Meetup Tip: Heartbeat Messages 2023-12-07T17:18:33.582Z
2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey 2023-12-02T04:41:51.418Z
The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You 2023-11-29T04:56:40.240Z
A Reading From The Book Of Sequences 2023-11-28T06:45:57.806Z
Never Drop A Ball 2023-11-23T04:15:35.834Z
Steelmanning The Devil 2023-11-21T07:28:58.483Z
On Tapping Out 2023-11-17T03:23:55.880Z
In Defense of Parselmouths 2023-11-15T23:02:19.344Z
Reinforcement Via Giving People Cookies 2023-11-15T04:34:21.119Z
Loudly Give Up, Don't Quietly Fade 2023-11-13T23:30:25.308Z
Trolley Problems And Other Games 2023-11-11T23:16:36.834Z
Joy in the Here and Real 2023-11-10T17:22:40.675Z
ACX & Arboretum 2023-11-10T06:24:30.186Z
Crock, Crocker, Crockiest 2023-11-10T06:14:27.279Z
Making Bad Decisions On Purpose 2023-11-09T03:36:59.611Z
Thinking By The Clock 2023-11-08T07:40:59.936Z
The Perils of Professionalism 2023-11-07T00:07:33.213Z
Taboo Wall 2023-11-06T03:51:09.968Z
Lightning Talks 2023-11-05T03:27:19.267Z
As Many Ideas 2023-11-03T22:47:57.109Z
One Day Sooner 2023-11-02T19:00:58.427Z
2023 LessWrong Community Census, Request for Comments 2023-11-01T16:32:19.102Z
2023 East Coast Rationalist Megameetup 2023-10-18T20:33:48.671Z
Competitive, Cooperative, and Cohabitive 2023-09-28T23:25:52.723Z
ACX Meetups Everywhere 2023: Times & Places 2023-08-25T23:59:07.941Z
Burlington, Vermont, USA – ACX Meetups Everywhere Fall 2023 2023-08-25T23:36:40.695Z
Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA – ACX Meetups Everywhere Fall 2023 2023-08-25T23:36:30.449Z
Berkeley, California, USA – ACX Meetups Everywhere Fall 2023 2023-08-25T23:36:16.677Z
Meetup Tip: Board Games 2023-08-18T18:11:58.820Z
Double Crux in a Box 2023-07-28T17:55:08.794Z
Zener Science 2023-07-19T16:40:54.974Z
Turbocharging Meetup 2023-07-10T20:01:11.063Z
Meetup Tip: Ask Attendees To Explain It 2023-07-07T16:08:40.639Z
Zener Cards @ Aeronaut 2023-07-06T20:08:55.134Z
Card Games @ Aeronaut 2023-07-06T19:48:47.955Z
Goal Factoring Meetup 2023-06-12T20:24:59.532Z
True Rejection Challenges 2023-06-05T22:17:19.329Z
Mob and Bailey 2023-05-25T22:14:52.377Z
Board Games and Prediction Markets 2023-05-17T21:14:33.210Z
Screwtape's Shortform 2023-04-28T03:17:14.764Z
Meetup Tip: Conversation Starters 2023-04-17T18:25:56.441Z
Berkeley, California, USA – ACX Meetups Everywhere Spring 2023 2023-04-10T21:57:41.461Z
Boston ACX Spring Schelling Point Meetup 2023-03-28T21:16:27.272Z
Staggering Hunters and Other Board Games 2023-03-27T20:25:38.205Z
Staggering Hunters 2023-03-27T19:11:50.333Z
Meetup Tip: The Greeter 2023-03-24T20:31:10.218Z
Rationality Taboo, The Game 2023-03-21T00:56:51.483Z
Skill Acquisition 2023-03-21T00:49:21.506Z
Meetup Tip: The Next Meetup Will Be. . . 2023-03-17T22:04:05.273Z
Meetup Tip: Nametags 2023-03-10T21:00:49.546Z


Comment by Screwtape on Open Thread – Winter 2023/2024 · 2023-12-06T23:50:35.561Z · LW · GW

Tangential question: I know how to view all the posts by karma or by other criteria. Is there a way to view all comments by karma or other criteria? It occurs to me that part of the reason I don't usually read comment threads except on my own posts is that I don't know where the good discussion is happening.

