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The Irrationality Game

The data I'm working from is that contact with certain people sometimes causes me to have mystical experiences. This has happened somewhere between 20 and 100 times, with less than a dozen people. Sometimes but not always, it happens in both directions; i.e., they also have a mystical experience as a result of the contact.

The simpler hypothesis, from a materialist point of view, is that seeing these people just tripped some switch in my brain, without any direct mind-to-mind interaction being involved. Then we can say that I also tripped such a switch in t... (read more)

If we replaced "mystical experiences" with something of less religious connotations like "raging hard-ons", you wouldn't think that 'souls brushing up against each other' is the most natural explanation -- you'd instead conclude that some aspect of psychology/biochemistry/pheromones is causing you to have a more intense reaction towards certain people and vice-versa.

From a physicalist perspective the brain is as much an organ as the penis, and "mystical experiences" as much a physical event in the brain as erections are a physical event in the penis.

0[anonymous]10yYou're giving a mysterious answer and proposing ontologically basic mental substances. I still say that it is a rather extraordinary claim, and thus requires extraordinary evidence. So far you have presented close to none, and what you have could easily and more sensibly be explained with psychological kinks. See cold readings.
1RichardKennaway10yNeither of these is an explanation.
Humans are not automatically strategic

In my case, I don't run into "not being able to make myself pursue my goals effectively" a whole lot. What I do run into a lot is, "not being able to figure out what goals I actually want to pursue."

I think that what's going on is this in part. When I find resistance within myself to pursuing some goal (which I read into the comedian watching reruns), I take that as evidence that this goal isn't what I'm really after. I don't spend a lot of time in a state of trying to make myself do something, because of my assumption that whatever I r... (read more)

Knowing what you want is a prerequisite to getting what you want

To put it another way, ACT basically says we screw up our motivation because we direct our attention to goals that are not directly connected to experiencing our terminal values... which I believe is pretty close to what you're saying here, is it not?

It is pretty close, and even insofar as it's different, I think I agree with it. I'm not particularly a fan of the idea of "we can have values over states of the external world," because it seems to me that most, if not all, of our actual terminal values are mental states. In my opinion, if you th... (read more)

0lukstafi10yI value placing value in the external world. I think that having "value" as a synonym for "motivation", "pleasure", "wanting" etc. is not valuable. In my conception, values are not biological givens, but are constructions, empirically grounded in "pleasure", "wanting", "what is awesome" and "what works".
Humans are not automatically strategic

I've found that the most helpful thing for me in achieving my goals seems to be picking the right goals to begin with. I try to find goals that I really care about with a large portion of my being, rather than goals that only a small portion of my being cares about. This requires a fair amount of introspection. What do I want? It's not an easy question; counterintuitively, we don't know what we want. But, if I know what I want, then I can get it.

I'll give a couple examples. I used to have the conscious goal, "write music." My real goals, though I... (read more)

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Find yourself a Worthy Opponent: a Chavruta

I have one of these, and I highly value our relationship. My friend and I have very basic disagreements in our worldview: I'm a mystic, and he's a rationalist. We spend our time working through our differences. He's done more than anybody else to make me question and revise my views on things. I think I've become significantly more correct, and a little bit wiser, due to his influence. He's also the reason I'm here on Less Wrong.

It's actually surprisingly hard to get to a point with somebody where you respect them and listen to them, despite having fundame... (read more)

The Irrationality Game

I have met multiple people who are capable of telepathically transmitting mystical experiences to people who are capable of receiving them. 90%.

2[anonymous]10yWow, telepathy is a pretty big thing to discuss. Sure there isn't a simpler hypothesis? Upvoted.
Parapsychology: the control group for science

Good point, with the qualifier that many people (including professional philosophers) presently find themselves unable to wrap their heads around the idea that they have no non-material consciousness. The "argument from absurdity" against materialism is alive and kicking.

The mathematical universe: the map that is the territory

According to this theory, so far as I can tell, the events of Star Wars literally occurred. Is that correct?

5johnlawrenceaspden9yA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
1Baughn10yYes, but perhaps not very much, and definitely not because we wrote a story about them; that's pure coincidence. Any story with finite information content should be coincidentally similar to some actual real universe, but following Solomonoff induction there's a sense in which the more complex ones are not as real as, say, us.
Reasons for being rational

This is an interesting question. I definitely agree that being a contrarian and being a conformist can both be forms of bias. However, I would add one example which suggests that conformity can in some cases be a positive instinct.

