Belief Chains 2014-11-15T11:09:57.217Z · score: 9 (16 votes)
The Anti-Placebo Effect 2013-09-28T05:44:04.770Z · score: 40 (44 votes)
Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! 2013-06-11T05:37:49.980Z · score: 7 (41 votes)
Programming the LW Study Hall 2013-03-15T18:28:10.697Z · score: 31 (40 votes)
Co-Working Collaboration to Combat Akrasia 2013-03-09T18:17:04.977Z · score: 54 (63 votes)
How to Deal with Depression - The Meta Layers 2012-10-26T18:44:24.902Z · score: 28 (54 votes)
Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? 2012-08-16T20:02:15.088Z · score: 44 (53 votes)
Tips for Starting Group Houses 2012-07-16T21:03:51.886Z · score: 12 (27 votes)


Comment by shannonfriedman on Belief Chains · 2014-11-15T21:00:12.793Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When talking about the impacts of complex systems, it is useful to pick one that people know, so as to not have to spend a whole lot of words giving background explanation.

I could not think of an example to use for this that was not at all political. I do not think it being slightly political outweighs the value of the description.

Do you prefer only examining elements on a small enough scale that you can get close to perfection in comfort and lack of error (what margin of error is acceptable to you since perfection is generally not actually achievable?), or do you prefer to consider some things that are uncomfortable if there might be a high pay off in return for examining these areas that may be useful for improving your rationality skills?

Comment by shannonfriedman on Belief Chains · 2014-11-15T20:55:00.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so FDA is one step removed, and is reviewing the research rather than doing it themselves.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-11-11T05:23:49.287Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


  • Its a large time and energy investment to word a post in a way that does not get shredded in this environment
  • I don't tend to receive much in the way of positive feedback or appreciation for doing it
  • I will almost certainly receive a lot in the way of negative feedback regardless - potentially quite a lot


  • I might be able to share something with someone else that creates value for them
  • Having a reasonable reputation in the community could be good for my business
  • I might receive some positive reinforcement

I ended up deciding to do a rewrite of one of the fundamental underlying principles of this post into a new post, which is almost done. It has been something that has been many hours of work. A lot more work than I had anticipated to get the post up to snuff where I think it is less likely to get shot down than this original post.

The amount of work it took to get to a point where it might be acceptable to LWers is unlikely to be balanced by the pros, so I am leaning toward it being my last post, although I am very open to having my utility function show me otherwise.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-14T01:10:50.262Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-11T22:24:36.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you use different words to describe what you are trying to say here? I don't understand but would like to.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-11T22:23:50.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am glad that I didn't realize that people could still reply to the post after I deleted it, since its nice receiving the last responses quite a bit later after I am no longer triggered by the initial general response.

I think the reason that my writing is coming off to you this way is that I have moved into a very different mental space than the Less Wrong community, and forgot the degree to which I needed to tune my thinking/writing for Less Wrongers to understand/appreciate my messages.

Less Wrongers are used to talking to people who think and speak in the way that people think and speak on this site. I don't read Less Wrong personally, only post to it. I've read some of the sequences, and I have spent years speaking in person on a regular basis with many high profile Less Wrongers, but the way in which people read and write on the blog is kind of like a foreign language to me, which I am currently rusty at.

Likewise with the cultural expectations about what I should be delivering and how.

I'm considering attempting a rewrite, but not sure if I want to or not. What would my incentive be to do so? So far I have received contempt and criticism for my attempt to communicate what I consider to be some very useful principles. Why should I keep trying?

In order to get it right, I need to wrap my head around the Less Wrong way of thinking again, and figure out how to translate everything I'm saying into something that people on this site will understand. That is quite a lot of work. I really hate this culture of tearing things apart when you don't understand rather than asking questions and being curious about what signal the author is attempting to send. I'm genuinely not sure if I want to engage it again or not.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-11T22:09:12.177Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Please let me know if what I just wrote makes sense to you. If it does, perhaps this comment might be good as a start for making a second attempt at communication - I think I articulated what I was trying to say better here than before.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-11T22:07:48.580Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I do see a huge difference between appropriate faith and blind faith.

It is my opinion that everyone functions based on faith far more than we acknowledge. That much of what we believe we have evidence for is actually based on quite flimsy chains of reasoning, that have lower and lower probability of being true with each subsequent link from the evidence we are supposedly basing the chains on.

