Open thread, February 15-28, 2013

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

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Are there any mechanisms on this site for dealing with mental health issues triggered by posts/topics (specifically, the forbidden Roko post)? I would really appreciate any interested posters getting in touch by PM for a talk. I don't really know who to turn to.

Sorry if this is an inappropriate place to post this, I'm not sure where else to air these concerns.

I was not hear for the roko post and i only have a general idea of what its about, that being said i experienced a bout of depression when applying rationality to the second law of thermodynamics.

Two things helped me, 1 i realized that while dealing with a future that is either very unlikely or inconceivably far away it is hard to properly diminish the emotional impact by what is rationally required. knowing that the emotions felt completely out way what is cause for them, you can hopefully realize that acting in the present towards those beliefs is irrational and ignoring those beliefs would actually help you be more rational. Also realize that giving weight to an improbable future more then it deserves is in its self irrational. With this i realized that by trying to be rational i was being irrational and found that it was easier to resolve this paradox then simply getting over the emotional weight it took to think about the future rationally to begin with.

2 I meditated on the following quote

People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.

-Gendlin nothing has changed after you read a post on this website besides what is in your brain. Becoming more rational should never make you lose, after all Rationality is Systematized Winning so instead if you find that a belief you have is making you lose it is clearly a irrational one or is being thought of in a irrational way.

Hope this helps

Treating it as you would existential depression may be useful, I would think. There are not really a lot of effective therapies for philosophy-induced existential depression - the only way to fix it seems to be to increase your baseline happiness, which is as easy to say as it is hard to do - but it occurred to me that university student health therapist may see a lot of it and may at least be able to provide an experienced ear. I would be interested in any anecdotes on the subject (I'm assuming there's not a lot of data).

One part of my brain keeps being annoyed by the huge banner saying “Less Wrong will be undergoing maintenance in 1 day, 9 hours” and wishes there were a button to hide it away; another part knows perfectly well that if I did that, I would definitely forget that.

Maybe it could reappear 30 minutes and 9 hours before the maintenance or something?

(This being part of "things that could be done with more web design resources".)

Does anyone else believe in deliberate alienation? Forums and organizations like Lesswrong often strive to be and claim to want to be more (and by extension indefinitely) inclusive but I think excluding people can be very useful in terms of social utilons and conversation, if not so good for $$$. There's a lot of value in having a pretty good picture of who you're talking to in a given social group, in terms of making effective use of jargon and references as well as appeals to emotion that actually appeal. I think thought should be carefully given as to who exactly you let in or block out with any given form of inclusiveness or insensitivity.

On a more personal note, I think looking deliberately weird is a great way to make your day to day happenstance interactions more varied and interesting.

Yes, insufficient elitism is a failure mode of people who were excluded at some point in their life.

This seems like a good time to link the Five Geek Social Fallacies, one of my favorite subculture sociology articles.

(Insufficient elitism as a failure mode is #1.)

Acting "weird" (well or just weird, depends) is something I have contemplated, too. For now I have to confess that I mostly try to stick to the norms (especially in public) except if I have a good reason to do otherwise. I think I might make this one of my tasks to just do some random "weird" acts of kindness.

About the alienation: I don't think that we should do a lot about that. I think enforcing certain rules and having our own memes and terms for stuff already has some strong effects on that. I certainly felt a bit weird when I first came here. And I already was having thoughts like "don't judge something by it's cover" etc. in my mind (avoiding certain biases).

So, there are hundreds of diseases, genetic and otherwise, with an incidence of less than 1%. That means that the odds of you having any one of them are pretty low, but the odds of you having at least one of them are pretty good. The consequence of this is that you're less likely to be correctly diagnosed if you have one of these rare conditions, which again, you very well might. If you have a rare disorder whose symptoms include frequent headaches and eczema, doctors are likely to treat the headaches and the eczema separately, because, hey, it's pretty unlikely that you have that one really rare condition!

For example, I was diagnosed by several doctors with "allergies to everything" when I actually have a relatively rare condition, histamine intolerance; my brother was diagnosed by different doctors as having Celiac disease, severe anxiety, or ulcers, when he actually just had lactose intolerance, which is pretty common, and I still cannot understand how they systematically got that one wrong. In both cases, these repeated misdiagnoses led to years of unnecessary, significant suffering. In my brother's case, at one point they actually prescribed him drugs with significant negative side effects which did nothing to alter his lactose intolerance.

I don't intend to come off as bitter, although I suppose I am. My intent is rather to discuss strategies for avoiding this type of systematic misdiagnosis of rare conditions. This line of thought seems like a strong argument in favor of the eventual role of Watson-like AIs as medical diagnostic assistants. A quick Googling indicates that the medical establishment is at least aware of the need to confront the under-diagnosis of rare diseases, but I'm not seeing a lot of concrete policies. For the present time, I don't know what strategy a non-medically-trained individual should pursue, especially if the "experts" are all telling you that your watery eyes mean you have have hay fever when you really have some treatable congenital eye disease.

but the odds of you having at least one of them are pretty good.

The odds of you having any particular disease is not independent of your odds of having other diseases.

Also it depends on how much less than 1% the incidences are.

Self experimentation. If the doctor prescribes something for you, test numerically whether it helps you to improve.

If you suffer from allergies it makes sense to systemmatically check through self experimentation whether your condition improves by removing varies substances from your diet.

It doesn't hurt to use a symptom checker like to get a list of more possible diagnoses.

It is my impression that there is already software out there that has a doctor put in a bunch of symptoms, and then outputs an ordered list of potential diagnoses (including rare ones). The main problem being that adoption is slow. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes of searching, I'm completely failing to find a reference, so who knows how well it works (I know I read about it in The Economist, but that's it).