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I'm starting to maybe figure out why I've had such difficulties with both relaxing and working in the recent years.
It feels that, large parts of the time, my mind is constantly looking for an escape, though I'm not entirely sure what exactly it is trying to escape from. But it wants to get away from the current situation, whatever the current situation happens to be. To become so engrossed in something that it forgets about everything else.
Unfortunately, this often leads to the opposite result. My mind wants that engrossment right now, and if it can't get it, it will flinch away from whatever I'm doing and into whatever provides an immediate reward. Facebook, forums, IRC, whatever gives that quick dopamine burst. That means that I have difficulty getting into books, TV shows, computer games: if they don't grab me right away, I'll start growing restless and be unable to focus on them. Even more so with studies or work, which usually require an even longer "warm-up" period before one gets into flow.
Worse, I'm often sufficiently aware of that discomfort that my awareness of it prevents the engrossment. I go loopy: I get uncomfortable about the fact that I'm uncomfortable, an... (read more)
I recognize this in myself and it's been difficult to understand, much less get under control. The single biggest insight I've had about this flinching-away behavior (at least the way it arises in my own mind) is that it's most often a dissociative coping mechanism. Something intuitively clicked into place when I read Pete Walker's description of the "freeze type". From The 4Fs: A Trauma Typology in Complex PTSD:... (read more)
This is kind of funny because I came to this open thread to ask something very similar.
I have noticed that my mind has a "default mode" which is to aimlessly browse the internet. If I am engaged in some other activity, no matter how much I am enjoying it, a part of my brain will have the strong desire to go into default mode. Once I am in default mode, it takes active exertion to break away do anything else, no matter how bored or miserable I become. As you can imagine, this is a massive source of wasted time, and I have always wished that I could stop this tendency. This has been the case more or less ever since I got my first laptop when I was thirteen.
I have recently been experimenting with taking "days off" of the internet. These days are awesome. The day just fills up with free time, and I feel much calmer and content. I wish I could be free of the internet and do this indefinitely.
But there are obvious problems, a few of which are:
Most of the stuff that I wish I was doing instead of aimlessly surfing the internet involves the computer and oftentimes the internet. A few of the things that would be "good uses of my time" are reading, making di
Stratton's perceptual adaptation experiments a century ago have shown that the brain can adapt to different kinds of visual information, e.g. if you wear glasses that turn the picture upside down, you eventually adjust and start seeing it right side up again. And recently some people have been experimenting with augmented senses, like wearing an anklet with cell phone vibrators that lets you always know which way is north.
I wonder if we can combine these ideas? For example, if you always carry a wearable camera on your wrist and feed the information to a Google Glass-like display, will your brain eventually adapt to having effectively three eyes, one of which is movable? Will you gain better depth perception, a better sense of your surroundings, a better sense of what you look like, etc.?
A qucik search on Google Scholar with such queries as cryonic, cryoprotectant, cryostasis, neuropreservation confirms my suspicion that there is very little, if any, academic research on cryonics. I realize that being generally supportive of MIRI's mission, Less Wrong community is probably not very judgmental of non-academic science, and I may be biased, being from academia myself, but I believe that despite all problems, any field of study largely benefits from being a field of academic study. That makes it easier to get funding; that makes the results more likely to be noticed, verified and elaborated on by other experts, as well as taught to students; that makesit more likely to be seriously considered by the general public and governmental officials. The last point is particularly important, since on one hand, with the current quasi-Ponzi mechanism of funding, the position of preserved patients is secured by the arrival of new members, and on the other hand, a large legislative action is required to make cryonics reliable: train the doctors, give the patients more legal protection than the legal protection of graves, and eventually get it covered by health insurance policies or... (read more)
I think the nearest thing is the Brain Preservation Foundation. If you want to donate money towards that purpose, they are a good address.
For those of us who for whatever reason can't make it to a CFAR workshop, what are the best ways to get more or less the equivalent? A lot of the information they teach is in the Sequences (but not all of it, from what it looks like), but my impression is that much of the value from a workshop is in (a) hands-on activities, (b) interactions with others, and (c) personalized applications of rationality principles developed in numerous one-on-one and small-group sessions.
So I'm looking for:
That last one is probably the hardest, and I suspect it's impossible without either (a) spending an awful lot of time developing the techniques yourself, or (b) getting a tutor. So, anybody interested in being a rationality tutor?
I just discovered a very useful way to improve my comfort and posture while sitting in chairs not my own. If you travel a lot or are constantly changing workstations or just want to improve your current set up – buy contact shelf lining, the one with no-slip grip.
The liner adds grip to chairs that either 1. do not adequately recline or 2. reclines but you may tend to slide off (slippery leather chairs). Recently I was provided with a stiff non-reclining wood chair and it was killing my back. Every time I relaxed into the back rest I started to slide do... (read more)
In a rare case of actually doing something I said I would, I've started to write a utility for elevating certain words and phrases in the web browser to your attention, by highlighting them and providing a tool-tip explanation for why they were highlighted. It's still in the occasionally-blow-up-your-webpage-and-crash-the-browser phase of development, but is showing promise nonetheless.
