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


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Sorry to complain, but I opened the site to see what was going on, and Main has gone to utter crap.

"Is spirituality irrational?" and "3 reasons it's irrational to demand 'rationalism' in social-justice activism" are now heavily-commented recent posts in Main. Meanwhile, "Building Machines That Learn and Think Like People" was published a short while ago, and nothing about it appears on this site.

Looks like this site has slid into the River of Low Domain-Knowledge, Easy-to-Discuss General Stuff, rather than staying up in the nice Forest of Stuff LW Purports to be About.

Context: Main is currently disabled; LessWrong 2.0

LessWrong is actively being redesigned. Until further notice, posts to Main have been disabled. Once the redesign is complete, LW may have multiple subs, none of which might be called 'Main', but one or more of which will be designated as where the nice Forest of Classic LW Stuff you're hoping to find here. The only posts in Main recently are meetup posts and the survey, which were promoted there for visibility. Apparently, usage statistics show for the last several months Discussion has been getting much more attention than Main, so Discussion is where non-crap is. Of course, there is no more explicit division between crap and non-crap you'd expect the 'Main'/'Discussion' divide to reflect. Try finding other ways to filter out crap, like reading the top posts from the previous week.

Huh. Whatever then.
Woah there! It's called handi-capable now!

Don't apologize. I've been waiting for weeks for someone to complain, to make sure that it wasn't just me who felt this was an actual problem.

Evaporative cooling. Since LW now seems to have less of the stuff that made LW unique, and more Other Internet Stuff, I've been browsing LW less often.
If you come across something cool, that you think would be of interest to LWers, and no one has posted it yet, then that's your opportunity to post it yourself.
I really liked the linked paper, thanks for posting the link.
No problem! I was excited to see it, since I fanboy over that lab.
A good paper! I'm curious how you found the paper. I asked myself how I would find such a paper (rather than just stumbling on it here). I first checked Tenenbaum's homepage, but it's out of date. Then I checked the CBMM publications page and found it. Another interesting paper from that page: "Foveation-based Mechanisms Alleviate Adversarial Examples"
Honestly? I browse /r/MachineLearning pretty regularly, and someone there tends to eventually post Tenenbaum-lab papers.
Main is indeed frozen but for some meta stuff like the survey, it's no more a source of authoritative posts.

Just a random thing I wanted to say before I forget it:

It is okay to be rational and happy.

Why am I even saying this? Did anyone claim the opposite? Well, I haven't heard anyone say explicitly "no, as a rational person you must be always serious and grim", but sometimes people behave as if they believed that. Why could it be so?

There are many bad things in the world. Knowing and understanding more will make you see more of those bad things, which logically can make you sad. On the other hand, fools are believed to be ignorant and happy. So it's like we have an intuitive idea that intelligence or wisdom or rationality (I am not going to distinguish between these things properly; this is a comment on a blog, not a doctoral thesis) correlate negatively with happiness. Of course this isn't always true -- for example a paranoid person can be less rational, see more dangers, and thus be less happy -- but in general the idea seems plausible.

However, this is confusing two things: knowing in general that a bad thing exists, and thinking about it obsessively all the time. It is the latter that can make you sad 24/7. People in difficult situations often do have happy moments; they f... (read more)

Oops, I did the mistake of proposing a solution too soon. Well, in the name of greater positivity, I am now officially forgiving myself. ;-) Meta: Not sure how frequent this is, but I often think better while talking aloud. (Or writing.) Just like today: I wrote something, later I thought about it, felt somewhat dissatisfied like I didn't exactly express what I wanted to say, later it crystalized, so now I am going to write the conclusion. I realized this: Politeness (or other communication norms) is a recursive problem. Like, imagine that someone says "let's make it our community norm that we only talk politely", and everyone is like "yeah, sounds great". Later someone says something not perfectly polite, and someone else is like: "dude, that wasn't cool, I thought we did have an agreement about politeness". And the accused person is like: "hey, on the scale from perfect politeness to 4chan, my comment was far enough on the polite side." And then they add: "you know what? using the small imperfection on my side as a pretext to attack me publicly, that's the real impoliteness; that's a behavior much more hostile than merely using 'fuck you' as a harmless idiom, so actually you are the bad guy". -- So now we have a meta-discussion about politeness, and a problem to keep even this meta-discussion polite, which is quite difficult because 'what exactly politeness means' is the topic being currently discussed, so obviously there is no clear consensus yet. Logically, this seems like an unsolvable problem. So how do normies deal with this stuff? If I understand it correctly, there are a few rules of politeness that serve to prevent similar escalations of minor stuff. You should excuse small violations of polite behavior by literally pretending they didn't happen. (Unless you are e.g. a parent of a child who violated the rules.) When it happens repeatedly, a gradually increasing reaction is allowed; the idea is probably to find the smallest possible reaction when the pe
Meta-debates on politeness also don't have to happen publically.
To use words from phenomenology I previously haven't heard on LW attentionality and intentionality are different things. Being in attentionality and noticing your confusion is not draining one one's mental energy. On the other hand intentionally looking for mistakes is. I don't need to feel an obligation to carefully look for mistakes to find them.

Interesting astrophysics development in our solar system with astrobiological implications: the rings and inner moons of Saturn, everything closer than Titan, may be young, forming between 100 million and 1 billion years ago rather than at the dawn of the solar system.


Recent measurements of Saturn's moon system suggest that it evolves due to tides quicker than was previously believed, with moons moving ourwards more rapidly due to bigger tidal bulges on Saturn transferring more energy. This would explain the large quantity of heat pouring out of Enceladus and powering its geysers and oceans. Tidal forces go down with the cube of distance so closer moons should move out much faster than further moons. Using new figures one can trace back the orbits of the inner moons and see that they should have hit various orbital resonances during the history of the solar system as the ratios of orbital periods changed, which would have left imprints in the system in the form of effects on the rings and changes to the orbits of the moons that we see no evidence of. Conclusion is the system is younger than the age at which backtracking would produce those even... (read more)


user account: "Lamp" is banned for being eugine_nier. This is an update in case anyone was wondering.

so far accounts have been:

  • Eugine_Nier
  • Azazoth123
  • The_Lion
  • The_Lion2
  • Old_Gold
  • Lamp

(that I know of, I think there were more in between too that I forgot.)

If I could send this guy a message it would be this: You are quite literally wasting our time. And by "our" I mean; the moderators and the people who could be spending their time improving the place, coding and implementing a better place; instead are spending their time getting rid of you over and over. DON'T COME BACK. You are literally killing LW.

I don't want to get into the community's time or the time of the people you debate with; or the time of anyone who reads this post here. That time also adds up. Seriously.

If one banned troll (and AFAIK, we only have one who's bothering to come back, and doing so badly enough to get caught repeatedly) is enough to kill LW, we're in pretty bad shape.

Thanks to the mods for continuing to remove his accounts, but please try not to spend any more thought on him than you feel is beneficial.

You're getting dramatic for no good reason. I don't think that in reality people didn't submit patches because they were too busy with Eugine. Just didn't happen.

You are literally killing LW

Nope. Availability bias is a fallacy. Eugine is a very minor problem for LW.

