Group rationality diary for June 22th - July 11th 2015

This is the public group rationality diary for June 22th - July 11th, 2015. It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

  • Established a useful new habit

  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief

  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations

  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior

  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something

  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life

  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves. Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Archive of previous rationality diaries

Note to future posters: no one is in charge of posting these threads. If it's time for a new thread, and you want a new thread, just create it. It should run for about two weeks, finish on a Saturday, and have the 'group_rationality_diary' tag.

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I have habitually recorded my weight since February of this year.

This is great because historically "paying attention to my weight" has lead to the desired weight-loss.

Recently I moved beyond reading about Spaced Repetition to actually downloading Anki and creating some notes.

What are your notes about?

What is your weight and target? (and height + gender)

Have you considered an automated system for weight tracking like fitbit scales (which syncs with your phone)

Chemistry so far. Control theory next.

I had weighed at most 200 and at least 150 pounds since 2007. I set my target at 175 pounds as a 5'10" male.

Absolutely, but I decided that I could not justify it. I travel for work and would prefer not to have the extra weight and space of it.

  1. excellent work on the notes,

  2. I would suggest a number lower than 175 pounds, but that depends on your muscle vs fat composition.

  3. sounds like a good call. What about other fitness/activity trackers? wearables etc. To further manage the health-balance

  1. Thanks!
  2. 175 will definitely trigger some sort of reevaluation, but I am not planning to toss out my workout routine or attention to what I am eating. By also continuing frequent measurement I hope to avoid bouncing back.
  3. Strongly considering the Fitbit Charge HR due to recommendations from a few friends with them. Do you have any experience on these?

A wearable: No one does it superiorly better than anyone else.

Fitbit, basis, apple watch, pebble, android wears, moo (or something?). There's a long list. To see what it might be like; you can probably download an app that step-tracks via your phone's gyroscope. There is a limit to the usefulness and really it depends how much you pay attention to it. I found the notifications to be unmotivating to get me to move, but that might be different for you. Each system is trying its best to be the best.

The biggest factors seem to be:

  • charging - do you want to charge every day, 7 days. or yearly. Quality comes with the price tag. Forgetfulness comes with data loss (if its flat it doesn't record). Generally having a routine to charge the wearable while you shower or sleep seems to work for the people I know, even with the daily-charge wearables.
  • push notifications - fitbit flex has no notifications, pebble is all about the notifications. You really can't know how you might use it till you have it.
  • Peripheral data. I got a Basis B1 because it had heart rate, body temperature and perspiration. Now that I have the data I have literally no idea what to do with it. trying all kinds of experiments on my data to see if I can find something interesting. But now that I have it; I probably couldn't have been convinced that the data would be relatively useless; but I wish someone would have told me. What kind of use will GPS tracking be. I don't know, if you can justify it then get it; otherwise consider the cheaper alternatives.
  • sleep tracking. This is something that frustrates me because a lot of wearables are designed to charge in a dock overnight. which means they can't track you while you sleep. I have no solution for this, other than find out where the charging port is before you buy it. some of the heart rate monitors have the charging port on the bottom, so they can't be charged while you wear them.

A new rule for myself when quantifying: have a purpose in mind before gathering data for data sake. Its great to track skin perspiration but without a purpose for the information, its as good as not tracking it.

As for burn rates due to exercise, look into MET's, Base metabolic rates and caloric intake. You might be surprised with the difference between exercise/not to weight loss. (Important note: the benefits of exercise extend beyond weight loss. You should exercise for all the benefits of improved health and decreased chance of disease)

A new rule for myself when quantifying: have a purpose in mind before gathering data for data sake.

From doing a lot of different QS myself and talking with other people about it, I think that's a key point. You actually have to care. If you don't care about what you are measuring you are unlikely to get any return.

I always wanted more data to play with, now I have data and I have no idea what I am going to do with it. It's like I personally suffer from the "big data" problem. (which I find hilarious)

I've created my own blog, and joined a community I was previously only a wallflower in. And just now, I'm going to predict how much this will help my study habits and general mental health.

calculating... ... Studies will increase in pacing slightly, and become more consistent. Mental health will go up by around half-again, and slightly stabilize.

This is a good thing, and considering my confidence on what in particular I am working on (my approach to willpower preservation, and solidifying my grasp of the sequences), I doubt the increase along these dimensions will be a once-off thing. Hopefully I'll see a climb over time. Now that I've moved into a bigger pond I feel rather small, though not intimidated.