Comment by Screwtape on Open Thread – Winter 2023/2024 · 2023-12-06T20:25:08.456Z · LW · GW

My understanding is shortforms have next to no visibility unless people are already subscribed to a particular person's shortform feed. That seems about right for me? If I'm interested in what say, Scott thinks the best comments are but not interested in what Ray thinks the best comments are, then I subscribe to one but not the other.

I'm not saying this is the best possible UX, I'm just noting I'm tempted to try this with the affordances I have.

Comment by Screwtape on Open Thread – Winter 2023/2024 · 2023-12-06T18:30:22.461Z · LW · GW

I'm tentatively tempted to start doing this in a shortform.

I notice I feel like it's fine to highlight someone's comment? They put it on the site, so it's not private. I'd be keeping it on the same site, not taking it somewhere else without attribution. I wouldn't generally like my contributions moved between places or attributed to me on other pseudonyms, and maybe there's a stronger argument here than I'm thinking.

Comment by Screwtape on Open Thread – Winter 2023/2024 · 2023-12-06T18:27:47.629Z · LW · GW

Welcome! Glad to have you here.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-04T17:45:37.645Z · LW · GW

I think we do!

I phrased it ambiguously in the last sentence of OP because it felt weird to claim a tradition was extant when the last few years were shaky, but watching the comments I think it's clear the tradition has survived the fallow period.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-04T03:02:38.045Z · LW · GW

Feel free to skip any question you object to answering. (Except the first one about the public data, that one you can't skip.)

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-04T01:36:50.498Z · LW · GW

"[YOUR USERNAME]?filter=frontpage" should show all your frontpaged posts. I just added a note with that to the survey.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-03T05:18:26.293Z · LW · GW

You are welcome! Thank you for taking it :)

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:25:49.622Z · LW · GW

It's new. I don't know if I think yearly organizer censuses are worth it the way I think the community census is worth it, but I had some new questions so I put one together this year.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:23:55.017Z · LW · GW

Noting that I've seen this, but I'm going to wait for tailcalled to tell me if it should be changed since I'm not the originator for the question.

I did fix the period at TC1, since that's much more likely to be a copy paste error on my part.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:21:03.383Z · LW · GW

Some people dye their hair a new colour every couple of months. It might be true as a fact of the world to call them a redhead when their hair is red, but it's likely not an identity they feel is strongly a part of who they are.

I dyed my hair black once, and didn't like it. It bothered me a bit, I felt a little weird looking at myself in the mirror, and I was glad when it grew out and I went back to my normal colour. To be clear, that wasn't a strong feeling, just the identity equivalent of a stubbed toe. So, I can actually see this question working for physical descriptions of people's obviously visible bodies? Still, uh, that's not what's happening here. There is no objective measurement I can make to determine if you're a rationalist.

There exist people who feel strongly that They Are A Democrat/Republican, Dangit, And Don't You Forget It. If you do not experience that, I suspect you should just put 4s across the board, maybe with nudges to 3 or 5 as you feel inclined.

(But also I didn't write that question myself, so if Ben wants to chime in about its meaning listen to him over me on that.)

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:11:58.293Z · LW · GW

Thank you, fixed

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:11:15.631Z · LW · GW

Thank you, fixed

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T19:10:46.581Z · LW · GW

Thank you, fixed.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T17:21:58.464Z · LW · GW

The intention is to have two options which are mutually exclusive, hence the radio button setup. A checkbox for "yes, you can include my data in the public dataset" would answer the question, but I don't think I can make it required since an unanswered question and a negative answer look the same.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T12:48:06.582Z · LW · GW

Yes, answer the question not the heading.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T12:23:39.117Z · LW · GW

Doesn't the problem still exist? As far as I know you still can't unclick a radio button.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 Unofficial LessWrong Census/Survey · 2023-12-02T12:08:25.101Z · LW · GW

Fair point. I reversed the title.

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-30T21:32:37.528Z · LW · GW

Just checking we're on the same page: academic programs usually have a clear track students move through, with a graph of prerequisites. The idiom "101 space" originates with the way University programs are numbered, with the 100s place denoting what year a uni student expects to take a class. If you don't have the prereqs or aren't able to handle a course, you don't take it/drop out and do the lower material. We're talking about that solution, right?

Seems decent for them, though obviously students sometimes wind up above or below their capacity. You can kind of approximate this with cohorts in some places. I like the norm of putting required/suggested readings at the top of posts expanding on material or pointing someone to a short, specific post that walks them through a mistake or gap. I kind of don't like a norm of "read this two thousand page tome" even as it can be tempting sometimes, mostly because I don't think people are going to take me up on it very often.