It is also my opinion that this is pretty much unavoidable in order to function in the world, and that you pretty much have to function on a faith based system. Even a scientist who understands things at a fundamental level in one area is still probably accepting the world as she knows it based on faith in the majority of cases in her life.

So, it is my opinion that a key first step in being rational is to acknowledge that you have a faith based system, and then to optimize that system based on the acknowledged reality of what it actually is.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-10-11T21:58:27.751Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Richard,

I just saw this, sorry about the delay in response.

Yes, I was surprised by the response, because my assumptions about other people's assumptions were wrong in this case.

I do of course understand that no one else has the same mental model I do - my mistake was in that I did not model correctly quite how different my mental models are from the majority of Less Wrong readers on this topic.

Given the hostility of the responses I received in response to my attempt to share something I find valuable, I'm really not inclined to keep going.

Yes, I did make a mistake, but I do not feel an obligation to keep paying and paying for it to ungrateful people... why would I want to teach them anything?

It is work to better articulate - to figure out what the difference is between our models and be able to name it in a way that the group can understand.

I do not feel that I have adequate reason at this point in time to make that investment of my time and energy, when the only payment is contempt and ridicule.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T18:10:43.470Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A certain type of self hacking. I added a summary, does it help?

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T18:08:46.745Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course. For the statistics I used all clients and did not cherry pick, but you only have my word for that. And of course there is selection bias for who gives me a testimonial.

That said, those testimonials and statistics are the best that I have to make my point.

If you want me to provide you a perfect, infallible argument to persuade you to change your life, you are going to be waiting a very long time, because I am neither interested nor possessing the time and energy to do it.

If you want evidence that has signal, then that is what I have given you. You can ignore it and/or pick it apart, and get nothing from it, as you seem to have chosen to do.

Someone else might get quite a lot of value from it, if they use the strategy of looking at signal rather than assuming that they are right until proven wrong.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:47:24.419Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The summary has been added, thank you for the suggestion.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:46:28.876Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I added the summary to the main post.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:45:59.447Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I added the summary, does this clarify for you sufficiently?

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:44:16.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. I just now posted the summary (at -12). Rewriting the post from scratch sounds like a good idea. Is that done frequently on this blog?

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:21:44.416Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is what I actually said:

I'm also very positive reinforcement and appreciation oriented, so its pretty jarring to run into so much hating and so little appreciation. Not that I can't handle it, but its certainly a lot less pleasant to have all of the imperfections picked apart than to have the effort and signal appreciated. There are a lot of different ways to say the same things and reach the same (or better) results.But that is a different post, which I will probably write elsewhere.

I do this professionally and know that my systems are far more effective at achieving desired results as well as having the nice side effect of positive affect. I do not feel like taking the time and energy to explain my work right now, as it is not on topic for this discussion. You can have a look at the testimonials page on my site if you want to see a lot of people talking about the results they have gotten.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:15:49.682Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not really sure where you are going with this. For one thing, it sounds like we need Viliam to clarify what it is that he was trying to prove in his statement:

"In the world of science, I can reason by the results. My microwave oven works. What is the chance it would work, if we got physics wrong?"

Regarding the rest, you're making a lot of generalizations about religion and religious people, which I don't personally find to be on the same topic that I was speaking about. That said, apparently I was nowhere near as clear as I thought I was in my writing, so I perhaps do not have room to judge about this.

I was talking about the concepts of what you choose personally regarding beliefs/faith/perspectives/point of view. I was not advocating any organizations religious or not, or even speaking much about them. Only personal choices.

Religion is the connection people make when you use the word faith, but I was actually trying to draw different connections, and advocating a deep level of personal understanding rather than accepting anything on faith - be it a religious notion or an atheist one.

Personally I find the more modern things going on in the spiritual communities a lot more interesting than what has been going on in the past few hundred years.

I find that individuals seeking truth get much farther than organizations. Organizations are collections of people, and I find that the multiplication of bias with the interactions of multiple people tends to outweigh the multiplication of the positive attributes of brain capacity. I don't think this will always be true in the future, but I think has been true in most cases to this point.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T17:01:24.235Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Depends on the goal.

  1. Its not an either/or. You can give the same feedback that people give here with appreciation. The "ripping apart" style of giving feedback is entirely cultural, and does not add value in and of itself IMHO.

