I would like add, one should write every day and get vicious dispassionate feedback if one wishes to improve. Otherwise you are shouting in an empty canyon for the echo of your own voice.
The terrible habits I had were listed as follows. "Writing for the sound of it" This was later explained as writing the way I talk or writing to sound like speech and eschewing the more visually oriented prose. "Getting into the habit of appealing to the wrong audience." This is a pretty fair criticism and I do admit my style became more academic writing less for popular consumption. I cared less about a clever turn of phrase or a good hook than I cared about fitting the tone set out for the work. This led to the odd an unenviable position of one of my later teachers saying they would like to keep some of my work for their personal circulation and to use as class lecture notes but saying under no circumstances should such things be said in respectable journals. Finally, and the reason I severed my connection to the keys was that I wrote too casually and fluidly. Most people when they write for a paper or some sort of formal arrangement sit down with a deadly and serious purpose. They make their keyboard their altar and put themselves in an almost sacred mindset. My words were trash, wrappers in which to convey sticky and sweet ideas and I thought nothing of filling a page with empty calories. I was overly comfortable and familiar with writing and so perhaps did not place the thought and ceremony I should into every painfully wrought sentence. Or maybe, as with many English professors, she was a frustrated writer and disliked the fact that I, an uneducated plebeian, taking beginners English at nearly age 30 had written and sold a book and she hadn't. Either way this was one of my first critiques given by someone who was supposedly judging me on some empirical merit as opposed to whether or not they personally would buy my words and so it struck home.
I'm not sure if this is appropriate but like the original author I am unsure if a CEV is a thing that can be expressed in formal logic even if he brain were fully mapped into a virtual environment. A lot of how we craft our values are based on complex environmental factors that are not easily models. Please read Schall's "Disgust embodied as moral judgement" or J Greene's fMRI Investigation of Emotional Engagement in Moral Judgement. Our values are fluid and Non-Hierarchical . Developing values that have a strict hierarchy , as the OP says can lead to systems which can not change.
I appreciate the comment and there will be no more like this, but what could be done to this to make it good. Please be concrete.
Yes, its from my blog earlier, its a revised version. I'm trying to tell the story of how and why I became a rationalist. Over mini camp I was asked this question many many times. It seems as though everyone had a rational reason for being a rationalist. This struck me as kind of weird because I have no idea how one has rationality before having rationality. Me I came to it irrationally, emotionally. But reversed stupidity is not intelligence. Distrust of the irrational was a cached thought of mine and one that had to be examined, merely distrusting the irrational is not enough. It was examined largely through studying the occult and that is how I ended up with the Malkuth Blog. You'll probably find several other bits in there about war, game design, cognitive science and disaster preparedness. These are seeds, these are step 0 stories. The helping a rabbit story is about thinking timelessly and was the first time I was introduced to the concept. The ferret story (about cruelty being leaving others to die rather than hunting others being necessarily cruel) Is a similar note. This is the stuff of the first talking points I had. The work on the blog is what I tried to put in my father's voice. The work here is what I put in my own, responding to that voice. If you'd like I can even point out what parts, to me are represented in what concepts from the minicamp.
Not to get needlessly meta but this is the habit that I had been avoiding and am now breaking using Timeless Decision Theory. http://lesswrong.com/lw/4sh/how_i_lost_100_pounds_using_tdt/ . I used to write every day. I stopped a few years ago when a professor of mine told me it was building and reinforcing bad habits of mine. Since recently leaving academia and going back to being a freelancer I have found myself fearing the specter of the keyboard for anything but the most utilitarian of documents. So while I have kept up my level of production it has been unread by anyone. So I am going to begin posting more prolifically and opening up my mind and work to criticism and the thousand tiny knives of internet comments. I'll link my first post in this when it is up. I am putting it up Now.
I am not an island. There are a few good ways to set up a life of bounded bias or a rational decision about whether or not to engage in bias. I am a social creature and as such am acutely aware that most of my decisions are made as a mix of peer pressure, groupthink, discussions with friends, unconscious reasoning and whatever media I may have managed to digest in the past few hours. I have several friends, one of whom is a dedicated rationalist but a genuinely kind person, his name is Steve I have given him these instructions..::please give me unsolicited advice and interrupt me if you see me doing something stupid or immoral but only if you think I could emotionally cope with the reasons why my action was immoral:: I have another friend he's something of a spiritualist and currently some form of wiccan something or other. His name is Dave, also a kind person and he has explicit instructions. ::Please give me unsolicited advice and help me out if I seem to be unhappy Give me the course of action you think would make me happiest so long as it doesn't conflict with what Steve has told me to do. When I have to get a good think on about something I call steve and dave separately, then call them both together, and compare the three suggestions. What is interesting is I have done this often enough that I can often predict what each will say in a sort of mental role taking that is much easier if you imagine it not being you that has such thoughts. As such I have achieved some bounded bias, that is I am biogted enough to not be a social pariah in America (one must be somewhat prejudiced against someone to survive socially even if its only prejudiced against bigots and republicans) But rational enough not to fall for gambler's fallacies and at least bright enough to nod along when a modus ponens is explained to me using small words for the fourteenth time.
Its not perfect, but its mine, Most people outsource their morality anyway., from what would jesus do, to local faith leaders to calling their parents for advice. I'm just a little more structured and deliberate. Through this system I can have someone have an unbiased view and speak to someone with a biased view and make a decision as to which is a better view to have without having to unsee everything. Yes I realize steve won't be perfectly unbiased every time or perfectly rational or make the right choices but then again, neither would I and there's nothing special about me making my mistakes.