.

The lesson I draw is that if you want to break out of a script, you can't just act illegibly and hope that will work. You need to put in the work to create or appropriate a script of your own.

Comment by PeterBorah on Paper Trauma · 2018-02-19T11:31:19.362Z · LW · GW

@Ben, this post has already had a measurable positive impact on my life. I hadn't heard of these before, and I've since purchased and used them to help with important decisions. Thanks!

Comment by PeterBorah on Circling · 2018-02-19T11:15:58.452Z · LW · GW

Isn't that implicit in all disagreements? You're implicitly (or actually explicitly, in many cases) claiming social/moral/epistemic superiority over people who think NVC and related concepts are good and useful.

Comment by PeterBorah on Circling · 2018-02-19T11:11:39.354Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure why you assume social awareness and connection requires a lack of consent.

It's extremely common, in my experience, for someone to request what you're calling "social manipulation". For example, the entire industry of therapy is people paying money to receive effective social manipulation that helps them be happier and more effective.

Comment by PeterBorah on Circling · 2018-02-19T11:01:23.690Z · LW · GW

My experience is that the cluster of experiences around "cry and hug and shudder" are what it feels like to become aware of something that's important to my system 1, and that those moments are intervention points for shifting system 1's heuristics. Progress on reducing akrasia, unendorsed social anxiety, etc. has often come from moments like that.

I don't know you well, but I model you as someone with strong willpower and a general "mind over matter" attitude. This may make it less salient what your system 1 is up to?

Comment by PeterBorah on Circling · 2018-02-19T10:53:08.734Z · LW · GW

I would compare circling to meditation, rather than lucid dreaming. It's not quite the same thing as rationality, and it has a lot of built up culture and tradition, some of which we disagree with, but it's a demostrably powerful tool that we would be impoverished if we ignored.

Comment by PeterBorah on Circling · 2018-02-19T10:23:33.624Z · LW · GW

Is this a social worry ("people will use it as a blugeon") or an epistemic worry ("people will incorrectly think there's a hierarchy, but actually they're all useful frames")?

I don't have strong feelings about shell/shield/staff, but I've gotten a lot of value out of Kegan levels, and I think the hierarchy is actually a loadbearing part of the theory. (Specifically, it matters that each level is legible to the one after it, but not vice versa.) I endorse being careful about the social implications, but I wouldn't want that to become a generalized claim that there aren't skill hierarchies in the territory.

Comment by PeterBorah on Beware Social Coping Strategies · 2018-02-16T12:35:23.270Z · LW · GW

I strongly endorse reading Impro. It's short, well-written, and packs a very high insight-to-text ratio.

Comment by PeterBorah on [deleted post] 2018-02-16T12:30:25.777Z

I tried this exercise and found it extremely interesting. My report is rot-13'ed to respect the blinding. I highly recommend taking five minutes to try it yourself before reading.

(One more line break for further encouragement to break your train of thought and try it.)

Ok, here:

V gevrq guvf fvggvat ng zl qrfx ng jbex. V'ir cerivbhfyl unq gebhoyr jvgu rkrepvfrf gung nfxrq zr gb zbir gur ybpngvba bs "zr"/zl rtb/zl crefcrpgvir bhg bs zl urnq naq vagb zl obql, fb V jnf fxrcgvpny V jbhyq fhpprrq. Ohg Dvnbpuh'f qrfpevcgvba va grezf bs "fubbgvat bhg ryrpgevpvgl gb gur erfg bs zl obql gb znxr vg zbir" znqr zr abgvpr n qvfgvapgvba orgjrra gur ybpngvba bs "gur jngpure" be zl bofreingvba/creprcgvba, naq "gur npgbe" be zl zbirzrag/npgvba. Guvf frpbaq guvat ghearq bhg gb or abg gung uneq gb zbir, juvyr gur svefg fgnlrq va cynpr.

V qba'g unir irel fgebat zragny vzntrel, fb V qvqa'g unir nalguvat yvxr n oyhr onyy bs raretl va zvaq. Zbgvba naq fcngvny eryngvbafuvc ner angheny gb zr, fb V sbphfrq ba gur vqrn bs na nofgenpg ybphf gung "chfurq bhg" gb pnhfr zbgvba.

Gb xrrc gur sbphf ba npgvba, V zbirq zl unaq va n ercrgvgvir hc-naq-qbja zbgvba juvyr V gevrq zbivat gur ybphf. Nf fbba nf vg tbg bhg bs zl urnq vagb zl hccre purfg, zl unaq zbirzragf tbg zhpu fybjre, yrff cerpvfr, naq yrff erthyne. Vg sryg n ovg yvxr jnyxvat onpxjneqf, be zbivat jvgu zl rlrf pybfrq. Gurer jnf nyfb n fbeg bs hcjneqf cerffher ba gur ybphf, yvxr jura lbh gel gb chfu fbzrguvat ohblnag qbja vagb jngre.

