All of Ambition's Comments + Replies

I once talked to a LessWronger who said that he had basically no problems with akrasia,

Did this LWer accurately assess his own 100% defeat of akrasia? ("No problems?" Like, ever?)

because his image of himself as someone who "had his shit together" prevented him from doing things he knew to be stupid.

Was he actually avoiding objectively stupid things? Or just things he deemed as stupid as the self-reported Conquerer of Akrasia? Did he really have "his shit together"? Or is it possible he was mistaken? Perhaps he was a b... (read more)

Firstly, this post is awesome.

Secondly though, this post brushes on the topic of intuition as a useful tool, something I think far too many Logic-Based types throw out without considering the practicality of. It's better not to think of it as being an substitute for logical thinking, but rather as a quick and dirty backup, for when you don't have all the information.

Intuition can occur in up to two seconds, operates almost completely below conscious awareness, and begins effecting your body immediately. Here are some excerpts from Blink, a book by Malcolm ... (read more)

The problem with the stress response is that it's likely based only on the potential for loss rather than any real intuitive calculation. Suppose blue was (+10 / -5) at 50% each, and red was (+300 / -250 ) with 50% each. Red is right but I would very much expect a stress reaction on red from ordinary people, more so for cards with a wider variety of possible outcomes!
How does all of this interact with the fact that almost everyone will continue to take some number of cards from all decks the entire time, rather than going for exploration early and then exploitation late?

He who knows nothing is further from the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors, but has the courage to acknowledge them as so.

-LessWrong Community

Sorry this has come so late, but I've been really puzzling over your statement about intelligence. What type of intelligence are you referring to when you say my maximum is fixed?

Are you saying something similar to, "I can practice baseball every day for 30 years, and improve by a huge margin, but I will only be ever so good, simply because my mind will only ever go so fast, and my body can only strengthen so much?"

First off, there was an html error in my Never Eat Alone link that I've fixed. Mostly "my mind will only ever go so fast." I mean it primarily in the sense of IQ; to my knowledge there are no interventions that obviously raise adult IQ, so much as there are interventions that lower IQ and they can be avoided. For example, people who are creatine deficient (primarily vegetarians) have lowered IQ, but there doesn't seem to be an IQ bonus for getting large amounts of creatine. Though there probably is an upper limit to how strong you can get, it is unlikely to be a tight constraint over the course of your life. Your maximum IQ will (hopefully!) be a tight constraint for you, and that means focusing on things that you can control pays higher returns (with the caveat that you can and should avoid interventions that make you less intelligent). The anti-pattern to avoid here is thinking that something will make you generally smarter, and being smarter will magically fix your problems (especially if they're problems of ignorance or willpower). Look for specific improvements (like Anki for memorization of rote facts). For example, a baseball player might know that having longer arms (or something) would make them better at what they do, but once they're an adult they're very unlikely to have a safe and reliable way to extend their arms. But they can develop their muscles, their baseball-specific reflexes, their ability to read the field, and so on. Each of those things requires realizing a specific way to improve, and then practicing that.

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

-Thomas Jefferson

One who possesses a maximum-entropy prior is further from the truth than one who possesses an inductive prior riddled with many specific falsehoods and errors. Or more to the point, someone who endorses knowing nothing as a desirable state for fear of accepting falsehoods is further from the truth than somebody who believes many things, some of them false, but tries to pay attention and go on learning.

Records definitely sound like a good idea. I've found that I'm very poor at judging how much progress I've made one something, (usually underestimate), and having some solid information sounds like the perfect solution to this problem. In addition, it should let me decide the next course of action off of numbers, rather than vague feelings on the situation.

As for social skills, it's already on my "High Priority" list of things to do. When researching things I try to collect information from a wide range of perspectives, and see what people agree ... (read more)

Ah, so the confidence spiral approach? I've been getting that recommendation a lot lately, which is a good sign that it's effective. Anki is another good point too, I've started using it for memorizing the LessWrong Sequences, and intend to use as a resource for school when that starts, or anything in general that I'd like to memorize.

I appreciate your input, I'll see about trying SICP as well.

Excellent point, I'll definitely want to incorporate compounding actions immediately, and as far as exercise goes, I make it a point to do it every day I can, which is most days.

The reason I started was simply because I didn't want to be out of shape, but then I read spark, which makes the case that exercise not only improves the brain, but also increases happiness and productivity.

I'm assuming you came across the same information, one way or another. Thanks for the input.

On August 4th, I will be turning 15, and I've decided to initiate a very large project, which for lack of a better name, I will dub "The Plan".

I intend to spend the days leading up to my 15th Birthday by taking information from an enormous variety of sources on what life improvements can be made, what skills are most useful, and what areas should be studied, to reach the ultimate goal of gaining as much benefit possible, as quick as possible.

There's tons of things to consider, even assuming I have a tireless work ethic and can implement... (read more)

