A Munchkin is the sort of person who, faced with a role-playing game, reads through the rulebooks over and over until he finds a way to combine three innocuous-seeming magical items into a cycle of infinite wish spells. Or who, in real life, composes a surprisingly effective diet out of drinking a quarter-cup of extra-light olive oil at least one hour before and after tasting anything else. Or combines liquid nitrogen and antifreeze and life-insurance policies into a ridiculously cheap method of defeating the invincible specter of unavoidable Death. Or figures out how to build the real-life version of the cycle of infinite wish spells.
It seems that many here might have outlandish ideas for ways of improving our lives. For instance, a recent post advocated installing really bright lights as a way to boost alertness and productivity. We should not adopt such hacks into our dogma until we're pretty sure they work; however, one way of knowing whether a crazy idea works is to try implementing it, and you may have more ideas than you're planning to implement.
So: please post all such lifehack ideas! Even if you haven't tried them, even if they seem unlikely to work. Post them separately, unless some other way would be more appropriate. If you've tried some idea and it hasn't worked, it would be useful to post that too.
If you are a human, then the biggest influence on your personality is your peer group. Choose your peers.
If you want to be better at math, surround yourself with mathematicians. If you want to be more productive, hang out with productive people. If you want to be outgoing or artistic or altruistic or polite or proactive or smart or just about anything else, find people who are better than you at that thing and become friends with them. The status-seeking conformity-loving parts of your mind will push you to become like them. (The incorrect but pithy version: "You are an average of the five people you spend the most time with.")
I've had a lot of success with this technique by going to the Less Wrong meetups in Boston, and by making a habit of attending any event where I'll be the stupidest person in the room (such as the average Less Wrong meetup).
See The Good News of Situationist Psychology.
If I decide to seek company of some people, because according to some metric M they are better than me, I am helping myself, because I am exposing myself to people better than me, but at the same time I am hurting them, because I expose them to a person that is worse than them, according to the same metric. OK, one possible way out of this problem is to say that different people use different metrics. But if we assume there is one shared metric, or at least that metrics used by smart enough people are similar, is there a way to help some people without harming others?
Possible solution would be to make the relationships between people asymetrical, so they would be stronger in the "better person to worse person" direction, but weaker in the opposite direction. -- This is not a new idea, because this is what actually happens when you read someone's book, or if you attend someone's lecture. The question is, how much is the influence reduced this way. (What is the ratio between influence I get from the books and from the people I meet in person? What strategies can I use to change this ratio? E.g. I could spend more time reading, but that would have some social costs; but perh... (read more)
I am not convinced that being around people slightly worse than yourself is bad for you. Especially when you get into a mentor role. When you actively try to help others understand and improve, this forces you to think about what you are actually doing, which probably improves your behavior.
Disclaimer: purely anecdotal, and does not apply to all metrics.
I have discovered a way to carry a credit card balance indefinitely, interest-free, without making payments, using only an Amazon Kindle.
How my card works is, any purchases made during Month N get applied to the balance due in the middle of Month N+1. So if I make a purchase now, in May 2013, it goes on the balance due June 15th. If I don't pay the full May balance by June 15th, then and only then do they start charging interest. This is pretty typical of credit cards, I think.
Now the key loophole is that refunds are counted as payments, and are applied immediately, but purchases are applied to the balance due next month. So if I buy something on June 5th, and return it on June 6th, the purchase goes toward the balance due on July 15th, but the refund is applied as a payment on the balance due on June 15th! So you can pay your entire June balance with nothing but refunds, and you won't have to worry about paying for those purchases until July, at which time you can do the whole thing again. The debt is still there, of course, because all you've done is add and then subtract say $100 from your balance, but absolutely no interest is charged. This process is limited only by your credi... (read more)
Upvoted for the fact that the author actually implemented the idea into practice. Too many other posts on this thread are just theorycrafting.
That was what impressed you? Not my creation of a real-life financial perpetual motion machine?
As far as I understand (and I could be wrong), your machine does not actually generate money, but merely defers payment until some future date. It does so by essentially exploiting a bug in the Kindle + Credit Card system, and it has an upper limit of whatever your max credit line is. My guess is that if this trick becomes popular, someone will patch the bug (probably Amazon, credit card companies are pretty slow).
So, don't get me wrong, it's a nice hack, but it's hardly perpetual or earth-shattering. One similar trick I know of is to have several credit cards, and use them to keep transferring the balance between them before interest accumulates; but this is less efficient, since the "free balance transfer" special offers occur relatively rarely.
Okay, "perpetual motion machine" might have been hyperbolic -- the comparison I had in mind was to what we might call a "weak" perpetual motion machine, which doesn't generate energy but is exactly frictionless, so it twirls forever without energy input.
Interesting! Didn't know about that variant.
I'm assuming that the constant churn of purchases and returns costs them money. For example:
I would worry the effect this may have on your credit rating if anyone catches you at it, together with possibly more serious effects. This could potentially be considered fraud. Altogether it seems much more sensible to simply live within your means and pay off your credit balance each month.
This is the "ridiculous munchkin ideas" thread, not the "sensible advice you've already heard" thread.
A more pertinent worry. Especially with cards that give a percentage of each purchase as "reward points" or something, I'd be worried about this.
Excessive returns will possibly get you banned from Amazon for life, with no warning, as many have discovered.
You don't get rich that way, though. Sure, you can accumulate a comfortable amount of low-grade wealth, but all the real games are played with other people's money. The only difference between B_For_Bandana's trick and the typical externalities exploited by your average high roller is the number of zeros involved in the figures.
It may no longer be fashionable to point people to "Politics is the Mind-Killer", but that was the best example of a good, solid, and avoidable dig at the other side that I've seen for quite some time. Mockery contributes nothing, especially in a thread where as far as I can tell no one's advocated the positions you're mocking. Downvoted.
Learn some basic voice production for stage techniques. How your voice sounds is an absurdly strongly weighted component of a first impression, particularly over a phone or prior to direct introduction, and being able to project your voice in a commanding fashion has an overpowered influence on how much people listen to you and consider you a 'natural leader.' In particular, learn what it means to speak from the diaphragm, and learn some basic exercises for strengthening your subsidiary vocal chords like Khargyraa and basic tuvan throat singing, and you'll be surprised at how much it makes people sit up and listen. You might coincidentally have your voice drop into a lower register after about a month of such exercises, it (anecdatally) happened to me and several people in my voice production for stage class in college. (class of 25, 6 people had their voices drop within the first 4 months, teacher said those numbers were normal.)
Most people just assume you're born with a voice and have to deal with it, which is demonstrably untrue, and so they consider your voice to reflect your character.
That sounds like very useful advice. Do you have some suggestions for where to start learning this? E.g. particular books, classes, or Youtube videos?
A very small number of people read LW, and a fraction of those people are going to apply any status hacks. Only a small number of people are going to apply status hacks, and they are the people who are diligent enough to research and implement them.
Posting such hacks is not going to push everyone to universally adopt them and return everyone to the previous status quo.
And even if it did, some of the actions that would increase one's positional status also have positive-sum effects (though in this specific case of voice training, they don't seem to be overwhelmingly large to me).
Just tell people in such a way that only the kind of people you'd want to have higher status will pay attention.
For example, by posting it on lesswrong!
There no reason why we should give more status to tall people or who are otherwise physically strong. It's much better to give status to those people who are smart enough to apply hacks.
