Five quick questions, five fast answers. Fast and perhaps somewhat rambling.

I'm an Australian, a few years shy of thirty, who has generally done things for his own reasons rather than simply going along with everyone else. After secondary school I got a job or two, became heavily involved in a fringe political group for a few years and only then decided to go onto to university. Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) - hopefully the last BS from the education system I'll put up with. I've just very recently dropped out of Honours and moved the 1000km home to Melbourne, which was the most difficult decision I think I've ever faced. Not being easy, it stretched my relevant skills to their limit, and in the end it was quite nice to learn that I can make choices as a rational adult human. Or at least as some approximation thereof.

Every now and then I attempt to express my personal values in a system like those used in the Ultima games. Most recently, my three principles of virtue were Curiosity, Truthfulness, and Playfulness. Curiosity I have valued for as long as I can remember - my primary school motto included "live to learn" which I took to heart. Honesty has been an absolute for me since a particular incident in my late teens. Play I've valued especially since reading Schiller but creativity in general I've valued much longer. I find Internet "memes" and other banal forms of conformity an affront to creativity; people should find and use their own words.

I've never really identified as a rationalist per se, but as I say I've always tried to have my own reasons for why I do things, or why I think things. Tried with varying levels of success. Even at the age of ten I thought that knowledge was power, and that mathematics in particular should be seen as equipping my mind with tools to better solve problems. The only book to really open my mind or change the way I question things was Dune, first read in early high school, which raised my standards for self-control and for long-term planning. To say the least. The fringe political outfit I joined made a pretence of rationality, on reflection, which pretence I for one took quite seriously. And then when I was looking to do honours this year, one of the possible projects was "something something Bayesian something", which was enough prompting to pick up a book on the subject and read it. I picked up Jaynes' textbook, and people still look at me funny when I say I read a statistics textbook for fun and loved every minute of it. One of those "yes! this is the way that things work and I've never seen it put in words this well before" books. Or put into mathematics as well, perhaps.

Happening across Less Wrong after all that just seemed fitting. Turns out there are people out there with similar values to me - I even know some of them. I read some posts by HughRistik (a friend was engaged in an exchange with him on some blog, probably 'Alas!') and I was quite impressed with the way he argued, to put it mildly. Found a link to his comments here, bookmarked it as a place to check out one day. Eventually came back to do so, recognised a couple of people from the xkcd forums (Hi Vaniver!), read the Harry Potter fanfic (and was mightily impressed), read the Twilight fanfic and was even more impressed (I took great delight for a couple of days in telling people that I'd found the perfect expression of something I'd been trying to say for years, and that it was "something Bella said in a Twilight fan fiction".)

I've started on reading the sequences (just moved interstate and it was easier to bring ebooks than physical ones) but I still would've put off making this intro-thread type post. But I'm planning to attend the local meet-up on Friday, and that makes for a useful deadline.

took great delight for a couple of days in telling people that I'd found the perfect expression of something I'd been trying to say for years, and that it was "something Bella said in a Twilight fan fiction".

Eee, what was it? :D

1shokwave9yWelcome to LessWrong, and I look forward to seeing you this Friday!

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

by orthonormal 1 min read12th Aug 2010805 comments

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