Elo isn't talking in the past tense. At moment there are people working on LW 2.0.
I don't think that in reality people don't submit patches because they are too busy with Eugine. Happy?
Feeling a bit left out that I haven't been targeted for mass downvoting.

I'm not sure Eugine is sucking up nearly that much moderator time. I expect his bigoted comments do more damage because we're likely to lose some good commenters.

I suspect the number of potential good commenters who were discouraged by participation by mass-downvoting after having posted their first five or ten comments might exceed all the other damage done by Eugine. (I don't have the relevant data, though, only anecdotal evidence.) Please note that this is Eugine's explicitly stated goal. The moderators' time wasted is not so big in absolute numbers, but LW is quite self-moderated, so there is only minimum action that needs to be done directly by the mods. However, from that small amount of direct action, I would guess that maybe a half is Eugine-related (maybe except the recent "LessWrong 2.0" planned changes). It can be quite frustrating to become a part-time Eugine's babysitter.
Interesting. "Lamp"'s style came across to me as one notch less obnoxious than the other Eugine accounts I know of. (In addition to your list there's at least VoiceOfRa, Torchlight_Crimson and The_Bird.) But I take it there's good evidence it's him. (And I approve of terminating his accounts rapidly and with extreme prejudice when they are found.)
Note that there is now a Lamp2. Going by the quoted parts of this subthread, he appears to be reposting his own deleted comments verbatim. I'm a sometime admin. Ban evasion irritates me.
Would they have used their time improving LWs code? I feel like the problems it has would be solved by way less programmer-time than has been lost by LW being not improved, but nobody's doing it because procrastination/it isn't fun/akrasia/ugh fields.

Interesting molecular biology/neuroscience development: magnetically sensitive ion channels.

Some researchers through a series of trial and error screens managed to tether a tension sensitive ion chanel to an iron storage protein such that in the presence of strong magnetic fields (think rare earth magnets) the channels are pulled open and able to induce action potentials in electrically active cells.

Upon expression in sensory nerves on zebrafish, the fish reacted to swimming into magnetic fields as if they were being poked. Upon expression in deep brai... (read more)

This is a meta thread for the Positivity Thread.

All opinions about the Positivity Thread as a whole or about specific comments therein belong here.

SquirrelInHell asked: I can imagine a few possible reasons against that; Chesterton fence included. Essentially, the rest of LW act as a filter for some kind of personality. Having rules like "don't downvote anything stupid as long as it is nice and cheerful" could undermine the whole purpose of the website. What I wanted is probably to have people filtered by X, and then see them doing Y. Because I believe that Y can be more awesome when done with people already filtered by X. Kind of. Even more generally, when I try using real life as an example, during the day one's mood changes. You have serious moments, and you have silly moments. It would be wrong to remain stuck in one mode forever. On a website, having one fixed set of rules and one culture kinda pushes people to stay in one kind of mood all the time. Which is somewhat unhealthy. But we would need some way to synchronize the mood changes. In real life this is achieved by the place where you meet, by the current agenda, by nonverbal signals, etc. But on web, we don't even write at the same time. So the only way to synchronize is per thread, I guess. So this is a thread for breaking the general mood.
This is not at all what I mean. I'm suggesting adding a new requirement (be nice) to the existing ones, without relaxing existing standards. Current LW standards are focused on the content, not the presentation - and by adding this fairly simple requirement in the presentation layer I don't think we are changing the range of possible content you can express. Other points, agreed.
What can be destroyed by truth, should be. It's hard for destruction to be nice.

It's hard for destruction to be nice.

Disagree. If you genuinely wish to help someone by destroying something by truth, and you fully take into account their subjective experience of the situation, you can be nice while destroying things.

