All of ModusPonies's Comments + Replies

Congratulations! I am glad I was wrong.

Two big points of disagreement:

—Don't focus on unattainable goals. You can't hang out with both Natalie Portman and Nick Bostrom at the same time, and empty wishing is a wasted motion. Instead of seeking role models, seek the skills they exemplify. Think about how you can meet a group of creative, engaging people within the next week. Is there an improv club or a hip cafe where you can get to know the regulars?
—I don't know that it works to have a single friend for each trait. You naturally conform to the group, not to the specific individuals.



black arts

I don't think so. It seems about as black as using the pomodoro technique to manipulate your basic impulses.

causation != correlation

Yes, but given the evidence, I'm pretty sure there's a causal relationship in this case.

What about, say, good leaders?

Data point: I have recently improved my leadership skills by spending time with good leaders in a group that considers those traits high status. (Good leaders still made up a (substantial) minority of the group.)

thesis likely literally false, seek metaphorical sense?

... (read more)

—I started by giving the long, true version.
—When I gave the incorrect, pithy version, I labelled it as such.
—I gave a specific, non-hypothetical example.

Huh. My to-read list keeps getting longer and longer.

I would suggest a different rule of thumb, which I will call the Yvain Method: never post a series. Instead, write one post that stands on its own. Look at the responses. Use them to learn about the subject and other people's reactions to it. Only then should you think about writing post N+1.

Or the Eliezer method, which is: post a standalone first chapter; then post a second chapter (which may include references to the first chapter), and so on; optionally post a table of contents afterwards.
5Peter Wildeford10y
Yvain has overtly written a series, though.

I have already decided to improve some of the pages, beginning with the rather sloppy page that’s currently serving as the entry for existential risks

Ten bonus points for Doing The Work. You have already avoided the most common way these projects fail.

Without commenting on the subject, I'll say that I have a policy of downvoting contentless introduction posts that promise a lengthy forcoming sequence. These projects usually peter out after 2-3 posts, leaving the bulk of the work undone.

And now it's finished! I've tried to make them shorter than the ones I've already posted and with no political leaning. Here they are: A Tutorial on Creating a Political Ideology The Domain of Politics Choose That Which is Most Important to You Consider the Most Important Facts Strive Towards the (Second) Best Society Change the World in the Most Efficient Manner A Digression on Alliances Discuss the Most Important Points How To Construct a Political Ideology - Summary And here is my own ideology while following this tutorial: My Own Political Ideology
I would beg to differ, as to this post not having any content. It affirms that politics is difficult to talk about; that there's a psychological reason for that; that politics has a large impact on our lives; that a rational perspective on politics requires that one can answer certain questions; that the answer to these questions can be called a political ideology and that such ideologies should be constructed in a certain way. You may not like this way of introducing a subject - by giving a brief picture of what it's all about - but that's another story. I will finish posting this series. I have already written an almost complete version of them, so what's missing is mainly coming up with a few facts/perspectives for some of the posts. Hopefully I'm finished by, thursday.
4Peter Wildeford10y
Thus the rule of thumb: never post a series until you've finished writing it.

"People of color" currently means anyone other than white people, not black people exclusively.

Getting Things Done—David Allen

Highly, highly recommended. This is the gold standard of organizational advice, and it lives up to its reputation. My productivity has skyrocketed in the five months I've been using this system. I attribute maybe half of that improvement to this book.

Allen describes his system in detail, explaining why each piece is useful. The system is modular, and most people who use it have modified it to fit their particular workflow. The book is longer than it needs to be, but still only something like 200-300 pages. Note that organizat... (read more)

Worth adding that most people don't actually need all of GTD, since the system was designed for a particular type of corporate drone. It's really the attitude about doing things that's important to take away. For instance, I don't keep lists of projects or a "tickler" file--for me, the most important things were the weekly strategic reviews, "next actions" idea, and having a very small number of inboxes that I regularly clear out and categorize.

This is a great idea and I will probably steal it.

You can't steal ideas, silly!

I'm not sure what this argument is about. I don't think you two actually disagree on any questions of fact.

Yeah, and I'm basically done with it. The double-blind studies remark was sarcasm, which I was hoping would be apparent given the impracticality of deceiving people about whether they were doing 6 or 12 naps :P

That seemed less like "all cases of depression are due to chemical imbalance" and more like "try medication and other common solutions to see if they work before investigating uncommon solutions"

Exactly. Thanks for restating what I meant more clearly than I did in my original statement.

For job searching, focus less on sending out applications and more on asking [professors | friends | friends of friends | mentors | parents | parents' friends] if they know of anyone who's hiring for [relevant field]. When they say no, ask if they know anyone else you should talk to. To generalize from one example, every job I've ever worked has come from some sort of connection. I found my current position through my mom's dance instructor's husband.

For figuring out what to do with your long-term future, there's not much I can say without knowing your goals, but might or might not be relevant. If so, they're willing to advise you one-on-one.

:( Temporarily I hope.

I've removed Ozy, deleted the duplicate Christiano, and updated the wiki page accordingly.

