What should the EA community learn from the FTX / SBF disaster? An in-depth discussion with Will MacAskill on the Clearer Thinking podcast 2024-04-16T13:11:30.562Z
Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence 2023-11-11T01:04:22.747Z
Should Effective Altruists be Valuists instead of utilitarians? 2023-09-25T14:03:10.958Z
Announcing the Clearer Thinking micro-grants program for 2023 2023-08-07T15:21:28.191Z
Valuism - an approach to life for you to consider 2023-07-19T15:23:19.218Z
Understanding the two most common mental health problems in the world 2023-07-06T14:06:25.968Z
Understand how other people think: a theory of worldviews. 2023-05-03T03:57:17.710Z
A Clearer Thinking tool that teaches you to use Internal Family Systems concepts 2023-04-28T13:42:35.063Z
Sense-making around the FTX catastrophe: a deep dive podcast episode we just released 2022-11-30T01:54:39.842Z
Take part in our giant study of cognitive abilities and get a customized report of your strengths and weaknesses! 2022-11-25T16:28:52.538Z
Estimating the probability that FTX Future Fund grant money gets clawed back 2022-11-14T03:33:05.507Z
Opportunities that surprised us during our Clearer Thinking Regrants program 2022-11-07T13:09:14.523Z
$13,000 of prizes for changing our mind about who to fund (Clearer Thinking Regrants Forecasting Tournament) 2022-09-20T16:06:34.651Z
Find out how utilitarian you are - a mega thread of philosophy polls 2022-09-10T14:05:35.600Z
Announcing the Clearer Thinking Regrants program 2022-06-17T13:14:26.999Z
14 Techniques to Accelerate Your Learning 2022-05-19T13:59:54.073Z
Even more curated conversations with brilliant rationalists 2022-03-21T23:49:26.990Z
Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists 2021-05-28T14:23:30.631Z
Have an idea for an interactive learning module? Consider applying for a micro grant! 2021-04-22T18:13:44.050Z
You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! 2021-04-19T13:44:41.014Z
How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" 2021-03-24T23:38:25.926Z


Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-12-13T01:46:38.504Z · LW · GW

Thanks for your comment. Some thoughts:

"But a lot of your pro-DAE evidence seems to me to fail this test. E.g. ok, he lied to the customers and to the Congress; why is this substantial evidence of DAE in particular?"

Because E is evidence in favor of a hypothesis H if:

P(E given H is true) > P(E given H is false)

And the strength of the evidence is determined by the ratio:

bayes factor = P(E given H is true)/P(E given H is false)

In my view there isn't really any other reasonable mathematical definition of evidence other than the bayes factor (or transformations of the bayes factor).

Applied to this specific case:

Probabilityiity(Lying to congress given DAE) > Probability(Lying to congress given not DAE)

And the reason that inequality is true is because people with DAE are more likely to lie than people without DAE (all else equal). 

"Everything under this seems to fail the rain test, at least; very many people have this willingness [to lie and deceive others] most of them don't have DAE (simply based on the prevalence you mention). Is this particular "style" of dishonesty characteristic of DAE?"

The question of whether E is evidence for H is not the same as the question "Is H true most of the time when E?" That's just a different question, and in my view, not the correct question to ask when evaluating evidence. The question to ask to evaluate evidence is whether the evidence is more likely if the hypothesis is true than if it's not true.

And yes, lying is indeed characteristic of DAE. 

Comment by spencerg on Nonlinear’s Evidence: Debunking False and Misleading Claims · 2023-12-12T16:33:28.307Z · LW · GW

I’m glad to see that Nonlinear’s evidence is now public, since Ben’s post did not seem to be a thorough investigation. As I said to Ben before he posted his original post, I knew of evidence that strongly contradicted his post, and I encouraged him to temporarily pause the release of his post so he could review the evidence carefully, but he would not delay. [cross posted this comment on EA forum]

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-16T19:27:01.400Z · LW · GW

At the top it says it’s a link post and links to the full post, I thought that would make it clear that it’s a link post not a full post.

It’s difficult to keep three versions in sync as I fix typos and correct mistakes, which is why I prefer to not have three separate full versions.

