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I actually engaged with this exercise, though perhaps not as fully as I could have.

The graph format was at first an amusing treat, then exhausting as I realized I was going to have to keep decoding graphs without a break (I'm not good at decoding graphs), and then I either got used to it or perhaps, um, a little bit gave up on it and started going too quickly and being somewhat dismissive. Probably a bit of both.

I picked "only suffering once", as opposed to also suffering from my expectation to suffer again in the future. ("I'm sad now, and what's even worse is that since I have been sad before, this will probably happen to me again, oh no!")

I spent most of the post feeling perplexed about why anyone would ever want to focus on "confidence", even though I simultaneously expected I'd be able to reasonably answer that question if I tried. I seem to have some kind of epistemic immune response going on that encounters a thought like, "Maybe I should increase my confidence independently of my best guess about my competence," and responds by shouting "WHAT NO ARE YOU CRAZY STOP".  As I considered your "improv" example, I found myself working pretty hard to fabricate the details of the story where as your competence increases, you lean more into the things you would be getting by focusing exclusively on confidence if you, like, didn't care about believing true things.

For my own example with "suffering only once", my responses to the graphs kept being "confidence increases with competence, confidence increases with competence, of course I want confidence and competence to be locked together".

I could not figure out what graph with the fuzzy green bar means.

I did at least notice that I don't think it matters very much if I fail to recognize my competence in this skill, so long as I keep performing it well, since I'm not exactly dumping a lot of resources into deliberately improving, which might have caused some relaxation that wasn't already there.

At the end, I wondered what the heck is going on in your head, and whether you mean completely different things than I do by "confidence".

This was cool. I hope you do more of it.


Lies, Damn Lies, and Fabricated Options

i linked this as a top level comment, but i figure i should put it here too: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NjZAkfio5FsCioahb/investigating-fabrication

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fabricated Options

>As for what to do about fabricated options (both those your own brain generates and those generated by others), the general recommendation is pretty much "use your rationality"

yeah ok https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/NjZAkfio5FsCioahb/investigating-fabrication

Investigating Fabrication

I was wearing them at the time in fact.

Investigating Fabrication


The answers to the questions below, and indeed even the questions themselves, are just my current best guesses. I’m a long way yet from having mastered fabrication. Still, they might at least be useful pointers.

Which situations are the crucial ones for promoting this hypothesis to attention? 

I should wonder whether I’ve fabricated an option if

  • I was sad and frustrated, then felt relief and a sudden opening of the space around me, as though the wall of a dungeon cell had fallen away to reveal a sunny fresh-air meadow.
  • My preferred alternative involves “just the good things” “without the bad things”.
  • The word “just” has come out of my mouth, or passed through my internal monologue.
  • Things seem really easy and obvious over here, and why does everybody else have to make things so difficult?
  • “If only…”, “Why can’t everyone…”, “Clearly we should…”

How do I actually move my mind to recognize that the option I’m considering might be fabricated?

If I have fabricated whatever option I’m considering, it’s likely that I have conflated “map” and “territory”. To take the fabrication hypothesis seriously, I’ll need to make a move that extricates me from that tangle. I could

  • say to myself, “There’s a way the world is. I think the world is one way, but it might be another.”
  • remember a time when things were not what they seemed. (My own reference experience is a stick that seems bent when sticking up out of water.)
  • name one plausible candidate for a crux, or at least notice what it’s like to try.

Once I’ve posed the hypothesis, how do I confirm or deny it?

Try to imagine the option playing out in detail. Go slow. Watch for a sensation of slipping, skipping, or blankness. Try to add additional detail in those places, and notice what it feels like to do so. 

If there’s a lot of blankness, and if you seem to shift into an easy neutral gear (or to enter creative mode, or to cast “accio solution”) while you fill in the details, this is evidence of fabrication.

If there’s a sustained feeling of grounded continuity, and you find yourself wanting to Google things or otherwise check the outside world when you try to fill in details, this is evidence against fabrication.

When I’ve successfully identified a fabricated option, how can I prevent the usual harm?

Notice that you feel constrained, and create space where you can. I suspect this alone will dramatically mitigate the damage. Fabrication comes from a kind of desperation, and people tend to be rash when they’re desperate.

The Litany of Gendlin may also help, if that’s something that works for you. Fabrication is a way of trying to force reality to be a certain way just by imagining hard enough. Remind yourself that reality is mind-independent. 

Look for a crux. I predict that the struggle of doing this with a fabricated option will get your wheels back in contact with the pavement.