For deontological reasons, I've been vegetarian for about a year and a half. I recently decided to make up inaccurate numbers to see if the decision makes sense on utilitarian grounds. The sources I trust seem to agree that eating meat will improve my health, so on one side of the equation I had [extra lifespan] [expected earnings per time] [fraction of earnings I currently donate] [lives saved per dollar donated]. On the other side of the equation, [expected years of life] * [amount of meat an average American eats per year] / [usable meat per animal].... (read more)

I much prefer the new version. It's far easier to spot new comments.

Propaganda only works when the reader feels like you've been absolutely fair to other side

As a technique for making good stories, I think this is solid advice. As a technique for making effective propaganda, it's blatantly false. Uncle Tom's Cabin is one-sided. Birth of a Nation is one-sided. Brokeback Mountain is one-sided. MoR is one-sided; no one makes a compelling case against rationality.

This isn't too surprising, considering the source. I've read some of Card's propaganda novels. They're good stories, but I wasn't even a little compelled to become a Mormon.

At some point I need to write a post about how I'm worried that there's an "unpacking fallacy" or "conjunction fallacy fallacy" practiced by people who have heard about the conjunction fallacy...

Please do this. I really, really want to read that post. Also I think writing it would save you time, since you could then link to it instead of re-explaining it in comments. (I think this is the third time I've seen you say something about that post, and I don't read everything you write.)

If there's anything I can do to help make this happen... (read more)

My experience has been that asking people "let me know if I can help" doesn't result in requests for help. I'd suggest just going ahead and compiling a list of relevant comments (like this one) and sending them along. (If Eliezer doesn't end up writing the post, well, you now have a bunch of comments you could use to get started on a post yourself.)

It's currently set up so that only members can see our posts, and I have to approve membership requests manually. If there are any other privacy features you'd like me to turn on, let me know what they are. (I couldn't find anything else in five minutes.)

I've added a link to the group in the post itself.
Awesome! One request I'd have is to make the group private or otherwise hidden from Google searches. I've had this problem with Google Groups before, and if we're going to be sharing video links to practise exercises, I think we'd all like these to not come up when Google-searching for our names or usernames.

I can't help but feel like that's mostly all I have to bet on, though.

There are other things that can provide the same benefits. Off the top of my head: a job where you don't work from home, other coding boot camps, or CFAR. If App Academy falls through, you can pursue something else.

Something that makes this even more frustrating is that, had I realized enough of this just a year or two sooner, my opportunities to do something about it would have been far more numerous, simply by virtue of being at college

I don't know anyone who doesn't feel the sa... (read more)

Oh, hey, we're almost exactly the same age.

You've got a lot going for you. You can program, you can write, you can enjoy working, you have at least some college education. This is enough to build on.

Based only on this post, it looks like your biggest problem is your social paralysis. Solving this problem isn't easy, but it's possible. Comfort zone expansion (CoZE) seems like the recommended model for training these skills. Try doing things that are possible but make you feel awkward—say, spend five minutes at a social event and then leave, or eat a quick m... (read more)

Thanks for all the encouragement. I'm not overly optimistic that I have many opportunities to change anything, is the problem. If I do wind up at App Academy, I'd be surprised if that didn't make a huge difference for the better. I can't help but feel like that's mostly all I have to bet on, though. Something that makes this even more frustrating is that, had I realized enough of this just a year or two sooner, my opportunities to do something about it would have been far more numerous, simply by virtue of being at college and having access to more people and places (some of which were not unpleasant). But college was more about academics, and now the matter of paying for it is relevant, and both of those I'd like to avoid if at all possible. I'm not sure how to respond to suggestions like "Go out and meet people" or "Go buy <-useful object->" (I've gotten these from elsewhere). Anything that involves me leaving the house is ridiculously difficult. I get the impression that this particular detail isn't coming across very well when I try explaining the situation. "Gain the ability to do things outside the house" is more or less one of my current goals, not that I know how to achieve it.

Seems dangerous. If you inflict pain on yourself when thinking about the future, you might train yourself to not think about the future.

I suspect that the above is a large portion of what causes Akrasia.
Might work well for masochists, for whom the pain will give the same immediacy without the conditioning you're concerned about. Maybe I should try it when I next encounter a real-life trolley problem.

Space Oddity performed on board the International Space Station

From a Fun Theory perspective, this is an important proof that one can, in fact, become an astronaut rock star.

What's the value of them blogging to such a small audience, when most of us see each other two or three times a year at conferences?

Probably about the same benefit as having a mailing list, except that outsiders can access it. (I have no particular opinion on how useful a mailing list would be, but it seems like an appropriate reference class.)

None of them are Gold IMO medalists, so it's a good thing we're not working on existential risks!

I take none of what Diego writes as canon. The original quote was a not-very-veiled reference to MIRI's inexplicable love of the IMO.

Crash space is certainly available for traveling rationalists, but non-weekend meetups are very unlikely.

What exactly are your goals? To whatever extent tradeoffs exist between "the feeling of being among my own kind" and finding good friends on the one hand, and "social reinforcement for doing cool stuff" and "cultivating greatness" on the other hand, which would you prefer?

