BenLowell

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Something to Protect

I've been coming back to this post for 7 years or so, and the whole time it's obvious that I don't have something to protect, and haven't found one, and haven't yet found a way to find something to protect. It seems pretty cool though - and accurate that people who really care about things are able to go to great lengths to improve the way they think about the thing and their ability to to solve it.

I can say that once I realized I cared about wanting to care about something, that helped me quite a bit and I started improving my life.

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

There is possibility to skip the singularity question, since skipping is chosen to mean "very unlikely". Instead, choose some year like "-1" or "0"

Look for Lone Correct Contrarians

This reminds me of how I met Nate Soares. He came to a few LessWrong meetups (his first ones), and I dismissed him because he was talking about a bunch of technical things that didn't seem very interesting to me. (I've was much more interested in finding flaws in my own emotional thinking then in discussing things like many worlds quantum mechanics or decision theory.)

I wrote him off as not-a-very-interesting person. Some of it was his interests, I was also a little offput by his intensity and took it as a sign of bad social skills. These days I read and re-read his blog and have gotten enormous gains from doing so, and he's off doing wonderful things.

Outreach Thread

This isn't very broad, but it went much better than I expected.

I wrote a series of letters to my grandmother describing my experiences at CFAR and describing what I learned. She is finding them very valuable and says that she has been discussing and sharing them with her friends to understand the ideas better. She wishes that she heard a lot of the ideas much earlier.

I'm so far only finished writing about half of my experiences and it has been wonderful. Rewriting everything I learned is helping me connect it in new ways. Since my grandmother doesn't know very much science, I haven't used much as much jargon, or have been very patient to explain all of the small pieces. It's good for learning what the inferential distances are.

[POLL] LessWrong group on YourMorals.org (2015)

Are there any known groups which have high conscientiousness? I would be especially curious to know about groups with high conscientiousness and openness to experience.

[LINK] The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Another relevant excerpt from the article:

Which saddens me, as an MWI proponent, because I am very quick to admit that there are potentially quite good objections to MWI, and I would much rather spend my time discussing those, rather than the silly ones. Despite my efforts and those of others, it’s certainly possible that we don’t have the right understanding of probability in the theory, or why it’s a theory of probability at all. Similarly, despite the efforts of Zurek and others, we don’t have an absolutely airtight understanding of why we see apparent collapses into certain states and not others. Heck, you might be unconvinced that the above postulates really do lead to the existence of distinct worlds, despite the standard decoherence analysis; that would be great, I’d love to see the argument, it might lead to a productive scientific conversation. Should we be worried that decoherence is only an approximate process? How do we pick out quasi-classical realms and histories? Do we, in fact, need a bit more structure than the bare-bones axioms listed above, perhaps something that picks out a preferred set of observables?

Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015

A lot of times different ways that people act are different ways of getting emotional needs, even if that isn't a conscious choice. In this case it is likely that they want recognition and sympathy for different pains they have have. Or, it's more likely the case that the different hurts they have (being lonely, being picked on, getting hand-me-downs, whatever) are easily brought to mind. But when the person tells someone else about the things in their life that bother them, it's possible that someone could say "hey, it sounds like you are really lonely being an only child" and they would feel better.

Some different example needs are things like attention, control, acceptance, trust, play, meaning. There is a psychological model of how humans work that thinks of emotional needs similar to physical needs like hunger, etc. So people have some need for attention, and will do different things for attention. They also have a need for emotional safety, just like physical safety. So just like if someone was sitting on an uncomfortable chair will move and complain about how their chair is uncomfortable, someone will do a similar thing if their big brother is picking on them.

Another reason people often make it look like they are being oppressed is that they feel oppressed. I don't know if you are mostly talking about people your age, or everyone, but it is not a surprise to me that lots of kids feel oppressed, since school and their parents prevent them from doing what they want. Plenty of adults express similar feelings though, i just expect not as many.

Good things to have learned....

I wish I knew what I wanted to have studied when I went to college, so that I could have hit the ground running, with a goal in mind. Instead I took a year and half before I had settled on a major of physics. It seems that some people had a better idea of what to get out of college, but that seems largely dependent on their parents, where they grew up, and what part of the internet they lived in. I don't feel like I had a good understanding of what different jobs and careers were like.

So for classes, I took more chemistry than I would have liked, but that doesn't bother me that much, as it was interesting and still relevant to some of my physics classes.

What does bother me, is that I spent a lot of time taking classes that I thought I should take, instead of classes I wanted to take. I thought that doing theoretical physics was a bad idea because of job / grad school prospects (probability of getting a professorship is low) so I took lab classes and did laboratory research that I didn't like as much, and did worse in, than theory classes. I still ended up doing theory in my spare time, and instead of research / laboratory work, but it was at the expense of that work, rather than purely additive. I was thinking that following my 'passion' was a bad idea, but I think that if i did so and did theory it could have worked out better - I would have been happier, and had a better resume in the end.

I have a lot of strong opinions about the physics curriculum, and wish that it had more programming, and less redundancy. I'm not familiar with how physicists get good at modeling or data-science, and can't think of any undergraduates from my school who got much experience with this. But that seems like it would have been a good thing.

Something cool to have learned would be "practical mindsets and values". For a long time I had an idea of that as long as I was learning things, that was great and all I needed to care about. This served me well, but eventually I was introduced to the idea of "get shit done" which was also very useful.

Meetup : Ugh Fields

and "avoidance coping"

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