Comment by swimmer963 on Micro feedback loops and learning · 2019-05-26T17:30:41.843Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wow! not a thing that I would have expected to exist. I guess it makes sense, if it in fact depends on relatively few variables.

Comment by swimmer963 on Micro feedback loops and learning · 2019-05-26T15:46:25.025Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've had The Inner Game of Tennis on my recommended list for several years, as a general rationality-related book; clearly I should just go ahead and read it!

I did a quick Google for you, and it looks like there are a lot of apps for Android that are similar (though I can't speak to which of them are actually good).

Micro feedback loops and learning

2019-05-26T00:50:36.202Z · score: 54 (21 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on Say Wrong Things · 2019-05-25T18:14:00.634Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've noticed in the past that I feel aversion to saying (and especially writing down) things that "might be false" – where I'm low confidence, where I expect that I just don't have the information to do more than speculate wildly.

When I try to introspect on this, I do think some of it is fear of being wrong in public (and this feeling definitely responds to local social incentives – I'm more likely to be comfortable rambling without a filter in private with close friends, and in fact do this a bunch.)

I think there are also other pieces. I'm wary that it's hard for humans to incorporate epistemic status tags and actually take my thoughts less seriously if I say I'm very uncertain. I'm also wary of...crystallizing a theory about something, and then becoming vulnerable to confirmation bias as I try to test it against observations? (This worry is stronger in areas where it feels hard to actually get feedback from reality.) As you point out, though, the tradeoff there is giving up on improving understanding.

I suspect I'm a lot less averse to low-confidence-speculation in private than I was several years ago, and it's partly because I think it's good for developing understanding, and partly just because I feel more comfortable socially and have less anticipation of being shut down.

(Also want to note that in general I have only moderate confidence in my introspection on stuff like this, and this comment is mostly a ramble.)

Comment by swimmer963 on Examples of growth mindset or practice in fiction · 2015-09-29T00:26:05.817Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Brandon Sanderson's writings tend to be quite decent.

I'd thought about putting the Mistborn series in the "things that are close to what I'm talking about", but I've only read 2/3 of the first book.

the explanation for the original villain remaining largely technically incompetent is rather contrived and hand-waved.

I'd forgotten about that. I think maybe I assumed the incompetent-villain characters were finding ways to skimp on the training that was supposed to be required?

Examples of growth mindset or practice in fiction

2015-09-28T21:47:29.000Z · score: 13 (14 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on Accomplishing things takes a long time · 2015-06-16T05:36:08.315Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Verbal communication is much harder for people than written.

Um, this is really not universally true at all. In fact, it's possible more than 50% of people find verbal communication easier. (Although this community may contain an overrepresentation of people who find written easier.)

Comment by swimmer963 on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-21T02:50:53.744Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Women, in particular, are quite adept at this.


Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-05-08T00:39:23.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Have you read many of the "gritty crime novel" or other "gritty realism" genres? I think I have a felt sense for what that narrative is, but it's hard to explain, because it comes from having read several hundred books in the genre.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-05-07T23:55:43.506Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. I'm going to suggest something that I just thought of and that may or may not be helpful, but here goes:

The trouble with narratives is that once you have one, it's really hard to go back to not having a narrative. Heroism is a narrative. It's going to be really hard to go back to just doing whatever you were doing without interpreting it in some kind of narrative sense – but you can change your narrative. To something like "there are no heroes." Heroism is a construct, a concept, but it doesn't cut reality at the joints. The real world is more like one of those gritty crime novels, where morality isn't a real thing and there are just humans, with drives both noble and corrupt, trying to survive.

This is a narrative I've had, but it wasn't to solve the same problem. I have my couch-potato urges, like anyone, but I've never had to resort to much mental violence to suppress them. I think because I'm able to notice that when I follow the urges, and read sci-fi for ten hours instead of cooking and exercising and cleaning, then I feel physically bad (stiff, achy, etc), and mentally bad (foggy head, being bored but unable to think of a thing to do about it, etc). This is visceral enough feedback for my System 1 to get it and respond to an urge to stay in bed and read my book all day with "do you really want to do that?" (The prerequisite for this may be having good enough energy and mood overall that doing non-couch-potato things is pleasant or at least bearable. I've experienced times when this wasn't the case – when I was so exhausted that trying to do anything other than read fanfic was painful. If trying to do work is always aversive for you, that may well be a medical issue – it'd be consistent with depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.)

Comment by swimmer963 on Is Scott Alexander bad at math? · 2015-05-04T22:01:38.716Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This blog post discusses a study using a construct called “clerical intelligence”; I wonder if low clerical intelligence is the sort of thing that would cause someone to be good at math “conceptually” but keep making frustrating mistakes in practice.

