All of Frood's Comments + Replies

Open Thread April 8 - April 14 2014

One of the first things that I tell people is that it's the most powerful story that I've ever read. I've never cried or laughed as hard as during HPMoR.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Just finished it. I missed the deadline, but it seems to have let me submit. Thanks for a good time!

I defected because I decided that I'm one of the last ones to complete the survey, so RIGHT NOW I have the choice between 4 tickets and 1 ticket in a lottery for approximately the same amount of money. My gut now tells me this was bad decision making, so...Contemplation Time!

In Newcomb's problem, Omega's already left by the time you choose a box.
Meditation Trains Metacognition

I had the same experience with the pitch changes, but when I altered speed I could feel my pulse change. It didn't feel good to think quickly.

I also tried switching the gender of my subvocalizations (male to female). It was incredibly disorienting, which makes me curious about how my mind distinguishes between 'thinking like a male' and 'thinking like a female'.

Open thread, August 19-25, 2013

I'm guessing that the goal here is to gather information on how to teach rationality to the 'average' person? As in, the person off of the street who's never asked themselves "what do I think I know and how do I think I know it?". But as far as I can tell, LWers make up a large portion of the workshop attendees. Many of us will have already spent enough time reading articles/sequences about related topics that it's as if we've "already viewed the lectures online".

Also, it's not as if the entire internet is going to flock to the content... (read more)

As far as I understand that isn't the case. They do give out scholarship, so not everyone pays. I also thinks that they do testing of the techniques outside of the workshops. Doing research costs money and CFAR seems to want to fund itself through workshop fees. If they would focus on high school classes they would need a different source of funding.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013)

Hi! HPMOR brought me here. I now spend about as much time telling people to read it as I do discussing the weather with them. I’ve read about half of the sequences. I lurked for a long time because I often find that getting involved in discussions blurs my ability to think objectively. Right now I’m working on a Litany Against Non-Participation, as well as taking gradual steps towards participating more, in an attempt to remedy this. I’m very interested in learning how to ask better questions.

I’m entering my fourth year of an interdisciplinary-or-is-it-mul... (read more)

That's definitely true. But there is an advantage to posting. Often, I'll have an idea and start to write it out. But then, I realize that it's not quite up to my internal "less wrong standards." So, I'll start refining the idea, and end up with a much better one than I started with. Or I'll find out that the idea isn't as good as I thought it was, and end up not posting.
Open thread, July 23-29, 2013

I suspect that there are times when it's appropriate to "use nonstandard fonts to good affect". Would it be just as easy to issue a warning with the option to "convert to standard font"? Then everyone wins.

Open thread, July 23-29, 2013

Upvoted the original comment. Is your goal to do a self-hack to eliminate the (now) troublesome feelings towards the SO or to simply 'move on' while maintaining some of those feelings?

Thanks! I actually hadn't thought of it in terms of self-hacking, but that's a really appropriate term for what I've been trying to do. And I suppose the former. I don't think it's quite possible to fully move on unless I really have no feelings (either positive or negative) about my ex. I drew an analogy between breaking up and withdrawal, and I think it sort of holds here; if there are still feelings lingering, it makes it so much harder to resist the temptation to "relapse," in a similar way to how it's harder to prevent relapsing if one hasn't addressed the underlying triggers/causes of an addiction. I think part of the reason why No Contact is so effective is that it removes all temptations, in the same way that it's much easier to stay committed to a diet if the foods you're trying to avoid simply aren't in your presence (related to lukeprog's Good News of Situationist Psychology post []). Another intriguing quasi-LW-related aspect of No Contact is that it can be likened to spending a chunk of willpower all at once in the beginning so that you later won't have to expend (more, if aggregated) willpower constantly to, say, not check up on what your ex is up to. It's an investment for your future self.
Open thread, July 23-29, 2013

I'm currently reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, and while discussing how System 1 tends to jump to conclusions and the importance of preventing people from influencing each other before revealing their thoughts (in section I.7), he explains that

The principle of independent judgments (and decorrelated errors) has immediate applications for the conduct of meetings. A simple rule can help: before an issue is discussed, all members of the committee should be asked to write a very brief summary of their position. ...The standard practice of o

... (read more)
the writing down of thoughts is or can be part of the 5-minute rule. Part of the 5 minutes of thinking of something is writing down your various ideas of how to solve it. The proposing solutions part is when you're actually talking to other people.
"Stupid" questions thread

describe your current situation, the cause of your current situation, and what you want to change.

That's helpful. Do you think it works as a general strategy? For example, academic discussions:

I just read article M on X because it seems like a better understanding of X will help with PURSUIT. How would you recommend that I proceed?

Or should the question/what I want to change be more specific?

My advice is geared towards factual questions, so I'm not sure how helpful it would be for more pure intellectual questions. The most important point I was trying to make was that you should be careful not to pre-bake too much analysis into your question. Thus, asking "what should I do now to get a high paying job to donate lots of money to charity?" is different from "what should I do now to make the most positive impact on the world?" Many folks around here will give very similar answers to both of those questions (I probably wouldn't, but that's not important to this conversation). But the first question rules out answers like "go get a CompSci PhD and help invent FAI" or "go to medical school and join Doctors without Borders." In short, people will answer the question you ask, or the one they think you mean to ask. That's not necessarily the same as giving you the information they have that you would find most helpful.
"Stupid" questions thread

When I'm in the presence of people who know more than me and I want to learn more, I never know how to ask questions that will inspire useful, specific answers. They just don't occur to me. How do you ask the right questions?