Agreed. People can often hear you better if you take their emotional state into account when communicating with them. For instance, delivering negative feedback in a positive framing helps ensure that people engage with it well and perform better in the future.
People usually go with their non-niceness far beyond what is necessary. I'm just not sure whether adding niceness to the rules would lead to more niceness, or more meta debates about what is and isn't nice. Also, the community would have to moderate niceness by voting, and I am not sure about how well this would go either.
Who determines what is "necessary"? And, speaking of, who determines what is "nice" and what isn't (besides Santa Claus)? Is niceness just politeness or do you want to expand it to things like steelmanning?
Jesus, this is an impolite thing to say, but believe me that when I was making the Positivity Thread, I was already thinking "Lumifer will probably be the first one to object against this, and I just hope he won't do it directly in the thread". So, thank you for not doing it directly in the thread. You know, even in this moment I am not really sure whether you actually have no idea what "nice" means (I assume that just like some people are colorblind, others could be nice-blind), or whether this is just your style of communication. As a consequence I am not sure if trying to explain something to you gives me a chance to be somehow helpful, or whether it means you have successfully made me your plaything (because I have no doubts that whatever I write here, you will be able to find something to attack). I am not interesting in playing verbal games online, and when I suspect someone being too fond of such games, I generally try to reduce my contact with them. One of the problems with "when I see a weakness, I must attack immediately" style of communication is that is makes it impossible to discuss issues which we cannot sufficiently exactly express yet, such as pretty much anything about human psychology. Then the issues must be left uncommunicated. As I understand it, both serve a similar goal -- both are strategies to reduce conflicts between people, and make cooperation easier. But they are different strategies, based on different approach. Politeness makes people easy to replace; niceness contributes to long-term personal relationships. Politeness tries to achieve its goal by reducing personal involvement. The ultimate form of politeness would be a person strictly following the rules of polite behavior and doing nothing else; like a robot with no personality behind it. Different ultimately-polite people would be perfectly replaceably by each other; if you wouldn't see their face, you would probably notice no difference. The idea is that you could still have a
In retrospect, reading this thread is hilarious to me since I have been so inactive a user as to not have built up a model of any of the users who have been active since late 2011. You could argue that I have a poor or no theory of mind, but it is still fun attempting to construct temporary models for everyone based solely on the contents of this thread (I have no time to read the previous five years backlog). Personally I think that there should be a lower limit of lesswrong culture/rationality in each post regardless of it's niceness content, and have a preference towards nicer posts, though (and this next sentence will turn a lot of people against me) making the forum too accessible will encourage Endless September effects worse than what the community on this site is currently buckling under.
It doesn't have to be a trade-off between rationality and politeness. Maybe we could downvote both comments that are stupid and comments that are rude. (Polite but not smart comments could be ignored, and only insightful non-rude comments upvoted.)
I wonder who downvoted you. I'd argue for more strict dealing of downvote moderation, a higher waterline, if you like; noninsightful posts get downvoted (and otherwise ignored, or if specifically wrong, corrected) and impolite posts also get down-voted and responded to with an explanation. Explanatory responses might need to be encouraged more, in order to permit the author to know why exactly their post is being downvoted, but I'm wary of encouraging the lesswrong community to become more of a politeness before reason community than it already has, and so many other communities out there have.
I treat up/downvoting not as a carrot or a stick, but as a message. Accordingly, I either downvote or reply, not both (with rare exceptions). Basically, if I bother to reply, there is no need for an up/downvote since I've sent a better message. As an aside, I don't think that tinkering with voting will solve any of LW's problems.
Same, unfortunately, I consider this site to be a mostly sunk ship, as previously stated, I've been mostly inactive since 2011, and I never really posted here anyway.
That's OK, I have thick skin and enough self-reflection capability :-) The problem is that I have more than one idea :-) "Nice" corresponds to a cluster of meanings -- there is e.g. "pleasant", but there is also "mild", "inoffensive", "bland". I suspect that my own use of the word "nice" is associated with, um, underperformance, I guess? Something could have been great, amazing, wonderful, but it didn't make it, however it managed to avoid being a fail, too, so it's... nice. Damning with faint praise kind of thing. Here, though, I think you mean things like "don't be an asshole" and "cooperate, praise, support". But when I asked "who determines", the accent was on who (in the spirit of "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything"). No, I don't think so. Incoherence is a weakness, not uncertainty. And in the case of uncertainty, attempts to "harden up" the fuzziness, establish bounds, etc. are not attacks but rather attempts at clarification. Yes, that's a good way to express it, though I still doubt that ultimately-polite people are all fungible. Politeness is just a form, there is still non-fungible content inside it. I would describe that as "caring" and I think that's quite different from "being nice to".
Generally, intuition determines. Having to ask questions like "who determines" at all is probably an indicator of the sort of "nice-blindness" Viliam was talking about. Whether something should be construed as an "attack" is in the eyes of the beholder. If your "attempt at clarification" is perceived by the one you're addressing as an attack, saying "No not really" does nothing to change that underlying perception.
We're talking about establishing a particular norm for LW. Niceness is a continuous variable and everyone has a certain threshold on that axis (threshold which "intuition determines") below which things are "not nice" and above which things are "nice". The problem, of course, is that everyone has her own and that's no good for a social norm. Some common threshold will have to be established, most likely by those who will take it upon themselves to enforce that norm. Also most likely the common threshold will be very similar to the personal thresholds of the enforcers. Nope, sorry, I don't buy the "a victim is always right about being a victim" approach. That depends on whether that person is willing to update on the evidence :-P
Are you perhaps arguing that as long as people don't have a unified formal definition of niceness, nice behavior is not possible? That would seem unlikely. Even if everyone has a different threshold... well, everyone has their own upvote and downvote buttons, right? So the worst case is that some comments would get upvoted by some users for being nice enough and downvoted by other users for not being nice enough. Doesn't seem that horrible. And over time, people will adjust to the average. And those who will still find this community unbearably rude or unbearably polite will leave. In real life, this problem is usually solved by creating subcultures; different groups having different norms. Being too rude will get you ejected from the group. Being too polite may make you leave the group voluntarily. Groups that eject too many people end up have few members. Groups that retain too many rude people end up having mostly rude members. It would be a nice experiment to have a website that would support this "organic" grouping of people; where LW wouldn't be one group, but rather an ecosystem of groups. But I'm afraid we are unlikely to ever see this happen. So we are stuck with having LW as one group. In real life, sometimes the ejecting of rude members from the group is done by a local boss (a formal owner of the place, or a high-status member of the group), but sometimes the group splits "organically" -- some people stop talking to some other people, and after some time we see that what was originally one group now became two groups. It could be interesting to try modelling this by a web platform. (Mere blocking is not enough, because in the group other people see when X is ignoring Y. Also, avoiding someone in real life is not a binary decision.) But I am not expecting to see this in near future.
I don't think that LW is one group in any meaningful sense. There's this website. There's Slack. There's IRC. There's the facebook group. There are local meetups with often have their own mailing list. There are also various diaspora groups that don't exist under the LW brand.
I think there are two distinct ways to think of niceness. One is that being nice is about doing things motivated by positive emotions like compassion and gratitude. The other is that being nice is about conforming to a list of social standards, not picking fights and avoiding confrontation. I think the first version of niceness is very valuable. On the other hand the second version leads to supressed emotions, passive-aggressiveness and anxiousness. In the first model people hug each other while in the second model people often avoid physical contact. At the community camp where most people run around with free hug and crockers rule stickers, the first kind of niceness is valued while the second kind isn't. I'm in favor of moving this website to having more of the first kind of niceness, but I get weary when you start talking about politness with is mostly associated with the second type of niceness.
This is perfectly true. However, our current ways of communication also lead to supressed emotions, passive-aggressiveness and anxiousness.
I don't think we have much passive-aggressiveness on LW. People here are usually pretty direct.
No, not at all. I'm arguing that there will be behaviour about which people will not be able to agree whether it's nice or not. Why unlikely? There are at many ways to move in this direction, for example the establishment of LW subreddits which will develop their own, possibly different, cultural norms. For another example, killfile equivalents or some sufficiently flexible tagging system will allow people to define their own personal "groupings of people" all of which could coexist on LW.
And some of them will downvote it, and some of them will upvote it. I suspect that mere "moves in this direction" will not be enough. May improve things, but not enough. My reasoning is roughly this: * People have complex social instints, finely tuned by evolution. Sometimes we coordinate in groups by using small signals, such as face expressions, body posture, tone of voice, looking away or otherwise not paying attention when someone is speaking, sitting closer to some people and further away from others, etc. Some of these actions include plausible deniability; for example one can signal boredom with a debate by looking away, but when confronted, they can verbally deny being bored. This mechanism allows different intensity of interaction. * When using a web interface, most of these options are missing; sometimes replaced by crude approximations that fail in some important aspect. (For example, what is the equivalent of "looking away when someone keeps debating stuff you consider super boring"? Merely not reading and not participating in the discussion is too invisible: you don't have feedback about who is reading and who is skipping which comments. Downvoting feels too aggressive; it is more like shouting "shut up".) Another important aspect is that in real life most kinds of reactions are simple, so if they require some inconvenient action online, it's not the same thing. * It is these situations where our instinct offers us a real-life solution, but there is no sufficiently corresponding action in the web forum, that make online discussions develop in many frustrating ways that wouldn't happen in real life. (Also other dissimilarities, e.g. creating sockpuppets, etc.) This is why I think it would be an interesting project to develop a web interface that would allows us to act as closely to our instinctive social behavior as possible. The hypothesis is that it would make the discussions much less frustrating for many participants. But crude approximation
Not enough for what? You seem to want, basically, video conferencing. Or, if you prefer a more future-y way of doing that, telepresence in virtual reality. You are taking a very one-sided view. Online discussions are not just hobbled and maimed discussions in person -- they have disadvantages, but they also have a lot of advantages. They are different and that makes them occupy a different, useful niche in the panoply of ways humans communicate. Sometimes you want to talk in person, but sometimes you don't and email or chat are the preferred way. Because we don't want to go there.
