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Values Assimilation Premortem

I think your supposition that most people have trouble critiquing arguments they're encountering for the first time is incorrect. I don't find this hard myself. Learning how to critique arguments is a skill you can study. Even just googling "how to critique an argument you've never seen before" gives some reasonable starting points. I'm not surprised a background in Evangelical Christianity has left you lacking this skill, as unquestioning belief is favored there.

Seeking out and listening to podcasts from several distinct but not obviously incorrect philosophies might give your a better perspective on alternative values you might apply to the Rationalist approach. (My favored alternative happens to be ecological approaches.)

Singularity.FM has some good interviews with people with contrary views to mainstream singularitian thought, and some of those have useful alternative lenses to view the world through, even when you don't agree with their conclusions.

Reading about those who have taken Rationalist-style approaches to get to obviously crazy conclusions is also useful, for seeing where people are prone to going off the rails, so you can avoid the same mistakes, or recognize the signs when others do.

As for perfectionism... As an interview with a specialist in innovation pointed out, if you aren't failing, you aren't taking big enough risks to find something new.

"When I was a kid, I thought mistakes were simply bad, and to be avoided. As an adult I realized many problems are best solved by working in two phases, one in which you let yourself make mistakes, followed by a second in which you aggressively fix them."--Paul Graham

I hope some of this helps, and good luck in your journey!

Superintelligence Reading Group - Section 1: Past Developments and Present Capabilities

Most programming is not about writing the code, it is about translating a human description of the problem into a computer description of the problem. This is also why all attempts so far to make a system so simple "non-programmers" can program it have failed. The difficult aptitude for programming is the ability to think abstractly and systematically, and recognize what parts of a human description of the problem need to be translated into code, and what unspoken parts also need to be translated into code.

[LINK] Claustrum Stimulation Temporarily Turns Off Consciousness in an otherwise Awake Patient

The article noted it was high frequency stimulus that had the effect, and seemed to be disrupting normal function.

The article also says the patient was awake.

Working hurts less than procrastinating, we fear the twinge of starting

Good article, I'll have to see if reminding myself of this helps at work tomorrow.

Success and happiness cause you to regain willpower;

This is dangerously incorrect - studies show willpower is only an expendable resource for people who believe it to be. People who don't think willpower is expendable have longer lasting willpower.

Were atoms real?

I feel like the question there is "Does the map match the territory?"

If atoms are real, then there is something in the territory to which the symbol atom on our map refers.

I'm tempted to say that if an atom is real, then any sufficiently accurate model must include something that refers to them. However, wouldn't that lead to the conclusion that no, atoms do not exist, we were mistaken? Really quantum wave functions exist, and an atom is just a shorthand for referring to a particular type of collection of electron, quark, and gluon wave functions. (um, oops, exceeded my knowledge of quantum mechanics here, replace what I said with whatever quantum mechanics says an atom is.) Or would it lead to the conclusion that atom is a name for a particular well-defined class of collections of wave functions?

If something such as an atom is not real, then they are just a convenient organizing principle that let us achieve a simplified, but necessarily incorrect, model. Whether to keep using the known incorrect model tends to depend on its usefulness, but you must always account for the incorrectness. (For example, we keep using Newtonian Mechanics and the Ideal Gas laws, even though both are known to be incorrect. We just know what domains they are accurate enough in to keep using.)

Were atoms real?

What's the usefulness of "I think that everything exists, by the way: there's an ensemble universe"? How does it constrain your expectations?

I don't see how having specific beliefs either way about stuff outside the observable universe is useful.

Now, if you can show that whether the universe beyond the observable is infinite or non-infinite but much larger than the Hubble Volume constrains expectations about the contents of the observable universe, then it might be useful.

The Dark Arts - Preamble

Clarification: if you walk into the leather shop, with $300 burning a hole in your pocket, and see a nice jacket - and the guy behind the counter knows what he's doing (and gives enough of a shit) you will walk out of their, happy with your new jacket.

Are you assuming you walked into the leather shop with the intention to buy something? Or does walking in with a friend/partner who is shopping there count, but you wanted to spend that money on something else?

Saying there's no defense whatsoever was a bit of an exagerration; it's true that some people are more resistant than others (though not infinitely resistant), but even if you're weak you can always avoid the situations in the first place.

Do you have any evidence to back up these success rates on people who actually don't want to buy the thing (prior to manipulation)? I am highly skeptical that people are on average so easy to manipulate. I am not skeptical that there are many people who are marginal on whether or not to buy a jacket, and hence easy to talk into it. However, you seem to be assuming a level of irresistibility to manipulation that does not correlate with my normal experience. The world is full of manipulative sales pitches - and most of the people resist them most of the time, otherwise most people couldn't afford to eat.

I'm not denying there is a large contingent that is so vulnerable, merely claiming they are less than 50% of the population. If I had to put a confidence interval on it, I'd say the percentage was 1% - 30%, with the higher percentages assuming they are segregated into socioeconomic groups that I'm unlikely to encounter in my daily life.

Five-minute rationality techniques

Your attempt to understand these people's motivations seems to assume that these people understand that you don't know the answer. Another possible motivation is that they think the explanation is obvious or common knowledge, and hence you must be asking to antagonize them, not out of actual ignorance. Not to say that I don't think some people's motivation really is the one you've stated - they simply enjoy being in control of people.

Ugh fields

If you simply remove the negative, this focus shift tends to happen automatically.

I don't understand what you mean by removing the negative, and how this is supposed to be a simple act. Obviously it is too late to stop the original pain that triggered it. If you mean removing the negative reaction, I don't understand how you can claim that is a simple action. (Unless you are constraining simple to mean simple for an expert in the particular field of mind modification/psychology/whatever the relevant field is.)

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