[Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future 2018-09-08T05:54:18.095Z


Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Thirty-three randomly selected bioethics papers · 2021-03-23T21:50:20.539Z · LW · GW

I'm sort of surprised other people are surprised that bioethics is not uniformly trash. (This includes people on Facebook and elsewhere where this has come up.)

I know that bioethics has a terrible reputation around these parts and also know there do in fact exist lots of terrible bioethics takes (e.g. I want to personally fight the author of paper #31), but even though I had not previously actually looked at a sample of bioethics papers, I somewhat strongly suspected that rationalists who railed against bioethics were overgeneralizing.* It's not impossible for an academic field to have such bad epistemic standards and Overton windows for that generalization to be accurate, and obviously the bioethics Overton window is different from the rationalist Overton window (and I mostly prefer the latter), but "these terrible takes are within the bioethics Overton window" is not very strong evidence for "these terrible takes are representative of bioethics as a whole", and I would have been moderately surprised if it had turned out that all or even most of the takes were that flavor of terrible.

(Unfortunately I did not register this prior anywhere; I mostly did not try to argue with people about it because I had not actually looked at enough bioethics to be well informed about it or have strong arguments to make. I realize it's kind of bad form for me to be like "I predicted this!!" when I did not say that anywhere, sorry. I don't really want people to update on my correctness from this, anyway, my point is mostly that I think local discourse on this topic has been too unnuanced.)

*For that matter, sometimes people saying such things even agree when pressed that they're overgeneralizing; there's a sort of motte-and-bailey that I've seen (with both this and other examples) that's like "bioethicists suck" "not all bioethicists" "well of course I don't mean ALL, I mean too many". But apparently a community in which people generalize about bioethicists in this way is also a community in which people are surprised when a sample of bioethics papers is not uniformly trash? 

(I guess that part might be kind of unfair of me since possibly the people who agreed they were overgeneralizing would have expected something like 80% of papers to be very terrible, in which case it's both true that they're overgeneralizing and that this actual sample is a notable update.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T17:59:56.142Z · LW · GW

Ooh you're right that survey data would be cool. I'm kind of wishing someone had thought to make a recurring survey (monthly?) that asks people what precautions they're taking now.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Takeaways from one year of lockdown · 2021-03-01T08:00:20.499Z · LW · GW

I think the level of lockdown described here was very common "around here" in spring 2020 but at least in my corner of the community I think it was pretty uncommon to stick to that level of lockdown all year.

In the summer we learned that outdoors is pretty safe, and outdoor masked hangouts became common.

When the microcovid site was launched, lots of people soon started using it to plan human contact that was important to them. (People were sometimes doing that before too, but with much more difficulty and often much more cautiously.)

My own lockdown has been quite cautious but less severe than described here but I still would not say my mental health is any good, though.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Group house norms really do seem toxic to many people. · 2021-01-12T01:57:06.992Z · LW · GW

Strong +1 to this - the pandemic sharply increased both some of the costs and some of the benefits of group housing.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on COVID-19: home stretch and fourth wave Q&A · 2021-01-07T19:24:23.537Z · LW · GW

Also there are people who can't isolate (essential workers and such); I wouldn't want to increase their risk willy-nilly.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Blackmail · 2020-11-22T17:14:48.607Z · LW · GW

This is interesting and compelling but I wish it had more examples. Most notably, at "this happens in the real world ALL THE TIME" my reaction was - I don't feel like I encounter blackmail happening all the time in my experience of the world? I'm not sure if this is because blackmail is concentrated in specific parts of the world I'm not in (e.g. among famous people), or because I'm in a bubble of relative niceness, or because there is blackmail happening near me but I'm not noticing it, or because Zvi is wrong about blackmail happening all the time, or because he's classifying some things as blackmail that I wouldn't, or because he's classifying some things as blackmail that I'm not thinking of but I'd agree if they were pointed out to me. Some examples would help distinguish these things.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-28T04:46:29.927Z · LW · GW

Sounds pragmatically weird in the case where the person isn't known to already be donating.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-27T19:42:31.544Z · LW · GW

Can we have a recap from the mods of how Petrov Day went? How many people pressed the button, how many people tried entering anything in the launch code field, how many people tried the fake launch code posted on Facebook in particular?

