Comment by reaver121 on A Challenge for LessWrong · 2010-07-01T14:04:24.231Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You are correct off course. I was merely reacting against your statement that I can make no difference at all.

Comment by reaver121 on A Challenge for LessWrong · 2010-07-01T13:05:00.833Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your original post said :

If you're a "rationalist", but not rich and not on your way to being rich, you're probably just deluding yourself.

I assumed that with 'rich' you mean world top 100 millionaire levels (Correct me if I'm wrong here). You are right that I don't care enough about $ and status to reach those levels but I wouldn't say I am poor enough to make absolutely no difference at all.

My minimalistic lifestyle coupled with a average income allows me to save a lot of money. Probably more then my older colleagues who probably earn more then me. And I'm sure that I have more money in the bank that most of the people in my age bracket. (Had anyway. I spend most of it to buy land for my house).

In the future, I'm planning to donate a portion of my income but I'm waiting until my expenses have stabilized and don't expect any major financial costs.

EDIT : My apologies, just reread your top post and realized I overlooked

Vote this comment down if your net worth is >= $100k, vote up otherwise

I'm assuming that $100K is your limit for being rich and as I just have a bit more it makes my original comment invalid.

However, it does proof that not caring much about $ and status is not an insurmountable barrier to acquiring a lot of money. By reversing it (i.e. instead of working harder/smarter and earn more, just spend less) you can still get enough to make a difference (but indeed not to the levels like Bill Gates did).

Comment by reaver121 on A Challenge for LessWrong · 2010-07-01T08:25:58.861Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm familiar with some of the obvious arguments at a basic level (entrepreneurship is usually win-win, money can be used to help fund or attract attention for just about any other project or argument you care to have succeed, getting rich should be relatively easy in a world full of both arbitrage opportunities and irrational people), but still don't quite find them convincing

I do find them convincing. Unfortunately, I don't find them motivating. Making a sustained effort to do something usually depends for me on :

  • earning enough money to sustain my lifestyle (I could live on welfare if I really wanted to but I find that ethically wrong).
  • finding it interesting

My lifestyle tends to be rather minimalistic so that even an average to low income is more then enough to sustain it. I also find it a lot easier to just forgo some comfort or gadget instead of working more to pay for it (such wants are for me usually fleeting anyway). Finding something interesting is for the most part out of my control so I can't do much there.

I have to admit however that I'm in a rather comfortable position so that I don't have to really care about money all that much. I live in Europe so medical care is compared to the USA cheap. I'm building my own house now but I'm getting a lot of help from my family both financially & practically. Still, the same reasoning holds.

This is why I found (when I was younger) communism a better idea than capitalism. I had to recognize however that most people don't think my way and that communism is unsustainable. One of the most surprising experiments in found in this regard is the one where someone can choose between :

  • getting a 100 dollar raise while giving anyone else a 200 dollar raise
  • getting a 50 dollar raise while giving anyone else no raise

Assume that prices of goods stay equal in both cases i.e. that fact that everyone else gets a 200 dollar raise in the first option has no influence on the price of goods. When I first read this to my great surprise most people choose option 2 while I found option 1 the blindingly obvious correct choice.

Comment by reaver121 on A Challenge for LessWrong · 2010-06-30T09:16:15.808Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I donated blood just yesterday. Unfortunately, I'm AB+ which means my blood is only suitable to other AB+ people. About 5% of the population according to Wikipedia. On the plus side, I can receive blood from anyone :). I have to admit that I'm having trouble keeping a regular schedule of blood donation.

On the topic of diet, LessWrong helped me losing about 17 pounds through implementing some short term motivation methods. Counted in the probability of more years at life that's a huge win.

Comment by reaver121 on Is cryonics necessary?: Writing yourself into the future · 2010-06-28T08:25:48.848Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good points. Just read the whole conversation between you and Vladimir_M and I agree it could go both ways.

Comment by reaver121 on Is cryonics necessary?: Writing yourself into the future · 2010-06-25T11:22:59.145Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You're assuming that because someone has made mistakes themselves they will judge others less harshly. That is not necessarily the case.

