Meditations on Momentum 2018-12-14T10:53:05.446Z · score: 109 (53 votes)
Fat People Are Heroes 2018-11-13T08:50:47.129Z · score: 29 (20 votes)


Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Propagating Facts into Aesthetics · 2019-12-20T00:42:57.600Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Slightly meta: I'd love to see more LW posts along these lines! It wasn't until reading Sarah's post that I even realised that aesthetics matter; I've been thinking about it ever since, and I'd nominate it for the review if I could.

A common criticism of rationality/LW is that it is an aesthetic-based identity movement. I think this is true, but not necessarily a bad thing. Paul Graham's advice makes sense for politics, but he overstated the case: in my experience, 'trying on' new identities is a much better strategy for nudging the elephant in a desirable direction than attempting to convince it through reasoned argument.

I've noticed that some of the most useful identities to adopt are based around beauty/aesthetics (or screening out 'ugliness'). A simple example: I used to feel a tiny bit embarrassed for being so drawn to minimalism, as a lifestyle and as a design philosophy. The severe white apartments and Swedish furniture etc seem so masturbatory, but... I kind of like that sort of thing!

Now I notice that reducing visual clutter has a surprisingly large effect on my mood and productivity[1], and also reflects values that are important to me (frugality, conscious consumerism). Aesthetics are never entirely divorced from underlying value systems, so it makes sense that values shape your sense of style. The weird part is that it goes both ways: you can also create or adopt aesthetics that nudge your underlying value system!

I don't know if this strays into Dark Arts territory or whatever, but my wild hare-brained speculation is that playing with embodiment, identity, aesthetics, and other bottom-up cues that speak directly to the elephant might generate some interesting new breakthroughs in rationality (or post-rationality, or whatever you want to call it).

[1] Related: the entire field of environmental psychology, the extended mind thesis, JBP's 'clean your room' schtick.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Meetup Notes: Ole Peters on ergodicity · 2019-11-04T00:47:58.699Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for taking the time to delve into this!

You note that expected utility with a risk-averse utility function is sufficient to make appropriate choices [in those particular scenarios].

This is a slight tangent, but I'm curious to what extent you think people actually follow something that approximates this utility function in real life? It seems like some gamblers instinctively use a strategy of this nature (e.g. playing with house money) or explicitly run the numbers (e.g. the Kelly criterion). And I doubt that anyone is dumb enough to keep betting their entire bankroll on a positive EV bet until they inevitably go bust.

But in other cases (like retirement planning, as you mentioned) a lot of people really do seem to make the mistake of relying on ensemble-average probabilities. Some of them will get burned, with much more serious consequences than merely making a silly bet at the casino.

I guess what I'm asking is: even if Peters et al are wrong about expected utility, do you think they're right about the dangers of failing to understand ergodicity?

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Open & Welcome Thread - October 2019 · 2019-10-13T19:46:15.938Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

neat! thanks.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Open & Welcome Thread - October 2019 · 2019-10-11T19:41:34.018Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Question/feature request: does cross-posting automatically add a canonical URL element pointing to the original content? If not, would it be possible to do so? (Google doesn't necessarily penalise duplicate content, but it does effect search rankings etc.)

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on The Zettelkasten Method · 2019-09-22T18:43:42.995Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not the OP, but as someone who uses both: in my mind, they're categorically different. Anki is for memorisation of discrete chunks of knowledge, for rote responses (i.e. deliberately Cached Thoughts), and for periodic reminders of things.

Zettelkasten helps with information retention too, but that's mostly a happy side-effect of the desired goal, which (for me) is synthesis. Every time I input a new chunk of knowledge, I have to decide where I should 'hang' it in my existing graph, what it rhymes with, whether it creates dissonance, and how it might be useful to current or future projects.

Once it's hanging in the lattice somewhere, I can reference and remix it as often as I want, and effectively have a bunch of building blocks ready and waiting to stack together for writing projects or problem-solving. It's fine if I can't remember most of this stuff in detail; it's much more of an 'exo-brain' than Anki, IMO.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on The Zettelkasten Method · 2019-09-20T19:11:15.796Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent write-up!

Anecdatum: I got into Zettelkasten before I knew what it was called after reading a post by Ryan Holiday circa 2013 (he recommends physical cards and slip boxes, too). It's profoundly improved my writing, my ability to retain information, and synthesis of new ideas, even though I was doing it 'wrong' or sub-optimally most of that time.