Ooh! I think 'clerical intelligence' is the thing that my husband and I have taken to calling 'attention to detail' amongst ourselves. It's also been at least occasionally studied under that name – when applying for an admin job, they gave me a test of 'attention to detail' that consisted of several hundred timed questions comparing a block of six numbers to another block, having to answer whether they were the same or not, with around 5-10 seconds to spend per question. I don't think I'm outright bad at this, but it's not effortless for me. (Luckily, I had math teachers who gave points for the work getting to the solution, not just the solution, so I could get 7/8 points on a complicated problem even if I substituted a + for a - somewhere and got the wrong answer).

My husband tends to use 'attentional to detail' to some degree also to mean what Paul Graham would call 'taste' or what Jonah would call 'aesthetic discernment'. I think the causal relationship is probably that in order to develop 'taste'–intuitions for what's good that correspond to what's generally agreed to be good – you need to be paying close attention to its details for a few years. Thus I have 'taste' for music, writing, and to some degree math, but not for fashion, since I never looked at what people were wearing.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-23T02:14:42.125Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's really interesting! Are you able to break down the relevant skills at all?

Comment by swimmer963 on You Only Live Twice · 2015-01-15T19:38:52.967Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I actually had a nightmare recently where I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and would have preferred not to go through treatment, but felt pressured by other, more aggressively anti-death members of the rationality community. Was afraid people would think I didn't care about them if I didn't try to stay alive longer to be with them, etc. (I'm an ICU nurse; I have a pretty good S1 handle on how horrific a lot of life saving treatments are, and how much quality of life it's possible to lose.)

I've thought about cryonics, but haven't made a decision either way; right now, my feeling is that I don't have anything against the principle, but that it doesn't seem likely enough to work for the cost-benefit analysis to come out positive.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-13T22:13:56.148Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

...I wrote that post, so yes, I've already read most of the comments.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-11T02:39:27.532Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Clarification: I'm not actually planning to do unpaid work for Ruby, at least not immediately. I'm going to be retraining as an executive assistant, because they're useful, and keeping my nursing license valid (possibly finding a part time nursing job if that turns out to be at all feasible, because I really love working as a nurse.)

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T16:55:41.691Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What are rationalist heroes supposed to do? And what can “sidekicks” do to help them?

I think founding CFAR was an example; there are both leader and sidekick roles there.

But in that case doesn't the sort of "sidekick" that Miranda describes count as a hero, because being a sidekick is plausibly one of the best ways that they can contribute to solving the world's problems?


Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T16:54:27.723Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

First, Samwise is self-sufficient ("competent"). It's not the typical Robin character that needs to get rescued by Batman as a stupid plot ploy. He has his own skills and carries his own weight. The hero/ine might save/rescue the world, but s/he does not save/rescue this sidekick.

I certainly hope to be at least that competent. I'm an adult; I've lived on my own and been financially independent of my parents since I was 17. If anything, it feels like "okay, I've got this taking care of myself thing down, can I have a harder challenge?" I'm a freaking ICU nurse, responsible for other people's lives 12 hours a day.

Second, Samwise is not a little green wo/man working in the background where no-one can see him/her so that it appears as if the hero/ine did everything on his/her own... They are noticed and they do play a visible role.

It doesn't feel like I would strongly prefer being visible to being in the background. Both have an appeal. There's skill and satisfaction in knowing that you're making it look like the hero did everything on their own, too.

I mean, it might be for whose who see everything gender related (ideology has this effect), but not for those who think it shouldn't matter. The arguments count, not the (gender of the) person who wrote a text.

I think people engage with things they read on multiple levels, not just the explicit arguments, and that includes picking up implicit social norms from context/subtext like "all the pro-hero writers are male, all the pro-sidekick writers are female." And that's not even taking into account the fact that my article is apparently fairly in line with Christian writing on the topic of service, and so might end up shared among Christian bloggers–and the various Christian's sects' attitudes to gender roles are often not ones I endorse.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T16:42:35.219Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can't help but feel as though I face the choice of either striving for heroism continually throughout every area in my life, or giving up on my ambitions entirely and becoming a selfish couch potato.

Hmm. Before you were exposed to the LW idea of heroism, how did you feel, motivation-wise? What did you spend your time doing?

I can't help but feel as though I face the choice of either striving for heroism continually throughout every area in my life, or giving up on my ambitions entirely and becoming a selfish couch potato.

This seems incompatible with "I do not, intellectually, believe that striving for this sort of heroism will be likely to have negative consequences, because I don't believe making the effort will significantly affect my actions." If aiming to be a hero doesn't effect your actions, it also shouldn't make the difference between being a "selfish couch potato" and not? But I feel like there's a lot of vagueness here, too. Can you taboo "selfish couch potato" and describe what you fear you would actually do? And compare it to what you're actually doing now? Versus what ideal you would do? Like, actual actions–"I get up in the morning, I go walk to the store..." Etc.