I have my own reasons for wanting this utility ("LOOK AT THIS WORD! SUBJECT IT TO SCRUTINY OR IT WILL BE YOUR UNDOING!") but thought I would throw it out to LW to see if there are any use-cases I might not have considered.
No one's posted about the new Oregon Cryonics yet?
If you had four months to dedicate to working on a project, what would you work on?
Yesterday I posted a Michigan meetup.
My location is set to Michigan.
The "Nearest Meetups" column on the right-hand side suggests Atlanta and Houston, but not Michigan.
Is this a known bug?
It's a feature, not a bug. The friendly algorithm that creates that column assumes you would rationally prefer Atlanta or Houston to anywhere within 40 miles of Detroit.
Is there any convenient way to promote interesting sub-threads to Discussion-level posts?
I do not understand - and I mean this respectfully - why anyone would care about Newcomblike problems or UDT or TDT, beyond mathematical interest. An Omega is physically impossible - and if I were ever to find myself in an apparently Newcomblike problem in real life, I'd obviously choose to take both boxes.
LessWrong's focus on the bay-area/software-programmer/secular/transhumanist crowd seems to me unnecessary. I understand that that's how the organization got its start, and it's fine. But when people here tie rationality to being part of that subset, or to high-IQ in general, it seems a bit silly (I also find the near-obsession with IQ a bit unsettling).
If the sequences were being repackaged as a self-help book targeted towards the widest possible audience, what would they look like?
Some of the material is essentially millenia old, self-knowledge and self-a... (read more)
For all the emphasis on Slytherin-style interpersonal competence (not so much on the main site anymore, but it's easy to find in the archive and in Methods), LW's historically had a pretty serious blind spot when it comes to PR and other large-scale social phenomena. There's probably some basic typical-minding in this, but I'm inclined to treat it mostly as a subculture issue; American geek culture has a pretty solid exceptionalist streak to it, and treats outsiders with pity when it isn't treating them with contempt and suspicion. And we're very much tied to geek culture. I've talked to LWers who don't feel comfortable exercising because they feel like it's enemy clothing; if we can't handle something that superficial, how are we supposed to get into Joe Sixpack's head?
Ultimately I think we focus on contrarian technocrat types, consciously or not, because they're the people we know how to reach. I include myself in this, unfortunately.
Nice example of geek exceptionalism there, dude.
To be fair, it might have some merit if we were literally talking about the average person, though I'm far from certain; someone buys an awful lot of mass-market self-help books and I don't think it's exclusively Bay Aryans. But I was using "Joe Sixpack" there in the sense of "someone who is not a geek", or even "someone who isn't part of the specific cluster of techies that LW draws from", and there should be plenty of smart, motivated, growth-oriented people within that set. If we can't speak to them, that's entirely on us.
The hardline secularism (which might be better described as a community norm of atheism, given that some of the community favors creating community structures which take on the role of religious participation,) isn't a prerequisite so much as a conclusion, but it's one that's generally held within the community to be pretty basic.
However, so many of the lessons of epistemic rationality bear on religious belief that not addressing the matter at all would probably smack of willful avoidance.
In a sense, rationality might function as an alternative to mysticism. Eliezer has spoken for instance about how he tries to present certain lessons of rationality as deeply wise so that people will not come to it looking for wisdom, find simple "answers," and be tempted to look for deep... (read more)
Effective animal altruism question: I may be getting a dog. Dogs are omnivores who seem to need meat to stay healthy. What's the most ethical way to keep my hypothetical dog happy and healthy?
Edit: Answers Pet Foods appears to satisfice. I'll be going with this pending evidence that there's a better solution.
My internship has a donation match. I want to donate to something life-extension related; tentatively looking at SENS, but I have some questions:
Today is election day here in Korea. Although I have voted, I have yet to see a satisfactory argument for taking the time to vote. Does anyone know of good arguments for voting? I am thinking of an answer that
Well you see the government comes to you with a closed box that they say they have already filled with either a totalitarian government if they predicted you would not vote, but it is filled with a relatively free republic if they predicted you would vote. They filled the box long ago, however...
A handy quote by Alvin Toffler, from his introduction for The Futurists:
A friend posted this:
She's found timers which pop up windows, but none where she can add a message.
I think I've figured out a basic neural gate. I will do my best to describe it.
4 nerves: A,B,X,Y, A has it's tail connected to X. B has it's tail connected to X and Y. If A fires, X fires. If B fires, X and Y fire. If A then B fire, X will fire then Y will fire (X need a small amount of time to reset, so B will only be able to activate Y). If B then A fire, X and Y will fire at the same time.
This feels like it could be similar to the AND circuit. Just like modern electronics need AND, OR, and NOT, if I could find all the nerve gates I'd have all the parts needed to build a brain. (or at least a network based computer)