Besides, most people make indeed mistakes but not the same mistakes. If you're boss is a teetotaler and you are a careful driver, you are not going to think well of each other if you get drunk and your boss gets into an car accident.

Even I have the same problem. I tend to procrastinate so if a coworker is past his deadline I don't really care. But I dislike sloppy thinking and try to eradicate it in myself so it really gets on my nerves if someones goes all irrational on me. (Although I seem to be getting better as I get older in accepting that most people don't think like me.)

Comment by reaver121 on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-19T06:49:23.666Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I don't count as a lurker anymore but I only started posting about two weeks ago and lurked about 2 years before that so I think I qualify to comment about it. The only 2 forums where I post(ed) at all are LessWrong and INTPCentral.

INTPCentral was more of an experiment to see if I could sustain posting for an extended period of time. It didn't work and after 2 weeks I lost interest. LessWrong has less chance going the same way because of the high level of most top posts. That's my first barrier to post. The online community has to be interesting enough to make me come back.

The second is a certain reluctance to comment at all. I think that has to do with my aversion to attention (although this doesn't fly when I'm with friends. Then I have no problem with it). The only reason to call attention to myself is when I can significantly add to the conversation or to correct someone. That also makes it difficult for me to comment on a top level post that already has been thoroughly analyzed in the comments. Adding a comment that doesn't add anything does look too much like yelling 'me too, me too'.

Comment by reaver121 on Newcomb's problem happened to me · 2010-03-26T22:10:29.349Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I used the wrong terminology. I meant an prenuptial agreement. The bus example was to show that even if you precommit there is always the possibility that you will change your mind (i.e. in this case by losing empathy). I used the extreme method of brain damage because it's completely out of your control. You cannot precommit on not being run over by a bus.

Comment by reaver121 on Newcomb's problem happened to me · 2010-03-26T19:02:44.683Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That's the reason why I never get why people are against marriage contracts. Even ignoring the inherent uncertainty of love & marriage, if I walk under a bus tomorrow and lose for example all empathy due to brain damage, my current self would wish you to divorce future psychopath-me as quickly as possible.

As for the OP, good article. If anyone ever asks why I spend my time theorizing away over 'impossible' things like AI or decision theory I can use this as an example.

Comment by reaver121 on Compartmentalization as a passive phenomenon · 2010-03-26T15:41:23.163Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If understand you correctly, you are saying that most people are not knowledgeable enough about the different domains in question to make any (or judge any) cross-domain connections. This seems plausible.

I can think however of another argument that confirms this but also clarifies why on Less Wrong we think that people actively compartmentalize instead of failing to make the connection and that is selection bias. Most people on this site are scientists, programmers or other technical professions. It seems that most are also consequentialists. Not surprisingly, both these facts points to people who enjoy following a chain of logic all way to the end.

So, we tend to learn a field until we know it's basic principles. For example, if you learn about gravity, you can learn just enough so you can calculate the falling speed of an object in gravitational field or you can learn about the bending of space-time by mass. It seems rather obvious to me that the second method encourages cross-domain connections. If you don't know the basic underlying principles of the domains you can't make connections.

I also see this all the time when I teach someone how to use computers. Some people build an internal model of how a computer & programs conceptually work and are then able to use most basic programs. Others learn by memorizing each step and are looking at each program as a domain on it's own instead of generalizing across all programs.

Comment by reaver121 on Levels of communication · 2010-03-24T09:49:46.559Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have another annoying habit. I tend to get rather ... enthusiastic in discussions thanks to applying The mind projection fallacy to my discussion partner.

Sometimes if find a certain fact X so glaringly obvious that I tend to assume that other people also find it obvious. So, when the discussion starts I think that we are both on the same page when we are not. This leads to me misunderstanding their arguments. From my point of view I seems like they are doing it on purpose which makes me rather flustered. I usually takes me a while in such cases to realize that they not know about X.

Comment by reaver121 on Understanding your understanding · 2010-03-24T08:26:09.630Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That was my main problem with the definition of stage 3 and was why I posted my original comment. It seemed to me that you could apply stage 3 to parts of your knowledge but not for everything.