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-27T06:09:41.933Z · LW · GW

Since the day is drawing to a close and at this point I won’t get to do the thing I wanted to do, here are some scattered thoughts about this thing.

First, my plan upon obtaining the code was to immediately repeat Jeff’s offer. I was curious how many times we could iterate this; I had in fact found another person who was potentially interested in being another link in this chain (and who was also more interested in repeating the offer than nuking the site). I told Jeff this privately but didn’t want to post it publicly (reasons: thought it would be more fun if this was a surprise; didn’t think people should put that much weight on my claimed intentions anyway; thought it was valuable for the conversation to proceed as though nuking were the likely outcome).

(In the event that nobody took me up on the offer, I still wasn’t going to nuke the site.)

Other various thoughts:

  • Having talked to some people who take this exercise very seriously indeed and some who don’t understand why anyone takes it seriously at all, both perspectives make a lot of sense to me and yet I’m having trouble explaining either one to the other. Probably I should practice passing some ITTs.
  • Of the arguments raised against the trade the one that I am the most sympathetic to is TurnTrout’s argument that it’s actually very important to hold to the important principles even when there’s a naive utilitarian argument in favor of abandoning them. I agree very strongly with this idea.
  • But it also seems to me there’s a kind of… mixing levels here? The tradeoff here is between something symbolic and something very real. I think there’s a limit to the extent this is analogous to, like, “maintain a bright line against torture even when torture seems like the least bad choice”, which I think of as the canonical example of this idea.
  • (I realize some people made arguments that this symbolic thing is actually reflective or possibly determinative of probabilistic real consequences (in which case the “mixing levels” point above is wrong). (Possibly even the arguments that didn’t state this explicitly relied on the implication of this?) I guess I just…. don’t find that very persuasive, because, again, the extent to which this exercise is analogous to anything of real-world importance is pretty limited; the vast majority of people who would nuke LW for shits and giggles wouldn’t also nuke the world for shits and giggles. Rituals and intentional exercises like these have any power but I think I put less stock in them than some.)
  • Relatedly, I guess I feel like if the LW devs wanted me to take this more seriously they should’ve made it have actual stakes; having just the front page go down for just 24 hours is just not actually destroying something of real value. (I don’t mean to insult the devs or even the button project - I think this has been pretty great actually - it’s just great in more of a “this is a fun stunt/valuable discussion starter” way than a “oh shit this is a situation where trustworthiness and reliability matter” way. (I realize that doing this in a way that had stakes would have possibly been unacceptably risky; I don’t really know how to calibrate the stakes such that they both matter and are an acceptable risk.))
  • Nevertheless I am actually pleased that we’ve made it through (most of) the day without the site going down (even when someone posted (what they claim is) their code on Facebook).
  • I am more pleased than that about the discussions that have happened here. I think the discussions would have been less active and less good without a specific actual possible deal on the table, so I’m glad to have spurred a concrete proposal which I think helped pin down some discussion points that would have remained nebulous or just gone unsaid otherwise.
  • If in fact the probability of someone nuking the site is entangled with the probability of someone nuking the world (or similar), I think it’s much more likely that both share common causes than that one causes the other. If this is so, then gaining more information about where we stand is valuable even if it involves someone nuking the site (perhaps especially then?).
  • In general I think a more eventful Petrov Day is probably more valuable and informative than a less eventful one.
Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-27T00:48:09.047Z · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure it is? I had already decided on & committed to a donation amount for 2019, and this would be in addition to that. The lifesaving part is relevant insofar as I am happier about the prospect of this trade than I would be about paying the same amount to an individual.

The only way in which I could imagine this not being perfectly counterfactual is that given that discretionary spending choices depend some on my finances at any given point, and given that large purchases have some impact on my finances, it may be that if some other similar opportunity presented itself later on, my decision re: that opportunity could have some indirect causal connection to my current decision (not in the direct sense of "oh I already donated last month so I won't now" but just in the sense of "hmm how much discretionary-spending money do I currently have and, given that, do I want to spend $X on Y"). I'm not sure it's really ever possible to get rid of that though?

