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Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013)


I am a 23 year old male named Corey, though I prefer to go by the alias Kavrae in any online discussions. This allows me to keep a persistent persona across all sites or games I may join. If you happen to come across this alias elsewhere, there is a high probability that it is the same person. Please be kind in judging such findings though, as I have gone through a bit of a mental overhaul in the last few months. I would also like to apologize in advance if this gets a little lengthy; that seems to be a trademark of my posts lately.

I should probably do a brief summary of myself before diving in to my personal rationality history.

My education began in a highly underdeveloped rural highschool. Low student standards and even lowing testing criteria seems to have set me up with delusions of superior intelligence. Such views were quickly dissolved in the followed two years at a Missouri university studying computer engineering and physics. To put it shortly, the first year thoroughly broke me and opened my eyes to how vast academia truly was. While harsh, it is something I'm now grateful for. Unfortunately, in a decision I very much regret, I cut my education short and did not earn any sort of degree due to outside events.

As a product of the previously mentioned events, I have been married for approximately 3 years with a 2 year old son. I'm proud to say that he is turning out to be exceptionally intelligent, particularly in the areas of symbol recognition and technology use. I certainly plan on teaching him what I can of rationality and science as young as possible in an attempt to make the next generation better than the current one.

I am currently a web application developer and have been doing so for approximately 2.5 years, with initial training in the form of a 6 week programming bootcamp plus trial-by-fire. While the total time spent is relatively short, I have equal experience with open source and DotNet managed solutions with no preference between the two. It may seem contradictory to my hobbies in the next section, but I would prefer a future position as a system architect or senior developer rather than some form of management. I believe this goes back to certain control issues than I'm discovering through introspection.

Much of my free time now is spent in multiplayer gaming; whether it be as a support player in various MOBAs or MMOs, or as a GM in local tabletop games (Shadowrun, Pathfiner, etc). The former set of gaming being one that I'm considering dropping in favor of martial arts or outside-of-work programming. In either case I tend to be the one that spends extensive hours pouring over rulebooks and theorycrafting sites then subjecting my players to lengthy summaries. In my hobbies I tend to find myself in positions of teaching, leadership, or simply high responsibility more often than not. Quite possibly another symptom of the control issues mentioned above.

I believe my introduction to rationality began in college during my second and third semesters, though I didn't realize it at the time. The combination of a base physics class and introductory logic changes my view of the world. Everything seemed much more controlled and calculable; whether I could do such calculations myself or not. Probabilities become very important for me at this time, though I now believe I often misused them. My second introduction to rationality came after I got married, in a series of events that I should have handled far better. The short version is that I improved my debate skills against an in-law that seems to embody every cognitive bias and fallacy I have read about thus far. This was where I learned about such fallacies and began to recognize just how ingrained they were in society, as well as develop a bit of cynicism towards mankind's mental habits (this feels like a bad phrasing. Suggestions on improvement?).

This brings us to the present. I came across LessWrong through HPMoR and have spent the last few months reading through the core sequences. I plan on doing so again soon, to ensure that I retain at least a fraction of what I've read. It has been quite the experience so far; updating so my beliefs that I have never questioned and improving concepts that I thought "good enough". I have also learned many lessons regarding how and when such knowledge should be used; often in painful or humbling ways.

I recognize that I have a very long ways to go in the ways of rationality and believe that joining in the discussions, rather than simply lurking, will get me there faster. To narrow the spectrum of the vast amounts of information to learn, I am attempting to focus on evolutionary psychology, cognitive biases, and logical fallacies. Thus far I have found them to be the most fascinating and useful.