When I read 'This stage should be the goal of all rationalists.' (in the original post) I was confused because it seemed to me that stage 3 was unreachable. I mean, if I started with only my human psychology, my senses and the world around me (i.e. the level of a caveman) I don't think I would invent math, physics,... Stage 3 seemed reachable if I assumed infinite time & persistence and scientific reasoning.

Comment by reaver121 on Understanding your understanding · 2010-03-23T10:35:28.762Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. That's why I here argued against thinking about things too long. It's even more important the less rational you are. Before you know it, you are past the point that any evidence can convince you that your opinion is wrong.

Comment by reaver121 on Understanding your understanding · 2010-03-23T07:28:59.123Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that stage 3 just means that you use correct scientific methods to learn & expand your knowledge (or am I missing something ?). If that is correct, wouldn't that mean you could essentially recreate the entire body of human knowledge given enough time & persistence ?

The only knowledge that seems absolutely essential to me then is the scientific method itself. Given my human psychology I'm reasonable certain that without that knowledge I would dream up an entire pantheon of gods to explain away everything and just stop there.

Comment by reaver121 on Lights, Camera, Action! · 2010-03-22T20:41:55.732Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No, I find it very interesting. It's very enlightening to hear somebody else's view on introspection. I tend to introspect a lot (sometimes maybe too much). I always had a bit of a double relationship with it as you are never sure about your conclusions about yourself and I dislike uncertainty rather strongly.

However, I can't see another way how know to yourself better. You can use evolutionary psychology & psychological studies but they only provide very broad strokes. You could go to a psychiatrist but there are a lot of different schools to chose from so you are still not sure (and also expensive off course).

I'm curious, are you also planning to write something about doing something with the conclusions reached through introspection ? I never had much problems analyzing myself but don't have a lot of motivation to act upon it.

Comment by reaver121 on Think Before You Speak (And Signal It) · 2010-03-22T07:35:24.511Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

nitpick:"I still would error on the side of", err not error


but isn't it quite easy to see when thinking has gone on for 'too long' without benefit?

I suspect that in most cases you will be right. However, I know a woman in my street who is convinced that she's empath and can, quite literally, sense people emotions (in the telepathic kind of way, not the body language kind). The first time I met here I tried (naively maybe) to convince her that her ability is impossible. I told her of confirmation bias, unconscious cold reading, that the senses are not completely reliable and so on. It didn't help. At this point, she is so invested in it that she will reject anything that denies her ability.

My point is that if she would have taken the time to discuss this with people (or at least read up on counter arguments on her own) it's possible she wouldn't believe in it now.

Comment by reaver121 on Lights, Camera, Action! · 2010-03-20T10:23:38.022Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the time it's like talking to myself. When I'm actively analyzing something it's like having a discussion with people who all are me but all taking different stances (and one of them is a joker who can't stop looking at it from a comedian viewpoint).

Comment by reaver121 on Think Before You Speak (And Signal It) · 2010-03-20T09:45:14.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it would be a good idea to prevent hurting your credibility by signaling that you are either throwing out an idea to be torn apart or that you have thought long and hard about it. However, I still would err on the side of letting an idea out early. There are also downsides with thinking about an idea for too long :

  • you are less likely to find problems in your idea on your own
  • you possibly can get emotionally invested in your idea so you will have trouble in letting go when someone shoots it down
  • lost thinking time when your idea turns out to be false

A classical example is the Perpetuum Mobile. Time and time again there are people who believe that it will work. They invest time & money in something that's impossible as anyone with even a passing familiarity with thermodynamics can tell you.

I can only see one downside in letting it out early (besides hurt credibility) and that's that your future ideas will be taken less seriously. If you acquire a reputation for saying a lot of wrong and/or stupid ideas people will be quicker to just ignore you.

I think that the best way is to scrutinize your idea for basic soundness so that there are no obvious holes. Then the damage is minimal if it turns out to be wrong (obvious within your community off course. If you even dare to suggest Perpetuum Mobile with physicists if give you 5 seconds before they laugh you out in your face). Also, with the rise of the internet & libraries it's fairly easy to lookup if your idea wasn't already thought off and shot down.