There's an is/ought distinction around here. Sometimes someone makes a reply that indicates they didn't read the whole tweet, you know? Whether or not your 101 space works (do people use it, do they come out knowing what you want) is relevant to whether it is functioning, even if we think they ought to use it.

Comment by Screwtape on Lying Alignment Chart · 2023-11-30T15:03:47.062Z · LW · GW

I think, but am not sure, that if someone thinks a particular box has a lie in it then they also would think anything directly above or to the left of that box is also a lie. E.g. if you think false cognates are lies then you're probably also not on board with "I'll get to it tomorrow."

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-30T05:16:31.866Z · LW · GW

Kudos to the tag definitions. 2017 apparently, and it didn't have much commenting. Wonder if a revival would work. . .

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-30T05:02:02.825Z · LW · GW

I miss those. When was the last quote thread anyway?

Comment by Screwtape on One Day Sooner · 2023-11-29T19:07:44.733Z · LW · GW

Yeah, How I Buy Things is a pretty central example of this kind of thinking and has a good list of specific tactics.

Thank you for the compliment! 

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-29T17:08:01.462Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the compliment! I try to remind myself this too :)

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-29T17:06:16.741Z · LW · GW

If you aren't logged in and show up on the LessWrong homepage, the second post listed is (as far as I know) always Welcome to LessWrong. That links the New User's Guide in the first couple paragraphs, right after The Road To Wisdom and a three sentence explanation of the site.

If I was in charge I might make it the first post, but that trades off a bit against people showing up for something to read but never logging in. Having the first thing be a gradually rotating recommendation actually seems pretty good to me as well: I don't know how the first recommendation is picked but right now it shows LessWrong Political Prerequisites for me. If it does something like rotate through the top twelve things everyone should know, one a month, I'd call that a pretty good nudge towards having common knowledge actually!

Amusing sidenote: when I loaded up the page in an incognito browser to check, the third post suggested was Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse and I have such mixed feelings. On the one hand, I really like having a snappy two hundred and thirty three word overview of the expectations for posting! That's way better than Read The Sequences, it's a numbered list of short guidelines with links to longer explanations of each part! On the other hand, it's the profane parody of a post I remember being kind of controversial when it was published and where the controversy was not so much "settled to consensus approval" as "turned into a Shiri's Scissor before the author mostly left the site." Like I said, mixed feelings if I imagine that being the third thing someone reads on LessWrong.

Comment by Screwtape on Open Thread – Autumn 2023 · 2023-11-29T16:48:58.780Z · LW · GW

I would like to give a heartfelt Thank You to whoever made the Restore Text feature on LessWrong comments. Twice today I accidentally navigated away from a comment I was writing, and I know I've done that a lot in the past month only to be rescued by the saved text.

Comment by Screwtape on The 101 Space You Will Always Have With You · 2023-11-29T16:47:35.269Z · LW · GW

Short answer: I think there should be more than one of them, but the pinned Open Thread are pretty good when combined with the New Users Guide and the Sequence Highlights.

There's an interesting problem in that the people who most need the entry level information are the people who least know how to find it, and the least likely to be used to whatever idiom the information is in. "Look in the archives for the last time we discussed this issue" is a lovely theory, but finding something new in the archives of a new place is harder than the locals think it is. Because of this issue, I think every point where someone new might show up (comments on a post, an ACX Everywhere meetup, in the replies to one of Yudkowsky's tweets, etc) would ideally be able to point the newcomer to a back and forth with someone patient and interested in helping. To be clear, that's a find wish of my heart, not something I think is practical to pull off.

Personally I spend more time and energy on the in-person meetups than I do for online spaces. In that context, making these spaces means having meetups that discuss things I'm already pretty sure the regulars know. I try to come up with ways to make going over the basics again interesting and work for multiple knowledge levels, but at least any topic that hasn't had a meetup in the last year is a topic I shouldn't try to build on. I make myself obvious and visible as the organizer and try to notice when someone is new or looks confused. Most of my meetups are Rationality 101 spaces, and that's a deliberate tradeoff I make knowing that there's other organizers in my city who can try to push a bit deeper.