In terms of systems: I always thought using paper index cards was bonkers, given we have these newfangled things called 'computers', but your post makes a much more compelling case than anything else I've read (including the Smart Notes book, which is very good). So I'm pretty curious to give it a try.

My only major reservation is around portability and security. At this point, my (digital) slip-box is literally the single most valuable thing I own. I know Ryan Holiday uses fireproof safes etc, but it seems like it would get pretty cumbersome, especially once you have tens of thousands of notes.

I've been helping Conor and Josh out with Roam because I'm excited about the power-user features, but I'm pretty confident that any practice of this nature would be beneficial to students, researchers, and writers. Prior to Roam, I was using a mixture of Google Docs, Evernote, etc, which wasn't optimal, but still worked OK.

An important point you touched on which is worth stressing: the benefits of Zettelkasten accrue in a non-linear fashion over time, as the graph becomes more connected. So even if you 'get it' as soon as you start playing around with the cards, you could reasonably expect to reap much greater gains over a timespan of months or years (at least, that's my experience!).

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-27T00:36:44.748Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For simple nouns and verbs, you could use pictures as the prompt? I find this really helpful for building memorable associations, and helps me 'taboo' English on the flashcards.

Another suggestion is to add some kind of personal connection or mnemonic device. I haven't used this myself, but it's recommended in a book called Fluent Forever, which is all about learning languages through spaced repetition.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on How to Understand and Mitigate Risk · 2019-03-15T07:54:15.749Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think I get you now, thanks. Not sure if this is exactly right, but one is proactive (preparing for known stressors) and one is reactive (response to unexpected stressors).

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on How to Understand and Mitigate Risk · 2019-03-13T06:49:58.336Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Strong upvoted. This is a great overview, thanks for putting it together! I'm going to be coming back to this again for sure.

Note that Effectuation and Antifragility explicitly trade off against each other. Antifragility trades away certainty for flexibility while Effectuation does the opposite.

Can you say more about this? You mention that effectuation involves "shift[ing] the rules such that the risks were no longer downsides", but that looks a lot like hormesis/antifragility to me. The lemonade principle in particular feels like straight-up antifragility (unexpected events/stressors are actually opportunities for growth).

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Meditations on Momentum · 2018-12-31T04:01:01.754Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated! I agree that the end isn't well supported (at least, in the post). I write for a general audience who want clear, actionable takeaways. If I cross-post something in the future, I'll think about editing it more heavily to fit the LW norms (i.e. explain rather than persuade).

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Meditations on Momentum · 2018-12-15T00:33:44.102Z · score: 13 (10 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell:

1. Be born to the right parents, in the right circumstances (not helpful, but important to acknowledge).

2. Apply yourself strategically in areas that compound (e.g. knowledge and skills, saving and investing, resistance training, networking).

3. Apply your effort wherever the yield is highest. All of these domains follow an S-shaped curve, with early exponential growth running into an upper ceiling of diminishing returns. At any given point in time, it might make sense to focus primarily on accumulating money, at another, skills and knowledge, at another, health and fitness, etc.

4. Choose goals that are complementary, so that each 'bucket' also helps to fill the others, and there's no single point of failure (or at the very least, avoid goals which conflict with one another).

5. Keep doing 2-4 forever. Even if you never hit that knee-shaped curve, a consistent and cumulative effort over time is pretty powerful in and of itself.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Meditations on Momentum · 2018-12-15T00:18:28.700Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely. Another way of thinking about it is a punctuated equilibrium: in some domains it feels like nothing is happening for the longest time, then you suddenly experience 'overnight' success. I have noticed that I find projects with delayed or noisy feedback loops super stressful, even if I know there's a solid expected payoff waiting in the wings.

I am a fan of Marie Kondo and Peterson for the exact reason you describe, and enough people have mentioned IFS now that I'll have to check it out. What's the 'spoon' thing in reference to? This seems to be one of those LW-isms that I've missed somehow.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-15T03:31:38.506Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are no negative consequences, because nothing happens in isolation. Obviously there'd be negative consequences if the average person did this, or if Berkhan ate an entire cheesecake every day. I'm not really sure what point you're making here.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-15T03:27:35.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are no guidelines on this that I'm aware of, but it seems unlikely that the RDI scales linearly with lean body mass. Some proportion of micronutrient intake goes towards the likes of bones and organs and the brain, which is unchanged by having more muscle mass.