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-16T19:16:48.918Z · LW · GW

The reason I talk about DAE and not NPD is because DAE and NPD are different conditions, and while I took seriously while investigating this the possibility that NPD was the cause, I didn’t find enough evidence for that explanation, whereas I found a lot of evidence for DAE. If you think I’m wrong, and see significant evidence for NPD I’d be interested to see that evidence.

Not to say that DAE and NPD have nothing to do with each other, but they aren’t the same.

I would never say to someone who was abused by someone with NPD that they are merely experiencing the result of DAE.

To clarify, DAE refers to two very specific things: a person lacking the emotion of guilt, and/or a person lacking the experience of empathy.

NPD in DSM 5, as I understand it, involves: “the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria: A grandiose sense of self-importance A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions A need for excessive admiration A sense of entitlement Interpersonally exploitive behavior A lack of empathy Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes”

So a lack of empathy (from DAE) is one potential feature or NPD out of 9. Lack of guilt is not on the list at all.

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-13T02:55:24.669Z · LW · GW

Thanks for letting me know

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-11T17:48:29.297Z · LW · GW

There were clear ways in which he was really bad at things, but also, clear ways that he was really good at some things.  The FTX exchange is not something easy to build, and it's much harder still to make it into a successful exchange like he did. Seems pretty clear he was really skilled at some things, despite his big weaknesses. But I don't think it can be dismissed as just that he was bad at stuff.  Also, him being bad at stuff doesn't explain highly unethical actions that he appears to have taken.

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-11T17:44:34.955Z · LW · GW

I do go into that - see the full version on my blog.

Comment by spencerg on Who is Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) really, and how could he have done what he did? - three theories and a lot of evidence · 2023-11-11T17:44:19.206Z · LW · GW

It's more specific than sociopathy.  Also, terms like sociopath/psychopath are problematic because people have a lot of associations with those terms, not all of them accurate, and so I thought it would be better to be more precise about what I mean and also to avoid terms that people have connations around.

Comment by spencerg on Should Effective Altruists be Valuists instead of utilitarians? · 2023-09-25T18:50:35.130Z · LW · GW

You're using a different word "utility" than I am here. There are at least three definitions of that word. I'm using the one from hedonic utilitarianism (since that's what most EAs identify as), not the one from decision theory (e..g., "expected utility maximization" as a decision theory), and not the one from economics (rational agents maximizing "utility"). 

Comment by spencerg on Sharing Information About Nonlinear · 2023-09-09T10:45:21.913Z · LW · GW

If we want to look at general principles rather than specific cases, if the original post had not contained a bunch of serious misinformation (according to evidence that I have access to) then I would have been much more sympathetic to not delaying.

But the combination of serious misinformation + being unwilling to delay a short period to get the rest of the evidence I find to be a very bad combination.

I also don’t think the retaliation point is a very good one, as refusing to delay doesn’t actually prevent retaliation.

I don’t find the lost productivity point is particularly strong given that this was a major investigation already involving something like 150 hours of work. In that context, another 20 hours carefully reviewing evidence seems minimal (if it’s worth ~150 hours to investigate it’s worth 170 to ensure it’s accurate presumably)

Guarding against reality distortion fields is an interesting point I hadn’t thought of until Oliver brought it up. However, it doesn’t seem (correct me if I’m wrong) that Ben felt swayed away from posting after talking to nonlinear for 3 hours - if that’s true then it doesn’t seem like much of a concern here. I also think pre-committing to a release date helps a bit with that.

Comment by spencerg on Sharing Information About Nonlinear · 2023-09-07T07:02:12.502Z · LW · GW

Hi all, I wanted to chime in because I have had conversations relevant to this post with just about all involved parties at various points. I've spoken to "Alice" (both while she worked at nonlinear and afterward), Kat (throughout the period when the events in the post were alleged to have happened and afterward), Emerson, Drew, and (recently) the author Ben, as well as, to a much lesser extent, "Chloe" (when she worked at nonlinear). I am (to my knowledge) on friendly terms with everyone mentioned (by name or pseudonym) in this post. I wish well for everyone involved. I also want the truth to be known, whatever the truth is.

I was sent a nearly final draft of this post yesterday (Wednesday), once by Ben and once by another person mentioned in the post.