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T23:24:47.499Z · LW · GW

To be clear I am NOT looking for people to press the button, I am looking for people to give me launch codes.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T22:36:39.201Z · LW · GW

I'll note that giving someone the launch codes merely increases the chance of the homepage going down.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T22:08:41.361Z · LW · GW

If someone else with codes wants to make this offer now that Jeff has withdrawn his, I'm now confident I am up for this.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T20:53:06.895Z · LW · GW

this makes sense. I shall consider whether it makes sense for me to impulse-spend this amount of money on shenanigans (and lifesaving)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T20:13:00.272Z · LW · GW

hey actually I'm potentially interested depending on what size of donation you would consider sufficient, can you give an estimate?

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-26T19:49:09.247Z · LW · GW

yesssss shenanigans

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on “She Wanted It” · 2018-11-16T08:27:48.172Z · LW · GW

I'm quite confused by your indignation at the description of 50 Shades as a portrait of "an abusive relationship with a rapist", followed by your agreeing that Grey in the book did abusive things and "crossed consent lines here and there" (which comes across as an overly flippant phrasing for the subject matter, but whatever). Him allegedly trying to be better isn't good enough. I haven't read the book, but I am... not sure about your claim that the relationship is a relatively good one (I expect this is true of some societies and not others), but even if that's true, there's no need to grade on a curve here or object to a factual description of bad things because the bad things are common. Indeed, their being common is much of the point, here.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on LW Update 2018-09-18 – Email Subscriptions for Curated · 2018-09-30T20:51:35.889Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure this is on topic here but I'm not sure where it is on topic, so - I noticed my profile now has an "Ω 2" between the karma count and the post count. What is that?

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on [Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future · 2018-09-11T06:16:01.994Z · LW · GW

Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. I think mostly the challenges that are good are ones that help create a sense of meaning/broader life satisfaction even if they don't necessarily increase moment-to-moment happiness. Challenges that don't feel meaningful are just pointless pain.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on [Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future · 2018-09-11T06:14:45.256Z · LW · GW

Thanks for writing Hammertime and, among other things, providing me with an impetus to actually make a post! (I don't expect I would have done so otherwise, in part because making a post is sort of an implicit claim that it might be interesting, but the pretext of the final exam provided a nice excuse that let me avoid making that implicit claim...)

I agree that life contains more than enough difficulties for us all. I'm honestly somewhat puzzled as to how Kierkegaard could think it didn't - hell, things like refrigerators for home use didn't exist them! Though perhaps he had servants and/or women to perform life-sustaining labor for him.

I think one thing that had prevented me from adopting the "accommodate yourself" mindset very much was a sense that I should be able to just do things, and that certain kinds of needs or limitations were not things it was valid to plan around because it is not acceptable to have them in the first place. (Though of course, those limitations become much more of a problem if you don't plan around them!) It is in large part the neurodiversity/disability rights rationalist Tumblr cluster that helped me get past a lot of this.

Re: pendulums, when I had first read that in Duncan's essay I was not convinced that that's actually how societies work. But now that you mention it, on an individual level I think this model does make a fair amount of sense. I still think it is not quite accurate on the scale of entire societies, though I do think that there tend to be parts of societies that push "too far" on any given change.

I'm not sure I agree that only a smaller number of people need the reminder that the present exists (and matters as much as any future moment)! Maybe I'm typical-minding here or generalizing from a small and unrepresentative sample, but in my experience it seems like most people contain both type of error at once - e.g. in my case, the guilt about staying up late when it was actually a good idea to do so coexisted with a frequent failure to go to bed when staying up was a really bad idea. This is in some sense a system where the two biases keep each other somewhat in check - if you don't have any other tools for reining in your present-focused bias, a pro-future bias might be better than nothing - but it's in some ways not a great system as it not only can lead you to make suboptimal decisions sometimes (or push other people into suboptimal future-focused decisions - I think parents often do this) but also often comes with a guilt-driven motivation system which causes all sorts of problems in the long run.

I do agree that the native pro-present bias is generally stronger and usually more dominant in humans' actual decisionmaking. Just, everyone knows about that already so it didn't make sense to write about it :)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on [Hammertime Final Exam] Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future · 2018-09-09T06:29:52.596Z · LW · GW

:D thanks!

