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How to Beat Procrastination

And a couple of years later, I've not adopted this full-time, but I keep coming back to it and making incremental improvements.

Simulate and Defer To More Rational Selves

This resonated with me instantly, thank you!

I now remember, I used to do something similar if I needed to make decisions, even minor decisions, when drunk. I'd say, "what would I think of this decision sober"? If the answer was "it was silly" or "I'd want to do it but be embarrassed" I'd go ahead and do it. But if the answer was "Eek, obviously unsafe", I'd assume my sober self was right and I was currently overconfident.

The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world?

For what it's worth, I quibbled with this at the time, but now I find it an incredibly useful concept. I still wish it had a more transparent name -- we always call it "the worst argument in the world", and can't remember "noncentral fallacy", but it's been really useful to have a name for it at all.

Don't teach people how to reach the top of a hill

I think this is a useful idea, although I'm not sure how useful this particular example is. FWIW, I definitely remember this from revising maths proofs -- each proof had some number of non-obvious steps, and you needed to remember those. Sometimes there was just one, and once you had the first line right, even if there was a lot of work to do afterwards, it was always "simplifying in the obvious way", so the rest of proof was basically "work it out, don't memorise it". Other proofs had LOTS of non-obvious ideas and were a lot harder to remember even if they were short.

Habitual Productivity

FWIW I think of activities that cost time like activities that cost money: I decide how much money/time I want to spend on leisure, and then insist I spend that much, hopefully choosing the best way possible. But I don't know if that would help other people.

Rationality Quotes December 2013

I guess "unknown knowns" are the counterpoint to "unknown unknowns" -- things it never occurred to you to consider, but didn't. Eg. "We completely failed to consider the possibility that the economy would mutate into a continent-sized piano-devouring shrimp, and it turned out we were right to ignore that."

According to Dale Carnegie, You Can't Win an Argument—and He Has a Point

FWIW, I always struggle to embrace it when I change my mind ("Yay, I'm less wrong!")

But I admit, I find it hard, "advocating a new point of view" is a lot easier than "admitting I was wrong about a previous point of view", so maybe striving to do #1 whether or not you've done #2 would help change my mind in response to new information a lot quicker?

Rationality Quotes December 2013


When he studied which psychological studies were replicatable, and had to choose whether to disbelieve some he'd previously based a lot of work on, Brian Nosek said:

I choose the red pill. That's what doing science is.

(via ciphergoth on twitter)

Rationality Quotes December 2013

I don't like a lot of things he did, but that's the second very good advice I've heard from Rumsfeld. Maybe I need to start respecting his competence more.

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

Do we make suggestions here or wait for another post?

A few friends are Anglo-Catholic (ie. members of the Church of England or equivalent, not Roman Catholic, but catholic, I believe similar to Episcopalian in USA?), and not sure if they counted as "Catholic", "Protestant" or "Other". It might be good to tweak the names slightly to cover that case. (I can ask for preferred options if it helps.)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/1453250_492554064192905_1417321927_n.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Catholicism

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