  2. Showing kindness and appreciation does add value, as this is the sort of thing we desire as human beings, and it calms and relaxes people, and thus makes it far easier for people to assimilate the feedback given.

  3. Sometimes getting the feedback that is paired with having things ripped apart on this site is useful. My writing skills have improved greatly from writing on LW, and I did indeed get useful feedback from this, for which I am grateful.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T15:47:02.982Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Umm... why does this need to be pointed out?

To me, I was being nice and empathizing with the point made. This feels like I expressed vulnerability and you decided to sink your teeth in and/or rub my nose in shit to tell me what I've done wrong, except I don't actually understand what you're even trying to show me.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T15:42:21.541Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. My understanding of Less Wrong is that there is a general viewpoint that everyone is biased and people on this site are "Less Wrong." Its not an official viewpoint, but its the attitude I see.

The reason I gave the examples and not the platitude is so that people might actually get it, and not just consider it a platitude that they dismiss. I seem to have failed on this blog at this time :)

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T05:39:34.635Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for explaining. I've explained a bit in some of the other comments. It is true that the things I am attempting to communicate are very foreign to this crowd, and I haven't spoken to rationalists at large in quite awhile, especially on a heated topic like this one and am out of practice.

I'm going to do my best to do a more thorough summary in the morning after sleeping on it. Although I am a native Californian and English speaker, I am culturally very different than Less Wrong at this point, and thus forgot quite how thorough I need to be in clear speech for Less Wrongers to get what I'm trying to say.

When you speak to people who are more or less on the same page with you, its very different than speaking with a different group with a different belief set. You need to take the messages down to a much more basic level to define terms and whatnot. I had actually thought I had done that, but still clearly missed many steps.

I'm also very positive reinforcement and appreciation oriented, so its pretty jarring to run into so much hating and so little appreciation. Not that I can't handle it, but its certainly a lot less pleasant to have all of the imperfections picked apart than to have the effort and signal appreciated. There are a lot of different ways to say the same things and reach the same (or better) results. But that is a different post, which I will probably write elsewhere.

A lot of what I teach people how to do is be nicer to themselves, and thus, as they learn this and their lives get better, they are also very nice to me and change their basic assumptions to friendlier kinder ones that are pleasant to work with.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T05:26:20.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depends how you define central. There are several different definitions of Faith if you look on Google. Personally, I think the fact that you choose to get up every morning, in some ways makes this more central than religious faith, which people think about far less frequently. Although I do of course get what you are pointing at.

What I am pointing at in this post, is that people take things on faith all of the time, that impact their quality of life, without realizing it.

As an example, if you were to question your reasons for why you get out of bed in the morning when you do, even something that mundane could potentially have a huge impact on your life.

You may for example decide to get up slightly earlier or slightly later, and this could potentially allow you to get something else done in the morning, or increase your wakefulness during the day, and have a domino of good consequences effect you throughout the day.

Another point I was making is that willingness to questioning your faith related to getting out of bed in the morning - in the way that I'm using the word - is in my experience highly correlated with willingness to question your Faith in the most common usages of the word:

"complete trust or confidence in someone or something." and "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual"

Even if the case is not a central example, that I have found a very strong correlation between this example and other more standard examples causes me to think that I am considering the concept correctly.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T05:12:52.573Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One of several. I wrote a couple of others here. In retrospect, it is a very good point that I was writing my thoughts more than writing to a specific conclusion, and that I made a writing error in not specifying an action oriented conclusion.

I want to add one in, but since there are actually several different points I'm making in the article, I need to think it through and decide which to include or not in the official conclusion.

I somewhat wish I could help many people on this site learn to be a lot nicer about pointing these things out, as you have been here. However, as they would say to me, it is my choice to post on this site, and thus to the degree I'm here, I it behooves me to play by, or at least tolerate, the cultural rules.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T04:35:05.089Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Keep in mind that we live in a country with "One nation under God" written on the money supply - we're in a religious country, even though there is for the most part separation of church and state. Physics is taught in high schools in the same country, so odds are that the majority believe both in God and Physics.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T04:27:47.741Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The point of the playing with words is to show that all four of those words are pointing at roughly the same concept. Each of the words has their own bias.