I had the impression that the height/intelligence correlation was actually quite weak:
So I've recently decided to change my real name from an oriental one to John Adams. I am not white.
There’s a significant amount of evidence that shows that
(1) Common names have better reception in many areas, especially publication and job interviews.
(2) White names do significantly better than non-white names
(3) Last names that begin with the early letters of the alphabet have a significant advantage over last names beginning with the latter letters of the alphabet.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19020207 http://blog.simplejustice.us/files/66432-58232/SSQUKalistFinal.pdf http://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/sunrpe/2006_0013.html http://www.nber.org/papers/w9873.pdf?new_window=1 http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html
Therefore if I were to use "John", one of the most common 'white' first names, along with Adams, a 'white' surname that also begins with the letter A, it should stand that I would be conferred a number of advantages.
Furthermore, I have very little attachment to my family heritage. Switching names doesn’t cost me anything beyond a minor inconvenience of having to do paperwork. For some people, changing your name may be extremely worthwhile, depend... (read more)
I once considered changing my name to Ben Abard but decided that the original Eliezer Yudkowsky sounded more like a scientist.
I wonder how Jewish names perform relative to gentile names.
Reminds me of all the Jewish actors who've changed their names to make it in Hollywood, and all the executives who've done the exact opposite.
I've always been mildly annoyed that I don't have an eastern European last name. All the cool mathematicians seem to have eastern European last names.
Actually, most people will identify with a scientist's last name more than a first name - so pick a scientist's last name that sounds like a first name for your own first name, and then another last name that sounds like a last name for your last name.
I'll be Maxwell Tesla.
I have a Caribbean-American friend who's grateful his parents gave him a fairly white name for exactly this reason. I think having the same name as a famous historical figure would be bad for your google search results, though.
Being hard to Google can also be a plus.
Or he could adopt a middle name that would distinguish him when people really wanted to search for him.
“Steve Smith was known as Sarcasticidealist until June 2009. While he is still both sarcastic and idealistic, he decided that he'd rather go by his real name for privacy reasons. If this does not make sense to you, Google "sarcasticidealist" and then Google "Steve Smith".”
The biggest flaw in this idea is that almost nothing in your references applies to you! They pretty much cover only black and white names, not Oriental ones. You can't conclude that a white name benefits you because it would benefit a black person. Even in the Swedish study, a quick trip to Wikipedia shows that the number of foreign-born residents from east Asia in Sweden is a tiny percentage.
Furthermore, none of the studies you quote account for switching costs since they just compare people who already have the names, except for the Swedish one, but I would expect that the switching cost as a new immigrant is much less than for someone who has been living with his name for a while.
Not all white names are made equal. You want a name that's associated with high status in the country in which you live.
In Germany being named Kevin is a low status signal. The same is true for most US names. Lower class people in Germany are more likely to give their children the name of US celebrities than German high class people.
Definitely agree that changing your name is a good option to have on the table.
I'd note though that in some industries having a Google-unique name is king. It really depends what your "personal brand strategy" is. I remember reading an interview with a marketer who recommended people consider name changes. Her name was "Faith Popcorn". I read that single interview probably 5-10 years ago. It wasn't even a particularly interesting interview. I still remember her name, though.
A disadvantage of that particular name is that it's the name of no fewer than two famous people).
(Or is that an advantage?)
That's an advantage! My name will thus be subconsciously associated with high-status people.
I think it's probably advantageous to have one's name be subconsciously associated with high status people, but not to have it be consciously associated.
For instance, a name like "James" may have higher class associations than "Antwon," but naming a kid "Jimmy Carter Washington" is liable to raise the associations to a conscious level and provoke speculation about the motives of the parents (or other namer.)
I learned how to crank out patents. My thinking, over the years, shifted from "Wow, I can really be an inventor," to "Wow, I can Munchkin a ridiculously misconfigured system" and beyond that to "This is really awful."
My blog post: "The evil engineer's guide to patents".
Since Munchkining means following the letter of the rules, while bypassing the unspoken rules, we should consider how often it is accompanied by moral dissonance.
The article is aimed mostly at salaried employees, and so the cost is not relevant, so long as the employer wants to pay it, which they generally do.
There sure is. As described in the blog:
(I did the provisional patent thing myself once.)
At worse, even if you abandon it because of cost, no problem: As mentioned in the blog post
If you want to increase your pulling strength without much effort, get a pullup bar and put it in a doorway in your home. Then just make a habit of doing pullups every time you walk by. This is remarkably effective. I've been doing this for two weeks and have seen significant improvement.
It's important to actually have it on a doorway at all times. Ours was sitting in a closet for several months, and during that time, I used it maybe twice. In the past two weeks, with it actually on a doorway and requiring no effort for me to set up and start using it, I've been doing ~5 chinups every day. (The number has been going up as I've gotten better at it; I'm looking forward to when I can actually do dead-hang pullups.)
$20 on Amazon.
I think a general policy of decreasing the startup cost of doing things you want to do is a useful one. Rewarding yourself helps too, but sometimes you just need to lower the activation energy.
I've done, recommended, and been recommended this before and am in wholehearted agreement. I would be remiss however if I did not share a word of caution: that model of pull up bar leaves black marks, and after extended use, will probably dent a wooden door frame. I do not know of a model of that type that does not share this design flaw.
I can't do a full pullup either. A couple of weeks ago I couldn't even really do a chin-up (though I used to be able to). I just did assisted / negatives, which for me means... Jump! Then lower yourself down as slowly as you can. And jump a little bit less every time until you can do it without using your legs at all.
And then once you can do it from standing level, you work up to doing it from a dead hang somehow. I'm hazy on the details there because I've never gotten that far myself.
There's kind of a growing movement around Rob Rhinehart's Soylent thing, dunno if you folks have heard of this.
Basically, he got tired of making food all the time and tried to figure out the absolute minimum required chemical compounds required for a healthy diet, and then posted the overall list, and has now been roughly food free for three months, along with a bunch of other people.
It seems awesome to me and I'm hoping this sort of idea becomes more prevalent. My favorite quote from him I can't now find, but it's something along the lines of "I enjoy going to the movie theater, but I don't particularly feel the need to go three times a day."
There's small reddit community/discourse groups around getting your own mixture.
I find this incredibly fascinating. Especially the ability to save hours every day from not needing to eat. If the guy doesn't die after a year or so, I'm definitely trying this out.
It's not impressive as a medical experiment, but it's pretty impressive for actually-getting-something-done.
If it turns out that he can survive comfortably on his concoction plus highly irregular meals at restaurants, that's useful information. Just not as useful as the results of a more thorough experiment.
This is interesting. For years I've blended together various ingredients (mostly stuff like broccoli, lentils, sweet pepper, ricotta, canned tuna, olive oil, various grains and nuts such as flax, sesame, hazelnut, sunflower), balanced these for macro and micro-nutrients using cron-o-meter, further optimized along various axes such as cost, taste, ease of use, ease of preparation, packaging, cleaning up etc. Food is primarily something I do to feed myself in the end, and I dislike it when there's too much fluff.
I'd be more wary of mixing together purified/refined nutrients though. Just as licking iron bars won't provide you with your daily needs for iron (elemental iron isn't very soluble and your body wouldn't be able to assimilate it well), there's more and more evidence that whole plants and animal parts contain more than just the usual nutrients, and that this particular mix may be needed to stay in good health - and conversely that substituting multivitamins and refined macronutrients for normal food may run the risk of missing some essential, complex interactions/packaging that occurs in it and which changes the way your body assimilates it.
