ahbwramc

ahbwramc's Comments

Open thread, Oct. 10 - Oct. 16, 2016

I mean, Laffer Curve-type reasons if nothing else.

Using humility to counteract shame

It's funny, I wrote a blog post arguing against humility not too long ago. I had a somewhat different picture of humility than you:

People internalize norms in very different ways and to very different degrees. There are people out there who don’t seem to internalize the norms of humility at all. We usually call these people “arrogant jerks”. And there are people – probably the vast majority of people – who internalize them in reasonable, healthy ways. We usually call these people “normal”.

But then there are also people who internalize the norms of humility in highly unhealthy ways. Humility taken to its most extreme limit is not a pretty thing – you don’t end up with with wise, virtuous, Gandalf-style modesty. You end up with self-loathing, pathological guilt, and scrupulosity. There are people out there – and they are usually exceptionally good, kind, and selfless people, although that shouldn’t matter – who are convinced that they are utterly worthless as human beings. For such people, showing even a modicum of kindness or charity towards themselves would be unthinkable. Anti-charity is much more common – whatever interpretation of a situation puts themselves in the worst light, that’s the one they’ll settle on. And why? Because it’s been drilled into their heads, over and over again, that to think highly of yourself – even to the tiniest, most minute degree – is wrong. It’s something that bad, awful, arrogant people do, and if they do it then they’ll be bad, awful, arrogant people too. So they take refuge in the opposite extreme: they refuse to think even the mildest of nice thoughts about themselves, and they never show themselves even the slightest bit of kindness.

Or take insecurity (please). All of us experience insecurity to one degree or another, of course. But again, there’s a pathological, unhealthy form it can take on that’s rooted in how we internalize the norms of humility. When you tell people that external validation is the only means by which they can feel good about themselves…well, surprisingly enough, some people take a liking to external validation. But in the worst cases it goes beyond a mere desire for validation, and becomes a need – an addiction, even. You wind up with extreme people-pleasers, people who center every aspect of their lives around seeking out praise and avoiding criticism.

But I actually don't think we disagree all that much, we're just using the same word to describe different things. I think the thing I called humility - the kind of draconian, overbearing anti-self-charity that scrupulous people experience - that is a bad thing. And I think the thing you called humility - acceptance of your flaws, self-compassion - that is a very good thing. In fact, I ended the essay with a call for more self-charity from (what I called) humble people. And I've been trying to practice self-compassion since writing that essay, and it's been a boon for my mental health.

(By far the most useful technique, for what it's worth, has been "stepping outside of myself", i.e. trying to see myself as just another person. I find when I do something embarrassing it's the worst thing to have ever happened, and obviously all my friends are thinking about how stupid I am and have lowered their opinion of me accordingly...whereas when a friend does something embarrassing, it maybe warrants a laugh, but then it seems totally irrelevant and has absolutely no bearing on what I think of them as a person. I now try as much as possible to look at myself with that second mindset.)

Anyway, language quibbles aside, I agree with this post.

March 2016 Media Thread

Just wanted to say that I really appreciate your link roundups and look forward to them every month.

[Link]: KIC 8462852, aka WTF star, "the most mysterious star in our galaxy", ETI candidate, etc.

I just posted a comment on facebook that I'm going to lazily copy here:

At this point I have no idea what's going on and I'm basically just waiting for astrophysicists to weigh in. All I can say is that this is fascinating and I can't wait for more data to come in.

Two specific things I'm confused about:

  1. Apparently other astronomers already looked at this data and didn't notice anything amiss. Schaefer quotes them as saying "the star did not do anything spectacular over the past 100 years." But as far as I can tell the only relevant difference between their work and Schaefer's is that he grouped the data into five year bins and they didn't. And sure, binning is great and all, and it makes trends easier to spot. But it's not magic. It can't manufacture statistical significance out of thin air. If the binned data has a significant trend then the unbinned data should as well. So I don't get why the first paper didn't find a dimming trend (unless they were just eyeballing the data and didn't even bother to do a linear fit, but why would they do that?). I mean, in the end Schaefer's plot looks pretty convincing, so I don't think this throws his work into doubt. But it still seems weird.

  2. Any explanation for this has to kind of walk a tightrope walk - you need something that blocks out a significant amount of light to account for the data, but thermodynamics is pretty insistent that any light you absorb has to come out as infrared eventually. So if you posit something that blocks out too much light you run up against the problem of there being no infrared excess. The nice thing about the megastructure hypothesis was that it could explain the dips while still being small enough to not produce an infrared excess.

Now, though, we have to explain not just dips but progressive dimming. And yeah, progressive dimming certainly sounds consistent with a dyson swarm being built. But dyson swarms large enough to dim an entire star seem like the kind of thing that would definitely produce an infrared excess. And in fact it seems like any explanation for that much dimming would require an infrared excess, which we don't see.

I guess it all depends on the magnitude of the dimming, though. If it's not that much dimming, I guess there could be an intermediate-sized dyson swarm (or weird astrophysical phenomenon, it doesn't matter, they should all produce infrared) that was big enough to cause the dimming but not big enough to produce noticeable infrared excess.

For now I remain confused and fascinated.

Open Thread, January 11-17, 2016

Wait, I'm confused. How does this practice resistance to false positives? If the false signal is designed to mimic what a true detection would look like, then it seems like the team would be correct to identify it as a true detection. I feel like I'm missing something here.

Stupid Questions July 2015

Well, it's both redundant and anti-redundant, which I always liked. But I don't think there's anything more to it than that.

There is no such thing as strength: a parody

I've had similar thoughts before:

Now imagine you said this [that some people are funnier than others] to someone and they indignantly responded with the following:

“You can’t say that for sure – there are different types of humour! Everyone has different talents: some people are good at observational comedy, and some people are good at puns or slapstick. Also, most so-called “comedians” are only “stand-up funny” – they can’t make you laugh in real life. Plus, just because you’re funny doesn’t mean you’re fun to be around. I have a friend who’s not funny at all but he’s really nice, and I’d hang out with him over a comedian who’s a jerk any day. Besides, no one’s been able to define funniness anyway, or precisely measure it. Who’s to say it even exists?”

(/shameless blog plug)

Selecting vs. grooming

The first thing to come to mind is that selecting is simply much cheaper than grooming. If a company can get employees of roughly the same quality level without having to pay for an expensive grooming process over many years, they're going to do that. There's also less risk with selecting, because a groomed candidate can always decide to up and leave for another company (or die, or join a cult, or a have an epiphany and decide to live a simple life in the wilderness of Alaska, or whatever), and then the company is out all that grooming money. I feel as though groomed employees would have to be substantially better than selected ones to make up for these disadvantages.

Stupid Questions June 2015

Thanks for the great suggestions everyone. To follow up, here's what I did as a result of this thread:

-Put batteries back in my smoke detector

-Backed up all of my data (hadn't done this for many months)

-Got a small swiss army knife and put it on my keychain (already been useful)

-Looked at a few fire extinguishers to make sure I knew how to use them

-Put some useful things in my messenger bag (kleenex, pencil and paper) - I'll probably try to keep adding things to my bag as I think of them, since I almost always have it with me

All of the car-related suggestions seemed like good ones, but weren't applicable since I don't own a car. Some other suggestions were good but required more time than I was willing to put in right now, or weren't applicable for other reasons.

Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015

ROT13: V thrffrq pbafreingvirf pbeerpgyl, nygubhtu V'z cerggl fher V unq urneq fbzrguvat nobhg gur fghql ryfrjurer.

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