Once you've picked some goals, use this technique to improve your chance of achieving them (taken from "59 Seconds"):
Once a month, set specific goals for that month. Make sure that it's very easy to verify that you achieved the goal ("improve at programming" is not a good goal, "solve every practice problem in the first chapter of SICP" is a good goal. "solve every practice problem in the first chapter of SICP, or spend at least 2 hours thinking about each problem before giving up and looking up a solution" is even better). After you've decided on your goals for a given month, don't second-guess whether they're actually the best thing you could be doing or whether you're wasting your time -- it's only one month. If it turns out it wasn't the best goal to try, just take note of it and use that knowledge to pick better goals next month. It's more important that you actually follow through than that you follow the optimal path, and if you keep switching goals every week, you're not gonna follow through. Also, start using either anki or mnemosyne.
Keep records, so that you can later evaluate what you achieved (and write about it on LW). What format of records? Well, if you know what you are going to do, the best would be just writing numbers (for example if your goal is to make money, then how much money you made when), because that's no-nonsense, and you can do monthly statistics and reports. But you are probably going to try many new things, so you don't know yet which variables will seem important. Something like bullet-point diary could be a good compromise. For each day write very short messages, with some numbers if possible. For example: "Read a book XY, pages 150 to 190." "Met a friend Z; discussed business plans." These data can later be processed to graphs. Once in a week or in a month try writing predictions about what will you achieve during the week or month. At the end make notes what you did and what you didn't do. Also, why is the outcome different from prediction: was there some unexpected situation, did you change your mind, were you just too optimistic, or did your plan lack something? This is complicated, and it depends on your specific situation: what skills do you have, how is your family financially, what are your hobbies? Some things require preparation before they pay off. Learning the first lesson of a foreign language or the first lesson of programming does not bring any benefits, so if you focus on short-term maximizing, you will never learn anything like this. On the other hand, long-term plans have less feedback, so you are more likely to delude yourself. For example, you could spend a few months learning a foreign language, only to realize that you actually have no good plan where to use it. When you are a beginner, getting more skills is better than getting more money, because you will probably not make a lot of money anyway; but until you try using your skills in real-life situations, you may have a bad idea about how good you are, or which parts are important to master. I
You'll want to target anything that compounds over time. Something I believe you should add to the list is to develop the habit of exercise. You will live longer, have more energy day-to-day, and being attractive is one of life's great cheat codes. The reddit fitness community has a great faq on how to get started.
One of the things I most often wish I'd done when I was 15 is study programming. I didn't do that, though, because I hadn't known that programming would be my main breadwinning skill. (I wouldn't have done it even if I had known it would be an important skill for me because I hadn't known that I should ask what my future self would want and be strategic, but you're probably well ahead of 15 year old me in that respect if you're here posting this.) So I think one of your first priorities should be to find out what goals to work toward. What purposes do you instrumentally value wealth and skill for? It matters mainly because that indicates whether they're time-sensitive, how much risk you should accept, and whether the marginal value of more money tapers off once you have "enough" or not. Also think about what other forms of power you might want - would becoming a famous person be useful to you? (It's good that you're focusing on becoming powerful first - that's usually worthwhile even if you aren't quite sure what you want.) I guess one thing you could do is research what methods you could use to become wealthy, and then what skills you would need and how you would be spending your time if you followed each of those paths. Look at which options you would enjoy or at least tolerate, and would earn enough money at ("enough" might be "as much as possible", depending on what you want money for), and start learning the skills you would need to pursue those. Prefer skills that are useful for many paths, so you'll be more likely to benefit from them even if you change your mind later. Social skills and rationality are probably also good things to learn young. You can start using them right away, and you're not likely to be taught them later. (If you learn programming and then major in computer science, you'll probably waste some time being taught programming that you already know. I had to do that for HTML/CSS, and it was pretty unpleasant. I'm still glad that I'd learne

Your advice has not gone unappreciated, this is exactly what I was hoping for. I'm glad I could get some information, even if I asked for it the wrong way.

My apologies, I hope it didn't do any damage while it was up.

No harm done. I see you reposted your comment in the open thread; that is exactly what it was made for. Good luck.

Sorry, how are Hermione and McGonagall, "essentially as flawed as they were in the original text", exactly? I always saw their characters as being a step up from their original descriptions, and it's clear that the difficulties that Eliezer is having them overcome are not random things that no other characters have, but rather, the sorts of problems with thinking we see in the real world. Hermione and McGonagall have made more progress over the book than many of the other characters. You can point out that this means they started out weaker, but ... (read more)

I do understand why the story is like that, and, to be clear, its fine for HPMOR to fail a feminist critique! Lots of fantastic stories fail feminists critiques: this will bug some readers more than others, and it might be useful for a particular author to consider that a particular choice might alienate some readers because of the history. Yes, there are lots of great reasons for Moody and Dumbledore to be how they are, but McGonnogal is an order member, so could easily be different (and in earlier chapters, often is!) . To be clear, I do think this story in general does portray women pretty well, but the bullying arc and this death feel like misfires because they embody certain tropes without, perhaps, intending to.

Harry told his patronus to specifically seek out Hermione, which lead him to the Troll. He also got a response back of "AHHHHHHHHHH", which seems suspicious enough, but not completely solid evidence. These details don't seem to match up with the idea that somebody else died in Hermione's place.

I think we are meant to assume that Hermione did die, or at least experienced something close enough to death that Dumbledore was alerted.

Seeing a glowing super bright human patronus for the first time might be enough to get an ' "AHHHHHHHHHH"'

It sure was. As you can guess I'm not your average teen. Hopefully this time advantage will give me a head start on Rationality, and allow me to go far with it.

Hi! I want to use the Rationality Methods to improve my understanding of myself and how to improve. I guess you could say I had a strange way of "waking up" to Rationality. Many say they looked to rationality after realizing their religion was .... yeah. Well... That was a bit strange for me. when my parents married, "I was born about a year later", they were both from christian families and just went with it. When they realized that Christianity didn't match with the way things actually worked, the explained it all out to me. I was 5... (read more)

Welcome :) We need more awesome young people around here, beware of too much rationality overload though the sequences have been known to cause very large amounts of meta-cognition and symptoms similar to brain freeze.
Hiya! Welcome to Less Wrong. That sounds like a good experience to have as young as possible, finding out that your world view is susceptible to being wrong and needing to be changed. The longer you wait for the first one of those, the harder it is to avoid just closing your eyes to it. Now, though, you're more mentally prepared if it ever happens again.