Then again, I'm also the guy who wrote Write A Thousand Roads To Rome. If someone says they prefer youtube videos, I point them at Robert Miles and Rational Animations. If someone says they prefer spicy blog posts I point them at specific SlateStarCodex posts. If someone says they want to talk to someone in person, I try and point them at a meetup near them especially if I know the organizer. 

Like I said, I think the Open Thread is a good 80/20 on the problem. The thesis of this post isn't that I think Less Wrong is doing unusually badly here, it's pointing out that we never get to declare victory and stop answering the beginner questions.

Comment by Screwtape on 2023 LessWrong Community Census, Request for Comments · 2023-11-29T03:20:46.976Z · LW · GW

Changelog, 2023-11-28

  • Retitled Tailcalled's questions so as to mess with the results as little as possible. They're now titled "TC[#]", in the hopes that simple numbers don't mess with anything.
  • Added a "Where did you find this survey from?" question
  • Removed P(Space), SRS, as well as a couple questions I lost track of from Community and LW sections. Removed the question about whether they also took the ACX census, since I think this one will come out first.
  • Added titles to questions without titles.
  • Added a symmetrical question about cross group identity to what I expect the ACX census will use.
Comment by Screwtape on In Defense of Parselmouths · 2023-11-23T03:26:46.394Z · LW · GW

You are welcome, and thank you for saying so!

I think the triggers for quaker-mode are a decent way of handling it. I try and use both triggers and to switch based on mood and to remember which people are more Quakerish and which are more Actorish, but that pile of heuristics is not always reliable. It mostly works! Sometimes it doesn't, and then I sort things out as best I can.

One Parselmouth to another, I hope it works too.

Comment by Screwtape on Reinforcement Via Giving People Cookies · 2023-11-20T17:43:45.729Z · LW · GW

A little. I like the feeling of correct execution when a phrase comes out that feels right to me. I like upvotes and people commenting saying they liked what I wrote. I also have a chocolate bar by my desk I shave slivers off when I finish something on my todo list.

Comment by Screwtape on Social Dark Matter · 2023-11-19T04:08:37.046Z · LW · GW

Does the list starting shortly after "Here are some examples of things" not fit that desire for more examples?

I think the trouble is that this theory predicts everything one can offer as an example of dark matter either 1. Something that used to be very discouraged and now isn't as discouraged, like being gay or 2. Something that is currently very discouraged and therefore hidden, like being a sex worker. "What am I not seeing evidence for" is a hard thing to notice!

As far as I know, I don't personally know anyone HIV positive. Maybe that's because there aren't many; a quick Google search suggests one in ten thousand Americans are positive, let's say I know five hundred people, so it's not weird I don't happen to know anyone HIV positive.

I know one person who I know declined to get a covid vaccine, zero people who I know have declined all vaccines. I know one person who I know has disassociate identity disorder, zero people who I know have full no-memory-of-the-switch identities. I know one person I know believes the earth is flat, zero people who I know believe the world is run by lizard people. I know one person I know is into wearing animal ears during sex, zero people who I know are into wearing a fursuit during sex. Maybe it's useful to think of the one-ofs you've met, and wonder if they're way more common?

(In case the grammar got unclear above- I'm not claiming as an absolute fact that nobody I'm an acquaintance with falls into the second half of each of those. I'm saying if they're there, they have successfully hidden it from me.)

Comment by Screwtape on On Tapping Out · 2023-11-18T06:05:44.658Z · LW · GW

Meh. I feel like those downsides are not very strong and I can come up with better.

Comment by Screwtape on Reinforcement Via Giving People Cookies · 2023-11-18T05:29:16.969Z · LW · GW

You are welcome! Thank you for the kind words :)

Comment by Screwtape on Thinking By The Clock · 2023-11-18T05:22:33.078Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the addition! Pairing up to talk through the ideas seems like a good group technique, I like the sequence you outline!

Comment by Screwtape on On Tapping Out · 2023-11-18T05:19:56.313Z · LW · GW
  • Because I want more new ideas and alternate viewpoints, and I believe that can be helped by making experiments less costly. Ctrl+f for "like a skilled musician" 
  • Because I want people to be able to more quickly relinquish incorrect beliefs, and I believe punishing someone for ceasing to argue for a particular position hinders this. Ctrl+f for "rather than hurt themselves trying" 
  • Because I want people to have more chances of being convinced of things, and I believe persisting in arguing with them after they want to leave a conversation burns their patience for a point of view. Ctrl+f for "Once someone is in the frame of mind" and also "you are giving them negative" 
  • Because I want people to be comfortable engaging in discussion, and I believe that can be helped by making it easier to disengage. Ctrl+f for "If they had instead kept me"

If I'm right, then the upsides are that people

  • offer and hear more lines of argument, 
  • don't feel like they have to keep arguing for a position even as the evidence moves against them
  • are happier to hear more arguments from those they disagree with

What are the downsides?