The different people who use the different words generally think that their way of thinking is superior, so I'm trying to demonstrate that this is not the case, and that it is a bias to think that your perspective is superior when you are simply looking at the biases of the other perspectives and not your own.

The points at the end were meant to illustrate the "everyone is biased" theory. Basically, if I can work with rationalists and get the sorts of results that I do by removing biases, then that implies that they have a lot of biases which they are not aware of and/or aware of how to fix until talking with me.

The solution I'm alluding to is to be more open minded about what the possibilities actually are. That simply taking a different perspective (plus a lot of positive reinforcement) can make the difference between not being able to get out of bed and having your dream job.

I'll write this up more clearly and eloquently in the morning after I sleep on it, but hopefully this at least helps a little for now?

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T04:15:18.377Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The other two commenters who beat me to it named the most common logic I hear from people who believe in miracles. I have never heard anyone attribute it to the laws of physics being incorrect.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T01:55:27.009Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What he said about microwaves is noteworthy.

My understanding was that he gave the example to show why there is a problem with all religion and mystical thinking - that it is less reasonable than how rationalists and scientists think.

If what Viliam said was true regarding all mystical thinking, then he would have been giving what would be more or less a proof of how rationalists are more reasonable in their thinking than religious people.

That's why his comment was interesting.

The truth is, that the assumption that all religious and mystical people do not believe in the laws of physics is entirely false. My guess is that in truth, the vast majority of people with spiritual beliefs do believe int he laws of physics. I gave one concrete example to make my case.

Thus, he was only disproving an example of one particular type of belief, and not really saying much at all about all religious/mystically inclined people.

Thus, the point he was making is not very useful, in that disproving one person - be they mystic or rationalist, or one type specific type of mysticism is easy.

You missed that point initially and your comment is continuing to make the same mistake that Viliam initially made, in that you are writing based on your personal belief about what "religious people" think.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-29T01:44:43.330Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I will come back to this and fill in the missing piece, as I said to hairyfigment when they brought it to my attention.

To me the conclusion is obvious, but I can see how it is not to people who are not me, now that this has been pointed out to me. I want to take my time to figure out how to word it properly, and have been very busy with work. I will be getting to it either later tonight or tomorrow.

That said, I personally find it laughable that hairyfigment linked a piece that is clearly advertising propaganda IMHO after claiming that my post sounded like advertisement. Perhaps if I call myself an executive director this would not bother people? :) I had better be careful or I'm going to get this post entirely deleted... ;)

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T22:48:57.090Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Taking what you said one piece at a time:

In the world of science, I can reason by the results. My microwave oven works. What is the chance it would work, if we got physics wrong?

So, I assume the reason you’re asking this is because you assume that belief in physics and mystical beliefs are incompatible. This is a false assumption.

As one of my favorite examples of this being false, I happen to be friends with someone who is a Tibetan grand master of Reiki, who is also a quantum physicist, with a Ph.D from Oxford. She is obviously extremely spiritual, identifies as a believer in the laws of physics, and knows what the laws of physics are in far more detail and with greater understanding than almost anyone who may read this blog.

I believe the base rate of "a random machine doing seemingly miraculous things" is pretty low, otherwise we would be surrounded by magical machines built on theories often incompatible with the official physics. And I mean, magical machines that would work as obviously and reliably as my microwave oven does, or as my mobile phone does... not just something supposedly providing some invisble and hard-to-measure effects.

Okay, so this is more elaboration based on the first assumption made, which I already addressed.

Now my personal life, and my everyday beliefs, that seems like a different kind of game. I see people with different beliefs, having not significantly worse or better results than myself. (A colleague of mine told me recently that he heard that the theory of evolution was disproved. Doesn't have any impact on his programming skills, which is what he gets paid for. But a better example would be some idea outside of science.) I don't have this kind of feedback for the correctness of my ideas. Thus it would be incorrect to put the same degree of faith in them.

Okay, so this is said to contrast the initial statement, again, doesn’t need a response now.

Unfortunately, I have no mind-reading abilities, so I don't know what the obviously successful people believe in. I can listen to what they tell me, but there are problems with this.

Perhaps time to start asking? :)

First, people compartmentalize (and that's the charitable approach; sometimes they also just plainly lie), so what they tell me they believe may not be the same thing they actually believe or alieve. (For example, reading the books by Kiyosaki will not give me the recipe for how to be as rich as Kiyosaki. The true secret of Kiyosaki is more likely something like: Just pretend to know the secret of being rich, and let other people pay you for whatever soundbites you have for them. It's not like someone would ever do a double-blind study to verify your teachings.)