Comment by reaver121 on The ABC's of Luminosity · 2010-03-18T23:11:05.435Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In general, I find heuristics for focusing my attention other than where it falls naturally to be interesting only as novelties - soon I'm back to paying attention to whatever strikes me.

Same here. In daily life I don't find this much of problem but I sometimes regret that when I have to choose between for example TVTropes or something else, TVTropes usually wins.

I can entertain time-consuming meditative or introspective exercises to the extent I hope that I'll gain some permanent, low-maintenance benefit, like learning new information that will be useful without constant recitation, or forming more effective habits (in behavior or what I attend to).

One way I found to form habits is to try to change the environment in such a way that the habit you want to learn is also the path of the least resistance. If that isn’t possible, you can try to make it so that you pause and give yourself time to consciously make a decision instead of executing your old wrong habit routine.

For example, I usually hibernate my work laptop. After a couple of weeks however my ram usage tends to go to 2 Gb and stay there (not in the least thanks to visual studio & firefox with +100 tabs) and everything is starting to feel sluggish.

A reboot usually helps but I strongly dislike interrupting my work to reboot so I don’t do it much and, unfortunately, hibernating is always quicker then shutting down when leaving the office. So when I leave, I don’t have much incentive at the moment itself to shut down.

My solution was simply to schedule a batch file to run every Friday afternoon that disables hibernation (and another batch file to enable it again on Monday morning).

Comment by reaver121 on The ABC's of Luminosity · 2010-03-18T22:44:13.909Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Additionally, take note of any interesting absences. If something generally considered sad has happened to you, and you can detect no sadness in your affect or telltale physical side effects, that's highly relevant data.

This one (and the opposite, i.e. have an emotion where it's considered inappropriate) happens to me a lot.

For example, my room is usually total and utter chaos which doesn't disturb me in the slightest. For some reason anything that isn't moved in the last 3 or 4 days just becomes background, like trees in a forest. On the other hand, as a programmer, I tend to be very precise in my code & database (Codd help you if I find that you forgot a foreign key).

Another one is weather and sunlight. I prefer an overcast sky and 10 - 20 degrees Celsius and truly hate summer. Travel is another one. I never got why people have to move over 500 miles to relax. Is it really that difficult to relax at home ?

About emotions in general, I never understood how people can consider them (in)appropriate. For the large part, I don't control how I feel so why is (not) feeling something my fault ? Off course, I mostly control how I react to those feelings so I'm still responsible for my behavior but if I simply say that I do/don't have an 'appropriate' feeling, why are some people always shocked ?

Comment by reaver121 on Let There Be Light · 2010-03-18T10:50:34.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

link. Last paragraph of section 'Secondary Function: Extraverted Intuition'. Search on the word 'duality' to find the paragraph fast.

Comment by reaver121 on Let There Be Light · 2010-03-18T10:13:58.433Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I’m of the impression that the MBTI tends to be more useful to more you tend to the extremes of the four scales. When I do the test, I usually use one that gives you percentages for each scale. I remember that for my first time it got INTP with as percentages (roughly) 100% (I), 80% (both N & T) and P (60%). I was 20 when I first tested. 7 years later I still test as INTP.

I remember that when I first tested I was rather skeptical and knew of the Forer/Barnum effect so to be sure I read all the descriptions of the other personality types. The INTP profile still fitted best. I could also still see parts of myself in profiles that were ‘closer’ to mine (i.e. less different letters), the INTJ one for example (while my exact opposite (ESFJ) was like reading the description of an alien).

On the other hand, I'm still skeptical. Both the creators of MBTI had no psychological degree and it’s scientifically unfounded. There’s also the partly valid criticism that the test just reflects your answers and so is no better than cold reading.

In the end, I took the INTP profile with some bucket loads of salt but still used it to explore some ideas about my own psychology. For example, one of the INTP aspects that struck a chord with me is the switching between a logical mindset and intuitive free-associating goofing off mindset.