  • People don't stay as long talking to those they don't enjoy talking to. One common reason someone isn't enjoying a conversation is because they're losing an argument, so this costs the changing of the minds that happen in say (making the number up but it feels about right) the back quarter of protracted and unpleasant arguments.
  • Those who feel they put effort into a good argument may feel that effort was wasted when the other person taps out in response. Some effort may genuinely be wasted this way.
  • Since conversations don't have as clear a reset as wrestling matches, there will likely be some interminable arguments about whether bringing a topic up again a week later counts as not respecting a tap out. (Or variations on people not doing tap out correctly.)
  • There's a limited number of conversational moves people keep in their heads, and this takes up a slot that perhaps could be better spent on something else.

Lists are no doubt not exhaustive; they're what I have in mind. I'll admit, I don't think the downsides outweigh the upsides. For your example of novel discoveries outweighing embarrassing online commentators, I notice I don't think that's the tradeoff we're making? If I picture the reverse (that abandoning a line of argument is more costly and less allowed) I expect intellectuals to do less "hey, I had a weird idea. what if. . ." when their missteps are more socially punished. 

The primary goal here isn't to save online commentators some embarrassment! That's the method, not the goal! If you think they're wrong and you're right then the more embarrassed and ashamed they are the less likely they come back again to keep talking with you, which was your primary method of convincing them you were right, wasn't it?

Comment by Screwtape on On Tapping Out · 2023-11-17T19:02:03.649Z · LW · GW

I'd love it if tapping out as a safe, no-shame-attached way of leaving a discussion became normal outside of rationalist circles. See footnote 2 as an example. Call that a stretch goal. Primarily, I'm trying to nudge the connotations and etiquette around how rationalists use the concept.

I notice I am confused about how you're thinking of the goal of martial arts. "Self-improvement" isn't wrong, but the thing I wanted from it was to go from "get punched"->"flail ineffectually" to "get punched"->"block, hit back, leave." While I was physically in the dojo, yes, I was trying to improve my capabilities, but there was a less abstract goal in mind.

Sometimes in a discussion with rationalists, I'm trying to figure out the answer to a specific question I have about the world whose answer matters to me. Other times I think the other person is wrong and they think I'm wrong, and we're trying to figure out what's true because it would change how we act. Often we're mostly just talking because conversation is fun, and then it gets less fun because somebody isn't letting another person gracefully exit or topic switch? 

I don't think you should have to use the exact phrase "tapping out." Use what works or has the implications you prefer!

Comment by Screwtape on On Tapping Out · 2023-11-17T18:33:34.029Z · LW · GW

Part of what this essay is doing is trying to argue with the connotations between tapping out and losing. Yeah, if someone taps out in a formal debate they lose the point. (Points? I haven't done competitive debate, I don't know how they're scored.) From the perspective of someone who's done a lot of martial arts, it's really useful to be able to just practice without shame or loss of status attached to tapping out.

Comment by Screwtape on On Tapping Out · 2023-11-17T18:27:49.405Z · LW · GW

Martial arts analogy: If someone tapped out the instant contact was made when sparring, they would not learn much. If you're wrestling, then basically every round ends with either a tap out or someone calling time.

"Huh! You've made a good point there. I'm going to tap out of this conversation for now, but thanks for talking with me!" That person could do a lot of updating over the course of a dozen conversations. I'm almost tempted to make a different analogy to the number of shots on goal. Maybe most of them miss, but some of them don't, you know?

Comment by Screwtape on Social Dark Matter · 2023-11-17T04:07:24.690Z · LW · GW

Societies do not typically wage intense and ongoing pressure campaigns to prevent behavior that 0.0001% of people want to engage in.

The first time I read this I stared at it and went "wait, here's an obvious counterexample. It's a thing that basically nobody wants to engage in, but there's a pretty intense social pressure not to- oh wait." 