I'm pretty sure dxu wasn't appealing to that. Just saying that different people will have different ideas about whether any given thing is an attack. (And then, more specifically, that a hardnosed "object to anything that looks wrong" conversational style will, whatever the intentions of the person doing it, likely upset some of the people it's done to and thereby make it less likely, not more likely, that mutual understanding will be achieved.)
I'm pretty sure dxu wasn't talking about different people in general, but specifically meant that the one on the receiving end of the maybe-an-attack has the right to declare it an attack or not. See the following dxu's sentence. And, of course, there is the obvious right of everyone to have her own opinion, but I'm reading dxu as saying that the opinion of the originator of the maybe-an-attack is... "less equal" than the opinion of the target. That's a rather weak claim. Most everything is likely to upset some people.
dxu, would you care to weigh in? The options I had, writing that sentence, were: obviously-too-strong claim; obviously-too-weak claim; absurdly fussily qualified and quantified claim. None of them was perfect, so I chose the one that looked least bad to me.
Sure. What I meant was that presumably, "attacks" are considered damaging for a reason--namely, that they make discussion more unpleasant. This "unpleasantness", however, is a subjective matter, and whether a particular remark generates an unpleasant feeling is entirely up to (the brain of) the "target", as it were. So I suppose my reply to Lumifer would be something along the lines of If we're talking about effects on the victim ("victim" is not the word I would have used, by the way), as a matter of causal fact, then yes, in fact, it is. You could try to argue, of course, that the "victim" overreacted and shouldn't have felt attacked by that remark, but the fact of the matter is that he/she did in fact feel attacked. Of course, just because someone feels attacked doesn't mean you did something wrong when addressing them--it's entirely possible, for example, that the person in question really is overly sensitive, and that a large fraction of people would not have taken umbrage to your remark. This possibility grows markedly less likely, however, when several users independently claim to find a particular poster's comments unpleasant as a whole. I should also point out that comments, especially long comments, take some effort to write. When confronted with such a comment, I've noticed that Lumifer generally does not address the entirety of the comment, instead selectively quoting several sentences from various points in the comment and then snarking at those. When someone does this, it feels (at least to me) as if they're not actually taking the other poster seriously; if I put a lot of effort into a post and write several paragraphs for you to read and then your reply consists of one-liner responses that are more condescending than informative, it feels as though the effort I'm putting into the discussion is not being reciprocated, which makes me less likely to continue the discussion. EDIT: An example of the above would be Lumifer's reply to your (gjm's) comme
There is a reason for that. Addressing the entirety of the comment usually requires that your answer be longer than the comment you're replying to. That leads to large walls'o'text of fisking very very quickly and the whole thing implodes shortly afterwards. In my experience to keep a manageable conversation going for more than a couple of rounds you need to severely prune the topics and keep the whole thing on a (possibly meandering) track. Of course both sides can/should do this: I don't expect that every point I raised will be addressed in the reply. As to snarking, well... :-) Re EDIT: I like snarky one-liners. Nope. It actually addresses the main point of the post it's replying to. Not condescending. Snarky (see above). Condescending would have been "Don't worry your pretty little head about it".
I don't. (See, two can play at this game.)
Not snarky enough. Your move :-P
OK, let me propose a clarification of the words we are using for this discussion: * politeness - adhering to a set of widely accepted social norms of communication * being civil - avoiding showing strongly negative emotions, or directly acting to produce such emotions in other people (in most societies, is a part of politeness) * niceness - having positive emotions directed at other people, together with the caring and pleasant behaviour that naturally result from it So, using the above: LW is not big on politeness, and I fully support this position; LW has being civil in its established norms, and I suggest we keep it; LW norms have nothing on niceness, and I suggest we work to change this.
I am sorry, you want to have norms about what kind of emotions I am supposed to be having??
I propose to steelman SquirrelInHell's proposal a little. What if we (for this discussion) define "niceness" to mean not the emotions but the behaviour those emotions typically produce? So being nice to someone means treating them as if you have positive feelings about them. A norm in favour of that doesn't seem obviously unreasonable.
Yes, pretty much. I know this sounds controversial if you subscribe to a "common sense" understanding of emotions. But from my point of view, the indignation you expressed in your comment is already a sign that you could benefit from being more aware of your emotions, and managing them consciously to make your life better and more fun. Now don't misunderstand me - I'm not proposing to have a norm that says everyone needs to be perfect at this. I am merely stipulating a norm that we all try to do better in this respect. I predict you would be surprised at how malleable your own emotions are, if you are serious about changing them, and you know that you can. I suggest that you set up an easy and quick experiment that goes along the lines of "choose a person I don't like, acknowledge that it's not useful to dislike that person, and then decide to bring my emotions about this person up to neutral".
Oh dear. Beyond the obvious observation that most people could benefit from managing their emotions better, pray tell on which basis did you come to conclusions about my current emotional state and about my ability to control my emotions? I can assure you that reading emotions from the tone of an internet comment is... fraught with dangers. You are stipulating a norm of an internet forum that we all become better at consciously managing our emotions. Really. Why would I do that?
The experiment is easy, quick and costs you nothing. So by asking "Why would I do that?" I here more of a "I don't want to listen and you can't make me". It is true, of course - regarding people's emotions, I can never strong-arm anyone into doing anything. What I can tell you is why I think disliking people is destructive to epistemic rationality. Basically, disliking someone makes you see them through the light of the affect heuristic, and makes your thoughts about this person biased in at least a few ways (halo effect, attribution error etc.). The same could be said to true about liking people, but I found it is not nearly as harmful in this direction, and it is much easier to prevent it from ruining your accuracy. I hope you see why I consider it a useful skill to be able to stop disliking people (or other things you want to think clearly about). It is a simple and effective method of debiasing.
That looks doubtful. You seem to believe that I "could benefit from being more aware of [my] emotions, and managing them consciously". This implies that changing my emotional stance towards a person should be not easy or quick. And as to costs, nothing, you think so? Nope. I know you can't make me and I know you know. My question was literal: what do you think I would gain? I don't see any obvious benefits from such an exercise, but maybe you have insights which are not obvious? No, actually I don't. Usually when I dislike people I dislike them for a reason. Pretending that this reason doesn't exist is unlikely to lead to good outcomes. This method of debiasing seems to set as its goal to have no emotional reaction to people at all. Welcome, straw Vulcans :-/
Your argumentation is based on rationalist memes, not analysis. I'm claiming that disliking a whole person is useless and harmful to epistemic accuracy; I do not make this claim about any part, or particular thing about this person. Applying your negative emotion to the whole person is just what it sounds like - using the affect heuristic as a substitute for more detailed and psychologically realistic thinking.
Would you like to provide some, um, analysis as to why do you believe this to be true? Also, when you say "useless", useless for which purpose? And does me disliking, say, broccoli, is "useless and harmful" as well?
I can; but more efficiently, I need you to realize a few things about our communication. First, I would need an enormous amount of writing to make make my current beliefs clear and making sense in context. So far this discussion is based on me saying something, and you voicing every issue about it that comes to your mind. So far so good, that's how you always do it on LW, right? Only, this doesn't work if there's a big inferential distance. See, in case of a big inferential distance between us, your questions and the doubts you have sound perfectly reasonable to you, I'm sure. However your doubts hit very far from the actual core of the problem - and seeing them just makes me feel tired. I see that to explain anything well, I'd need to start with the basics, and force you to think about certain topics in order of ascending difficulty, make sure I dissolve your doubts and answer all questions at each step and so on. Which is to say, I don't have the energy to go through this long and tedious process, and if you are at all interested in what I'm trying to say here, I need you to ask better questions. In particular, if it's visible from your questions that you actually gave these topics some thought, and you are willing to explore them for other reasons that arguing with me; then I'm happy to cooperate with you, and work together to form more accurate beliefs and efficient policies. So far, I see none of that; and no sign that you think longer than it takes you to type the comment. Generally, and I hope here you are not too prideful to react badly to this, I think you might be harming yourself with your ability to argue and see problems with the opinions of others. I think that yes, writing lots of comments on LW can teach you something; but it also teaches you many harmful habits, such as the argue first - think later approach, which I deem harmful to long-term progress.
True. A great deal of things don't work if there's big inferential distance. I'm sorry, I'm not interested in master-disciple relationships. What kind of harm do you have in mind? I don't know about many, but yes, arguing on teh internets is perilous. I freely admit to suffering from the curse of the gifted, but I doubt that changing my conversation habits on an internet forum is the right way to address it. I am aware that my habits shape me and that masks have a tendency to grow into one's face. I consider the risks of snarking around on LW... acceptable.
This is wrong. Your privacy and possibly your personal life can be destroyed by revealing the truth about your personal information and all of your passwords. That doesn't mean your personal life should be destroyed.
You're confusing truth and public disclosure.
I suggest that you move the mention of the banning and the related rules from the post over to here. It just isn't positive enough.
You are right, and if I make another thread like this, I will move the rules away from the thread. The rules are not positive, and also the rules by definition are meta (which is forbidden by the rules). But I don't feel like changing this existing thread. To provide some rationalization for my laziness, I would probably say something about not changing the conditions of the experiment in the middle.
You won't be able to tell people to not go meta, or to tell them where the rules are, if you apply the rules to themselves.
I think it is quite possible to refer (i.e. link) to an important rule in a cheerful and positive way even if the rule may contain negative aspects. See how much context change already happens by diverting the meta discussion to here in the Open Thread (note how you automatically perform an context change; you behave according to the norms of the Open Thread by being in it. Context is awesome. Mostly.
I wonder how the voting rules apply to more or less deep sub-comments. Does any comment that goes off on a tangent still be positive? For example I wanted to pick up the nice games/apps for kids idea by referencing the existing ref but that didn't feel positive enough (yes strictly refs are neutral but still).
Yes, I wanted to allow neutral sub-comments. Should express myself more clearly the next time, I guess.
So, cat videos. How long did it take for LW to get here?
Not my first attempt to bring more cats to LW. (link) :D
Yay for cat videos!

