All of Nicholas Garcia's Comments + Replies

Approaches for collecting and analyzing data about yourself?

The only app you will ever need is "Google Sheets".

  • Its UI is easy to use on a phone and syncs instantly, so you can use a computer as well.
  • It is completely customizable. You enter any sort of info you want and analyze it later over time.

I started using it ~3 years ago as a time-sheet to track my work, activities, sleep, mood etc. I tried to do what you did - see how X impacts my mood and look for trends. Here's some of my findings over the past three years in that regard:

  • The most helpful thing has been a daily "end of day" entry f
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1DivineMango1yThanks Nicholas, I'll definitely give this a shot. So how did you go about tracking the effects of interventions? For example, how did you discover that gratitude was helpful or that carb-heavy lunches were impacting energy? Do you just try them one at a time and see how that affects things, or did you somehow perform an X/non-X comparison as I described in the original post?
Why are people so bad at dating?

You learn by doing it.

Find someone you like (or who likes you) and start dating them!

Without dating apps:

  • Join a few social/intellectual/school clubs or co-ed sports (e.g. running). Be a generally cool person and you'll find someone after a while. Or...
  • Go to lots of low-key house-parties thrown by friends, or throw them yourself. See if there is any chemistry with "friends-of-friends." In these situations there is lower risk for each of you since you've been "vouched for" by mutual friends, and you've seen each other in a
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"human connection" as collaborative epistemics

I had this same thought recently regarding friendship and connection as "divide and conquer" for understanding the world.

WRT why people cling to collective worldviews despite contrary evidence... one answer lies in interesting work in Social Psych called "Terror Management Theory."

Basically, people seek to avoid death, but we all know that we will die. To avoid being paralyzed by this fear, we are socialized by our parents & society into worldviews that grant us "immortality" of sorts: religion, prestige, being "goo... (read more)

When would an agent do something different as a result of believing the many worlds theory?

Many of the other comments deal with thought experiments rather than looking at the reality of how "many worlds" is USED. From my point of view as a non-physicist it seems to primarily be used as psuedo-science "woo" - a revival of mystery and awe under the cloak of scientific authority. A kind of paradoxical mysticism for non-religious people, or fans of "science-ism".

An agent might act differently from MISUNDERSTANDING many worlds theory. Or by paying more attention to it. Psychological "priming" is real ansd powerful.

The answer by TAG below is case in p

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The Actionable Version of "Keep Your Identity Small"

I guess the actionable version is to develop transferable skills, abilities, wealth, or social capital that are highly valued by many different tribes.

Then you have the leverage to flit from one to the next, and not care about standing up for any particular tribe.

However, the game to acquire wealth, social capital, and valued skills is basically the game that we are all playing and has lots of competition. The only way to "opt out" is to join a local monopoly (i.e. a tribe). Also, in the real world, tribes often "loan us resources" to ... (read more)

1MakoYass2yI don't think that applies to the sense of tribe that I mean. When you find your tribe, the sense of tribe that I mean, you will realise that leaving it is not really an option that you ever could have had. It is simply what you are. It is simply the group of people who want for the world the same thing that you want for the world. It can take a long time to find that tribe and to recognise it. It isn't lesswrong, it isn't EA. It's funny to think about how much of an ideological split there is between discounting neartermists and alignmentist longtermists, and how we can still be friends, if anyone started talking about why they're different (and why they're still friends) there would be a lot of discomfort, but for now we just act like it isn't there.
The Actionable Version of "Keep Your Identity Small"

I find this very true.

In fact, portraying a STRONGER identity often is met more easily results in better responses. The trick is that you can be strategic about it. By selecting between "personas" or "roles" you can select what kind of responses you want to get.

I find it helpful to think about the different situations I am in (work meetings, studying in cafes, meeting friends, etc.), and then think about "what is the most ideal response I could get" - and think about "what kind of person / action would provoke that kind ... (read more)

Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately

Does anyone really track the marginal utility of their possible investment this way? Utilons - sure. But ROI on status? ROI on "warm fuzzies"?