My brain says that I need to work for a couple hours a day learning until I get my degree, then get a good job and make money while studying politics and economics, and then eventually start some kind of charity to help in the 3rd world.

This sounds fine? Like, definitely underspecified as an actual plan, and maybe focusing too much on one path and neglecting all the equally valuable alternatives (I think that happens a lot with long term plans). But it doesn't reek too badly of "I must make desperate efforts to be heroic constantly!"

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T16:34:19.305Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, I feel that it's healthy to work as an assistant to someone (and stop thinking about work when you leave the office at 6pm), but it's unhealthy to be the assistant of someone (and treat them as a fantasy hero 24/7 and possibly sleep with them).

I think this is exactly what Brienne is talking about when she points out that society doesn't look kindly on people who want to serve others. And... I think maybe you're pointing at something real. It does seem possible that when "being" an assistant breaks, it breaks harder than when "working as" an assistant breaks. So it's a higher-stakes situation to put yourself in. (Both for the leader and for their assistant).

I don't think that negates any of what I said in the post though. Half of my point is basically just "some people are the kind of people who want to be nurses, no, really." Like, it seems to be really hard for people who aren't those kind of people to understand that for me, roles that aren't especially high-status but involve being really useful to other people hit all of my happiness buttons. That people are actually different and that their dream job might be one I'd hate, and vice versa.

The other part probably only makes sense when aimed at people who have taken the concept of "heroes" on board...which large portions of this community have. And that point is mainly: if you're going to accept that heroes and people who want to be heroes are a thing, you've got to have the concept of sidekicks too, otherwise you have a broken unhealthy community. It sounds like you're arguing that it's best not to take either concept on board. Maybe. You can argue that point.

That's also the advice I often give to programmers, to think of themselves as working for a company (in exchange for money) rather than at a company (as part of a common cause).

I'm not sure I have that switch? I've developed strong feelings of loyalty towards every job I've had. As a nurse, this loyalty is felt only a little bit towards the hospital where I work; I feel more of it for my immediate colleagues, and the rest of it towards some abstract "Profession of Nursing." I'm not sure how to stop feeling that way, or honestly why I'd want to stop.

We have all kinds of ancient tribal instincts, which are amplified by reading fantasy and bad (hero-based) sci-fi. I feel that such instincts are usually harmful in the long run, although they seem to make sense in the moment.

This comes across a little bit as saying "hey, don't have emotions!" Which...yeah, maybe emotions cause a lot of problems, but not having them isn't an option. And I'm not sure that not having narratives is an option either. It seems to me that I'm going to think of my life as a narrative in any case; I might as well try to understand and analyze and shape it. (Just as I shape my emotions, trying to lean away from the emotions that seem net-negative...but the way to do that is to guide yourself towards different emotions.)

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T06:59:08.706Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When did this sense of despair start? (Was it after exposure to the LW idea of heroism, or before that?) When you ask yourself "what's the bad thing that happens if I am for Goal X, which doesn't include being a hero", do you get an answer? Have you tried tabooing the word "hero" and describing the actual plans and actions that your brain think would be acceptable, versus the ones that it thinks would be unacceptable?

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-10T06:47:59.642Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious as to why you so strongly think that sidekicks risk being abused, and that "healthy" communities will discourage this dynamic hard. I– I don't want to say that I want to be exploited, but I crave being useful, and being used to my full usefulness. I don't think this desire is unhealthy. Yes, this means that it's always tempting to throw too much of myself at a project, but that's the same problem as learning not to say yes to all the overtime shifts at the hospital and end up working 70 hours a week. I guess you could say that someone I was working for could "abuse" me by forcing me, or coercing or sweet-talking me, into the equivalent of "taking all the overtime shifts." But (in my limited experience of this) the leader's more common motivation seems to be in the opposite direction–of being afraid of pushing their sidekick too far.

I'm wondering whether you have some different experience of this, and would be interested in your elaboration if you have one.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T17:08:22.334Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think my main point is "it's not true that your only options are Be a Hero or Be Insignificant, there's a third option." Because if it's presented as a dichotomy, I think many sidekick-oriented people would go for being insignificant–so the impact they could theoretically have as a hero is moot.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T16:22:22.516Z · score: 14 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. I grew up with a different experience. Don't remember feeling especially alone-as-a-rationalist. Some parts of my childhood were unusual; my parents are pretty exceptionally sane, my brother is as interested in rationality as I am. And I think to a large degree it's just a personality difference. From the outside, it sometimes looks like other rationalists are trying to conclude that other people are dumb or unstrategic. (Including Eliezer). This makes no sense to me.