I'm less confident of this than I am of the opposite framing: people with a low caloric intake have to be more careful about eating nutrient-dense food.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-15T03:12:56.034Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can't find good sources, it mostly seems to be anecdotal based on the ranges that strength athletes choose to stay in. My guess is that if you went too low, you'd know about it (stage-ready bodybuilders are in a world of pain). Also, kudos for maintaining a single digit body fat percentage - impressive!

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-15T02:54:25.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Reading the original study, it seems like one problem is that even though leptin returned to normal, it was out of sync with resting metabolic rate, which meant appetite was no longer linked to energy requirements. There is some suggestion that a slower rate of weight loss might have more success in changing the set point, but that's also contentious.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Open Thread November 2018 · 2018-11-14T01:13:13.910Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Neat, thanks! No worries about centering text. Footnotes would be much more valuable; especially the ability to automatically insert jump links (or display on mouse hover) rather than having to scroll up and down/open the document in two tabs.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-14T01:06:40.849Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From the post:

Something like 95 per cent of people who lose weight put it all back on. Almost every attempt is doomed to fail.

Fat people who are trying to lose weight are heroes, engaged in a struggle worthy of Sisyphus. Every conceivable force is levelled against them.

Not sure what gave you the impression I'm underestimating the odds, or the difficulty of the endeavour? That was literally the whole point of the post. If it wasn't communicated clearly enough, my apologies- I'd be interested in any feedback on which bits were confusing.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fat People Are Heroes · 2018-11-14T01:04:03.207Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One of the points I was trying to make here is the underappreciated importance of path dependence and homeostasis (so a person who has always been thin will have a much easier time than someone who had to get thin).

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Open Thread November 2018 · 2018-11-13T09:08:37.010Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. You're right - I haven't used markdown much, didn't realise those features weren't available. Will have a look at GreaterWrong for composing future posts.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Open Thread November 2018 · 2018-11-13T08:30:13.265Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In the post editor, is there any way to use markdown or HTML instead of rich text? (For example, to superscript footnotes, or centre-align text.)

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Laughing Away the Little Miseries · 2018-11-13T07:26:58.560Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Forcing a smile or laugh can be an instant circuit-breaker for me. I first heard about it in the context of the facial feedback hypothesis, but I'm pretty that didn't survive the replication crisis, so go figure.

A related mental contortion: Minor misfortunes often make for amusing stories in the fullness of time, so you might as well skip ahead to finding it funny right now.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Hammertime Intermission and Open Thread · 2018-11-10T15:23:26.908Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Progress report at the end of cycle one: So far I've taken three days on average to think or act on each post. I don't think this was a bad thing, and was probably better than attempting a frenetic daily pace.

I've resolved 10 of ~50 bugs, with progress underway towards another 10. That's roughly an even split between TAPs, Yoda timers, and bugs that resolved themselves with no action required. I'm most pleased with dramatically cutting down on smoking - it wasn't actually difficult; I just needed the impetus of a lovely spreadsheet with conditional formatting. Looking forward to cycle two.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on No Really, Why Aren't Rationalists Winning? · 2018-11-05T02:39:23.576Z · score: 18 (8 votes) · LW · GW
In fact, betting in prediction markets and stock markets provides an external criteria for measuring epistemic rationality [...]
So why haven't we been dominating prediction and stock markets? Why aren't we dominating them right now?

Trying to 'dominate' the stock market is a very bad idea, roughly analogous to your AI baseball example. The generally accepted best approach is to passively accumulate index funds, which I imagine is exactly what many people here are already doing. For individuals, winning is mostly about not-losing, which tends to be invisible; if you succeed, nothing happens.

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Hammertime Day 2: Yoda Timers · 2018-10-12T15:24:04.649Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Starting the challenge today, making this comment for accountability. I have 48 bugs in my spreadsheet, with rows for the date added and date solved. I know I'm eight months late to the party, but I'll post updates and take part in the challenges as I go. Thanks for putting together a great sequence!

Comment by richard-meadows-1 on Fasting Mimicking Diet Looks Pretty Good · 2018-10-05T03:23:02.910Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Sarah, does FMD have any benefits over water fasting, other than the obvious comfort/personal preference? (By water fasting, I mean periodic fasts of 72+ hours, rather than ongoing caloric restriction.)

I don't like counting calories or complicated nutrition packages either. Water fasting appeals to me because it's such a clear bright line, although I'm guessing FMD might be a better fit for most people's preferences - just wondering if there's anything more to it than that? Thanks!