All of Gunnar_Zarncke's Comments + Replies

Successful Mentoring on Parenting, Arranged Through LessWrong

I have spent a lot of thought on this, and I am well aware of all the studies posted by Gwern over time that show the effect of parenting on cognitive ability, educational attainment, etc. to be small or zero. I buy that your influence on intelligence and character is neglible. Still, it wouldn't be adaptive for the child's brain to throw away useful knowledge (though it might question its valence). There are also a lot of things that can make the parent-child relationship easier. Scott Alexander wrote that there seem to be shared-environment effects influ... (read more)

Successful Mentoring on Parenting, Arranged Through LessWrong

Thank you for adding all these recommendations on breastfeeding. I can confirm that difficulties with breastfeeding cause royal pain. I don't see a way to pass on this knowledge via remote mentoring (plus, neither of us does breastfeeding). Maybe we should more clearly point out that this is a father's position, and of course, your mileage may vary. 

[$10k bounty] Read and compile Robin Hanson’s best posts

Posts of his that made it into my Anki deck:

Hidden motives complicates incentive design. Instead of just trying to offer people more of what they want, we need to let them continue to let them pretend to want what they pretend, while actually offering them more of what they really want.

Blame Holes like Plot Holes

on Signaling (again)

Interesting side point: 1/3 of movie budget goes to marketing because blockbusters are a coordination game.

Who Likes Simple Rules

Why do people dislike objective ... (read more)

Covid 10/21: Rogan vs. Gupta

Thank you for continuing to do the executing summary. I could skip most of the post because of it.

While skimming I noticed this:

There will be a point these mandates  everyday actions

The Apprentice Thread

supposedlyfun and I arranged a mentoring and you can find a summary of our collaboration in this LW post.

Successful Mentoring on Parenting, Arranged Through LessWrong

This is a Google Doc that I created based on the child development planning of my ex-wife. It contains an estimation of the effort (hours spent) for the first 8 years. 

And this Google Sheet contains activities and development program steps we developed. This contains what supposedlyfun called our Salami Tactics. 

Both are incomplete and just what I included during the preparation of our calls. I intend to add to it later. 

3Sherrinford2dThanks - I think the Sheet has restricted access.
Shoulder Advisors 101

A, I missed a "t". "can" -> "cant". Sorry about that typo. I mostly agree with it being a matter of degree. But I want to respond to this part of your comment: 

In principle, the agentic unity of the ego can be lost and instead scattered onto different agentic-type thought processes

I wouldn't say that this is what happens with Shoulder Advisors or with the no-self experience of meditation. There are many failure modes of the brain making sense of agency and identity. I think the default mode of society is to encourage and reinforce an interpretation... (read more)

Shoulder Advisors 101

I agree that a community can and should avoid certain topics. For example, the "politics is the mind-killer" no-politics rule. And this is probably true, independent of whether one understands why something is dangerous. But there are two aspects here: Understanding why something is dangerous and actually trying out the dangerous thing. Granted, one can easily lead to the other. There is also the other side of the coin: Understanding why something is healthy/beneficial. LW is also about that (see Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity). There is a l... (read more)

Boring machine learning is where it's at

I think this quote is relevant though I can't exactly say how:

Technological change actually arrives in ways that leave human behavior minimally altered.

The future always seems like something that is going to happen rather than something that is happening.

Successful products are precisely those that do not attempt to move user experiences significantly, even if the underlying technology has shifted radically. In fact the whole point of user experience design is to manufacture the necessary normalcy for a product to succeed and get integrated

 -- Welcome

... (read more)
Listen to top LessWrong posts with The Nonlinear Library

Sounds like a great product. You could offer this as a service for other forums, libraries etc. for profit.

9Yoav Ravid5dAnd use the profit to narrate even more LessWrong/EA posts! Double win :)
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Thank you for the clarification. I think it is valuable to include this context in your comment.

I will adjust my comment accordingly.

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Related Tweet by Mason:

One of the weirdest ideas in Bay Area rationalist/adjacent circles is that you become someone like e.g. Elon Musk, hyper-productive and motivated, by introspecting a ton

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Can somebody give me some hints according to which norms this could be downvoted?

4Raven5dI didn't downvote, but I almost did because it seems like it's hard enough to reveal that kind of thing without also having to worry about social disapproval.
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Well, if that is true then that would be another avenue to research mental states. Something that is clearly needed.

But what I really wanted to say: You shouldn't do it if you can't formulate hypotheses and do experiments for it.

