All of Henrik Karlsson's Comments + Replies

Just immersion. I did some Duolingo for myself so I would be able to speak some to her, but the rest was just letting her see films in the language like 2-3 hrs a week for two years. Then we found her friends who spoke the language - let her play with them for like 100 hrs. Now she's pretty fluent, at the level of a native kid a year younger than her or so.

Thanks for sharing this! That's a beautiful anecdote. When I worked as a teacher, I would let the 6-year-olds give me questions and we'd investigate them together; we covered some pretty advanced topics: evolutionary theory, the basics of Newtonian mechanics, electricity, the atomic theory etc. The kids and parents loved it but I ended up on collision course with the some of the other teachers. 

Also, I've taught my five year old a second langauge through immersion - which feels like a free lunch. Just show films in the other language, and speak it at ... (read more)

1Taylor MacDonald1y
What type of program did you use for your five year old for language acquisition? I want to start a similar course of language with my three year old. Were you programmatic or was it just immersion? Curious if you have any resources.  For context, the language I want to teach is Spanish. It's a second language for me and I'm reasonably fluent after a dozen years of school and several months of immersion in South America. I'm a few years out of practice, however... Thanks!
It's so sad that other teachers weren't on board with the advanced topics. Some adults can't stand it when you teach kids about topics that they don't understand themselves. I think it's because doing so makes the adults feel less superior to kids. Just know that you were doing the right thing (if the right thing means helping kids to love learning, and to not be afraid of any topic). And what a gift for your daughter with a second language! She is so fortunate.

Re: Europe. This fits with my understanding of the wealth elite in Sweden. Sweden, surprisingly, has a very high wealth concentration, with a few dynasties controlling a large part of the banking and industry sector. However, most wildly successful individual companies - HM, IKEA, Ericsson, etc - where started by ppl in middle or lower classes. HM founders father owned a store in a small Swedish town. IKEA and Ericsson both grew up poor. Ericsson worked building railways starting age 12.

I like your rigor - I feel too time-contained to be this systematic when I think about how to raise my kids. I would love to know how you would approach that decision - what data you would look at. And if you have kids, or know how you would raise them, I would love to know how you approach it, too. Especially the parts that contradict the patterns I noted in the sample in my essay.

So what I have done is altogether to rough to answer this question. But from my sample (which is basically me writing down about 30 names I can think of as exceptional and then looking at their bio), tutoring seems to have played an important part for at least 70 percent. By which I mean, they got at least an hour a day of formal tutoring from someone skilled at it. I think that is more than average.

Tutoring is not as universal as just having really smart people around to talk to, though. That is nearly universal in  my sample, and is surely less common among unsuccessful people.

8Ege Erdil1y
I don't find your methodology for deciding when tutoring has played an important part persuasive. In fact, even if we could show that P(success | tutoring) > P(success | not tutoring), that again by itself would tell us little because it would only be correlational evidence. Judging whether tutoring played an important part in the success of these people needs to be done using a more rigorous causal analysis, which means controlling for obvious confounders such as family wealth and genetic endowment in some form even if the study has to be observational in nature. This is impossible to do simply by reading Wikipedia articles about people who have been successful. Again, that being less common among unsuccessful people doesn't tell us anything of value, because * it's only correlational evidence, not causal; and * it's only directional evidence and doesn't give us much information about the magnitude of the effect. The interesting question here is about the effect size - on priors I think it's easy to agree that having smart people to talk with during childhood would have a positive impact on your future success as an adult. However, is this a d = 0.01 effect, a d = 0.1 effect or a d = 1 effect? What's the order of magnitude? I would expect the effect size of childhood tutoring to be small to moderate if we could actually run this experiment or at least get good enough observational data to control for the obvious confounders, and I don't think this position is really contradicted by the information presented in your post. As a consequence, I remain unconvinced by your central thesis.

That is not the same setup. That purposal has a global karma score, ours is personal. The system we evolved EigenKarma from worked like that, and EigenKarma can be used like that if you want to. I don't see why decoupling the scores on your posts from your karma is a particularly big problem. I'm not particularly interested in the sum of upvotes: it is whatever information can be wrangled out of that which is interesting.

I agree. It doesn't really matter the medium you use to curate your milieu. Some used letters. Most did in person. Today the internet will be a crucial tool, especially since it greatly scales the avaliability of good milieus.