Now of course, many people eat junk food and still live to be 60-70 so there's some leeway. We'll only really know whether Soylent is healthy enough (like, for someone interested in life extension, and not just satisfied with a classical life span) if this experiment goes for decades, and if it's done using more people, controlled conditions, etc (in short, using Science).
Some people thrive for decades (including Stephen Hawking) tube fed with nutritionally complete enteral formulas. Semi-annual blood tests pick up any deficiencies, and supplements are added if needed. Several companies make "Soylent", the one I am familiar with is Abbott Nutrition.
If there's something there that isn't priced for sale to hospitals, or restricted in sale to hospitals, and has been formulated so as to be edible by people who are tired of real food, go ahead and post it. My understanding is that tube-feeding is not the same use-case as Soylent at all, with tube-fed material needing to be essentially predigested and correspondingly expensive or something along those lines, and no concern for edible taste for obvious reasons.
I've done some looking, but I haven't seen anything out there that looks like it's meant to be eaten, meant to replace food, and priced at an affordable level for sole consumption.
How to find a mate when you have really specific tastes:
Why I think this will work: A while ago I posted a romantic/erotic story to Reddit (which is 3/4 male). I hadn't seen the fantasy represented in any romance/erotica I'd ever read, so I figured I was alone in desiring it. Imagine my surprise when two women sent me unsolicited PM's asking me to role-play.
This works better when some of the MOTAS who read the fiction have also met you in the flesh (N=2). Also, having at least one protagonist who shares some of the more prominent features of your personality (i.e., your warped sense of humor if you're liable to inflict that on your mate) might be more effective at selecting on the audience (if they like the protagonist, they may be able to tolerate your own twisted humor) but here I haven't tried it your way for comparison.
But on the other hand, writers are routinely surprised by the audiences their material finds - and don't find. So you need some way of evaluating your current audience to see if your ideal mate is actually likely to be in it, or if your cute pony show turned out to have many nerdy male fans instead...
I write fanfiction set in the Mass Effect universe. My work is probably "amateur" as I make no claims of being a writer. It's all just for fun for me.
I wouldn't try this technique personally, as I'm not interested in meeting people who I'm compatible with, but geographically isolated from. The odds that one of the people responding would be from the same city as me seem pretty slim.
What I can tell you about my traffic stats is that I get about a thousand unique views every time I post a new chapter. Of the people who add my story to their favorites or set an author alert for my work (so that they are emailed every time I post new content), the majority seem to be people identifying as women on their own profile pages. (My fanfiction includes a popular "ship" meaning that romance is an important focus in it.) I get anywhere from two to around six written replies to each chapter I post. The majority of people who write to me identify as men, however, while less women write to me, I would rank the average quality of correspondence higher among the women who do choose to write than the men. I've actually become very good friends with a woman who I met through fanfiction, but I've never met her in person as she lives in Germany and I in the States.
My mom has never read my story.
When I was having a lot of trouble getting out of bed reasonably promptly in the mornings: practice getting out of bed - but not after just having woken up, that's what I was having trouble with in the first place. No, during the day, having been up for a while, go lie in bed for a couple of minutes with the alarm set, then get up when it goes off. Also, make this a pleasant routine with stretching, smiling and deep breathing.
I found this idea on the net here, which may have more details: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/
I tried it and it seemed to help a lot for a while, and I feel more in control of my weekend mornings.
An alternative, courtesy of Anders Sandberg (via Kaj Sotala), is to set your alarm to ring two hours before your desired wake-up time, take one or two 50mg caffeine pills when it rings, and go back to sleep immediately thereafter. When you wake two hours later, getting out of bed shouldn't be a problem. Details here.
FYI, this training is part of USAF basic training. With more yelling. I wouldn't call it a pleasant routine, but it's certainly effective when you do it for six hours straight and start to get an adrenaline surge when your alarm goes off.
That still persists 1.5 years later, so it may be a munchkin hack in itself.
Obvious idea is obvious: Save and invest a very large percentage of your income - I'm at 25%, but I'm not very ambitious. At 75% you can retire for three years for every year you work, even without assuming any gains from investment income or any other sources of income. If you are 30 and reasonably established in your career, this means you can work for ten years and then retire.
That rather assumes you can live on 25% of your income.
For me 25% of my income would be far below the poverty line and the legal minimum wage. I couldn't live on that even if I moved back in with my parents.
Are most people here really so rich that they can follow this advice and take it in stride?
I disagree with your assumption that you need to be rich/making lots of money in order to save. It's not necesarily about being rich, it's also about spending less. People get very used to spending whatever it is they make. Lots of people live off $15k and manage to survive. Lots of people live of $100k and manage to wind up bankrupt. The trick is to not adjust your standard of living and expectations to be what you think you "deserve".
After getting a divorce a couple years ago, I got very used to living off of significantly less than the poverty line. After getting a "real" job, I've been making a concerted effort to not raise my standard of living TOO much. Despite making less than you (50% of my income would be below the poverty line), I still manage to only live off about half of what I make. Right now, the rest is going into paying off debts and student loans, but in about a year and a half those will be taken care of, and the rest can go into savings. (I may rebudget at that time and save less, if I feel like it would be a good idea to raise my standard of living again, then. However, I wouldn't have to.)
It's fascinating to read about people like http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ who choose frugality over work
Here is a second resource, the successor of Jacob, creator of ERE, Mr. Money Mustache. This website has the same concept, taken to the same extremes, though he has a more colloquial style. He proclaims to live a luxurious life on 8,000 a year a person (family of three). This includes taking multiple road trips with his family, eating organic foods and other such "luxuries".
What part of your current income do you need to live on?
Note: The idea about the last two options is that high-school and university students are not socially expected to live on their own income. So the last option is for those who are not expected to live on their own income, and the previous option is for those who are socially expected to live on their own income, but they can't.
By "current income" let's assume the average for a few months, not some exceptional income or a temporary loss of income that happened yesterday.
I don't mean to cut the party short, but living for years in a poor country is not as awesome as it sounds. What seems awesome instead is to go for poor countries for 6 to 8 months per year, and live with your parents or someone who loves you a lot in the other 4 months every year. I've met a Slovenian programmer who did that, knew 10 languages, worked in London for 4 months per year and seemed to have pretty much nailed the "maxing out on hedons" lifestyle.
Please read "without assuming any real gains from..."
My neck is asymmetrical because some years back I used to often lie in bed while using a laptop, and would prop my head up on my left elbow, but not my right because there was a wall in the way. In general, using a laptop while lying in bed is an ergonomics nightmare. The ideal would be to lie on your back with the laptop suspended in the air above you, except that that would make typing inconvenient.
So a friend recently blew my mind by informing me that prism glasses are a thing. These rotate your field of vision 90 degrees downwards, so that you can lie on your back and look straight up while still seeing your laptop. I have tried these and highly recommend them.
That said: You should probably not do non-sleep/sex things in bed because that can contribute to insomnia. I recommend trying a standing desk, by putting a box or a chair on top of your desk and putting your laptop on top of that, then just standing permanently; it will be painful at first. Also currently experimenting with only allowing myself to sit down with my laptop if I'm at the same time doing the highest-value thing I could be doing (which is usually ugh-fielded and unpleasant because otherwise I'd have already do... (read more)
This study is relevant:
Another historical case, Smokey Yunick, the car racer and mechanic:
A tulpa is an "imaginary friend" (a vivid hallucination of an external consciousness) created through intense prolonged visualization/practice (about an hour a day for two months). People who claim to have created tulpas say that the hallucination looks and sounds realistic. Some claim that the tulpa can remember things they've consciously forgotten or is better than them at mental math.
