All of eggman's Comments + Replies

I'm only age 22, and I don't have lots of life experience. So, I don't know how pleasing the rewards of such hardships would be, nor do I have a model of how much pain would go into this. However, reading through the scenarios seemed awful, so I rated my willingness to go through with them very low relative to the median response.

I'd be more interested in the same poll restricted to prime over the age of at least forty, asking along the lines of whether the rewards of hardship were so great they'd be willing to go through the pain again.

My idea would be that the pains one is prepared to bear would change over time. I'd guess that the willingness to take large risks is highest during adolescence (esp. for males). But at least for me I can't clearly see this trend. I'm 41 now and * a) my willingness to bear the pains of parenthood hasn't changed - actually I'd rather bear it even more now. * b) I was never much of a risk-taker and this hasn't changed much over time. * c) My willingness for infinite study hasn't changed either. But your mileage may vary.

Apparently, in the days leading up to the Effective Altruism Summit, there was a conference on Artificial Intelligence keeping the research associates out of town. The source is my friend interning at the MIRI right now. So, anyway they might have been even busier than you thought. I hope this has cleared up now.

Still haven't heard anything back from them in any sort of way. But thanks for making their circumstances even more clear!

The whole subculture that is the new 'rationality movement' has some nodes, i.e., nodes, and subcultures, which are not included in this map of the Bay Area memespace. I'm sitting here at home with my friend Kytael, and we're brainstorming the following:

  • What nodes are part of the rationalist movement that aren't typical of the Bay Area memespace.
  • What nodes aren't part of the rationalist movement that are still part of the Bay Area memespace.
  • What nodes we as a community might want to add the rationalist memespace.
  • What nodes might enter the rationalist
... (read more)

Is there an update on this issue? Representatives from nearly all the relevant organizations have stepped in, but what's been reported has done little to resolve my confusion on this issue, and I think of myself as divided on it as Mr. Hallquist originally was. Dr. MacAskill, Mr. O'Haigeartaigh, Ms. Salamon have all provided explanations for why they believe each of the organizations they're attached are the most deserving of funding. The problem is that this has done little to assuage my concern about which organization is in the most need of funds, and w... (read more)

If anything, I could use more information from the CEA, the FHI, and the GPP. Within effective altruism, there's a bit of a standard of expecting some transparency of the organizations, purportedly effective, which are supported. In terms of financial support, this would mean the open publishing of budgets. Based upon Mr. O'Heigeartaigh's report above, the FHI itself might be strapped for available time, among all its other core activities, to provide this sort of insight.

I recently started my career as an effective altruist earning to give by making my first big splash with a $1000 USD unrestricted donation to Givewell last month.

Uh, I've trawled through Wikipedia for the causes, and symptoms, of mental illnesses, and, according to my doctors (general practitioner, and psychiatrist), I've been good at identifying what I'm experiencing before I've gone to see them about it. The default case is that patients just go to the doctor, report their symptoms, answer questions about their lifestyle lately, and the doctors take care of diagnoses, and/or assigning treatment. I choose to believe that I have such clarity about my own mental processes because my doctors tell me how impressed the... (read more)

Yeah. wide-open to confirmation bias - I would be unsurprised if you were refraining from mentioning some things that are problems but you don't have answers for. Suggestion: talk to a friend who knows you really well, get them to write down some things that are observable life problems (symptoms, not diagnoses) and make sure you bring these up properly during the appointment.
I really appreciate the words of caution. I don't plan on priming the doctor about what I think I have (consciously), and instead just describe my family history and symptoms. Knowing about the medical student's disease and difficulty of self-diagnosis leads me to weight the opinion of an expert higher than my own opinion.

Scientists as community of humans should expect there research to return false positives sometimes, because that is what is going to happen, and they should publish those results. Scientists should also expect experiments to demonstrate that some of their hypotheses are just plain wrong. It seems to me replication is only not very useful if the replications of the experiment are likely prone to all the same crap that currently makes original experiments from social psychology not all that reliable. I don't have experience, or practical knowledge of the field, though, so I wouldn't know.