Agreed that the true secret may be different than that given. Agreed that people also sometimes compartmentalize. True of everyone whether a rationalist or not. Gathering data and finding ways to test for truth and compartmentalization seems like a good idea.

Second, there could be a selection bias; even if most of the successful people believe the same thing, there may be even more unsuccessful people believing the very same thing. For example, "follow your passion" or "just buy a lottery ticket" may make a few people incredibly rich, and yet, it may be a poor strategy on average. But we will only hear the stories of the winners. "Yeah, I used to be a chicken like you, but then I decided to follow my gut, and played a few rounds of the Russian roulette, and look where I am now! If you are so smart, why aren't you as rich as me?”

True. Also, a strategy could be good, but not the only ingredient necessary.

Funny religious story:

There’s a big flood, and a priest is stuck on top of a roof as the water is gradually covering up the ground and the buildings. He is praying reverently. Eventually the water is up pretty high on the roofline, and a boat comes by.

They invite the priest to come with them. The priest says "no no no, God will save me!"

This happens a couple more times as the water gets higher and higher, and he eventually drowns.

When he eventually meets God, he asks “Why didn’t you save me? I still had work to do!”

God responds: “I sent you three boats, why didn’t you get on one?!”

One moral of this religious story is that you need to take opportunity when it comes to you, not assume its going to happen through magic.

Another aspect I find important is that it can take many different elements to get the results you want. In the reality of the story described, it requires praying + action. Praying alone was enough to get the opportunity, but only praying didn’t do anything at all for him.

Hence what I was getting at in my previous post about how over-simplification is really not useful and only leads to false confidence.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T21:04:39.423Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I do appreciate the request for more clarity of purpose and useful suggestion.

I think that there is quite a lot that is implicit if you are reading this from an open rather than defensive perspective. However, I am in agreement that I could be much more explicit and that this would be of benefit. Rather than giving an off the cuff response, I will think this through and craft something more useful. Thanks!

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T20:47:12.937Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Funny, I opened that post expecting something very logical and to the point, and was immediately surprised that it read like a long advertisement for CFAR :)

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T19:48:06.526Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for giving me something challenging to work with that I cannot instantly respond to :) I will process and respond over the next day or two.

I can tell you a couple of elements the response will include. One is that men of science tend to over-extrapolate. Ie: that your microwave works means certain things, which are more probable to relate to other certain things. However, you can take these chains of logic out very far to where they become very flimsy, but justify the flimsy parts with the word SCIENCE.

Another element is something I will refer to casually for now as "solving the problem from the middle." You can have a very logical and concrete beautiful thing that looks like a solution in the middle of a puzzle, that does not really relate to the beginning or end.

This is the classic logic fallacy that I see Less Wrongers engage in, such as the straw man argument in this comment.

He makes a beautiful point that everyone agrees with including me, that doesn't have anything to do with the larger topic at hand. Because he does so in a way that is tangentially related to what I was actually saying, it appears to be a part of the larger topic at hand, it appears on the surface that he knows the answer.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T19:01:32.603Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Point #1:


You are making the point for me very well about how much of everything we do is not rational thought or grounded. You can call it habit, or you can call it faith that getting out of the bed is the correct thing to do.

Whether you re-think your logic or not every morning or not does not make much difference in whether or not the action is faith based in my book. You are acting on the belief/perspective/point of view that getting out of bed is the appropriate thing to do.

Point #2:

Hedonistic examples are simple and thus easy to describe. I could lay out more complex belief systems, but then I'd have to write a book rather than a blog post.

I think there's something else you might be getting at here, but I'm not really sure what you're trying to show through this statement, so if you want to be more direct or ask a question, I'd be interested.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T17:58:12.747Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I personally find current usage more useful than original meaning, although both can be good to know.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T17:23:40.706Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Having processed this a little more, I want to address some a couple of your implicit questions:

Q: Would you prefer to have faith in a guru and a community of likeminded people, or is it better to have faith in leprechauns?

A: I would prefer neither. My belief is that it is optimal to have faith in what you can determine to be true at the most fundamental level you are capable, and have openness to updating your opinion as you search for truth at a more and more fundamental level.