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Hammertime Final Exam · 2018-09-08T05:55:51.022Z · LW · GW

Done! Here: Accommodate Yourself; Kindness Is An Epistemic Virtue; Privileging the Future

(I spent much more than 5 minutes on each essay, oops.)

As a bonus, I've now gotten past the trivial inconvenience and mild social fear of posting things on LW, so thanks :)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Cash transfers are not necessarily wealth transfers · 2018-09-05T22:29:33.405Z · LW · GW

likewise it can be obvious from looking that one's particular school experience was net positive or net negative, but generalizing from one example is a bad idea

(in my case it's not clear whether my school experience was net positive or net negative, so nothing is obvious at all, honestly)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Cash transfers are not necessarily wealth transfers · 2018-09-05T22:28:39.871Z · LW · GW

I'm not entirely convinced that distinction exists. I would say that in general if certain information (whether object-level information or background knowledge) is not readily available to most people, then insights requiring that information are not obvious from looking.

That said, I can imagine the distinction existing, and yet even if it does I don't think "education in the US is Just Bad" is in the category "obvious from looking but most people just haven't noticed". "the value of higher education in the US has a large signaling component" is fairly obvious from looking (to people who have interacted with relevant parts of the education system and/or labor market), but "ALL or nearly all of the value of ALL or nearly all mainstream education in the US is from signaling"/"the public school system's existence is net negative" is not obvious at all; if true (which I'm not really convinced of) it requires evidence to prove.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Cash transfers are not necessarily wealth transfers · 2018-09-05T22:03:14.233Z · LW · GW

It's not obvious just from looking and I've had to have long arguments with people to be convinced that there exists a large-scale problem in U.S. education. (I was very lucky, of course, though in retrospect I see how I too was significantly harmed in some ways, though I still maintain that I also got a hell of a lot of value out of school.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Internal Double Crux · 2018-09-01T02:39:32.635Z · LW · GW

I was going to respond with basically this as well. I too don't intuitively experience myself as multiple agents; instead, I feel like a single agent beset by a whole bunch of internal conflicts that don't resolve (at some point I found myself describing myself as "made of internal conflict"); and I've so far in my limited experience found IDC quite helpful at parsing out the internal conflict. I don't experience IDC as uncovering separate agents that were there all along, but the personification is actually a pretty useful tool just because (a) it forces me to give sufficient airtime to each side (b) debate (when civil and thoughtful) is actually just a good format for clarifying any kind of disagreements.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Silence · 2018-08-30T23:28:45.868Z · LW · GW

This resonated strongly with me; I read this just after finishing a commute during which I was listening to an audiobook that I had hurriedly downloaded for the explicit reason that my brain was currently an unbearable place to be and I needed to occupy it with something else.

Which brings up the important point that this can actually be a really helpful and important strategy, sometimes. If my thoughts are stuck in a rumination loop that’s not going to lead anywhere useful (and will, if left unchecked, keep ratcheting up my anxiety); if things feel intensely, painfully pointless; if a task I need to do feels impossibly boring and I absolutely cannot summon the motivation for it - then shutting off that misery for a time with music or a podcast or a book can be the best choice.

(I read HPMOR (and did next to nothing else) during a week when I was intensely depressed and my train of thought, if left uninterrupted, was full of self-hate and despair and hopelessness. I was really grateful that the writing was engaging and addictive enough to draw me in enough to distract me from my thoughts, and that the book was long enough to last me all week.)

I agree with you, though, that not being able to tolerate one’s thoughts is pretty bad even if you manage to shut your thoughts up most of the time, first because it limits your ability to do things that don’t shut up your thoughts (which can cause e.g. akrasia and procrastination spirals), and also because it limits your ability to pay attention to your preferences (other than “shut up my thoughts”) and change your life to better fulfill them.

It seems like you were able to jump headfirst into your thoughts once you noticed you were shutting them up. I think this strategy might not be available to everyone and may not always be wise, if the thoughts are just Too Much. I’m currently taking a gentler, two-pronged approach:

(1) practice tolerating your thoughts in controlled, constructive ways. For example: meditate; designate certain blocks of time to be in “being mode” (a mindfulness concept, in opposition to “doing mode”) - that is, not expecting anything of yourself and not trying to direct your thoughts and attention in any particular direction; sometimes practice radical acceptance and opposite action (DBT concepts I’ve found very useful); make a commitment to go to therapy and actually talk about your feelings; regularly engage with your bothersome thoughts/feelings in a constructive way (for me this can be writing, thinking aloud, or playing piano; thinking quietly usually leads to unconstructive rumination and makes things worse); sometimes give yourself days when you can do whatever you want, but pay close attention to what it is that you want.