I have never studied general relativity in depth. My belief that "general relativity is right" is based on the heuristics, "most scientists believe in general relativity," and "things that most scientists believe are usually right." In part I think it's also based on the fact that I know that evidenc... (read more)

1Desrtopa10yThe strength of others' beliefs as evidence depends on what you know about how they arrived at those beliefs. If you know that scientists have a general process for establishing accepted truths which involves repeated testing with attempts to falsify their hypotheses and find alternative explanations, then you can take established consensus as evidence proportional to your trust in that process. Likewise, if you know that people tend to come to religious consensuses due to early indoctrination and community reinforcement, you should take religious consensuses as evidence proportional to your confidence that those processes will tend to produce true beliefs.
No, Really, I've Deceived Myself

I can relate to this. I had a crisis of faith about a month ago (thanks LessWrong!), and while I've "officially" stopped believing "those things," they still sometimes show up in my thinking. I am, as it were, in the midst of a complex re-architecting process. Particularly hard to eliminate are those beliefs which actually serve a functional purpose in my life. For instance, the beliefs that give me emotional support, and the beliefs that I use to decide my actions, are very hard to deal with. In these cases I need to figure out how to build a new structure which serves the same function, or figure out how to live without that function. This has required a significant amount of creativity and deep thinking.

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

I hope you didn't understand me as asserting this. It's certainly not something I believe.

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

Good inference! Or, deeply self-deceived. ;-)

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

The only thing that humans really care about is sex. All of our other values are an elaborate web of neurotic self-deception.

-4wedrifid10yHyperbolic to the extent of just being wrong. Humans really do care about survival and status too. And the survival of close genetic relations.

Therefore, asexual people are zombies.

The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

The only thing that humans really care about is sex. All of our other values are an elaborate web of neurotic self-deception.

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The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You

The only thing that humans really care about is sex. All of our other values are an elaborate web of neurotic self-deception.

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Crisis of Faith

Hi, Alicorn!

  1. Yes. They are drawn from the material at . The philosophy presented there is internally consistent, to the best of my understanding.

  2. There is no physical evidence. All of the "evidence" is in my head. This is a significant point.

  3. There are a variety of points in the source document which could be interpreted as designed to defend its claims against testing. This is a significant point.

  4. I am not aware of any physically testable predictions that these beliefs make. This is a significant point.

  5. The causal hist

... (read more)
1MixedNuts10yCurrently reading Law of One. I'm not sure what the mechanism is, but it seems to involve people receiving telepathic messages (from an entity named Ra) and speaking them aloud. I would like to note that I have experienced messages coming into my head, seemingly from outside (either as voices or as an impulse to write), and can even occasionally cause it voluntarily. Their content can be partially unexpected, but it never contains information I could test independently. I consider this an entertaining misbug in my brain, not evidence of an external telepathic entity.
The benefits of madness: A positive account of arationality

I am right now trying to fathom the problem of synthesizing rationality and mysticism. Would you like to correspond on this topic?

Crisis of Faith

For the past three days I have been repeatedly performing the following mental operation:

"Imagine that you never read any documents claimed to be produced by telepathy with extraterrestrials. Now gauge your emotional reaction to this situation. Once calm, ask yourself what you would believe about the world in this situation. Would you accept materialism? Or would you still be seeking mystical answers to the nature of reality?"

I am still asking myself this question. Why? I am struggling to figure out whether or not I am wrong.

I believe things that... (read more)

There are several things to ask about beliefs like this:

  1. Do they make internal sense? (e.g. "What is the fourth dimension?")

  2. Do they match the sort of evidence that you would expect to have in the case of non-delusion? (e.g. "Do you have any observable physical traits indicating your extraterrestrial origin? Would someone looking into records of your birth find discrepancies in your records indicating forgery?")

  3. Do they try to defend themselves against testing? (e.g. "Do you expect to illuminate a completely dark room at night

... (read more)
2arundelo10yGood luck! It may help to remember that this sort of thing seems to be a failure mode of the human mind. I know someone who had a manic episode during which he believed he was destined to bring enlightenment to the world. (He also believed he could control the weather.) In case you haven't come across this already, gohere [] and read the paragraph that starts "But it is possible to do better, even if your brain malfunctions on you."