Q: If you must choose between leprechauns and gurus/communities, isn't it much more sane to choose gurus/communities?

A: This question is a red herring. The reason is that its not the real choice anyone reading this would be making.

You have chosen an example of faith that is obviously absurd and blind to attribute to me, so that you could make an argument to defeat me and win all in the same comment.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Puzzle of Faith and Belief · 2014-09-28T16:48:29.681Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My actual statement was that

"putting your trust in "a guru and a bunch of other people" "

Is a form of faith.

All of the rest of your comment is all arguing with assumptions you have made about what I am saying and thinking regarding conclusions you drew on my behalf.

I am not going to try to dig into what you say here to respond. However, if you want to ask me a couple of simple questions about what I actually do believe, to clarify about whether we are actually in agreement or disagreement, I am happy to answer.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-30T06:37:53.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's my answer to that:

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-30T04:19:39.619Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The way that I came up with the name, was that someone was suggesting that my taking metrics might create a placebo effect, where people would believe that they were doing better than they actually were.

So, my response to this was that I was not trying to create a placebo effect, but rather, to avoid a placebo effect in the opposite direction.

So while I agree with you that this effect is not an opposite (why I referred to it as related instead of reverse), I do think that it is the opposite of what a lot of people fear - that they are experiencing a placebo effect.

In short, people being afraid of having a placebo effect is often how this effect comes to be - they don't want to create false hope and then have it dissipate, so instead they refuse to believe or acknowledge real positive results when they see them.

So, I would say that the title is reasonable regarding people's expectations, but not in the precise using of the term placebo sense. Personally, I think that expectations are more important for titling. Fewer people will pay attention to a precisely named definition that they know nothing about, whereas calling it the anti-placebo effect grabs attention - specifically the attention of people who have this bias.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-29T14:47:57.448Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, a lot of it has do to with having the parts of your mind that are action oriented not in alignment with the ones that want to have fun. If you're in that state for a long time, or in any way that ingrains the patterns hard, eventually you get to more extreme states like lack of interest in anything.

I use non-medication techniques to get people out of these states as my profession. You might find this audio helpful.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-28T20:22:44.393Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What you're describing sounds like the results from the anti-placebo effect, although I didn't go so far as naming that. Basically, you don't realize its working (anti-placebo effect), and then you stop and regress (what you're pointing to). Since you've figured this out, you should have a much easier time avoiding it with the next intervention you try, especially if you track the metrics you're most interested in seeing changes in.

One place that things get tricky is that your negative reinforcement loops can get started while you're still tracking metrics - as an example, perhaps you're doing great, and then you have one bad day, and then you make the false assumption that the bad day means that you will continue having bad days and that none of the other progress is real. If you adopt that belief, then even your mood tracking will decline, so its important to be reality checking as much as possible along the way, and to remind yourself that one bad day is not as big a deal as weeks of good days, and that will help you stay on track. Here's a video of me role playing the two attitudes that might be helpful.

Not quite on topic, but same principle - replace getting the work task done with having succeeded in improving on the metric you've been tracking for several consecutive weeks, and imagine how the optimistic person would respond to a down day, with that attitude, v.s. the overwhelmed/depressed role play person.

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-28T20:14:34.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

LOL, indeed :)

Comment by shannonfriedman on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-28T15:23:58.353Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, hard to know in retrospect, I would love to hear more about your results in as much as you can tell. For future such attempts where you're trying something like this, I recommend taking a baseline on a mood tracking site for a week or two before starting, if you can manage it, and then tracking for at least however long they claim it takes to get results. I also recommend just generally taking baselines, maybe every couple to few months - that way, even if you don't want to mood track all the time, you at least have some reasonable random sampling to look back on to see how you're doing over time. When you track, its ideal if you find a way to have uniform bias - so always take the test at the same time each day for example, or randomize the time if you're doing many data points and can handle noise - one problem with mood tracking is that people tend to take it when they are feeling especially good or especially bad or generally motivated by extreme mood, so its good if you can find a way to minimize that particular bias.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? · 2013-07-30T16:12:11.884Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate your follow up. I couple of things did happen with other projects too:

  • one is that one of the better versions of Anki did get created - you can see up in the newer comments somewhere, where it was linked by hacker news.