Here's an FAQ, a list of guides and a subreddit.
Not sure whether this is actually possible (I'd guess it would be basically impossible for the 3% of people who are incapable of mental imagery, for instance); many people on the subreddit are unreliable, such as occult enthusiasts (who believe in magick and think that tulpas are more than just hallucinations) and 13-year-old boys.
If this is real, there's probably some way of using this to develop skills faster or become more productive.
As someone with a tulpa, I figure I should probably share my experiences. Vigil has been around since I was 11 or 12, so I can't effectively compare my abilities before and after he showed up.
He has dedicated himself to improving our rationality, and has been a substantial help in pointing out fallacies in my thinking. However, we're skeptical that this is anything a more traditional inner monologue wouldn't figure out. The biggest apparent benefit is that being a tulpa allows him a greater degree of mental flexibility than me, making it easier for him to point out and avoid motivated thinking. Unfortunately, we haven't found a way to test this.
I'm afraid he doesn't know any "tricks" like accessing subconscious thoughts or super math skills.
While Vigil has been around for over a decade, I only found out about the tulpa community very recently, so I know very little about it. I also don't know anything about creating them intentionally, he just showed up one day.
If you have any questions for me or him, we're happy to answer.
...just to be clear on this, you have a persistent hallucination who follows you around and offers you rationality advice and points out fallacies in your thinking?
If I ever go insane, I hope it's like this.
Would what's considered a normal sense of self count as a persistent hallucination?
See "free will".
This is strikingly similar to Epictetus' version of Stoic meditation whereby you imagine a sage to be following you around throughout the day and critiquing your thought patterns and motives while encouraging you towards greater virtue.
— Edsger W. Dijkstra
The hallucination doesn't have auditory or visual components, but does have a sense of presence component that varies in strength.
Indeed, this style of insanity might beat sanity.
Tulpas, especially as construed in this subthread, remind me of daimones in Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi. I've always thought that having / being able to create such mental entities would be super-cool; but I do worry about detrimental effects on mental health of following the methods described in the tulpa community.
You are obligated by law to phrase those insights in the form "If X is Y, I don't want to be not-Y."
One rarely reads self-reports of insanity.
That's a good idea, thanks. Note that my host's posting has significant input from me, so this account is only likely to be used for disagreements and things addressed specifically to me.
I would think there should be a general warning against deliberately promoting the effects of dissociative identity disorder etc, without adequate medical supervision.
I really doubt that tulpas have much to do with DID, or with anything dangerous for that matter. Based on my admittedly anecdotal experience, a milder version of having them is at least somewhat common among writers and role-players, who say that they're able to talk to the fictional characters they've created. The people in question seem... well, as sane as you get when talking about strongly creative people. An even milder version, where the character you're writing or role-playing just takes a life of their own and acts in a completely unanticipated manner, but one that's consistent with their personality, is even more common, and I've personally experienced it many times. Once the character is well-formed enough, it just feels "wrong" to make them act in some particular manner that goes against their personality, and if you force them to do it anyway you'll feel bad and guilty afterwards.
I would presume that tulpas are nothing but our normal person-emulation circuitry acting somewhat more strongly than usual. You know those situations where you can guess what your friend would say in response to some comment, or when you feel guilty about doing something that somebody important to you would disapprove of? Same principle, quite probably.
This article seems relevant (if someone can find a less terrible pdf, I would appreciate it). Abstract:
The range of intensities reported by the writers seems to match up with the reports in r/Tulpas, so I think it's safe to say that it is the same phenomena, albeit achieved via slightly different me... (read more)
As someone who both successfully experimented with tulpa creation in his youth, and who has since developed various mental disorders (mostly neuroticisms involving power- and status-mediated social realities), I would strongly second this warning. Correlation isn't causation, of course, but at the very least I've learned to adjust my priors upwards regarding the idea that Crowley-style magickal experimentation can be psychologically damaging.
I think tulpas are more like schizophrenia than dissociative identity disorder. But now that you mention it, dissociative identity disorder does look like fertile ground for finding more munchkinly ideas.
For instance, at least one person I know has admitted to mentally pretending to be another person I know in order to be more extroverted. Maybe this could be combined with tulpas, say by visualizing/hallucinating that you're being possessed by a tulpa.
I've always pretended to be in order to get whatever skill I've needed. I just call it "putting on hats". I learned to dance by pretending to be a dancer, I learned to sing by pretending to be a singer. When I teach, I pretend to be a teacher, and when I lead I pretend to be a leader (these last two actually came a lot easier to me when I was teaching hooping than now when I'm teaching rationality stuffs, and I haven't really sat down to figure out why. I probably should though, because I am significantly better at when I can pretend to be it. And I highly value being better at these specific skills right now.)
I had always thought everyone did this, but now I see I might be generalizing from one example.
It's interesting that demons in computer science are called that way. They have exactly the same functionality as the demons that occult enthusiasts proclaim to use.
Even if you don't believe in the occult, be aware that out culture has a lot of stories about how summoning demons might be a bad idea.
You are moving in territory where you don't have mainstream psychology knowledge that guides you and shows you where the dangers lie. You are left with a mental framework of occult defense against evil forces. It's the only knowledge that you can access to guide that way. Having to learn to protect yourself against evil spirits when you don't believe in spirits is a quite messed up.
I had an experience where my arm moved around if I didn't try to control it consciously after doing "spirit healing". I didn't believe in spirits and was fairly confident that it's just my brain doing weird stuff. On the other hand I had to face the fact that the brain doing weird stuff might not be harmless. Fortunately the thing went away after a few month with the help of a person who called it a specter without me saying anything specific about it.
You can always say: "Well, it's just my mind doing something strange." At the same time it's a hard confrontation.
RSS reader/other notification of new procrastination available.
Since we're talking about Tulpas, I feel obligated to mention that I have one. In case anyone wants anecdata.
Without going into detail, overall my usage of Tulpas have benefited me more than it has hurt me, although it has somewhat hurt me in my early childhood when I would accidentally create Tulpas and not realize that they were a part of my imagination (And imagine them to come from an external source.) It's very difficult to say if the same would apply for anyone else, since Your Mileage May Vary.
I also suspect creating Tulpas may come significantly easier for some people than others, and this may affect the cost-benefit analysis. Tulpas come very naturally for me, and as I've mentioned, my first Tulpa was completely accidental and I did not even realize it was a Tulpa until a year or two later. On the other hand, I've read posts about people on /r/Tulpa that have spend hours daily trying to force Tulpas without actually managing to create them. If I had to spend an hour every day in order to obtain a Tulpa, I wouldn't even bother -- also because there's no way I'm willing to sacrifice that much time for a Tulpa. But the fact that I can will a Tulpa into existence relatively easily helps.
A different variable that may affect whether having a Tulpa is worth it is if you have social des... (read more)
I can't believe that this is something people talk about. I've had a group of people in my head for years, complete with the mindscape the reddit FAQ talks about. I just thought I was a little bit crazy; it's nice to see that there's a name for it.