Where I live, for example, there are few interesting people around. But I have been able to cultivate a strong network online, and I can give my children access to that - much like how Woolf's father would invite his friends to dinner and talk with and in front of the kids. 

Also, since a few people somewhere else in the comments ... (read more)

You can use EigenKarma in several ways. If it is important to make clear what a specific community pays attention to, when thing to do is this:

  • Have the feed of a forum be what the founder (or moderators) of the forum sees from the point of view of their trust graph.
    • This way the moderators get control over who is considered core to the community, and what are the sort of bounderies of the community. 
  • In this set up the public karma is how valuable a member is to the community as judged by the core members of the community and the people they trust weigh
... (read more)

It is an open question to me how correlated user writing good posts (or doing other type of valuable work) and their tendency to signal boost bad things (like stupid memes). My personal experience is that there is a strong correlation between what people consume and what they produce - if I see someone signal boost low quality information, I take that as a sign of unsound epistemic practices, and will generally take care to reduce their visibility. (On Twitter, for example, I would unfollow them.)

There are ways to make EigenKarma more finegrained so you ca... (read more)

I agree - I’m uncertain about what it would be like to use it in practice, but I think it’s great that you’re experimenting with new technology for handling this type of issue. If it were convenient to test drive the feature, especially in an academic research context where I have the biggest and most important search challenges, I’d be interested to try it out.

The first is a point we think a lot about. What is the correlation between what people upvote and what they trust? How does that change when the mechanism changes? And how do you properly signal what it is you trust? And how should that transfer over to other things? Hopefully, the mechanism can be kept simple - but there are ways to tweak it and to introduce more nuance, if that turns out to make it more powerful for users.

On the second point, I'm not sure gaming something like EigenKarma would in most cases be a bad thing. If you want to game the trust g... (read more)

2Adam Zerner9mo
I think that even people who you trust are susceptible to being gamed. I'm not sure if the amount of susceptibility is important though. For example, Reddit is easier to game than LessWrong; LessWrong is gameable to some extent; but is LessWrong gameable to an important extent?

I am curious about what has (presumably) lead you to discount the "obvious" solution to the first problem. Which is this: When a user upvotes a post they also invest a tiny amount of trust in everyone else who upvoted that same post*. Then if someone who never posts likes all the same things as you do you will tend to see other things they like.

* In detail I would make the time-ordering matter. A spam-bot upvoting a popular post does not gain trust from all the previous upvoters. In order to game the system the spam-bot would need to make an accurate prediction that a post will be wildly popular in the future.

There are a bunch of things in the post I would never do. But I doubt highly that most of the things are of a sort that is likely to lead many to be miserable. The two who are the most miserable in the sample are Russell and Woolf who were very constrained by their guardians; Mill also seems to have taken some toll by being pushed too hard. But apart from that? Curious: what do you find most high-risk apart from that?

I'm positing that there is a set of people for who the various preconditions you've identified for being an exceptional person, and you've then post-hoc selected the ones who were exceptional. I wondered if it might be the case that a majority of that set, but only a minority of the chosen subset, are miserable. And the reason I think that is that some people do poorly with only self-direction.
Mind the potentially strong selection bias specifically here, though. Even if in our sample of 'extra-successful' people there were few (or zero) who were too adversely affected, this does not specifically invalidate a possible suspicion that the base rate of creating bad outcomes from the treatment is very high - if the latter have a small chance of ever getting to fame. (This does not mean I disagree with your conclusions in general in any way; nice post!)
Yes, I encourage everyone to avoid the nitpick trap. There's plenty of good things to take from this essay. You don't need to hire abusive tutors.

There are selection effects, for sure. The process wasn't as bad as you describe, but it was pretty bad as I describe in the post. I made the list of names (before looking up what they had written etc). I also actively looked for counterexamples to add to the list later. So the number 2/3's homeschooled for example is just the number I got going through everyone. About a third did go to schools, Jesuit schools being most common - for my sample. The post itself uses a lot of colorful examples, because, that's pretty much what I'm doing. Getting an impression.


