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

Hi. I've actually been lurking here for a couple months now, but I've recently started actually making comments, so I figure this is probably the right time to introduce myself. (Also, I only discovered this post this morning.)

Since I'm not great at expressing my thoughts in an aesthetically-pleasing fashion without the use of lists, I suppose from here I'll just go down the list of suggested topics of introduction from the beginning of the post.

Who I am: The name I generally go by online is Mister Tulip. I'm sixteen years old, but getting older at a rate of approximately one year per year. Thanks to the conveniences of homeschooling, I have far more free time than seems to be typical for my age-range, which I expend on a large-feeling collection of time-sinks which isn't actually particularly large whenever I write it down.

What I'm doing: Receiving a general education from my father, attending an introductory psychology course at the nearest community college once per week, and spending my exorbitant amounts of free time on anything which interests me enough to occupy it. Among my time-sinks are keeping track of two large fandoms (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Homestuck), playing video games, watching movies (which used to be much less of a time-sink, but has become one since my family signed up for Netflix), reading TVTropes, and as of about a month ago, reading stuff on Less Wrong.

What I value: I'm not really sure. My values are inconsistent in weird ways which make it hard to actually analyze them (for instance, viewing Total Utilitarianism as a Good Thing, but not aspiring to actually follow its principles). I suppose the strongest statement I can make about my values with any confidence is that I'm some sort of consequentialist, but that's not a narrow enough category to be of much use to me.

How I came to identify as a rationalist: I started reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality last year (or, if you want to get technical, one year and sixteen days ago), and realized, "Hey, this is basically an idealized model of how I wish I could think!" (Off-topic question: What's the general consensus on how to do punctuation at the end of inline quotes like that? I've never quite figured it out). I didn't immediately identify as a rationalist after that, since I didn't feel like I really thought that way, but it made it easy enough to slip under the metaphorical umbrella that I didn't even notice the point at which it happened.

How I found Less Wrong: As mentioned in the above paragraph, I read HPMOR about a year ago, and it made me aware that LW existed, although I didn't really read much on it, and eventually re-forgot about it. I then read Luminosity about two months ago, and it once again linked to Less Wrong; that time, I stuck around for long enough to read a few posts (chiefly the luminosity sequence), then forgot about it. The final straw was reading Friendship is Optimal about one month ago, which linked back to LW again; that time, the pages I read managed to convince me that the site was interesting enough to be worth investing larger portions of time into. And here I am now, investing over an hour of writing time on a single comment here.

Words as Mental Paintbrush Handles

Hmm. That was interesting. When I tried to visualize a triangular lightbulb, my initial response was a pyramidal one, but after a second or so, it shifted to a null response, where it stayed for a while. Once I started analyzing why I couldn't seem to visualize one, though, it started mapping to my video-game-granted ability to visualize 2D leaves, and after a few minutes, I actually became able to visualize it again.

Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone)

I agree with your basic point, but question why our reality being simulated is a necessary part of it. As long as it's functionally indistinguishable from a simulation, shouldn't the question of whether it actually is one be irrelevant?