I can't imagine having to deal with just one though. I started with four, which seemed like a good idea when I was eleven, and I found that distracting enough. Having only one sounds like being locked in a small room with only one companion -- I'd rather be in solitary. I kept creating more regardless, and I finally ended up with sixteen (many of those only half-formed, to be fair), before I figured out how to get them to talk amongst themselves and leave me alone. Most are still there (a few seem to have disappeared), I just stay out of that room.
My advice would be to avoid doing this at all, but if you do, create at least two, and give them a nice room (or set of rooms) to stay in with a defined exit. You'll thank me later.
I am reminded of an occult practice I have heard of called evoking or assuming a godform, in which one temporarily assumes the role of a 'god' - a personification of some aspect of humanity which is conceived of as having infinite capability in some sphere of activity, often taken from an ancient pantheon to give it personality and depth. With your mind temporarily working in that framework, it 'rubs off' on your everyday activities and you sometimes stop limiting yourself and do things that you wouldnt do before in that sphere of endeavor.
It looks like people trying to intentionally produce personifications with similarities to all sorts of archetypes and minor deities that people have dealt with across history. People have been doing this as long as there have been people, just normally by invoking personifications and archetypes from their culture, not trying to create their own. The saner strands of modern neopagans and occultists acknowledge that these archetypes only exist in the mind but make the point that they have effects in the real world through human action, especially when they are in the minds of many people. You also don't need to hallucinate to use an archetyp... (read more)
By the same logic, you should mass produce children until you can no longer feed them all.
Boring munchkin technique #2: invest in tax advantaged index funds with low fees. Specifically, in the following order:
Max out your employer's matching contribution, if available. It is near impossible to beat an immediate 50% or 100% return, even if you have to borrow money in order to take advantage of this.
Pay off credit card debt. Do not keep any high interest loans. Do not keep a revolving balance on credit cards.
Depending on circumstances (e.g. if you lose your job, is moving back in with your parents an option?) have a few months of living expenses available in ready cash.
Put as much money as you can afford into tax advantaged retirement accounts. In the U.S. that means 401K, 403b, IRA, SEP, etc.
Allocate all your investments except possibly your emergency fund into low cost index funds. 1% fees are way too high. Vanguard has some good funds with fees as low as 0.1%.
I could say more, but that's the basics. Do that and you'll probably be in the 90th percentile or higher of successful investors. If folks are interested in hearing more, let me know; and I'll whip up a post on rational financial planning. If there's a lot of interest, it might even be worth a sequence.
That number is a bit out of date; they recently cut fees for many (most?) of their funds. Now I'm only paying 0.05% on my main index fund. I'm pretty cheerful about this.
This is for people interested in optimizing for academic fame (for a given level of talent and effort and other costs). Instead of trying to get a PhD and a job in academia (which is very costly and due to "publish or perish" forces you to work on topics that are currently popular in academia), get a job that leaves you with a lot of free time, or find a way to retire early. Use your free time to search for important problems that are being neglected by academia. When you find one, pick off some of the low-hanging fruit in that area and publish your results somewhere. Then, (A) if you're impatient for recognition, use your results to make an undeniable impact on the world (see Bitcoin for example), or (B) if you're patient, move on to another neglected topic and repeat, knowing that in a few years or decades, the neglected topic you found will likely become a hot topic and you'll be credited for being the first to investigate it.
On the bright side, if we forget the "job in academia" part and just focus on the "PhD" part, a PhD can fit these criteria reasonably well.
Before I justify that, I should acknowledge the many articles arguing, with some justice, that a PhD will ruin your life. These articles make fair points, although I notice they have a lot of overlap, mostly concluding that if you get a PhD you'll spend 6+ years running up masses of debt, with massive teaching loads and no health insurance, worked to death by an ogre as you try to spin literary criticism out of novels analyzed to death decades ago.
The obvious solution: don't do a PhD in a country where taking 7 years to finish is normal; don't do a PhD unless someone's paying you to do it; don't do a PhD in a department that assigns you endless teaching duties; don't do a PhD in a country without a universal healthcare system; don't choose a supervisor who expl... (read more)
FWIK, some universities allow you to get PhD in computer science by submitting PhD thesis for review and paying some amount of money (~$1200 on my university). This way, one can follow your advice and still get PhD.
Tell us more. Much more, in excruciating detail. I am reasonably sure I remember reading Eliezer write about the impossiblity of what you just described, i.e. getting a Ph.D. without necessarily having an advisor, funding or a Bachelor's degree.
I would amend this to be "if everybody knows your advisor you'll have FEWER problems finding a job in academia." Some fields are very, very crowded (theoretical physics, for instance). For a very brief time, I was in a small team at a consulting company where 3 out of the 4 of us had done a science phd under a Nobel winner, and still ended up making major career transitions after half a decade of postdocs. Science is crowded, the more basic the research the more crowded the field. To first order, no one gets a job. If you are under a famous advisor you might move your odds up to 1/10 or 1/5 or something like that.
Sociology of science calls this the Matthew Effect
He has another post about how if you say something outrageous that later becomes common wisdom, you won't be widely admired for having said it first; you will still be thought of as a crank.
Cognitive bias is now much more popular and fashionable than it was when I first started talking to my friends about it after reading Eliezer's posts. I predict that zero people will say "so it looks like this Eliezer guy you keep talking about was ahead of the curve on cognitive bias, maybe it's worth hearing some of his other ideas?"
To encourage yourself to do some massive, granular task:
Upon completion of each granule, give yourself a reward with some probability.
A reward is a small piece of food or a sip of a drink, etc.
Never eat or drink anything except as a reward for working on the task.
This really works extremely well for me; I have been doing this for about 2 months, at first only with anki reviews and more recently for several other things. The feeling is very similar to addictions like video games or entertaining websites; I often think "I should probably go do X, but let me instead do just one more anki card" and a half-hour later I realize I still haven't done X.
Make the rewards unlikely and small so that you stay constantly hungry. Bonus: caloric restriction.
Create a timed reminder, say half-hourly, to do just a few granules of the task. This encourages episodes of the "just one more" effect.
Put reinforcers within arm's reach, both temporally (make granules easy and quick, so that hunger feels like an urge to do the task rather than an urge to cheat the system) and spacially (so that you are constantly reminded of your hunger and tempted to do the task
You traded HP for XP.
Alternately, he abused Toughness, trained Willpower, gained a piety boost and moved his alignment a few beads towards L+.
Oftentimes, when I'm not in a good mood, I simply decide to be in a good mood, and soon I am in a good mood. It's surprisingly effective. You just have to consciously tell yourself that you decide to be in a good mood and try to be in a good mood. Of course this doesn't work all the time. I'm generally a happy person, so it's perhaps easier for me.
Instead of hoping to find the one Super Cool Trick that'll let you become a superhuman overnight, read five or so (scientifically minded) self-help books addressing the biggest problem area in your life, make a moderate to large amount of effort to implement the knowledge in your life, and then repeat for your other problem areas, until in a year or two you become a superhuman.
This worked for me for productivity and depression, next is social skills/social anxiety.
Also, let your body occupy a lot of space in order to feel more relaxed, feel confident, and signal status.
Let your body occupy little space in order to feel less confident and signal lack of status, thus compensating for typical but unfortunate human tendencies to think much more highly of their opinions than is actually justifiable and to prop up ubiquitous and costly signaling games. Harness the power of negative thinking!
Behaving low-status has the advantage of avoiding status fights in your tribe... by giving up. At the proper moment in the ancient environment it could save your life.
That does not necessarily mean the cost-benefit analysis would have the same outcome today.