(2) try making your cognitive/emotional environment more hospitable with physiological interventions like sleeping enough, improving sleep quality, exercising, eating nutritious food, taking meds. (this is sort of a “pushing sideways” solution - if you’re avoiding your thoughts because they’re painful, making them less painful is likely to make it easier to engage with them.)

I guess I can’t yet claim that this definitely works well, since I clearly still often need to distract myself from my thoughts. However, I definitely have been discovering feelings and preferences I didn’t know I had, as well as developing the ability to acknowledge some unpleasant feelings and go on with my plans (instead of feeling like I have to immediately escape into a distraction). I’m hopeful that I’m gonna keep getting mileage out of this :)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on CoZE 3: Empiricism · 2018-08-30T03:15:04.134Z · LW · GW

How, though, do you actually test whether someone will evaluate you poorly? I guess sometimes it's possible to get that info but a lot of the time (I'd say most of the time) it's deliberately obfuscated.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Design 3: Intentionality · 2018-08-26T20:51:25.019Z · LW · GW

Praise: this "daily activity" structure is really useful and easy to follow! also you give good examples and ask good questions that elicit useful thoughts.

Criticism: the daily activities are of very different lengths, which makes it hard to calibrate how long I'll need on any given day.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on TAPs 3: Reductionism · 2018-08-25T04:32:59.762Z · LW · GW

I don't really agree about the Zeno thing. Yes, most projects fail near the beginning, but I think that's because projects that fail near the beginning don't also get a chance to fail later! Most projects contain plenty of potential failure points.

This is probably less true of projects where there's a bunch of basically similar work that needs to happen - once you start your work and get the hang of it and get used to the idea that you're doing this work, it gets easier. But many projects have variety all the way through - you need to email different people at different points with different questions, you have different stages at which you do different types of work, etc. Sending an email is a different kind of scary from writing a draft is a different kind of scary from editing the draft is a different kind of scary from showing the draft to someone for feedback is a different kind of scary from deciding you're done and submitting the draft.

I guess there is a sunk costs effect where you're more likely to try and force yourself to put up with the later difficulties just because of how much time you've already put in. But it's still very possible to continue intending to do that and then keep gradually putting it off until it becomes a lot less salient to you and/or it's not relevant or useful anymore.


Here's how I did the exercise:

1. Naïvely write down the major steps in completing the project.

2. Rate each step by difficulty, 1-10. (this idea is from the bug hunt, thank you)

3. Find the most difficult step and break it down into easier sub-steps, then rate each sub-step by difficulty and cross out the parent step.

4. Repeat step 3 until all your steps are of a very manageable difficulty and/or you can't think of ways to subdivide them any further.


Within subtasks, I think difficulty does sorta increase as I go down the list, but that's mostly because any step of any difficulty begins with easy steps like "take a deep breath", "create and title a Google doc", "start an empty bullet-point list", "set a 5-minute timer". For me the timer is more helpful in getting me working than just writing a first letter or word - I will often write a word and then delete it out of uncertainty. And as I go down the entire list of tasks, there are easy things interpersed with hard things, just because there's a lot of hard tasks involved that I need to prepare myself for before starting them for real.

Anyway, this is a useful technique and I think it will help me with this project :)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on TAPs 3: Reductionism · 2018-08-25T02:25:52.238Z · LW · GW

I've also had this problem. I think the following things help:

1) making the specified time 10 minutes rather than 5 - 5 never feels like a real break to me

2) doing social pomodoros with other people, so the return time is coordinated with others (this is by far the most effective intervention)

3) doing a breaktime activity that doesn't immediately suck me in (e.g. stretching and listening to a song, or talking to people, rather than social media)

4) if I encounter something during the break that feels important or urgent, write it down so I know I won't forget it and can come back to it later

5) ...not being terrified of the task in question. I haven't yet quite gotten the hang of this, for a lot of things. For tasks that are not very scary to me, returning to work is much easier.