I sometimes wish I could drag various rationalists to my job at the ICU for a while, make them see the kind of teamwork and cooperation that happens in a place where cooperation is a default and a necessity. Nurses, for the most part, just cooperate. Even when there are conflicts. Even when they don't like each other. (Although the degree of "agency" that the team as a whole has does vary with how much the individuals like each other and get along.) I don't know how to make this magic happen on demand, aside from applying selection bias to get the kinds of people who want to be nurses, and then giving them hard-but-manageable problems to solve. And I think I did learn a lot about cooperation at work.

Now I'm curious about the other implications of a society where individuals are isolated. What does that even look like? What do people spend their time doing? What causes the isolation? ...Sci-fi plot brewing.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T16:11:53.036Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. This is definitely a thing. It seems good to have the vocabulary to differentiate the two, so that someone can know whether their current apprentice is aiming to be a hero or a sidekick.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T16:09:03.315Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. That's true. I'm not sure how much this is actually a dichotomy in practice, as opposed to a gradient where some sidekicks are more assistant-like, some are in the middle, and some are more second-in-command like. I'm also not sure to what degree the same people are attracted to both second-in-command and assistant roles, and whether it's for the same reasons. That would affect whether it makes sense to classify them together for this purpose. I can come up with imaginary characters who would only be interested in second-in-command, or only in assistant roles, but they both appeal to me for many of the same reasons.

I kind of feel like it has to do with the sidekick's competence and also the scale of the project. If the project is of a scale where it's possible for the hero to make most of the decisions, and the sidekick is new to it and finds assistant-work hard enough, it'll tend towards that role. If the sidekick and hero keep working together, as they both learn and grow, the hero will want to move on to larger-scale projects, and at some point there will be too many high-level decisions for the hero to make all of them, and at this point the sidekick will have been working with them for a long time and learned a lot, and it seems like it might naturally turn into a second-in-command role. But this would only happen in a situation where roles are fluid; if it were a standard case of a CEO and their executive assistant, the role would be unlikely to change that much. (Although EAs do have quite a lot of decision-making power.)

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-09T15:55:43.052Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Fixed.

The Importance of Sidekicks

2015-01-08T23:21:19.870Z · score: 131 (130 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T17:55:32.473Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You're not the first person to remark on that. What do you think that we ought to do about it?

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T17:54:15.712Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I think that, if Eliezer felt that way in the past, he no longer feels that way; he has told me that he thinks the sidekick role is valuable and regrets possibly having made sidekick-identified people feel otherwise.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T11:24:07.077Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Neat! I didn't know that was a thing. Society consistently surprises me by being cooler and bigger than I expect.

Edit: I'm trying to find out what 'SCA' stands for and the first google result was "Sudden Cardiac Arrest." Google knows me way too freaking well.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T11:23:38.779Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I've also had this thought. A few people I've showed this too are explicitly bothered about the what-if-it's-a-result-of-the-patriarchy; one person is tempted to identify as a Samwise character, but reluctant to because Sexist Overtones. I...don't think this is the right response. It's a bit like saying "no, I'm going to be a doctor instead of a nurse because women are pushed into nursing by The Patriarchy." Maybe it's true, but it's orthogonal to whether an individual will like nursing or medicine more (although, honestly, they're not that different).

Other thoughts: everyone who wrote publicly about this was female, but most of the people who have emailed me privately to thank me for the post are male. So... Men feel more shamed about wanting to be sidekicks than women do?

I've already had the thought that the message I'm sending might be bad if it spread to society as a whole, because women may be pushed harder away from being CEOs than from being their executive assistants (or whatever the dichotomy), and even a well-written and nuanced pro-sidekick message is going to get parsed as "smart lady says your place is as an assistant." (If a man wrote this post, the message would be different, but I'm not a man.) I still this this message is pretty positive for the LW/CFAR/rationality community to hear; its biases run in different directions.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T11:17:53.454Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I would much rather make phone calls and schedule events than fight Orcs. The latter sounds scary.

...That being said, I do like the aspects of my current job where I get to defibrillate people once in a while. I'm going to miss that.

Comment by swimmer963 on The Importance of Sidekicks · 2015-01-08T11:09:58.474Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

All of the above is true. And this post is explicitly written for the people who have bought into "the world needs saving" and are angsty about it because they don't want to perform a "hero" role but feel like they should. I'm sure there are thousands of people all around me living simple lives of devotion to their families, partners, and communities. (This includes many of my fellow nurses.) They don't need telling that this is okay. In fact, I think that in larger society, this might be an overall bad message for me personally to send, because it's possible that in society at large women are dissuaded harder from being CEOs than from being executive assistants (or whatever dichotomy) and sending that message an extra time, even if it's well-written and nuanced, would just sum up to "see, honey, another smart-sounding lady says your place in the world is as the CEO's assistant!" (The message would have a different impact if I were male, but I'm not and I can't do that hypothetical.)

