There's already tons of resources out there on improving your willpower, getting rich, becoming happier, being more attractive, losing weight, etc. You can go out and buy a CBT workbook written by a Phd psychologist on almost any subject - why would you want some internet user to write up a post instead?

Then linking to it would be interesting. I can't reasonably review the whole literature (that again reviews academic literature) to find the better or best books on the topics of my interest.

So many self-help books are either crap because their content is worthless or painful to read because they have such a low content-to-word ratio for any reasonable metric. I want just the facts. Take investing as an example: It can be summarized in this one sentence "Take as much money as you are comfortable with and invest it in a broad index fund, taking out money so to come out with zero money at the moment of your death, except if you want to leave them some money." And still there is a host of books from professional investors detailing technical analysis of the most obscure financial products.

Out of curiosity, what type of instrumental rationality posts would you like to see here?

Have reading groups reviewing books of interest. Post summaries of books of interest or reviews. Discuss the cutting edge of practical research, if relevant to our lifes. This is staying with your observation that most practically interesting stuff is already written.

Moving on, we know about all kinds of biases. We also know that some of those biases are helped by simply knowing about them, some are not. For the latter you need some kind of behavioural change. I do not know about books helping with that.

I know that this post is not precise and it can't be, as it explores what could be. If I knew exactly what I wanted, I would aready get it, it is a process of exploring.

Take investing as an example: It can be summarized in this one sentence "Take as much money as you are comfortable with and invest it in a broad index fund, taking out money so to come out with zero money at the moment of your death, except if you want to leave them some money."

This assumes that you now when you will die and can predict in advance how interest rates will vary over the future. It also ignores akrasia issues.

8gothgirl4206667yI've found that "just the facts" doesn't really work for self-help, because you need to a) be able to remember the advice b) believe on an emotional, not just rational level that it works and c) be actually motivated to implement the advice. This usually necessitates having the giver of advice drum it into you a whole bunch of different ways over the course of the eight hours or so spent reading the book. One problem with this is that "reviewing" self-help books is hard because ultimately the judge of a good self-help book is whether or not it helps you, and you can't judge that until a few months down the road. Plus there can be an infinity of confounding factors. But I can see your point. Making practical instrumentality issues more of a theme of the conversation here is appealing to me. Cut down on the discussion of boring, useless things (to me, of course) like Newcomb's problem and utility functions and instead discuss how to be happy and how to make money. However, I have seen a few people complain about how LessWrong's quality is deteriorating because the discussion is being overrun with "self-help". So not everyone feels this way, for whatever reason.

Open thread, July 16-22, 2013

by David_Gerard 1 min read15th Jul 2013305 comments

15


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.


Given the discussion thread about these, let's try calling this a one-week thread, and see if anyone bothers starting one next Monday.