Insofar as it's appropriate to post only about a problem well-defined rather than having the complete solution to the problem, I consider this post to be of sufficient quality to deserve being posted in Main.

Thanks for the feedback. I have just moved this to Main.

I figure I would do my due diligence for the sake of the community, or whatever, so I downvoted this post. Note that I'm a newer user of Less Wrong who isn't very familiar with Mr. Newsome's history of shenanigans on this website. So, I didn't have an automatic reaction to cringe, or something, when I encountered this piece. I downvoted this post based upon its own, singular lack of merit.

Mr. Newsome, here is some criticism I hope you appreciate.

Nothing about this first chapter here is enticing me to care about 'post-rationality', whatever that is. Eliezer... (read more)

Thanks for the criticism, you're the first person to give me useful advice. Honestly you probably put more effort into writing this comment than I put into writing my chapter. I really appreciate it. I'll keep a tab open for this comment next time I attempt to write some fiction.

Upvoted. My thoughts:

  • For full disclosure, I don't consider myself very successful in real life either, and my ambitions are also much higher than where I am now. This is a phenomenon that my friends from the Vancouver rationalist meetup have remarked upon. My hypothesis for this is that Less Wrong selects for a portion of people who are looking to jump-start their productivity to a new level of lifestyle, but mostly selects for intelligent but complacent nerds who want to learn to think about arguments better, and like reading blogs. Such behavioral tend

... (read more)
Any blog selects for people who like reading blogs. :D LW is about... let's make it a simple slogan... improving your life through better thinking in a community. Which is like your hypothesis, with the detail that those nerds want to experience a supportive environment. Specifically, an environment that will support them in correct thinking (as opposed to: "you just have to think positively, imagine a lot of success, and the universe will send it to you" or: "don't think about it too much, join this get-rich-quickly scheme"), and in their clumsy attempts at improving the productivity (neither: "just be yourself, relax, learn to accept your situation", nor: "too much talk and no action, either show me some amazing results right now or shut up"). Same here. I would like to write about education in general, and math education specifically. But to make it better than just random opinions, random memories, and random links to "Scenes From The Battleground", I need to read some more materials and gather information.


I became part of much of the meatspace rationalist community before I started more frequently using Less Wrong, so I integrate my personal experience into how I comment on here. That's not to mean that I use my personal anecdotes as evidence for advice for other users of this site; I know that would be stupid. However, if you check my user history on Less Wrong, you'll notice that I primarily use Less Wrong myself as a source for advice for myself (and my friends, too, who don't bother to post here, but I believe shou... (read more)

My friend kytael (not his real name, but his Less Wrong handle) has been on Less Wrong since 2010, has been a volunteer for the CFAR, and lived in the Bay Area for several months as part of the meatspace rationalist community there. For a couple of years, I was only a lurker on Less Wrong, and occasionally read some posts. I didn't bother to read the Sequences, but I already studied cognitive science, and I attended lots of meetups where the Sequences were discussed, so I understand much of the canon material of Less Wrong rationality, even if I wouldn't u... (read more)

Isn't there something inherently self-destructive about a website that teaches "winning"? I mean, when people start winning in their lives, they probably spend less time debating online...

If someone starts a startup, they have less time to debate online. If someone joins a rationalist community in their area, they also spend less time online, because they spend more time in personal interactions. Even if you just decide to exercise 10 minutes every day, and you succeed, that's 10 minutes less to spend online.

(I don't consider myself very successf... (read more)

[WARNING: GOOEY PERSONAL DETAILS BELOW] I became part of much of the meatspace rationalist community before I started more frequently using Less Wrong, so I integrate my personal experience into how I comment on here. That's not to mean that I use my personal anecdotes as evidence for advice for other users of this site; I know that would be stupid. However, if you check my user history on Less Wrong, you'll notice that I primarily use Less Wrong myself as a source for advice for myself (and my friends, too, who don't bother to post here, but I believe should). Anyway, Less Wrong has been surprisingly helpful, and insightful. This has been all since 2012-13, mostly, well after when it seems most of you consider Less Wrong to have started declining. So, I'm more optimistic about Less Wrong's future, but my subjective frame of reference is having good experiences with it after it hits its historical peak of awesomeness. So, maybe the rest of you users here concerned (rightfully so, in my opinion) about the decline of discussion on Less Wrong have hopped on a hedonic treadmill that I haven't hopped on yet. I believe the good news from this is that I feel excited, and invigorated, to boost Less Wrong Discussion in my spare time. I like these meta-posts focused on solving the Less Wrong decline/identity-crisis/whatever-this-problem-is, and I want to help. In the next week, I'll curate another meta-post summarizing, and linking to, all the best posts in Discussion in the last year. Please reply to me if this idea seems bad, or unnecessary, to stop me from wasting my time writing it up, if you believe that's the case.