Should we try to promote the most valuable/important (maybe older?) Less Wrong content on the front page? Currently the front page features a bunch of links and featured articles that don't seem to be organized in any systematic way. Maybe Less Wrong would be more attractive/useful to new people if they could access the best the site has to offer directly from the front page (or at least more if it, and in a systematic way)?

"Featured Articles" is such a "best of," but that isn't obvious. But the other list is clearly marked "recent."
Maybe at the front page the "Recent Promoted Articles" and "Featured Articles" should move on the top, and the "Less Wrong is…" description should be below them. Or maybe even articles first, map of meetups second, and the website description on the bottom. And the bullet points in the description are unnecessarily large. Things at the top of the page are more likely to be noticed.
  • Want to tell the future? Ask an PhD, unemployed, media-experienced, female, high-self-rated-relevance-of-expertise, right wing, realist, optimist, cognitively-foxy, extremist with integratively complex thought protocols, according to the evidence in Tetlock's Expert Political Judgement book exerpts tables for: 'individual difference predictors of calibration of subjective probability forecasts, and variable loadings in rotated factor matrix from maximum likelihood factors analysis (quartimin rototation) of belief systems item' >wtf does that mean?<

... (read more)
If you are with a girl who likes you, focus on enjoying the interaction. Don't try to flee into the mindset of running a detached experiment.
The night before last I said I really like spending time with you, and other skirtish things ie that to which her replies would be things like 👍 or thanks. No reciprocation. But she like holding hands, cuddling and kissing. She's even cool with my messed up sexuality. I haven't introduced the mental health stuff or losing my virginity at a brothel yet but I wonder how she will take that :P I don't know that she sees me as boyfriend material...yet
Her not actively reciproting by explicitely saying that she likes spending time with you might simply mean that she's shy. If she actually likes kissing you, she likely likes you. It doesn't mean that shes committed to having a relationship with you but that things are going in the right direction.
If you don't have the social judgement to navigate this with grace and subtlety (and most young people don't, and many "rationalists" of any age don't), don't think about what you're meant to do, think about finding out what she wants to do. and don't overthink it or try to guess - admit your lack of knowledge so you can use your alternate skills in analysis, communication, and rationality. Tell her you're romantically inexperienced and really like her, but that you need help in understanding her pace and wants. If she's as awkward as you, this will turn into an adorable stammer-and-blushing festival where you end up with whatever level of chill you're both looking for. If she's less awkward than you, she'll let you know what's OK and what's not and you'll get there much more comfortably. If she tells you she doesn't want that, she just likes watching netflix, well, that's (probably) ok too.
Isn't admitting preference for someone the the coup de grace of romance?
Not if she also has a preference for you. You want to avoid suggesting that you're more into her than she is into you. So "we've been on one date and now you're my girlfriend, right?" is usually a bad idea. But "we've been on one date and I'd like to go on future dates" is probably okay (if she doesn't want more dates, it wasn't going anywhere anyway). (Massive overgeneralization, of course, and also I'm not qualified to talk about this.)
It depends a lot on local culture. There are cultures that value the demonstration of personal power very much. Other cultures value consent and mutual respect more strongly. Romance isn't about making a series of right moves. If both people want the same outcome then it's not a problem when one of them makes a few bad moves. Romance isn't antagonistic. Both people have the same goal.
"On the Gumtree site,..." This reminds me of a girl I knew in college. A big part of her payments were made by a dude, in exchange she sent him used socks/underthings, etc. She told me that, without fail, whenever anyone found out about this arrangement they were possessed of a bizarre need to attempt to exploit it even more. Like, she should send him stuff she'd bought in a store and never worn, or she should threaten to expose him and demand more money. She never did. But I suspect that if she had, it wouldn't have been as big of a win as mostly free college. Win ++ would have been win --, because if someone's notion of the payoff matrix for cooperate/cooperate is 5 to you, 0 to them, don't defect. Never forget that the subs are in charge. It's a paradox, but it's true. There are more ladies willing to live rent free than there are dudes with available property. If you tell him your plan up front he'll choose another. If you pull a bait and switch it might just not work (you made a "by law" statement, are you a lawyer? If not, run it by them before you do this). If it does work, it is likely that your relationship with dude is now, shall we say... icy? What might he do in this situation? In your model of the future, how many months do you get these rent checks before the state changes, and is that worth whatever the blowback is?
There is the motte/bailey thing here. What specifically does "procrastination" mean? It is a mysterious black box containing many different things. Some of those things are probably helpful, some of them are harmful, some are neutral. For example "procrastination helps your brain relax". Well, some activities (done instead of your work) help you relax, but some make you even more tired (mentally). Don't use thinking about the former as an excuse for doing the latter! Or the argument that working too hard makes us tired, because it would be better to take a nap. I agree! But if for you "procrastination" is a code word for browsing reddit, maybe that habit is actually contributing to your lack of naps, and maybe even lack of regular sleep.


In a follow up of unprecedented proportions - our disappointing protagonist Aladdin returns in the long awaited sequel Lamp2.