6) having enough other time in the day to do things just for fun so I feel less like I have to steal productive time in order to have any fun at all (this is kinda hard to arrange though, sometimes)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Hammertime Day 6: Mantras · 2018-08-25T00:59:38.050Z · LW · GW

I guess I have acquired a mantra!

My only goal is just to be. -Mimi from Rent

the idea of which is to put myself in a "mindfulness" kind of frame of mind and to remind myself that I don't have to try and regulate what I'm thinking and feeling all the time, that I don't necessarily have to do anything super important with my brain right now as I walk down the sidewalk, that I am allowed to relax even if there are things I could be worrying about and even if I'm having some feelings I don't like. (by default I have a mental habit of constantly trying to force my thoughts and attention and feelings in particular directions and fighting myself a lot, which contributes to anxiety and makes it hard to enjoy things.)

(side note: my high school English teacher also used Mimi's part in this song to teach us about how existentialism doesn't have to be depressing all the time :) )

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on LW Update 2018-08-23 – Performance Improvements · 2018-08-24T02:24:10.000Z · LW · GW

bug report: hovering over a comment's score displays "voteCount Vote"

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Yoda Timers 3: Speed · 2018-08-24T01:26:33.216Z · LW · GW

My scores on the challenges here:

Typeracer: 113, 108, 111, 101

(I'd done this before - not for training, just for fun. I expect my speed is pretty good largely because of piano. I do wonder how fast it might get if I trained for speed on purpose - though I am not sure it would actually matter very much to my life?)

Arithmetic game: 12, 7, 16, 5

(this depends primarily on how many division problems there are especially how many times I need to divide by 7. I realized I don't actually remember any actual methods for division, so all I can do is decompose the dividend into more easily divisible numbers somehow. I guess it would plausibly be useful for me to relearn how to actually do division, though it doesn't actually come up often.)

I don't think there are any things that I'm very fast at, so nothing to share for the daily challenge.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Yoda Timers 3: Speed · 2018-08-23T20:48:52.359Z · LW · GW

I'm pretty bad at doing things quickly, but I think my roadblocks are less mechanical skill and more anxiety, executive function, and most of all perfectionism. I know you mention perfectionism as useful for increasing speed, and I think for mechanical skills that's true, but in a lot of tasks I am hugely slowed down at decision points (which are many) by a felt need to make the best possible decision every time, even when the decisions are fairly trivial and/or multiple paths forward are valid and/or perfection is not actually helpful. In this sense I most need to cut down on perfectionism for increasing speed.

Timers are indeed a useful tool for this, though. If I decide beforehand that it's more important to do the task quickly than to do it perfectly, having a timer helps me satisfice more readily (usually a good thing for me, given my baseline) because I'm more aware of how much time I'm spending.

Then, of course, I just need to decide wisely when speed is more important than making good decisions and when it isn't...

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Bug Hunt 3 · 2018-08-23T01:16:43.781Z · LW · GW

No dramatic improvement from Hammertime for me, but I do think it's been helpful for increasing my sense of agency - that I can solve problems (and it's often much easier than expected), that I can make and keep commitments (at least sometimes), that I have tools for working on issues in my life. (But also Hammertime isn't the only thing I'm doing right now with somewhat similar goals, so tracking causality is maybe especially hard.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Bug Hunt 3 · 2018-08-23T01:13:35.190Z · LW · GW

There are apps like Toggl that can be used for basically this with much greater automation/less manual labor.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Friendship · 2018-08-19T20:17:41.770Z · LW · GW

Your Calendly page currently only has 60-minute meetings available.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Y Couchinator · 2018-08-18T05:04:04.720Z · LW · GW

My dream is for REACH to play this role. It already sorta does to some extent for people who have some money, but I want it to eventually have enough funding to afford to routinely offer this for free for people who need it. (Of course, funding is hard.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Tidying One’s Room · 2018-08-18T04:57:21.296Z · LW · GW

Yeah, they're transparent boxes for this reason, and I plan to label them as well.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on TDT for Humans · 2018-08-17T18:58:30.315Z · LW · GW