In addition to my upvote, this comment is confirmation I, for one, would be interested in this.

I'd suggest just being slightly more suspicious of insulting arguments that make claims about your character sucking (immutably) than ones about the way you've laid out the plan.

It seems katydee may have made a mistake in choice of language here by conflating "yourself" with "your plans". To nitpick, it might better to consistently refer to the thing to be strawmanned as "your plan(s), and not use "you" at all. If one wants to generate an argument to point out flaws in their own plans, strawmanning yourself is like lau... (read more)

It doesn't seem like the webmasters, or administrators, of Less Wrong receive these requests as signals. Maybe try sending them a private message directly, unless the culture of Less Wrong already considers that inappropriate, or rude.

Does anyone understand how the mutant-cyborg monster image RationalWiki uses represents Less Wrong? I've never understood that.

Picture of Lava Basalisk, as noted by Oscar_Cunningham, linking to the concept of Roko's Basilisk, which is a large point of interest for RW users.
It's a "Lava Basalisk". EDIT: See here:

It's a weird phenomenon, because even those lurkers with accounts who barely contribute might not state how they've not socially benefited from Less Wrong. However, I suspect the majority of people who mostly read Less Wrong, and are passive to insert themselves deeper into the community are the sorts of people who are also less likely to find social benefit from it. I mean, from my own experience, that of my friends, and the others commenting here, they took initiative upon themselves to at least , e.g., attend a meatspace Less Wrong meetup. This is more ... (read more)

Yeah, I'd second that. Someone could make a Google survey form, or comment thread poll, asking which users commenting here would be open to having their success stories published in some capacity, whether here on the blog, or a more widely shared piece of literature.

Mr. Hurford, I know you're a prominent writer within the effective altruist community, among other things (e.g., producing software, and open-source web, products, through running .impact). As someone who initially encountered effective altruism, and then Less Wrong, do you have a perspective on how, or how much, Less Wrong has amplified the success of effective altruism as a social movement within the last couple of years?

0Peter Wildeford9y
Actually for me, it was the reverse, I encountered LessWrong and then later "effective altruism". ~ Not really. It seems quite clear that LW has definitely amplified the California EA community around things like existential risk reduction, Friendly AI, cryonics, anti-aging, etc. And it's certainly helped build a community. But other things like Peter Singer, GiveWell, and CEA were necessary for creating and maintaining an EA movement.

I'm curious if there is any other variables that might account for you not achieving what you hoped you might by connecting through Less Wrong. For example, many regular attendees of the Vancouver meetup have wanted to get great jobs, move into a house with their rationalist friends, or move to the Bay Area to be part of the central party. However, they haven't done much of this yet, despite having wanted to with other local rationalists for a couple of years. The fact that most of us are university students, or have only recently launched our careers, thr... (read more)

I figured upvotes in the monthly bragging thread would solely be a function of how much of a heap of utility can be demonstrated to be achieved. However, this is my second-most upvoted comment of all time, with the first-most upvoted being similar: a terse comment with just enough data to make it seem substantial, but is full of warm fuzzies. So, writing 'Yay! I'm winning!' for a mundane goal, like doing minimal exercise, might be at least as powerful as providing a long, and modest, explanation for doing something which signals much more greatness in real... (read more)

I bought a pedometer to track my steps, so I could achieve my goal of taking 10000 steps everyday, and have a motivation to go outside, and do some light exercise. This is from before I bought the pedometer when I was doing no regular exercise. I've met my goal of 10000 steps everyday for the last week since I bought the pedometer, so I've increased my goal to 12000 steps everyday.

