Hi Less Wrong. I am moving into a 5 bedroom house in North Berkeley with Mike Blume and Emil Gilliam. We have an extra bedroom available.

It's located in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood (because we can afford to eat at Chez Pannise when we aren't busy saving the world, right? I didn't think so) and is about 1/2 mile from the Downtown Berkeley and North Berkeley BART stations. From Downtown Berkeley to Downtown SF via BART, it is a painless 25 minute commute. The bedroom is unfurnished and available right now. Someone willing to commit to living there for one year is preferred, but willing to consider six month or month to month leases.

I'm open to living with a wide range of people and tend to be extremely tolerant of people's quirks. I am not tolerant to drama, so I am open to living with anyone that will not bring any sort of unneeded conflict to my living space.

~$750/month+utilities. Easy street parking available.

Feel free to ask questions via email (kfischer @# gmail %# com) or in the comments here.

And before any of you pedants downvote me because "Less Wrong is not Craigslist", this is kind of like a year long Less Wrong meetup.

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And before any of you pedants downvote me because "Less Wrong is not Craigslist", this is kind of like a year long Less Wrong meetup.

Similarly, my marriage to steven0461 is kind of like a lifetime LW meetup. Current posts that I have in the works: 1) Pictures from our Less Wrong Wedding; 2) How to manage finances in a Less Wrong marriage; 3) Family vacations the Less Wrong way; and 4) Why every Less Wrong couple should get a puppy.

While I don't think these are entirely serious (but if they are, that's pretty awesome too!), I'd definitely love to see some posts on interpersonal relationships from a rationalist perspective. My own attempts at easing my girlfriend gently in (with Alicorn's Luminosity sequence, which I think is about as gentle an introduction to some LW principles as you can get) was an unambiguous disaster; and this is with someone who expressed interest in increasing her rationality when we met.

Even if your story is not directly relevant, I'm sure there's useful information in there for anyone who would like to be able to have a happy relationship and think clearly at the same time.

(edited for formatting)

My own attempts at easing my girlfriend gently in (with Alicorn's Luminosity sequence, which I think is about as gentle an introduction to some LW principles as you can get) was an unambiguous disaster;

I would be interested in hearing more details about your experience. I'll bet that a lot of people here are wondering how to go about doing the same thing with their significant others. Hearing about attempts that didn't work could help others find more success.

Well, she has had depression issues and was going through a pretty rough period -- our relationship was stressed (largely on account of it being long-distance at the time, with her in Colorado and me in Utah); she was under a lot of stress (finals in the senior year of her bachelor's degree, which is the reason for the previous long-distance); medical problems that, being an uninsured student, she really had no way to pay for; and we were scrambling to find an apartment and get everything ready for her imminent move to live with me. I had just recently read the Luminosity sequence, and the techniques in it seemed like something that anyone who wanted to be happier could at least give a shot and put to good use.

I linked her to http://lesswrong.com/lw/20l/ureshiku_naritai/, hoping that she could use it, and was told that she felt insulted by it, that it's against the way she operates, that sometimes she just wants to be miserable and that "fooling yourself into feeling 'more than a 2'" is just kidding yourself. She said she'd try not to outright ridicule the method but after reading it twice, she felt an intense sense of derision, and noted that she sometimes hates "the analytical approach".

I've also gone through pretty intense depressive episodes, and I know what it's like to feel helpless. What I don't understand is accepting that helpless feeling and just trying to deal with it. When I'm feeling that way I can't always muster the energy and initiative to actually do something about it, but I desperately want to feel different. It's certainly possible that she was not actually clinically depressed at the time, though she seemed like it to me. But even so, she was not happy, and I was trying to offer her a possible way to become happier.

Thank you for the details. That sounds rough.

I linked her to http://lesswrong.com/lw/20l/ureshiku_naritai/, hoping that she could use it, and was told that she felt insulted by it, that it's against the way she operates, that sometimes she just wants to be miserable and that "fooling yourself into feeling 'more than a 2'" is just kidding yourself. She said she'd try not to outright ridicule the method but after reading it twice, she felt an intense sense of derision, and noted that she sometimes hates "the analytical approach".

It's hard to know what to do with an aversion to "the analytical approach" itself.

You say that sometimes she just wanted to be miserable. Were there other times when she didn't want to be miserable? How would she react if you said, "Oh, those methods are just for when you don't want to be miserable."?

"Oh, those methods are just for when you don't want to be miserable."

This is exactly right anyway. I would prefer to be miserable if my entire family were to catch the plague and die. I would not use things like this to "fix" that kind of contextually appropriate misery.