How can I stop making this kind of mistake in the first place?

First, snap your fingers when you think you may have fabricated an option some time recently. Next, snap your fingers when think you may have fabricated an option just moments ago. Then, snap your fingers when you suspect you’re in the middle of fabricated an option. Finally, snap your fingers when you think you may be about to fabricate an option.

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

oh man sounds like we have a really similar relationship with LW for the same reasons

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

[I deleted a comment in this thread because I realized it belonged in a different thread. Just being clumsy, sry.]

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I, um, don't have anything coherent to say yet. Just a heads up. I also don't really know where this comment should go.

But also I don't really expect to end up with anything coherent to say, and it is quite often the case that when I have something to say, people find it worthwhile to hear my incoherence anyway, because it contains things that underlay their own confused thoughts, and after hearing it they are able to un-confuse some of those thoughts and start making sense themselves. Or something. And I do have something incoherent to say. So here we go.

I think there's something wrong with the OP. I don't know what it is, yet. I'm hoping someone else might be able to work it out, or to see whatever it is that's causing me to say "something wrong" and then correctly identify it as whatever it actually is (possibly not "wrong" at all).

On the one hand, I feel familiarity in parts of your comment, Anna, about "matches my own experiences/observations/hearsay at and near MIRI and CFAR". Yet when you say "sensible", I feel, "no, the opposite of that".

Even though I can pick out several specific places where Jessicata talked about concrete events (e.g. "I believed that I was intrinsically evil" and "[Michael Vassar] was commenting on social epistemology"), I nevertheless have this impression that I most naturally conceptualize as "this post contained no actual things". While reading it, I felt like I was gazing into a lake that is suspended upside down in the sky, and trying to figure out whether the reflections I'm watching in its surface are treetops or low-hanging clouds. I felt like I was being invited into a mirror-maze that the author had been trapped in for... an unknown but very long amount of time.

There's something about nearly every phrase (and sentence, and paragraph, and section) here that I just, I just want to spit out, as though the phrase itself thinks it's made of potato chunks but in fact, out of the corner of my eye, I can tell it is actually made out of a combination of upside-down cloud reflections and glass shards.

Let's try looking at a particular, not-very-carefully-chosen sentence.

As a consequence, the people most mentally concerned with strange social metaphysics were marginalized, and had more severe psychoses with less community support, hence requiring normal psychiatric hospitalization.

I have so many questions. "As a consequence" seems fine; maybe that really is potato chunks. But then, "the people most mentally concerned" happens, and I'm like, Which people were most mentally concerned? What does it mean to be mentally concerned? How could the author tell that those people were mentally concerned? Then we have "with strange social metaphysics", and I want to know "what is social metaphysics?", "what is it for social metaphysics to be strange or not strange?" and "what is it to be mentally concerned with strange social metaphysics"? Next is "were marginalized". How were they marginalize? What caused the author to believe that they were marginalized? What is it for someone to be marginalized? And I'm going to stop there because it's a long sentence and my reaction just goes on this way the whole time.

I recognize that it's possible to ask this many questions of this kind about absolutely any sentence anyone has ever uttered. Nevertheless, I have a pretty strong feeling that this sentence calls for such questions, somehow, much more loudly than most sentences do. And the questions the sentences call for are rarely answered in the post. It's like a tidal wave of... of whatever it is. More and more of these phrases-calling-for-questions pile up one after another, and there's no time in between to figure out what's going on, if you want to follow the post whatsoever.

There are definitely good things in here. A big part of my impression of the author, based on this post, is that they're smart and insightful, and trying to make the world better. I just, also have this feeling like something... isn't just wrong here, but is going wrong, and maybe the going has momentum, and I wonder how many readers will get temporarily trapped in the upside down mirror maze while thinking they're eating potatoes, unless they slow way way down and help me figure out what on earth is happening in this post.

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I've yet to see a readable explanation of what Kant had to say (in response to Hume or otherwise) that's particularly worth paying attention to

As an undergrad, instead of following the actual instructions and writing a proper paper on Kant, I thought it would be more interesting and valuable to simply attempt to paraphrase what he actually said, paragraph by paragraph. It's the work of a young person with little experience in either philosophy or writing, but it certainly seems to have had a pretty big influence on my thinking over the past ten years, and I got an A. So, mostly for your entertainment, I present to you "Kant in [really not nearly as plain as I thought at the time] English". (It's just the bit on apperception.)

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