Ask me anything.

by sunflowers 3 min read16th Feb 201510 comments


Less Wrong,

Before posting this, I debated myself as follows:

"Should I create a new username?"

Motivations (normal):  I have not posted here in a long time.  There are honest, good reasons to start on an interesting forum with a "clean slate."  One reason is that I have changed so many of my opinions since I last posted.  This is not a big deal.  I am recently 25.


Motivations (selfish):  Less Wrong is full of experts whose internet names I keep coincidentally running into...

A pleasant surprise:  Absolutely everybody I've been speaking with lately is entirely surprised that I had social anxiety all along.

My therapy:  honesty.  Weaknesses of honesty:  obvious.  Strengths of honesty:  also obvious.  For radical honesty, non-obvious to non-rationalists.

(I have not seen a therapist in about 10 years.  My therapy is, to put it shortly, in the style of Bertrand Russell.  Sort of.)

Well, I'm back.  Let's see how much better I have become.  I promise that I did not give myself time to read my old posts.  Anybody who is sufficiently interested in me will always be able to find out what I was like anyway.  My greatest protection is that I am not that interesting.  That's risky.  I have preferred the simple life for a reason.  That reason has been bad.

Anxiety is irrational.  It leads you to overestimate the degree to which people are interested in you.  Anxiety is rational.  It is an evolutionary vestige, reflecting a typical spectrum disorder, and is therefore likely to have been subject to selective effects, like overly aggressive dogs, and so forth.  Real life paradoxes.  Tricky things.  They can drive you absolutely bonkers.

I give Less Wrong my total honesty.  I will decline only with generalized rationales, only to protect the rights of others.  These include ordinary rights to privacy.  Again, anxiety.  None of my friends have known me as long as I have been away from Less Wrong.  Still, if I want to say "ask me anything," my reasons for declining, should I decline, will be "ordinary."  I will therefore decline in polite, normal ways, and simplify answers in polite, normal ways.  This took recent training:  even after holding a steady, normal job for quite some time, in which I was "very good."  It is blue collar.  Nothing exciting.  I will be leaving shortly.

I've come a long, long way my last post in a lot of ways.  I remember one stupid mistake which kept me from posting on Less Wrong for a while:  I came back - for a second - not too long ago, having read a few things about population genetics, and then I made an argument that was obviously stupid.  (From memory and shame:  I forgot about matrilineal descent.)

I have read the sequences.  I remember them, from long ago, unusually well lately.  They seem to be popping back up a lot.  You can quote them to me.  Do not assume I know anything.  I've learned to be a little more patient.

I've learned a lot about the private sector which I "knew but didn't <em>know</em>."  Like LaTex, HTML, and category theory (biological) and category theory (mathematical).  I am still working full time in a blue collar job.  I will find the time to learn.  The question is, where to start...

Bad answers:  school.  (not yet.  I know.  I have a university subscription.  It's practically free.  I have access.)

Bad answers:  textbooks.  (I've read them.  I prefer the real articles.  I already know the only category theory (mathematics) textbook I need.  To me, that's obvious. It's even more obvious to me than propositions like, "now's a good time to sleep.")

Good answers:  "what?"

This Q and A will be conducted in the style of Robert Sapolsky.  My plagiarisms are honest.  You may request sources to any answer.

I will sleep.  That's healthy.  Much more healthy than I ever really understood.  I'll check in tomorrow.

If nothing else, I do like jokes.  You are allowed to treat this post with the full force of intellectual cruelty.

I was not always nice.  I have done it to strangers.  I do regret it now.  Still, it can be funny.  So, fire away!




That concludes my first Less Wrong experiment.  Like any bad experiment, it confirms what I know, because I know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is.

From now on, I will post on the presumption that I am not anonymous.


(Note:  as an analytical social hyperanxious who envied "normal functioning," I do not believe that I can hide.  I can only expect people to be exactly as nice as they always were.  There are no demands, in the world of hyperanxious honesty.  Only requests.)


Now, to begin another experiment:  I am not anonymous, and I am also not here for therapy.  That is what friends are for.  I have my therapy.  You know, family and stuff.  Same honesty, new constraint, which, as promised, only random people on the internet may introduce.

Less Wrong just filtered what it can and cannot hear.  It has done this before.  Not its fault.  Mine.  I accepted "random internet responsibilities."  I must now accept "people who are not me" constraints.  Those, are rules.  I am good at formalisms....

Continue as before.  Ask me anything.


The second experimental result:  I have failed to elicit interest.  Per the original posts, I accept the responsibilities of a writer, though I am no writer.  Per ordinary standards of intellectual honesty, I will emphasize:  this is an experiment.  Less Wrong determines the parameters as it goes.  The experiment will continue on the following lines:

My failures:  clear communication.

My "root cause theory":  Generalized Anxiety Disorder

My constraints:  the lack of expertise to make that call.

My second constraint:  sufficient knowledge and skill to avoid learning precisely what I need to.

My "primary" motivation:  from memory, Less Wrong is full of people with similar intellectual interests.

My prediction:  "self help" threads will be similar to mine, in some ways, albeit much better written.

My control:  I have not ever read a self help thread.

Limitation:  Why should Less Wrong believe that?

Ask me anything.  Or not.  Some experiments fail, others succeed.