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Well, I agree that the actual prevalence you have in mind would be roughly half of 38% i.e. ~20%. That is still much higher than the 12% you arrived at. And either value is so high that there is little surprise some severe episodes of some people happened in a 5-year frame. 

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I had a look at the situation in Germany and it doesn't look much better. 17% of students are diagnosed with at least one psychical disorder. This is based on the health records of all students insured by one of the largest public health insurers in Germany (about ten percent of the population): 

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

UPDATE: I mostly retract this comment. It was clarified that the threat was made in a mostly public context which changes the frame for me significantly. 

I think it is problematic to post a presumably very private communication (the threat) to such a broad audience. Even when it is correctly attributed it lacks all the context of the situation it was uttered in. It lacks any amends that way or may not have been made and exposes many people to the dynamics of the narrative resulting from the posting here. I'm not saying you shouldn't post it. I don't k... (read more)

I don't think the context in which I heard about this communication was very private. There was a period where Michael seemed to try to get people to attack GiveWell and Holden quite loudly, and the above was part of the things I heard from that time. The above did not to me strike me as a statement intended to be very private, and also my model of Michael has norms that encourage sharing this kind of thing, even if it happens in private communication. 

3Gunnar_Zarncke5dCan somebody give me some hints according to which norms this could be downvoted?
6ChristianKl6dHave the important conversations about why you shouldn't take drugs / engage in woo openly on LessWrong instead only having them only privately where it doesn't reach many people. Then confront people who suggest something in that direction with those posts.
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

I have pointed out the risks of meditation and meditation-like practices before. The last time was on the Shoulder Advisors which does seem to fall on the boundary. I have experience with meditation and have been to extended silent meditation retreats with only positive results. Nonetheless, bad trips are possible - esp. without a supportive teacher and/or community. 

But I wouldn't make a norm against groups fostering meditation. Meditation depends on groups for support (though the same might be said about psychedelics). Meditation is also a known way... (read more)

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

If it works as a device to facilitate sub-conscious associations, then maybe an alternative should be designed that sheds the mystical baggage and comes with clear explanations of why and how it works. 

3jefftk6dI'm generally very anti-woo, but I expect presenting it clearly and without baggage would make it stop working because the participant would be in a different mental state.
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Note that the pooled prevalence is 24% (CI 18-31). But it differs a lot across studies, symptoms, and location. In the individual studies, the range is really from zero to 50% (or rather to 38% if you exclude a study with only 6 participants). I think a suitable reference class would be the University of California which has 3,190 participants and a prevalence of 38%.  

9Linch6dSorry, am I misunderstanding something? I think taking "clinically significant symptoms", specific to the UC system, as a given is wrong because it did not directly address either of my two criticisms: 1. Clinically significant symptoms =/= clinically diagnosed even in worlds where there is a 1:1 relationship between clinically significant symptoms and would have been clinically diagnosed, as many people do not get diagnosed 2. Clinically significant symptoms do not have a 1:1 relationship with would have been clinically diagnosed.
4habryka6dThe UC Berkeley study was the one that I had cached in my mind as generating this number. I will reread it later today to make sure that it's right, but it sure seems like the most relevant reference class, given the same physical location.
Applied Mathematical Logic For The Practicing Researcher

Just add the numbers so it's clear what belongs to what.

1Jan6dGood idea! Did it!
Feature Suggestion: one way anonymity

I think Yair Halberstadt is aware that it is not safe - but that doesn't seem to be his goal anyway. I like this too. I did something a bit like this a while ago in the LW wiki. Pages there aren't found via the author search either - but can be traced back by checking who edited the page.

Applied Mathematical Logic For The Practicing Researcher

The footnotes don't seem to work for me. Neither clicking on them nor the backlink.

1Jan6dAhh, thanks for letting me know! (: Yeah, they also don't work for me either... I guess the problem arises because footnotes have to be entered in Markdown mode (see this []) but formatting the images only works in the WYSIWYG editor... Bummer. I'll figure out a different solution for the next post.
My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

: People in and adjacent to MIRI/CFAR manifest major mental health problems, significantly more often than the background rate.

I think this is true

My main complaint about this and the Leverage post is the lack of base-rate data. How many people develop mental health problems in a) normal companies, b) startups, c) small non-profits, d) cults/sects? So far, all I have seen are two cases. And in the startups I have worked at, I would also have been able to find mental health cases that could be tied to the company narrative. Humans being human narratives get... (read more)

In particular, I want to remind people here that something like 30-40% of grad students at top universities have either clinically diagnosed depression or anxiety (link). I think given the kind of undirected, often low-paid, work that many have been doing for the last decade, I think that's the right reference class to draw from, and my current guess is we are roughly at that same level, or slightly below it (which is a crazy high number, and I think should give us a lot of pause). 