Why? How would that misery help you or anyone else in any way? If I caught the plague and died I would not want my loved ones to be miserable.

I would prefer to be the sort of person who would mourn her family, in a way vaguely similar to the way that I prefer to be the sort of person who one-boxes on Newcomb's problem. I would actually carry out this disposition in either case as part of being that kind of person.

Interesting perspective, though I don't agree with it.

I would ideally prefer to be the sort of person who will do everything in his power to prevent bad things from happening, but who, if they happen anyway, will not further decrease utility by feeling miserable (apart from being a terminal disutility, grief tends to result in additional bad things happening both to oneself and the surviving people one cares about).

The Newcomb analogy basically suggests "what if you can't have both?". In that case, granted, I would rather have the former. And that is the trade-off evolution found: it's as if it can't trust us to protect people we care about, without holding over our heads a credible threat of harm to them being reflected in harm to ourselves.

But unlike Newcomb, I don't think the trade-off here is logically necessary. Just because evolution wasn't able to create minds that have it both ways, does not, it seems to me, preclude the possibility of such minds coming into existence in the future by other means.

(Whether and to what extent we could by means available today modify our existing minds to have it both ways is, granted, another question, to which I don't currently have a definite answer.)

(Whether and to what extent we could by means available today modify our existing minds to have it both ways is, granted, another question, to which I don't currently have a definite answer.)

Cognitive behavioral therapy tries to do this (and Alicorn's luminosity techniques are similar in some ways).

My answer is that in that situation, it's not about you. For many people, being miserable in response to a situation that ordinarily triggers feelings of intense sadness is a human value; to give up being sad when very sad things happen would be to lose a part of what makes me me. I can understand that you would want me to be happy anyway, but it's more than a little intrusive of you to insist on dictating my emotional state in that way.

I don't think he was trying to dictate anyone's emotional state.

Fair point. I should say, rather, "make sure not to expect your loved ones to 'help you or anyone else'" with their emotions; sometimes emotions are legitimately self-serving.

As long as they know I wouldn't want them to be sad.

I don't really see how that form of grief is self-serving; if you need to grieve to get over my death, fine, but isn't it more self-serving to be happy?

I got the girl next door into rationality by recommending the Harry Potter fanfiction and bragging about how awesome interning at the Singularity Institute is (she'd already heard of them via writing a school paper on transhumanism). That said, she already had a very strong interest in quantum mechanics and knowledge generally and it still took me a few months to actually get her to the point where she wanted to read Less Wrong. She's working her way through the sequences now, but I was really surprised at how difficult it was to get someone so knowledge-hungry to read a single LW post.

She's working her way through the sequences now, but I was really surprised at how difficult it was to get someone so knowledge-hungry to read a single LW post.

What was the difficulty? Was she just skeptical that it would be worth her time? Or did she expect that they weren't the sort of thing that she would enjoy reading for some reason?

It took a few months for me to start reading LW and sequences after I first read some random texts here. Not that I didn't like it, and I'd like to think of myself as knowledge-hungry, and I had entire time this goal to start reading more, but still... Dunno. Learning shock, maybe? Humans, at least some, don't really learn all that fast. Grasping even simple things takes ridiculous amounts of time, and I feel that inferential distance between LW and thought patterns of ordinary nerd is big enough to warrant few months of thinking time.

But dunno. This topic could almost be discussed more, I remember vividly observing the huge inferential gap when I first came here, but now I can't remember how did I think back then.

In general, reading an interesting article on a site you've been linked to and then leaving the site without reading more seems to be the default behavior for humans, unless the article in question has particularly interesting links. Since most sites have a lot of variance in the quality of the articles, this is pretty reasonable behavior: only reading a site when somebody bothers to link to it will increase the odds of you not wasting your time. It often takes several links to the same site before you get interested enough to actually start reading it.

I was really interested even back then. Name of this site was enough to cause that.

What was the difficulty?

I'm not really sure. She said she was afraid there would be too many concepts she hadn't previously encountered and thus would be forced to start a Wikipedia tab explosion if she was to get anything out of it. It doesn't help that the first thing she looked at was a post in the middle of the quantum physics sequence, which I imagine would be rather intimidating (much more so than anything else on LW, I think). This led her to a false sense of how difficult this whole rationality thing is.

Was that her real reason? (theres a nice article on that one) I surely have my share of unread books lying around as does everybody else. E.T. Jaynes remains half read so far, as does lots of stuff about groups effects and psychology.

This one? I think that was her real reason, considering that once she was introduced to a less intimidating version of LW (the Harry Potter fanfic) she quickly moved to reading the LW sequences.