But I'm posting this on Less Wrong, where the worldview of "the world is broken and my ethics dictate I try to fix it" is a pretty common mindset. It's something I've bought into, to a degree. I'm talking to the people who already believe that heroes exist. (Maybe they ought not to.) I'd like those people not to have to feel distressed about this.

Can a bond which is essentially based off of someone's propensity to succeed at what they are doing in life really grow to be unconditional? What if Frodo suddenly gets a debilitating disease and can't be a Frodo anymore?

No. If I were helping someone accomplish an important project, and they became debilitated, I'd find another Frodo. (After I'd made sure my first Frodo was going to at least be comfortable and not miserable.) It'd be hard. Loyalty runs deep in me. I don't know if this is a necessary fact about a Samwise character, or if it's just happened to be true of all the people I've talked to so far. But the ethics I have now that dictate that being a nurse for forty years is not the thing I can do with the largest positive expected impact on the world, would also dictate the same thing about being my former Frodo's home-care nurse. Brienne has been pretty explicit that if she's working with a hero, and finds out that they're wrong about a fundamental thing and thus that she could make more impact on her own, she would do it, even though it would be a personal tragedy.

In terms of the romance aspect... I have no idea. It doesn't feel necessary. It feels like there are lots of real-life examples of a dynamic that would be satisfying and feel right to me and aren't romantic–a CEO's executive assistant isn't normally their romantic partner. Nursing has many of the same aspects, and makes me deeply happy, and there's nothing to do with romance there. Maybe if you're going to be working with a single person, romance is convenient; time spent with your partner is also time spent on your important project, you don't have to budget them separately. (This sounds potentially unhealthy/hard on the relationship aspect, so I don't know.)

Comment by swimmer963 on Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum · 2014-12-14T03:32:51.482Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, I think that when I'm not at work, I'm probably less hygienic than the average population–the implicit thought process is kind of like "oh my god, I have washed my hands every 5 minutes for 12 hours straight, I can't stand the thought of washing my hands again until I next have to go to work." I do make some effort at CFAR workshops but it's ughy.

Comment by swimmer963 on Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum · 2014-12-14T03:29:08.037Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, reading this is surreal.

Comment by swimmer963 on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-09T15:03:21.302Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Third time starting the survey, first time finishing it!

Comment by swimmer963 on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-30T21:34:46.830Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was going to say "doctor's don't have the option of not picking the diagnosis", but that's actually not true; they just don't have the option of not picking a treatment. I've had plenty of patients who were "symptom X not yet diagnosed" and the treatment is basically supportive, "don't let them die and try to notice if they get worse, while we figure this out." I suspect that often it never gets figured out; the patient gets better and they go home. (Less so in the ICU, because it's higher stakes and there's more of an attitude of "do ALL the tests!")

Comment by swimmer963 on How to have high-value conversations · 2014-10-30T21:30:56.819Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think reduced inhibitions that come with tiredness might help here.

Comment by swimmer963 on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-29T17:41:41.953Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

So you have that patient, and you have your idea on the procedures that should have been done, and there's doctor's, and you in retrospect think you were under-confident that your treatment plan was superior?

I'm not sure that the doctor and I disagreed on that much. So we had this patient, who weighed 600 pounds and had all the chronic diseases that come with it, and he was having more and more trouble breathing–he was in heart failure, with water backing up into his lungs, basically. Which we were treating with diuretics, but he was already slowly going into kidney failure, and giving someone big doses of diuretics can push them into complete kidney failure, and also can make you deaf–so the doses we were giving him weren't doing anything, and we couldn't give him more. Normally it would have been an easy decision to intubate him and put him on a ventilator around Day 3, but at 600 pounds, with all that medical history, if we did that he'd end up in the hospital for six months, with a tracheotomy, all that. So the doctor had a good reason for wanting to delay the inevitable as long as possible. We were also both expecting that he would need dialysis sooner or later...but we couldn't put him on dialysis to take water off his lungs and avoid having to intubate him, because he was completely confused and delirious and I had enough trouble getting him to keep his oxygen mask on. Dialysis really requires a patient who stays still. We couldn't give him too many medications to calm him down, because anything with a sedative effect would decrease his respiratory effort, and then he'd end up needed to be intubated.

