Me! Me! I totally took the survey!
This is an excellent post, which I'll return to in future. I particularly like the note about the convergence between Superforecasting, Feynman, Munger, LW-style rationality, and CFAR - here's a long list of Munger quotations (collected by someone else) which exemplifies some of this convergence. http://25iq.com/quotations/charlie-munger/
Thanks to ScottL for writing this concise yet (apparently) thorough overview of systems theory. I've long been curious about systems theory, mostly because the term systems biology sounds interesting, and this helps scratch that itch.
I may "Ankify" it, at least for org-drill.
RichardKenneway's posts here also added a lot of value. Based on this introduction, I basically agree that systems theory is a map without much predictive value. But I'll add that a map, or a vocabulary if you will, is useful in that it lets us indicate what we're talking about.
ScottL's Ludwig von Bertalanff quote indicates that systems theory was invented about the time we started thinking about systems in general for real - biological systems, software systems, etc. At some point, you start needing some more precise language to use to build predictive theories.
BTW, I think of Marxism's dialectic as more-or-less of a systems theory. Like systems theory, the dialectic has passionate adherents, and a lot of people who think it's incoherent. I find it very moderately useful.
I applaud your thorough and even-handed wiki entry. In particular, this comment:
"One take-away is that someone in possession of a serious information hazard should exercise caution in visibly censoring or suppressing it (cf. the Streisand effect)."
Censorship, particularly of the heavy-handed variety displayed in this case, has a lower probability of success in an environment like the Internet. Many people dislike being censored or witnessing censorship, the censored poster could post someplace else, and another person might conceive the same idea in an independent venue.
And if censorship cannot succeed, then the implicit attempt to censor the line of thought will also fail. That being the case, would-be censors would be better served by either proceeding "as though no such hazard exists", as you say, or by engaging the line of inquiry and developing a defense. I'd suggest that the latter, actually solving rather than suppressing the problem, is in general likely to prove more successful in the long run.
I thought your article on SRS in the classroom was one of the best articles produced on LW in recent years - it was a really useful case study. I'm similarly enthusiastic about this article. I'll write down and try these clever hacks, and let you know how it goes. Thanks!
"Thinking Physics is Gedanken Physics" is a brilliantly intuitive approach to physics from mechanics to relativity.
Hmmm. The fear of hell is a tough one: as I said above, I'd largely dealt with that fear before "leaving the fold." I suppose you somehow need to train your System 1 - to reprogram yourself, to experience that you have nothing to fear. For me, this happened over time as I gradually got more comfortable with increasing degrees of irreligion. Some other suggestions follow.
Hell and other people
For instance, it may help to think about the many non-Christians of superlative moral character. I mean, even the medieval Christians called Socrates a "Christian before Christ" - in other words, they thought so highly of Socrates that they could not really imagine him going to hell. Similarly, the more you think of really excellent, though still flawed, humans, it may become more difficult to picture a just and fair outcome where they suffer forever. It just doesn't make moral sense. And really feeling that moral impossibility as applied to non-Christians might help give you confidence that all non-Christians do not go straight to hell. (of course, much Christian teaching aims to establish precisely such a gap between apparent and "actual" moral deserts)
Fears and Experience
If you have multiple fears, perhaps you could enumerate each of them to yourself. Churches tend to bundle together charity, social events, counseling, and parenting and marriage advice, and so a "relationship with God" is supposed to ensure all of that, and deconversion may seem to threaten all of that. For me, becoming friends with more and more perfectly well-adjusted and strong individuals who had always been secular helped disprove the notion that a good life falls apart without religious belief.
Or, to give another example, some Baptists teach that alcohol is a sure road to ruin (really) - only experience gets rid of this fear. Take a drink, feel that you're fine in the short- and long-term, and you feel better about rejecting that moral teaching.
Conscience is the voice of the community
In the Christian world, what you believe determines who you go to church with, and thus with whom you're friends. Scott Alexander talks about Red and Blue tribes, pointing out that secular political beliefs also determine who you're friends with. (I find this idea similar to Robin Hanson's "beliefs as clothing" idea - change your ideas, change your uniform, change sides) So this isn't a religious phenomenon only, but it was just more obvious growing up. As a result, the social aspects of religious belief change can be even more obvious and pressing than other sorts of belief change. That's all a roundabout way of saying fear of hell may be related to fear of coming out to friends and family, and thinking about how to handle the latter if you were to deconvert may help your fear fear of hell.
Finally, I forget which writer commented that Enlightenment Europe didn't think religion could become a non-issue; it seemed it was one of the "eternal questions." But in fact Europe's over that now, and despite the social prevalence of religion in the States, in any professional circles I've ever been in, religion simply can't be mentioned. For us individuals also, religion can simply fade into our rearview mirror. Except for this comment, I don't think about or miss Christianity anymore. I don't experience tension that "it might be true," as some undecidable and imposing question. It's a rather boring topic. Now I spend my mental energy not on reconciling abstruse and dusty doctrines, but on learning actually useful things (there is so much knowledge left to create!). You only need to deconvert once.
Which fears can you deal with by living through others, and which through direct experience? That might be a path forward. Good luck!
Thanks for the paper, and that's a fantastic quote.
Sadly, you can no longer see the full version on Khan Academy.
The Exercise Dashboard is not as helpful for highlighting dependencies: https://www.khanacademy.org/exercisedashboard
You may be able to find other knowledge maps; Khan wasn't the first to have the idea. I like Kaj's idea as well. I compared the curricula of several majors at MIT to come up with a core curriculum, useful across engineering, computer science, and biology.
Thanks for the writeup, and an excellent article. Note that the students do still live together, in quasi-dorms - a smart move for motivation and for network-building. I believe the students are supposed to spend a significant amount of time in the other locations Minerva is opening around the world: a year here, a year there, and so on.
I find Minerva an exciting experiment. Law schools have a similar, if much lower-tech, philosophy about classes. In law school, ideally classes focus less on covering content (which you must do prior to class) and more on questioning and debating. This "Socratic method" often works less well in practice than in theory, but when done right it's far more exciting and stimulating than most undergraduate classes.