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Emotional Basilisks

I don't see how this relates to the original post, this strikes me as a response to a claim of objective/intrinsic morality rather than the issue of resolving emotional basilisks vis-a-vis the litany of tarsky. Are you just saying "it really depends"?

The ethics of breaking belief

This is something I think about a lot. We all know pure rhetoric is never going to deconvert someone, but a combination of "dark arts", emotional vulnerability, and personal connection seems a likely recipe.

A quick summation of how I feel about religiosity: I hate the belief, but love the believer. I went through a long and painful deconversion process, so I can empathize with them. I know that religious people struggle with doubt and are probably terrified by the prospect of losing their faith. I've had the chance to go for the throat (so to speak) several times, but never had the conviction to do so.

So I guess the question you have to ask, is, what are you offering them in return? Keeping in mind that they are probably more of a "normal" than you are, how is it going to effect their social and psychological well-being? Do you anticipate that changing that one belief will manifest itself in greater mastery of rationality, or even a glimpse of the path? Or are you just stealing a childs safety blanket and telling them to grow up?

The only other mitigating factor I can think of is "raising the sanity waterline", specifically by decreasing the overall population of virulent religious memes. But aren't there probably better and easier ways of doing so that don't involve randoms going through bleak existential withdrawl?

That's a serious question, I'm not settled on the issue at all either. Of course, there are some people who will just need a push, a friend to tell them it's ok. If they seem like they can thrive as an athiest, due to humanist values, being contrarian, courageously facing the truth, or whatever, I don't see why not.

No Value

I agree with the post above advising "Wait, don't panic". I experienced (still do, sort of) exactly what you describe, and the people I developed the closest friendships with did as well. In fact, it was one of the primary contexts in which we were able to bond. As an intelligent person in a frequently alienating world, it can be very easy to feel disconnected and emotionally isolated. Don't immediately conclude that you have a disorder that requires medical treatment.

So, if it helps: a lot of people experience what you are going through. A lot of people feel empty. It might be learned helplessness, a self-defense mechanism, or something else entirely. But if you are interested in becoming a better, more fulfilled person, and willing to put in the work required, don't conclude you are broken. Make change, be open to happiness and emotion.

Also, I'm not going to claim that psychadelics don't have potential value in the arena of personal growth, but at your current position they are probably not an optimal strategy.

Meta Addiction

Of course. Doing low level stuff like brushing your teeth is boring. Going meta is fun.

Eventually you need to actually cash out your strategies and really brush your teeth, at which point going meta can be a form of procrastination that has the benefit of making you feel like you are being productive.

I try to mentally file metacognition under "enjoyable pastime", but I'm not sure if the low level resource manager agrees with the user. This produces an acute form of akrasia wherein, while attempting to be productive, I go really meta, encounter a stack overflow, resolve the issue, and then treat myself to a well deserved break because I'm such a brilliant meta-theoretician.

[Link] Cooking for people who don't

First of all, I highly recomend Good Eats. As a tv show, it's probably not the most efficient way to learn how to cook, but Alton Brown presents simple, useful recipes while managing to convey the high-level methodology of the process. More importantly, it's damn entertaining.

I agree with RomeoStevens; keep it simple at home. I enjoy cooking, but I found that trying to prepare homecooked meals every night for myself led to motivational breakdown. So when I'm home, I graze on things that are healthy and delicious. A little bit of some (good) cheeses, raw vegetables, baguette, fresh fruit. Stir-fried-whatever when I'm in the mood.

Also, while this probably applies to anything you want to do better, it seems especially true of cooking: learn to enjoy it. It's really very easy and quite relaxing when you get the hang of it.

Describe the ways you can hear/see/feel yourself think.

I can read much, much faster than I can think words, and yet I still hear (at least some of) the words.

I can mentally replay any sense I've experienced. I sometimes get appropriate physiological responses, such as my mouth watering when imagining food. I can hear music, see movies. The resolution of any of this isn't very good. I wouldn't normally say I can actually experience these things, I do because I can't grok how else one would imagine a cow without "mentally seeing" something like a cow; but apparently this is the case (?).

I am bad at manipulating numbers. As far as I can tell, either I have something memorized (e.g. multiplication tables) or I graphically visualize writing the problem out, long-hand, on paper, complete with all the steps you learned in 3rd grade like crossing out digits when you borrow. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this... the most inefficient virtual machine that ever was.

