This is the public group rationality diary for January 16-31.

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.

Thanks to cata for starting the Group Rationality Diary posts, and to commenters for participating.

Previous diary: January 1-15

Next diary: February 1-14

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17 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:45 AM

I am enrolled in a weightwatchers-like program.

My doctor recommended it to me 6 months ago and I said "doc, I can understand nutrition and exercise myself! no need for a program like this. I'll lose weight my own methods and show you in a follow-up!"

One follow-up later, I'm 10 pounds heavier and agree to enroll.

If you're not rational enough to get it done one way, try a different way.

Yay for doing things that work :)

I fixed my anger issues! It used to be that when I was extremely angry at someone, I would sometimes feel a desire to physically attack that person. This was not something I wanted, because having a desire to attack people is a risk factor for hurting people in certain circumstances. However, the main solution that I heard about to this problem was to calm down whenever I was angry, which wouldn't actually be in my best interests, because anger is useful.

Once I figured this out, and realized that I had forced myself out of a "wanting to hurt someone" state once when I'd realized that it was entirely counterproductive, I just forced myself out of the "wanting to hurt someone" state the next time I entered it without calming myself down completely, and it worked.

Now I can be angry, but I'm not at as much risk of committing a crime while angry. The last thing I did out of anger was encrypt my computer and backup drive, because I caught my mom listening in on a phone call. I do not regret this.

Interesting. Are there any reasons anger is useful aside from motivation/Actually Doing Things? (Though that's pretty big on its own.) Also, are you sure your judgement isn't affected by anger? Even when it's not intent on harming someone, it's still a strong emotion.

As a minor, anger is pretty much the only way I have of creating negative incentives for my parents that doesn't automatically lead to me being punished, because anger is not seen as purposeful retaliation in the same way that other things that annoy people are. (I can't fine my parents, I can't refuse to associate with them, and I can't damage their reputation within the community without breaking community social norms.)

Anger is also really great for signaling that you consider someone else's behavior extremely unpleasant. If I just tell people I'm upset, I have strong incentives to make this statement when I am only mildly annoyed, and so people can't trust me to verbally signal the level of disutility their action causes me. However, because people generally don't enjoy being angry, you can generally tell that if someone is angry, they are very upset.

Also, my judgement is definitely affected by anger, but I can limit what angry!ilzolende decides to do, because I am aware of my poor judgement when I'm angry, so I default to the the hard rules that my non-angry self sets, such as "don't cause property damage or injury while angry, you're probably wrong". Things I have done while angry:

  • Turn on lots of lights and faucets to increase my parents' utility bills, because I thought there needed to be a financial disincentive to their actions. (Unfortunately, losing ~$0.5 at most is really not a strong incentive.)
  • Move objects to annoying locations, because I wanted to inconvenience the person who I was upset at.
  • Encrypt my hard drive and backup drive, because I realized after catching my parents wiretapping me that the only reliable privacy boundaries were the ones that I could enforce, and trust had just been shown not to work as an enforcement mechanism. This was probably the best decision I've made while upset.

Have you tried screaming at someone? Not as bad as hurting someone, and it gives an immediate feedback.

I already don't hurt people. My problem was that I was entering mental states that, if I continued to enter them, made me somewhat liable to potentially hurt someone.

Also, the people who make me extremely angry have so far been either people who I am not near in person (historical figures and people running organizations with goals directly counter to my interests), or people with power over me (I'm a disabled teenager, they're legally allowed to do all sorts of stuff and call it 'treatment' if they wanted to), both of whom are groups that I really don't want to or can't scream at. (I would like to scream at the people who state that preventing deaths from measles leads to autism, and that a chance of autism is worse than a lower chance of dying painfully, but they quite wisely avoid me.)

Oh. :(

As my religious friends sometimes say:
"It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living doctor."
(Hebrews 10:31, more or less)

Discord and I both grew up in a math contest culture, so each month or so we pick something we "should" be doing and turn it into a contest. This month it's getting half hour of exercise a day. At the end of the month the winner "wins" something from the loser. It's been surprisingly effective. I go to the gym about 5x as often as before. Works best with a daily cap. If there's no daily cap then it turns into an arms race (such as 5 hours of exercise in one day). This sort of thing, that we "should" do but like to hand to tomorrow-self, really is a lot easier when you can do it with someone. Someone who will call you and taunt you. :)

That's great for motivation and all, but with physical exercise you have to remember that more is not always better. Prolonged and intense training every single day may have detrimental effects upon joint health and recovery capacity.* It may improve performance more effectively, but performance is not the same thing as health. I used to run every day for a while, for instance, until I messed up my knees with all that jogging. One year afterwards, I kinda sorta almost recovered, but knee pain is much quicker to come back than before.

*There are no studies I can cite (and most of them are probably behind the paywall anyway), but this seems to be a very common piece of advice given to novice bodybuilders.

I agree 100%. That's why we have a limit of half an hour each day, no bonus points for doing more. Our last contest was "logging the most steps with Fitbit", and it ended up wasting a lot of time with no health benefits. Lesson learned!

I'm on a job hunt and I've put the word out through several avenues. One of my early applications came back with an offer that passed my satisficing limits. I accepted it to tie it down and to allow me to give early notice.

Now some of my other lines of inquiry are turning up promising, competitive offers. And my brain refuses to take them seriously, it is committed to the first offer and will not take an unbiased assessment of anything else on the table.

This is a problem. I'm going to re-read Hold Off On Proposing Solutions and Seeing with Fresh Eyes to look for solutions. Any recommendations? any recommendations from other sources?

Physically write a letter to the first offerer, thanking them for the offer but telling them you've found a better position, and hoping that they find another suitable candidate. Sign it.

You don't have to actually send the letter (until you decide to take another position, and even then an email will be better), but it may help you alieve that you are not committed to the first offer.

This greatly reduced the cognitive dissonance. Thanks.

Are there legal or ethical considerations? I mean, you've accepted an offer somewhere and presumably they've stopped their search for candidates; do you feel, or might you be legally, obliged to take it?

(I would be surprised if they had any legal case against you, and even more surprised if they had enough of a case to be worth pursuing. But if I were in your situation I'd feel quite guilty if I accepted a job offer and then took another job instead.)

No legal grounds, it is very much the equivalent of quitting within the first 90 days (I think, I'll look it up if it matters).

There is the ethical consideration, but that is the one of the hard truths of life; employment is not secure until you've already been working for 90 days. And then, only slightly more so.

So, in short: it would be bad sense for them to stop searching for a candidate, as a back up should I cancel and as potential future hires. And they would be naive to think I've stopped my job hunt, not all lines of inquiry resolve at the same rate. It is easy for them to predict that I may receive competing offers.

p.s.: I'm not a defaulting moloch leech, I swear. The early acceptance was to allow me to give very early notice in my current position and to facilitate a smooth exit that leaves everyone happy.

Having resolved to not obtain any new books for the first half of 2015, I'm keeping a list of topics I'll want to read about. I can curate this list, removing topics I lose interest in, or which are satisfied elsewhere in the interim, and come July I should be left with a list comprising only of subjects I'm sufficiently motivated to study.

I'm not sure six months is the best level of granularity for this, but that could just be my impatience talking.

A related observation, now I'm not distracted by whichever new book tickles my fancy, is that many of the books I've been putting off reading are books I'm very keen to read, but was somehow intimidated by.

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