All of Natha's Comments + Replies

I wanted to thank you for your response and to apologize for not getting to read it sooner (I am in the throes of final exams, project due dates, et c.). The Lumosity control group or some similar intervention is a great idea and probably the only way to know for sure if LSAT prep had any unique effects.

Thank you for this awesome, informative comment. I'm glad to get some perspective on this; at the end of the day I guess it is just a test of basic logic concepts... I guess I shouldn't expect that to carry over to other areas of one's daily life.

Yeah, I think that one is ruled out because they are scheduling only 7 voyages (with no memory of prior voyages). I see what you mean though; it doesn't say anything about prior voyages, but I think of it as 7 slots to fill, and since there is no slot before 1, it can't be Jamaica. The answers are at the end of the test (pg 38).

Scott has some useful, if sobering, thoughts about this on his blog and I think I agree with him. He ends up positing that intrinsic motivation is more or less fixed and describes the whole process as a fascination lottery: there are certain things we find inherently interesting and motivating, and other things we could never really be interested in, even if we really really wanted to.

And my attempts to hack intrinsic motivation, which would be like a instant win condition for everything if I could achieve it, have been mostly unsuccessful and left me wi

... (read more)
I think "you can't condition yourself" is pretty different from "intrinsic motivation is fixed". Ozzy was used as an example in his essay. If you ask me, Ozzy is fascinated by gender because Ozzy is of atypical gender. Gender Studies majors are often gender atypical themselves, and I think it's fairly obvious that this something borne out of life experience. I'm sure some things are fixed, but there are environmental features here that can be hacked. Ozzy might be physically predisposed to interest in a broad thing like "people's feelings" or something, but there is some sort of psychodynamic process routing this to gender specifically. I think the right question to ask is "what is that process, and why is it so hard to trigger on purpose?".
Choosing fascinations is very much a system 1 game. Ever notice how smart people are more likely to get into math and athletic people are more likely to get into sports? Heck, you can watch someone go from "sensitive artist" to "bodybuilder" about as fast as it takes to realize that their body would do well at the latter. I've been fairly successful choosing my fascinations, both in the sense of system 2 successfully influencing system 1 and in the sense of being happy with what holds my interest. The trick is to get close to system 1 so you can understand what it's trying to say and so that you know how to talk so that it'll listen. "Focusing" by Gendlin is probably a good place to start, even if it sounds a bit "new agey".
From personal experience, I disagree with this. Many times I have thought "I could do that, but it wouldn't be fun", then done it, and found it to be fun.
Scott basically observes that you can't do some thing through shear behaviorism. That only means that a certain tool doesn't work.
I basically agree. Motivation seems to be a moderately deep thing (deep as in Seligman's personality depth scale). Depth means you can't just hack your superficial interest. You have to use your unchangeable deep interests to cover other topics. At least that is what worked for me. My interest for problem solving, esp. clear cut ones as in math led to computer science, physics and - after having built a suitably encompassing world model - social science. By using my fascination for solving problems analytically I could apply this to social situations. Sure, taking social situations analytically is bound to appear awkward. But it fits my personality and it allows to build experience fast. And after some time routine smoothes the edges. I wonder whether this could work the other way around. Say you are a game geek. If you'd like to be interested in math or physics you could hunt down suitable games. First ideas might be Phun, Crazy Machines, Dragon Box 12+ but there are probably more out there. You could get into educational games. You could try to look deeper into games. Download games for Unity or Scratch and look how the really work. Yes it is not easy, but games like other goods are made for consumption. See behind the screen thrown by the game optimizers. Try to see the principles behind the superficial game objectives. The game played by the developers and marketeers. See life as game. If your fascination is with reading and writing move (slowly, very gradually) to books and topics that have a focus on the topics you'd like to have. To go to history first go to stories in the past then historical novels, then good biographical stories, and so on. For math/phsics read stories with more math in it. Science fiction might be an avenue. Make a plan. Get into a suitable community. Social motivations probably work best by getting into a suitable community - except that this might break with your existing one. I think plausible paths can be constructed easily for m

Hey Alex!