  • Peter is also collaborating with someone working on his version, although I don't know whether or not this post had a impact on their collaboration.

  • I worked for awhile with one of the people Eliezer mentioned.

  • The backwards kickstarter folks were talking for awhile, and someone ended up working on a similar project with another group - I haven't followed up with them.

I think its likely that other stuff happened - I only found out about the better-Anki program because I ran into the guy who was behind it at a party. Likewise with my post about starting group houses - I know of several group houses that started that used it as part of their process, but I think only one commented. The co-working post has also been very successful, although not in the way I had anticipated - I don't know of much in the way of individual partnerships created, but the study hall that started is still going and populated almost 24/7, several months later.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-17T05:16:15.098Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I just re-read this and realized the important information I completely glossed over, and that this totally changes my analysis.

That said, I recall thinking that the comments had gone up and down many times when showing 50%, and that perhaps either it was a case that numbers were just more even since they were smaller, or that the calculation was done differently with the comments than the post. I don't feel up for doing the math to check this with so many comments, but if I had infinite time and energy it would be interesting.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-16T03:53:59.984Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In addition to whatever other voting is going on, my guess is that there is either one person doing this with multiple accounts, or several who have been going down the line and down voting the majority of my comments.

During the day that I was watching the patterns frequently, my karma would stay relatively stable with slow fluctuations most of the time, and the maybe around 5 times would quickly drop 10-20 or so points. I haven't been writing much lately and am pretty sure I was at 0 for monthly karma before this post, so my current score reflects specifically these ups and downs. For anyone who wants to do math, he post was on main for about half a day before it was moved, and I believe it was at -2 when it was transferred. (up from hovering around -4 most of the day)

Speaking of the math, would you mind giving the formula you used to calculate the range of +/-'s?

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-15T15:49:34.507Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The exact questions they used were in the article linked in the post body. There were four different ones, the one of which I'm asking about is #2. My understanding is that someone could check as many or few of the four questions as they wanted, and that several checked the box for #2. The word rape was not used in any question.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-14T13:55:06.952Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, yes, I can believe that some people may have down voted for this reason.

Personally I think the side track has been very interesting and am glad it has happened. While it was not my intent to talk about rape as more than a removed example of a complex issue, I think it is a very important topic where most people are ignorant even regarding what is known, and that there is a lot unknown about, where really awful things happen to many people in the present. What the study I linked reports fits with my personal observations as I have learned more and more about what goes on behind closed doors from being part of the psych world. I've been pretty blown away as I've come to realize the scope of what is going on, how it is silenced, in this present day and age, etc.

Getting it actually discussed in nuance with multiple viewpoints present has been awesome, and I would not object to my posts continuing to go off topic so productively. 1 I would expect this group you describe of people who don't like going off-topic to be one of many voting blocks.

Do you have any idea of how much people usually down vote when a post goes off topic in a similar way, especially any examples that are not emotionally charged?

I suppose I have just pointed at another potential group, which is one that just hates emotional charge and down votes anything that is likely to become heated for the sake of not liking emotion regardless of topic. I can certainly believe that this group exists and may account for enough to be a voting population as well - despite the impressive low volume of flame on this post, this group may even stop reading and click the down button at my first line giving the warning.

1 The discussion can also be tied back into the initial point I was trying to make although I hadn't done this yet - now that the nuances on this topic are starting to get unpacked in the comments, think about how changing any single variable would create an uproar in current culture. With so many strong and conflicting opinions, you've got to address the overall culture before you can do anything and not have it result in a lot of grief - even if your proposed change is one that would be an improvement if other variables shift.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-14T01:47:48.379Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, agreed.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-13T21:04:50.064Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would you mind pasting a link for this? I'd love to know exact numbers.

Comment by shannonfriedman on Changing Systems is Different than Running Controlled Experiments - Don’t Choose How to Run Your Country That Way! · 2013-06-13T20:38:48.985Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does that answer your questions (both explicit and implicit)?

Yes, thank you.

Incidentally: do you assume I'm not one of those men? If so, on what basis?

I assume you are most likely not one of those men based on the assumption that they are only somewhere around 6% of the population. I'd put the odds slightly higher since you are interested enough in the topic to write in the comments and initially said something dismissive, but not a whole lot higher. Most likely you're a nice and respectful guy in control of your impulses in as much as the rest of the population, and I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.