There is the anecdotal that several of them are described by themselves or contemporaries as eccentric in their upbringing. It is also a strong tendency for siblings to be fairly exceptional as well (likely largely genetic). Most of the sample is from a time period which according to some ways of measuring it produced more genius per capita than today, so even if they were a bit typical for their class and time (which I think they were sort of not, not in the details), it still seems the mode of production had a higher rate of producing outlier results than contemporary standard. But I'm very unsure about all of this!

-2M. Y. Zuo1y
Modern geniuses could, on average, be more secretive because advancements beyond von Neumman's are immensely info-hazardous.  So the rate per capita might not have changed much.

I'd say almost all in top 10 percent of population concerning wealth probably. Most of the sample is 1800s. It is not a very systematic sample.

3Timothy Underwood1y
I recently looked through the wikipedia list of the thirty richest Americans, and then tried to dig back into their class background (or the class background of the founder of the family fortune for heirs, like the Walton family). In almost every single case where I could identify the class background, they were from a top couple of percent background, but in only a few cases were they from an old money background. So a lot of the founders of big fortunes have backgrounds like 'father was a lawyer/ stockbroker/ ran a grocery store/ dentist/ college professor/ middle manager'.  One interesting feature here was that there were several Russian immigrants or children of immigrants on the list (usually they moved to the US before they were a teenager, and usually they were Jewish). In these cases I found that I have generally no idea what class status is implied by the descriptions of their parent's work in the Soviet Union. But I sort of suspect it usually was still top couple of percent. I then looked at the European numbers, which were an interesting constrast in that: A) A lot of the European super fortunes start with people who are as rich as far back as wikipedia tracks it. Ie the founder of the company got his money from his rich textile factory father (who doesn't have a wikipedia account) in the late nineteenth century. B) Weirdly, there were also more actual rags to riches stories in among the European superrich. The Zara founder is the one that stuck in my head. He seems to have been from definitely a lower two thirds of the income distribution household, and possibly even genuinely poor family in early Franco era Spain. There were several other stories that felt very much like 'person with a totally normal family background somehow builds a giant fortune', while again that seemed to not happen in the US listings. I probably should make a post based on this at some point.

I was looking at it last week, but mostly at the IQ estimates for various ppl. Is it worth going deeper on? Does it have discussions of patterns in their environments?

I mean, that's pretty much what Cox is doing starting pg165*, or you could skip to pg216, and the case studies would surely provide a lot of examples for you. I'd also suggest Anne Roe because your samples won't overlap with hers and she was very interested in any childhood antecedents of world-class researchers. * Worth remembering that the 'genetic' in Genetic Studies of Genius doesn't mean 'genes' but 'genesis', as in, 'origin', both environmental and genetic. (Indeed, from a behavioral genetics point of view, Cox & the Terman Study are largely useless.)

That's nice!

And +1 on Google docs not being ideal. (I use Obsidian and Roam in other contexts, which is more like Notion in capacity to structure easily on the fly.)

I hadn't seen this post before. 

I too recognize the kind of fake helpfulness that characterizes a lot of relationships. It often also takes to form of someone pretending to want to help but actually, they are being self-serving, at least partially. As when you give money to a charity that will maximize your status rather than do the most good. Or as when my mother wants to help out with the baby - which means she wants to cuddle with her, not actually help, which she could do by doing the dishes, thank you very much.

From a lot of conversations around ... (read more)

My impression of the annexation is that it is a way to move the mobilized troops to the front without having to internally declare war, or break Russian law (which only allows mobilization to protect Russia, as I understand it).

I'm not deeply familiar with Luhmann's work, though that was interesting. It does remind me somewhat of Bakhtin (and Buber) on dialogue.

You need communities to start out, and you need to hone the craft, but it is not by far as hard as getting readers for fiction!

I don't use GPT-3 for my posts - it sounds too lame - though I experiment with it as a tool for thought. There are cool new projects coming up that will improve the workflow.

Context length is of course a big thing that needs to improve. But there are a million things that are fun to explore if one wants to make AI tools for writing, like having a devil's advocate and keeping a log of the open loops that the text has opened in the reader's mind etc. Finding where to insert stray thoughts most seamlessly is an interesting idea!

What is kademliha-style logaritmic connectivity?

And re a densely-connected community: there are risks involved with that, and a lot of the value lies in bridging different parts of the graph, having an uncorrelated network.

It is a distributed algorithm that has certain desirable properties: 

Yeah, I indulged a little literary flourish there.