I'm interested in how one might ever become justifiably confident a particular piece of dark matter really doesn't exist or is as rare as you'd suspect it is. I'm fairly confident there aren't shapeshifting lizardmen hiding among my friends for instance. I want there to be a way to trade action for knowledge- to credibly claim I won't get upset or tell anyone if a lizardman admits their secret to me- but obviously the lizardman wouldn't know that I could be trusted to keep to that, and anyway it is sometimes preferable to know without making that commitment.

Comment by Screwtape on In Defense of Parselmouths · 2023-11-16T21:28:50.026Z · LW · GW

You are both pedantic and correct. Despite the prefix "di" being right there, I had not until today realized that dichotomy would mean exactly two, or that obviously other words would exist for other numbers. I've replaced it with "taxonomy" which scans about the same, since I suspect I would not be the only one to not know trichotomy on the first reading. Thank you!

Comment by Screwtape on Reinforcement Via Giving People Cookies · 2023-11-16T01:10:51.303Z · LW · GW

Have an internet cookie for stating there's a disagreement! Can you elaborate a little more?

Comment by Screwtape on Reinforcement Via Giving People Cookies · 2023-11-16T01:09:24.110Z · LW · GW

As a general (though not absolute) rule, I think the answer to "Can the . . . social norms be compactly formalized?" is "no." People are complicated

Actually answering the question: I plan to keep modeling people in whatever depth I can. I think having better predictions of what someone is about to do is just straightforwardly useful, even if they don't endorse it. Is model the word you mean to use there? 

Comment by Screwtape on Thinking By The Clock · 2023-11-15T02:46:22.342Z · LW · GW

Dunno what to tell you. I played the lottery of fascinations and got lucky. Electricity is our world's equivalent of mana, and if I'm smart enough to inscribe the right patterns of sigils in metal the right way I can command the forces of the universe. Who can turn that offer down?

Comment by Screwtape on Loudly Give Up, Don't Quietly Fade · 2023-11-14T22:05:45.481Z · LW · GW

I think that's probably the most common version of quietly fading. You do a bunch of work on something for a while, then a little less, then less, then it trickles out.

Most of the time I think that pattern is fine, because most of the time nobody is relying on you. I don't have the numbers as handy, but my efforts to learn particular musical instruments or languages fit the same pattern your blog has without the 2023 revival. (Congratulations on that by the way!) Countless D&D campaigns I've been in would meet once a week for months, then twice a month, then once a month, then we start skipping months. It's fine.

The right answer depends on the project, and I'm hampered in the post by trying to generalize too broadly. A work project in a busy office with tight deadlines? It might be worth telling your coworkers after two or three days of not touching a project. The failure condition is if they would assign someone else to work on the project if they knew you weren't actively pushing forward on it. A personal blog written for your own writing practice? I don't think you ever need to announce you're giving up. It's not that nobody cares about the personal blog, but most likely nobody is waiting around going "it's important to me that the blog updates and I would do it myself if somebody had to, but I'm sure it's all well in hand." 

In the post itself, I suggest checking if "I haven’t touched it in a month and ideally would have." Some projects have months where there's no reason to work on it, for instance a backyard garden probably doesn't need much work in January. If you have a list of all the projects you've taken up, and you look at them on the first day of a new month and one of them hasn't been touched at all, that's the best trigger I've come up with. The central example of a project this post was written for is something like a once-a-year event lots of people like and would organize if they knew nobody else was doing it, but where the default assumption is usually that whoever did it last year will do it again this year.

Comment by Screwtape on Loudly Give Up, Don't Quietly Fade · 2023-11-14T16:36:01.255Z · LW · GW

Yep, that sure was an edit error. Thank you for pointing it out!

Comment by Screwtape on Making Bad Decisions On Purpose · 2023-11-13T06:04:32.247Z · LW · GW
  1. I was trying to reference a line from the sequences which I couldn't remember well enough to search. I am my mind and body, but it's also rhetorically useful to seat the ego somewhere else for a moment sometimes. If I was being more precise, I might try to indicate the part of the brain that does a lot of the calculations and jusgements as distinct from the part that wants things, but I am not enough of a psychology expert to know if that's actually a thing. For most biases it feels like something in how I think is set up wrong, like a misaligned sight on a gun.
  2. See footnote 1. Please consider yourself invited to replace the homework situation with one where you notice part of your mind attempting to write the bottom line first, or argue with uneven and unwarrented zeal for one side over the other. I eventually resolved the homework case historically to my own satisfaction.
  3. Yeah, it sounds like you and I are not communicating clearly on which bit we mean when we say "our brain." On a gears level, I think we agree, the ego lives mostly in that squishy gray matter between our ears, with perhaps a bit of chemical wash and nerve endings from the rest of the meat suit. (Checking explicitly- do we seem to agree there?) Sometimes I observe I systematically come up with flawed thoughts that are flawed in the same direction. Call those cognitive biases. One of the sneakier biases is that when I try and judge which idea has some positive trait like being a good budget decision, it gets a heavy thumb on the scale for having some other positive trait like being socially approved of. I want some kind of language to distinguish the truth seeking part from the biased part for the purpose of talking about them in a short semi-fictional conversation. Got any suggestions?
Comment by Screwtape on Thinking By The Clock · 2023-11-12T02:15:43.487Z · LW · GW