I want to say that I find this post extremely strange for the following reasons:

(1) The nearly final draft of this post that I was given yesterday had factual inaccuracies that (in my opinion and based on my understanding of the facts) are very serious despite ~150 hours being spent on this investigation. This makes it harder for me to take at face value the parts of the post that I have no knowledge of.  Why am I, an outsider on this whole thing, finding serious errors in the final hours before publication? That's not to say everything in the post is inaccurate, just that I was disturbed to see serious inaccuracies, and I have no idea why nobody caught these (I really don't feel like I should be the one to correct mistakes, given my lack of involvement, but it feels important to me to comment here since I know there were inaccuracies in the piece, so here we are).

(2) Nonlinear reached out to me and told me they have proof that a bunch of claims in the post are completely false. They also said that in the past day or so (upon becoming aware of the contents of the post), they asked Ben to delay his publication of this post by one week so that they could gather their evidence and show it to Ben before he publishes it (to avoid having him publish false information). However, he refused to do so.

This really confuses me. Clearly, Ben spent a huge amount of time on this post (which has presumably involved weeks or months of research), so why not wait one additional week for Nonlinear to provide what they say is proof that his post contains substantial misinformation? Of course, if the evidence provided by nonlinear is weak, he should treat it as such, but if it is strong, it should also be treated as such. I struggle to wrap my head around the decision not to look at that evidence. I am also confused why Ben, despite spending a huge amount of time on this research, apparently didn't seek out this evidence from Nonlinear long ago.

To clarify: I think it’s very important in situations like this not to let the group being criticized have a way to delay publication indefinitely. If I were in Ben’s shoes, I believe what I would have done is say something like, “You have exactly one week to provide proof of any false claims in this post (and I’ll remove any claim you can prove is false) then I’m publishing the post no matter what at that time.” This is very similar to the policy we use for our Transparent Replications project (where we replicate psychology results of publications in top journals), and we have found it to work well. We give the original authors a specific window of time during which they can point out any errors we may have made (which is at least a week). This helps make sure our replications are accurate, fair, and correct, and yet the teams being replicated have no say over whether the replications are released (they always are released regardless of whether we get a response).

It seems to me that basic norms of good epistemics require that, on important topics, you look at all the evidence that can be easily acquired.

I also think that if you publish misinformation, you can't just undo it by updating the post later or issuing a correction. Sadly, that's not the way human minds/social information works. In other words, misinformation can't be jammed back into the bottle once it is released. I have seen numerous cases where misinformation is released only later to be retracted, in which the misinformation got way more attention than the retraction, and most people came away only with the misinformation. This seems to me to provide a strong additional reason why a small delay in the publication date appears well worth it (to me, as an outsider) to help avoid putting out a post with potentially substantial misinformation. I hope that the lesswrong/EA communities will look at all the evidence once it is released, which presumably will be in the next week or so, in order to come to a fair and accurate conclusion (based on all the evidence, whatever that accurate final conclusion turns out to be) and do better than these other cases I’ve witnessed where misinformation won the day.

Of course, I don't know Ben's reason for jumping to publish immediately, so I can't evaluate his reasons directly.

Disclaimer: I am friends with multiple people connected to this post.  As a reminder, I wish well for everyone involved, and I wish for the truth to be known, whatever that truth happens to be. I have acted (informally) as an advisor to nonlinear (without pay) - all that means, though, is that every so often, team members there will reach out to me to ask for my advice on things.

Note: I've updated this comment a few times to try to make my position clearer, to add some additional context, and to fix grammatical mistakes.

Comment by spencerg on Valuism - an approach to life for you to consider · 2023-07-24T03:07:37.095Z · LW · GW

The way you define values in your comment:

"From the AI "engineering" perspective, values/valued states are "rewards" that the agent adds themselves in order to train (in RL style) their reasoning/planning network (i.e., generative model) to produce behaviours that are adaptive but also that they like and find interesting (aesthetics). This RL-style training happens during conscious reflection."

is just something different than what I'm talking about in my post when I use the phrase "intrinsic values." 

From what I can tell, you seem to be arguing:


[paraphrasing] "In this one line of work, we define values this way", and then jumping from there to "therefore, you are misunderstanding values," when actually I think you're just using the phrase to mean something different than I'm using it to mean. 