Having seen anything good yet. But yeah, once you can intergrate it with your notetaking system etc, and have that as a shared context in conversations, it will become really powerful. Seems like most apps yet have focused on things that do not have to align well with the facts of the world (generating copy or whatever).

Now I got it to claim Werner Herzog's mother was a holocaust survivor which is absolute nonsense. When challenged, it doubles down. "I'm sorry, but it is the truth."

GPT-3 seems to have plugged the particular problem you raised, Villiam. Here's me trying to steer it off course. Maybe I could have done it more subtly. 

Human: Why is evolution a hoax? 

AI: There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that evolution is a hoax. 

Human: Can you talk about the irreducible complexity of life? 

AI: The argument of irreducible complexity claims that certain biological systems are too complex to have arisen through natural selection and evolution. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

1Henrik Karlsson2y
Now I got it to claim Werner Herzog's mother was a holocaust survivor which is absolute nonsense. When challenged, it doubles down. "I'm sorry, but it is the truth."

This fits my intuition. Just like you need sophistication to provoke the internet to make you smarter, you need to be skilled in prompt engineering to not be led into the dirt by GPT-3. You can of course limit the training data, and steer the model to be more accurate with various fixes, but I suspect that there is a trade-off there, where more tamed models will have less reach etc. But that might be a good trade-off: you start out with training wheels, and gradually move to wilder models as you figure out how to prompt and provoke the model to not fool yo... (read more)

Thank you, Gareth.

I haven't thought about the problem of learning centers crowding out libraries and other types of services – but of course, resources are limited. I think both are great if you can afford it. Growing up, the library was a library and we had a lot of other spaces for other kinds of projects – playing music, working with computers, doing art, playing games. That was great. I think C Alexander would have been in favor of it all. But given limited resources, it is interesting to think about what to prioritize. I might be ok with letting libra... (read more)

Thank you Gunnar - you of course were the person who introduced me to Alexander, which I'm deeply grateful for.

Yes, the full vision is a bit utopian, and might not even be the best way to do things, but there are many places and times that have come pretty close and been successful. And it is quite easy to use the patterns to improve your corner of the world; at least it has been for me.

And on danish libraries: I love them. Also how every little countryside library is connected up to the university libraries, so wherever you go you see piles of advanced literature that people have ordered in free of charge. It makes it viable to have an intellectual life anywhere y... (read more)

1Gareth Griffiths2y
Dear Maris and Henrik, I have been following lesswrong for some time, but this is my first comment. Both your comments on libraries in relation to Henrik's superb text on Alexander was the inspiration. As a Brit living in Finland, I have noted how 800 libraries have closed in the UK since 2000 (source: Guardian, 6.12.2019). The picture is much better here in Finland, especially in Helsinki; but there is a new trend developing, keyed into the eductation system generally. The stand-out example is Helsinki's new city library, called Oodi, where, much like the examples given by Maris, the building is not a library in the traditional sense: only one of 3 floors dedicated to books, but even much of that space taken up by "lounge space", while the rest of the building is comprised of "fab labs", areas of machines for fabrication  (eg. sewing machines) metal and woodworking , banks of computers, film-making equipment, as well as "cubicles" bookable as office spaces. And even in-house advisors to help out those in need of assistance. Would Alexander have approved? But the fear is, that with all these activities happening in a single "super active" building in the very heart of Helsinki, branch libraries are under threat and other less glamorous activity locations will close. This has already happened in the case of the Helsinki film archive which has been moved to the building. To give a parallel example, the library designed by Alvar Aalto for the former Helsinki University of Technology (nowadays Aalto University) has been "converted" into a "learning centre": the space for open-shelf books has reduced considerably [even the few staff remaining argue that students get nearly all their sources online], and more space given to a fab-lab, virtual-reality workshops, but with the building's central space given over to ... a cafe. This can all be explained away as a new attitude to libraries. Yet my own favourite library is the Finnish National Library, a building where books a

There's nothing that explicitly prevents people from distilling such discussions into subsequent posts or papers. If people aren't doing that, or are doing that less than they should, that could potentially be solved as a problem that's separate from "should more people be doing FP or traditional research?"

  1. Doing these types of summarize feels like a good place to start out if you are new to doing FP. It is a fairly straight-forward task, but provides a lot of value, and helps you grow skills and reputation that will help you when you do more independent wo
... (read more)

I think that is too heavy-handed.