Also, this assumes we have good estimates of the ROI on all our options. Where do these estimates come from? In the real world, we often seem to spread our bets - constantly playing a game of multi-armed bandit with concept drift.

What's your big idea?

Can you explain what you mean by the problem of job training?

You mean job vs. career vs. calling?

If by "job training" you mean maximizing short-run over long-run earnings, I agree with you. But for that reason, if you move the "slider" toward a longer payoff period, then the schools will be incentivized to teach more fundamental skills, not short-term "job training".

On the other hand, sometimes people just need to get their foot in the door to get up and running. As they accumulate savings, on the job experience, professiona... (read more)

What's your big idea?

Nearly all education should be funded by income sharing agreements.

E1 = student's expected income without the credential / training (for the next n years).

E2 = student's expected income with the credentia / training (over the next n years). Machine learning can estimate this separately for each student.

C = cost of the program

R = Percent of income above E1 that student must pay back = (E2-E1)/C

Give students a list of majors / courses / coaches / apprenticeships, etc. with an estimate of expected income E2 and rate of repayment R.


  • This wil
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2Matthew Barnett2yI like this idea, but I'm still pretty negative about the entire idea of college as a job-training experience, and I'm worried that this proposal doesn't really address what I see as a key concern with that framework. I agree with Bryan Caplan that the reason why people go to college is mainly to signal their abilities. However, it's an expensive signal -- one that could be better served by just getting a job and using the job to signal to future employers instead. Plus, then there would be fewer costs on the individual if they did that, and less 'exploitation' via lock-in (which is what this proposed system kind of does). The reason why people don't just get a job out of high school is still unclear to me, but this is perhaps the best explanation: employers are just very skeptical of anyone without a college degree being high quality, which makes getting one nearly a requirement even for entry level roles. Hypothetically however, if you can pass the initial barrier and get 4 years worth of working experience right out of high school, that would be better than going to college (from a job-training and perhaps even signaling perspective). Unfortunately, this proposal, while much better than the status quo, would perpetuate the notion that colleges are job-training grounds. In my opinion, this notion wastes nearly everyone's time. I think the right thing to do might be to combine this proposal with Caplan's by just eliminating subsidies to college.
Why are people so bad at dating?

Easy answer:

(1) Learning via experience imposes costs (rejection, broken heart, etc.); so learning will be slow and tentative.

(2) People who get good enough (via talent or experience) generally exit the dating market (they find a partner). Whoever is left is either still learning (expensive) or a "player" who prefers serial dating / hooking up to a long-term relationship (LTR). There may be a few people gaming the system by having multiple partners (the stereotypical "alpha"), but I doubt this is a significant fraction.

1Francesco Piantieri1ySo, in your opinion, what's the best way of learning how to date?
Book Review: Secular Cycles

Depending on how things were weighted would really make a big difference. Especially since a lot of these theories make use of (aggregates of) proxies to measure what they really care about as the data you care about is long lost to history.

WRT overfitting, it would not be too hard to measure the error on a holdout set. Turchin et al. essentially used China as their holdout set.

What makes a good culture?

Nobel Laureate in Econ Elinor Ostrom describes how in the real world we have a variety of formal And informal governance structures (that do negotiated decision making, monitoring, conflict resolution, punishments, etc.) to allow both local and global optima. From an info-processing view you know locally what’s best for you, but you need a way of aligning local decisions to reach global optima. Because this is very complex and fuzzy we humans have nested overlapping norms and institutions to govern behavior while allowing freedom and flexibility.

What makes a good culture?

To see culture from a more CS perspective look up papers on “cultural evolution” and cooperation. The books / blog by evolutionary biologist / historian Peter Turchin “War and Peace and War” and “Super Cooperators”. Behavioral research on altruism and costly punishment in repeated prisoners dilemma games also shows the importance and impact of culture.

In this interpretation a “good” culture is one that has more solidarity & honor than back-stabbing & free riding. From a purely economic perspective it creates greater overall welfare and trust.


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2quanticle2yAnd to go back to your point about cohesion not necessarily being an unqualified good, South Korean culture (especially its emphasis on one-shot high-stakes exams as a way of determining future life prospects) results in one of the highest suicide rates in the world [].