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doing gymnastics while doing household chores

Will you expand on this? I am intrigued.


"Established a useful new habit" (Background: I have a tendency to experience peak excitement about a new idea early on and then drop it entirely once the excitement wanes.) I have surprised myself by continuing to use HabitRPG for over a month now. I am very happy with the software; it really seems like it works for me.

"Established a useful new habit" I have been thinking for a while that I wish I was reading more philosophy, but I never quite got around to doing it. I finally decided that I would commit to just reading something -- I created a daily task in HabitRPG that would be satisfied by even a single paragraph. That task is now my longest running streak, and I usually read much more than a single paragraph.

"Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief" For a long time I approached the notion that minds are material things with mild scorn -- "what sort of misguided a priori commitments would motivate someone to believe that?" At any rate, it was not an issue that I thought about with any frequency. This past month, I found myself encountering some of the brain damage/stimulation research again, and this time my reaction was, "this seems terribly more probable in a world where minds are what brains do." I then went through a whole series of questions in this way (viz., "on which approach is aspect X of thinking more likely?") and came up with the same answer each time. I also realized that the idea of a non-material mind feels kind of goofy to me, and I asked myself, "why would I need to posit that? what do I lose without that?", coming up empty-handed. I have no dramatic level of confidence in my new belief, because I haven't done the real research, but I am perfectly happy with the level of confidence I have. So it is not really a matter of having found new evidence, but of approaching the issue in a new way. Honestly, I think the biggest factor is all the time I have spent over the past few months working through the sequences: I just think about things differently on some basic levels.

Sorry for the wordiness; it was an interesting and pleasant experience to watch myself work through that process.


In the same way that "product sales" was intended to refer to the result (income), "pollution" was intended to refer to the result (health problems, etc.). While one might think that some result is basically a certainty, the scope and degree of real problems is frequently uncertain. An entrepreneur who weighs potential public health risks does not seem any more difficult to imagine than one who weighs potential bankruptcy risks.

At any rate, pollution is merely an example; you can take any other example you find more suitable.

  • I finally registered on LessWrong and have slowly begun posting. I recognized that my reluctance to post was based on a feeling of intimidation. I have been overcoming the reluctance by consciously thinking, "I foresee long-term benefits to participating, and the potential disapproval of a bunch of [admittedly interesting] people on the internet hardly seems to counterbalance that benefit."

  • I registered an account with HabitRPG and began using it to combat (a) my tendency toward akrasia and (b) my tendency to simply forget about tasks that need to be accomplished. I am somewhat embarrassed to use the site because I think it is silly that acquiring virtual rewards would help and have an image of myself as someone who "should" just be able to do what I want to do. Nevertheless, I have noticed that the silly virtual rewards do provide a real positive reinforcement.


That seems right, and it also seems as though the opposite is sometimes right. If a company knows it can reap the benefits of operations (e.g., of product sales) without bearing the cost of those risks associated with its operations (e.g., of pollution), is this a case of risk-taking being oversupplied?


(Sorry for the delay in response.)

That is extremely helpful; it is just the kind of explanation I was looking for. I have begun working through some of the materials linked here, as well. Many thanks. Now that I am starting to piece the picture together, I need some time to mull over it and let my intuitions adjust to the ideas, but I may send you a message when I next get hung up on it.


It is the ontology angle in which I am most interested, but I am not convinced that I can understand the ontology on even a basic level without understanding the math.


I was looking for something more like the former.

I do not know calculus, but I am convinced that I need to for a variety of reasons, so I have begun working my way through the Khan Academy materials. I had intended to leave the quantum physics materials aside until that project was complete, but I was heartened by Eliezer's insistence that one need only know algebra to grasp the sequence. Perhaps I just need to do calculus first, then work through a few books/lectures. Do you think this to be the case?


(This was posted in the welcome thread, and I received a PM suggesting I post it here.)

I am looking for someone to help me with the Quantum Physics sequence. I have little background in physics and mathematics. For purposes of the sequence, you could probably consider me "intelligent but uninformed" or something like that.

To indicate the level on which I am having difficulties, take as an example the Configurations and Amplitude post.

  • I can do the algebra involved.
  • I found the articles linked in this comment helpful.
  • I understand the notion of configuration space in its classical sense.
  • I do not understand how the term "amplitude" is functioning in the post.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of where I am at and what sort of help I might need. It's totally basic stuff, obviously, and there is a part of me that is somewhat embarrassed to ask. Nevertheless, learning is more important than avoiding embarrassment.


My name is Joshua. I am 29 years old. After lurking for a while, I have decided to begin participating.

I have little training in mathematics or computer science. Growing up, mathematics always came easy to me, but it was never interesting (probably because it was easy, in part). Accordingly, I completed a typical high school education in mathematics by my freshman year and promptly stopped. In college, the only course I took was college algebra, which I completed for the sake of university requirements. I now regret ending my mathematical education and have begun going through the Khan Academy materials. As best I can currently estimate, I want to reach a level roughly equivalent to what an undergraduate math major would be required to know at the beginning of his or her upper-division work. At that point, I will be in a better position to know what else to study. Computers, by contrast, were of considerable interest to me in my youth, and I learned some rudimentary programming in junior high. That interest was eventually eclipsed by other interests, and I do not currently have any plans to reanimate it.

Most of my intellectual efforts are devoted to philosophy, and it is from that angle that I discovered Less Wrong. I have a fair amount of formal training in the field. (The sort of discussions that occur on Less Wrong, of course, are quite different from most of the work that is done in philosophy.)

As far as the normal Less Wrong materials are concerned, I have read a few of the sequences and recently read a bit of HPMoR. Most significantly, I have been working through one of the ebook versions of Eliezer's posts arranged in chronological order; I have slowly read somewhat more than half of them (for reference, I recently completed the sequences on quantum physics and meta-ethics).

I look forward to participation.

I also have a request: would someone be willing to set up a chat appointment (IRC or whatever) to work through a few comprehension questions related to the quantum physics sequence? I am confident that my questions are quite basic. If you are interested, please send me a private message.

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