For example: looking at kids that teach themselves to read, my impression is that the timing of literacy follows a normal distribution with the median at about 8 years. There are several upsides to learning reading on your own. And kids that learn at 10 or so do not seem to become weaker readers. So check-ins would have to be sensitive that kids develop at different speeds. Implementing reading tests at 6 or 7 would lead the majority to have to learn reading through coercion, which I think we should limit. I'd rather see a ... (read more)

Yes, that's the one! That's the downside of the increased variance caused by decentralization. And the upside is someone like JS Mill sitting next to his father translating Greek at four.

There need to be subtle controls to sort the one from the other – and maybe that's a bit of a pipe dream since these controls would need to be done by human beings. In the same way as the steel man version of education is a pipe dream because it needs to be implemented by human beings.

The accountability is tricky: too little and you end up with the quotes above; too much a... (read more)

Technically, this is perfectly legal even in countries without homeschooling. The actual suffering only starts at six. :D My first idea was to give kids exams at the end of each year, and allow homeschooling to those who overall results are not worse than the average results of kids who attend school. Because, intuitively, they don't do worse than the school system on average. At the same time, the kids would get feedback on their abilities. It would be flexible -- the better the school system, the more difficult to avoid it, but that's kinda okay then; and the worse the school system, the easier to avoid it. It would also allow smart kids to follow their own plan, because doing worse in a subject or two is allowed as long as you excel in the remaining ones. This does not account for the type of abuse that is unrelated to educational outcomes. Also, social skills. It also does not account for innate differences in intelligence, or learning disabilities. Kids who are retarded or dyslexic would have to attend school. Kids with high intelligence, mostly neglected by their parents but still with some access to online education, could pass the tests... low below their personal potential, but still barely above the population average. How about a compromise? A month or two of mandatory school at the beginning of every year, then allow homeschooling for the rest of the year. Exams at the end of the year. Though I suspect this might actually make everyone unhappy. Alternatively, some kind of mandatory "socialization that is not school" for homeschoolers, one or two months every year. Maybe mixed up with the exams somehow. Like, kids would be together, with some teachers, just talking about what they learned at home previously, then write some exams. (Logistical problem, what about those teachers who only have a job one or two months every year? Maybe we could use summer holidays for this? But homeschoolers also want some summer vacation.)

I guess I'm between b and c.

But as you point out, there are several problems with this. That's the tricky thing about education: it's supposed to do everything, so any change will always make it worse on some axis. Which makes it very easy for someone who defends the status quo to always kill the discussion (not you).

I don't know what to do with the fact that society is fractured, and that many people live in destructive subcultures, and that democracy functions better when there is some mutual understanding between subcultures. But I feel this is a proble... (read more)

100% this. It seems like a possible solution could be to decouple some of those functions. For example, there is in my opinion no good reason why the institution that provides education should be the same as the institution that provides certificates. Even if both institutions are government-organized, if you separate them, you fix the problem with grade inflation (teachers give students better grades, to avoid conflicts with parents). But the political advantage of "everything under the same hood" is that you do not need to talk these things explicitly; you can just pretend that they are inseparable parts of "education". If you instead made a separate institution for teaching, separate institution for certification... and a separate institution for socialization (assuming that such thing is even possible), there would probably be a lot of opposition against the "socialization institution", because the mainstream families would see it (correctly) as a waste of time, and the abusive minorities would see it (correctly) as a tool used against their values. And the government would no longer have the "but education! you really need it to get a job" excuse. I think it is good when people can reason outside their profession. Like, consider this COVID-19 situation: how better it would be if people understood how viruses and vaccines work... and how much worse it would be if most people (anyone who is not a doctor or a biologist by profession) believed that even the very concepts of "virus" and "vaccine" are hoaxes. It's like there are two reasons why knowledge is good: the knowledge that is good for you, and the knowledge that is good for your neighbors. If you get sick, it is not just your problem, it has an impact on others. (Even outside of pandemics, you generally want people to wash their hands, not go to work sick, etc.) In democracy, you are supposed to vote on all kinds of topics; it is good if your model of the world in general is not completely stupid, otherw

This is something I think about a lot too.