Oh, another thought - it's only mostly true that taking an action is exposure therapy towards that action being more okay/likely in the future. If you take an action and it results in a sharply bad experience for you, it may make you less likely to take that action in the future. That's why comfort zones are best expanded carefully, because if you go out on too much of a limb and hurt yourself, your comfort zone can shrink instead.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on TDT for Humans · 2018-08-17T01:25:51.007Z · LW · GW

There was no specific exercise to go with this entry, but I decided to use this as a prompt to take some time to think about what helpful and unhelpful "I am the kind of person who [...]" self-images I have, whether I have already done some things to challenge the unhelpful ones (and try updating on that), and what further actions I could take to challenge the unhelpful ones and strengthen the helpful ones. I also thought about what helpful self-images of this sort I don't quite already have but aren't counter to my current ones and seem within reach, and how I might make them true.

(I know this post doesn't really focus on self-image and is more about direct relationships between past and future action - but I do think that self-image is one of the mechanisms that fuel that relationship, in addition to directly affecting people's well-being, so it's worth spending some thought on. I did find this a useful line of inquiry.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on TDT for Humans · 2018-08-17T00:25:14.674Z · LW · GW

One issue with the TDT framework for ordinary decisions/actions is that "every time you take an action (or don't), you become more the kind of person who takes (or doesn't take) that action" can put a huge weight on every action in a way that can become psychologically crushing. Decisions become agonizingly hard; one suboptimal action can cause a spiral of shame and discouragement and pessimism that makes it harder to do things in the future because you've already updated so much towards you being incapable of doing things (in addition to just being extremely unpleasant). If not going to the gym is an indication that you are the kind of person who doesn't go to the gym, then if one time you fail to go to the gym you think of yourself even more as the kind of person who doesn't go to the gym, which can become part of your identity/how you think of yourself, which can make it even harder to change (and since many people imbue going to the gym with moral valence, this can cash out to "I am a bad/useless person").

A lot of people need to learn the opposite of TDT first, if they're stuck in that kind of spiral. One instance of going to the gym is one instance of going to the gym, missing this one time doesn't mean you're doomed to never make it to the gym again, you are still a person with potential even if you didn't use this one afternoon in a particularly effective way. (This is basically unlearning the all-or-nothing thinking that is often a big part of depression reasoning.)

At the same time, yes, the things you say here are true; and truly unlearning all-or-nothing thinking means learning this while also not imbuing your actions with more power than they actually have. What you do today doesn't determine what you will do for all time going forward, but it does have some effect on your future actions, and as such what you do today is one possible intervention point for changing what your future life will look like.

I guess the only change I'd make to how people talk about TDT for humans is to not make claims that are stronger than reality. "If you make this decision today, you will also make the same decision in all analogous situations" is not actually literally true. "If you make this decision today, you make it more likely that you will also make the same decision in future analogous situations" is truer and less fatalistic.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Tidying One’s Room · 2018-08-16T23:15:16.553Z · LW · GW

I think this post takes search efficacy to be by far the most important factor in room tidiness, and I agree it's important, but I don't think it's SO much more important than e.g. just clearing floor space. I'm about to "cheat" at cleaning my room by putting my various junk into some plastic boxes, which will probably not substantially improve search efficacy and may even make it worse, but I think this is entirely worth it just for reducing the friction in moving around my room.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Focusing · 2018-08-14T00:39:14.350Z · LW · GW

I think I've already been doing something sort of like Focusing, except more like Duncan's post - relying a lot more on trying on words and phrasings than on bodily felt senses. In particular I've noticed that I can do a useful kind of processing by thinking aloud while walking (or, as I recently discovered, kayaking) and noticing which things I say do or don't feel right, and if something doesn't feel right, trying various other things and seeing what does.

I hadn't tried the focusing-on-bodily-senses thing before, though, so I tried that today. The check described here doesn't work very well for me because there's just too much. So instead I tried to hone in on specific types of feelings (emotional, bodily, or both, hard to tell the difference honestly) and see what they were like and what they related to.