I disagree with:

Don’t stay in your comfort zone

I would suggest, instead of leaving your comfort zone; implementing systems whereby you expand your comfort zone. eventually they do the same thing; but this way you don't have to leave your comfort zone in order to expand it. (can explain more if you like)


Don’t catastrophise

I was wondering something; If there was a pain scale that was between 1 and 10, where 1 is not in pain and 10 is in extreme pain; how often do you reach above 8 on the pain scale and where do you usually sit? images of pain scales

the don't distort link is broken.

I think I understand what you mean but the phrase; "Don't be depressed or anxious" is particularly unhelpful sounding.

As the wikipedia article says about (euphoric recall)[] in the last sentence:

Individuals may become obsessed with recreating the remembered pleasures of the past.

Euphoric recall is perfectly fine right up until that point. Heck! the idea of a favourite restaurant or a favourite food is exactly that, but I suppose we call them tame versions of questionable behaviour.

Similarly Hyper vigilance is problematic where vigilance is fine.

Please expand on how you expand your comfort zone without leaving it... I've always found the best way to expand it to be to step just outside of it regularly.

I would start with evaluating and defining/understanding your comfort zone. I think the best way to explain this is to use a worked example: "going to a bar"

Things about bars that put me outside my comfort zone:

  • Alcohol
  • loud noises
  • strangers
  • uncomfortable seats
  • public places
  • dim lights
  • not able to have valuable conversations with people
  • bad public transport so getting home is difficult
  • messes with my sleep cycle
  • being alone (not having friends there)
  • talking to strangers
  • pubs are expensive
  • fear of having bad conversations
  • fear of getting in a bar fight
  • don't care for sport on tv's around bars
  • don't like being near gambling machines in bars
  • don't like bar food
  • don't know what to wear
  • don't feel comfortable dancing
  • people smoking

This^ is a long list; not all of these apply to me, but each problem may have various solutions:

  • loud noises - wear earplugs, find a bar without loud music playing,
  • don't like bar food - eat elsewhere first
  • messes with sleep cycle - set alarms or systems that you follow, pre-committing to the decision to leave in time for your normal sleep schedule. Go to lunch-time bars, not lat night bars.
  • talking to strangers - take friends, make sure to go with them, ask friends to help you make more friends. etc.

Eventually most of these have a solution. At the end of running through your list of things, if you can't solve enough of them, or the solutions are not good enough, you can consider attacking the goal you set out to do.

Why do I want to go to a bar? Is there a better way to achieve that desire?

Reasons to go to a bar:

  • all my friends seem to like it
  • meet new people
  • my favourite band is playing
  • I like pub trivia etc.

These reasons have solutions of their own.

  • favourite band - see if they are playing at other venues.
  • meet new people - try meetups, try local groups.
  • friends like it - do other things with friends, i.e. dinner, board games evening. (get better friends/friends you share mutual interests with)

at the end of the thought exercise you should either be happy to do the thing, or happy preferring not doing the thing. These are the win-states of considering setting out to do X.

Does that make sense? Does that help? Perhaps you can ask for help (here on LW) in solving a comfort zone issue. Perhaps you don't have to do it. Message me directly if you need personal advice and you don't want it publicly visible.

Hmmm, what is the advantage of this method over say, going to the bar, and getting over my fears

Depends on what is limiting your comfort zone and whether that limit is reasonable or unreasonable. I can't say for your life whether a limit is reasonable or unreasonable, and to do so yourself might involve comparing your life to the lives of other people and evaluating whether you are fulfilled, happy or missing out on something that other people have.

For example - I am definitely missing out on sky-diving by not sky-diving, but I don't really feel like I want to do it. Personal choice and all; not really missing out on something by not being comfortable doing it.

A comfort zone has a purpose, as does stereotypes, social structures, religion, fear, disgust, pain, monogamy, straw man arguments, and many more.

To blindly fight existing systems is as bad as to follow them to the letter. I believe in questioning and evaluating before stepping forward. (System 2 over system 1 in this case - thinking over automated)

To take the bar example again: If the reason why I don't like bars is they are too loud; going to more bars may do several things:

  • cause hearing loss
  • cause me to be even more annoyed by loud bars
  • cause me to get used to it
  • cause me to be more often in an uncomfortable state of being possibly all at once.

If on the other hand I go in search of non-loud bars I can maintain a comfort zone of not too loud things while doing the task (going to a bar) its also a win-state, and I avoid the uncomfortable experience of gradually getting used to it.