And Lamp3.
Eh, unfriendly human intelligence (in the sense of his moral system being completely orthogonal to anything that I can conceive).
IMHO, just another mindkilled person. Similar in behavior to those who pull fire alarms when their opponents try to have a debate. Except that LW is the place they want to "protect", and downvoting is the closest local equivalent of the fire alarm. Many parts of a civilized society are built on the assumption that people in general follow some norms. For example we can only have windows because there is a norm against throwing stones into them. Once in a while someone violates the norm, but as long as they are a small minority, the problem can be dealt with. However, if suddenly half of the population would start throwing stones into windows at every opportunity, we couldn't have windows anymore, at least not how we have them now. For a mindkilled person it is easy to believe that the usual norms don't apply to them, because the victory of their tribe is of the utmost importance.

Following gwern's post about Melatonin, I did a self-trial of melatonin to see if it improved my sleep.

Objective: To see whether I (myself only) should take melatonin regularly or not. Therefore: Have a clinically significant decrease in sleep time or increase in daytime awakeness. Clinically significant=statistically different & meaningful (i.e. 1 minute difference is not worth the effort, for example)

Note that at baseline, I never have trouble falling asleep, and I never have trouble staying asleep. Melatonin is theoretically advantageous in inducing... (read more)

Good job on the study. I wouldn't call that a low n. I'm guessing you used a power analysis such as this one to calculate the sample size prior to the study, but the results are clearly wildly different from whatever your initial projections were, so the n you calculated prior to the study doesn't tell you all that much. Just eyeballing the covariance in your graph of the cumulative distribution (probability is usually listed on the y axis, btw), you've got a very strong result there. I do think intention-to-treat was the wrong system. I would have excluded all nights where you didn't want to use melatonin from the study, and randomly assigned nights where you were considering melatonin to either treatment or baseline. It looks like correcting for that would have given you even stronger results, however. But I think you went way past the point where more nights would have been of much use. Melatonin just doesn't appear to make much difference for you.

Review of state-of-the-arts in artificial intelligence. Present and future of AI.

Vladimir Shakirov


The article has some interesting insights in latest deep learning successes. It is an example of hyper-optimistic thinking about AI timing (which is hyper-pessimistic, if we look on risks), as 2020-2030 for the authors seems like a plausible dates of AI arrival.

Some quotes: "The difference between year 2011 and year 2016 is enormous. The difference between 2016 and 2021 would be even much mor... (read more)

No, I've simply tried it both ways myself.

From experience, it results in better life quality if you call out bulls**ters without being angry inside about it.

Many people are aware of Alicorn's post on polyhacking. There are a few things which have been written on bihacking, though I haven't seen bihacking discussed within the rationalist community as widely as polyhacking has been. Bihacking is the process of actively trying to become bisexual.

First, there are a couple sources which suggest that people can have "epiphanies", after which they become bisexual, or perhaps just recognize their latent bisexuality. This may be due to the fact that they are able to tell themselves different stories about the... (read more)

To avoid only reading filtered evidence, people interested in polyhacking might also look at this SSC thread.

And this one.
I'm not sure how that's related to polyhacking either.
I'm not sure how that thread is related to polyhacking? It's related to polyamory, but doesn't seem to be particularly focused on it, and polyhacking is another step removed.
Polyamory is the whole motivation for polyhacking, I guess, so that "another step" is actually very small. And polyamory is usually advertised here as an opportunity to have more sexual freedom and be a part of the happy rationalist family. So it seems relevant to note that it may also come with a price, and that even the happy rationalist family is not perfect in avoiding the price. (My personal opinion is that if you are 20 and you are not planning to have kids during the nearest decade, go poly. There is almost nothing to lose, because the probability of staying with the same partner ten years later is low, so you might as well share them now and get something nice in return. But I predict that as soon as children start getting born, most poly relationships will fall apart.)
I don't know whether it's a real issue, but if you are 20, not planning to have kids in the next 10 years, but think it possible that after that you might want to settle down monogamously and have children, then going poly now could make that second stage harder when the time comes. (This is an empirical question. I don't have the data to know what the answer is. Perhaps others here do.)
I feel like, if someone's interested in polyhacking, they've probably already looked at evidence about whether or not to go poly. It feels somehow off to classify "polyamory, pro or con" as being about polyhacking. For one thing it's easy to find the former, but hard to find the latter, and presenting the former as the latter makes it even harder. It also comes across as pushing an agenda, though I don't think that was your intent.
Note that selection effects are going to be especially relevant here. People who happen to be interested in becoming bi are probably more sexually fluid than average, and so may find this sort of 'hacking' somewhat useful. Do keep in mind though that plenty of people try to change their sexual orientation in some way and fail, sometimes with detrimental side-effects.
This is a concern that it would be good to explore, and not one that I've thought much about. Do you have a sense for what detrimental side-effects people have experienced after trying to bihack? It might be difficult to figure out how prevalent these side-effects are, but that could be a good thing for people interested in bihacking to look into, too.
Not so much for bihacking, but definitely for trying to affect one's sexual orientation in a more general sense. Mostly this involves gay people trying to become straight, or straight people trying to become gay. (Note that opportunistic same-sex behavior is actually pretty common wherever there is rigid sex segregation, e.g. in fundamentalist Muslim countries, or among prison inmates. But it's not like these folks are happy having gay sex; and indeed, they will go right back to their previous sexual orientation as soon as the rigidly-segregated environment is removed.)
I fear a time will come when people who don't want to try polyhacking bihacking will be labeled as homophobic. And that will just further dilute the term.
When you write "polyhacking", do you actually mean "bihacking"? If not, what you say you fear seems to me a very odd thing to fear. Actually, I would be quite surprised if (within, let's say, the next 40 years, and assuming no huge technological changes that would affect this) heterosexuality + unwillingness to try to become bi were enough to get anyone widely labelled as homophobic. (I'm sure there are already people who would apply that label, but not enough to have much impact.) [EDITED to add:] Just to clarify, the point of the second paragraph is that I find Val's fear not-terribly-plausible even if "bihacking" is what s/he meant.
You are right, I meant bihacking, my mistake. My concern was based on the observation how the word phobia (especially in cases of homophobia and xenophobia) is increasingly applied to cases of mild dislike, or even to cases of failing to show open support.
I agree that -phobia gets applied much more broadly than my etymological sensitivities would prefer, and I expect that (unfortunately) to continue. But what I find unlikely isn't anything to do with word usage; I just don't expect that any time in the near future it will be widely held that you mistreat any group by not going out of your way to make yourself want to have sex with them. I could be wrong, of course. And, as I already said, I'm sure there are some people who hold that kind of position even now. But it doesn't seem to me like the kind of silliness that would ever attract a lot of support.

Yvain's latest post at SSC is, among other things, about the dynamics of tribes:

Scholars call the process of creating a new tribe “ethnogenesis” ... My model of ethnogenesis involves four stages: pre-existing differences, a rallying flag, development, and dissolution.

Homework assignment: apply the four-stage model to LessWrong.