I figured upvotes in the monthly bragging thread would solely be a function of how much of a heap of utility can be demonstrated to be achieved. However, this is my second-most upvoted comment of all time, with the first-most upvoted being similar: a terse comment with just enough data to make it seem substantial, but is full of warm fuzzies. So, writing 'Yay! I'm winning!' for a mundane goal, like doing minimal exercise, might be at least as powerful as providing a long, and modest, explanation for doing something which signals much more greatness in real life. Below mine, other users have commented that they've: cemented an academic career with a lifestyle they love. gave a technical presentation to hundreds of people. became adequately competent in Python to start a fully-fledged web project. made substantial advancement in launching a career as a statistician. *made a regular habit of building skills that are more crucial to success than 'walking around'. To me, all of the above seems more impressive than my 'walking around a bunch'. My hypothesis is that I signaled my success in a simpler package, so it was easier to process, and so there was an easier, and lazier, investment in pressing the 'upvote' button. If you upvoted me, why? What's going on?

Location: Vancouver, Canada

I was introduced to Less Wrong by a long-time friend who had been reading the website for about a year before I first visited it. Over time, I've generally become more integrated with the community. Now, a handful of my closest friends are ones I've met through the local meetup. Also, with related communities, the meetup does a lot to give presentations between people, and facilitate skill-sharing, and knowledge bases.

I know that several of my fellow meetup attendees also made great friends through the meetup. There has been at l... (read more)

I agree with you, so I've edited my comment a bit to account for your nitpick. See above. Thanks for making the point.

Yes, it's a joke.

Note: edited for grammar.

Disclosure: the following point is tangential to Givewell, and is more about start-ups.

It strikes me as paradoxical that users of Less Wrong, and the rationalist community, endorse founding a start-up as great 'rationality training', and view very successful entrepreneurs as paragons of rationality in the practical world, yet Paul Graham notes in his essays that it may often be only in hindsight that entrepreneurs can assess the strategies they implemented as good, such that they 'got lucky' with their success. 'Getting lucky', that is, maybe[1] implying ... (read more)

You can do everything "right' and still fail. On the other hand if you build a startup and make dumb decisions your startup will likely fail.
Minor: the sentences in Luke's quote above are bullet-points in the original:

It could very well be phony information. My point is that I'm an absurd nerd, because Less Wrong, so I want to ground my beliefs as well as possible, but I'm very ambiguous about the issue of vegetarianism because there is so much noise about diets, and economics, and ethics, and aaahhh...

I gave a full explanation of my reasons for part-time vegetarianism above, but Lumifer's statement generally accounts fully for what I choose to eat.

+1 to his comment.

I identify as a flexitarian, meaning I'm a part-time vegetarian. When it's convenient, I will avoid eating meat. This is usually at restaurants, almost all of which in my city have a vegetarian, if not vegan, option on their menu, or when I'm cooking at home, and there is something in the fridge other than animal flesh, or byproducts, available. In this regard, my biggest 'vice' is that I don't make much effort to restrict my consumption of dairy products, since I'm under the impression that dairy products don't cause much harm to cattle relative to how mu... (read more)

Sounds suspicious to me. I imagine that soy can be produced on any continent, and that vegetarians can also eat other things than soy. And the more people become vegetarians, the more attention will be given to the alternatives to importing soy.

Thanks for the information. In that case, I hope in the future there is another opportunity to ask what blogs are featured on the side panel. I don't know what anyone else is looking for, but as far as I'm concerned, I check these other rationality blogs as often as I check things posted directly to Less Wrong. I find Slate Star Codex, and Overcoming Bias, particularly interesting. Anyway, if other people gain similar such value from these other blogs, perhaps other blogs could be added in the future. I understand if each of us freely suggested what blogs ... (read more)

What's the process for selecting what 'rationality blogs' are featured in the sidebar? Is it selected by the administrators of the site?

I'm surprised some blogs of other users with lots of promoted posts here aren't featured as rationality blogs.

They asked everyone what blogs they wanted on the side panel when they redesigned the site. I don't think the list has been changed after they put it up.

