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Second time taking the survey. I think a lot of my answers to the probability questions have changed in the last year — I think I've discovered more about myself and my beliefs since the first survey.


Twice in high school I sacrificed building my human capital in order to take courses that I believed would signal better quality — or at least, would enable me to signal better quality in other areas. Did this hinder my acceptance into Ivy-League schools and selective programs in the university I currently attend? Possibly. But at the time, I felt that taking AP courses that I didn't care about would be a waste of time, especially when I had access to so many other beneficial activities beyond the classroom (namely work and free educational resources).

Junior year, I signed up for an APUSH course, but later dropped it because I thought I was wasting my time, human capital aside. I wasn't learning about modern and world history (my true history interests) and I was exhausting myself and my ability to perform well in other top-level courses. After I got sick and saw that there was no way to make up my work in time to retain a competitive grade, I switched to a course in more modern US history and was a lot happier. I think I made the right choice — if I had stayed in the class, I wouldn't have performed as well in my other AP class and my electives.

Senior year, I opted for a "regular" Calculus course even though I was eligible for both AB Calculus and IB Calculus. My reasoning was this: I was already taking AP Chemistry and AP Statistics, both courses relevant to my degree and own interests. Only 2 semesters of undergraduate calculus is necessary for my degree; science courses have more weight. Therefore, I didn't see any reason to sacrifice my 3 science classes and job for a class I would have to take again (AP Calculus credit wasn't accepted at the colleges I applied to).

Given that I'm in a specialized program at my university now and have learned from several high-achieving students that they didn't gain much from their AP courses except human capital for their college application, I think that my instincts were more or less beneficial to me in the long-term, which is all that I care about.

One caveat I need to make is that I would have definitely joined up with my senior year elective (robotics) from the very beginning and stuck with it all through high school. I jumped from club to club from freshman through junior year, which hurt my human capital. In terms of human capital, it didn't matter that I needed time and variety to discover what I really liked, only that I'd showed genuine interest, effort, and leadership opportunities within the extracurricular. Granted, all of this happened during senior year, but by then, the application process was over.


I noticed the same phenomenon when I went to a public elementary school that required uniforms.

Even though the school was in one of the poorest areas of the city, kids still found plenty of ways to signal their status to others. High-status kids had more jewelry, fashionable haircuts, and were exempt from many of the uniform rules (such as having to tuck in their shirts) because they made friends with the administrators. Girls tended to signal more with their clothes because we had the options of blouses, skorts, and skirts in addition to the polo shirts and shorts the boys wore.

It took me a few years to understand the subtleties of what was happening, but by my final year in the school, I was playing the status game as well. If one of the goals of having uniforms at that school was to emphasize student equality, I never got the sense that it was accomplished.


This is relevant, considering that I'm replacing most of my wardrobe at the moment and trying to strategically find new clothes that both suit me and will help me achieve the goals I've set for the near future. Namely, improving my social skills, learning to make better first impressions, and analyzing the effect of what I wear on my daily psychology. (I've noticed over the last few months that when I wear nicer or bolder clothes, I'm more comfortable with speaking my mind and make fewer unconscious attempts to become invisible in social settings. Maybe I could make a statistical study of it and involve other subjects?) I'm going to study the science and psychology of clothes, too — there's a lot of nice research and articles linked in the other comments here.


Thank you for writing this. The points you made here help make all of the jumbled thoughts I've had about religion cohere better. A pity that the members of my family who are still religious aren't willing to accept any alternatives to their worldview — I'd enjoy sharing this essay with them. I'll discuss it with those who are more like me, instead.


Thanks! Reading Luminosity and Radiance helped me move on from most of the disgust and anger I harbored toward the original series, and after reading the other posts on luminosity, I'm starting to observe and monitor my thoughts and actions more often.


My apologies for not making it clearer. The Enneagram and Spiral Dynamics are two entirely separate subjects, though both related to psychology. At least one other user here knows about the Enneagram, — Mercurial, I think — though I'm not sure if anyone knows about the Spiral. The Enneagram is a model for human personality types and the Spiral is theory of evolutionary psychology.

Personally, the way I've learned the Enneagram is from this book, with help from another person who is far more knowledgeable than I am. That same person helped me to understand the Spiral and didn't teach me with books, so I'm afraid I can't refer you to any particular resources, though I assure you there's plenty out there. Don Beck, who wrote a book on it in the late nineties, is the name that usually comes up whenever people talk about it, though.


Hi, I’m Cinnia, the name I go by on the net these days. I found my way here by way of both HPMOR and Luminosity about 8 months ago, but never registered an account until the survey.

Like Alan, I’m also in my final year of secondary school, though I’m on the other side of the pond. I love science and math and plan to have a career in neuroscience and/or psychiatry after I graduate. This year I finally decided to branch out my interests a bit and joined the local robotics club (a part of FIRST, if anyone’s curious), and it’s possibly the best extracurricular I’ve ever tried.

I’ve noticed that there aren’t many virtual communities that manage to hold my interest for long, due to a number of different reasons, but I’ve been lurking around LessWrong for about 8 months now and find it incredibly enlightening. I am (very) slowly working my way through the Sequences and some of the top articles here, but have finished Eliezer’s “Three Worlds Collide” and Alicorn’s original posts on Luminosity.

I’m still very much in the process of learning and trying to understand many of the concepts LessWrong explores, so I’m not sure how often I’ll be contributing. However, I do have some understanding of Riso and Hudson’s Enneagram and Spiral Dynamics, so I suppose there’s some groundwork that I can build from in the future.

Anyway, I like LessWrong’s mission and am happy to have finally joined the community.

Edited to clarify: Spiral Dynamics is an entirely separate psychological theory from the Enneagram, in case it wasn't clear.


Took it and decided to de-lurk for the first time. (Hello!) I found the experience rather humbling.