Man, this is that thing I was talking about earlier when someone takes a colloquial phrase that sounds like a universal quantifier and interprets it as literally a universal quantifier.
Yeah, people do that all the time.
Sprinkle an emetic (a vomit-inducing drug) into foods that you want to stop eating, such as chocolate. It is well-known that nausea causes a long-lasting aversion to the food preceding it. (For instance, this is a problem for chemotherapy patients - the drug therapy causes nausea, which they then associate with food.)
I haven't tried any of this, but I'd be very surprised if this wasn't an easy, long-term solution to the problem of people wanting to eat food that they don't want to want to eat.
Maybe this could even be extended to non-food addictions, such as video games or mindless internet browsing. One person I know quit smoking cold turkey this way (by throwing up after smoking a cigarette, not with an emetic).
Single anecdata point - I quit smoking by deliberately causing myself to gag and think of vomiting whenever I saw or thought about cigarettes. It was very effective.
Bulimia studies might be a good place to start when evaluating the effects of such a program!
Don't do anything like that unless you know something about how to undo it.
The theories about which foods are unhealthy keep changing, and you might find out that you personally need something which has be called unhealthy.
Urging caution sounds wise, but I think it's exactly wrong here. One's goal in giving advice should be to alter others' behavior in beneficial ways; people will probably tend to take fewer risks with emetics than is optimal (because they're risk-averse, and vomiting is unpleasant), so your advice is in the wrong direction. Caution (higher significance criterion) is the act of increasing missed opportunities (false negatives) so that you take less wrong actions (false positives); this is a tradeoff.
This is analogous to how, for instance, the FDA kills more people by delaying medications' approval than it saves by ensuring medication is safe before approving it.
All over this thread, people keep urging caution where my judgment is that they should be urging the exact opposite.
I would personally recommend against training your body out of finding particular foods pleasurable. Instead, I would recommend exploring alternative food combinations that satiate the same craving.
I.e., expand your palette rather than restrict it.
Also, mindfulness meditation can be useful here. I have a reasonable amount of anecdotal evidence (p ~= 0.7) that a lot of overeating problems center around focussing on the oral aspects of digestion rather than the gastrointestinal.
Remember that your stomach has enough neurons to make an entire second brain - a small one, but a brain nonetheless. Like any neural network, it needs training, and focus and attention are the best way to access it.
Sometime, sit down with a healthy meal with a reasonable amount of nuanced flavors (my particular favorite would be a vegetable stir-fry). Sit down and begin eating, and pay VERY close attention to your body. Don't just pay attention to tip-of-tongue flavors; focus on the feeling of chewing the food, focus on how it feels going down your esophagus, and ESPECIALLY focus on the feeling of the food hitting your stomach. After every bite, see if you can actually detect the different neurological chang... (read more)
Tried. Don't expect my results to be generalizable.
Once again, I have no reason to believe that same would happen to anyone.
In any case: Not many good medicines induce vomit. Most people who try it, use water, specially warm water, with mustard. This has all sorts of complications because mustard has a taste and a smell etc... nevertheless, no one in the pharmacy or wikipedia or friends who read pharmapapers had any other indication that would beat mustard water.
I wanted to stop liking chocolate. I waited for a while, so the organism would be sure it was not from lunch, and at dinner time I eat a lot of chocolate, and drank some mustard water. I kept looking at, smelling and thinking about chocolate, and would taste chocolate instantaneously after quickly swallowing the mustard water with my nose held.
It was obvious something bad was going on inside me, less than 10 seconds after the mustard. But my body is not a natural regurgitator. Long story short, I failed to even regurgitate. And now I can say that the weirdest meal I have ever had was composed of 120 grams of white chocolate, 100 grams of lindt milk chocolate, 100 grams of yellow mustard, 1,5 liter of water, and 50 grams of extra strong seedy mustard.
After that I started thinking about fighting for Monsieur Mangetout Guinness title for eating metals and glasses...
First-time poster, long time lurker. This discussion piqued my interest.
If you have your own business, a very cost effective way of promoting it is to get a part-time job, (or 'side quest' in D&D parlance) that involves delivering something such as catalogues, phone-books or even takeaway food or a paper-round in the location where your business operates. You can easily slip in your own flyers or business cards in along with whatever you are delivering. The wage from the part-time job will easily pay for the extra printing and mileage costs. I do this and my p/t employer hasn't found out yet or even explicitly or implicitly forbidden me from doing this; in fact, my p/t boss is pretty wily entrepreneurial sort of chap so he would probably actually approve so long as I am still good at his job.
If you are new to a scientific topic, note that the first half of a paper often tends to summarize common knowledge within the field that is necessary to understand the conclusion. Often this is more readable/interesting than the rest of the paper, suggesting that you can spend more time reading scientific papers by skipping the denser and more original parts.
I've started watching TV Shows at 2X speed. This has been incredible:
I started doing this a few months ago. It started when I realized that I already listened to Audiobooks at 2X-3X, and that TV Shows are basically the same thing.
Actually, I would suggest not focusing your attention on evolutionary anthropology while you're supposed to be piloting a multi-ton vehicle at high speeds.
Most people are far worse at driving than they believe themselves to be.
Now, assuming you're not in a car at the moment, you can probably hack something up using mplayer - there's at least one android port of that. You may need to write your own UI, though, and I suspect it'll reduce your battery life significantly. (Android native players take advantage of decoding hardware, mplayer probably doesn't. Also, the fourier transform required to speed up voice without affecting pitch is expensive.)
Boring munchkin technique #1: What if I told you there was a place you could go where they would give you books? paper or ebook, whichever you prefer. And if they didn't have the book you wanted, they would order it for you? And when you were done with the book. and didn't want it cluttering up your apartment any more, you could give it back to them; and they would store it for you until needed it again? So not only does this service get you books. It effectively increases the amount of living space you have, and the general neatness of your apartment or house. How much would you pay for such a service? $50 a month? $100 a month? $5000 a year? How much do you spend on books now that you have to store and manage?
Of course, you already know there is such a service, and it doesn't cost you even $10 a month. It's the public library. If you haven't stopped into your public library lately, it's time to check it out again. Public libraries have become a lot more effective in the last decade. You can now order books online, and have them delivered to your local branch, so if you remember a time when the library rarely had what you wanted, check again. It's no longer just a place to browse... (read more)
(The below is stated with no modulation for my level of confidence, which actually isn't very high.)
MDMA is a useful way to improve social skills permanently, or help make you more emotionally available.
While under the influence of it, you're very empathic, and very socially fearless. The experiences you have talking to people in this state can then transfer to when you're sober. For instance, you might notice that your openness is well-received, which lets you see that you've been under-confident.
Many people do something similar with alcohol: they learn to socialise when drunk, and that makes it easier to socialise when not drunk. I believe MDMA is better for this purpose, because it doesn't inhibit your memory at all, and you're more "yourself" than when drunk.
To get this benefit it's important to take a well-tolerated dose, and not to drink much: you don't want to be a mangled mess, or the next day you'll just be embarrassed, especially because you'll be mildly depressed from the come-down.
I've found MDMA to be quite addictive, and most users have trouble controlling their use once they are on the drug: they'll re-dose, even if they hadn't planned to, once the first dose begins to fade. So this "hack" is far from free of danger. But I believe the cost/benefit is still better than alcohol for many situations.
Make a list of all the projects you could undertake, then use Fermi calculations to estimate the costs and benefits of each on various axes (time, money, status...), with time discounting. Combine the axes into one measure of how much you'd profit from doing each project. Then actually use the numbers to decide what to work on next.