I'm wanting to apply to be a conversation notes writer at Givewell, as they have an open position for it. The application seems quite straightforward, but I'm wondering if there is anything I should consider, because I would love to be hired for this job.

Do you have any suggestions for how I could improve an application?

For the application, I must submit a practice transcription of a Givewell conversation. I'm wondering, specifically, if there are any textbooks, guides to style, or ways of writing I should consult in preparation. Obviously, I must write the transcription myself, and not plagiarize, or whatever.

Disclosure: my votes for the above poll are not anonymous. I want people to be aware of how I voted, because I state the following: my votes for this poll are limited to my perception of Less Wrong over only the last few months, as of the date of this comment, which is the period of time in which I have started checking Less Wrong on a semi-daily basis.

I know, I know...I tend to write in a superfluous, and long-winded manner. Like, longer than the above comment. It was about 20% longer, so I edited out the material that I didn't believe would actually clarify the questions I was asking, or that I believed wouldn't be at all valuable to adamzerner. I was at a lack of words other than 'edited for brevity'. In terms of writing, I believe I'm decent at getting my thoughts out of my head. However, my ability to write more compactly is a skill I need to improve upon, and I intend to do so.

Also, I aim to be qui... (read more)

While others have remarked that you're responding to a "Hollywood" conception of romance, I also want to point out that you aren't the only person who perceives romance this way. The surface perfection of romance is something people would like to signal about their relationships. Like, even in the cases where people are cheating on one another, or the relationship is falling apart, or mired by abuse, or conflict, they like to publicly signal that things are still going well, or at least not going horribly. If you searched for 'romance', or 'relat... (read more)

This made me laugh out loud a lot. I never expect that in a thread on Less Wrong. It was charming.

I just want to thank all of you, as both individuals, and as a community, for being a decent place for discourse. In the last few months, I've been actively engaging with Less Wrong more frequently. Prior to that, I mostly tried asking for opinions on an issue I wanted analyzed on my Facebook. On Facebook, there has been typically been one person writing something like 'ha, this is a strange question! [insert terrible joke'here]. Other than that, radio silence.

On Less Wrong, typical responses are people not thinking I'm weird because I want to analyze stuf... (read more)

Many people I know report having much lower-quality experiences on Facebook than mine. The algorithm for improving the quality of the Facebook experience is fairly straightforward: if someone posts content you don't want to see, hide them. If someone makes comments on your statuses you don't want, unfriend them. Repeat. At some point you may need to find new friends, or at least follows.

I'm closer to personally experimenting with nicotine, so I'd like to gloss over these meta-analyses. I can access academic, and medical, journals myself, but I don't know which ones to search in. In which journal can I find this citation? (please and thanks).

I've only read the one gwern mentions:

If you try starting such a conversation, I suggest using more examples than you have thus far. If you don't feel comfortable providing personal anecdotes as examples, feel free to PM me. In that case, I'll start the conversation, because I do have anecdotes/examples I am willing to, and can, share.

1Adam Zerner10y
I appreciate your consideration, thoughtfulness, and patience. I'm comfortable though. And you're right, I should have used more examples. I just was having trouble articulating them, and I just wanted to get the conversation started. In hindsight, I should have took the time to think it through in order to make the subsequent conversation more productive.

"I like you a lot. You make me happy. But there's probably at least tens of thousands of people in the world that can provide me with what you're providing me. So you're replaceable, and if we broke up, I'd get over it after a few days/weeks and find someone else.

Mr. Zerner, a problem with your counter-argument is that you aren't actually going to meet the tens of thousands of hypothetical people who could satisfy all the same desires and needs as a current romantic partner is meeting. You won't even meet one hundred, or, like, thirty. If you're l... (read more)

