Unyielding Yoda Timers: Taking the Hammertime Final Exam

by TurnTrout1 min read3rd Apr 20183 comments


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The Hammertime Final Exam

Difficulty: Vorpal Dragonscale Sledgehammer of the Whale

Write all three. For each essay, give yourself five minutes to brainstorm and five minutes to write.


Design an instrumental rationality technique.

I have one "spirit" which I regard as being the best version of myself and which I can trust to reliably make good choices. Unfortunately, when I'm making decisions, another spirit is often more or less in charge. One approach to mitigating this is making a TAP wherein you simulate my post facto opinion of the (usually bad) choice you're about to make. This interpolates between your current spirit and the normatively-correct one. Pretending to be someone else / another version of yourself is, in my experience, surprisingly effective.

Confusion Identification

Introduce a rationality framework.

You're doing your homework, and you're stuck. You don't know what to do next.

One approach is to set a Yoda Timer for 5 minutes; write down a broad-strokes explanation of the problem, where you are presently, and what a solution would look like. Then go to a friend (or, if you're alone, an imaginary friend) and explain it. They don't have to understand, but you have to understand what you're saying while you're saying it. You don't have to have a gears-level understanding of the solution (yet), but you should have a System 1 understanding of your outline.

Be on the lookout for any mental bumps, any areas you gloss over with a trace of discomfort. These dark crevices beckon to you; into them you must descend if you are to emerge solution in hand.

Emotion Propagation

Describe a cognitive defect.

At my undergraduate institution, I was incredibly social - I eagerly crossed cliques to make new friends wherever I went. This demeanor carried over to my first trimester of graduate school; then, I became depressed.

After taking a few months leave, I managed to fully recover. I returned to my graduate institution and found my desire to socialize was neutered. This problem plagued me for nearly a year; it is only within the last month that I pinpointed the cause. My attitude towards interpersonal interaction never left the state.

Just as the human mind doesn't enforce belief consistency, it won't necessarily propagate attitudinal changes to relevant areas of your life. Do you currently value everything as you would reflectively prefer, or are there holdovers from the past?

Several additional minutes were taken for formatting.