You might also intuitively guess the profit from each task and take a weighted average of that and the more analytical calculations, because system I often outperforms system II.
I'm currently in the middle of this; so far the top items match my intuitions (e.g. go do more CoZE), so I'm not benefitting much from the analysis. Part of my reason for creating this thread is to gather more ideas for things to do and to get other people to help me research how worthwhile possible projects are.
Quack quack goes the duck. I wouldn't use such an experimental treatment even on your pet rat.
(It does sound vaguely promising, like thousands of other candidate substances in translational medicine that didn't pan out.)
Edit: The paper is not from the journal Nature, it is instead from a different journal which is also published by the same company. The paper was published in The ISME Journal, with an impact factor of 7.4, compared to Nature's impact factor of 31! So next time, please do your research.
The paper is open access, but your link is blocked unless entered directly (they probably don't accept any non-site values for the HTTP referer field). This link should work.
Also, before you start taking antibiotics, here's the relevant part from that abstract:... (read more)
Autogenics is a biofeedback technique that induces a state of intense relaxation. It's supposed to be able to help change compulsive behaviors, though I haven't tried that myself. I have found it very helpful for getting to sleep, though, and pleasant as well. I used this guide for what I have done so far.
Fun anecdote: Once, while I was cuddling with my boyfriend, he said, "I can hear your heartbeat!" A few moments later he jerked and looked at me in shock. "It just slowed down!" :-) I felt like a wizard. Biofeedback is cool.
It's probably worth trying if you have problems sleeping. Interestingly, it's found to be useful in treating a several mild mental and physical problems, like headaches, anxiety, mild depression, and sleep disorders. It's also used for pain relief for natural childbirth. (Meaning, for women who don't want to have an epidural.)
I just got this galvanic skin response biofeedback device in the mail a few days ago. Rest your fingers on it and there's a tone goes up as you get more stressed out and down as you get more relaxed. I haven't been experimenting with it very long, but using the device and trying to make the tone go down does seem to be quite an effective way to relax. Housemates have found the tone annoying, but wearing ear-encompassing headphones on top of the supplied earbuds seems to deal with that.
"Help, I'm trapped in an autonomic nervous system!"
I recall reading that one of the best predictors of reported happiness is how much a person tends to compare herself to others. (I'm fairly sure I got that from the book "The How of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky)
You can probably get a quick but decent estimate of where you are on that "comparison-tendency" scale by recalling if you ever feel a sting of jealousy or if it otherwise negatively impacts your mood, or initiates a mental comparison when you see that someone else is up to something really amazingly cool on facebook. How do you generally tend to feel when you see people who are better looking or richer, or <insert desirable characteristic that others have and you don't> ?
I compared myself a lot with others some years ago, but all it took for me to get rid of that nasty mind-habit was to become aware of it every time I was doing it, and realizing that its a stupid and unhealthy habit. Thinking back it probably took me somewhere between 4 and 6 months until this way of thinking became essentially extinct and ultimately even somewhat alien. And I'm happy to say that I'm much happier now, arguably in part because I kicked that habit of thought.
So i... (read more)
I am enjoying this sentence fragment immensely.
I have a horrible thought.
Most (legally acquired) debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. That puts a floor on the amount of money one can lose. If your net worth is "almost nothing" and you can find suckers, er, I mean, organizations with loose standards that are willing to lend you money, then the expected utility of risky bets changes in a way that favors you - because going bankrupt while owing $10,000 isn't much different than going bankrupt while owing $500,000. Of course, going bankrupt is still pretty bad either way, but the upside of winning a risky, highly leveraged bet can also be correspondingly large...
Personally, I don't think this is a good idea and is probably unethical anyway, but it is the kind of crazy thing a certain kind of munchkin would do...
Sure, but it's a way to sell a small part of your soul for lots of money. You can then do an arbitrage operation, by using that money to buy lots of cheap soul, e.g. through efficient charity.
Whether it's unethical would seem to me to depend on who you are raising the money from and what they perceive the rules of the game to be. From my perspective, doing the submissive, 'morally cautious', un-winning thing rather than the game theoretical thing is unethical.
This is called moral hazard. If the "suckers" who loaned you the money are "too big to fail" and in turn need bailing out, it is a form of negative externality.
Plenty of examples here in the recent financial crisis...
I thought this was what 90% of the economy is made of almost everyone doing?
OK, a serious one now.
If you're looking to motivate yourself towards certain activities, use fictional characters as imaginary rivals.
For example, Stephen Amell is a ridiculously buff dude who plays the titular character in the TV show Arrow). He spends a non-negligible amount of screen-time prancing around with his shirt off. While this does not contribute to my hedonic appreciation of the show, I find myself a lot more motivated to get up and do some exercise after watching it.
I suspect this is my brain alerting me to the presence of a ridiculously buff rival who spends time prancing around with his shirt off, which results in some mechanism motivating me to compete along that axis. I also suspect this would work along different axes of rivalry. Watching lots of fictional smart people achieve lots of awesome fictionally smart things may be a good motivator for academic activities.
On the other hand, fictional worlds are not constrained by such trivial things as "plausibility" - how smart or conscientious or strong a character is is purely up to the whim of the author. Comparing yourself to these "superstimulus role models" might not be a mentally healthy thing to do - look at how many young girls (and boys!) are starving themselves in the pursuit of magazine-model beauty.
Not sure that's what the OP is doing. It's one thing to say "This is obviously stupid; I should do the opposite." It's different to say "This is obviously stupid; I shouldn't do it."
However, reverse Boring might be Interesting.
Why's that? Please remember the value of information here! Bright lights cost very little either upfront (maybe like <$100?) or on an ongoing basis (higher electrical bill), while an experiment may be very costly (or so I infer from the near-absence of anyone but me doing randomized self-experiments), and the benefits cumulatively large over the X years a bright light will last before breaking or burning out; hence, the best course may be simply to try it out.
Keep a spray bottle full of water. Set up a reminder to make you spray yourself with the water every 30 minutes. This might boost alertness through the mammalian diving reflex. I have halfheartedly tried this, and it definitely does temporarily boost alertness, but I don't know how long the effect lasts or whether tolerance develops. I'm slightly concerned that it could damage electronics.
Use a tool like f.lux to change the color temperature of your screen depending on time of day.
Your eyes will be much happier when it matches the surrounding room, and/or lowering the temperature when it's close to bed-time will help you fall asleep.
Spread your genes without having children:
Donate to sperm/egg banks.
Sign up for genetic studies where your beneficial genes will be targeted if humanity decides to go a Gattacca-like route.
If you happen to be a fairly wealthy but not so famous female American socialite, you could leak a sex tape, get yourself on some reality TV shows, stage a fake wedding for the media that nets you $18 million, and spin all this into a variety of fragrance and cosmetic product lines.
This brings to mind the dollar-coin-frequent-flyer-miles scam a few years ago. Where basically, the US treasury started making dollar coins and no one used them. To encourage their circulation, they would sell boxes of coins online with free shipping. Munchkins started buying them with credit cards that gave frequent flier miles, then would deposit the coins at their bank and pay off the credit card. Result: millions of frequent flier miles for free.
The US treasury no longer accepts credit cards for online dollar coin purchases.
Get a bunch of capital.
Go to a poor country (specifically, a country where food and buildings are cheap).
Build a great big school.
