Making non-trivial posts carries psychological costs that I feel quite acutely. I would love to be able to plough through this (c.f. Comfort Zone Expansion) by making a lot of non-trivial posts.

Unfortunately, making non-trivial posts also carries time costs that I feel quite acutely. I have quite fastidious editorial standards that make writing anything quite time-consuming (you would be alarmed at how much time I've spent writing this response), and this is compounded by engaging in long, sticky discussions.

The Weird Alliances post was an attempt to write something quickly to lower standards, and as a result it was of lower quality than I would have liked. This made the psychological cost greater. I've yet to figure out how to unknot this perverse trade-off between psychological and time costs, but it means I would prefer to space out making posts.

Ah, OK, understood. Best of luck with the unknotting. (I'd offer advice, but I have much the same problem myself.)

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments


We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.