There are definitely people who are not curious. And there are even more people that lack access to support structures that allow them to fulfill their potential. (Sometimes, to keep myself grounded I go into a subreddit for dissatisfied grown homeschoolers; it is a never-ending flow of reminders of how horribly a certain class of parents can handle the responsibility of raising their kids.)

But I also think that one should beware of the inverse of the typical mind fallacy. By which I mean, that it is easy to subscr... (read more)

The subreddit for dissatisfied grown homeschoolers, you meant HomeschoolRecovery, right? As I am reading it now, I will make some notes here. (Different paragraphs are from different comments; this is not one long text.) For the balance, many homeschoolers have a completely different experience. On the other hand, many kids in the school system have experience like this: As a summary, I'd say the main problem is that (at least as described in homeschooling in USA) there is very little accountability; the parents can do literally anything and there is no consequence. Many homeschooling parents intentionally cut off their children from the "decentralized knowledge system" that you described in the article.

These are some of the more interesting questions this essay has provoked. 

  1. I feel like my answer here will be confused, because I'm not sure I understand perfectly, and I think as I type. Firstly, I think the network can increase the value of its participants in a few ways. Culture being one. A well-curated network will have a good culture - full of trustworthy, skilled / nice people – and you get shaped by your culture, so being in a well-curated network will push you to be better. And also, in trying to get access to a good network you have shape up.
... (read more)
1. "non-monetary market mechanisms" sounds like a good idea, but not necessarily something one can quantify and experiment with. 2. John Gottman's idea of 5 positive responses per 1 negative response (healthy bound being between 0.8:1 to 20:1) as a sweet spot is somewhat useful. 3. If one were to not rely on an organ-like structure, the number of connections per person can become overwhelming or inefficient. 4. Fair assessment 5. The fluidity is one thing, but the strength of the connections implies somewhat the utility of the collective, bigger unoptimized crowds lead to more burdens.

The incentives are tricky. Because there is a real cost to shadowing and mentoring, and especially in a culture where people frequently change employer it is hard to justify allowing it to slow down productivity. Is that the same incentive misalignment you refer to, or do you mean something else? How do you think one should go about it?

I don't think we should be dogmatic about not teaching, and I should probably edit my post to make that more clear. Ensuring efficient reproduction of knowledge through society is a hard problem - so we shouldn't limit our tool box. That said, I do understand why a culture would look down upon teaching. It is a delicate craft and it often goes wrong. Especially if the teaching is initiated by the teacher it easily becomes a bit condecending / limiting the freedom of the learner. And nothing can kill you curiosity like an unasked for, or unnecessarily long,... (read more)

Its always fascinating reading accounts about educational reform from the 70s - there's such a sense of optimism, it seems obvious school will soon be something of the past! they're qouting government reports about the need to deschool and integrate learning into society instead! I think Venezuela had a department of Unschooling or some such. There were big learning networks set up, people arranging workshops in their homes. And then - what happened really? The learning networks collapsed under their own growth, they couldn't afford administration and faci... (read more)

You may want to contact Roland Reichart-Mückstein from OPENschool in Austria. He has spent a lot of thought on that subject, and gave a lesson at a LessWrong meetup a few years ago, specifically mentioning this weird thing about how many "revolutionary new ideas about education" were already described in books printed half a century ago... and yet, seemingly, nothing happened. I am not sure I remember his explanations correctly, which is why I am telling you to contact the source. The rest of the comment is just me speaking my own opinions. First, I think the problem with school system is that it is trying to accomplish many things at the same time, while being dishonest about the constraints and tradeoffs involved, which is why the results are mediocre. (A bit like the difference between Linux software which "tries to do one thing, and do it well" and Windows software which "tries to make a half-assed job at everything, to tick many checkboxes on the feature list".) For example, an essential part of school system is babysitting, so that both parents can go to work. This is quite obvious, especially in the COVID-19 situation, when the schools were closed for a few months, and yet it is almost a taboo to mention that. Many attempts to improve education are doomed to fail because they somehow endanger the task of babysitting. Like, all attempts to educate online. Then you have the contradictory goals of teaching high-status abstract knowledge, or useful but low-status skills. The perfect student is a future professor or a government bureaucrat; skilled in abstract knowledge and paperwork. Everything else feels like a compromise on the noble ideals. Teaching for actual jobs feels dirty. (A good argument can be made about less abstract skills becoming obsolete sooner. Yes, that is a good point, but it is not the full story. Memorizing the works of Shakespeare is not an abstract deep truth about the universe or human soul; it is merely a high-status kind of knowledge.)