Offer the following deal to parents of gifted children: they send their children to you, and you'll educate them for free, for ten years. At the end of ten years, the newly educated young adults either go to college, get a job, or be a bum. If at any point they do start working, you get (say) 10% of their income for 10 years.
Do it smartly: Skimp on "humanities"; no ancient literature for these kids. Reading, writing, math, science, programming. Get them ready for future jobs by giving them deep, versatile, malleable skills.
Do it cheaply: Use technology as efficiently as possible, so you don't have to pay for too many instructors. A campus wide internet connection and a $100 netbook per kid should get most of the possible value; maybe have some real computers for the programmers. Obviously you still need some instructors.
Do it morally (this might rule it out completely, since you are kind of creating indentured servants, and also because you are sucking cognitive resources from that area).
This is feasible because the biggest resource is still human cognitive resources. I'd bet that poor countries have untapped smart brains.
Step 1 isn't getting the money. Step 1 is getting trustworthy people together.
Here's what happens to your program. You get someone to administer "gifted" tests. All their friends and family are suddenly "gifted". They cheat or bribe their way into staying in the program. They then take the "education" they got and go work somewhere with your impressive-looking credentials.
Then your reputation tanks as employers find out that you're yet another foreign school which churns out impressive-looking credentials that do not reliably signal ability.
Note that my second paragraph is a big big part of why some schools and countries have a much easier time getting employed in the US than others.
Very feasible but lots of work. I wouldn't invest in someone starting such a venture unless they had demonstrated the ability to make money by working hard as an independent business owner in the past, but I'd be happy to invest in and advise such a venture if it was run by the right kind of person.
Right, let's get started. Ten years sounds like a nice round number, but is it optimal? To answer that first we need to consider what age children to admit. We want them young enough to become fluent in English quickly; all the high paying jobs are in English speaking countries, barring Asia - should we consider teaching Chinese as well? Maybe, but let's think about that later.
To ensure they still have a wide range of pronounceable phonemes, they should be younger than seven. The younger the better, though, and we don't want them to learn wrong things we'll have to reteach, so before schooling age: at the maximum, five. Should we go younger, though?
Well, what do children learn from their families? Affection might be one, assuming they're from an affectionate family. If they live in a culture where many children are the norm, then they may learn responsibility as well. They may also learn abuse, if that's their family culture. Perhaps they'll gain life experience? I'm not confident about that.
Well, if we go younger, then how young? Pre-bowel control training? Certainly not pre-solid foods; breast-feeding will contribute to their IQ. Children learn from anything and eve... (read more)
Need some dead animal flesh in your diet on a budget? Organ meats are cheap, healthy, but (ymmv) still tasty. The chicken livers I got this week were less than a dollar per serving, and they're full of vitamins and protein. Chicken hearts are ~$2 per pound at my store and have a milder flavor if you find livers unpalatable. Not sure if I should have posted this here or in the Boring Advice Repository.
A word of caution though: you could easily get too much vitamin A from eating liver. This might lead to permanent liver damage among other problems.
Related: chicken feet are also about $2/lb at my store, but yield many times more broth than a similar amount of meat or bones. It's also much tastier than canned broth, and you can make it very strong and store it compactly in the freezer for a long time. And you get to chase your roommate around with a terrifying scaly dinosaur foot whose claws open and close as you pull on the tendons.
Some butchers will give away soup bones for free as well.
Taking very cold showers or baths. You gradually decrease the temperature of your shower over several weeks. I can now take a shower or bath with the water on just cold. Other people use ice to lower the temperature of their baths even further.
Some claim that it has significant health benefits, but I haven't noticed any although I haven't been doing it for very long. Still, it's neat to be able to modify your body to tolerate something that would have previously caused unbearable pain.
Here is some discussion of cold thermogenesis on a paleo website.
Just wanted to say that I've always wanted to take cold showers but never managed to pull it off because my body refuses to step into the cold shower stream. Somehow, until I read your post, it never occurred to me that I could start the shower at a nice warm temperature, step in, and then turn it down over the course of a few seconds. I've been doing this successfully for a few days and feeling great. Thanks!
(I remembered this yesterday while writing a comment about something else, but LeechBlock stopped me before I was able to write it here.)
The black keys on a piano keyboard form a pentatonic scale; that is to say, so long as you have an anywhere-near-decent sense of rhythm, nearly anything you can improvise using those keys alone will sound good. Non-musicians will be pretty unlikely to notice what you're doing, if they aren't very close to you.
Here's a method for learning a complex subject that seems to accelerate acquiring instrumental skill and the ability to use the knowledge creatively. As a bonus, you make progress on projects you've deferred for want of technical skills you're learning now.
Project Mapping: a) Make a list of projects you're working or intend to do sometime. The more the projects excite you, the more effective this technique. b) Take a bite of your subject (a chapter or topic, smaller the better) c) Go to your project journal. Pick one or more projects from the list to connect to the material you learned. If they can't conceivably connect ... then why are you learning this? d) No matter how great the gap between the complexity and difficulty of your project and the simplicity of the elementary material you just learned, even if it's just whole number addition, describe ways to apply the knowledge to some aspect or part of your project. This is the actual "secret sauce" of the technique. e) Return to each bite to "rehearse" it by adding even more ideas, and feel free to connect in and use more advanced material you've learned, too. f) If... (read more)
Never happen if no-one tries. I agree that it looks dangerous, but this is the ridiculous munchkin ideas thread, not the boring advice or low-hanging fruit threads.
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...
This is a well known one, but I only recently got around to actually doing it, so I suspect that there are others that also haven't done it yet.
Learn to touch type. The kind of person you probably are if you are reading Less Wrong spends a remarkable fraction of the day typing at a computer. As such, even a small increase in typing speed and skill can save you huge amount of time and effort. And it is not at all hard to learn. This investment of a small amount of time and energy to learn to touch type pays back huge dividends in time saved.
One other point: If you are going to learn to touch type, there is no point whatsoever to doing so in the Qwerty keyboard layout. It is just as easy or easier to learn a better layout (like Dvorak or Colemak), which also will give you a bigger boost to your typing speed and efficiency.
This is a highly dubious claim. I (occupations: software engineer, student (CS major)) spend a remarkable fraction of the day at a computer... but do I spend most of that typing? I do not. I'm doing more typing right now, writing this comment, than I do in a much larger period of doing actual work. Even if you only look at the time I spend actively coding (rather than reading documentation / literature, thinking about a problem, debugging, tinkering, etc.) that's still not mostly typing.
Furthermore, citation needed on the claim that touch-typing, as opposed to the way I type now, will save a "huge amount of time and effort".
So very citation needed on this one. (Counter-citation: http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html.)
Also not very ridiculous. Seems like it would be more at home in the boring advice repository.
The keyboard is irrelevant if you don't look at the keys, it's the keyboard layout that's relevant, and that's a software setting. I was very confused the first time I used a computer whose keyboard layout had been changed to Dvorak.
But there is something of a problem if you share a computer with someone who uses Qwerty, I guess. Switching back and forth might get annoying (although maybe you can set an AutoHotKey to do it?).
In academia, Munchkining has recently taken off.
These techniques for getting tenure have long existed, but they have been codified only in the last few years.
Multiple publication of the same materials.
To aid in citing several of your own articles that are effectively the same article, rotate "first author" privileges among coauthors so that multiple self-citations don't occur near each other in the alphabetically ordered bibliography.
And many more. Here is a selection.