I sometimes wonder why so many Christians never read the Bible. (Not sure if the same holds true for other religions with a written canon.) Maybe its a similar reason. I guess whoever finds a way around it could become a really great teacher, and/or sell piles of books.

I sometimes wonder why so many Christians never read the Bible. (Not sure if the same holds true for other religions with a written canon.)

I suspect that a lot of Christians don't read the Bible as a cognitive defense mechanism since a cursory reading shows that there's a lot of material (especially in the Old Testament) that is at odds with modern morality. There are a lot of religious Jews who have not read much of the Bible or if they have, have only read it through the lens of commentary. I'm more familiar with Judaism than with Christianity in detail, and my impression is that for Jews there are so many different approaches and different motivations that almost anything I can say is going to be an overgeneralization. That suggests that the same is happening in regards to Christians reading their scriptures and I just don't have enough data to recognize that.

I suspect that a lot of Christians don't read the Bible as a cognitive defense mechanism since a cursory reading shows that there's a lot of material (especially in the Old Testament) that is at odds with modern morality.

The history is more complex. For many centuries, lay Christians weren't supposed to read the Bible, and in at least one time and place, translating the Bible into English was deemed heretical. That changed with the Reformation, one of the pillars of which was the view that the Bible should be read by all, as the sole basis of religion. And it was (or listened to, by the unlettered).

If (cite?) those who call themselves Christians do not nowadays read the Bible, it is not clear why the alleged cognitive hazard did not apply, say, in Victorian times. Perhaps they are merely more lacklustre about their religion.

If (cite?) those who call themselves Christians do not nowadays read the Bible, it is not clear why the alleged cognitive hazard did not apply, say, in Victorian times. Perhaps they are merely more lacklustre about their religion.

I think a lot of intelligent Christians don't read the Bible for the same reason that a lot of intelligent atheists don't try to become very conversant in modern physics. The Christians think that they are lucky enough to live in a world with a nice division of labor in place. They can devote their time to other things because people they trust have chosen to read the Bible, and the readers will make sure that the other Christians know about anything really important.

That actually sort of makes sense. If Christians see Bible study as analogous to advanced research, what they do is equivalent to an intelligent atheist reading popular books on physics, going to lectures, and taking a class, but not getting a Ph.D.

There are a lot of religious Jews who have not read much of the Bible

I'd guess most adult Orthodox Jews have read the whole Old Testament.

There's also a huge difference between (1) sitting down and reading the whole thing straight through in a few sittings and (2) studying the text with teachers and commentary over the course of a year.

(1) prompts a focus on the literary aspects of the Bible, which are often subversive vis-a-vis mainstream Orthodox culture, and allows you to notice dominant themes and glaring inconsistencies.

(2) carefully pushes aside inconsistencies while giving your community ample time to help you bury any contrarian impulses you inadvertently develop.

I'd strongly guess not. I suspect that most have read all of the Torah, but I'd be surprised if most have read all of Nach. Most Orthodox Jews aren't going to read stuff there unless it is in that weeks haftorah or is associated with some event (such as one of the Megillot). That leaves most of Kings and Chronicles unread as well as many of the later prophets such as Daniel and much of Ezra.

Was trying to say Pentateuch, not Nach.

Then no disagreement. Note that "Old Testament" usually refers to the entire of Tanach (modulo reordering).

A lot of Christians that do read the bible treat anything bad as allegory anyway. In fact, they treat pretty much the whole thing as allegory from what I can tell. Which, of course, makes it very difficult to falsify.

If there was a book where the creator of the universe put down all his wisdom I would surely read it. (Or the commented version, or the watered down popular version) More so if all of society claims that the book does so, and it was widely available. Not doing so would mean that the respective religious people already know on a unconscious level that something fishy is going on. I would like to understand what is going on here.

Regarding the more mundane reading material: sometimes material gets forgotten, does not seem /that/ important. I can also imagine that outside pressure reduces the desire to read something. Then i noticed a strong inability to accurately expect improvements in my ability to think, even with respect to sources that have proven their ability to do so many times over. And then their are people for whom thinking does not matter in the first place....

I sometimes wonder why so many Christians never read the Bible.

Maybe because the Bible is boring.

I guess whoever finds a way around it could become a really great teacher, and/or sell piles of books.

Yep!

I've never interested a girlfriend in the art of rationality per se, but I've persuaded several to think more rationally about some of their current problems by (1) demonstrating unconditional affection, and (2) taking baby steps.