My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage)

Most of these bullet points seem to apply to some degree to every new and risky endeavor ever started. How risky things are is often unclear at the start. Such groups are build from committed people. Small groups develop their own dynamics. Fast growth leads to social growing pains. Lack of success leads to a lot of additional difficulties. Also: Evaporative cooling. And if (partial) success happens even more growth leads to needed management level etc etc. And later: Hindsight bias. 

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fabricated Options

I read the summary on Wikipedia and couldn't figure out the specific alternatives either. But it is not needed. It is clear that the real options real people face are equally difficult.  

[Prediction] We are in an Algorithmic Overhang, Part 2
  • Theoretical. We're one or more major technical insights.

"missing" missing?

2lsusr7dFixed. Thanks.
Is moral duty/blame irrational because a person does only what they must?

I may agree with your conclusion that 

  • justice still makes sense because justice is about influencing the future using the past only as data, but not living in the past.
  • We would have to stop blaming both others and ourselves
  • We would have to finally embrace a practical morality.

For me, the more immediate difficulty seems to be how to act in the intermediate world where only a few understand this and could act accordingly but the majority doesn't.  

Is moral duty/blame irrational because a person does only what they must?

I have tried to find and understand where any of these or any other prewritten works associated with might have already addressed these questions.

The sequence on free will can be found under the tag Free Will. Posts building up to a solution step by step can be found under Free Will Solution

I'm not super happy with how the dissolution is presented, but I would say all the relevant parts are there. For example, I would say your point

Therefore, a person who makes choice A had to make that choice, for to have made any other choice the per

... (read more)
Book Review: A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander

The book is hard to get except maybe at the library. I had to pay >100€ for a used German translation. But there is this great online resource with complete content for easy lookup. 

Book Review: A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander

The official site of the book has summaries for the pattern here. But I like the complete content on this site much better: 

Christopher Alexander invented the presentation in the book in the form of a Pattern Language (described in his book of the same name). Among other uses, it spurred the Design Pattern Language in software development (here is a link from the (now defunct) c2 Portland Pattern Repository (itself the first wiki)). 

I agree that the book is opinionated and written in a very confident ton... (read more)

Book Review Review (end of the bounty program)

If you have an idea for the kind of writing we should incentivize with bounties, please comment below.

Summarizing research - either individual papers or work in a working group. Any fields could be interesting though you might want to incentivize certain fields. It could be done like The Best Textbooks on any Subject i.e. you have to compare it to two other papers on the subject though that would probably be very challenging. I am also thinking about somehow countering publication bias.

While I'm at it: I miss the polling feature of the old LW. It was a qui... (read more)

Shoulder Advisors 101

You describe it as a matter of degree and I cant disagree with that. 

3Korz4dThanks for your reply, am an unsure whether I am correctly understanding your position: * Would you agree that some of the aspects that make the ego/self different compared to shoulder advisors are the ones that I stated? (it doesn't seem to contradict the formulation 'privileged shoulder advisor' as far as I can tell) * The 'matter of degree'-question where our views differ is about the question whether there are such things as 'shoulder advisors+' that are e.g. halfway between a pure shoulder advisor and the ego? If I am not misunderstanding you, this is a really interesting disagreement. To me, this topic is almost an alief []-level view and I might have fallen for cognitive fusion []. To possibly help with misunderstandings, I'll just throw out my current thoughts on the topic. I expect there to be major mistakes or at least gaps in there, but I will not be able to improve them without working with them. Of course, it is also not necessary to solve our disagreement if you find it less interesting. My current position: In principle, the agentic unity of the ego can be lost and instead scattered onto different agentic-type thought processes (think trauma, dissociation, identity disorders etc.). My impression is that this is usually quite harmful to the individual and generally not sth to strive for. Then there is a more or less separate 'space of agentic-type thought processes' that leans more toward 'abstract world-modelling', 'agent-modelling' and 'abstract-goal-pursuing' and less toward 'episodic memories', 'bodily sensations', 'bodily urges' and 'fight or flight response'. Here, although most people tend towards unity from the ego plus a large number of simple goal-processes plus modelling people, it is possible and largely non-dangerous to build towards a number of larger bundles of thought processes such as shoulder advisors.
Shoulder Advisors 101

I think the two big advantages of a retreat are

  • a lot of time in one large chunk to improve the mind (introspect, meditate, or something). As with programming some things you can only do if you go deeper and deeper in one run (extreme maker schedule).
  • tight feedback loops with the teacher and other practitioners hopefully at about the same level. 

