Prismattic

Prismattic's Comments

Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015

Counter-anecdote. I am a hetero man and have been using OkCupid since July 2012. I have had almost 40 first dates, about 5 second dates, and 2 relationships from it in that time.

Both the median and mean age difference of the women who have gone out with me has been about 7 years younger than me, with the youngest 15 years younger and the oldest 1 year older than me. Comparison between genders is hard, especially from the inside, but I'm confident that at least a few of these women would be rated as more attractive than I am. While most of them probably weren't as high IQ as I am, screening out people of totally incompatible intellect ahead of time is pretty easy.

I'm told that I'm lucky in that I've never run into anyone really crazy or unpleasant, but of ~40 first dates, only 2 have been really awkward, and none scarily so.

(Admitted other-optimizing warning: I am already in my mid-30s, possibly autism-adjacent but not actually autistic, and although my face is nothing special, I am in exceptionally good shape. On the other hand, that's partly to compensate for being a single father, so it probably balances out somewhat. I'm also on the US east coast, which has a more favorable gender balance in the population at large than, in particular, the Bay area, where many rationalists seem to congregate..)

Group rationality diary, May 24th - June 13th

(None of the following should be particularly surprising. I just want to provide additional personal confirmation that well-established cognitive techniques work as advertised.)

I have fairly strong social anxiety and get overstimulated by loud noises/bright lights. I've previously conditioned myself out of most ordinary and small-group anxiety through a)unavoidable practice with socializing and b)getting a black belt. However, until recently, I continued to have problems with a)a strong stress response to crowds and b)inability to hit on women (at least outside of OKCupid, where the invitation to do so is implicit).

Over the last month, I've successfully applied a couple of standard techniques to deal with this. First, about once or twice a week I would go to a crowded, noisy bar alone and just nurse a drink and people watch for an hour. Exposure therapy worked exactly as expected -- my pulse no longer elevates, I don't perspire excessively, etc. in the crowded/noisy environment.

However, I didn't actually talk to anyone, and even though I can generally be about 95% confident that I will be at least the second-most muscular person in any bar I walk into, I have found that the "strong silent type" approach does not work at all. So it was time for step two. Before going to the bar, I made a commitment on Facebook to make a small extra charitable donation if I did not strike up a conversation with an attractive woman within 60 minutes of arrival (with the intention of increasing the donation amount each time in case of failure. Note that I did not choose a donation to a cause I disagree with, because that would have been adding a source of additional stress in an already stressful situation. The actual motivator here was more "not fail publicly in front of my FB friends," since I'll end up donating to AMF or GiveDirectly eventually regardless.)

And it turns out that pre-commitment works as intended, too. I made my first attempt about 20 minutes in. I did strike up a brief but extremely awkward conversation for a minute or two. I consider this a useful outcome, because it reinforces {failed awkwardly --> no serious consequences} on a subconscious level. I tried again another 20 minutes later (with arguably the most attractive woman in the bar at the time), had a pleasant conversation for 5 or 10 minutes, and got her name.

I don't regard any of this as a particularly heroic accomplishment. I just want to reinforce that, as they say, useful technique is useful.

2014 Survey Results

(Prefacing this by noting that I am not going to get into a normative discussion here of whether liberal values are better or worse than libertarian values. I'm only addressing the question of whether Arnold Kling is accurately framing liberal values.)

I'll leave speaking about what's wrong with the conservative frame for an actual conservative (from my also-outside perspective, it doesn't sound particularly accurate).

But as far as liberalism goes, I think what Kling describes might be an accurate depiction of, say, "social justice" blogs, but those are a subset of liberalism, not the essence of it, and it doesn't describe the way the blue tribe people I grew up around (New England, middle class, disproportionately Jewish) reasoned, nor do I think it captures the way the more wonkish liberal bloggers reason.

More specifically, libertarians think that only libertarians care about freedom, while liberals think that libertarians are privileging one particular, controversial, definition of freedom -- the negative liberty of freedom from government (and only government, and in some but not all cases, specifically Federal but not local government) coercion. The liberals I have always known also think that maximizing freedom is the goal, but we define it as something like the autonomy in practice to flourish. So for example, some (not all) libertarians think the Civil Rights Act reduced aggregate freedom, but pretty much all liberals think it increased it. There is a similar divergence in attitudes about net effect on freedom with regards to regulatory interference in freedom of contract between parties with unequal bargaining power. Etc.

2014 Survey Results

In my experience, libertarians tend to think highly of Arnold Kling's taxonomy, and liberals and conservatives do not. I regard it as a Turing test fail.

Lifehack Ideas December 2014

Not related to upfront costs per se, but here are some additional thrift tips.

  1. A top-loading freezer loses less heat when opened than a front-loading freezer. Regardless of which kind you have, though, packing all the space not taken up by food with bottled tap water will greatly reduce the heat loss and save you money on your electrical bill.

  2. If you're in the US, you're probably using fabric softener when you do laundry. I have experimented with the concentration of liquid fabric softener, and found that you can dilute it with water down to about 5-10% of its original strength and it still softens the clothing. I do laundry for a family of 3, and I only have to buy fabric softener once every six months or so, if that.

  3. Laundry detergent is not quite as extreme as fabric softener, but I've found that diluting it (or if powder, just using less) to about 80% of its original concentration works fine, unless your clothes are really dirty or really smelly.

  4. Still on the topic of laundry. Most of the time, there is no reason to wash your clothes with hot water. Unless they are really disgusting, cold water works fine, and save electricity.

  5. If you don't want to switch from disposable razors, you can greatly extend their life by stropping them (against your arm works fine; just remember not to do it in the damaging direction).

  6. If you eat out (not very thrifty to begin with, but sometimes time is precious), remember that even a non-alcoholic beverage is probably adding $2 to your bill ($2.40 with tip). Switch to water when eating out, and if you do so once a week, you're saving about $125/year.

Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary?

Ok, but I didn't say this had already happened. I said it is something I would not want to see happen in future. Possibly you were just using my comment as a convenient anchor for a point you were already prepping for someone else, but it doesn't really make sense to address it to me.

Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary?

I don't understand which half of that sentence you are objecting to, or what statistic in particular you would be looking for.

Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary?

Why were the John Stewarts the real leaders, not the politicians? What's up with the left?

There are lot of legitimate criticisms to single the left out for. But this is not one of them.

Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary?

Creationism was discussed to death long before Lesswrong existed, which is why people downvote attempts to rehash it as a waste of everyone's time. To the extent that Neoreaction is something different than plain old Reaction, a) it's a relatively new memeplex, so if it's bad, someone has to do the work of swatting it down, and b) when the Neoreactionaries aren't busy reviving obscure archaic words for their own jargon, they're using Lesswrong-style jargon. You run the risk of outsiders pattern-matching LW and Neoreaction together either way. I'd prefer the association be "Lesswrong is a place where neoreactionary ideas are discussed and sometimes criticized" than "Lesswrong is that place that sounds very similar to Neoreaction minus the explicit politics".

That being said, there's ample discussion already on Slate Star Codex, and I wouldn't want to see it crowding out other topics here.

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