V ybfg genpx n pbhcyr gvzrf naq unq gb fgneg bire, ohg ba gur guveq gel V zbirq vg vagb zl thg, naq gura gb gur onfr bs zl fcvar. Nf V nccebnpurq gur onfr bs zl fcvar, na ryrpgevp, ohmmvat, fbzrjung birefgvzhyngvat raretl pragrerq gurer orpnzr fgebatre naq zber fnyvrag. Guvf raretl vf snzvyvne gb zr sebz zrqvgngvba, ohg V'ir cerivbhfyl sbhaq vg gbb vagrafr gb "ybbx ng" sbe ybat. Gb zl fhecevfr, gung jnfa'g gehr guvf gvzr, creuncf orpnhfr V jnf pbaarpgvat vg gb zbgvba naq npgvba engure guna whfg ybbxvat ng vg.

Gur raretl nebfr naq frggyrq dhvgr dhvpxyl, va n znggre bs n pbhcyr frpbaqf. Vg jnf (naq vf, nf V jevgr guvf) fgvyy cerfrag naq fnyvrag, ohg irel znantrnoyr. Nf fbba nf vg frggyrq, zl zbgvbaf jrag onpx gb orvat pbasvqrag, snfg, naq cerpvfr. Nsgre whfg n frpbaq, V (jvgubhg pbafpvbhfyl pubbfvat gb) fgbccrq gur ercrgvgvir unaq zbgvbaf naq ghearq gurz vagb n fgergpu, svefg sbe zl unaqf naq nezf, naq gura zl jubyr obql. Zl cbfgher jrag sebz fybhpurq gb fgenvtug-onpxrq (ohg ernfbanoyl erynkrq) naq V fcernq zl yrtf gb n zber pbzsbegnoyr cbfvgvba. V abgvprq gung zl cnagf jrer hapbzsbegnoyl gvtug naq erfgevpgvat, naq nyfb abgvprq gur cyrnfher bs tvivat zl obql n fngvfslvat fgergpu naq ernqwhfgzrag.

Guvf fgngr bs tbbq cbfgher naq obqvyl njnerarff vf snzvyvne gb fbzr qrterr, nf V bppnfvbanyyl trg vagb vg nsgre ubhe-ybat zrqvgngvba fvgf. Vg'f pbaarpgrq gb trareny tebhaqrqarff naq cerfrapr va fbpvny naq zragny ernyzf nf jryy, ohg vg'f n fgngr V unira'g orra noyr gb gevttre irel eryvnoyl.

V tbg hc gb tb gb nabgure ebbz, naq sbhaq zlfrys zbivat zber dhvpxyl naq pbasvqragyl guna V'z hfrq gb. Gurer'f n fjvatvat qbbe orgjrra gjb ebbzf, naq V fbeg bs yrnarq vagb vg jvgubhg oernxvat fgevqr. Zl zbgvbaf erzvaqrq zr n ovg bs ubj V'ir frra nguyrgrf va pnfhny fvghngvbaf zbir, jvgu n fbeg bs pbasvqrapr naq frafr gung gurve obql vf na rssrpgvir gbby. Vg nyfb orpnzr dhvgr boivbhf naq fnyvrag gung V'z uhatel, fvapr V unira'g rngra oernxsnfg.

V'ir xrcg gur ybphf bs npgvba ng gur onfr bs zl fcvar juvyr jevgvat guvf zrffntr. Vg frrzf gb pheeragyl erdhver n fznyy nzbhag bs onpxtebhaq nggragvba gb xrrc vg gurer (fvzvyne gb, yvxr, crepuvat ba n oenapu juvyr ernqvat n obbx, be fbzrguvat yvxr gung), ohg qbrfa'g frrz gb abgnoyl vagresrer jvgu guvaxvat be jevgvat. V srry trarenyyl sbphfrq naq ratntrq, gubhtu vg'f uneq gb gryy jurgure gung'f na rssrpg be whfg n znggre bs orvat vagrerfgrq va guvf rkcrevzrag.

Comment by PeterBorah on Open thread, February 2018 · 2018-02-15T15:08:47.171Z · LW · GW

Sure, so now there are two bags:

1) 1000000 white balls and 10 black balls, numbered 1-10.

2) 5 black balls, numbered 1-5.

And now the question is: Bob drew a ball from a bag. Which is more likely?

1) It was a black ball with a number between 1 and 5.

2) It was a black ball with a number between 1 and 10.


I considered submitting the above as my full response, but here is another approach.