Both interrelate. But with your specific profile and experience level, I think it will be difficult to find a suitable retreat. It might work better to work closely with a meditation practitioner that you click with.

Shoulder Advisors 101

Thanks for sharing. I can relate even to the exceptions and resulting strategies.

Shoulder Advisors 101

That again sounds pretty close to how I would have described me earlier (and would mostly still describe). You didn't write about your emotional balance but if were is again like me it would involve few excited states and fewer conflicted or what's called negative states and emotions as e.g., anger. If so, that would confirm my assumption that getting to such a uniform and stable state requires a certain environment. An environment that has little need for the developing brain and mind to overfit. No forced adaptations to environmental risks like loss of caretakers or life. But also an environment rich in information and with exploring. 

3Flawed Spiral10dTrue, I didn't mention emotional balance since it usually plays little role in my daily life. I used to have issues with managing extreme emotions in early childhood that I solved by both avoidance, and 'dimming' them to the point they are mostly manageable. I avoid anger in daily life because it was always unproductive for me in the past, and is incompatible with the social strategies I use nowadays (which I picked because I suck at social 'tactics'). The environment you describe matches up well, but not perfectly with the one I grew up in. I guess you can use that as a confirmation.
Shoulder Advisors 101

The inner monologue, as a tight coupling of auditory and linguistic processing, is rather helpful for performing some kinds of thought, for extending working memory


I still use internal monologue to trigger parts of my brain for things like planning

Or for recalling previous conversations or rehearsing speech (though that also falls under extended working memory).

This does have a side effect that I never really feel like part of most groups.

Same here. And that, together with what you wrote earlier ("I don't think I can model people"), leads to les... (read more)

1Flawed Spiral10dI overlooked the obvious, yes, I do that too, of course. However, less of the rehearsing speech part, and more of looking for concrete words for concepts in the moment. I do believe I would improve the fluidity of my speech by rehearsing, I'm not sure that kind of practice is aligned with my values. Most of your meditation description sounds fascinating, it seems mostly like practicing the skill I already have to strengthen the connection between direct sensations and conscious attention. The only parts that I've never consciously done before are regulating emotions up, and paying attention in general while in emotional states. I still find backtracking through thoughts difficult, and am not completely successful. I think the way I practice is not particularly effective, but I would like to improve. I'm not sure I'd be willing to go to a meditation retreat, I'd have to re-evaluate quite a few things to consider actually going.
Shoulder Advisors 101

I can relate very well to Flawed Spiral. Before I looked more into meditation and got a higher resolution awareness of inner processes, I could have written a description like him. For me, it was not so much "no unitary self" as rather a tiny self. I didn't have much of an inner monologue. And I could easily relate to Paul Graham's appeal to Keep Your Identity Small. A small self doesn't mean low complexity. For me, it was a high alignment of inner processes and values as well as a rich and updatable world model. 

1Flawed Spiral10dI personally see an inner monologue as as much of a tool as any other part of my brain. The inner monologue, as a tight coupling of auditory and linguistic processing, is rather helpful for performing some kinds of thought, for extending working memory (the auditory loop is an extremely easy place to store small amounts of nearly arbitrary data in the immediate term, and you can abuse your language processing to store moderate amounts of linguistic data in the short term as long as you're able to retrace a path of thought through it). I do find that I don't have a constantly running narrative of my thoughts and what I'm doing, even if I remember having one in the past. I still use internal monologue to trigger parts of my brain for things like planning, or for enhancing myself in some task as described in the earlier paragraph, but most of the time my inner monologue is inactive. I do agree with Keep Your Identity Small, I seem to have been doing that, or something very similar, automatically from a certain point in my mid teens. This does have a side effect that I never really feel like part of most groups, which is both good and bad, as it allows me to exit groups or communities easily, and for example, permanently 'shed' online identities that I decide I can't use anymore for whatever reason (like sharing too much info that's reasonably correlatable to another identity or real life). I'm curious what kinds of meditation you've looked into. My go-to form of meditation is focusing attention on my body, in any position, with or without muscle relaxation or increasing blood flow.
Shoulder Advisors 101

What additional machinery do you have in mind or what else makes you think that?