Basically, it was a problem with so many constraints that there was no good solution. I think that my disagreement with the doctor was over values–specifically, the doctor thought of the scenario where we intubate him and put him on dialysis on Monday as basically equivalent to the scenario where we delay it as long as possible and then end up intubating him on Thursday. Whereas to me, latter, where my patient got to spend four extra days writhing around, confused and in pain and struggling to breathe, was a lot worse. I think nurses are trained to have more empathy and care more about a patient being in pain, and also I was seeing him for twelve hours a day whereas the doctor was seeing him for five minutes. And I was really hoping that there was a course of action no one had thought of that was better...but there wasn't, at least not one I was able to think of. So the guy suffered for five days, ended up intubated, and is probably still in the hospital.

What if magically you were in the position where you'd actually have to take charge? Where ordering a wrong procedure hurts the patient?

I would be terrified all the time of doing the wrong thing. Maybe even more than I already am. I think as a nurse, I basically have causal power a lot of the time anyway–I point a problem out to the doctor, I suggest "do you want to do X", he says, "Yeah, X is a good idea." That's scary, despite the presence of a back-up filter that will let me know if X is a terrible idea. [And doctors also have a lot of back-up filters: the pharmacy will call them to clarify a medication order that they think is a bad idea, and nurses can and will speak their opinion, and have the right to refuse to administer treatment if they think that it's unsafe for the patient.]

Comment by swimmer963 on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-29T07:32:30.505Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This may indeed be a failure mode that new people on teams are prone to, and maybe even something that new people on teams are especially prone to if they've read HPMOR, but I don't think it's the same as the thing I'm talking about–and in particular this doesn't sound like me, as a new nurse who's read HPMOR. I think the analog in nursing would be the new grad who's carrying journal articles around everywhere, overconfident in their fresh-out-of-school knowledge, citing the new Best Practice Guidelines and nagging all the experienced nurses about not following them. Whereas I'm pretty much always underconfident, trying to watch how the experienced nurses do things and learn for them, asking for help lots, and offering my help to everyone all the time. Which is probably annoying sometimes, but not in the same way.

I think that there is a spirit of heroic responsibility that makes people genuinely stronger, which Eliezer is doing his best to describe in HPMOR, and what you described is very much not in the spirit of heroic responsibility.

A discussion of heroic responsibility

2014-10-29T04:22:04.426Z · score: 40 (44 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on How does long-term use of caffeine affect productivity? · 2014-10-27T10:22:21.575Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anecdotally, it doesn't feel like I get overall improved functioning from caffeine, but I can use it to gain control of when my high-alertness and low-alertness periods will happen. This is 100% a must for the kind of shift work schedule I'm doing right now, which definitely was not intended for humans. I usually consume caffeine at work only and minimize it on my days off; ideally this adds up to consuming it on 4/9 days, in practice more because I take overtime. I take longer breaks whenever possible. Caffeine is pretty much what allows me to function during 12 hour night shifts.

I think that maybe if I could completely remove the effects of current caffeine dependence, I might be able to handle 12 hour day shifts (7 am-7 pm) caffeine free, but I'm not sure about that. Caffeine helps smooth out dips and slumps in my circadian rhythms, and I need all of the alertness I can muster to take care of humans on ventilators.

Comment by swimmer963 on On Caring · 2014-10-07T14:00:08.709Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Wow this post is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking about lately.

Saving a person's life feels great.

Yup. Been there. Still finding a way to use that ICU-nursing high as motivation for something more generalized than "omg take all the overtime shifts."

Also, I think that my brain already runs on something like virtue ethics, but that the particular thing I think is virtuous changes based on my beliefs about the world, and this is probably a decent way to do things for reasons other than visceral caring. (I mean, I do viscerally care about being virtuous...)

Comment by swimmer963 on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2014-10-04T20:43:30.681Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by swimmer963 on Roles are Martial Arts for Agency · 2014-08-09T01:07:37.386Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Ensure that you have trained enough for the next challenge, because it is the training that will see you through it, not your agenty conscious thinking.

Spent the last 5+ years of my life trying to do this, specifically for the role of Nurse (and Lifeguard before that). It's been fairly successful, and even generalizes a little–I am frequently the Person who Gets Shit Done in non-nursing contexts.

I'm not sure that the competence/learned skill routines/martial arts for rationality aspect is the same thing as "Being Responsible For This Shit." The former is something that takes years of doing hard things over and over, training the right mental motion the same way you'd train the physical motion. Almost all the things that actually make me a competent ICU nurse fall into this category.

The latter is something that can change in a day, with the right mental reframe. (Example: I usually basically never volunteer to drive places, although I've learned how–I'm not super comfortable and I don't have to. Then I was The Person In Charge of logistics for a large event, and hardly anyone else could drive, and I was responsible–so rather than spend a ton of energy convincing other people to drive places for me, I just got in the car.)

