Wiki Contributions


Good Heart Week Is Over!

I think it's good to experiment, but I actually found the experience of being on the site over the last week pretty unpleasant, and I've definitely spent much less time here. I initially went through some old ideas I had and tried posting one, but ended up just avoiding LessWrong until the end of the week. 

I'm not totally sure right now why I felt this way. Something-like I'm very sensitive to feeling like my normal motivation system is being hijacked? I spent all of my time thinking about the best way to act differently given GHW, rather than just reading the content and enjoying it. This was pretty uncomfortable for me. 

What words should be shorter in the rational dictionary?

I'm sure this happens in many areas (maths, for one), but medical language is a pretty well-optimised system I know well. You might like to use it for inspiration:

Medicine: "72yo F BIBA with 3/7 hx SOB, CP. Chest clear, HS I+II+0. IMP: IECOPD"

English: 72 year old woman brought in by ambulance because she's been short of breath and had chest pain for the past 3 days. No noises were audible over her lungs with a stethoscope, both of her heart sounds were clearly audible with no added sounds. I think it's most likely this is being caused by an infection on top of a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

Learned Blankness and Expectations of Solubility

Guess who read more about what exactly people are pointing at when they say 'be agenty' and figured out that's what I'm trying to point at! That's right, it's me. Post cancelled, everybody go home. 

How to Make Your Article Change People's Minds or Actions? (Spoiler: Do User Testing Like a Startup Would)

Good post! Stop assuming things are/aren't good and go and look. 

Is it worth making live-call-reviews a feature request for the LW feedback system? (Possibly limited to higher karma than the 100 required for text feedback, as I imagine this would have a smaller bottleneck with timezones etc.?). I imagine this would encourage a lot more people to say "I’ve got to do this now!". 

Patient Observation

If they’re interested in studying confusion, I ask them to tap their leg every time they notice they’re confused.

I tried this! It was enlightening. I didn't realise it, but I don't quite understand what my 'confusion' label is actually pointing at. I found myself confidently tapping my leg and then pausing, unsure of whether what was going on was truly confusion. 

After a couple of days of this, what I think is going on is that I both did and didn't have separate labels for 'ignorance' and 'predictive error'. Some part of me was confidently tapping my leg whenever I didn't know something, and another part was saying "I don't feel confused, though. I just don't know, and I know that I don't know". 

I already knew intellectually that the territory is stranger than I give it credit for, but I think this is one of the best examples of observing that first hand. It's more qualitatively different to listening to somebody say "Here's a label that confuses me" than I would ever have dreamt. 

Rationalists Should Learn Lock Picking

Basically any "Beginners set" online should set you right as a cheap way to try it out (though most pros say it's not worth your time. YMMV). 

You will probably find it's hard with cheap shitty picks, but you'll (for fairly cheap) get a feel for which different shapes do what, and which you find most intuitive/useful. If you find it useful/fun, you could then either scour Ebay for cheap locks (with no guarantee of ease, but locks-without-keys is niche enough you can sometimes get good deals) or buy an Abus 45 or Masterlock. If I remember correctly, both of those should be 4 or 5-pin with no security pins, so about as easy as real locks get. 

Once you feel you've graduated from your beginners set and want to splash some cash, you probably want to pick 1-2 pick shapes you got on well with and get really nice ones, or get a nice pick set. Here are some well-regarded vendors. You might also want to look into a practice lock, which seems like pretty good value for money. 

Regarding learning, Reddit is pretty good for this one (as seems to often be the case with metis-skills). In particular, the Belts stuff seems like a pretty good curriculum. I don't expect sitting reading about lockpicking will be very useful compared to, well, picking locks (this is the whole point of this post!). 

If you want to feel inspired (and never trust a lock again), LockPickingLawyer is a personal favourite with some educational stuff. He also has an excellent sense of comedic timing.

Let me know what you found useful & how you get on!!

Rationalists Should Learn Lock Picking

This is exactly what I'm saying. Using machines in ways they're not made for is especially risky when the machine controls access to your house. 

Past and Future Selves

I'm not sure if this tag should be about the general concept of past and future selves, or about coordination problems with past and future selves & TDT. Either seems valuable to me, but it seems like the latter was intended at creation, so I've continued in that vein.

Interlude: On Realness

I am also unsure of exactly what it is, but I used to fairly consistently induce a similar feeling in myself with 'mindful walks', also inspired by Original Seeing. For me, it was closely bound up with getting curious about things I'm used to looking at without seeing-- what are those marks on pavements? A lichen? Are they raised above the pavement? What do the different colours and shapes look like? Why are they round-ish and spaced out, rather than covering the whole surface, or some other shape?

This might not be 'true' curiosity-- I never looked up other people's maps for an explanation of the marks on pavements, for instance-- but it does fairly often give me a feeling of 'realness'. I was struck by how similar your not-a-SIM-key experience was.

Your example of a friend saying 'let me be real with you' reminded me of the concept of the 'press secretary'. Asking the right questions, and having a certain emotional quality, seems to trip up my press secretary for long enough that I can query the things behind her a little.

EDIT 19/03/22: Maybe in future I should finish sequences before I leave comments on them


"The thing about those distinctions is that they are a) useful, and b) curiosity-stoppers. They tell us "don't worry, you already know this" so you can get back to building a tower of interconnected concepts. Which is a good thing, most of the time, but it is a bad thing some of the time"


I liked this footnote, but I'm not sure why. I'm going to say some things to try to think about it more clearly.

What this footnote seems to me to be about (in part) is something like:

  1. Stop attaching string to your insane-person cork board
  2. Notice that the things you are connecting with string are sketches, not photos
  3. Remain stopped for long enough to fill in your sketches a bit, erase some bits, and add a little colour


On this model, I am truly appalling at [1], and therefore rarely get the opportunity to practice [2] and [3]. I actually quite enjoy the feeling of remaining stopped on its own, but I think adding string feels to me too much like 'learning things' for me to look past it very often. 

This model is (of course) wrong, but it feels closer to me than other words I have to point to it. 

I also noticed that my brain likes first-things to cause (be required by?) second-things, so my initial model of the main text was something like familiarity → facts → identification → models → mastery. This could be intended, and does reflectively seem fairly sensible, but I can imagine having practical mastery over something without a complex (or even correct) model of it. Exercising seems like a good example where I think sufficient experience could create practical mastery without a strong model or many facts. 

However, I was surprised when you picked out driving as an example, as I wouldn't have said I have a strong model of how a car works. This probably means I've misunderstood what you mean by 'models' and 'facts'. 

I think what's going on is that I'm getting distracted by the context I usually hear the words 'model' and 'fact' in, next to words like 'science', 'engineering' and 'textbook'. This is getting in the way of me thinking about things like 'if I exercise when I haven't in a long time, my arms and legs will feel sore afterwards' as facts. 

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