For the narrow subset of technical questions, How to Ask Questions the Smart Way [] is useful. But if you don't have a problem to begin with -- if your aim is "learn more in field X," it gets more complicated. Given that you don't know what questions are worth asking, the best question might be "where would I go to learn more about X" or "what learning material would you recommend on the subject of X?" Then in the process of following and learning from their pointer, generate questions to ask at a later date. There may be an inherent contradiction between wanting nonspecific knowledge and getting useful, specific answers.
I don't think an answer has to be specific to be useful. Often just understanding how an expert in a certain area thinks about the world can be useful even if you have no specificity. When it comes to questions: 1) What was the greatest discovery in your field in the last 5 years? 2) Is there an insight in your field that obvious to everyone in your field but that most people in society just don't get?
My favorite question comes from The Golden Compass: I haven't employed it against people yet, though, and so a better way to approach the issue in the same spirit is to describe your situation (as suggested by many others).
Ask the smartest questions you can think of at the time and keep updating, but don't waste time on that. After you have done a bit of this, ask them what you are missing, what questions you should be asking them.
Don't ask questions. Describe your problem and goal, and ask them to tell you what would be helpful. If they know more than you, let them figure out the questions you should ask, and then tell you the answers.
Start by asking the wrong ones. For me, it took a while to notice when I had even a stupid question to ask (possibly some combination of mild social anxiety and generally wanting to come across as smart & well-informed had stifled this impulse), so this might take a little bit of practice. Sometimes your interlocutor will answer your suboptimal questions, and that will give you time to think of what you really want to know, and possibly a few extra hints for figuring it out. But at least as often your interlocutor will take your interest as a cue that they can just go ahead and tell you nonrelated things about the subject at hand.

Lawyer's perspective:

People want to ask me about legal issues all the time. The best way to get a useful answer is to describe your current situation, the cause of your current situation, and what you want to change. Thus:

I have severe injuries, caused by that other person hitting me with their car. I want that person's driver's license taken away.

Then I can say something like: Your desired remedy is not available for REASONS, but instead, you could get REMEDY. Here are the facts and analysis that would affect whether REMEDY is available.

In sh... (read more)

I find "How do I proceed to find out more about X" to give best results. Note: it's important to phrase it so that they understand you are asking for an efficient algorithm to find out about X, not for them to tell you about X! It works even if you're completely green and talking to a prodigy in the field (which I find to be particularly hard). Otherwise you'll get "RTFM"/"JFGI" at best or they will avoid you entirely at worst.
One approach: Think of two terms or ideas that are similar but want distinguishing. "How is a foo different from a bar?" For instance, if you're looking to learn about data structures in Python, you might ask, "How is a dictionary different from a list?" You can learn if your thought that they are similar is accurate, too: "How is a list different from a for loop?" might get some insightful discussion ... if you're lucky.
What do you want to learn more about? If there isn't an obvious answer, give yourself some time to see if an answer surfaces. The good news is that this is the thread for vague questions which might not pan out.
[META] Open threads (and repository threads) are underutilized.

Are the open threads important enough that they should always be the top link?

It's a tradeoff between "do we need OT as the top link?" and "do we need articles that should be posted as comments in OT?". Therefore, if putting the OT as the top link prevents creation of at least two new articles per month, it has paid its price.

They're pretty important as a place for less relevant to the whole community topics.

Regarding a sticky for the OT: Even if it will increase clutter and decrease the visibility of other posts very slightly by being always on top it should more than make up for that by decreasing the number of 'unworthy for discussion' posts that are made in Discussion instead of in the Open Thread (where they belong). If someone has the time to analyze whether there are less 'unworthy for discussion' posts on the 1st to 3rd and 15th to 18th of the month, that'd be good fo... (read more)

[META] Open threads (and repository threads) are underutilized.

I agree that there's a problem.

If we did open threads more often (once a week, say), I think it would fix the issue. Looking at the current page 1 of the Discussion section, posts from July 4 are still visible.

I agree that the Reddit format would probably work, but it seems inefficient to use another site to be able to operate this one.

I think people are talking about creating another "subreddit" on this site, not an actual subreddit on reddit. I would certainly be opposed to the latter. Forgive me if I've misinterpreted you.
Svante Arrhenius's Prediction of Climate Change

I think that this case study gives evidence against attempting to predict the far future being useful

Isn't it evidence for a more narrow conclusion? Specifically, that attempting to precisely predict the far future isn't going to work well? Arrhenius was correct that climate change was going to happen, just wrong about several particulars. Or was he right for so many wrong reasons that it's not worth noting?

Here by useful I meant "prescribing actions that turn out to have social value." I agree that Arrhenius had the right general idea, and that this is noteworthy.