The two skills are probably related and probably correlated–for example, I suspect that many people have trouble taking on the role of "Person In Charge" because they have low confidence in their ability to actually take the right action and make things better rather than worse. (Given that in plenty of situations, taking the wrong action confidently is worse than doing nothing, that may be justified). Acquiring competence in one area, like nursing, brings confidence, and I think that's the thing that generalizes to the rest of my life, rather than any of the specific routines and skills and dealing-with-emergency templates that I've spent years training. It feels like I have a good understanding of which situations actually require very little skill, where the main thing is having the necessary confidence to speak. (Then again, I'm not sure I could distinguish this from "having ingrained a skill to the point that it doesn't even feel like a skill anymore.)

Comment by swimmer963 on “And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality · 2014-08-04T14:42:34.591Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I don't have that kind of perfectionist view about other people. At all. I guess I have high expectations for myself (including my work) but I'm also okay with being human and doing things to take care of myself.

Comment by swimmer963 on “And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality · 2014-08-04T02:08:43.595Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yup. And then I flew to SF and was really busy and didn't fix it until now. Thanks!

Comment by swimmer963 on “And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality · 2014-08-04T02:08:00.973Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like work that's hard. The difference between us might be as simple as that. I even like work that's physically hard. There's something really satisfying about getting home from work and how good it feels to sit down and rest your feet, and how you know that the tiredness means you were especially useful that day.

Comment by swimmer963 on “And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality · 2014-08-04T02:05:20.123Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Lots of reasons. The reasons why I originally chose it at age 15 aren't all the same reasons why I keep doing it now.

At age 15: -I wanted to get better at social skills, and nursing seemed like good practice for that. -I wanted a steady guaranteed well-paying job after 4 years of university. Not many things promise that. Nursing does. (My hospital guaranteed me a job, in the unit that I wanted, a year before I even graduated.) -I read number of books by Tilda Shalof about working as an ICU nurse, and my response to them was a powerful "yes, that, I want to do that."

Now: -It's exciting and varied, and challenges and rewards many different parts of me. On a good day at work, I'm curious. I'm admitting a patient and we don't quite know what's going on yet and I stay after the end of my shift to look up their lab results because I fought to get that bloodwork (it's really hard to do blood draws on someone who's in severe shock) and I want to know. On a good day at work, I care. I have the same sweet old lady for a week and she's telling me her life story and keeping me laughing as I coax and cajole her to get up in the chair an extra time, walk an extra lap around the unit, eat one more bite of hospital chicken puree. On a good day, I'm a well-oiled part in a machine much bigger than myself, a necessary and essential member of a great team, and it feels awesome. On a good day, I'm proud: of the IV I put in, the infected central line site that I noticed first, of the antibiotics I reminded the doctor to change, of the help I gave the other nurses. There are some bad days, and lots of meh days, but the work that I'm doing is always important...and in a way that my System 1 can really grasp. No productivity hacks required; I don't need urging to work my butt off. -I'm 22 years old and I have $50K in savings. And job security forever. That's pretty rare. -I have skills that are unusual within the rationality community. Nursing, like engineering, takes in random first-year undergrads and trains them to have a specified set of skills–and, in the process, to see the world in a particular way. I think like a nurse. It makes me inexplicably good at some things, like running logistics for CFAR workshops. It's brought me up to average or above average in a lot of areas, like reacting under pressure and most types of social skills. It's made me generically useful. And I don't think it's done making me more useful. I'm not even a particularly good nurse yet; you aren't expected to be until ~5 years in.

(Perfectionism: useful overall. It might make my learning curve flatter at first, but I think I'll keep improving for longer.)

I probably won't do nursing forever. It's pretty varied, but it's not infinitely varied. Currently I'm having too much fun at work to want to leave; if I'm bored in five years, and I can find a way to legally work in the US in any capacity other than nursing, there are a bunch of interesting things I could do.

“And that’s okay": accepting and owning reality

2014-07-27T19:13:43.616Z · score: 26 (30 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on [moderator action] Eugine_Nier is now banned for mass downvote harassment · 2014-07-04T16:04:51.275Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that she is aware of it thanks to someone sharing the link to this post on Facebook.

Comment by swimmer963 on The silos of expertise: beyond heuristics and biases · 2014-06-28T23:13:38.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to describe the exact kind of expertise that I'm developing as a critical care nurse. Cool! Someone's studying that!

Meetup : Upper Canada LW Megameetup: Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, London

2014-06-28T22:48:51.107Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics · 2014-06-19T22:36:10.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I actually haven't read either Divergent or Eragon. I've been told that the fantasy book I wrote recently is funny, and I'm pretty sure I qualify as "young person."