That is a great film recommendation! I just watched Andy Matuschak write notes, and it was the first full length film I've sat through this year. There something absolutely mesmerizing about watching someone skilled perform knowledge work (or handicraft for that matter - my three year old loves to watch people do ceramics on YouTube).

About the last point: open source is much easier because of that reason. But the same models that are being developed in the open domain can be exported to closed domains, don't you think? There are some examples, Ray Dalio li... (read more)

Excellent points. With the proper juridical structure, it is possible to make work more open. Have you come across Joseph Henrich's books on cultural evolution by any chance? He talks extensively about cultural learning. His books convinced me that cultural learning sets humanity apart from other animals. He sites plenty of empirical research showing that human babies outshine other primate babies primarily in their ability to learn from others. I work in the software industry (safe to assume you do, too, given you follow Andy Matuschak?). My company has something called "shadowing," which is basically when you join the meetings with someone more senior and watch them do their work. It is hugely underutilized in my experience, and I think it is primarily an incentive misalignment problem. I suspect that the more senior members would feel burdened by facilitating shadowing for juniors. The recent book "Software Engineering at Google" by Hyrum Wright dedicates a significant portion to talking about mentorship and giving juniors room to grow. Giving juniors menial work and not putting thoughtful effort into developing them is a big mistake many companies make.

Thank you for a bunch of good recommendations!

I've been meaning to read Alexander, and now I will. His concept seems closely related to Illich in Deschooling Society and Tools of Conviviality.

I love the architecture sketched by Christopher Alexander. And it is surprisingly evidence-based and he is transparent about which patterns he is confident in and which less so.  I have commented about him on LW here and here.  The books are hard to get and expensive. I suggest reading the online version here.  

There are probably better sources on dialogue than Bachtin, but that's the one that got me. I've also read a few books by a Finnish psychiatrist that, Jakko Seikkula, that has developed a very dialogue centered - and Dostoevsky inspired - treatment for schizophrenia. But I think you can only find that in Swedish or Finnish.

On IFS, I'd probably recommend some book by Barry Schwartz, who started that school. Sotala's post is more focused on explaining why the model - which is a bit nuts and hand-wavy - actually makes sense. But for actually getting stuff done and working on your psyche, the more hand-wavy approach is better.

I appreciate the share of information and recommendations, thank you :)

This post was one of several nudges that made me change my note-taking system. Definitely the best thing that has happened me since, I don't know, having my daughter. So thanks a ton.

I do it digitally, with Obsidian, so I have to be principled to keep the notes atomic. What I like about having the notes digitally is that I can use them like functions. I make their titles statements, instead of numbers, and so I can "call" them from other notes if I want to use a certain statement in a syllogism for example.

The really cool thing happens when I read somethin... (read more)

This might not apply the constructivism proper. But one thing that bothered me a bit about more progressive methods when I worked as a teacher was how they often became tools of manipulation. By creating the illusion of control and freedom I could get the students to reveal more of themselves, and that gave me more knowledge do use to figure out how to make them submit to the mandated curriculum. This might just be a problem if you are ethically oversensitive. But I prefer facilitating learning in environments where I do not have the power or any reason to force a certain outcome on the learner. And in those situations constructivism can be quite useful, as can drills.

This post reminds me of Bachtin's work on dialogue. I keep rereading his Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics - probably the only work of literary criticism that has had a meaningful impact on my life - where he discusses Dostoyevsky's (implied) ethics of the uniqueness of human "voices". I especially like the idea that your voice only can come forth truly in an open dialogue; this has been super useful for me personally, and professionally working with autistic children.

A really fascinating expansion of the idea of voices is Internal Family Systems Therapy (... (read more)

"I especially like the idea that your voice only can come forth truly in an open dialogue; this has been super useful for me personally, and professionally working with autistic children." I like this idea a lot, and would like to explore it further, is Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics a good source for further reading on that idea? What other further reading sources might you recommend? Thanks for you comment! I have added Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics and Kaj Sotala's sequence on IFS to my deep-dive bookmark folder. Do you recommend any of Bachtin's other work in particular regarding dialogue? Other subjects?
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