By unconditional affection, I mean that nothing was riding on their attempt to think rationally in terms of my approval or feelings toward them -- they knew that I would still really like them even if they totally failed to think rationally or solve the problem du jour. This lowers stress to the point where learning new behaviors is more likely to succeed, or at least that's what they taught me in AP Psych, and it matches my experience.

By taking baby steps, I mean treating the results of semi-rational reasoning with respect, as if they were serious and reasonable opinions. E.g, if Jenna is convinced beyond all possibility of doubt that she can enjoy life and succeed at most tasks on 2 hours of sleep a night, despite overwhelming evidence that this is not the case, but Jenna concedes that she might be happier if she had more free time, then I wouldn't argue that she should quit, e.g., her second set of dance classes in order to get more sleep -- I would try to get her to look at the cost-benefit ratio of free time vs. dance. She would (irrationally) be looking at the benefit of time as used for, say, talking to friends rather than the benefit of time as used for sleeping, but she is still more likely to come to the correct conclusion by dint of the fact that now she's doing some cost-benefit analysis than she was before, when she was running on unquestioned instinct.

As I write this, I realize that it could come off as condescending, but most of the girlfriends who I've tried to "teach" rationality to have also tried to teach me to, e.g., emote. Everyone is a beginner at different things, and it's important to teach people at the level they're actually at for any given skill.

most of the girlfriends who I've tried to "teach" rationality to have also tried to teach me to, e.g., emote

Did that work?

Try again with Eliezer's Harry Potter fanfic. It worked on my girlfriend to the point where she sought out some of Eliezer's posts on her own (Guessing the Teacher's Password is one that comes to mind).

Or if she likes Twilight and the luminosity material in particular is likely to help her, my new Twilight fic.

OMG OMG LOL (in a positive way).

It has been a running joke between my girlfriend and me, that she'd get into reading Less Wrong stuff if there was a Twilight fanfic instead of the Harry Potter one. So far she hasn't read much LW material besides that article of yours that started with the cute bunny.

She's a real Twilight addict, spends much of her time reading the "Twitarded blogosphere", has to see every Twilight movie at the "midnight premieres" that are the first opportunities when they come out (and drags me along to those).

Not to make her sound simple, though -- she's also working on a biotech PhD, and while in school was the highest placing girl in a nationwide math competition etc.

My girlfriend dislikes Twilight as much as I do, but I have some other friends that might be interested in that.

Same tactic worked for me (as noted in the comments above).

What was so disastrous? The worst that can happen is that she doesn't like the posts, right?

1), 2), and 3) seem ok, I don't think you could definitively argue the point behind 4) though. Situations just vary too much.

Puppies are human universal value, but it's a contrarian claim that you have to study LW real hard to obtain level 3 understanding of.

Puppies are human universal value

I've been arguing for going with the "head only" option, but she thinks it's somehow weird.

She's not wrong; head-only is weird. The trick is realizing that weird actions can be normatively correct; not all first-stage moral intuitions are accurate.

I think #4 could be argued sanely. For example, here's one: 'puppies fill the child-sized hole in your heart, freeing lots of money for SIAI and cryonics'

(Since the lifetime cost of a dog is somewhere below 10k, while for a middle-class kid raised to college and beyond is... >200k? In that range. 190k just about pays for a neuro-suspension even without investment/insurance.)

And before any of you pedants downvote me because "Less Wrong is not Craigslist"

I for one approve of this trend. The next logical step is to have LW personal ads. We can use rationality skills to help each other improve our dating profiles, perhaps with reference to statistics posted on the OkCupid blog.

[-][anonymous]12y 2

See this thread on OKCupid.

I actually voted this up because the instrumental value of growing our offline/in-person community seems to outweigh the slight noise contributed by top-level posts of the "SIAI is calling for visiting fellows / volunteers / donations" or "Meetup at location X" variety.

This seems to be much more of a noise post than a meetup post.

Meetups are of general interest to the community. Moreover, face to face meetings help movements succeed. In contrast this post is only relevant to people living or about to live in a small area who don't already have housing arrangements.

Edit: Curious for reason for downvote.

Benton House seems to have some net positive effect on the transhumanist/singularity movement. This post is only relevant to a very small number of people (though there are most likely more LW'ers in the Bay Area than any other metropolitan area) but it is of extraordinarily high value to me, Mike Blume, and Emil, as well as our potential roommate. I don't think that this post has an obviously lower expected value than a meetup post.

One more thing -- there's actually three bedrooms that will be available for the rest of July. If anyone needs a place to stay just until the start of August (or heck, even for just a few days), we'd be happy to have you, probably at reduced rent.

Argh, I wish I were still able to live in Berkeley. This sounds like a lot of fun, and that's near some of my favourite restaurants.