If there's a commonly accepted scientific/biological term for something and I use a different term, most likely one of two things is happening.

One is that I don't know the term. I'm not a biologist by training or inclination. I'm not pursuing a career recognizable as a scientist. Sometimes I read their textbooks or papers and pick something up without the accompanying fluency.

The second is that I'm trying to simplify. I'm a big fan of up goer five and putting concepts in different words to see if that helps different people understand. Usually if I'm doing that, I'll leave a reference to the concept I'm talking about in the form I learned it from. I'm not always careful to do that though, especially if I'm writing quickly or I'm not sure where I got the idea from.

I'll repeat Raemon's question. What's the term you think is commonly accepted to describe something I'm talking about with different words?

Comment by Screwtape on Making Bad Decisions On Purpose · 2023-11-11T23:40:32.012Z · LW · GW

If someone can turn off the thing in their head that tries to write the bottom line before filling out the rest of the page, that seems strictly better than this trick. I can't, not reliably. Sometimes I fight that fight, sometimes the information is worth more than the better decision I think I can wrest.

For me, it usually doesn't feel like a fear or an ick. I usually notice yums, if that makes sense. Like, "don't step into traffic" or "don't jump off the cliff" make me afraid, but the bottom line is usually pretty sensible as is the writing above it. It's "don't eat the donut" and "don't snooze the alarm" that tend to have sneaky pre-written bottom lines I can beat with this trick.

Comment by Screwtape on Crock, Crocker, Crockiest · 2023-11-11T23:34:17.363Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I usually try these posted meetups two or three times before I do the writeup. The Experimental tag exists for when I haven't gotten around to doing that yet.

Not having anything unusually direct or nice to say would be a failure mode for this, and one that could be avoided by prompting topics that are more likely to have opportunities. I suspect (though have no direct evidence for this) that the temptation to say "you are just wrong about the Topical Issue of the Day" will arise given what I've seen of LessWrong or Astral Codex Ten meetups, which is where I anticipate these being used. I think it's harder to nudge people into using the affordance Crocker's Rules provide. I'll update once I've run this a few times and found out :)

Comment by Screwtape on Thinking By The Clock · 2023-11-11T23:30:03.812Z · LW · GW

Socially, I had the opposite problem and learning this involved relaxing a different skill. 

I went from taking way too long to answer social conversation cues to basically normal speed. The training regime for that involved a lot of games[1] and improv practice. By forcing myself to move fast and allow myself to make mistakes I wouldn't have made if I'd thought about it for longer, I got faster at speaking in conversation. 

One of the games I played was chess, and chess clocks are decent practice for this! I looked up chess puzzles and spent five minutes with a clock trying to solve them, or played games with wonky clocks where I was once-a-game allowed to pause for five minutes to think and that pause didn't count against the regular clock. (A lot of these games were against the computer, which was very patient.) A thing that I think I'm better at now, but could not put into useful words yet, is thinking within the box of five minutes. (or other timers.) There's an idea of. . . noticing wasted motion and not repeating loops, of deliberately splitting the time into brainstorming and winnowing and refining and murphyjutsu, that I improved by slow trial and error. 

As for taking the time out in conversations these days, it's largely tied to a weird little alarm in the back of my head that goes off when it notices longer term or large resource commitments about to happen, plus the ability to turn off (or rather, stop maintaining) a different set of alarms for when I'm about to violate social norms. The trickiest part for me happens at the interface, and I suspect that's unusually unique to how my head is configured.

  1. ^

    I used to play RTS games like Age of Empires by hitting the pause button whenever I wanted to think for longer, often taking three or four times as much time in pause as I did letting the clock advance.