On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics

2014-06-18T04:00:05.196Z · score: 67 (67 votes)
Comment by swimmer963 on On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics · 2014-06-17T05:22:00.702Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I'm prepared to make the stronger claim that I don't believe other people have terminal goals. Maybe they do. They know more about their brains than I do. I'm definitely willing to make the claim that people trying to help me rewrite my brain is not going to prove to be useful.

Comment by swimmer963 on Australian Mega-Meetup 2014 Retrospective · 2014-05-22T15:23:35.313Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Awesome awesome awesome! This sounds super cool and I am noticing myself being actually sad that I wasn't there.

“Given your intelligence, I am surprised by your career choice. Can you tell me about that?”

It amuses me that someone who wasn't me was asked this question, and now I'm super curious as to who.

Ottawa meetup: Applied Rationality Series, Value of Information

2014-05-05T15:48:31.307Z · score: 3 (6 votes)

Book Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport

2014-04-23T03:27:15.308Z · score: 27 (28 votes)

Why I haven't signed up for cryonics

2014-01-12T05:16:55.458Z · score: 29 (32 votes)

Meditation: a self-experiment

2013-12-30T00:56:06.517Z · score: 50 (51 votes)

Does Goal Setting Work?

2013-10-16T20:54:25.164Z · score: 34 (32 votes)

Meetup : Applied Rationality Talks: Thinking in Bayes

2013-09-13T01:52:45.751Z · score: 3 (4 votes)

To what degree do you model people as agents?

2013-08-25T19:29:33.808Z · score: 34 (37 votes)

Making Rationality General-Interest

2013-07-24T22:02:55.576Z · score: 30 (31 votes)

How I Became More Ambitious

2013-07-04T23:34:15.548Z · score: 63 (64 votes)

The Centre for Applied Rationality: a year later from a (somewhat) outside perspective

2013-05-27T18:31:41.379Z · score: 40 (45 votes)

Learning critical thinking: a personal example

2013-02-14T20:43:06.521Z · score: 37 (40 votes)

Study on depression

2013-01-15T21:58:18.255Z · score: 10 (15 votes)

Playing the student: attitudes to learning as social roles

2012-11-23T02:56:20.331Z · score: 10 (22 votes)

School essay: outsourcing some brain work

2012-04-10T20:14:01.427Z · score: 5 (18 votes)

Emotional regulation Part II: research summary

2012-03-19T21:51:24.247Z · score: 23 (24 votes)

Emotional regulation, Part I: a problem summary

2012-03-05T23:10:11.172Z · score: 10 (25 votes)

How I Ended Up Non-Ambitious

2012-01-23T23:50:42.497Z · score: 125 (122 votes)

The problem with too many rational memes

2012-01-19T00:56:07.321Z · score: 80 (100 votes)

Interesting article about optimism

2011-10-10T18:54:52.420Z · score: 7 (8 votes)

Willpower and diet: advice?

2011-09-21T17:54:44.875Z · score: 2 (5 votes)

Complexity: inherent, created, and hidden

2011-09-14T14:33:40.456Z · score: 8 (19 votes)

My Greatest Achievement

2011-09-12T19:26:38.833Z · score: 31 (56 votes)

Rational Communication

2011-09-10T02:30:12.999Z · score: 23 (30 votes)

Teaching Introspection

2011-08-01T01:10:34.491Z · score: 23 (28 votes)

Reasons for being rational

2011-07-01T15:28:08.165Z · score: 57 (70 votes)

Action and habit

2011-06-02T14:59:00.325Z · score: 91 (99 votes)

Mapping our maps: types of knowledge

2011-04-27T02:16:11.000Z · score: 5 (9 votes)

Publishing industry contacts, anyone?

2011-04-21T14:53:05.925Z · score: 5 (6 votes)

Vanilla and chocolate and preference judgements

2011-04-18T22:14:25.795Z · score: 29 (38 votes)

The peril of ignoring emotions

2011-04-03T17:15:24.712Z · score: 15 (22 votes)

The trouble with teamwork

2011-03-23T18:05:42.335Z · score: 10 (13 votes)

Being a teacher

2011-03-14T20:03:27.602Z · score: 61 (56 votes)

Positive Thinking

2011-03-07T01:03:12.097Z · score: 20 (42 votes)

A Transhumanist Poem

2011-03-05T09:16:06.063Z · score: 12 (27 votes)

Research methods

2011-02-22T06:10:30.792Z · score: 13 (18 votes)

Ability to react

2011-02-18T19:19:34.806Z · score: 76 (81 votes)