You seem to be substituting a question about the process of choosing for the original question, which was about outcomes. An example where your approach would actually be correct:

"We know that Alice has access to two lists online: an exhaustive list of mathematicians, and an exhaustive list of mathematician-plumbers. We know that Alice invited Bob over for dinner by choosing him from one of those two lists. We know that, by complete coincidence, Alice's toilet broke while Bob was over. We know that Bob successfully fixed Alice's toilet. Which list did Alice originally choose Bob from?"

In that case, it's likely that the Bayesian calculation will say she probably used the Mathematician-Plumber list.

But notice that last question is different from the question of "which of the online lists is Bob most likely to be on?" We know that the answer to that is the Mathematicians list, because he has a 100% chance of being on that list, where he only has a high-probability chance of being on the Mathematician-Plumbers list.

Comment by PeterBorah on Open thread, February 2018 · 2018-02-15T14:20:30.061Z · LW · GW

This seems to be a problem of partitioning.

In your analogy, no ball that is in the second bag is also in the first bag. However, all mathematician-plumbers are also mathematicians.

In other words, your analogy is comparing these options:

1) Bob is a mathematician and Bob is not a plumber.

2) Bob is a mathematician and Bob is a plumber.

In that comparison, it is indeed possible that #2 is more likely.

But the actual problem asks you to compare these options:

1) Bob is a mathematician, and Bob either is a plumber or is not a plumber.

2) Bob is a mathematician, and Bob is a plumber.

Since all Bobs in #2 are also in #1, #2 cannot be more likely than #1.

Comment by PeterBorah on Subduing Moloch · 2018-02-15T11:03:10.386Z · LW · GW

Upvoted for an interesting idea that feels promising. I'd be down to try this experiment, though an hour a day feels like a large time commitment (and regular commitments like that are harder for me to maintain, since my schedule varies wildly).

Proposed alternative:

Once per week you receive an email with a link to a scheduling tool (something like Doodle), where you input your availability for that week. You're matched with a random partner who has overlapping availability, and you both get an email with the date/time, and a link to a video conference room (perhaps using where the call will happen.

I'm uncertain how long the call should be. An hour is not super long, if it's the only call you'll have with that person, but people might balk at a longer call. It could be configurable, but also choices are bad.

It would likely be good to have a fairly concrete set of suggestions for what to do on the call. Maybe something like a few minutes of introductions, followed by something like pair debugging? Or if the goal is more about networking, maybe prompts like "share what you've been thinking about lately" or "what are your most important goals?" would be good.

I could see value in staying in touch with your partner over email or something for a period of time after the call, but I'm not sure exactly what that should look like, and simplicity is good.

Comment by PeterBorah on Rationalist Lent · 2018-02-15T10:37:32.045Z · LW · GW

Oh, and an important piece of evidence I forgot to include:

I have a close friend who has a strong "romantic fanfic" habit, and based on observation and conversation it's extremely clear to me that this is a pica/coping mechanism for them, to imperfectly replace real emotional intimacy/social safety/etc.

The similarity between their behaviors around fanfic and my behaviors around scifi are too strong for me to ignore, so that updates me in the direction of thinking it's important to uncover what's going on here.

Comment by PeterBorah on Rationalist Lent · 2018-02-15T10:29:27.219Z · LW · GW

I would be interested hearing more details about your experiences around exceptions. My inner simulator is confused about how to categorize this particular example.

On the one hand, "no Reddit at home" is a fairly clear rule that I wouldn't anticipate too much trouble implementing. On the other hand, if the goal is to break the dopamine cycle associated with Reddit, it might be better training for your brain to stop entirely rather than "teasing" it with exceptions?

Comment by PeterBorah on Rationalist Lent · 2018-02-14T18:10:21.749Z · LW · GW

For the record, even though I'm giving up fiction for Rationalist Lent, I would pretty much agree with that. I intend to use it as an opportunity to break what I consider to be bad habits around it and reevaluate its place in my life, not as a prelude to a permanent ban.

Comment by PeterBorah on Rationalist Lent · 2018-02-14T15:21:30.771Z · LW · GW

I chose to give up fiction for Rationalist Lent (before reading the comments and before seeing this exchange).

I've been observing my fiction (particularly sci-fi) habits for the past year or so, and have tried to reduce/improve them, including making it a major focus both times I attended a CFAR workshop. This has been only marginally successful. The behavior feels addictive in both the sense that I lose sleep or forget other important things due to it, and in the sense that it's hard to stop.

When I investigate the desire to read scifi, it seems to be connected to desires around intellectual exploration, a sense of wonder/excitement, and some sort of displaced social desire around "camaraderie in service of large-scale goals". This makes me think it's a pica, and that I would be better served by using that energy to get more of those things in the real world.

So, all of the above, at least in my case.