When I think back to when I was your age, I really wished I had gotten more involved in math competitions. Does your school have any programs like MATHCOUNTS, AMC8, etc.? I didn't compete in any academic competitions until high school, and I really wished that I had known about them earlier on. It makes getting ahead in math so much fun and it helps lay some really important foundations for the more complicated stuff.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Also anything by Martin Gardner, because his books are so much fun and help to spark your imagination. At a young age one of the most important thing to develop is a habit of perseverance and not giving up when trying to solve a problem and avoiding developing areas of learned blankness. You should develop an unfaltering confidence to use your own head when trying to solve the problems. Sharpening mental capabilities and developing good mental habits and attitudes seems to be more important than learning more things (for example, the author of many AoPS books, Richard Rusczyk, thinks that it is better for kids to sharpen their minds solving olympiad problems than learn calculus), although desire to learn more, to build your own understanding, is also important. And it is not necessary that the problems are mathematical in nature. For example, if you read Richard Feynman's "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!", you would notice that as a young boy he loved to fix things and everybody brought their broken radios to him. He would then fix them, seeing it as a challenge, as a problem to solve. He had to find a way to fix it, no matter how non-obvious the problem was. I think this helped him to sharpen his mind and instilled a good habit to see interesting problems everywhere. If you have to think for yourself, you lessen the risk of developing learned blankness. Try to think for yourself, even if it takes much more time than simply finding solution on the internet. In the long run, developing good mental habits is probably the most important thing.
Also check out the Art of Problem Solving books. They've also got some interesting resources on their website.


[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply


Hey, I haven't had time to read your post yet but I wanted to suggest that you post over in the discussion section to get more visibility and feedback; I don't think too many people read through the welcome thread posts and those who do are usually just browsing user blurbs. Great to meet you!

Hey, thanks for the comment! I have never had been in a law school classroom, but I remember reading about the law school experience in Shulman's (2005) signature pedagogies in the professions article; he argues that law school, medical school, clergy school, design school, etc, have unique educational approaches because these facilitate learning of the skills and dispositions valued by each profession (e.g., the back-and-forth, often harsh exchanges characteristic of a law school classroom train you to "think like a lawyer", to handle conflictin... (read more)

Thanks for the paper, and that's a fantastic quote.

Great score! I'm a test prep guy and the GMAT quant is serious, erm, business. What kind of programs are you applying to? MBA?

Thanks Natha! Was hitting higher scores(730-740) in the mocks before the real thing, so was at first a touch upset, then figured that this was ok for practical purposes. Yes, an MBA. Most probably in finance and/or strategy. I also want to see if there is any particular way to leverage on my existing qualifications (I'm a lawyer, graduated 2 years back from NLUJ in India). My work experience lies in renewable energy. Any advice would be most welcome. :)

Awesome! If what you're dealing with is social anxiety, then you might find this blogpost helpful (I know I did). It sounds like it may be something more serious; if so, all the more reason for congratulations!

Aside from painting "LessWrong types" in really broad, unflattering strokes, I thought the author made several good points. Note though that I am a ~15 year vegetarian (and sometime vegan) myself and I definitely identify with his argument, so there's the opportunity for subjective validation to creep in. I also find many perference-utlitarian viewpoints persuasive, though I wouldn't yet identify as one.

I think the 20% thing and the 1-in-20 thing were just hypothetical, so we shouldn't get too hung up on them; I think his case is just as strong w... (read more)

Having a small uncertainty about animal suffering and then saying that because of the large number of animals we eat, even a small uncertainty is enough to make eating animals bad, is a variation on Pascal's Mugging.

PSA: coincidentally, David Dunning (an author in every study I mention above) is currently doing a Reddit AMA. I did not plan this, but if you have any questions for him, he's all ears!

Ah, yes that's much better isn't it. Am I allowed to change this? Sorry for being such a flagrant newcomer; it seems like I really need to tighten up my language.