Besides the triviality of everything having a beginning, a developement and an end, I found that the model is too simplicistic and already shows some crack when applied to LessWrong: * pre-existing difference: about LW there was only one man, Eliezer, who perceived the difference between what he considered a sane approach to AI and all the others approach; * then it came a blog about showing this approach and "raising the sanity waterline", which I think created the difference in many of his followers, or at least attracted enough interest. In this case, the rallying flag created the difference in those who attended, which in turn created (or smoothed) more differences; * developement and end are mixed in this case, there was supposedly a peak and a denouement, but the site is still active, the tribe has fragmented and regrouped again.
But the LW community was not really, in the first instance, built around Eliezer's (or anyone's) ideas about how to approach AI. It was built around his ideas about how to think rationally, and a lot of that existed before Eliezer wrote anything on the subject. (I am not making claims about the originality or unoriginality of Eliezer's writings about rationality. The point, with which I am absolutely sure he would agree, is that much of the difference between a typical LW rationalist and a typical non-rationalist lies in things that Eliezer did not invent and was not the first to write down.)
That is... a very strong statement. You think that EY's blog actually created the differences in the people who then coalesced into a tribe around their creator? What do you count as regrouping?
The dissolution stage is described in greater detail in the linked article. The presence of people who proudly say they never bothered to read the Sequences (available as a free book now) was a huge warning long ago, but we somehow bought the belief that caring about your garden is cultish. Well, the garden is quite trampled now. I can imagine an improvement in creating specific subs for the "hardcore" topics. EDIT: I am not sure I understand Scott's explanation for the dissolution phase. He seems to suggest that it happens when "a tribe was never really that different from the surrounding population, stops caring that much about its rallying flag, and doesn’t develop enough culture". Yeah, but why does that happen? Sometimes the difference really wasn't so big. Imagine a minority that is not that much different from he majority, but is isolated by a language barrier, and maybe both sides have a habit of avoiding each other, which all contributes to creating myths about how the other side is completely weird. -- Then at some moment people start interacting with each other, the minority learns the majority language, and suddenly they all see they were quite similar. And then the old tribal boundaries dissolve, to be replaced by new boundaries, e.g. along hobbies or social class. But I don't think this aplies to LW. I mean, when I found LW, I was shocked to see that there actually exist people like me. (Hard to describe what exactly that means, other than "I know it when I see it".) And now, a few years later, I still perceive the huge difference between me and most of the society. However, now the LW website is not literally the only place where I can meet "LW-style" people, because the rationalist diaspora has grown, and now I can meet them e.g. at SSC. There are also the meetups, and there are people I have met on the meetups that I would stay in contact with even if the meetups would dissolve. So the LW website no longer has a monopoly on the "LW-style" peop
I made a comment related to this on the SSC post about the rationalists I met in person in the Bay Area. I think it's the continued and extended version of what you stated above with some people in the Bay Area calling themselves rationalists while being in the 20% LW-ish (or lower) crowd. I primarily focused on the overcoming biases and getting stronger parts.
It is interesting how a community built around the Sequences gradually changed into a community of people who treat mentioning the Sequences almost as a faux pas. With the consequence that the ideas mentioned in the Sequences are more mentioned than used (well, those few of them that are mentioned at all), and rationality becomes a question of group affiliation. There is an analogy with Christianity, except that what took Christianity 2000 years, we managed to achieve in 2000 days. Truly, the progress is accelerating exponencially, and the Singularity is near!
What do you think LW's rallying flag is?
The combination of: * transhumanism ("Friendly AI") * rationality ("overcoming biases") * improving oneself ("becoming stronger") * improving the world ("Friendly AI" + "raising the sanity waterline") The individual elements are already out there -- various kinds of transhumanists and futurists; psychologists such as Kahneman; the whole self-improvement industry; and thousands of political or religious movements. But the problem is that self-improvement and world-changing movements are typically full of insanity. And dreaming about transhuman future is nice, but it's not obvious how people like me would contribute. So, speaking for myself, what I hear in the Sequences is: "You can become stronger, find like-minded friends, improve the world, and ultimately bring the sci-fi future... without having to sacrifice your own sanity. Actually, being smart and sane will be helpful." (And the dissolution happens when people seem no longer interested in improving themselves, improving the world and bringing the sci-fi future; only in having a place to procrastinate by sharing news articles and nitpicking everything. Something like Mensa online.)
Candidates: * Loosely, "transhumanism", or, more basically, a belief that "radical" self-improvement or self-alteration is possible and desirable. It is no coincidence that people who find the idea of uploading their minds to computers appealing might also enjoy "life hacks." Both ideas involve self-modification. The very idea of "upgrading your rationality" presumes that a level of self-modification is possible, to an extent that a normal person might deny. * Interest in futurism, often in one utopian flavor or another. The concept of FAI turns bullshitting about the Singularity into something that feels like an actionable engineering problem rather than a purely sophistic exercise. You could possibly draw a Venn diagram of three circles, labeled Futurism, Rationality, and Transhumanism. The three concepts overlap conceptually by default. The sweet spot where all three overlap contains the topics of FAI, Fun Theory, AI Risk in general. Our propensity to subscribe to weird political theories can be viewed as the overlap between Futurism and Rationality, i.e. applying logical and dispassionate thinking toward social structures. Our belief that it's even possible (and desirable) to "raise the sanity waterline" lies at the intersection of Transhumanism and Rationality. The overlap of Futurism and Transhumanism is too obvious to belabor. This is a lot of words reiterating basically the idea of Eliezer's Empirical Cluster in Personspace, which he defines extensively as "atheist/libertarian/technophile/sf-fan/early-adopter/programmer/etc". But, I think a lot of our now-prominent diaspora bloggers don't fit into that personspace very well, as he defined it. So, if I had to really drill down to the crux of it, I would say the rallying flag looks something like a default disposition towards taking ideas seriously, plus an assumption that radical self-change is possible. Everything else just falls out of these psychological stances.
I think you're describing the common interests of the tribe, but that's a different thing than the rallying flag. Since we're operating within Yvain's framework, we'll use his definition which is HPMoR, for example, is (was?) a rallying flag for a subset of the LW tribe. But I don't think a "default disposition" would qualify (Yvain would call it a stage 1 "pre-existing difference") and an "assumption" is very doubtful as well.

(meta: I'm not sure if I should make a Discussion post for this, so I'm posting here. Feedback most welcome)

I'm exploring the following hypothesis : sometimes, you have to give up constructive actions for the sake of focus.

Most productivity methods suggest the obvious, to keep wasteful activities in check. It could be gaming, chatting, checking news websites. They all share a common trait: you don't gain any significant utility (nor money, nor fun, nor rest) for spending more time on it. You achieve the same result by spending a little time on it, rather t... (read more)

You might be interested in Marc Andreessen's approach which includes things like
There is a risk of doing "urgent, but not important" tasks, and never getting to the "important, but not urgent" tasks. An example of an "important, but not urgent" task would be putting your money into an index fund to save for retirement. There is never a pressing reason to do it today instead of tomorrow. On the other hand, debates on social networks always give you something to do right now, and replying a few days later when everybody has already moved on is not the same thing. This risk is also present when putting items into one's calendar, if you only plan a short time ahead. It could be reduced by a hierarchical approach where you would first list the things you want to achieve this year, and then continue planning this month, and the individual days. So you would notice that you e.g. wanted to learn Spanish in 2016, it is April now, and you still haven't started the first lesson.
I would try to make the hypothesis a bit more concrete. Something like: flow, immersion and engagement are all important factors in productivity. An implication of this is: (your hypothesis here). You should of course look at the literature and explain what flow, engagement etc. is and how it relates to productivity. If you want this to be interesting, then you should probably also try to find some implications that people normally don't think about because they're not strategic. Maybe, things like that you should: remove clutter, have the right perspective, exercise, practice, gamify things, learn how to beat akrasia, learn when its a good idea to relax etc. The cfar class called turbo charging training which I described here seems to be related to your hypothesis . The underlying idea of it is the rule of intensity which states that the experience of intensity or effort that you are expending to learn something corresponds with the rate at which you are learning it.
This seems obvious.