3Korz10dMy thoughts on this are mostly from introspection. When I try to imagine a shoulder advisor in comparison to my self (note that I do not have shoulder advisors currently), there seem to be some additional properties to my self which a should advisor would not have. Trying to get at the differences, what comes up is: * bodily sensations and urges are 'directly fed into and fuel (/delegate vote power to)' my self, but not shoulder advisors * decisions on movement likewise are directly connected to myself, while shoulder advisors are only influencing my mental dialogue/perception * similarly with things like 'felt responsibility for actions', 'identity' etc. I am not sure that 'additional machinery' is the right term for these differences. My impression is 'the ego is much more strongly connected and fused with these other parts'
Growing Independence

I know it's been a while...

If Lily (6y) comes to me and says "Anna (4y) pushed me,"

I'm curious how this has developed. With my boys, there were a lot of fights. The typical reaction is not to go away and complain but mostly to fight back. And that can mean bruises. And whatever rules we discussed and agreed on got tested to the limit. The only rule I have mostly been able to get buy-in for was: "The head is taboo." Explaining that being the only part that can't be repaired. However, even that got challenged with pillows and touching.

The kids will often ask

... (read more)
Gunnar_Zarncke's Shortform

Team Flow Is a Unique Brain State Associated with Enhanced Information Integration and Interbrain Synchrony

It's also possible to experience 'team flow,' such as when playing music together, competing in a sports team, or perhaps gaming. In such a state, we seem to have an intuitive understanding with others as we jointly complete the task at hand. An international team of neuroscientists now thinks they have uncovered the neural states unique to team flow, and it appears that these differ both from the flow states we experience as individuals, and from the

... (read more)
Building Blocks of Politics: An Overview of Selectorate Theory

I would like to know what you think of this video on Youtube: Rules for Rulers

It seems to explain at least some of the dynamics though it doesn't use Selectorate Theory but more intuitive reasoning.

7Yoav Ravid12dSee the end of the Further Reading [] section. The video doesn't mention selectorate theory explicitly (and it doesn't need to) but it is based on The Dictator's Handbook which is based on the theory. I think it's a fantastic explanation and would send it (rather than this post) to people if you don't don't need them to know all the details and implications, and just want them to know the core takeaways (and don't expect them to read a 14K word article).
Shoulder Advisors 101

Maybe that is one way how entertainment manipulates public opinion: By creating memorable (=easily emulable) characters that become shoulder 'influencers' that promote the official narrative right in the heads of the populace. 

Cup-Stacking Skills (or, Reflexive Involuntary Mental Motions)

You are both right. 

Of course. 

I believe Duncan that he got incredible success rates on his courses. I believe him not because I have seen him do it - I haven't even watched any of the linked videos. I believe him because he believes it, because it fits with what I have read from him, and - crucially - because I have seen it quite often in many other domains e.g. with teachers or influencers (providing base rates for reference classes; it may also have helped to have had a thousand-year-old vampire father-in-law). But also because I recognize tha... (read more)

4Duncan_Sabien12d(Strong approval for pointing out the existence of an overlap where we're both right; I was clumsily attempting to do that by pointing out in the opener that Christian may just straightforwardly be envisioning a more mature and complex skill than the one I was claiming is quickly transmissible.)
Cup-Stacking Skills (or, Reflexive Involuntary Mental Motions)

Skills of this kind that I have observed:

  • Planning and scheduling skills. It is like they have a calendar with auto-reminder in their brain.
  • Coming up with possible explanations and answers to real or hypothetical questions (an incredible Babble).
  • Finding the weak point of a person to trigger them into anger or other spontaneous and thereby not thought-thru action. 
  • The opposite of it: Finding the lever that calms down or leads to otherwise desirable action. A skill some teachers develop to manage difficult classes.

I have also observed the ones you pointe... (read more)

Cup-Stacking Skills (or, Reflexive Involuntary Mental Motions)

If I get you right with "Cup-Stacking" you mean a skill that

  • everybody can learn
  • and easily observe
  • that improves by many small steps, and
  • can reach an unbelievable level.

And you want to extend this from visually observable motor skills to "Reflexive Involuntary Mental Motions" like argument construction and social out-dancing (best word in place of 'manipulation' that I came up with the help of a shoulder advisor).

Is that roughly right? 

My own contribution to this is two older links from LW that seem relevant:

... (read more)
8Duncan_Sabien13dThat's most of it, but there's a subtext (which your comment helped me draw out; thanks) of something like unintentional or subconscious practice. Like, at least [the skills I've identified in the wild so far, that caused me to create the mental category] were all sort of accidentally practiced to that unbelievable level. I didn't set out to become a frame-maker, and my colleague didn't set out to become a frame-breaker; the skills emerged from the incentives in our respective contexts.
Load More