Ways to be more agenty?

Yeah, so you wouldn't say something like "I want to run", or "I should get some exercise". You would say "If I go for a run, then I will likely feel refreshed and would increase the probability that my overall health increases over the long-run. Possibly causing me to live longer, and certainly increasing my future life-satisfaction. At the cost of moderate exhaustion in the near-term." then you compare the result which that action would cause to the results which alternative actions cause, choose the most favorable world-state, and perform the action which causes that world state to occur.

Ways to be more agenty?

One take-away I really liked about The Replacing Guilt Sequence was the idea that---instead of choosing between actions, you should think about the world-state that each action results in, then choose which of those world-states that you like more. But that's just me, and your mind probably reacts a bit differently.

For the situation in which you find yourself---in which you don't really know what you want to do. You just want to do something, I'd recommend the lessons from this post from the sequence.

It seems to me that the listless guilt usually stems from not doing anything in particular. I'm not sure how to remove that feeling of guilt in people who aren't doing anything in particular. But if they shift the guilt to being guilty about not doing one thing in particular, then I have some tools that might help.

Uninformed Elevation of Trust

The Sequences are great, except in my area of expertise, where they are terrible

Can I get an example of a section of The Sequences where someone with the relevant area of expertise would say that that it's terrible?

I don't want to listen, because I will believe you

A good example of who we should strive to be like is Julia Galef, on her podcast Rationally Speaking. Here, she'll read several books about the topics to be discussed, then talk with her interviewees, keeping the epistemic bar very high. Asking about predictions their hypotheses have made in the past, unnecessary complexities which don't seem justified, and generally applying high-quality Bayesian rationality to the points given. Neither shying away from disagreement like I would, nor talking to people with niche ideas for the sake of talking to people with niche ideas like Joe Rogan would.

I don't want to listen, because I will believe you

This advice could be beneficial to a theoretical person who felt the need to talk & hear the points given by everyone they disagreed with, about every point of disagreement, and slightly less extreme versions of this person. I’m thinking about people like Joe Rogan here, who listen to everyone, and seemingly put very little effort into making sure the arguments given by such people are valid.

I, on the other hand, am very averse to discussing fundamental disagreements or reading about why I may be wrong. Such aversion makes it difficult for me to tell when the person I’m talking to is right about a particular topic, and makes me underestimate the benefits of knowing about their position. So I don’t think this advice—that is, the advice about not talking to people you disagree with—is helpful for me, or people like me. Many of the recommendations listed like turning off background info dumps, having an add blocker, and (to a lesser extent, admittedly) staying away from political discussions I do instinctively & automatically.

The Good Try Rule

This is symbolic experimentation, and it's worse than doing nothing at all. I can feel as though I've explored many ways to optimize my life, when in fact I've been accumulating failed attempts to change my habits. The anecdotal opinions I gather from these experiences are worse than sheer ignorance. They're a bunch of fish stories.

Now that you mention it, this is definitely a problem, at least for me. The times I've tried something, but haven't given it a "good try" versus the times I've actually followed through with that thing seem to be weighted too similarly than they should. It's good to distinguish between these two types of exploration.

A corollary for this realization, assuming this bias is common in the population, is that you should probably ask others how long they tried doing something they're recommending you do or don't do.

I'm skeptical about how effective "good tries" can be as a substitute for lock ins and creating habits. There's something to be said about having a pre-defined exit-condition & goal state you're attempting to reach though. In combination with TAPs, peer pressure, and monetary lock-in (using something like Beeminder, or a friend taking collateral and then destroying it if you don't follow through) the addition of a "good try" rule as an evaluation metric of how much you should update as a result of your experiments is probably a good idea.

Great minds might not think alike

I’ve been vaguely grasping at this concept—that I give too little credence to people who think differently from me—and this was a great crystallization.

Hermione Granger and Newcomb's Paradox


If you open the transparent envelope then one pound will be deducted from you your Muggle bank account and the opaque envelope will have contained nothing. If you never open the transparent

Final Version Perfected: An Underused Execution Algorithm

This algorithm seems like it can be generalized for any human decision algorithm. For instance, I'm usually pretty indecisive while trying to order food, but I'd bet that implementing this algorithm would speed up my decision making immensely, while guaranteeing I'd be selecting the best option available.

Load More