On the other hand, I have amazing (low-end at least) intuition. Actually, most all of the problem solving and "real thinking" I do is a complete mystery to me. This is causing problems for my research, as in lower education (which I consider as everything through undergrad) I never had to study, or even think methodically. I just squint my eyes and the answers comes out of the ether.

Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief

I second that thank you!

Usually self-help books are way too fluffy for me to end up finishing (much less implementing), hopefully some of this will stick. Looks good so far :D

How I Ended Up Non-Ambitious

I'm honestly curious, how did you condition yourself to feel this way?

I mean, I think about the singularity, try to discount for my given bias (introverted young male in STEM field who read a lot of scifi) and I still conclude it is a worthwhile problem; but more importantly a problem that could use my skillset.

But I don't emotionally ... grok it, which makes me wonder if I really do believe it, or if it is belief-in-belief. I'm having my own struggle with ambition, and I'm at a point where I don't know if I actually care about anything. It seems that at my core, all my motivation stems from a desire for social status, which scares me.

Building case-studies of akrasia

I would probably make an excellent actual case study in akrasia. I'll try to quickly summarize a few issues.

instance:Weight lifting.

After a bad break-up, I pursued it rigorously for about 6 months, with great success, creating a postitive feedback loop. I was fueled by the progress, which inevitably plateaued, leading me to stagnation. In an attempt to get back on track, I purchased a squat rack and barbell, so that I could work out whenever was most convenient. In retrospect, this was a really bad idea. I find it virtually impossible to put in an adequate workout at home, because it is too easy to be distracted. My average workout duration dropped from over an hour to probably less than 15 minutes. Attempting to precommit to not to interact with anything that wouldn't be at a gym failed, because my mind won't accept artificial constraints like that. I speculate that it failed for another reason: working out in a public gym probably triggers the status seeking parts of my brain, incentivizing me to look good by working harder now, as well as reminding me what I'm working for in the long-run (not that anyone cares at all about what anyone else does in the gym).

  • Do: Work out in public, measure progress in an objective way, reward yourself after a good work out
  • Don't: Make it too convenient, fail to take into account diminishing returns

instance:Undergraduate research

Much of my akrasia stems from anxiety. I had originally impressed the professor of a class I was taking, and later in informal research. In both cases I enjoyed the work, which was occasionally greuling, but where the price of failure was nonexistent - I was in no danger of receiving less than an A in the class, and the research consisted of occasional, casual meetings and setting my own pace and direction. In time, they offered me a payed position, which came with deadlines, frequent status reports, and so on. I noticed that both the quantity and quality of my work decreased, for two reasons. The original work had convinced me to go to graduate school, which subsequently made my supervisors opinion of me suddenly important (letters of reccomendation). Because of this, I started making promises and accepting burdens that were probably not unreasonable, but personally unrealistic. I began to feel incredible anxiety about this, so much so that even doing the work, but especially corresponding with my supervisors caused significant duress. It was perceived as laziness and nonresponsiveness; and I knew this, which made the anxiety worse: so bad in fact that I would avoid checking my email and seeing them on campus. Sometimes I'd be sitting there, knowing that there was probably an unanswered email in my inbox, KNOWING that I would have to read and answer it eventually, and knowing that waiting could only possibly make it worse, and for some reason I still would put it off.

In general, I feel that I have destroyed my ability to precommit. For a particularly ludicrous illustration: I have trouble getting up. My record for most times hitting snooze is probably > 15. I tried literally taping a caffeine pill on top of the button. The next morning, I just peeled it off and went back to sleep. Me_sleeping is an evil bastard.

How is your mind different from everyone else's?

I'm not sure if I experience the same thing, but it sounds similar.

It sometimes happens with peoples faces, more often with my laptop screen when I've been staring at it for a while. It is impossible to put into words... sort of like my sense of size becomes meaningless. Depth perception vanishes. Sometimes things seem very small, or very large, but that is not quite it. It is more like my brain doesn't know how to parse anything related to absolute size.

Sometimes when I'm trying to fall asleep, I'll experience it with very high intensity. Normally when I think of an object, it is in one of two ways. Either I'm modeling it in my head, in which case it seems roughly head-sized and located (where else) in my head. Alternatively I superimpose it on the environment, and I can roughly envision it at appropriate scale. So whatever part of my brain that is responsible for these tasks seemingly deactivates. It's really interesting in an abstract way, but its accompanied by mild nausea and vertigo.

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