Either way, moving closer to downtown would probably help, if it's an option. It will bring you closer to two specific communities you've identified, and in general, more people means more communities worth joining.

I don't think I'd be happy with either-or. Though I think you've helped me narrow the question down a bit: "where do good creators of my own tribe congregate, and how and where do they coordinate in person." That seems like something I could find answers to. But I'm still interested in this community's answers. It's an option, but not an especially viable one. Moving would mean changing jobs with its attendant risks, and would mean my partner having to find a new job too. Also, murdertraffic. So yes, it could be done, but only at a fairly large cost in time and aggravation.
Schedule concerns are as follows: I reside on Nantucket and my work schedule for the foreseeable future is Thursday-Monday, with little chance to get a day off before Memorial Day. Monthly recurring is not an option. If you can do a meetup on a Monday night, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning (and crash space is available), I can catch a boat and bus and probably the subway.

perhaps I will volunteer to make one such example lesson. And publish it on LW, and process the feedback

If you do this, I'll run the lesson with the Boston group and give feedback.

If you can do it in Boston, I'd be willing to attend and provide feedback, schedule concerns permitting.

Should shift marginal giving towards x-risk

I agree with this statement. I've considered redirecting my own donations in light of GiveWell's recent writings about how most good public health interventions are already funded. (I'm pretty sure I'm sticking with AMF and/or GiveDirectly, but it took me a lot of thought to decide that, and I now require less additional evidence to persuade me to switch.)

That said, putting this under the "good" category seems like a minor case of treating the argument as a soldier. Evidence is evidence; whether it supports your previous conclusion doesn't make it good or bad.

(a) Note the "Do these considerations argue against donating to AMF?" section of my post. (b) Those points not withstanding, I believe that it's probably best to hold out on donating for now (putting money in a donor advised fund if you're worried about not following through, and precommitting to donating to one of GiveWell's future recommendations if you're worried about reducing GiveWell's money moved) rather than giving to AMF/GiveDirectly now. Quoting from this GiveWell blog post: ... we would guess that the best giving opportunities are likely to lie outside of our traditional work...Our traditional criteria apply only to a very small subset of possible giving opportunities, and it’s a subset that doesn’t seem uniquely difficult to find funders for.... While we do believe that being able to measure something is a major plus holding all else equal – and that it’s particularly important for casual donors – we no longer consider ourselves to be “casual,” and we would guess that opening ourselves up to the full set of things a funder can do will eventually lead to substantially better giving opportunities than the ones we’ve considered so far. (c) I don't think that x-risk reduction is the most promising philanthropic cause, even in the astronomical waste framework. More on this point in a future post.
Money spent on traditional charity doesn't directly benefit me, money spent on x-risk reduction does.

The material we used is below. This passed through at least one person's hands before it got to me, so I don't know where CFAR posted it originally.

Slides Exercises 1 Exercises 2 Exercises 3 Exercises 4 Exercises 5

But if I had an option 5 -- a safe way to protect my savings from inflation and use them for early retirement, I would certainly prefer that.

Many countries make this possible. Is moving an option?

I would prefer not to move. But that may be an irrational decision. Where by "irrational" I don't mean "emotional", but "failing to calculate the costs and benefits of each option properly" (impacts of moving vs impacts of early retirement).

I'm interested in part 4, and would likely pay $5-10 for a digital book that contains it, so long as it were favorably reviewed by other members of this community. (Other guides to this exist, I'm sure, but I'd rather pay $5 than spend the time to track down a good one.) I would probably skip part 1 entirely and skim parts 2 and 3 to confirm my impression that it contains nothing new for me.

Thanks for the link. I've just sent it to a coworker who I was telling about effective altruism the other day.

According to one estimate, the Gates Foundation has already saved 5.8 million lives

Does anyone know where this number comes from? I can find a whole bunch of bloggers repeating the claim, but I can't find an original source.

I've seen exactly one, and it's a private channel for the editorial staff of a blog that curates My Little Pony fanfiction. (Yes, this is actually a thing.)

Welcome! I hope you find this community as useful as I have.

—As others have suggested, reading the sequences is extremely useful and I wholeheartedly recommend it. However, it's also really long. If you want to start with something less huge, there's some good stuff here.

—Consider saying more about yourself here or in this thread.

—Where do you live? There might be an in-person meetup nearby.

The moderators on this website?

Comically large amounts of networking. The connection that landed me a programming job was my mom's dance instructor's husband.

Jeff's spreadsheet might help you evaluate the odds. (Although see the discussion of this approach.)

Can you think of any examples of LW brushing off outside views in an unhelpful way? I would be surprised if you could. The most upvoted post on the site is an outsider critiquing one of our sacred cows.

Keyboard covers can solve the hardware side of this problem.

This isn't a clever way to accomplish something. This is a way of willfully misinterpreting definitions until you can claim success without changing reality.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying.

—Woody Allen

Posibly, yes. It still does so far more subtle and harder to disprove than the naive attempt.
Gaming the system is, at least, in the spirit of munchkinry!

This applies to many altruists, but I don't think it applies to jkaufman. See here.

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