Comment by spencerg on Understand how other people think: a theory of worldviews. · 2023-05-07T17:46:04.953Z · LW · GW

Hi Caerulea-Lawrence, thanks for your comment. The reason we say: "If you don’t understand that worldview, then you’ll be unable to predict what these groups will do. You will also struggle to communicate with them in a way that they care about, or persuade them to do things differently." is not because we are trying to convince anyone to have a particular worldview with this piece - it's because we are trying to motivate people to see other perspectives even if they are still stuck in their own perspective. That is, there are instrumental reasons to try to see things from other people's perspectives, even if you are convinced you're 100% right and they are totally wrong.


I wonder what about this piece makes you think we're trying to use it to promote a particular worldview? The intention of the piece is precisely the opposite - to promote understanding multiple world views (and learning what the different worldviews have to offer).

A major goal in this piece is to try to be fair to every worldview without advocating for any worldview in particular.  This is hard to do, and it's possible we failed in specific ways - if you have specific examples of us being unfair to a worldview, please let us know, and if you make a case we find convincing that we've given short shrift to that perspective we'll change it.  We've already done that based on past feedback on this piece (updating a few of the descriptions based on feedback from people who hold that worldview). We're trying to describe each worldview in a way that most of the people who hold that view agree with and endorse the way we describe it.

Comment by spencerg on Understand how other people think: a theory of worldviews. · 2023-05-05T02:07:29.516Z · LW · GW

Many hundreds of people read this piece, and whenever we received feedback from people who identified with one of the worldviews, if they believed their views were being misrepresented, we made adjustments in line with their feedback when we felt that the case they made was convincing (but like we acknowledged in the piece, we're not going to be covering everyone's perspective here). Your characterization of what the world looks like from the point of view of a Social Justice Advocate seems like something that a Social Justice Advocate would genuinely disagree with.

Comment by spencerg on Understand how other people think: a theory of worldviews. · 2023-05-05T01:57:30.230Z · LW · GW

I'm surprised you see this as coming from a conservative perspective, because neither Amber nor I are conservatives. You're right that there are lots of other views that are not addressed in this piece. We focused on a small list of some of the most popular views, and of course, any one individual will have some differences in opinion with the world view that best represents them, as we mentioned in the piece.

Comment by spencerg on 14 Techniques to Accelerate Your Learning · 2022-05-21T03:57:52.503Z · LW · GW

Thank you! Fixed :)

Comment by spencerg on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-06-03T14:38:10.059Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the cost estimates on producing transcripts, that's helpful! 

Comment by spencerg on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-06-03T14:35:44.529Z · LW · GW

Oh whoops, that was definitely a mistake on my part, I meant to include that one, sorry for the oversight! I updated the post!

Comment by spencerg on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-06-03T14:34:54.759Z · LW · GW

Nice idea, thanks for the suggestion!

Comment by spencerg on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-05-30T22:26:15.895Z · LW · GW

Unfortunately, we don't have transcripts for these! Sorry about that. I recommend listening at 1.5x-2.5x speed.

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-05-24T13:25:33.752Z · LW · GW

Hi, I'm not sure if this works automatically with cross-posting - depends what you mean exactly. You'd have to set it up on each website you want the cards to appear on.

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T20:56:06.437Z · LW · GW

Hi Yoav! Sorry for the troubles, we'll investigate - I just sent you a private message via LessWrong, could you take a look? Thanks! 

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T19:34:34.226Z · LW · GW

Thanks :)   Glad you think so!

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T19:34:19.037Z · LW · GW

A few thoughts on this:

• I don't think Orbit existed when we started working on Thought Saver (or if it did, we didn't know about it). When Quantum Country came out I wasn't aware (not sure if anyone was aware?) at the time that it was part of a larger project (maybe it wasn't yet at that point?)

• Thought Saver has a different focus than Orbit (e.g., Thought Saver is not focussed on embedded essays - it just seems that way because the LessWrong team asked if we could add that feature since they wanted to try embedded flashcard quizzes). Thought Saver is more fundamentally focussed on being a tool for accelerating your own learning.

• Also, as far as I'm aware Orbit can't be used in a self-serve fashion right now (?)

• I'll add that Andy is awesome, I deeply respect his work, and I consider him the world expert on the topic of writing essays with memory elements (and on other topics related to spaced repetition as well). I'm excited to see what he does with Orbit!

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T17:12:10.642Z · LW · GW

Hi Yoav! It should be putting them all into the same deck. If you click the search bar it should show all your decks. Can you click feedback in the upper right and tell us what you see there? We've never encountered an issue like the one you're describing. We'd like to help you get to the bottom of it.



Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T16:52:06.289Z · LW · GW

Fair enough, though I disagree with these points. For one thing, this feature already works, so I don't expect it will take any significant amount of time from the LessWrong dev team. 

But to respond to your more specific points, from my perspective:

(1) there is a common misconception that flashcards and/or spaced repetition is mainly useful for facts and definitions. It is also very useful for concepts ("a generative adversarial network is..."), takeaways (e.g., "the most important three points this post makes are..."), connections between ideas ("X and Y are thought to be different but they are connected through Z..."), strategies ("Here's a process you can use..."), and so on. I certainly don't think all LessWrong posts are suitable for this, but I think you're underestimating how many are. My guess is it is a good fit for 5%-20% of posts but that's a super rough estimate. I personally use flashcards for complex concepts all the time, including plenty I've created for myself from LessWrong and Slatestar Codex posts.


(2) indeed it is a standard belief that if you pick up someone's random flashcard deck that they wrote for themself you are unlikely to get much out of it (I agree with this too). That is different from a deck written specifically by the author for an essay (almost nobody has experience with this, other than through the experiments I link to in the bottom of the post) so the "I can't pick up my friend's deck" argument doesn't have much weight in this case in my view.


(3) I would argue that even posts that e.g., "work towards reducing confusion about things we are currently confused about" have takeaways that are worth remembering (e..g, "what should you think about differently having read the post?", "what was the approach of reducing the confusion?", "what is a useful analogy for thinking about this topic?", etc.)

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T16:18:40.839Z · LW · GW

Yep, you can import from csv file format and export (your own decks) to csv file format using Thought Saver.

Comment by spencerg on You Can Now Embed Flashcard Quizzes in Your LessWrong posts! · 2021-04-19T16:03:52.479Z · LW · GW

A big shout-out to David for making this feature happen :) 

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-04-07T01:03:38.935Z · LW · GW

Nice, I like the way you broke it up!

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-30T22:26:23.197Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback Mary!

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-27T23:45:49.485Z · LW · GW

Sorry to hear you didn’t like it. What we’re the aspects that turned you off? Do you mean the flash cards and exercises or something else?

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T12:39:47.949Z · LW · GW

Interesting question - to what extent is ego depletion (insofar as it occurs) related to rising marginal cost of effort? It feels to me that is part of what's going on, but maybe not all of it. For instance, some forms of effort feel like their marginal cost only goes up gradually, and others more steeply. Motivation also seems relevant (it can go down over time) and that seems to have less to do with marginal cost from what I can tell.

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T12:37:59.040Z · LW · GW

Haha, I hope you managed to get it done :) 

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T12:37:07.261Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this very thoughtful reply Kaj, I really appreciate the time you took to break down your thoughts on each strategy! :) 

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T12:28:37.615Z · LW · GW

Good point! I actually had that as a footnote in the original post, but accidentally didn't port it over when I constructed the article here. Thanks for the feedback.

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T00:53:32.062Z · LW · GW

Agreed that people's internal mental states can be wildly different even while their external behavior is about the same. Yet there is a temptation to assume that similar external behavior implies similar mental states.

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-26T00:51:46.951Z · LW · GW

That's interesting. One thing I'll note about "energy" is that I suspect it can be subdivided further. For instance, I think that mental fatigue (e.g., after doing hard math problems for an hour) differs from physical fatigue (e.g., after lifting weights hard for an hour) which differs from sleepiness (e.g., when you haven't slept for a long time), and I also suspect that mental slowness (e.g., like some people get upon waking or when drunk) is a fourth thing. It sometimes seems pep/enthusiasm are yet another thing that it's meaningful to distinguish from the others (you can feel a lack of fatigue without having pep).

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T16:54:45.835Z · LW · GW

Hi Kaj, thanks for your comments, I find them really interesting! I was not intending the article to be about how to become Ty (internally). I think Ty has a bunch of traits that are difficult to replicate (note: Ty is a real person, but Ty is not their real name - they agreed with everything I said about them in the article and I used their details with permission). I do, however, think it is feasible to behave in ways that are more like Ty, through other means (e.g., by applying specific strategies). So I agree that the strategies aren't about making one "be like" Ty by I do think they can help you behave like Ty if that is a goal.