EDIT: I've given it some thought and I think it has something to do with being active on Reddit, where there's lots of incentive to sensationalize your posts. I will be mindful of this going forward.

In general the standard is to edit to remove errors like that to the extend that the edit doesn't invalidate existing comments. Often simply posting: "Thanks for pointing out the error, I fixed it." allows any further reader to see that the the person pointing out an error was making a valid point while at the same time correcting the error.

Sorry for being such a flagrant newcomer

Your concern for providing quality content is more valuable than any social hierarchy nonsense. Thanks for your contribution.

I am unsure of the actual mechanics of doing that, but there are no prohibitions against edits. It would probably be for the best :-) LW is full of people who are not above shredding sloppy language for minor amusement value (and, of course, to save the world).

You're exactly right, sorry. I'll keep the picture because I think it suffices to illustrate the trend, but I'll update my description for clarity. Here are the other summary graphs for studies 1, 2, and 4

ETA: Strangely apropos this post, David Dunning is doing a Reddit AMA right now; I should go ask him why he and Kruger (1999) chose to report quartiles!

It's poorly written too, like some grade school gag. If it's meant to be taken seriously, it is pretty amateurish...

Hey, terrific! Did you enjoy the book itself? I really liked AoPS series; I remember getting a whole lot out of Introduction to Counting and Probability. I distinctly remember thinking over and over, why didn't they tell me this in school!

I'm not sure what your ultimate goals are, and you're probably already familiar with the online AMC8/10/12 and Olympiad problem banks that others have mentioned; if not, I couldn't recommend them more highly for bringing newly learned skills to bear on novel problems. At one point, I worked through all the AMC8, then all... (read more)

I think just 3 of the degree programs they offer have been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Also, very interesting observation about the similarity to video games; this makes sense, especially in light of the gamification craze.

I recently moved to a moved to a big US city and promptly sold my car. I can't stand the stress of driving, parking, or maintaining a car in the city and I am also extremely frugal.

My preferred method of getting around is to ride my bicycle, but there are important considerations (bike lanes and infrastructure, weather, potentially getting really sweaty). I've had the same $250 bicycle since 2007 and it requires very minimal upkeep. I've replaced the tires once and gotten a few tune-ups here and there... probably another $250 in the past 7 years, averaging... (read more)

I've been jumping around reading Caplan's posts on your link in my free time today and I've found him very convincing. However, I know very little about economics. Could you recommend a good overview article on signalling/ability bias/human capital in higher education? I am sincerely quite interested in this stuff.

I did some googling and found this blog post that might be a more accessible overview of Caplan's position. I'm not an economist either and my understanding is that of a layperson.

First-time taker! Shorter than I expected. Hope I did the digity thing right...

I've got a recommendation for experimental design/general inference:

Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference, by Shadish, Cook, and Campbell (2001)

Admittedly, this is the only textbook I've ever used that was expressly for experimental design, but I really do think it is superb. Does anyone else have comparison texts for this kind of thing? The validity typology alone is heroic; statistical conclusion validity, internal validity, construct validity, and external validity are each covered in great detail, as are common threats to each of these types of validity.

Subject: Animal Behavior (Ethology)

Recommendation: Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach (6th Edition, 1997) Author: John Alcock

This is an excellent, well organized, engagingly written textbook. It may be a tiny bit denser than the comparison texts I give below, but I found it to be far and away the most rewarding of the three (I've just read the three). The natural examples he gives to illustrate the many behaviors are perfectly curated for the book. Also, he uses Tinbergen's four questions to frame these discussions, which ensured a rich description ... (read more)

Added, thanks!


Actually, I am no stranger to this site; I have been a sporadic fly-on-the-wall here since early 2011, when I found out about you guys through gwern's personal webpage (to which my interest in nootropics, n-backing, and spaced repetition had led me). I've made several desultory stabs at the sequences; I think I've read most of them twice over, but some I've abandoned and some I've never touched. I started HPMoR reluctantly, found I couldn't put it down, and finished it in a single sitting. Lately I've been pretty swamped with work, but I've been tryi... (read more)