I didn't get as far as I wanted on my first try, partly because the feeling in question included a strong desire to hide from it, partly because my roommate walked in and I no longer felt able to really freely introspect and feel stuff. So then I decided to try focusing on the effect that having another person in the room has on me. This was really interesting - I found that I could feel this in the left side of my body (my roommate is sitting to the left of me) as a heightened alertness and a directional pull to the left - my left ear is paying extra attention, there's a pull at the corner of my left eye to pay attention to what my roommate is doing; I think I also have more tension in general on the left side of my torso than my right. If I turn my head to the right, then the back of my head feels the alertness. I might be breathing a little less freely than when I was alone in the room? Not sure about that, though.

(soooo this is a large part of why I tend to want a lot of alone time I guess.)

I'm not sure I know yet how to use bodily sensations to get insights about something other than bodily sensations. I do expect to try this more. (though this is for sure the scariest of the techniques in this sequence so far.)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Three Miniatures · 2018-08-13T06:35:04.352Z · LW · GW

I think the main generalization I could come up with from past successes is that if I want to make rapid improvement in any area, it helps to focus singlemindedly on just one thing for a while.

However, I haven't learned how to do that and then sustain any gains made as I shift focus to something else.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on CoZE 2 · 2018-08-12T06:06:23.635Z · LW · GW

Conceptual bug in the first assignment here: assumes I have previously tried a "glamorous" CoZE

(relatedly: it would be useful here to have more details about how to CoZE, with examples perhaps; this description is fairly bare-bones, though usable)

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Design 2 · 2018-08-11T04:54:19.727Z · LW · GW

Computer use efficiency tools! These are fun. (My workplace and especially my team are quite into these.) Here’s a few of my favorite (I use Mac+Chrome).

1. Custom search engines in Chrome: not only does typing some search terms in the URL bar by default do a Google search, but also you can make it so, say, you type "mw word" and it'll open up the definition of "word" on Merriam-Webster's website, and/or you type "w word" and it'll open up the Wikipedia page for "word". (This works for any kind of URL where there's a predictable pattern that you just need to slot a thing into. I use it most frequently for opening up specific cases in a certain system, given a case number.) Settings > Search engine > Manage search engines.

2. Chrome bookmark bar, more efficient: if you delete all text from a bookmark title, the bookmark will appear as just the logo, and you can fit tons of sites you often visit into just a bit of the bar.

(I have: Google Play Music, Workflowy, new Google doc, new Google spreadsheet, a particular Discord channel, Feedly, Evernote, Google Drive, Riot (messaging app), WordReference (multi-language dictionary), Journey (journaling app), LW; this takes up about 3 inches of bookmark bar space.)

If you have lots of bookmarks and they lend themselves to categorization, you can put a bunch of folders in the bookmarks bar and access everything from there.

3. New Google doc/spreadsheet in one click by bookmarking these:



(side note: I’d known for a while that this can be done but didn’t know how, and this Yoda timer spurred me to finally go find the answer, so thanks!)

4. TextExpander is a program that lets you make custom shortcuts for text strings - useful if there are things you find yourself typing very often. It’s extremely useful to me in my job and moderately useful in my personal computer use. However, it’s not free; my employer pays for me to have it, so I don’t know if there’s a decent free alternative.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Bug Hunt 2 · 2018-08-08T00:52:01.524Z · LW · GW

I second the thank you for the "adjust your seat" thing!

Sometimes when a technique doesn't seem to quite fit I'm not sure whether I'm missing a skill that would actually be useful to me, or whether I would actually do better to change the technique for my benefit; probably the answer is sometimes the first thing and sometimes the second.

Comment by tcheasdfjkl on Bug Hunt 2 · 2018-08-08T00:50:19.030Z · LW · GW

Both the initial bug hunt and this one were by far the Hammertime tasks that took the longest - I have a lot of bugs I can list in lots of areas, so nearly every time the instructions call for a 5-minute timer I take at least twice as long adding bugs in that category. Plus this time I also added some bugs I just forgot to think of on the first try, as well as things from my Workflowy that can also be conceptualized as bugs.

I think this is useful in that it lets me organize and systematize these things and keep them all in once place. Though nearly nothing I think of is actually new. So I'm not sure if this is so much more useful than the other techniques that it justifies spending so much time on it. I guess we'll see to what extent this helps me actually solve bugs going forward!