You suggest almost all of the 12 strategies I list are "counteractive" and say that "Counteractive strategies tend to be of limited effectiveness and easily subject to relapse." I disagree with this way of lumping them together, and I also disagree with the claim that these strategies are not effective. Obviously different strategies are effective for different people, and it's hard to talk about what works "on average" but I think most of these strategies are very helpful for at least some people (and also, that any individual should try a bunch to figure out which work best for them).

On a personal level, I use the majority of the strategies I listed and find them very helpful (especially "Sidestepping temptation" for healthier eating, "Making goals more desirable" for exercise, "Associations and farming" for eating behaviors, "Temptation bundling" also for exercise, "Habits" for a healthy morning routine, "Plunging ahead" for stressful work tasks, and "Accountability" for important but non-urgent tasks). Of course you might not believe these help me (even though I am quite convinced they do) or you might say that even if they help me that doesn't mean they help others (to which I'd say" fair enough, but I also think they help a lot of others too.").

It would be really cool if a person could use memory consolidation approaches like focussing, internal double crux and internal family systems to gain more of Ty's traits (if they wanted to do that) - I think that might be possible, though I haven't personally seen examples of that occurring. It sounds like in your personal experience these techniques are more effective than the strategies I listed for the kind of in behavior questions. I certainly think methods like the ones you describe can be helpful to people (I have experimented with them to a degree myself and found them slightly useful - I'd like to experiment with them more). In my personal experience, the strategies I listed have been more effective for me. I don't know of direct evidence that has pitted the methods against each other (I sort of doubt it exists).

I would be interested in expanding the strategy list to include techniques like the ones you've mentioned. If you have time, I'd be curious to hear you describe how to use one or two such strategies in a paragraph (i.e., in a format similar to what I included for the other strategies in my article). I've read focussing and have spent 3-4 hours learning about and experimenting with using IFS but I don't think I could boil either down to a simple and useful strategy that can be described in a paragraph (maybe the answer is that that's not something worth attempting). 

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T15:39:34.517Z · LW · GW

Ty IS a real person! (used with permission, but Ty is not their name)

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T14:51:22.595Z · LW · GW

Hi Vladimir, thanks for your comments. Could you elaborate on what you would like to see more justification for when you say ("insufficient readily available justification")? I'd also be interested to know what framing seemed "somewhat arbitrary." 

In the section "Nine Traits of Self-Controlled Behavior" my claim is that those pretty self-evidently are traits that (i) differ non-negligibly between people and (ii) can manifest as "self-controlled behavior." Are there items in that list that you think don't differ between people, or that you don't think can manifest in self-controlled behavior? I view that list as the sort of thing that someone can check for themselves by simply seeing whether they agree with each item. Maybe you're wondering where this list comes from? It is a list of all of the traits I know of that I believe manifest as self-controlled behavior. So I don't view it as arbitrary - surely there are ones I didn't think of, but I was attempting to be comprehensive.

In the section "Twelve Simple Strategies for Gaining More Control" many of those strategies have a whole research literature on them. Others are common-sense strategies. I certainly can't claim this is a comprehensive list of strategies, as hundreds of strategies exist. So maybe this list seemed arbitrary? 

On the ego depletion stuff, I go into a lot of detail on my thinking, that I think gives the reader plenty of information to decide whether they agree with what I'm saying or not. If you disagree I'd be interested to know. 


Thanks again for your comments!

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T14:38:06.747Z · LW · GW

Interesting, thanks for letting me know - could you say a bit more about what feels negatively framed about it, and what it would be like to make it positly framed?

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T14:37:31.691Z · LW · GW

Hi Austin, I'm glad you found the article useful! :) 

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T03:51:03.458Z · LW · GW

Good catch, thanks for pointing that out!

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T03:45:57.342Z · LW · GW

That's helpful feedback, thanks Alex!

Comment by spencerg on How You Can Gain Self Control Without "Self-Control" · 2021-03-25T02:53:15.229Z · LW · GW

Good point! Somehow I didn't notice that :) 

Comment by spencerg on Spencer Greenberg's TEDx talk: "Improve Your Life with Probability" · 2011-11-11T03:19:51.749Z · LW · GW

Thank you for pointing that out, it would have been better if I had spoken more carefully. I definitely don't think that uncertainty is in the territory. Please interpret "there is great uncertainty in X" as "our models of X produce very uncertain predictions."