No gwern sub-media thread for April? Another Diasporist leaving for good?

I was hit by a triple-whammy at the end of March: traveling, sick, and laptop power cord broke. So the newsletter was the last thing on my mind to do.
No worry, I was just anxious because I find it one of the most interesting piece I read on LW every month.
Ah, it has happened... /me very happy!
  • Remembering the existence of the term ‘compersion’ gives me hope that I may overcome some jealousy I have felt lately :) At the back of my mind I fear the only reason the girl I'm dating is into me is because of transference from her ex boyfriend who's vibe I apparently give off, convenience since I live close by, and the 'rebound' of a recent breakup

  • Why would you take head of information that doesn't help you? it's up to you

  • Effective Altruist? No, I participate in the effective altruism community because I'm Hindu and needa game the Karma yoga system

... (read more)
The jazzy music? I played that a lot. I think most of the answers there imply that one shouldn't use floss picks (unless you use many per day)? That's unfortunate. Seems to me like it's the best. But I can imagine being convinced otherwise by data. It also depends on what you're trying to optimize for. The generally agreed-upon answer to that question has likely changed over time. edit: fixed formatting
Removed (both the comment and the user).

Oftentimes, I am confused because I didn't lock in my algorithm. This makes my behavior incongruent.

This is a complicated post and was confusing to work out; you should consider more instructions. something like: "I am looking for advice on a few times where I seem to follow various existing algorithms that should lead to success in different circumstances. But sometimes the general advice conflicts with itself. I have formatted the sub-posts to this one with - general area; then specific question; then an example."
Specific examples go here (add yours), so they can be discussed separately
Self-promotion Should I just apply the counter-signalling model? Sometimes you can win so big, that you need not say anything. Other times, you DO need to say something to be noticed. The problem is, nobody exactly LIKES a braggart. The question is, how do you find an appropriate weighting between these two? Does this change if you've already managed to win big in one different field?
For what it's worth, Nassim Taleb and Eric Raymond both do quite a bit of bragging, and they both have fan bases. I don't know about Taleb, but Eric also has friends. I'm not sure what it takes to make this work.
Depending on situation, you might ask (or even hire) someone else to do the bragging on your behalf. Have someone else say "You should all pay attention to Arshuni, the most awesome person in the world!", then act like "Oh, you are embarassing me, I am just an ordinary person", then have them list your specific achievements like "Arshuni is always so adorably humble, but in fact he achieved X, Y, and Z, isn't that awesome?", and then you conclude it like "I think anyone could have done the same thing (there are many other people who have Nobel price, too), and I also wouldn't be able to do it without a bit of luck and a lot of help from my good friends (not that I am bragging about also having great social skills)... but please let's change the topic now, and focus on the original issue of our meeting here..." Must be done with some tact, and adjusted for specific culture or subculture, but I think many successful people do this. I think the typical solutions are (a) have allies who do this service for you, and in return you do it for them on a different day; or (b) hire professionals: art critics, or PR agencies; in addition to money, you could also pay them by flattery or sex.
Unsolicited advice/interventions You can really save someone a lot of time, effort, or pain. Or help them improve. OTOH, sometimes you ARE wrong, unsolicited advice does not always come across well, and... well, you probably gave them advice because you care about them, but also, being the guy who always knows better (whether true or not, rarely matters) does not help your relationship. I think giving advice only if asked, and otherwise, rewarding good behavior is A solution. But for example non-alcoholist me thinks I would prefer people to take a more interventionist approach, if I were to regularly take drinking to an excess.
A good first step isn't to give advice but to start asking questions about the issue and listen empathically.
Revenge. It does not often come up in my life. I think the supposed best strategy would be to be known to be a vengeful person, who ruins you if you cross him, but only if it is really a valid reason, so people are not afraid to enter a social relationship with you. (only hating for the right reasons) OTOH, do people actually differentiate at this level? If I hear someone dealt sweet revenge, I am not sure my next question is necessarily going to be 'was it for the right reason?'
When it comes to revenge I would focus more on what's good for my own emotional health than about how it looks like to outsiders. Don't invest too much effort into image management. Having good emotional health results in many situations where you look good without you having to manage your image.
In telling stories about acquaintances, should I be explicit with names? It helps follow the story, makes it more personal, and follow up stories paint a better overall picture. On introductions, 'Oh, I've heard a lot about you!' is great, too. On the other hand, sometimes you end up telling stories that may be slightly embarrassing for some concerned. In being explicit with their names, you may end up making the recipient less likely to open up to you (or I would assume so: I don't remember if I ever decided to be less open to someone merely because that, even after being surprised by hearing a story back from a third person. OTOH, I did definitely think deeply about my relationship with people who have a habit of shit-talking people behind their backs.) Any other considerations? Which would you consider more appropriate?
If names are needed to keep a story clear, you can use made-up names.
Depending on what level you are playing at. The safe strategy is to mention specific people only if the story reflects unilaterally positively on them. Because even if you think the story reflects on average positively for them, you are at risk that they will calculate the averages differently than you (e.g. the embarassing part may be their very sensitive spot), or more likely, that the story may reach them in a modified form, where the embarassing parts are remembered and exaggerated, while the positive parts are left out. But still the person will say that 'this is the story you told them', and upon confrontation it will be awkward to explain that "yeah, I kinda said that, but not exactly like this, and also I said this and that" when the target person is already angry at you. Generally, you should assume that 'the world is smaller than you expect', that is, once in a while you will learn afterwards that two random people actually know each other. Most of the time this is not the case, but when it is, it could come costly.
Ask yourself why you are telling a story. If what you want is to share a good story, don't tell their names. If you want to inform a listener about specific actions of a person, say, to warn them, then you have to tell their names
It depends on the context. Do you think the person would want their name associated with the story? Have you heard the context in a confidential setting? How confidential is the setting in which you are speaking? If I'm talking to my girlfriend I try to use names for most stories that aren't confidential. If I'm talking to strangers I will less likely use names for sensitive stories. If I'm talking on the LW I don't use any names for stories I tell unless the person in question signaled they are okay with the story being public. I don't use the name of my girlfriend in this paragraph.
I have tried with or without names; for me it would depend how close I am to the person I am telling the story to. And depend if the 3rd party is known in positive/negative light. i.e. story that involves an ex to a current partner. I think you might be over thinking this because for the most part it doesn't matter, however if you are developing a rule of thumb; if a story gives positive credit - name the person, if not positive, skip the name.