2Adam Zerner10y
Side note/joke/context - I hope you didn't get your username from the ending to Annie Hall. When I watched it, I was about as frustrated and angry as I have ever been. It's saying that there's a guy with a psychotic brother who thinks he's a chicken, and he doesn't want to turn his brother in because "he needs the eggs". So eggs are something that is clearly not real, and yet, the guy needs them. Then Woody Allen says that love is like that - it's crazy and irrational, but we go through with it because "we need the eggs". The way I see it, he's saying that we need the irrational to make us happy. I think Paul Graham once said that the things that make us truly angry are things that we think might be true (you wouldn't get infuriated if I said that it's going to rain bananas tomorrow). I think that the reason I was so angry was because despite my tremendous commitment to truth, I suspected that truth might lead to net unhappiness. I also suspected that happiness might matter more than truth, and thus, being irrational... might... be... rational. At the time, there was a girl I liked, which doesn't happen too often for me. I was sort of contemplating asking her out, which I have never seriously contemplated before. I decided not to because I knew that my liking of her was a product of some primitive brain structures, rather than actual compatibility, and that a relationship that isn't based off of real compatibility wouldn't be good (I know that you're probably thinking that this conclusion of mine was probably wrong and based on naive and impulsive thinking. I can assure you that it wasn't. I could tell what it would be like to be actually compatible with someone, and I wasn't actually compatible with her.). Anyway, I was finally becoming comfortable with the conclusion that I should forget about her, and when I watched this movie, it made me second guess. Yes, there are transaction costs (getting over it + finding someone new). But the point remains that people
If you try starting such a conversation, I suggest using more examples than you have thus far. If you don't feel comfortable providing personal anecdotes as examples, feel free to PM me. In that case, I'll start the conversation, because I do have anecdotes/examples I am willing to, and can, share.

Yeah, possibly. Anyway, I'll avoid these mistakes in the future.

Thanks for replying, TylerJay. Did you notice they became addictive immediately, or after a graduated period of use? If the latter, what was the frequency, or quantity, of your daily consumption of e-cigarettes? Is there anyway you believe one might be able to avoid addiction to e-cigarettes?

I would recommend gum or lozenge instead of ecigarrete... the immediate effect of the ecigarette would seem to make addiction much more likely.
Over time. It's really subtle. You first notice it if you go away for a few days and don't bring it and you're like "Damn, I wish I brought my ecig." I've had it for a year and I routinely go a week without using it and I don't have any withdrawals. I just catch myself thinking about it sometimes. Yeah, don't smoke em. But in all seriousness (and since abstinence is boring and usually ineffective), your best bet is to get the low nicotine versions and only use it a little bit. If you feel like you took a puff or two and didn't get additionally stimulated, then stop smoking it and wait until the next day or wait a few hours. Take 1-2 week long breaks every once in a while as a status check and take note of the quiet little voice in your head. How many times does it bring up the ecig? If you find yourself needing more to feel the same buzz (or you just start going through them a lot faster), that's a sign to stop and take a nice long break. This is pretty generic good advice for any addictive substances and I've used it effectively with many.

Gwern noted in his analysis of nicotine that to overcome dependency effects, the user could cycle between different nootropics they use. For example, a three day cycle of nicotine, then caffeine, then modafanil, then repeat and start over with nicotine.

Over the course of several months, I could trial different methods of consuming nicotine, i.e., patches, e-cigarettes, and gum. I would space each of these trials out over the course of several months because I wouldn't want each of the trials to be spaced too close together, and I wouldn't want to mess wit... (read more)

I believe I have a better ability to scrutinize my internal states. Like, when consuming alcohol, marijuana, or caffeine, more often than not I notice my subjective experience changing, i.e., I feel drunk/high/whatever. However, this might only be the case when I've taken greater, or stronger, doses of a given drug. If that is the case, it wouldn't be helpful. Perhaps if I have a history of needing to consume more of a drug for me to notice its affects, that could be net harmful, because I could be tempted to consume enough nicotine for me to notice its af... (read more)

Well, I'm currently an undergraduate, so I haven't started a career yet. For myself, personally, I would like to create a website in the future. Also, web design is useful in a wide variety of contexts. For coding, I'm not set on a career trajectory yet, but I may want to transition into one which would require a heavier use of information technology.

I've read on Less Wrong that learning how to code, or program, is a worthwhile skill to learn, even if one is not going on to become a computer programmer.

I don't know statistics very well, but I would like t... (read more)

Noted. I will update my voting behavior on this basis. Thanks.

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